Utility, Telco Firms Join to Build Fiber Net

FRAMINGHAM (03/24/2000) - Looking to bring smaller markets bigger bandwidth, a group of energy and telecommunications companies has joined forces to create America's Fiber Network LLC, a new wholesale service provider.

By bringing together disparate communications networks from six utility companies, America's Fiber Network said last week it will offer high-speed services to ISPs, wireless service providers and competitive local exchange carriers. With more fiber capacity to be had, business users - especially those in smaller cities - may find more competitive pricing for voice and data services.

America's Fiber Network backbone consists of 7,000 route fiber miles and supports OC-48 transmission speeds. By year-end, the backbone will be upgraded to more than 10,000 route fiber miles.

The utility companies that are launching America's Fiber Network include American Electric Power, GPU Telecom and Allegheny Communications Connect, which own about a 90 percent interest in the new company.

"This is a unique startup that's serving underserved markets. We're not focused on large Tier 1 cities, but looking to offer access to small and midsize markets," says David Brauer, vice president of strategic initiatives for GPU.

America's Fiber Network will offer services in 39 markets by year-end, but of those 39 markets only 13 are in Tier 1 cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore. The service provider wants to bring competitive services to smaller cities where large long-distance companies are not deploying as much new fiber optics as they are in more populated areas of the country (see graphic).

America's Fiber Network is concentrating in several areas where there are no alternatives to the incumbent local exchange carriers, says John Flinko, vice president of Allegheny Communications Connect. America's Fiber Network wants to offer an alternative to incumbent service providers, he says.

America's Fiber Network: www.americasfibernetwork.com.

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