As new mobile devices and IP services begin to reshape the map for broadband demand, new companies are emerging to supply the infrastructure. An interesting new player in this effort is Allied Fiber, which today is officially announcing its dark fiber network running from northern Virginia to New York to Chicago.
The new wrinkle: Allied Fiber's route will be lined with 19 colocation sites and more than 300 wireless towers along the way. The company envisions a network of carrier-neutral facilities that can bring the rich connectivity of network hubs like 60 Hudson Street and extend it to second-tier markets along their route.
The company's executive team understands the power that connectivity can bring to an ecosystem of providers. CEO Hunter Newby and executive chairman Rory Cutaia previously ran The Telx Group, which created a telecom connectivity hub at 60 Hudson Street and then built a network of meet-me-rooms at major carrier hotels across the country.
This morning Allied Fiber is announcing right-of-way agreements with Norfolk Southern Railway. Construction of the initial route is underway, and is expected to cost about $140 million and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2010.
"We created this system to address the numerous backhaul and capacity issues that exist in the marketplace today," said Newby. "Our business is a combination of fiber, colo and towers."
The first phase will connect three of the nation's biggest Internet markets - Chicago, New York, and the data center hub of Ashburn, Virginia. Most fiber routes serve as a limited-access highway between two points. Allied Fiber's route provides periodic on-ramps and off-ramps. It accomplishes this with a new, multi-duct design that provides 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 wireless towers and rural networks, to gain access to the dark fiber.
Meet-me-Rooms Along the Route
Allied Fiber will locate colocation facilities at intervals of about 60 miles along the route. Each facility will be from 650 square feet up to several thousand square feet in size, and provide a carrier-neutral meet-me-room environment where local networks can connect with the long-haul fiber routes as they are lit.
Allied Fiber says the users for its fiber will include everyone from submarine cable systems, large international and domestic wireline and wireless carriers and network operators to small rural carriers, cooperatives and cable television companies.
New Type of Network
"The name Allied Fiber was chosen to signify a new type of all-access, physical layer network," said Cutaia. "This network specifically manages competing systems in a common, carrier-neutral infrastructure offering ownership and management of individual fiber pairs."
The growth of mobile devices and wireless networks provides support for the company's business model. In-Stat research indicates that 90,000 Gbps of capacity in the last mile of the backhaul network will be needed by the end of 2013 to support the world’s cellular and WiMAX networks.
Allied Fiber's long-range plans call for addition networks connecting cities in the Southeastern U.S. and connecting Chicago and Seattle to tie in to Pacific Rim networks.
"It’s creating a meeting between the long-haul assets and the local and wireless loops," said Newby. "It is a model that is meant to scale and meant to be replicated. These are large opportunities. This is the tip of the iceberg."