Zayo's Jones: Managed dark fiber redefining vendor relationships

As Zayo deepens its dark fiber footprint, it is finding that some clients want it to work with their vendor to manage the installation and maintenance of optical equipment they will use on their network.

While Zayo could not identify any specific vendors, the service provider said since it has familiarity with their platforms it can help enterprises make a transition to dark fiber.   

“We work with most of the major equipment vendors in the optical space and they supply gear for our network that are the same list of folks that anyone getting dark fiber would go to buy equipment for themselves,” said Dave Jones, EVP of dark fiber services for Zayo, in an interview with FierceInstaller. “Our technicians and our engineers are accustomed to using that equipment so we’re definitely working with several of them to help make dark fiber an easier proposition to swallow for some customers.”

Zayo does not have a formal managed dark fiber product, but the service provider is willing to take on the management of the equipment.

Customers aren’t the only ones that benefit. Traditional optical and routing vendors see the dark fiber deals that Zayo and others are winning as another way to sell their gear.

What typically will happen is a vendor or Zayo could find a customer that wants dark fiber and establish an agreement.

“One of us could identify an opportunity and present to the other and then we jointly work with the customer to figure out the best fiber plus equipment solution that works for them,” Jones said. “We would be willing to take on that management of their equipment for them for a period of time.”

Jones added that the focus of these deals would prioritize vendors on its preferred supplier list.  

“It is generally an equipment vendor we already working with,” Jones said. “We would not bring a new equipment vendor to build a relationship just to do that because it’s not big enough to be that interesting.”

Zayo’s dark fiber service sales reflect the notion that the conversation has shifted. It's no longer just selling to traditional carriers that needed to fill in coverage gaps, it's also about serving an emerging set of non-traditional providers such as school districts, social media companies, content providers and content delivery networks (CDNs).

“Even if you go into some of the other verticals like health care and financial institutions that have multiple locations in a given metropolitan area, it’s the same kind of situation,” Jones said.

It appears that Zayo could be on to a new trend here.

Fellow fiber provider Lightower offers a managed private optical network service to customers that don't want to manage dark fiber, but want greater control over their connection.

Lightower will provide a dedicated fiber and network connection designed for a specific customer. Customers that opt to purchase Lightower’s dedicated offering also get access to a set of specialized support services such as installing optical equipment at the customer premises and bandwidth management tools.

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