Going the Distance

Skirting the roadblock

Four OC-3 (155-Megabit-per-second) equivalents, going from South America to Miami: provisioned in a week.

One OC-3, going from Miami to Washington, D.C.: provisioned in a week.

The wait for a 2-mile-long DS-3 (45-Mbps) line in Washington, D.C., needed to activate a 6,000-mile long network: five months.

This is a scenario that more and more carriers selling long-distance connectivity encounter, as fast-moving Net businesses hit the regional Bell fiber-optic provisioning roadblock.

One company sees opportunity in the traffic jam. International Wire Communications has begun preconnecting critical buildings in key metro areas, and is selling space on its metro backbone to service providers that need a link. IWC acts as a citywide cross-connect for large businesses and carriers that need to link with each other or with hosting or colocation facilities. The company has wired its hometown of Miami, as well as Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Orlando, Fla. Next are Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta.

IWC starts by running one big fiber ring through key buildings in the city — colocation facilities, telecom hotels and central offices — and then builds smaller rings inside the master circle in order to bring more locations online.


The effect this simple business model has on carriers operating in Miami, which is IWCs most mature build, is mind-boggling to David Diaz, the companys interim chief executive.

"This week, we are getting an MOU [memorandum of understanding] signed with some very big [regional Bell operating company]-type people who are going to be buying from us to get to colos," Diaz says. "They own a network in the city, but they need us to get to colos because their network doesnt go there. I mean, I couldnt make this up if I wanted to."

The latest group of customers excited about IWC includes data-center operators — such as Colo.com and Switch & Data Facilities — that are interested in developing their business into more of an Equinix-style model. Equinixs Internet Business Exchange centers are carrier neutral, serving as home to services ranging from long-distance and broadband to content and hosting. All of the services are colocated in the same building, connect to a single local area network and are available to clients with a single click. Though Diaz didnt name names, he says several colocation providers plan to leverage IWCs metro networks to develop Equinix-style offerings.

IWC hopes to expand beyond the Southeastern U.S. It is hunting for funding, and earlier this month closed on $150 million in secured credit.

Industry luminaries have jumped on the IWC bandwagon. Says board member Doug Humphrey, who is president and CEO of Cidera and founder of Digex: "Its like MFS Communications all over again — its on that same level of innovation."