The Private Fiber Option

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3

For home internet users with broadband connections, "high speed" service usually is considered a necessity. For most, going back to a dial-up connection over a conventional copper telephone line simply isn't a consideration.

Indeed, many people do quite nicely with no internet connection.

Analyzing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data, Insight Research, a firm focusing exclusively on the telecommunications industry, reports in a study released in December 2009 that about 48 percent of the households in the U.S. do not have broadband service (the number includes those without an internet connection).

However, for many businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and other organizations, a high speed fiber network is not an option, it is essential. Yet there are many regions in America that do not have broadband access, and an increasing number of small communities recognize attracting new business is unlikely to succeed without access to broadband.

For several years, a solution for some has been a "private" fiber network often operated by municipalities or independent telephone companies, who seek assistance from firms who design the system, oversee its construction, and can manage its operation, depending on the level of involvement needed by the network owner.

The benefits of private networks are not limited to rural areas. Businesses and organizations in large cities often bypass major carriers in favor of a network that exactly suits their needs and has capacity for growth. For example, the DeKalb County school system in the Atlanta area and the Garland, TX, school system both operate private fiber networks that are 100 percent underground.

Cheaper and faster?
Several specialist companies are active in providing telecommunications services that fit the specific needs of their clients. They claim to be able to do so much faster and at less cost than incumbent carriers. Services provided include dark fiber connectivity, internet access and a variety of "lit" fiber services for transferring data quickly and securely to multiple locations.

There are three categories of systems that can be included in the "private" category, said Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research:

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