Adelphia nets IRUs for dark fiber, ducts to reach new networking markets

March 1, 2000

by Robert Pease

Aseries of recent agreements totaling approximately $100 million has provided Adelphia Business Solutions (Coudersport, PA) a fast track for expanding its fiber-optic network into new markets throughout the United States. The indefeasible-rights-of-use (IRU) agreements will expand Adelphia's backbone by more than 8,000 long-haul route-mi and provide access to business centers in major cities across the country.

Adelphia Business Solutions, a majority-owned subsidiary of Adelphia Communications Corp., began as Hyperion Telecommunications Inc., formed by Adelphia in 1991 as a competitive access provider to begin building a fiber-optic communications network. Last June, the name change was made from Hyperion to Adelphia Business Solutions to align the strengths of both organizations and develop a single brand in the communications marketplace.

Since then, Adelphia has grown its network quickly, with these latest IRU agreements providing coast-to-coast connectivity services that include long-distance, local voice, messaging, data, and Internet. The company plans to interconnect the dark fiber, metro politan duct, and metropolitan dark fiber to its existing network. By the end of 2001, the network will serve approximately 200 cities over a fully redundant, 33,000-mi local and long-haul fiber-optic network.

Once again, Adelphia highlights the fact that telecommunications providers can literally build-out fiber-optic networks for thousands of miles without deploying a single mile of new fiber. Technologies like dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM), along with transmission speeds in the terabit range, are making network construction through IRU agreements a rapid way to expand new or existing networks.
Through IRU agreements with other carriers, Adelphia's fiber-optic backbone network now extends coast-to-coast, reaching major business centers across the United States.

The first agreement with Level 3 Communications Inc. (Broomfield, CO) netted Adelphia approximately 3,100 route-mi throughout most of the western United States. It includes routes through California to Las Vegas and north to Seattle and Portland, OR. Also included in the agreement is about 750 mi of metropolitan duct in several central business districts, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, CA, and Seattle.

Williams Communications Inc. (Tulsa, OK), a company that actually prefers taking a "go it alone" approach to network expansion (see Lightwave, March 1999, page 23), also inked an agreement with Adelphia that involves than 4500 route-mi, also in the western part of the country. These routes connect Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, NV, Portland, OR, Sacramento, CA, Fresno, CA, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, AZ, and El Paso, TX. When combined, the new routes gained from Level 3 and Williams substantially complete Adelphia's long-haul network needs in the western United States and services are planned as early as the end of 2000.

Additionally, Adelphia acquired other long-haul routes from Williams in the eastern half of the country that will interconnect markets in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois.

A flexible agreement with Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (MFN -New York City) allows Adelphia to acquire fiber strand miles across any of MFN's North American markets. Adelphia plans to use the agreement to obtain quick, efficient access to key Tier 1 markets during its national expansion and develop its own network presence where appropriate.

Finally, 600 mi of long-haul and metropolitan routes were obtained through an agreement with Allegheny Communications Connect Inc., a subsidiary of Allegheny Energy Inc. These route connections include Pennsylvania through West Virginia and in Maryland and Virginia. The routes will interconnect several Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in the region with Adelphia's existing long-haul fiber backbone in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

According to James Rigas, CEO at Adelphia Business Solutions, these latest agreements play a strategic part in the company's nationwide plan. They allow Adelphia to enter many new markets quickly and cost-effectively while providing integrated communications services to customers coast to coast.

"This series of agreements quickly and efficiently escalates our expansion into the western half of the United States," says Rigas. "We have now successfully transitioned from a regional CLEC [competitive local-exchange carrier] to a national integrated communications provider."

The network expansion allows Adelphia to transport and terminate the vast majority of its customers' long-distance and Internet traffic on its own facilities. Additionally, the company gains the enabling architecture to extend service offerings that include enhanced data applications such as frame relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode, and virtual private networks. Finally, says Rigas, several markets can be served from one switching or central-office location, equating to better capital utilization and providing the foundation for packet-switched Internet-protocol (IP) telephony network architecture in the future.