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FiberLight reaches halfway point of Texas expansion project, completes 4,500 miles

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FiberLight is growing its competitive stance in Texas by finishing the construction of over 4,500 miles of its planned 8,000 mile expansion across the central and western parts of the state.

However, this network initiative was not based on a build-it-and-they-will-come concept. The service provider initially built the Texas network to fulfill a large wireless backhaul contract.

"The way this thing kicked off is we won a big wireless tower contract," said John Schmitt, FiberLight's chief development officer, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "The first phase of this was to connect and provide both dark fiber and Ethernet to cell towers throughout this entire footprint."

Part of FiberLight's buildout activities last year included a 400-mile expansion of its Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metro area network. That expansion brought its fiber network to 300 new locations, including a number of local data centers. It also extended services to six smaller Texas communities: Ballinger, Jasper, Happy, Shamrock, Reagan and Oilton.

When the next phase of the fiber expansion is complete, FiberLight said its Texas network will "span over 11,000 miles" to serve a number of service provider, education, enterprise, and federal government needs. The expanded FiberLight network also will connect major peering locations in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to the state's quickly growing metro areas, including: Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, Abilene, Corpus Christi, Laredo, McAllen, Beaumont and Temple. 

Schmitt said that energy and education have emerged as two new key targets for its growing network.

This year the service provider plans to build out an additional 2,000 route miles that it says will bring data transport services to serve both underserved areas and wireless backhaul.

"We're starting to figure out how to play in providing capacity to the energy vertical," he said. "We've also got a lot of education institutions that are presently underserved."

However compelling this network expansion will be for FiberLight, Schmitt admits getting through it was anything but easy. Typical of any large-scale fiber build, FiberLight had to overcome a number of unforeseen permitting and severe weather issues.

"There had been a couple of things that came up that we had not anticipated, one of which was the amount of competition that we would be in with the energy sector both in the permitting perspective and the resource perspective with labor," Schmitt said. "The other thing that really was hard for us to deal with, particularly in the second half of 2013, was weather."

Regardless of the challenges it has faced, Texas has been a major target for FiberLight's fiber network expansion efforts.

In 2012, the service provider began building 3,000 miles of a metro and regional fiber network serving western Texas. Later in January 2013, the service provider announced it would build another 4,500 miles of dark fiber in central and eastern Texas, serving a total of 64 cities.  

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