Zayo to leverage new and existing fiber for wireless backhaul and enterprise networks

Zayo will use a variety of innovative techniques to meet the wireless backhaul and enterprise needs of its customers. The company recently won a fiber-to-the-tower contract with an unnamed wireless operator in Atlanta.

Zayo said that the service provider plans to extend its existing 1,320-mile route mile network by more than 1,000 miles to provide FTTT service to more than 500 towers.

"We're adding another 1,000 route miles so it's obviously a good sized market for us to begin with," said Jacob Fuller, VP of mobile infrastructure for Zayo, in an interview with FierceInstaller. "We're able to leverage that existing network to help drive the solution forward and come to a deal that works for our customers while still adding another 1,000 route miles to our networks to expand the base we had."

Zayo will install fiber for this new project in a variety of scenarios: underground, aerial via utility poles, and leveraging other service provider's existing duct infrastructure. By using the mix of these methods, the service provider can enhance its deployment timeline and ability to respond to other wholesale and retail business service needs.

However, Zayo is not going to purchase fiber from other service providers. It will leverage existing duct infrastructure to run its fiber through to reach its customers.

"We'll do a deal with another provider in the area that already has ducts, but we won't necessarily purchase eight strands or fiber," Fuller said. "Expanding our network is a big piece of why we do these deals. Buying a couple of fibers does not put us in a situation we like to be in so we'll do duct deals or something along those lines where we get high fiber counts out of the solution."

Given the overall challenges of deploying fiber in a city like Atlanta, Zayo will run fiber along aerial utility poles and underground.

While aerial deployments are easier from an installation process since Zayo does not have to dig through a city or town's streets, there are a number of other issues that come with large fiber network builds so finding ways to get access to existing infrastructure eases the process.

"Aerial takes longer to do, but is typically cheaper than underground so we'll typically start on that path," Fuller said. "In the meantime, we're also dual pathing the other underground construction we would need to do so when we get down the road to where we're ready make the construction decisions, we have a real good understanding that one section will be aerial and this section will be underground."

Getting permits to deploy infrastructure is another issue Zayo faces in Atlanta. However, the company has plenty of experience in dealing with Atlanta's permitting process as it had already had built out a sizeable network in the area.

"All of the different municipalities in the broader Atlanta have their own processes and franchise agreements that need to be in place before you can build anything," Fuller said. "The good news is we have a lot of experience in Atlanta with local permitting offices, which allows us to understand the process and know we're going to have delays over here because we know the timelines and that goes into our overall project plan as we're doing the construction."

In addition to providing wireless backhaul, the service provider said it will use the expanded Atlanta network to provide a mix of lit and dark fiber services to other enterprises and service provider customers along the route.

"These build outs are not nearly as attractive when it's just four customers, whereas we have hundreds and hundreds of customers we can pile on these networks," Fuller said.

Related articles:
Zayo expands Atlanta FTTT footprint, satisfies 500-site deal for Tier 1 operator
Zayo says wireless carriers' small cell, C-RAN initiatives drive dark fiber deals
Zayo extends fiber, turnkey services to 1,200 wireless small cell sites
Zayo carves niche in fiber-based small cell backhaul, turnkey installation services