The Private Fiber Option

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3
  • Designing, constructing and maintaining a physically diverse, 8 strand fiber optic WAN (wide area network) to connect a new administration building and data center for NutriSystem, a leading provider of weight management, fitness products and services;
  • Cisco Systems and Dimension Data, redesigned Cooper University Hospital's metropolitan area network (MAN) to achieve 100 percent redundancy, scale bandwidth and reduce complexity by eliminating a complex protocol (migrated from ATM to Gigabit Ethernet);
  • Built and maintaining a fiber optic MAN for the Philadelphia School District providing connectivity through four core rings between 22 sites with point to point spurs to the more than 270 other facilities in the nation's seventh largest school district; and
  • A 20 year partnership with Northwestern University to build and support a fully redundant fiber optic ring interconnecting the University's suburban Evanston, IL, campus and its downtown Chicago campus networks at multiple locations. The intersection point will be the world renowned StarLight facility, an advanced international network exchange funded by the National Science Foundation and located on Northwestern's downtown Chicago campus.

For contractors experienced in telecom construction, private network projects can represent substantial work. Depending on system requirements and design, much or all of the outside plant may call for underground construction.

Companies that design and build dark fiber and other private networks generally subcontract construction of the system, often providing opportunities for experienced horizontal directional drilling contractors. To be considered for these projects, companies must have experience in telecom construction and a record of successful projects without problems.

"For Sunesys projects," Coleman said, "we do most of the design, access right of ways, determine whether outside plant is aerial or underground, and specify the duct size, cable size and type, and methods of construction."

Underground trend
In terms of route miles, he said most plant is aerial, but the decision depends on site conditions on each project.

"Typically," Coleman said, "underground segments are in central business districts, highway and water crossings, or for other factors that make underground more economical than aerial."

However, Coleman said the percentage of plant going underground is increasing.