glued fiber smallWashington D.C.-area startup Traxyl offers a new take on fiber deployment: gluing fiber to the road. The company’s FiberTRAX offering uses a methyl methacrylate (MMA) coating designed to enable fiber to be deployed without trenching by adhering it to road surfaces, thereby reducing the cost and timelines involved in fiber deployments.

Traxyl claims a 10-year lifespan for the product, which is considerably shorter than the lifespan for trenched options. But although FiberTRAX may not be a permanent solution, potentially it could offer an interim method for boosting last-mile broadband speeds. A service provider or municipality might see it as a way of supporting higher-speed broadband until the next time the street is opened up for another reason.

Daniel Turner, Traxyl’s founder and CEO, told media outlet Government Technology that FiberTRAX is expected to cost about five dollars per foot or less to install – in comparison with $15 to $300 per foot for trenched options.

FiberTRAX: Gluing Fiber to the Road
Traxyl already has five FiberTRAX customers, including D.C.-area internet service provider ThinkBig Networks, a high school and three municipalities.

Source: Traxyl

Online publication Government Technology talked to two of the municipalities – the city of Stillwater, Okla. and Fauquier County, Va. A representative for Stillwater said the city successfully tested the fiber by running snowplows, trash trucks and other large vehicles over the line.

MMA coatings already are used on roads as a longer-lasting alternative to paint. Traxl claims to have enhanced the MMA used in FiberTRAX to withstand heavy weights — potentially giving new meaning to the oft-used telecom descriptor “hardened.”

Source: Traxyl

This isn’t the first time innovators have attempted to offer less costly alternatives to trenching fiber. Several companies have experimented with deploying fiber in sewers, but that idea never gained much traction.

It’s also worth noting that FiberTRAX will compete not only with fiber-delivered last-mile options but also with new methods of boosting the speeds that copper wiring can support and with wireless options. Fiber generally can support higher speeds than either of those options, however.

Join the Conversation

11 thoughts on “Gluing Fiber to the Road: FiberTRAX Aims to Reduce Fiber Costs, Deployment Times

  1. Yeah, but how do you glue fiber across the customer's lawn or driveway? Especially the lawn.

  2. That would never work around here where they're always digging up one road or another on a seemingly monthly basis. They re-paved the main road through the center of town and all the side street leading off from it, and less than a month later, they were digging up some of the side roads for something.

  3. The product "may" be ok…until the Facilities, Street , or Highway Department forgets to contact the fiber's owner, about the fact that asphalt repaving begins at 7:00 AM today. An asphalt milling machine will eat through the product like its a buttermilk pancake! 8^O

  4. Interesting comments from all…however, I would like to give these folks the benefit of the doubt: I would imagine someone already considered snow plows and dings in the road. Some of the plastics used in race cars, for example, would be a match for a bull dozier or curb…my "play car" has a bullet-proof air dam made from that stuff.

  5. You all are missing the point and apparently haven't seen the application for yourself. No you can't cut it with a pocket knife, it's hard as a rock. The applications for this are varied and depended on your fiber network architecture ie a mesh network (for example) this could be viable in some applications. As for the last mile it can transition from the street to a direct bore on your lawn via a small manhole or junction box similar to how cable tv is done underground. Will this replace traditional methods, no but can it help lower cost, speed to market and have a good deal of creative uses, yes I believe so. I tip my hat to them for trying to make a difference.

  6. To much opportunity to spoil this IMO.
    Can’t wait to get that call to trouble shoot this issue.
    “Sorry folks, your out of service till the road is repaired.

  7. Cable life
    Exhibit 1 is the Marshall‐Swift Life Expectancy Guidelines. The asset life ranges from 28 to 42 years for distribution assets.
    Exhibit 2 is IRS Publication 946 and it indicates a 24 year class life for telephone distribution plant.
    Exhibit 3 is the FCC depreciation ranges adopted in Docket No. 98‐137 (December 17,
    1999). All non‐metallic cables, whether aerial, underground, buried, or intrabuilding network were
    assigned a projected life range of 25 to 30 years. A 2007 appraisal of AT&T network assets indicates a
    financial life of 20 years for fiber.

    How often do roads need to be resurfaced?
    Their top layers generally need to be milled and resurfaced every 10 to 15 years, which can significantly extend the pavement’s life.

    $15 a foot to go in the ground or hang cable = 25 years of service on average(give or take)
    $5 a foot to glue it down = 10 years (if nothing happens and the gods are with us)
    To get the 25 year average on both(raw install costs only)
    GLUE – 2.5 installs to achieve the averages = $12.5 per foot
    Todays teleco/cable plant methods – Single install = $15 a foot

    Now, how many issues will we address to keep the physical layer running over the life expectancy?
    Ladies’ and gentlemen, what are you more comfortable with here?
    What happens to this in terms of asset ownership and serviceability?
    Feeling any warm fuzees here?

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