Zayo bolsters middle mile reach with $153M Nevada grant

June 27, 2024
The service provider will lead an open-access fiber network targeting underserved locations in the state.

The State of Nevada has selected Zayo to build, operate, maintain, and commercialize the state’s new Middle Mile Network project, which will bring service to communities with few network connectivity options. 

Zayo will build 800 miles of the open-access fiber network, backed by funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Office of Science, Innovation, and Technology (OSIT), to provide robust broadband access to unserved and underserved communities. 

The network, which will have two routes through Reno and Las Vegas, will enable connectivity for 40,000 underserved locations, including households, schools, libraries and community buildings:

·       US 93 Route through Las Vegas: This network build will include a $43.5 million investment from the NTIA Middle Mile Grant Program and $43.5 million funded by the Nevada Department of Transportation. 

·       I-80 Route through Reno: This route includes a $66 million funded by the Department of Treasury Capital Project Funds and the State of Nevada. 

Bill Long, Zayo's Chief Product and Strategy Officer, said the company's “work in the Nevada Middle-Mile project will help bridge the digital divide in these underserved areas.” 

Revenue sharing, AI possibilities 
Network capacity is only one part of Zayo’s middle mile initiative. 

The service provider said its public-private partnership with the State of Nevada will enable “unique revenue-sharing opportunities.” Zayo can operate, maintain, and commercialize the route to ensure the project's long-term sustainability and economic viability. 

Zayo wants to use its work with Nevada to pursue agreements similar to those of other states. The provider said this agreement “sets a precedent for other states with similar connectivity needs.”

Also, as Reno and Las Vegas become major data center AI centers, the network infrastructure will provide the necessary fiber connectivity to support current and future needs. 

Lowering rural barriers
Zayo will build the new middle mile fiber routes with its Digital Equity Access Network (DEAN) architecture. 

The DEAN architecture enhances rural connectivity by lowering the barrier to entry for rural ISPs to build last-mile infrastructure by providing pre-provisioned, dedicated fiber backhaul and competitive IP pricing that matches metro market rates.

With multiple interconnection points pre-built into the network, Zayo said it is “making connecting to our middle mile more affordable for ISPs.” 

The service provider’s work with Nevada reflects its work developing new middle-mile networks. Previously, it was awarded $92.9 million as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Middle Mile Grant Program. 

Zayo is using the funding build middle mile networks in several states to support education, telemedicine, and public safety communication. Some key middle mile routes include Oregon – California – Nevada, El Paso to Dallas, and Dallas to Atlanta.

Middle mile builds have been a critical priority for Zayo. Since 2018, the service provider has built and operated over 4,000 new route miles of long-haul fiber routes across 17 states.

Further, its acquisition of Education Networks of America (ENA) in 2021 made it the largest independent provider of K-12 E-rate services, connecting almost 20,000 schools in the U.S.

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About the Author

Sean Buckley

Sean is responsible for establishing and executing the editorial strategies of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report across their websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products.

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