When it comes to fiber in the Northeast, just about all paths lead through Manhattan. Two emerging colocation providers are seeking to change that.
Crosslake Fibre this week announced plans to build a new submarine fiber optic cable from Wall, New Jersey to Long Island. The 60-mile cable will provide a low-latency direct connection between the NJFX (New Jersey Fiber Exchange) colocation facility in Wall, N.J. and the 1025Connect data center in Westbury, N.Y.
“The need for a Manhattan bypass route is growing more critical with increased network congestion and weather-related threats in the region,” said Mike Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer of Crosslake Fibre. “We selected these endpoints as they are increasingly important hubs for transoceanic connectivity and provide a variety of network connectivity options for customers. As additional transoceanic cables carrying much of the world’s Internet traffic land in the region, and growth on existing cables continues, new domestic connectivity onward from the cable landing stations is important.”
NJFX and 1025Connect are part of a trend in which colocation providers are building data centers at the sites where undersea fiber optic cables arrive in North America. Cable landing sites historically have consisted of a manhole near the beach where they come ashore and sometimes a small facility operated by the phone company or cable owner.
That’s because the cable landings served as a pitstop, from which fiber routes carry the data to Manhattan carrier hotels like 60 Hudson Street, 111 8th Avenue and 32 Avenue of the Americas. These highly-connected buildings provide access to dozens and even hundreds of networks to move data wherever it needs to go.
Colo Meets Cable Landings
NJFX and 1025Connect are among a new breed of service provider seeking to build interconnection ecosystems at the cable landings, offering a way around the more expensive “toll gates” of Manhattan. As content providers and cloud companies seek new ways to move data around the world, it is creating new market niches for colocation and interconnection specialists. Similar projects are underway in Virginia Beach, Boca Raton in Florida and Moncton, New Brunswick.
To support its growth, 1025 Old Country Road (1025 OCR), which owns and operates the 1025Connect data center, recently closed a $14 million credit line to fund infrastructure improvements at the 200,000 square foot facility in Westbury.
The infrastructure upgrades will support the growth of multiple network operators already in the facility, including transatlantic subsea cable systems, metro and regional dark fiber and transport networks. It will lay the groundwork for new North American, European and Latin American networks coming to the facility.
“We are seeing strong demand for our interconnection facility that offers a unique bypass alternative to New York City,” said Jeff Wasserman, owner of 1025 Old Country Road and Chairman of 1025Connect. “This infusion of new capital will support our ability to build inventory and increase capabilities to meet burgeoning customer demand. We will continue to invest in our core infrastructure in order to enhance our platform going forward.”
Laying the Groundwork, and the Fiber
At the moment, these cable landing colocation operations are in the early growth phase. The Crosslake connection is not scheduled for completion until June 2019. Adding cable operators and interconnection providers (like DE-CIX, which now has a site at 1025Connect) builds the critical mass to offer meaningful savings to customers.
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“Terrestrial connectivity is half the battle, and sometimes half of the cost, when it comes to subsea capacity,” said Hunter Newby, a telecom pioneer has been an investor and advisor to the cable landing colo operations at 1025, NJFX and Fibre Cenre in Moncton. “It is vital for subsea system operators and the buyers and users of capacity on those systems to have direct access to a neutral interconnection facility that facilitates access to a variety of terrestrial dark fiber and lit service networks.”
NJFX is the largest and most ambitious of those projects. It’s a 64,000 square foot Tier III data center built next to a cable landing station operated by Tata Communications. The facility is about a mile from the ocean, and with 10 megawatts of power capacity, and could support as many as 1,000 customers. NJFX recently announced plans to buy an adjacent 48-acre property in Wall, which will be the site of a second data center.
NJFX was created by Gil Santaliz, a telecom veteran who was previously the CEO and founder of 4Connections, a metro fiber network provider that was acquired in 2008 by Optimum Lightpath. He believes cable landings are an emerging focus for companies seeking to move oceans of data, and can play an important role in regional resiliency.
“If New York’s telecom infrastructure is impacted either through natural or other disasters, then major carriers and telecoms will be adversely affected,” said Santaliz. “Because NJFX has an optimal location in New Jersey, which bypasses legacy chokepoints and the congested NYC routes, we play a major a role in making networks work. The Crosslake Fibre subsea cable further adds to that ecosystem and brings a unique connectivity option for international and US carriers located here.”
Crosslake’s first project was a fiber line under Lake Ontario connecting Buffalo and Toronto. The company says the Wall to Long Island project continues Crosslake’s model of developing niche submarine cable systems.
“Our Lake Ontario build is progressing at full speed and has really validated our approach to developing smaller systems,” comments Cunningham.