Allied Fiber CEO Sees Rise of OTT 'Telcos'

CHICAGO -- International Telecoms Week -- Allied Fiber is working on building a nationwide dark fiber network to support wireless operators, but it's not only the network operators approaching Allied Fiber to use its infrastructure.

Rather Allied Fiber LLC CEO Hunter Newby told Light Reading in an ITW interview that over-the-top (OTT) content providers are a faster-growing customer segment for the dark fiber provider than traditional carriers. Various companies, including content providers, tower providers, social networks and subsea operators are approaching him with the desire to extend their control terrestrially or own the network in addition to their content. (See Subsea Market Lures New Cast of Characters and Facebook Invests in Subsea Cable.)

"Their goal is control," Newby said. "They want to own the network end-to-end for a lot of the same reasons individuals want certain rights and proofs. The content providers don't like the cost structure or the fact that they don’t know where their data is going. They want to control security, the ability to provision capacity or add terabytes."

Newby said that traditional carriers cannot move quickly enough for OTTs nor keep up with their data needs. What he is talking about goes beyond launching a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) on a wireless operator's network like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is doing with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. . It's more akin to Google Fiber, which is undercutting incumbent carriers with its own cheaper, faster 1-Gig offering. Google owns the network and the services that run on it. (See Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here.)

"We're here to help anyone that wants to build that type of network infrastructure with higher speeds, and lower costs, to connect what they are building -- islands," Newby said.

Want to know more about over-the-top competition? This will be just one of the many topics covered at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!

It's going to be a while before any player builds a nationwide network on Allied Fiber's dark fiber assets, however. Right now, it has only completed its build from Jacksonville to Atlanta, but it's surveying its customers on where it should go next. Its ultimate goal is to create a national fiber system, but Newby said it's a question of the sequence and capital required to build it, which will be north of $300 million. (See Crown Castle Bids $1B for Sunesys Fiber Assets and Lightower, Fibertech Merge in $1.9B Cash Deal.)

Newby said that Allied Fiber hasn't announced any content providers yet, but is "beyond the discussion phase" and already has several as tenants.

"It will be table stakes going forward for whoever the next Twitter and Netflix is -- if you don't own your fiber pairs or cable, you are not relevant," Newby said. "That is a pretty high bar to have to cross."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 5/13/2015 | 1:25:35 PM
A War of All Against All? Interesting article that both supports what Newby was saying, and calls out the Verizon deal as a sign of Verizon's weaknesss rather than the strength of content: http://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-aol-a-war-of-all-against-all-1431429500

What do you all think?
sarahthomas1011 5/13/2015 | 10:56:25 AM
OTT Telcos Newby has been predicting the rise of the OTT telco for awhile now, in the subsea market as well: http://www.lightreading.com/optical/subsea/subsea-market-lures-new-cast-of-characters/d/d-id/712074 It's interesting he says he has more interest from them than actual carriers, but I'd like to hear who is actually going to launch services. Operating a network is a big proposition for a new player, especially when they can launch as an MVNO. Do you agree that it's table stakes for the "next Netflix" type company? 
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