Moderator Mike Hurley, VP of Sales and Marketing for Fibertech Networks, introduced panelists Paul Savill, SVP of Global Core Product Management at Level3, Jay Lawrence, CEO of NeXXcom Wireless, Larry Coleman, President of Sunesys and Don MacNeil, CMO of XO Communications.  Mike’s brief history lesson illustrated that things don’t last forever but for telecom, supply has been growing.  Bandwidth keeps growing like crazy, but can it continue to support the growing need and is our backbone ready?

Mike then asked Don, what does XO have in store for us?  Don shared XO’s adoption of Ethernet, from TDM to now Ethernet, and what they call ‘mid-band’ Ethernet- utilizing a copper Ethernet blend.  XO is also investing in IP backbone, long-haul and access.

Larry shared that Sunesys operates in 4 core markets as a pure fiber provider.  Going forward, Sunesys is constantly improving its fiber in these markets.  Sunesys is connecting to meaningful places like data centers and colo facilities.

Jay stated he’s the flip side– pure wireless– “essentially a dumb wire in the sky,” but doing so in a way where they are seeing capital return relatively quickly.

Paul shared that Level3 is expanding their network– mostly western expansion in US, building for customers– as well as building before client orders, as the area is deemed as opportunitistic.  Something new for L3, the company is pre-evaluating buildings and certifying them for expansion– so pricing buildings that are off-net as if they are on-net.  Paul thinks it’s a good value-add for the industry, as it brings thousands of buildings into their pricing tools, and working with carrier partners that are doing similar pricing methods.  The company is also extending a few virtual PoPs in Asia, as well as pushing wireless access and mobile backhaul for US, Latin America and Europe.

Jay continued that NexxCom is strictly a “build” business.  They approach partnering as a way to move forward, including carriers, vendors and financial institutions, utilizing their quick return on capital.

Don shared that XO looks at partnering too, as well as the success-based, client-need builds.  This is monitored by specific payback structure.  Also key factors are infrastructure and availability.  Good news now is that wireless is widely adopted as technology got so much better.

On fiber side, Don shared his list of challenges starting with building issues, such as getting into the building and up the risers, but he stated “it will get better as it has to.  Also regulatory is increasingly more difficult.  That’s work and expensive but something you have to address.”

Jay stated that in terms of the regulatory climate, NexxCom only works in spectrum, therefore generally a lot easier.  But he did cite interoperability as a challenge, and that in any network, wireless is often the first to be blamed.

Level3’s biggest challenges are building access issues.  Paul also cited regulatory issues — though he was hopeful with broadband stimulus programs that this would get better, though he hasn’t seen it yet.

When Mike asked the panel in one word, which is a bigger focus– speed or cost– the panel was split, with Jay and Paul saying cost, and Larry and Don stating speed.

Make sure to keep checking in with TNN from On the Road at Metro Connect USA for all the latest coverage.