US Signal is the latest carrier to get in on one of the latest trends in long-haul fiber networks. The company, which operates a 9000-route mile fiber network in the Midwest, plans to add access points in several primarily Tier 2 markets—including Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Hampton, Iowa; as well as Eau Claire and Wausau, Wisc. Also gaining an access point is one Tier 1 market—Minneapolis.

This could be good news for enterprise and wholesale customers in these tier 2 markets and surrounding communities, as it should help reduce the cost of obtaining Internet and other types of data connectivity by bringing increased competition to the backhaul market.

Aside from tier 2 and 3 markets served by regional fiber consortiums like those who belong to INDATEL, it is not uncommon for these markets to have fiber networks pass through them without offering point-of-presence access. As a result, enterprises and service providers may find they have few choices and must pay top dollar for Internet backhaul.

But increasingly long-haul network operators are seeing opportunity in opening up some of these smaller markets by adding points of presence there. Level 3, for example, won a broadband stimulus award to do just that for parts of its network that operate in more remote areas. And Allied Fiber, which is constructing a new nationwide dark fiber network, is planning network access points every 60 miles along its routes.

Both Level 3 and Allied Fiber are allowing other carriers the opportunity to use their network—an approach typically known as open access. And although I didn’t find that exact term on the US Signal site, the site does say that the company provides connectivity for wireless, Internet, long-haul and voice carriers.

“By adding more access points to increase our extensive network reach and also providing multiple network access options including fiber, copper and switched Ethernet, US Signal continues to deliver high-quality bandwidth and managed services where customers demand it,” said US Signal Vice President of Engineering Trevor Bidle in today’s announcement.

US Signal’s “on-off ramps” include major carrier hotel locations, incumbent telephone company central offices and “other lit buildings,” their release said.

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