A Metro Fiber Statistics Update as 2010 Comes to a Close

December 28th, 2010 by · 3 Comments

I have spent part of my December harvesting updated data for my metro fiber and on-net buildings list.  There are still a few data points that are playing hard to get, but for the most part the numbers are in.  A few new faces have been added to the list, and of course a few faces are missing having now merged with others on the list during this year’s metro fiber M&A frenzy.  In addition to the overall list, which you can look at any time, I’ll spend a few posts this week taking a closer look at interesting spots in the data.  First, let’s look at single market leaders.

The more national players get the most press the press, but in terms of raw depth in specific markets it is often the regional specialists that lead the pack.  Obviously, a few large wholesale sites dominate the revenue in each market, but for now think of each  metro market like a Christmas tree with each building representing a light.  Who lists the most fiber-fed buildings in a single contiguous metro market, i.e. who has the brightest Christmas tree?

Company Metro Market Fiber-fed Buildings Comments
Optimum Lightpath NY/NJ 4000 Way out in front
EasyTel Communications Tulsa 1346 They update their public count almost daily
Black Rock Cable North of Seattle 885 Not even in a central business district
Zayo Bandwidth Philadelphia


Towers galore
Sidera Networks NY/NJ 672 Before the LIFE acquisition’s +500
DQE Communications Pittsburgh 628 Easily the most buildings for an Energy Utility

Of course, the size of the market means a lot, which is part of why two from the NY/NJ Metro area are here and Optimum Lightpath’s footprint there is just huge.  But who would have reckoned regional operators in Tulsa, the northern Seattle suburbs, and Pittsburgh would place so high?  The other of course is Zayo in Philadelphia, where they have hooked up hundreds of towers alone with more to come.

Lightower’s 2100 buildings probably give them a spot on the above list for NYC and perhaps in Boston too, but I don’t yet know the breakdown (anyone?).  TW Telecom might be this deep in a market or two, but they don’t offer any per market data, at least publicly.  Cox Business and Comcast Business may also be there (especially Cox in Omaha for instance), but I have no public data to work with for them.

There are also a few footprints in smaller cities that have impressive depth, such as that of Arialink which has 359 in Lansing MI alone.  And Southern Light Fiber claims 2200 buildings spread across just six smaller metro markets on the Gulf Coast, which works out to over  350 in each on average.  Level 3’s deepest markets are in the smaller cities of Burlington VT and Harrisburg PA, former Telcove strongholds with nearly 500 lit buildings each nowadays.  Hmmm, it might be interesting (though perhaps not totally feasible) to redo the list and correct it for population density of each MSA.

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Categories: Metro fiber

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3 Comments So Far

  • CableGuy says:

    I know that you are only on the hunt for “fiber fed” buildings, but have you considered another technology that all the major cable companies are deploying at the COAX-fed/lit commercial buildings, DOCSIS 3.0. DOCSIS 3.0 allows 20 Mb speeds up and down. 20 Mb of up and down bandwidth covers a very large portion of the SMB market nationally.

    At this point DOCSIS 3.0 has been deployed by the top 3 carriers – Comcast, Time Warner Cable and COX in all their markets that serve businesses. When you count these commercial sites as lit buildings, each cable MSO has thousands of “lit” buildings in every metro market they serve.

    • Rob Powell says:

      CableGuy, if I could find the data for docsis 3.0 connected buildings, I’d collect that too!

    • Frank A. Coluccio says:

      A rollup of lit commercial buildings served by DOCSIS would be helpful too, agreed. However, I’d be more interested in seeing a separate list of buildings connected by RF over Glass a la EPON and GPON. Some MSOs (e.g., BrightHouse in Florida) are serving SMBs and small enterprises with fiber to the department and in some cases fiber to the desk, similar to what Verizon’s FiOS now does for government agencies on government land. The incumbent telcos are loathe to cannibalize their special service tariffs by introducing a cheap optical alternatives, while the cable guys see this as a virgin opportunity. EPON/GPON assures far greater penetration levels than DOCSIS can ever hope to achieve per unit of distribution plant, for what it’s worth. Granted, some variants of PON (D-PON or DOCSIS-PON) also employ DOCSIS at a higher layer of the stack, in lieu of Ethernet/ATM, and those portend lucrative opportunities too.


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