Yesterday we took a quick look at where the metro route miles are following my recent update to the metro fiber and lit buildings page, today we follow up with where the buildings are. Now, when I put together this list, I tend to be very liberal with what constitutes an on-net building. Basically, if it’s a man-made structure that consumes or produces bandwidth, and a company controls a fiber connection to it, then it qualifies. That means towers and buildings served by dark fiber only thus far both make the list. It also means that a ‘building’ can mean anything from a skyscraper with hundreds of tenants that is akin to wiring a small city alone, all the way down a single tenant enterprise building that just outgrew its T-1 and happens to sit alongside a competitive fiber route.
What amazes me about this list now is that there are now 17 competitive fiber operators in the USA with more than a thousand on-net buildings, and that would almost certainly be above twenty if we could find similar figures from Cox, Charter, Comcast, and TW Cable. Leading the pack by far is obviously tw telecom, which has been adding hundreds every quarter for some time now and has been accelerating further of late. Level 3 by contrast, has been stuck at about 8000 for years and doesn’t offer much granularity on the subject – though they have been talking more about expanding their penetration lately and have been spending to back up those words.
But while those two still clearly lead the pack, the pack itself has been growing some muscle. With all the private equity money looking for a home in the sector, I think we can expect this trend to continue. A notable addition to this list from Europe would be Colt, which has some 17,000 on-net buildings on that continent and hence rivals tw telecom in sheer volume, but I have yet to get sufficient data on metro route miles to add them to the list overall yet – maybe next quarter.
What neither this table nor yesterday’s route miles table show though is density, which can tell us what kind of provider each company is. For instance, EasyTel and Optimum Lightpath have all their buildings in a single market, while others like Cogent and PAETEC spread similar numbers around dozens of markets. We’ll look at that in more detail tomorrow.