Spread Not Aerial

October 19th, 2010 by · 7 Comments

In a comment on last week's article about the introduction of Spread Network's Ethernet wave services, a reader asked whether there was much aerial fiber on Spread's new route and whether that added risk to its ultra-low latency proposition.  My first thought was that a bunch of aerial fiber might help explain the stealth of their buildout, the directness of the route, and lower costs as well.  But as speculation goes it was obviously guesswork, so yesterday I asked them straight up and a Spread Networks' representative sent me this response:

Less than 1% of the fiber mileage of the Spread Networks route between New York and Chicago is aerial.  Aerial installation was used in circumstances where underground alternatives presented the greatest risk of fiber cuts due to placement of nearby facilities.

So there you have it.  Less than 1% translates to 8 miles or less of the total route being aerial fiber, with those spans coming in areas where underground fiber cuts were also a substantial risk.  (Probably somewhere in NJ, where else?) Doesn't sound like they cut that corner, so much for that one!

I'm curious though, if the answer had been otherwise, would it have really mattered?  I mean, this is just one route, a big financial player would obviously have it backed up with another diverse route - probably one with very low latency as well.  Even if one route were the fastest but riskier in terms of fiber cuts, you'd still have a speed advantage 99% of the time.  It's not like they wouldn't use it, traders are used to flying without a net.

Categories: Fiber optic cable · Low Latency

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7 Comments So Far


  • Anonymous says:

    Is Spread representing redundancy with the lighter shaded lines on their map? If so, is this purchased fibers from other carriers or something they also built?

    • Rob Powell says:

      No, I believe the lighter shaded lines on their map represent competing fiber builds. Thus the brighter line is their own which is therefore shown to be the straightest and hence shortest alternative. At least, that’s my interpretation – corrections welcome.

      • Anonymous 2.0 says:

        As an aside, there are no studies (or empirical data) that support the notion that aerial plant is any less reliable in practice than underground fiber assets. This is counter intuitive, admittedly, but as someone who has been in the business of managing physical fiber plant (both aerial and underground), I have observed this in practice to be true.

          • anonymoose says:

            I think it’s a coin toss unless conditions in a given locale are skewed. However, one must wonder how relevant that 2001 publication you cited can be, if it cites outages during the eighties and nineties prior to the age of the great fiber buildouts? I suspect that the optical ground wire that is mentioned in that report also provides skewed results, if strung between steel pylons on high-voltage spans, as opposed to the much lower spans found strung between wooden poles.

  • Anonymous says:

    Depends on locale. Weather such as ice storms and tornadoes (Midwest) can cause extended outages which would not be allowable for long-haul as a rule.

    Where is the redundancy on the Spread Network route? Isn’t that a part of every carrier SLA these days?

  • Anon says:

    aerial fiber atop transmissio or other steel poles is actually exceptionally reliable. in fact, i have seen it continue to work after a pole falls due to very heavy rubber buffer. not sure this matters, but there are benefits and burdens to aerial and buried fiber

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