As the mobile revolution has grown, the one constant has been the need for faster connections and/or fiber to cell towers. For years TMC has interviewed Hunter Newby and Jason Cohen of Allied Fiber about the need for fiber throughout the US. Their company is building a network of ducted fiber through a wide swath of the US and is selling it unlit meaning that whoever decides to purchase the fiber has the rights to improve the equipment on the fiber allowing for faster interconnections as technology improves.
TMC’s Paula Bernier Interviews Jason Cohen of Allied Fiber
But there have been many skeptics along the way remembering that the fiber glut from the late nineties is still with us. Anton Troianovski wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the need for new fiber to be laid and mentioned that one reason there are skeptics is regulation of high frequency trading could in fact reduce demand for fiber.
Hunter Newby the Founder of Allied Fiber is quoted in the piece and I reached out to him because I didn’t see the article mention one of the reasons for new fiber is that the old fiber is well, old. In fact Newby explains that new fiber is like a new car or new cell phone – basically more efficient and subsequently better.
Moreover, much of the fiber glut is aerial cable which is OK for short runs but not for long runs where ducted fiber is preferable. And much of the old fiber doesn’t have physical intermediate access points – he points out his company has them every 3,000 feet. The reason he explains is that old fiber didn’t have these access points because the need from schools, hospitals, towers and everything along the way didn’t exist over a decade ago.
Finally he points it that his company provides neutral colos every 60 miles – similar to the meet me room at the Telx facility at 60 Hudson or 56 Marietta. The reason this is important is most of the “glut fiber” is owned by telcos who compete with other telcos meaning they may or may not play nice with one another.
While the potential for HFC regulation could have major impact on the need for fiber and the prices paid for it, it is unknown how the government could even regulate such a market. Will they propose some mechanism which slows the speed of trades and if so won’t this make the US uncompetitive with other parts of the world meaning capital could potentially flee our shores? Moreover, what about unintended consequences? New York City, Connecticut and other states desperately need the state income taxes generated on trader salaries – would super restrictive HFC regulation make states less solvent?
Admittedly I am far afield from my starting point which is that the need for more bandwidth spurred by every faster devices and desire to watch more and higher-quality video as well as cloud-based applications will drive the need for more bandwidth and subsequently more fiber, for years to come.