San Antonio continues to undergo a renaissance in fiber optic infrastructure as another company is laying hundreds of miles of cable across the city’s Far West Side and linking it to networks in Austin and other major Texas markets.
A flurry of right of way permits for Boulder, Colorado-based Zayo Group Holdings to bury fiber optic cable in San Antonio has been on the San Antonio Business Journal’s radar for at least two years. The company uses its own fleet of subcontractors that has been building out 800 miles of fiber optic cable in the city to transmit high-speed internet.
Founded in 2007, Zayo (NYSE: ZAYO) is among the largest independent fiber infrastructure builders in the country, fueled by dozens of acquisitions and organic growth. Zayo Group has tripled its fiber optic network footprint across Texas and serves 450 business customers in the state.
Much of the local growth was driven byseveral major customer contracts, including an undisclosed company with which it had a 20-year contract to link fiber optic cable lines to cellphone towers in San Antonio and Austin — about 300 towers in all.
“That’s enabled us to build these massive networks, like in San Antonio,” said Brian Daniels, Zayo Group’s vice president of fiber solutions for the South region.
A new deal with an undisclosed customer will add to Zayo’s fiber optic network in San Antonio, whichconnects the Texas Research Park on the Far West Wide with Westover Hills. The region has been lauded as a data center hub largely due to CPS Energy’s electricity rates being among the lowest in the state.
“Where there is cheap power, there is not necessarily good connectivity. … We’re building a 25-mile-or-so redundant loop out on the West Side, which is very data center-centric,” Daniels said.
The network will eventually connect to the city’s downtown district and create fuller fiber connectivity in the region. Microsoft, which bought nearly 160 acres at the Texas Research Park in 2015, has built several data centers on that site for a projected $1 billion.
Zayo also laid so-called dark fiber for Fort Worth in a 12-year deal worth $15.6 million in 2016. The company’s customers include the Texas Education Service Center Region 11, which is in Fort Worth and has been expanding to meet population growth. Zayo also sells co-location data center space.
One major driver in Texas is the expansion of educational buildings that need high-speed internet connectivity.
“The concept of building these really large, private interconnected networks for these school districts to enable unlimited bandwidth for their students has been a huge focus of ours,” Daniels said.
There is some demand from property owners and corporations also.
“We couple that with the demand that we see from the big Fortune 500s. Data center connectivity is huge, and corporate real estate is starting to see a lot of value in infrastructure providers because we can build a new office complex with fiber. … And we’re open access, so a lot of the other carriers will lease infrastructure from us,” Daniels said.
Once the fiber is in the ground, it can also be leased to local governments that need bandwidth for first-responder networks and other systems that require connectivity like the anticipated roll out of 5G cell service.
“As these cities grow and the suburban areas sprawl out, some of these underserved communities are now getting access to fiber,” Daniels said.
The fiber optic infrastructure business is investing in an expanded network that stretches from Austin to San Antonio to meet demand for public-sector and data center clients.