Small Players Dominating Fiber Projects

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Mobile Market Continues to Grow by Leaps and Bounds

When discussing futuristic fiber networks, most people mention Verizon’s FiOS, AT&T’s U-verse and, more recently, Google Fiber. The truth, however, is that the majority of fiber networking – including cutting-edge projects – is done by smaller service providers and their vendors.

Telecompetitor reports on a survey done during the autumn and early winter by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association that showed the depth of fiber in rural operators’ networks. Only copper loops – which support digital subscriber line (DSL) delivery – at 88 percent penetration deliver broadband to or very near homes more than fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-node (FTTN). FTTH is used by 74 percent of respondents and FTTN by 48 percent. No other method -- cable modems, licensed and unlicensed wireless and satellite -- exceeds 16 percent.

Indeed, even a cursory glance shows the amount of fiber-related news concerning smaller, predominantly rural operators. For instance, The Daily Times of Farmington, N.M., reported on Sunday on the completion of a $46-million, fiber-based project that will serve more than 30,000 households and 1,000 businesses in The Navajo Nation. The story doesn’t detail the precise fiber approach, but it no doubt is cutting edge.

Google’s initial foray is in Kansas City. Last week, the company announced that the next site will be in the small city of Olathe, which also is in Kansas. The market may be working: The fact that the Kansas Fiber Network – which is made up of small firms – has announced a deal with Cisco to upgrade its network to 100 Gigabits per second may or may not be a coincidence. Cisco’s press release has the details.

Unite Private Networks and Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development announced that they will provide Ethernet, Internet and dark fiber at the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, which the press release calls the “world’s largest underground business complex.” The SubTropolis – which sounds like a setting of a sci-fi story – is another Kansas City project.

Finally, there is Southern Telecom’s installation of the Northern Fiber Optic Ring for Georgia State University. Several years ago, according to Campus Technology, the Atlanta-based telecom firm created the Southern Fiber Optic Ring for the school.

The bottom line is that there are lots of fiber projects going on, and most of them are being done by small companies. Indeed, the balance is tipping more in favor of the little players because FiOS and U-verse both are more or less fully deployed.



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