“Access to fiber is going to be key to future economic development,” said Owen Graham, business development manager, Arch Fiber Networks. “There are amazing things happening in Kansas City, because of the fiber availability to services businesses and homes,” he said.
Arch Fiber Networks, a subsidiary of Edwardsville businessman Tom Allen’s American
Fiber Comm, has installed a fiber optic loop around downtown St. Louis, the near south side and Old North St. Louis. Telecommunications cable made from fiber optics are made of glass fibers instead of copper wires, and have a much higher capacity for carrying data.
While some people lament Google’s and AT&T’s decisions not to install fiber optic networks in St. Louis, Graham said, “We don’t need them. We love them, but we don’t need them.”
What St. Louis needs instead is more entrepreneurial spirit. “We already have the
infrastructure,” Graham said. “We just need demand and internet service providers.”
Arch Fiber Networks fully redundant dark fiber (dark means it is not being used)
networks with a dual crossing under the Mississippi River 90-feet beneath the McKinley Bridge. It has direct connections to the telecom hotels at 900 Walnut, 210 N. Tucker, and 710 N. Tucker, and to the AT&T Toll Building at 2651 Olive Street. One network surrounds downtown between Carr Street on the north and Chestnut Street on the south. The southern loop runs from Chestnut and Market Streets in the north to Arsenal in the south and runs west to Grand Avenue, encompassing the neighborhoods of Lasalle Park, Soulard, Lafayette Square, McKinley Heights, Fox
Park, Compton Heights, and part of Tower Grove East. The northern loop runs up
Broadway along the Old North St. Louis neighborhood to the Hyde Park neighborhood, and returns downtown along N. 13th Street.
“The system is there to serve carriers, enterprise customers, businesses, and homes
in the downtown ring,” Graham said. “We don’t care how much bandwidth you use.”
“Today our focus is providing fiber services along Washington Avenue,” he said. One
fiber cable runs up Washington Avenue to Beaumont and connects to AT&T. “We pulled laterals into the buildings so they are ready for customers,” he said.
“In our model, the infrastructure is there. We just need to pull fiber through the laterals and install in the buildings.
“From the standpoint of the end user, the difference is invisible. We will partner with internet service providers, who will put their equipment on the fiber distribution panel and go to a telecom hotel and purchase one or more gigs of internet to break up to buildings they serve,” Graham said.
Graham said fiber delivers faster, cheaper internet, that will enable office and apartment building owners in their rings to compete for Millennials and high tech tenants, he said. “At an apartment building, for example, instead of having the tenants all share 80 megs from Charter, they can share 500 megs,” he said.
Arch Fiber Networks donated a fiber connection to the T-Rex high-tech incubator on Washington Avenue.
“Start-ups are the ones that will need huge bandwidth, they need gigabit fiber,” he said.
Downtown, Old North St. Louis, and the near south side are now primed with fiber for
start-up IT companies and the Millennial generation. All they need now are developers with the entrepreneurial spirit to use and promote it, instead of waiting for someone bigger and powerful to do it as the characters do in Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot.”