Back in the bubble, longhaul fiber was a darling of the street. These days, the value of metro fiber gets most of the press. But regional fiber is a middle child that gets overlooked. If a market isn't conveniently on the route between two NFL cities, the number of on-ramps drops amazingly quickly, the alternatives to the ILEC are generally few and come from brand names that don't get heard much. In technological terms, this fiber is akin to longhaul fiber because it covers distances greater than a metro loop would and uses basically the same gear. But in terms of functionality, it often acts more like metro fiber because it mainly provides an on/off ramp to the major data highways.
Of course, larger names like Level 3 have a fair amount of regional fiber, but here I speak of smaller, regionally focused companies who specialize in it. Zayo has a good sized pile of it, and AFS has a controlling share in US Carrier (below), so it's not as if they're unknown - just often ignored by the press. One major way they get started is as a cooperative effort between small, independent RLECs and ILECs, who depend on such on-ramps and prefer to have some control over their costs, but there are other ways as well.
Often there is little public information about them, if one doesn't have a great deal of local knowledge one often can't even tell if their fiber is owned, leased, etc. But their unique footprints mean less competition, and the increasing need for greater and greater on-ramps of all sorts will raise their profile. Here's a quick list to start with, I don't expect to find all of them right off the bat.
|Kentucky Datalink||24 states||map|
|Oregon Fiber Network||OR||map|
|Advanced Communications Technology||WY||map|
|Aurora Fiber Networks||MN||map|
|INS IXC Services||IA||map|
|Wisconsin Independent Network||WI||map|
|Peninsula Fiber Network||MI||map|
|Great Lakes Comnet||MI||map|
|Independent Fiber Network||OH||map|
|Indiana Fiber Network||IN||map|
|Missouri Network Alliance||MO||site|
|Texas Lone Start Network||TX||map|
See any missing from the list? Add a comment below and I'll be sure add it.