Yesterday I gathered on-net building data. Now, size isn't everything, it matters a great deal what buildings you connect and how you connect them. So let's see what we can get out of those numbers. In terms of on-net buildings per market served:
|Company||Buildings per market|
What does this mean? Maybe not much, but it's interesting anyway. I suspect the Zayo numbers are inaccurate though, Zayo doesn't easily differentiate between regional and metro fiber, and thus their 90 markets includes many where rather than having an actual ring they have regional fiber just passing through as part of a larger loop - so the count of 90 markets may not be comparable to the others in the table. Some of the other differences come from the size of market, it might be harder to light up 100+ buildings in Roanoke VA than it is in New York NY where there are obviously more large buildings in less space and thus more buildings one can make a financial case to bring on-net. Level 3 has many smaller markets throughout the east, perhaps that brings down their numbers somewhat. RCN Metro and Abovenet concentrate on the very largest cities, which shows up perhaps in their density. Above all though, the numbers show why TW Telecom is often seen as the leader of this segment, their portfolio of on-net buildings is both large *and* dense.
Another way to look at density is perhaps metro route miles per on-net building. A lower number implies a higher usage of the fiber - if the average building is similar. This is a measure of physical compactness of a company's networks, I'll neglect Zayo for now until I figure out how to handle their route miles number.
|Company||Route miles per building|
|American Fiber Systems||1.9|
And now we have American Fiber Systems at the top of the list, and that is no mean feat when one considers the markets they serve. They are a private company that few people know of, let alone understand or look at, and there isn't much public data on them. Yet they not only survived the crash and the ensuing telecom nuclear winter, they did so without making any fuss at all, perhaps now we get an inkling as to why.
Now, I find the consistency of the next 5 numbers very interesting, because the companies themselves are so wildly different. How is it that such different business models produce such similar looking statistics of 3-4 route miles of fiber per on-net building? It's eerie, and I'd really like to figure out why.
RCN Metro's relatively high number surprised me at first, given the compact nature of their east coast markets, but then I recalled that half of their business was the old Neon, which did not serve the enterprise directly and thus would cut down their density. Likewise, US Signal is higher because they are the only one in the group that does not serve the enterprise directly in any substantial way, thus they connect fewer buildings. I think Cogent's position as the least compact on this chart may have to do with the fact that all their metro networks are entirely IRU based - they own relatively few fiber miles and no conduit miles (that I know of) - thus they have a different cost structure than the rest.