Building Additions Accelerated in 2011

December 27th, 2011 by · 7 Comments

Did you know that at least five US competitive fiber operators are reporting 1,000 or more buildings on-net than they did last year at this time?  As promised, I have updated my metro fiber and on-net building statistics page to reflect all the fiber buildouts and M&A activity that have taken us through 2011.   You can check the full list of course, but here is a look at some incremental numbers.

The following table details net building additions since my update of this list one year ago for those fiber operators adding 100 or more.  It’s not a perfect snapshot, as the data comes from various points in the fourth quarter depending on how it was reported.  Also, the numbers include both inorganic and organic activity, with inorganic events noted to help make sense of the data.  But it does tell us where the activity has been – with a surprise or two.

Company Buildings Added
Since 12/2010 Update
tw telecom +1642
Fibertech +1595
Sidera Networks +1384 Long Island Fiber +550
Zayo +1273 360networks +200?
Optimum Lightpath +1000 Rounded
FPL Fibernet +727 Grande assets
Lightower +700 Open Access, NSTAR
FiberLight +508
Unite Private Networks +488 Only since June, may be more
AboveNet +400 Rounded
Integra Telecom +314
Sunesys +200 Through June, may be more.
Cogent +168
EasyTEL Communications +154
DQE Communications +112

It’s no surprise that TW Telecom (NASDAQ:TWTC, news, filings) is on top, they have been building out organically at a torrid rate all year.  But until compiling this list I didn’t realize that smaller, privately held Fibertech has been keeping a similarly torrid pace in its primarily Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic markets.  I have only 6 months or so of data for Unite Private Networks, so they have been very busy as well.

Optimum Lightpath managed to add about a thousand buildings organically over the last year, which is amazing for a single metro area.  Two other single-metro-area providers added more than a hundred buildings as well: EasyTEL and DQE – which is also quite an impressive pace given that their home territories of Tulsa and Pittsburgh have a much smaller pool of potential buildings than the NYC Metro area.

Sidera, Lightower, FPL Fibernet, and Zayo boosted their building count via a combination of inorganic and organic activity.  Most of Zayo’s was organic though (think towers), as 360networks didn’t have a large building count.  I’m not sure how how many buildings the Grande purchase added to FPL Fibernet, but I tend to think it was also not very significant.

abvt, FiberLight (news), Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI, news, filings), and Sunesys (news) made their usual steady organic progress, with more tightly focused targeting on particular building types than those at the head of this table.  Sunesys’s data here is probably half of reality, as the numbers I have didn’t change since June.

And it’s very nice to see Integra on this list for once, reflecting their renewed interest in their fiber assets this year.  Hopefully that will continue into 2012!

As you may know, it is impossible to get data from *all* providers, especially from the largest incumbent providers and cable operators.  Also obviously missing from this list are Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings), which has not yet reported post-GLBC details except for a metro route mile count of about 30K, and Windstream (NYSE:WIN, news, filings), which similarly isn’t ready with data post-PAETEC.  I expect that Level 3’s number is near 9,000 now with the added buildings in the UK and South America plus some organic adds.  I don’t have any idea what Windstream/PAETEC have ben up to.

However, while M&A kept these two busy, nearly all competitive fiber operators are willing to share a few details on their progress.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed data for my metro fiber and on-net building statistics!

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7 Comments So Far

  • To Whom it May Concern:

    Coukd there be an error in the number of route fiber miles posted for tw telecom? I have copied the statement belwo directly from our website:

    Today, tw telecom serves markets nationwide over its own facilities, with more than 27,000 route miles of fiber………………

    Thank you in advacne for correcting the error.


    • Rob Powell says:

      The list distinguishes between metro route miles and intercity/longhaul route miles. According to its last earnings release: The Company ended the third quarter with approximately 27,000 fiber route miles (of which approximately 20,000 were metro miles).

  • Luddite says:


    I had to laugh, you were “surprised” that Fibertech had added so many buildings, almost as many as TWT. TWT and Sidera do not build much fiber themselves. TWT, Siera, and XO all lease most of their fiber, especially the new deals from Fibernet, Abovenet, and Zayo. For giggles compare the address for the buildings added this year by Zayo, Abovenet, and Fibernet to the new buildings by XO, Sidera, and Time Warnet Tel…you’ll see who’s really building value for shareholders and who is paying other companies to do so. Also for the buildings that aren’t done by Zayo, Abovenet or Fibernet – then check Sunysis. XO, TWT, and Sidera are just playing shell games. Not actually building long term assets or equity. in 3 – 5 Years all those customers they’ve “Put on-net” will belong to the underlying providers or to a competitor and they will get to sell the same asset twice!

    • Rickstelcomadvisor says:

      “TWT, Siera, and XO all lease most of their fiber”

      Aren’t a lot of their original metro networks leased from TW Cable – their original parent company?

  • Anonymous says:

    I believe there is a fair amount of IRU purchasing for new routes from companies like Abovenet, Zayo , etc but I dont think the new building entries are IRU at all. I would say the building laterals are owned by tw or cogent but built to a shared backbone fiber owned by Zayo. Also I would say that Zayo/abovenet may be the builder of a new cable and they IRU as many fibers as they can to fund build which increases there revenue today and funds buildout of infrastructure. However IRU can limit sustained revenue growth unless they are building the factory to support organic MRR revenue that will sustain over time. That is the edge tw telecom seems to have, a factory that churns out medium sized multi site projects and consistently grows organic revenue. Not sexy hockey stick growth like teh zayo initial Cell tower spike but slow and steady growth. Seems like Zayo, Suneyes ,Abovenet, fibertech etc are interested in building a large fiber asset ( virtually for free based on IRU sales which is a great model by the way) that can be sold at some point to someone interested in the slow sustained MRR that long term business models are about. One would they woudl have already sold if valuations for pure fiber plays were strong over the summer, rather then didnt get what they want and now are investing/building reading the tea leaves that the future will present a higher return on there larger asset.

  • Dan Caruso says:

    Rob, you might want to reach out to Zayo IR regarding our building count. You attribute a lot of the zayo growth to 360networks, but I suspect the only reporting we have done so far has excluded 360, as the acquisition didn’t close until Dec 1, 20111.

    • Rob Powell says:

      The numbers I used came from Zayo’s mid-December on-net buildilng list on and already included what appeared to be new buildings in Wyoming and other new markets that I assumed came with 360Networks. I could be wrong of course, but it seemed like at least this phase of the integration was lightning-fast!

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