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CityNet lands $275 M for last-mile fiber

Tue, 04/10/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

Talk about understatement: "We're very pleased," a CityNet Telecommunications Inc.'s spokesman told CEDaily about the company's $275 million financing. The last-mile, fiber-optic provider credits the sum partly to its unusual method of laying the cable.

The 2-year-old company's technology entails laying fiber optic cable through sewer systems, which, CFO, Senior VP, and co-founder Debra Hoopes says, runs through every city street. The process allows last-mile wiring without disrupting traffic or entailing construction.

CityNet also uses robots in sewer systems that workers can't reach, Hoopes says. The robots first inspect the sewer; then the system maps the sewers to determine the best way to set up the reverse-hose-clamp types of rings the company lays every five feet. The rings are spring loaded and don't screw into the sewer, so are noninvasive, she adds.

At the top of each ring is a clip and metal conduit, and fiber is pulled through the conduit. The fiber and clips are well above the sewers' functioning areas and are "fairly stiff," and so don't impede the flow, she notes.

The strung fiber is laid out in mini-rings, which are four to eight miles long and serve about 30 buildings, with the capacity to reach 60 buildings. The mini-rings attach to metro rings via data co-locations, cable offices or other such facilities where carriers would be co-located, and then into the larger national fiber systems.

CityNet's first financing round of $100 million in April 2000 funded the startup, equipment and robotics, and staff. This round, announced today, will consist of $175 million in equity investments and $100 million in debt financing. Investors include Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group, which led with $60 million.

Funds will go to deployment in a variety of markets. The company has signed its first three customers in Indianapolis, Albuquerque and Omaha. Hoopes says it has agreements with 28 more, including Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Charlotte; and Dublin, Ireland.

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