Did you ever wonder what makes the businesses based on longhaul and metro fiber so different? If you read blogs like this one, you know that there is a big difference in the economics. The prices you pay for metro access at the bit-per-mile level are much higher within a metro area than from one to another. But why? I have to admit that when asked this question in the past I have not answered it particularly well, and they say one doesn’t fully understand something if they can’t put it into simple terms. So a few days ago when Dave Rusin over on TelecomStraightShooter posted a wonderful description of the differences between the two at the traffic engineering level, I have read it a few times since.
That post and its brothers, one explaining the differences between such networks in physical terms and the latest one posing the questions one should ask when evaluating different fiber networks, are IMHO required reading for anyone trying to understand the assets that underlie this sector and the companies in it. It is so easy for people to just lump all fiber together and measure it in bulk like bushels of potatoes, and this is often what Wall Street does. Sure they know that metro and longhaul fiber are valued differently, but it is somewhat like different varieties of potatoes still measured in bushels and it’s just not that simple. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of how networks really differ, the explanations usually start to blur.
What I’m thinking now is how I might take that knowledge to improve my posts on metro fiber providers. I think I’ll try to add fiber miles to the mix, they aren’t so easy to find in most cases, but at least I can include what is out there.
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