Summit IG sees opportunities in Virginia with new 170-mile dark fiber network

Summit IG has become the latest service provider to make a name for itself in the burgeoning dark fiber market with the completion of a 170-mile regional long-haul dark fiber network connecting the greater Richmond, Va., area.

The new network will connect various points throughout Northern Virginia, including Ashburn, one of the key Internet traffic hubs and data center capitals of the United States.

"We took a two-phased approach," said Bill Cook, CEO at SummitIG, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "One was populating the infrastructure out there in data center alley with dense dark fiber and phase 2 of that was seeing the need for connectivity, particularly dark fiber connectivity from the Richmond area back into Northern Virginia."

Building a new dark fiber network in Northern Virginia comes at a time when the region is seeing strong growth in a mix of enterprises, military, government agencies and educational facilities.

While the Northern Virginia market is home to a number of established fiber players, including large incumbent telcos like Verizon, SummitIG said its focus on dark fiber and its approach to build an all-underground network along the state's limited access corridors, will set it apart from the crowd.

"Today the current carrier routes that connect the Richmond area back into Northern Virginia all go through Washington, D.C.," Cook said. "They're either at maximum capacity or have been oversubscribed for years."

Cook said that while it's more expensive to build an all underground network, it will make it more reliable for the customer base SummitIG serves.

"Probably the biggest thing of going underground is the cost," Cook said. "It costs a bit more to dig a hole in the ground than it does to put cable between poles, but we also feel that it will provide the best value that our customers want."

Cook added that while "we don't allow anyone in to access our backbone sheath, we continue to augment our network to create access points so that customers can have the access they need."

Unlike other service provider's long-haul networks, SummitIG's route runs within the Virginia Department of Transportation's limited access corridors, including I-295, I-95, Route 234, I-66 and Route 28, a factor that makes it unique and completely diverse from the current network infrastructure.

"Outside of data center alley all of our routes are unique," Cook said. "We don't overlap any carrier's infrastructure within those corridors."

In addition, SummitIG has built two dedicated collocation shelters, at Quantico Corporate Center at Stafford, and Ruther Glen, for customers to use for their optical equipment to terminate or regenerate the signal.

This new route could address various applications, including asynchronous storage environments, critical cloud platforms and business continuity solutions. It could also support the wireless industry's growing desire to use dark fiber solutions for wireless backhaul, for example.

"The low hanging fruit for us are the carriers," Cook said. "Carriers like dark fiber because it enables them to go and spend capital in other parts of their network and they don't feel like they are competing with us because they are leasing our infrastructure to create solutions, not only for their network, but also for the commercial side of their business." 

For more:
- see the release

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