ZenFi Not Done Expanding Yet

Today's formal closing of the merger of ZenFi and Cross River Fiber ushers in a new era of service competition for the former but might not be the last expansion that the new ZenFi has planned. (See ZenFi & Cross River Fiber Merge .)

ZenFi Networks was intent on densifying fiber penetration in New York City, targeting the mobile wireless play and cloud radio access networks with a massive infrastructure build, but is now expanding into enterprise and carrier wholesale services on that dense fiber infrastructure, and is still actively looking for other ways to expand. (See ZenFi Brings Dense Dark Fiber to NYC and Leading Lights 2016 Finalists: Most Innovative IoT/M2M Strategy.)

"Expansion is something we are going to be highly active in, looking to geographically expand the footprint," says Ray LaChance, who remains CEO of the new company, operating as ZenFi Networks. "We're entertaining both options [build and buy]. Our customers are asking us to build in other markets."

He declined to identify other markets but admits that where building new networks is concerned, ZenFi's "special skill set" is dense urban areas.

"Our architecture we developed for New York City is about as dense as it gets in the US, and that's our special sauce and we can lower the cost dramatically the way we do our fronthaul," LaChance tells Light Reading in an interview.

ZenFi had looked to the Cross River Fiber merger as a means to get quickly into the enterprise and carrier fiber service markets, which Cross River was serving with its fiber infrastructure build in Northern New Jersey. Those markets represented new incremental revenue on the massive investment in fiber. The merged entity creates a locally owned communications infrastructure company for the New York and New Jersey metro region, and will be selling Ethernet service and dark fiber to enterprises as well as carrier wholesale offerings.

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"We knew that at some point we'd have to do a telecom service play and take advantage of all that fiber to do new products," LaChance says. "We looked at doing that ourselves and a sales force to sell that, but on the other hand, Cross River already had that product set. We thought the combination made perfect sense, so we'd expand our geography for mobile wireless 500 miles into New Jersey and we'd expand our product set to Ethernet and dark fiber across our entire New York footprint. The combination made perfect sense."

The combined entity will be a regional network spanning 700 route miles of fiber optic network, 119 on-net buildings, 47 colocation facilities and nearly 6,000 outdoor wireless locations under contract. The company also owns three tower sites used by the high frequency trading industry.

ZenFi also finds itself well-positioned for the edge computing boom, LaChance says. The network it built for CRAN will include many of the aggregation points where edge computing will sit, and the thousands of curbside antennas it has in place within New York City are well-positioned places to collect a wide variety of data.

LaChance continues as CEO of the new ZenFi, with Cross River's Vincent Clemente becoming president and COO.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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