Metro Fiber Networks Being Bulit Out in U.S.- Competitive Carriers take the lead

A recent WSJ article – The Fiber-Optic Networks Regain Some Glow,- notes that there have been 14 acquisitions in the metro fiber industry this year alone and 45 since the fiber market began its turnaround in 2006. It states, “The deals have turned a market that once had many small participants and a few giants into one made up of a handful of regional and national players. Analysts say the consolidation has helped stabilize the prices fiber owners can charge customers like banks, phone carriers and universities that lease their networks.”

What we found most remarkable about this and similar articles, is that we’ve never heard of the new breed of fiber facilities based telcos Zayo Group, founded in 2007, was reported to be one of the largest with networks in 27 states and Washington DC. They have acquired 15 smaller fiber optic companies in the short time it has been in existence.

In Metro Route Mileage Leaders for Competitive Fiber Operators, Rob Powell of Telecom Ramblings lists the top 20 metro fiber CLECs, ranked by total mileage for metro loops and laterals, but NOT counting long haul links. To no one’s surprise, Level 3 leads the pack with 27,000 metro fiber miles, followed by TW Telecom with 21,000 miles.  Mr. Powell states that the list does not include the incumbents (e.g. AT&T, Verizon) and most cable operators (e.g. Comcast, TW Cable, others) – many of whom would obviously be at the top. Hence, this lisitng should be thought of as competitive metro fiber. 

We were also intriqued by FiberLight’s December 18th announcement of a new initiative to drive its fiber even deeper into its 21-market footprint .  The company is in the process of identifying an additional 8,000 near-network buildings to serve along the 4,200 route mile footprint it owns and operates.  That’s a lot of new buildings that will get fiber based network access!
Can CLECs and independent telcos have a signivicant impact on the percent of buildings in the U.S. that have lit fiber access?   In 1998 it was about 7% and we heard it was only 15% in 2008.  The key assumption so many optical networking start-ups made was that fiber to the building would happen in a big way in the immediate future.  Will 2011 be the year it does?  If so, neglected business customers will have many more high bandwidth services, especially high quality video conferencing/ video presence.
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