Lumos lights metro Ethernet in Richmond, expands Western Pa. fiber upgrade

Lumos Networks (Nasdaq: LMOS) continues to make progress with its "edge-out" market strategy to expand its fiber network by completing the launch of metro Ethernet in Richmond, Va., and the upgrade of its fiber assets in Western Pennsylvania.

In Richmond, the service provider is now offering metro Ethernet services to its business and wholesale carrier customers. This service will be offered over its 110 mile fiber Ethernet metro ring in Richmond. Previously, the telco had operated a network that consisted of rented dark fiber facilities from other service providers.

Already, the service provider has won two contracts with national hospital provider HCA and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System.

It will provide Ethernet to 10 locations for national hospital provider HCA. Lumos will then connect 5 key VCU Health Systems facilities, satellite locations and critical care locations to its Richmond Data Center.

"We announced 10 locations for HCA, and it's always a big milestone when you have your first customer in on that network so it's not just on paper," said Craig Drinkhall, vice president of product and engineering at Lumos, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "They were a company that helped drive us to that location."

Set to be completed in Q1 2014, VCU's buildings will be linked directly to the telco's fiber network through Ethernet.

"The Virginia Commonwealth University system was one we found out about and once we went in there and started announcing to people and proves the point that once we announce this connectivity that other customers come in and it's not just what's happened in that one city," Drinkhall said. "It's the connectivity to the other places so were connecting VCU to our entire network in Virginia."

While it is using dark fiber facilities from other local service providers in the city, Drinkhall said they are in the process of "building fiber connectivity to and from Richmond."

Similar to its Richmond metro network, Lumos has made Western Pennsylvania fiber assets 100G capable and has expanded the amount of  "on and off ramps" on the network to broaden its reach. In addition, it has completed two key routes from Pittsburgh, including to Harrisburg, Pa., and Ashburn, Va., as a way to connect to the city's large base of data centers.

The Western Pennsylvania market is not exactly new to Lumos. Its predecessor company nTelos enhanced its existing long-haul route by purchasing 2,200 route fiber miles that reside mainly in central and Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia from Allegheny Energy in Oct. 2009.

"We had the assets we already had there and bought some more assets from Allegheny Communications, but those were mainly long haul assets," Drinkhall said. "To be able to sell metro Ethernet to medium and large enterprises and Fiber to the Cell, we needed to create a lot more aggregation points to be able to get into that network in those places to provide services to customers."

In particular, carrier and enterprise customers were asking for optical wavelength services.

A key part of the expansion was to create an extension to Ashburn and build out the aggregation points to help customers get on and off the network. It closed that gap by establishing a new link from Altoona to Harrisburg.

Drinkhall said that what will differentiate Lumos from pack is network redundancy and diversity.

"We have built our network paths in mind to provide unique paths in and out of those markets," he said. "We can route circuits around Pittsburgh and not have to go through the city where most of the carriers have their PoPs."  

These networks couldn't come at a better time. In Q3, the service provider reported that carrier and enterprise data revenues rose to $15.4 million and $10.2 million, respectively. 

For more:
- see the Western Pa. release
- and the Richmond release

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