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Tag Archives: Allied Fiber

U.S. Must Add Extensive Fiber Backhaul to Reach ’Real LTE’

The United States is behind in terms of fiber-optic penetration for backhaul, which must be resolved before nationwide LTE networks will become a reality, Hunter Newby, Allied Fiber, told an audience at the Tower and Small Cell Summit in Las Vegas, late in May.

“We have a problem as a country. There’s a huge, gaping hole in the U.S. [fiber-optic] infrastructure,” Newby said during the Opportunities in Backhaul session. “Of all the antenna sites in existence, more than 300,000, I believe we have fiber penetration to about 30 percent, and that might be charitable.”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the United States well behind other countries in terms of fiber penetration, Newby said.

Newby noted a March 12 Vertical Systems Group report that showed business access to fiber in the United States has grown from 10.9 percent to 36.1 percent since 2004, leaving 63.9 percent unserved.

“The report said the fiber gap is closing, which I found rather fantastic,” Newby said. “That means in eight years, we have increased only 26 percent. At that pace, in 16 years, we will be … on the same level that Singapore, South Korea and Japan are on today. That is not so good. Not so good.”

Fiber and microwave are complementary, and microwave will always exist at the edge of the fiber ring, Newby conceded. While a one-hop microwave hookup will provide LTE speeds under certain circumstances, fiber is critical for LTE to work for a given density of users, he said.

“How can we have even a single nationwide 4G LTE, if LTE doesn’t work effectively without fiber to the tower and there is only fiber to 30 percent of the antenna sites?” Newby asked. “Well, we can’t. The reality is we don’t. We need to get real about what is actually out there in terms of infrastructure.”

The root of the problem, according to Newby, is the unwillingness of investors to put their money in fiber-optic infrastructure.

“Everybody wants a 12-month return on investment on a fiber-to-the-tower build,” he said. “The most that anyone is going to fund is five miles. A mile [fiber build out] is a chip shot, but for an ROI outside of 12 months no one is investing.”

Allied Fiber is working to address the lack of accessible dark fiber in the market by making carrier-neutral dark fiber available for cell tower backhaul and other needs. In 2008, it embarked on a five-phase plan to build a fiber loop around the perimeter of the nation. Last year, it built a 150-mile route in Georgia that was driven by an operator that wanted Ethernet services to 250 towers. The firm is now building from Miami to Atlanta, as well as completing the Phase One route from New York City to Chicago.

Meanwhile, AT&T is achieving more progress in its fiber backhaul rollout than expected, according to an investor note by Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche. The carrier says it has fiber to more than 75 percent of its 58,000 cell sites.

“While AT&T has been public about the fact that 90 percent plus of its data traffic is on enhanced backhaul (primarily fiber), this was the first time we heard it quantify the specific percentage of fiber-drawn sites,” she wrote. “We note this percentage significantly exceeds that of the smaller two national players (despite marketing and promotions suggesting the opposite).”

Fritzsche also reports that Zayo Group, a global dark fiber provider, is experiencing increased demand for fiber-to-the-tower to meet data demand.  

Zayo has experience beefing up fiber-to-the-tower in advance of major sporting events. For example, The company installed a dark fiber ring to improve wireless capacity and reliability during last month’s events in Indianapolis 500.  Zayo’s services supported wireless traffic backhaul from a DAS deployment at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, enabling a 23-mile fiber ring connecting a national carrier’s multiple points of presence and the speedway. 

Zayo Group also provided a metro dark-fiber network in and around Indianapolis for ExteNet Systems to use in its distributed telecommunications networks for this year’s Super Bowl.  

 Zayo now manages more than 540 fiber route miles in the Indianapolis metro area and supports service to more than 300 buildings on-net.

Allied Fiber Finds Funding for Phase One of Nationwide Fiber Network

Allied Fiber has completed funding for phase one of its nationwide fiber-optic network. Construction of the first phase linking New York City, Chicago and Ashburn, Va., is under way and expected to be completed by May 2011.

The 1,300 route-mile network is the first phase of an 11,500 route-mile, five-phase plan to ring the nation with a carrier-neutral, dark-fiber network, which will address the needs for national broadband demand by providing access to new dark fiber, collocation facilities and fiber-fed wireless towers on a network-neutral, open-access basis throughout the United States.

“In what has been a very challenging financing market, we have been able to prove the merits of the Allied Fiber system,” Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber, said in a press release. “In response to the proven demand from our customers and the industry, we will be able to complete the phase one build and deliver the physical, long-haul and short-haul dark fiber, collocation and interconnection capabilities that are so critical for the next generation of network requirements in our country.”

Allied Fiber has implemented a new, multi-duct design for intermediate access to the long-haul fiber duct through a parallel short-haul fiber duct all along the route. This enables all points between the major cities, including data centers, wireless towers and rural networks, to gain access to the dark fiber. In addition, the Allied Fiber neutral collocation facilities, located approximately every 60 miles along the route, accommodate a multi-tenant interconnection environment integrated with fiber.

The first phase of the system will provide access for hundreds of tower sites, all integrated into one system from one provider. The new 528-count, long-haul cable coupled with the 216-count, short-haul cable will be a composite of single-mode and non-zero dispersion-shifted fibers. By having a high-fiber count and being network-neutral, Allied Fiber is able to offer dark fiber and collocation at lower unit costs.

In other fiber-optic news, FiberLight has launched a $20 million, 104-mile fiber-optic network to augment its existing 123-mile Baltimore network and 299-mile Virginia and Washington, D.C., networks. The new network extends the 100-percent underground optical backbone past the downtown Baltimore business district to connect to the growing cities of Laurel, Columbia, Elkridge and Greenbelt, while providing greater diversity to the MD/D.C./VA region.

Patrick Mitchell, president and CEO of the Maryland Broadband Cooperative public/private partnership to support technology infrastructure deployment, noted the importance of connecting networks with fiber optics in order to get broadband out to the rural areas of Maryland.

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