United Fiber & Data is currently constructing a 100 Gbps-ready greenfield fiber-optic network between New York City and Ashburn, Virginia. The new network will offer a redundant, highly available, low-latency path between the two cities and will connect some of the world’s top destinations for Internet peering and high-bandwidth networking, creating a cohesive and less-risky alternative to traditional fiber lines and pathways.
Three of the main investors in this project are Patrick Dahlheimer, Chad Gracey and Chad Taylor, the founding members of the multi-platinum band LIVE, who happen to be touring this summer across the USA. They have a history of investing in companies and projects that drive local economic growth, particularly in their hometown Pennsylvania communities that have supported LIVE from the beginning.
TNN recently caught up with entrepreneur-slash-rock star, Chad Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Think Loud Holdings (the band members’ family office) and lead guitarist of LIVE, to discuss their investment in this new telecom network.
TNN: You’ve stated that there’s an immediate connection between music and telecommunications. Would you share your thoughts on this connection?
Taylor: When we started LIVE, we wanted to connect with people through our music. We envisioned a band that would push the boundaries of what traditional rock music was about. At the time, MTV was promoting hair metal and the likes of Vanilla Ice. As a group of young men, we wanted to make music that had more substance. Where most bands dwell in boy-meets-girl melodrama, we wanted to connect with the mysticism of say, Led Zeppelin in a more-raw format like punk rock.
Turns out that there was a global audience that also wanted more from their music, and thankfully, LIVE became an important center for social awareness and connectivity. It’s this very connectivity that to me relates to our investment into UFD. Obviously, nothing can replace or duplicate our love for music, but the idea of building networks that further our ability to transfer data really turns me on.
UFD is building one of the most advanced fiber networks, providing connectivity, and with it economic development in many of the communities that supported us as young musicians. Our investment into the network and data centers will provide the on-ramp to the Information Superhighway that has not previously been available in the communities where the network will pass.
The very concept of supplying vital communication infrastructure and economic development is radical, if not punk rock, to put it in musical terms. So, I guess you could say that data, and the information contained within, is the punk rock for this century.
TNN: The need for capacity is growing exponentially. How does UFD help solve the capacity issue?
Taylor: Today, there’s a huge appetite for content, including education, entertainment, financial and mobile communications services. In late 2012, Strategy Analytics issued a report saying that worldwide smartphone users hit the 1-billion mark for the first time. Think about that – that’s 15% of the world’s population, and that number continues to grow quickly. By opening up the information chain, we create real connectivity, and I think this connectivity could lead to a better understanding of global issues – global poverty, education, global warming to just name a few.
UFD’s launch provides the capacity for growth and the infrastructure necessary for expansion throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Nowhere is that extreme data growth more apparent than in the congested Northeast Corridor of the U.S., where you’ve got the concentration of major metropolitan areas like New York City, Trenton, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C.
United Fiber & Data is building high-capacity, best-in-class fiber-optic infrastructure to handle the huge growth of data-based communications on the East Coast. Forecasts all agree that this growth will not slow. Communications demands will continue to drive a hunger for data delivered via fiber-optic networks, and UFD will be there to provide it.
TNN: UFD has chosen the path not taken…literally. Would you please elaborate on this?
Taylor: You’re either on the Information Superhighway, or you’re not! More than 90% of the fiber on the East Coast lies on the Route 1 / I-95 corridor that extends between New York to Washington, D.C. This region is home to 40% of the nation’s total population – it’s the most populated part of the U.S.
UFD’s new fiber path traverses northwest out of New York City, through New Jersey and Pennsylvania and then south through Virginia to the D.C. metro area. This avoids the more traditional fiber pathways that exist along I-95 and the “Amtrak Corridor” and bypasses the major Eastern Seaboard cities and the numerous common river crossings that most other networks share.
Of note, the Department of Homeland Security has labeled all of these areas national security “blast zones.” This particular region is highly susceptible to natural disasters, as we saw during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. UFD’s secure alternative pathway is exactly where you need it to be – outside of the blast zone, but still a quick and easy drive to the major cities.
TNN: United Fiber & Data’s new route will have a positive impact on local and regional communities throughout the Northeast. Was this part of your plan?
Taylor: UFD might not be as cool or hip as a rock band, but we know that the connectivity this company provides will expand our home state of Pennsylvania’s ability to serve small-, mid- and large-cap enterprises seeking social and commercial connectivity. UFD’s dark-fiber routes provide access to increased bandwidth and data capacity to more than 97,000 businesses within a 10-mile radius. There are also more than 3,000 cell towers within that same 10-mile radius.
By increasing the ability of these communities to connect to the superhighway of information, we enable local economies to grow and compete on a global level. UFD’s network will greatly enhance the capacity of individuals and corporations to gain access to the data needed to propel their companies, and their personal lives forward. This network will serve as the very backbone of our connectivity.
In order for Pennsylvania to compete with tech centers like San Francisco, we must have cutting-edge infrastructure to entice software, application and hardware innovators to set-up shop here. Without an advanced network infrastructure, Pennsylvania can never expect to land or develop the next Google, Apple or Facebook.
In addition, UFD will be building four substantial data centers at a cost of roughly $40 million each. Our $200 million investment will ensure that over 300 well-paying jobs are created within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Independent third-party analysis projects that each data center will produce over half a billion dollars in state tax revenue over a thirty-year period – that’s more than $2 billion in new tax revenue for the state of Pennsylvania over the next thirty years!
These new jobs represent a huge opportunity for technological innovation, growth and employment. They represent revenue to educate our children, revenue to house and feed the poor and revenue for our safety and security. This life-changing platform will help to create real, sustainable jobs that give back directly to those communities that need it most!
TNN: Any final words to our readers?
Taylor: It is with great pride that we are introducing you to a company that represents the ideals we’ve just discussed; a company that we’re proud to have invested in. A company that we believe will have long-lasting economic impact on the local and regional communities of the Northeast. To me, LIVE’s music has always been about connectivity. And connectivity to me is about the human experience, expanding the human experience and, most importantly, increasing our ability to connect through ideas, values and morals. Ultimately, our goal is to make the world a better place.