Edging closer to better connectivity

A plethora of announcements were made at the 16th Metro Connect conference, which brought together over 540 senior representatives within the metro fibre market across the US. Jason McGee-Abe highlights some of the companies enhancing connectivity.

Metro activity is certainly on the up with more dark fibre networks and installations, lit services and the advent of small cells boosting the connectivity. Wireless is still key to the last mile, which is predicated on fibre density and ubiquity. Walter Cannon explained to Capacity how ZenFi is supporting most of the major telecoms networks in the New York area. One month ago, ZenFi partnered with Cross River Fiber to launch a metro connectivity platform called ZenCross Connect (zXc) “to efficiently purchase point-to-point data-centre connections in New York and New Jersey”, said Cannon, vice president of sales and marketing, adding: “ZenFi has around 144 fibre pairs between the data centres in New York and zXc means we have almost 30 data centres.”

“The market is so commoditised,” Cannon said. “We wanted to make it easier for customers by making a point-and-click model with the option to buy on a monthly basis. People shop around a lot with data centres so it’s essentially patching a core between all the facilities.”

Wilcon is another company making strong headway as it has recently deployed turnkey small cells and hundreds of nodes in downtown LA and San Diego. Jon DeLuca, president and CEO of Wilcon, is leading the company’s expansion in the fibre-optic network and data centre sectors. He told Capacity: “In addition to our extensive fibre deployment, we’re providing a turnkey small cell solution in these central business districts. Wilcon is a big believer in dark fibre: “You don’t have to twist our arm to get us to sell dark fibre; it’s a major part of what we do,” said DeLuca. “Leveraging what we already have strengthens our market position.”

The proliferation of small cell nodes, particularly in urban or metro environments, and network deployments are going to be critical for 5G. 

“Wireless carriers are more focused on fibre today and dark fibre is becoming much more prominent in the enterprise space. Enterprises are looking to deploy their own equipment and manage their own networks,” said DeLuca.

Traditionally, customers would buy bandwidth in increments and allow the carrier or service provider to manage the network. “Today, we’re seeing more customers not wanting to pay for incremental bandwidth and they have the internal capabilities to deploy and manage their own networks,” added DeLuca. They are looking for partners to provide the underlying infrastructure, the dark fibre and other access. Companies like Wilcon are striving to become the underlying fibre infrastructure provider for these 5G deployments by the wireless carriers.

Many providers of enterprise class data transport solutions across the US domestic carrier ecosystem and to countries worldwide are establishing points of presence (PoPs) in a number of data centre facilities with colocation and interconnection services. For example, the Colo Atl facility, which accommodates over 90 local, regional and global operators, provides immediate access to an additional 500,000 fibre-lit buildings. 

Cleareon Fiber Networks, which acquired Pangaea Networks in October 2016, has expanded its footprint and service offering to include metro Ethernet services, including: Ethernet Private Line (EPL), Ethernet over Sonet (EoS) and Ethernet Private Network (EPN). Additionally, PANMetro, an Ethernet connectivity service connecting the New York tri-state area’s pre-eminent carrier hotels, exchanges and data centres, will become its flagship offering. These services are already in place, as well as access to thousands of the area’s enterprise buildings where Cleareon can deliver Ethernet services.

Phil Olivero, CTO of Lightower Fiber Networks, told Capacity about the all-fibre domestic network provider’s performance over the past year, which saw an additional 1,800 miles of fibre and 2,500 on-net locations it serves to its portfolio. “We also automated significant parts of our own service provisioning process last year, which has helped reduce intervals, and have added customer service quoting and ordering on our portal,” said Olivero. Servicing multiple verticals is certainly behind Lightower’s success, helping the company to build and extend its network. “The real key to our success was to fill our infrastructure with revenue from many verticals. We’re able to justify building whilst pleasing investors with the demand across many verticals.”