Data Center POST interview with Ray LaChance, CEO and Co-Founder of ZenFi Networks
By Contributing Editor Sarah Chamberlain
Ray LaChance is CEO and Co-Founder of ZenFi Networks, an innovative, locally-owned-and-operated communications infrastructure company serving the New York and New Jersey metro region. In his role, Ray leverages his proven industry expertise to build and deliver innovative communication infrastructure solutions to enterprise, carrier, and wireless mobility providers, solving effectively the network challenges created by the proliferation of mobile data. Ray also currently serves as a founding member of Metro Connect, LLC, a company focused on fiber optic and mobile network planning, engineering, and deployment solutions for mobile network operators, tower owners, and telecommunications service providers. As an industry veteran, he has garnered over 30 years of experience managing teams that design, build, and operate complex, high-capacity communication networks for large enterprises, carriers, and wireless mobility providers.
Data Center POST recently sat down with Ray to discuss the milestones of 2018, the challenges of the coming year, and what ZenFi hopes to accomplish at PTC ‘19.
Data Center POST, Sarah Chamberlain (DCP-SC) Question: Could you tell our readers what problems ZenFi Networks is attempting to solve right now?
ZenFi Networks, Ray LaChance (ZN-RL) Answer: When we started ZenFi Networks, we saw a need to create a new type of network to meet the demand of network densification. In the New York metro market, we saw the main issue with meeting this demand was in the way fiber networks had historically been built. Traditional fiber networks are built as high capacity rings, suitable for high bandwidth enterprise solutions, but not well suited for the fragmentation that comes with wireless applications. Conversely, traditional cable networks are also highly fragmented, built to serve a large number of locations, but limited in capacity connectivity. The infrastructure solution for 5G will require a blend of the two, a highly fragmented fronthaul fiber network interconnected with a highly resilient backhaul network. Fiber is only as useful as the path it traverses and the customer’s ability to access it, so we designed a unique dark fiber network architecture that evolves legacy infrastructure to optimize density and network access.
DCP-SC Q: What milestones did you achieve in 2018 and how will these developments help ZenFi Networks keep up with the demands of the quickly growing and ever-changing telecommunications industry?
ZN-RL A: The most significant milestone for us in 2018 was completing our merger with Cross River Fiber. The combined company builds, owns, and maintains a world-class fiber optic network, distributed colocation, and wireless siting solutions for enterprise, carrier, and wireless operators. We have more than 30 years’ combined experience navigating regulatory and infrastructure constraints throughout the New York and New Jersey metro region, and can offer the most innovative communications infrastructure solutions by leveraging our unique, local expertise.
The merger enhanced our network reach and deepened our product portfolio. We’re now delivering a premiere regional communications network infrastructure, which is the foundation for 5G network deployments, and we are working together with our clients to solve today’s most challenging network architecture problems for tomorrow’s evolving network technology needs.
DCP-SC Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge(s) that is impacting your industry, and how are you working to overcome it?
ZN-RL A: What we’re working towards is satisfying that ever-growing demand for connectivity at the edge. With the tremendous amount of data and mobile traffic, fronthaul fiber is what’s needed to address the growing challenge of today’s massive traffic loads to create faster and more dense networks. A fronthaul network enables high capacity, low-latency connectivity, which is needed to address the demands on mobile network operators at the edge. The benefit of addressing this challenge is that we are able to create a truly unique and dynamic network architecture that can be leveraged for all sorts of connectivity needs.
We have expanded our fronthaul fiber in NYC beyond the traditional high bandwidth Manhattan corridors to support mobile growth in the outer boroughs, so we’re now able to provide high capacity connectivity to startups and small businesses that have relocated out of Manhattan in search of lower rents. ZenFi Networks can now provide a cost-competitive solution to companies that traditionally had a lack of communications infrastructure, because the business case could not support a build-out to a single enterprise
DCP-SC Q: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing at PTC’19?
ZN-RL A: Since 2014, ZenFi Networks has focused almost exclusively on serving mobile network operators in the NY metro market. Our recent merger with Cross River Fiber enables us to leverage 700+ miles of fiber optic network to deliver a telecommunications service overlay to enterprise and carrier customers. We have attended PTC in the past, but this year we are re-introducing the company as an alternative infrastructure and telecom services provider in the New York and New Jersey metro region. Our accommodating support services, nimble problem-solving, and deep experience enable us to quickly navigate hurdles and challenging construction logistics to meet our clients’ growing demands for network access. With our expanded product portfolio and network footprint we can now offer enterprise, carrier, and wireless providers both dark fiber and managed service options. We are excited to introduce the ZenFi Networks team and our capabilities to the PTC community.
DCP-SC Q: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Ray. To learn more about ZenFi Networks, please visit www.zenfi.com.