Privately-funded Fiber Optic Line To Be Installed Under Ground Along S. Woodland

Trust me, I care about this one more than many people might, for multiple reasons. For one reason, I live on South Woodland, on the side of the street where this line will be put down.  Second, I have a major family event coming up in May and the last thing I want happening in my yard is it being dug up and swarmed by workers while relatives and friends come and go for three days.

That said, this opportunity, which you can read about at length in the Chagrin Valley Times article below, is one which Pepper Pike must take advantage of, to the extent we can.  To that end, I'll be tapping former council member, Rick Hankins, who heads up IT at the Cleveland chapter of the American Red Cross, to help us understand exactly how Pepper Pike can make the best use of this inevitability.

For those who are really curious, the "privately funded" part is courtesy of
Jim Barksdale - the guy who started Netscape for those with long institutional memories (this information was given to me by one of the company's representatives at a council meeting I attended before I was seated; he'd mentioned that it was funded privately and I then asked specifically, who did that mean).  It appears that Barksdale is banking on fiber optic line being in great demand and so he is spending literally tens of millions of dollars (again, numbers quoted during council meetings) to put down line between Cleveland and New Jersey that connects two data centers in each location at the ends of the line.  There is extremely little information out there about this project but what I have turned up includes minutes from or articles about how the company involved, Northeastern ITS, is working in other communities.  You can see PUCO's agreement with Northeastern ITS here.

As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns, please leave them in the comments or email me.
Chagrin Valley Times, 1/21/10 Fiber Optic Line Installation Update


patty said...

Do you happen to know which areas of NJ are covered by this fiber optic line?

Patty Hartwell

Jill said...

Hi Patty - I'm doing some research to see if they've ever identified the town in NJ in which the data center will reside. So far, no luck. I'd be happy to ask if you like - would that be helpful to you? (I'll post some links with other mentions of the project in another comment.)

Jill said...

Phillipsburg, NJ looks to be a possible end point:

"At Wednesday night's Easton City Council meeting, officials talked about construction of a fiber-optic link through Easton. A representative from Northeastern ITS says the company will install a high band with cable reaching across the toll Bridge into Easton from Phillipsburg, New Jersey."

That came from a cached version of an RSS feed that can be found here:

I should say that when asked questions, they, for the most part, have been forthcoming and always polite. But we do have to ask questions etc. "Private" feels like the operative word! But again, people who know about these kinds of projects are confident that this can be a very big opportunity for those places through which the line will pass.

Thanks for asking. You can see minutes of the 12/09 Road & Safety Committee meeting here and they contain a few paragraphs of information on the project (under Item #5):

patty said...

What is interesting is that Phillipsburg,NJ is right near the Pennsylvania border so clearly the fiber optic cable is just to service PA and Ohio. And depending on where it travels, besides Easton, the nearest towns are Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton - a good 1-2 hours north of Philadelphia - so the cable may be no where near that major city. But it will certainly be an enormous opportunity for places like Allentown, Bethlehem, which are old manufacturing centers. This is very interesting. What do you know about the path beyond Easton?

Jill said...

Patty - I wish I knew more about the path but I don't. I've gleaned what I could by googling and tracking which towns have comments or minutes indicating that the company has come through their city gov't body to ask for permission/let them know they are coming. I don't know, but perhaps PADOT and OHDOT or PUCO have maps? I also think that if we asked, the company would provide more information. If you want, email me off-blog and we can see what we can do. Where are you?

Paul said...


The world of networks and data centers is where I spent my career. I'm 10 years removed from being active in the business, but I was surprised to learn that Barksdale was backing this network construction project. There is not generally a shortage of fiberoptic capacity in this county, and I wouldn't think that Cleveland to NJ is a particularly underserved market - at least not enough so to make it worth installing new capacity.

The PUCO tariff doesn't say much, and the services they plan to offer aren't particularly interesting (1.5Mbps long distance channels in a day when you can get 5Mbps into your home).

That makes me suspect that 'public services' are being offered on this facility only because it makes it easier to get the PUCO approval. I doubt that they really want many local connections - a business which is frankly a pain to operate because of the human intensity.

There's a thing going on in financial markets these days where some stock traders have figured out a way to make money in the miniscule movements of stock prices through the day - sometimes just pennies. It's day-trading on steriods: Buy 100,000 shares for $10.00/share, sell it 5 minutes later for $10.01 share - you've made $1,000.

But to pull it off, you need what are called "low-latency" telecommunitions, meaning that you can actually communicate the buy/sell order during the literal milliseconds that the price is where you want it. Taking the above example, if you think you're selling at $10.01, but the stock drops to $0.99 in the 30 secs it takes to communicate and execute your trade, you've lost $1,000 instead.

Goldman Sachs supposedly made a ton of money doing this last year, doing gazillions of trades of hundreds of stocks. They have an advantage being in lower Manhattan - in the geographic center of the action.

So it wouldn't surprise me if there is a financial house in Cleveland who wants to get into this game, and needs a more-or-less private link to the NY area trading systems. They might want to defray the cost with a public offering of services, but that's not their real purpose for installing the line.

This line might be interesting for your town, but only if the route happens to run past buildings/facilities which you have value in connecting, but would otherwise find cost prohibitive. For example, perhaps some of your schools or libraries are on the route, and there is value in interconnecting them (e.g. we have all the Hilliard school on a private fiber system that allows all 32 buildings to share a common telephone system).

This is unlikely to have value as a residential service - ie to connect your house to the internet. It looks too expensive - which I why I suggest that they don't really want to be in that business anyway.

Hope this helps.