After messing around with Level 3's public information about its lit buildings, I decided to look at another company that also provides nice quantities of information about its lit buildings: Zayo Bandwidth. Zayo, one of Dan Caruso's companies, also provides detailed maps of its extensive regional and metro fiber plus an on-net building list, and it is possible to glean information out of them. Of course, these maps and tables are not totally current (though they are recent), and obviously do not contain the assets of Columbia Fiber Solutions since that acquisition has not (I believe) closed.
First off, Zayo's footprint is more concentrated than we might have realized. Their network spans 125 markets with all that fiber, however it has only 10 or more lit buildings in only 20 of them, listed here:
These top 20 markets have over 80% of all Zayo's lit buildings. In fact, just three markets - Philadelphia, Memphis, and Indianapolis - have over 50% of all of Zayo's lit buildings. Each came from a different acquisition of course: the Philadelphia market came from PPL Telcom, Memphis from Memphis Networx, and Indianpolis from Indiana Fiberworks. We can now see the Columbia Fiber Solutions acquisition in a new light - Spokane will be the anchor city for that region just as Indianapolis and Philadephia are for theirs. Perhaps a regional network to go with Memphis is somewhere down the pike?
The second thing we may not have realized about Zayo Bandwidth is that in their two biggest markets - Philadelphia and Memphis - a large percentage of their lit buildings aren't actually buildings. They are cell sites. That's right, Zayo is apparently a very large player in the fiber-to-the-tower market in these two cities. In fact, when Zayo says they have over 400 additional lit buildings under construction to be completed this year, the vast majority are listed as pending cell cites in these two markets - over 300 in Philadelphia and over 80 in Memphis. So Zayo isn't engaged in a broad expansion of lit buildings across its footprint, rather it seems to be implementing several tower backhaul deals - huge ones in fact.
Finally, since I already compiled the data on Level 3, we can derive where Zayo's (120+ markets) and Level 3's (180+ markets) really compete much at all and where they don't. If we count the markets where both companies have 10 or more lit buildings (admittedly primitive), we see that by this definition they only really compete in 9 markets - 6 of them in Pennsylvania and the rest not far from it: Philadelphia, Allentown, Scranton, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Columbus, and Washington DC. Hence, Zayo and Level 3 really compete with each other only in the mid-atlantic region, any additional overlap they have is not really too meaningful and their remaining assets are complementary. For instance, Level 3 has little presence in the Zayo strongholds Indianapolis and Memphis, nor does it have any at all in the soon-to-be Zayo stronghold Spokane.
Interesting, to me at least. I will look at other company's footprints now and then, at least the ones that are kind enough to publish enough data to be interesting.
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