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August 16, 2012

Fiber Builds Start to Move Again - Opportunities in DC?

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

If you thought the world had been saturated with fiber, think again. A number of new builds are springing up across the Southeast, including Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. There's also a potential opportunity for some new fiber in the Washington D.C. metro area -- if someone is smart enough to latch onto it.

For the longest time, it seemed like Allied Fiber (News - Alert) was the only firm talking up building fiber. Allied has a big, multi-phase build plan that started in the mid-Atlantic and moved west, with a second wave rolling south starting in Virginia and heading towards Florida. The company started building long haul routes with colocation huts for third-parties to deploy equipment and has added short-haul and fiber-to-the-tower services.

The latest trend seems to be a mix of building local and long-haul. Achelea Global Networks has revealed it will build fiber rings around Charlotte, N.C. and city routes between Charlotte, Kings Mountain, Asheville, and Raleigh/Durham. The company is also opening offices in Georgia and California, with more offices and co-lo facilities expected "nationally and globally" during 2013.

Houston-based Alpheus Networks is going to spend more than $10 million this year to expand its workforce and fiber network to support directly selling high bandwidth services to Texas businesses. Alpheus expects to add 30 percent more people to support sales and operations, including opening up a sales office in Dallas.   Texas is an intriguing market with a recent influx of commercial space companies, including Blue Origin, SpaceX (News - Alert) and XCOR all putting facilities in the state. Between video conferencing, high-end computer modeling, real-world testing and regular communications with NASA and the FAA, anyone building rockets is going to move a lot of data.

Opportunities for putting more fiber around the National Capital area stem from a big problem. PEPCO, the electric utility servicing the District of Columbia and adjoining counties in Maryland, is facing increased public pressure to start burying more power lines after a series of storms tore through the area.    Estimates to bury all the power lines in DC range up to $5 billion, at a cost between $400,000 and $1.6 million a mile.

One way to offset costs for buying those lines would be to find a telecommunications partner or two to split the costs of digging and dropping in fiber alongside the power lines. Yes, it will end up being a little more complicated to coordinate two different vendors, but if you're going to the expense of digging up roads, sidewalks and lawns, you might as well put the fiber in anyway.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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