Dark Fiber's Long Tail - The Digital Deserts of America

Infrastructure Peering

Dark Fiber's Long Tail - The Digital Deserts of America

By Hunter Newby, CEO  |  June 03, 2014

A recent article written by Scott Amundson highlighted the New York City Economic Development Corp’s. ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge to address the so-called digital deserts in New York City. These are the buildings, neighborhoods, and areas within the largest city in the United States that have no fiber-based network services at all. These are real places that exist today and are, unfortunately, vast. They are dry spots on the major metropolitan landscape where barely any forms of innovation, creativity, or economic life can grow, flourish, and thrive.

The concept of a fiber drought anywhere in America, let alone in the middle of New York City, is shocking to many. The shocked have been deluged with the common, mass-market notion of a metropolis being advanced in all aspects. These people have been drenched in a downpour of misinformation that is a psychological camouflage for the actual dearth around us all. The blissful ignorance and lack of awareness of the disbelievers and generally oblivious does not change the fact that it is the truth. Just ask anyone trying to operate a business that requires reliable, high-speed network access and is in a building with no access to fiber.

Enlightenment is power. Once the light is on in ones’ mind it becomes difficult to not see everything for what it is. As the initial, fundamental truth is discovered with further thought it then leads to related, extrapolated, and compounding truths. Waking up to the reality that fiber brings economic growth necessitates the evaluation of where fiber is and is not presently available. This is the premise of the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge.

The places where there is no fiber require a plan, investment and construction to bring fiber to them. The biggest challenge faced in trying to connect fiber optic cables to the city's businesses is physical access to the endpoints and the rights of way and costs associated with the process of finding and utilizing any existing physical assets and/or creating new paths. The three major components/impediments of physical access are the congestion of New York City's underground fiber optic conduit system, the points of entry into the buildings themselves, and the in-building riser to get to the actual business point of demarcation. The need for these elements, the system with laterals to the points of entry and the risers to the demarcation points, are a global constant.

“The majority of the time is spent figuring out how to get the fiber where it needs to go,” notes Shrihari Pandit, CEO Stealth Communications (News - Alert).

If this is the case in New York City, then imagine the fiber drought conditions in every other city and all of the places in between in the U.S. If the U.S. economy is the size that it is presently with such conditions, then imagine what it would be with a plan to bring fiber everywhere it needs to go.

What this country needs is a ConnectAmerica Fiber Challenge! The need is known, and the reality is rising like the sun. The plan and its stakeholders, the businesses in America, must come together to bring fiber to all of the digital deserts, and this will spring economic life all throughout the land.

Hunter Newby (News - Alert) is CEO of Allied Fiber

Edited by Maurice Nagle