last mile, regulatory incentives, etc (was: att fiber, et al)

Luke S. Crawford lsc at
Thu Mar 22 13:59:16 CDT 2012

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 01:31:47PM -0400, Jared Mauch wrote:
> You agree on a price per distance (e.g.: mile/foot/whatnot).
> Lets say the cable costs $25k to install for the distance of 5000 feet.
> That cable has 144 strands.
> You need access to one strand.  If you install it yourself, it will cost you $25k.  If you share the pro-rata cost, it comes out around $174 for that strand.  Lets say they mark it up 10x (profit, unused strands), would you pay $1740 for access?  What does emergency restoration cost?
> WDM/DWDM add cost to that strand, but also increase the capacity based on what your overall lit capacity may be on a route.  There are various cwdm/dwdm systems that range the usual 10/20/40/80/100km ranges.  You obviously need to do the math yourselves on this.  You may find the ROI is better than you think...

I'm trying to do just that right now, actually.   55 s. market to
250 Stockton in San Jose.  I dono if it's five thousand feet, but 
it's not twice that.  The cheapest fiber pair I can rent from
someone else I've found is $5K/month; the cheapest build-out 
I've found is $150K, so even if I'm only using one pair in 
that, if I can get money at anything like a reasonable interest 
rate, if I plan on sticking around more than 5 years it makes 
sense to lay new fiber.   Which is weird, as this is probably 
one of the densest masses of existing fiber in the world, going 
from a 'center of the universe' data center to a minor data center.

Even the $5K/month rate isn't bad.  If they asked for a third
of that, I'd bite even though I don't need that much capacity 
quite yet.  

The big problem here, I think, is that it's quite difficult to 
figure out who has what fiber where, and even once you know who
owns it, to find out who to talk to at a company that might know
what 'dark fiber' is, much less know how much they might rent
it to you for.   I spent several hours last month on the phone
with XO and I kept getting redirected to someone trying to sell me 
a T1. 

I've got other projects right now, but once I'm done with that,
I'm going to be spending a bunch of time pestering the PUC and 
other people that might know who owns fiber between here and there.

As for equipment cost, in my corner of the world, I can get used
cisco 15540 systems for what I consider to be not very much money, 
and 32 10G waves is plenty for what I'm doing.  I mean, they eat 
way more power than is required, and 10G/wave is not great these 
days, but if I could sell a reasonable number of waves, even at a 
whole order of magnitude below market, I'd be in good shape. 

The whole project seems dramatically cheaper than lit services.
At quoted prices, 10G waves over the same distance cost about 
1/2 what a full pair of dark fiber costs.  

Now, the big problem with the build out?  as far as I can tell, I've
gotta be a carrier to actually own fiber in the ground.  From what I 
understand, that's not out of the question for me, but it's 
definitely a lot of work and red tape.   There are, however,
companies that will do a build out for you (of course, charging you
for it up front) then they will lease you the fiber at a very 
low yearly rate - right now, that looks like the second-best option,
where the best option is hunting down the owners of all the dead
bundles of fiber going into the meetme room.    (250 Stockton
is ex-enron, it's got bundles coming in from MFN, quest, global crossing,
MCI, "enron broadband" xo and others. I'd bet money that if I had
the kind of access to the meetme at 55 s. Market that I have at
250 Stockton I could start shining light down empty strands and I'd
see some of it come out the other side.)  But from the amount of time
it takes to just find someone at those companies that even knows
what dark fiber is?  I think I might be better off putting in
the effort to do whatever regulatory red tape is required to 
own fiber in the ground.

So yeah;  really?  in my corner of the world, the problem is the
same problem you see everywhere else in this industry.   
Any useful information is guarded jealously.  In this
case, where does the fiber run?   I mean, I have pretty good
maps of the Santa Clara municipal fiber network;  but the private
networks are impossible.  

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