article

Wholesale Channel – Fiberloops’ Maps Shorten Cable Searches

Posted: 06/2001

Wholesale Channel

Fiberloops’ Maps Shorten Cable Searches
By Bruce Christian

Resellers and other competitors looking to expand services have a new tool to help them locate where fiber is available.

“CLECs go on a big witch hunt, because there never has been an easy way to find out,” says Dan Munson, part owner and vice president of sales and marketing for Fiberloops.com (www.fiberloops.com), a company that maps fiber throughout the United States. “CLECs are telling us, ‘We need to lease fiber, or we need colo space,’ but it’s not easy to find this information.”

That’s why CDS Business Mapping LLC (www.cdsys.com) launched Fiberloops.com last September. Fiberloops.com is a mapping software company that serves as an information exchange for carriers looking to lease network elements and real estate. Using Fiberloops.com, carriers can geographically search for lit and dark fiber, rights of way and collocation facilities.

Resellers can look to see geographically which carriers have available local or long-distance fiber, products or services they need.

The Fiberloops.com site features its searches and mapping at the street level, so the results include site/fiber details, contact information and an interactive map.


Image: Fiberloops Searches

The site complements a similar CDS Business Mapping solution, Telecom

Site Source (www.telecomsitesource.com), which allows wireless companies to find space on towers.

“We have a website for cell towers that maps out 65,000 cell towers from 90 companies,” Munson says. “A few years back, all the [wireless] carriers sold off their towers to independent companies, and now they lease space back from them, so there is a strong wholesale market on the tower-lease space.”

He says the same thing is happening now with the fiber and collocation markets.

“We are in a fundamental shift within the wholesale market,” Munson says, explaining the shift is caused by the depressed economy. “People are getting religion. They built their networks during an excess market, and now are looking at the cost of fiber. They know they are not using 128 strands, so why not unlock it and lease it to other people? We are going to see an explosion in the wholesale market, where people will be leasing to each other.”

He cites RCN Corp. (www.rcn.com) as an example.

“They have fiber in six cities. They literally say that they have coverage in their cities within a quarter mile of anywhere. Six months ago, they didn’t want to wholesale it, but now it is a different story. But who would even think to call RCN?”

Munson says Fiberloops.com developed its fiber map in about six months. It is far from complete.

“Our goal is to get as many carriers as possible, so if you are looking for an OC-3 between specific cities, you don’t have to do all this research and footwork.”

Instead, all you would do is sign on to the Fiberloops.com website and locate the cities on the map.

“We believe that we have something that is completely unique and awesome,” Munson says. “We have identified about 200 companies with fiber in the ground.”

One of those is FPL FiberNet LLC (www.fplfibernet.com), which has laid fiber throughout Florida.

“Unless you know they are deep in the industry or are from the area, you probably don’t know about them,” Munson says. “What we do is find a good match that you may never have heard of. We have built a better mouse trap.”

Another company that has its fiber mapped on Fiberloops’ service is Intermedia Communications Inc. (www.intermedia.
com
) out of Tampa, Fla., where account manager Cory Hallowitz calls the idea a great service for customers.

“What it does is extend your arm out to other customers,” Hallowitz says.

Since Fiberloops.com has included Intermedia’s fiber on its maps, Hallowitz says he receives four or five calls a month from areas throughout the country where he used to get no calls.

“Some of the callers are looking for things we don’t provide,” Hallowitz acknowledged, but some end up becoming new business.

Also, according to Hallowitz, some calls come from other carriers or large corporations looking to broaden their bandwidth, or they are doing research and planning for future needs.

NeuMedia Inc.’s (www.neumedia.net) director of strategic accounts C. Nelson Wilt calls Fiberloops.com a “one-stop shop.”

NewMedia is a carriers’ carrier, and Wilt says “Fiberloops’ model is working really well for us. It generates a lot of leads.”

Although NewMedia concentrates more on long haul, Wilt says the information that Fiberloops.com provides helps the company locate and find companies for the handoff into metro markets.

Fiberloops.com acts as a broker. Once you find out that the geographic area of interest to you has fiber, the company gets you in touch with the actual carriers, so you can negotiate your deals.

FiberLoops.com differs from trading exchanges in a number of ways. One is that it concentrates on local markets, while the exchange model works best for long haul.

“What we’re trying to do is local stuff,” says Munson. “I mean, how are you going to trade one street and the central office across town? You can’t.

“We call ourselves a matchmaker, because all we can do is tell you who has what you need, where you need it,” he says.

If a deal is made, FiberLoops.com gets paid a 3 percent commission. With its operation in collocation, FiberLoops.com only receives an advertising fee.

FiberLoops.com understands that growth patterns in the telecom industry ultimately are geographic.

“The fiber has to go from one specific place to another,” Munson says. “Anyone who thinks there is too much fiber in the ground is crazy.”

He adds that only between four to eight percent of the nation’s major businesses reportedly have fiber in front of their

headquarters. This leaves a big opportunity, especially because FiberLoops.com has mapped some of the fiber laid by smaller, regional carriers that may be concentrating on corporate centers.

The mapping company also is in negotiations with about 300 collocation centers, and is trying to entice major carriers to provide their fiber routes.

Munson says major wholesalers tend to come around to the service more slowly, because they may feel they don’t need to have their fiber networks mapped by a third party.

But Munson says that once smaller competitors begin getting leads from the Fiberloops.com service, and the major carriers start to lose business, they will want their loops mapped.

His reasoning comes from experience. The same thing happened when cell towers were mapped. The larger wireless carriers were the last to come on board.


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