The Nationwide, Distributed Meet Me Room


“We treat dark fiber as real estate,” says Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber in the above interview. Allied Fiber is building a giant ring around the United States to help facilitate connectivity for ILECs, CLECs, Munis, businesses; really any entity that has a need for fiber connectivity.

Building on his earlier work as a founder of carrier hotel Telx, Allied Fiber is transforming the carrier neutral, meet-me room from a single location to one that is distributed via underground, 528-count, outside plant fiber. Allied Fiber is creating thousands of fiber access and meet-me points in the thousands of handholes (approximately every 3,000 or 5,000 feet apart) and buildings that serve as optical amplification locations. These buildings, spaced every 60 miles along the fiber route, are also locations for carriers to install equipment.

Newby is quick to point out the differences between a meet-me point and a data center and that Allied Fibers’ facilities only perform the function of a meet-me point for various networks. He also emphasizes that Allied Fiber only supplies dark fiber, as Allied Fiber is not a carrier in of itself. They facilitate neutral connections between carriers by supplying the fiber, power and equipment racks.

They are finding that their customers have different use-cases, such as,

  • carriers who are supplying IP bandwidth to others, whether a wavelength or IP connectivity.
  • entities that are using the fiber for internal purposes

The first segment of their network is between Miami and Jacksonville with the next leg between Jacksonville and Atlanta under construction. Although Allied Fiber is using existing railroad rights-of-ways and has modularized the build to reduce construction time, it will still take time to build out the network. Newby looks forward to working with others, such as existing regional networks to help realize and expand his vision.

Newby suggests that their approach facilitates true network neutrality, whereby carriers have access to various networks and their network will facilitate last-mile competition. For instance, he provides an example of a Florida PCO (Private Cable Operator) that recently signed on with Allied Fiber to connect their disparate last-mile facilities.

Like the theme of the IMN 5th Annual Financing, Investing & Real Estate Development for Data Centers (West) conference, Allied Fiber is fundamentally a real estate play. With 20 year IRUs (Indefeasible Rights of Use) and regular rent, investors can expect steady cash-flow, similar to what they might get from a rental property; definitely a unique approach to building a nationwide fiber network.