Monday, October 3, 2011

"Dark Fiber" Approvals Sought

Downtown fiber optic installation.

Tonight the City Council will be considering the request of Cross River Fiber LLC to use the right-of-way for installation of "dark fiber."

The request made Plaintalker wonder whatever became of other fiber installations in the city and whether anyone in City Hall has an overview of this topic. According to this WiseGeek article, there is a lot of dark fiber available already. Besides the downtown installation, I believe there was one on the East End's North Avenue industrial corridor that was meant to attract "back office" operations.

This is one of those topics where some industry expertise would help the discussion. Being a person who is old enough to remember party lines, Plaintalker is not really up on modern telecom stuff. How many fiber optic lines can the poles or underground conduits actually hold? Is this new request a plus for the city or just a routine thing nowadays? Answers, anyone?


1 comment:

  1. Bernice: You are 'right on' to question a 'dark fiber' installation and wondering what kind of 'dormant' inventory of fiber optic exists.
    Here is my take: Years ago (no fable) when the Cable industry was first cranking-up delivery of television programming by actual coaxial cable and ending the over-the-air delivery system through which they had difficulty controlling access and piracy, the 'Big Thing' was establishing and maintaining 'rights of way' for their wire.
    Having a 'right of way' in the cable business was the first step to riches for the blooming cable television industry.
    In order to deliver programming at premium prices a company needed to provide reliable, uninterrupted service. Being physically attached from source-to-consumer is a virtual guarantee of signal security, but getting the actual cable runs to each neighborhood, from a distribution resource is problematic.
    A company cannot simply string a cable where they want it. That company must seek a route by which their cable(s) can be buried safely underground (or strung overhead)and to which they and only they have access. A cable company, in those days, needed exclusive rights to the pathway granted by governing bodies: a trench to call their own.
    Move the clock forward and enter the era of fiber optic signal delivery.
    Where a coaxial line (coaxial is that wire-in-a-wire stuff) served initially to bring one source of programming (with multiple channels) to a home television, fiber optic could carry thousands of unrelated signals over similarly arrayed fiber cables. But they have to get the cable laid into the ground or strung through the air, pole-to-pole as cables have been strung for over a century.
    BUT: What if you are an ambitious, fledgling entrant to the business. What if you saw the simplicity of just laying miles and miles of very, very valuable fiber optic cable and you noted that getting a clear pathway today is a tedious job and that, unlike the grants rendered to High Voltage Power Lines and the Natural Gas Pipelines in decades past, a prospective fiber operator faced a more savvy and money-wise governing public.
    The surplus capacity of Fiber Optic Cable appears as 'money in the bank' to those who would speculate in the industry. In reality laying surplus fiber cable is like opening another nail salon in Fanwood... eventually you'll get some business but no soaring success.
    Fiber Cable companies got resourceful: Under the guise of enabling 'E-Z-Pass' and similar automated toll collection systems in the big business states of the Northeastern U.S., fiber optic providers and their would-be counterparts extracted exclusive rights-of-way along the unused median strips of turnpikes and throughways, including the New Jersey Turnpike.
    These pioneers, (are Carpetbaggers considered pioneers?)were the fortunate few who today own exclusive access to fiber optic cables buried beneath strips of land, six inches wide and thousands of miles long, that silently reside at one edge of the toll roads that lace our most prosperous states.
    So what do you do if you are late to the party?
    You build value for your otherwise unimaginative Fiber Laying company by securing rights to the unclaimed pathways that remain in markets considered secondary by the initial players.
    The complexity of this explaination is surpassed only by the complexity of agreements woven by early fiber vendors.
    WorldCom is a company (now dissolved in bankruptcy) that should be reviewed, dissected and analyzed by anyone who wishes to relive the grappling for rights of way that has accompanied the growth and maturation of this industry.
    Call or write if you need more.