Exploring a Different Path for Route Diversity

Evolving fiber companies, large and small, are offering enterprises creative approaches to meet crucial network availability needs.

4 Min Read
Evolving fiber companies, large and small, are offering enterprises creative approaches to meet crucial network availability needs.
(Credit: Gabor Tinz / Alamy Stock Photo)

Enterprises are facing lost business, customer data, and a crucial competitive edge with cable cuts on land and sea bottom. This brings developments this week from creative network operators to the fore as they provide sorely needed route diversity.

A case in point is a company called Bandwidth IG, which took a long look at cable connectivity options in and around Silicon Valley, home to countless large data centers and an Internet exchange.

Seeing decades old cables and right of ways used by numerous service providers and factoring in traffic increase with the rise of AI, the company decided to build a subsea cable spanning San Francisco Bay to give businesses route diversity. The company claims other subsea cables were decades old and their capacity severely limited.

Bandwidth IG built the undersea route to create a direct path for connectivity between San Francisco and the East Bay area. The submarine cable connects Great Oaks and Santa Clara, up the East Bay and Peninsula, and ties into downtown San Francisco.

This route completed a fiber circle serving enterprises in the crowded Silicon Valley and beyond.

Revisit Routing Diversity

With many competing carriers still using the same right of ways (trenches, bridges, paths along private train tracks, and public transportation system (BART), securing true route diversity does not seem to be that far removed from the mid-1980s when AT&T, MCI, and Sprint were racing to create nationwide fiber networks. The Bandwidth IG network deviates from that path on a local level.

The state of long used right of ways may give businesses pause. That’s atop enterprises having to increasingly factor in accidental cable cuts, others in war zones, geopolitical issues, and a lack of sufficient disaster recovery options for subsea cables and routes minus backup.

Although tried and true transport options are available – satellite, fixed wireless access, and more – they typically don’t have the capacity to carry the amount of traffic as subsea – and terrestrial - fiber cables.

"Constructing the Bay crossing was a complex but necessary process. In today's AI-driven world, where the demand for more capacity and reduced latency is critical, the most direct routes possible need to be created," said Patton Lochridge, Chief Commercial Officer for Bandwidth IG. "We knew it would be hard work to go across the Bay via a subsea route, but it has resulted in a truly diverse route with a direct connection tying together two high-traffic areas."

The ability to connect to its facilities across the Silicon Valley market allows Internet exchange and first customer SFMIX to interconnect its deployments at intervals of 400Gbps, using diverse routes with future expansion capabilities.

Most of the newly constructed San Francisco Bay Area network is now available for use and extends to more than sixty-five data centers.

Bandwidth IG is best known for operating dark fiber facilities in several U.S. metro areas such as San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Atlanta, GA. A well-known predecessor, Zayo, has long owned dark fiber capacity across the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean.

Zayo’s route diversity push

Last year, amid growing threats from bad actors, geopolitics, and climate change, Zayo Group announced the fastest direct subsea cable network route connecting New York and Manchester. The route avoids backhauling to global Internet hubs in London and Paris, provides a level of redundancy, and reduces transatlantic latency, enabling a better user experience.

Several months ago, to provide carrier diversity, Zayo acquired a new, physically diverse, and ultra-low-latency route between D.C. and Atlanta. This provides the most direct connectivity between the two major markets and key economic hubs.

With low latency and complete route diversity from other heavily trafficked routes between the markets, the new route from Zayo creates network diversity. The route also connects with Zayo’s unique financial routes and southern rail routes, enabling North-to-South and coast-to-coast connectivity and resiliency.

For more than 17 years, Zayo has worked with small and large companies using its network, which now spans 144,000 route miles. Zayo claims its global network serves 50,000 on-net commercial buildings and 1,600 on-net data centers in over four hundred global markets.

For enterprises seeking total control of their network from metro to international can use Zayo Dark Fiber. It claims its dark fiber network, a flagship product, offers dozens of unique routes, accelerated expansion and enhancement, and up-to-date functionality. Businesses handle network operations using their own resources.

Back at the local level

Not surprisingly, the upstart, which took four years to build the submarine fiber cable connection under San Francisco Bay, has no plans to build trans-oceanic routes. But when asked about adding submarine cables at a local level, Bandwidth IG's Lochridge replied: “What we’re looking at is solving complex infrastructure projects in other markets.”

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About the Author(s)

Bob Wallace, Featured Writer

A veteran business and technology journalist, Bob Wallace has covered networking, telecom, and video strategies for global media outlets such as International Data Group and United Business Media. He has specialized in identifying and analyzing trends in enterprise and service provider use of enabling technologies. Most recently, Bob has focused on developments at the intersection of technology and sports. A native of Massachusetts, he lives in Ashland and can be reached at[email protected]or @fastforwardbob

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