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Building Dark Fiber in Manhattan PDF Print E-mail

New York City is a strategic market and Axiom Fiber has built a unique dark fiber network in the Manhattan market. The bandwidth opportunities in the market continue to explode and Axiom is perfectly positioned to drive solutions that will enable their valued customers and partners.


Telecom Review recently met with Felipe Alvarez, CEO of Axiom, to give our readers an overview of some of the challenges of putting in a new fiber build in NYC. Felipe has thirty years of telecommunications experience, the last fifteen of which were spent helping startups and new businesses grow. He has worked with such companies as Axiom Fiber Networks, Hibernia Networks, Sidera Networks (formerly RCN Metro), and Con Edison Communications, Inc. While in the role of COO at Con Edison Communications Inc., Mr. Alvarez developed and led the team responsible for building a 175-mile metropolitan fiber network and lit-service infrastructure from a Greenfield condition, notably securing contracts with companies such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other Fortune 1000 companies.


Felipe told us, “This is my third buildout in New York City” Our expertise is building networks and we are using that expertise to our advantage”. Axiom Fiber’s network is brand new and purpose built to support solutions requiring high quality fiber connectivity in any type of density situation, from single pairs to massive dense fiber counts. Felipe further noted, “The ring should be completed by the end of this year with 15 miles of fiber in the city”.

The 20-mile 864-fiber strand count core network uses the latest generation SMF28 fiber.  Deployment began in late 2014 with the first stage connecting the major carrier hotels.  The remaining stages are scheduled to be completed in 2015. Axiom Fiber’s fiber-rich core network operates within striking distance of every building in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.


Conduit in Manhattan

The conduit for running the fiber is obtained from Empire City Subway, a company in New York City which is responsible for maintaining underground conduits in Manhattan and The Bronx, and the manholes by which those conduits are accessed. ECS owns approximately 11,000 manholes and 58 million feet of conduit. The conduits are made of iron pipe, vitrified clay, creosoted wood, plastic, fiberglass or concrete. Currently, ECS uses either 4-inch or 1.5-inch ducts for nearly all new conduit construction. The company was formed in 1891 as part of a plan for common utility ducts to consolidate all utilities underground. Incompatibility among the utilities limited the range of utilities that could share their ducts, so the company now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon New York Telephone under a franchise from the city. In addition to Verizon, they provide service to cable television and other telephone companies.


Manholes owned by Empire City Subway can be easily recognized by the abbreviation ECS cast into the metal covers. But New York's subterranean system—built for telephone lines after the Great Blizzard of 1888 and owned since 1891 by Empire City Subway also highlights the challenges the city faces in updating its broadband infrastructure. Like much of underground New York, portions of the network are in rough shape: Clogged or collapsed conduits force construction crews to detour south in order to go north as they run fiber from one neighborhood to another.


The extra conduit mileage means the data take longer to reach customers—a problem for finance companies, which count their connections in nanoseconds. And the extra costs make it tough on the city's few independent broadband providers, who have narrow profit margins and shallow pockets compared with the big operators.


The Dark Fiber Market

When you think of what vertical markets will benefit most from dark fiber, certainly the “booming” wireless and wireline carrier customers and medium to large enterprise customers that have a network with bandwidth needs that are constantly changing come immediately to mind. The ability to react ‘real time’ to those changes is critical to sustain its customer base. No less important are the financial, healthcare, government and education segments that need to increase network redundancy and support business continuity and disaster recovery initiatives.


Infrastructure is the fastest and most efficient way to add capacity to any network, so it can keep up with the insatiable appetite for bandwidth applications in the marketplace. The need for fiber-based connectivity will continue to rise to “meteoric” levels for years to come. There are many issues with 4G and 5G that simply cannot match the power of owned infrastructure. Having Control, Scalability and Flexibility at all times is critical to any business.


Axiom Fiber Networks has recognized the vulnerability and resilience of networks. With malicious threats and the inevitability of natural disasters, critical changes in telecommunications infrastructure are underway. Financial organizations are proactively pursuing ways to protect their networks swiftly and securely. By deploying Axiom’s dark fiber network, these financial organizations recognize the physical security, our dedicated strands of fiber provide, along with the scalability and affordability they need to control their network, with added resiliency and redundancy. . Traditional lit services are no longer the go–to solution.


In 2004 Gartner estimated the average hourly cost of downtime for networks of small to medium-sized business at $42,000. That begs the question, how much of our work is done over the network compared to in 2004? Almost 11 years later the gravitas of this number is incomprehensible for financial organizations. Based on industry surveys, the estimated cost of downtime is $5,600 per/minute, which could mean $300K p/hour. For finance institutions, where banks and exchanges have high-level data transactions, losses could be calculated in millions of dollars.


The applications in financial organizations require extreme bandwidth that traditional Ethernet services cannot provide. The data connection between firms and the data center rely on the speed of the network. The potentially precarious amounts of data that financial firms control is best suited to a dark fiber network such as the one Felipe is building.