TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Today's Long Distance Circuits?

Re: Today's Long Distance Circuits?

Neal McLain (
Fri, 05 Aug 2005 20:54:46 -0500 wrote:

> By how, I mean what physical medium is chosen and how is it
> routed. Do they use satellite, microwave, fibre optic, coax,
> plain wire?

Whereupon Justa Lurker <> responded:

> Depends on your choice of designated long distance carrier, and
> the extent to which it owns and operates its own facilities vs.
> buying capacity 'wholesale' from one of the big guys or perhaps
> a "carrier's carrier" (Wiltel comes to mind here).

Or even a "carrier's carrier's carrier."

Back in the 1980s, Wiltel provided capacity to Norlight, which in turn
provided capacity to IXCs. At the time, Norlight was owned by a
consortium of Minnesota- and Wisconsin-based electric utility
companies. Most of the network was constructed using grounded Optical
Ground Wire (OPGW) installed at the top of the electric transmission
lines owned by the member utility companies. OPGW is a metallic
(usually aluminum-clad steel) conductor with optical fibers buried
inside; it is installed at the top of a transmission line in place of
a static wire, where it serves the same purpose as the static wire --
protecting lower conductors from lightning.

Norlight faced a problem when it tried to extend its network to Chicago:

Commonwealth Edison Company. ComEd was not a member of the consortium
that owned Norlight, so it had no financial interest in Norlight's
success. ComEd's price for letting Norlight use its transmission
lines was higher than Norlight was willing to pay.

So Norlight turned to Wiltel instead. Wiltel (then a subsidiary of
Williams Pipeline, a gas and petroleum transmission company) installs
fiber optic cables in abandoned pipelines. Norlight contracted with
Wiltel for dark fiber between Maple Park IL and Chicago, bypassing
most of ComEd's transmission lines.

Thus, Wiltel became a "carrier's carrier's carrier" (and AFAIK, it
still is, although since I've retired I've lost contact with the folks
I used to deal with).

Neal McLain

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