Growth on the dark fiber map

The increased speeds, security and flexibility of fiber networks have driven demand for residential and enterprise connectivity over recent years. Unfortunately, demand isn’t being met across the country due to infrastructure costs and telecommunications companies suppressing competition.

In 2014, almost 8% of internet connections in the U.S. were through fiber networks. Compare that to Japan where fiber networks account for 68.5% of internet connections. The U.S. is drastically behind many countries in the world for high-speed internet. In 2017, about 25% of the U.S. has access to a fiber network.

Even though the U.S. lags behind many other developed countries with fiber network connections, the medium is seeing impressive growth despite suppressed competition and infrastructure difficulties. A few years ago, the White House announced 98% of American homes were connected to high-speed internet with more than 30 million homes accounting for fiber connections. Fiber internet to the home’s (FTTH) year over year growth from 2014 to 2016 totaled 16%.

Since 2010, Google has made a concerted effort to bring fiber networks to cities around the country. Demand grew as metropolitan areas pleaded with Google to set up fiber networks in their city. Unfortunately, progress has slowed due to infrastructure costs and business model restructuring, but if anything, Google has shown a spotlight on the demand businesses and citizens have for fiber internet.

Downtown St. Louis’ dark fiber map

In the early 2000s, Arch Fiber Networks built the initial dark fiber network in downtown St. Louis. Over the years, we’ve expanded the network to additional areas of downtown during times in which the city was doing street improvements and highway expansions. Our last major expansion to the dark fiber map was in 2014 when we laid fiber through Market and Chestnut Streets.

Recently, Arch Fiber Networks has been approached by several entities to expand the network into areas where there is a need for gigabit connections. This includes connections to additional carrier hotels located downtown along with connections to education and technology centers.

Furthermore, there are opportunities to expand fiber connectivity North toward the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) building. With the new NGA building development, plans are progressing for community improvements in the surrounding area such as road enhancements.

Along with the new NGA building, St. Louis is aggressively pursuing Amazon, who has announced its fielding cities to build a second headquarters. Multiple communities across the metro are looking to unite because of Amazons potential entrance. Fortunately, the current infrastructure of dark fiber in downtown St. Louis is ready to meet the needs of any company looking to come to the metro. The timing and positioning is a great opportunity to expand broadband connectivity and provide high-speed access to the surrounding community.

Where else are fiber networks growing in the region?

In the last quarter of 2016, AT&T rolled out high-speed fiber internet to neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro include parts of Kirkwood, Maplewood and across the river in Edwardsville and Swansea. This year alone, they’ve expanded to Maryland Heights and St. Ann. In the summer of 2016, Spectrum Business Enterprise Solutions announced their release of GIG+, a business-class fiber internet service. Spectrum claims to offer this fiber connection to more than 75% of businesses in the St. Louis metro.

While fiber is slowly growing, competition is needed to bring costs to an accessible level that makes sense for businesses and residential communities alike. Meanwhile, there are still communities that lack fiber infrastructure to bring high-speed connectivity to their area.

What is the current state of dark fiber growth?

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, has stated the importance of improved infrastructure, including widespread access to broadband connectivity. The mayor along with stakeholders from around the metro are aggressively pursuing the expansion of fiber infrastructure to increase accessibility for residences and businesses.

Our expansion of dark fiber through the metro is reliant on demand from communities looking to improve their available connectivity.

View our dark fiber map

Have you seen our dark fiber map? Take a look, it details the available fiber areas in downtown St. Louis along with a listing of current fiber lit buildings and carrier hotels.