In my post earlier this week about dark fiber and unintended consequences, I looked at the new longhaul buildout by Allied Fiber from the point of view of other longhaul fiber operators. But that made it sound as if Allied Fiber is an unwelcome entrant to the sector, which would be true only for a small subset of the industry. Allied Fiber has many allies that hope to see it succeed:
Metro Fiber operators – The more of a metro fiber orientation, the more you like the idea of having a new dark fiber intercity player. For companies like abvt, TW Telecom (NASDAQ:TWTC, news, filings), American Fiber Systems, FiberLight, and others of similar orientation, intercity fiber is more of an enabler than a source of value directly. Having it in the right places allows them to get more out of their main metro assets than they could otherwise and increases their addressable market. But they’d prefer to save their cash for the high margin but capital intensive metro business. Thus, they tend to link their networks together with wavelengths or dark fiber IRUs. For them, having someone like Allied Fiber out there to buy from or just to keep prices and flexibility in line would be a good thing.
Wireless Carriers & Tower owners – Allied Fiber has hooking up towers directly as part of their wholesale model, which the tower companies have to find attractive. Such towers have a low barrier of entry for any carriers wishing to backhaulo traffic, and thus will attract more tenants etc. Having a carrier build fiber to your tower is one thing, having it available to any other carrier forever thereafter is even better. To be honest though, this line of thought seems a bit shaky to me thus far as the towers in question lie only in narrow strips on paths between cities – but I guess one has to start somewhere.
Foreign PTTs – If desire to increase their presence in the US market again, having to do so by buying dark fiber from a reluctant competitor like AT&T, Verizon, Level 3, or Qwest is certainly part of the list of difficulties they face. If Allied Fiber succeeds, they will have what they haven’t had since the bubble – a wholesale alternative rather than the wholesale division of a competitor.
AT&T and Verizon – Frankly these two have put far less fewer of their eggs in the intercity longhaul basket than the smaller nextgen operators. On intercity routes they tend to have older fiber and less of it. They probably don’t much care if Allied Fiber survives its buildout, just that its fiber does so that they don’t have to spend cash to build it themselves when they need it. After the dot com bubble popped, I seem to recall AT&T picking up an unfinished conduit/fiber network that they had backed, for pennies on the dollar. Can’t quite place the name though, anyone?
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