1. Tell our readers about FiberLight. What do you do and what key differentiators set FiberLight apart in the marketplace?

FiberLight is an infrastructure company—we have construction in our DNA. For over 20 years, we’ve been designing, engineering, and optimizing custom large-scale dark and lit fiber networks. While other providers offer dark fiber, few offer the flexible purchase options or have significant counts of fibers and conduits in the ground that we do—up to and including title transfer of the asset. FiberLight has grown through organic growth and own, operate, and manage over 14,000 fiber route miles. In many areas, we offer new fiber—built in the last three to four years—that is diverse from ILEC and cable providers. With our construction and industry experience, we have deep-seated regional expertise on our plant and offer high-touch relationships for a better experience when delivering ongoing account management and service maintenance. Lastly, due to our preferred access to financial instruments, allowing for low capital costs to invest in building infrastructure, FiberLight has the ability to build custom fiber networks and is more than willing to explore opportunities both within and outside our current network footprint.

  1. What broad trends do you see in channel in the next 12 months?

The cloud services conversations between customers and their trusted advisor generate more demand for just about all of us on the supplier side of the business. Cloud conversations result in higher bandwidth demands, more Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), more (Call Centers as a Service) CCaaS, more security conversations, and so on. This is really great news for highly educated partners with a deep understanding of current technology and more importantly, what’s around the corner. From a FiberLight perspective, we are seeing more and more enterprise customers buying dark fiber as a result of the explosive bandwidth requirements that lit services can no longer support. Additionally, enterprise customers’ needs drive the requirement to control, secure, and manage their network instead of being reliant on service providers processing change orders or not having the capacity required to fulfill the requirements.

  1. How has the channel industry evolved? What do you see as the greatest challenge in this space?

To me the channel has evolved from providing transactional services like Dedicated Internet Access (DIA), voice, or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks to a more complex consultation bringing multiple service offerings, management of those services, and equipment solutions that enable end-user clients to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As a result, no one supplier can play the role of offering and properly supporting this diverse product set required by those existing and new end-user clients. Today’s channel offers the ability take high value services from a multitude of suppliers—some of who may have major advantages in certain markets over legacy supplies in their niche offerings. This forces the channel to broaden its relationships from the traditional providers and look for niche providers to provider these differentiated higher value services.

As far as the greatest challenge, it’s incumbent on suppliers to not only retain and acquire top talent that can adapt to this new paradigm but to invest in channel manager training. They must have knowledge of legacy solutions and understand how to position the value of moving from these services to higher value services. If not, the channel manager puts the channel partner and clients at risk of being displaced with other like services instead of protecting the long-term relationship with their client.

  1. What are new developments and initiatives that are exciting for FiberLight in 2019?

Our most exciting initiatives revolve around network expansion. We’re building new routes this year with large content companies, mobile network operators, and school districts that will bring our network into new states. So that will open up a lot of opportunity in the next couple of years. We’ll be finishing the construction of high-count fiber and duct in Ashburn where we’re overbuilding a ring that covers an area often referred to as data center alley and running fiber down the median of Loudoun County Parkway. Another part of this build includes 28-way two-inch duct along Ashburn Village. These new fiber routes bypass exhausted existing routes to offer customers increased performance and connectivity to the world’s largest concentration of data centers. Check out the hashtag #FiberLightBuilds on LinkedIn or Twitter to see behind-the-scenes construction pictures of these incredible builds.

This year, we’ve released 78,000 pre-qualified near-net buildings offering standard pricing models following a Minimum Revenue to Light (MRTL) along our Metro Aggregation Routes (MAR) in the DC Metro, Atlanta, Tampa, and Dallas. This allows partners to sell into new “tall and shiny” buildings without construction costs as long as the opportunity meets the MRTL. Customers want our services and if they are near our network, we want to be able to easily offer pricing and build to them. And we know the partner community can help us achieve that goal.

Lastly, as I mentioned already, we are starting to see more partners and enterprises interested in dark fiber services, so we’re working on training and additional educational resources for the channel to leverage this service—including managed network options—for their end users. We’re starting a monthly webinar training series and kicking off our first one on April 24 that you can register for now.

  1. Why is Channel Partners such an important industry event for FiberLight? 

FiberLight’s network is in a few very strategic markets in the US: the DC Metro, Atlanta, Tampa, and the whole state of Texas. As a result, we spend 90 percent of our time in our patch, naturally. That said, we have partners from all over the country that sell FiberLight services. Our largest partners outside of our footprint are in California, Chicago, and the Northeastern part of the country. Channel Partners is a great place to catch up with those we don’t see on a regular basis, and it’s also an amazing educational experience. It’s always a learning time for me personally—I love hearing about what’s keeping people up at night and trying to figure out how to bring value to their business.

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