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01/31/2004 - Columbia Fiber Advances VPnet and Adds Lit Services

Spokane's Virtual Possibilities Network (VPnet) marches forward --- adding distribution and connectivity at a steadily progressing rate. Columbia Fiber Solutions is a key player in the development of VPnet. According to John Everett, Columbia Fiber Solutions' General Manager, "Avista has generously donated the backbone, and we provide the "Last Mile" connection from the backbone to the building." "Our fiber and service donations have a value of many thousands of dollars every month." Columbia Fiber owns more than three hundred miles of installed optical fiber in Spokane and Kootenai Counties, which is now connected to nearly two hundred and fifty buildings.

Columbia Fiber is contributing the Last Mile connectivity extensions from the backbone at the nearest vault into the VPnet connected buildings themselves. "We're very excited about the VPnet and its potential to drive economic development," says Everett. The Columbia Fiber wish is that all of the projects using VPnet will be successful, and then Columbia Fiber, along with the entire community, will benefit with more paying customers. "The VPnet concept should introduce new applications for fiber to other end users who can afford to lease fiber," Everett continues. The VPnet fiber can then be used for the next project.

Columbia Fiber's donation includes:
Last Mile connectivity of the VPnet from the backbone to the buildings
Engineering design
Circuit documentation
Testing --- to be sure it all works
Maintenance of the backbone and Last Mile portions of the network.
According to Everett, some of those donated items are "one time" costs, while other items would otherwise bring in a monthly fee. Furthermore, Columbia Fiber is going to continue their largesse until VPnet is completed.

VPnet is completed and ready to use between SIRTI, the downtown hub, and Gonzaga, Whitworth, SCC, and SFCC . The next phase will be to create a circuit to Idaho from SCC to connect with the two North Idaho College locations.

Columbia Fiber Solutions is an optical fiber transport company whose mission is to expand fiber optic connectivity to all businesses, large and small. They especially want to help solve problems of local and metropolitan area networks and provide 'Last Mile' solutions --- all at a reasonable price. Although their primary product is dark fiber transport, where the customer provides and maintains their own equipment, they have added a lit fiber service for those customers who are more comfortable having a fully managed service. The lit fiber provided is an Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON). This service is provisioned via a one-fiber circuit and utilizes passive splitters where necessary to reach multiple buildings within geographic regions. These fiber circuits hub back to the US Bank Building where Columbia Fiber has connections to a large number of service providers. Because it is Ethernet transport only, the end user can connect with the service providers of its choice.

"Traditionally, our customers have opted for Dark fiber for its business benefits when compared to lit fiber solutions," says Everett "but we are happy to now offer a choice".

With dark fiber, once the dark fiber has been leased, there is no increase in the monthly fee to increase bandwidth. The speed and bandwidth of dark fiber is limited only by the electronics put on each end. At this time 10 gigabit electronic switches are beginning to reach the market. The company leasing dark fiber has an absolutely private network. There is never any traffic diversion out of dark fiber due to service providers, and the company has complete control of when it performs maintenance on its equipment.

The company with dark or lit fiber can share among multiple locations their investment in servers, storage area networks, phone and video equipment, and they need hire only one set of systems people. Businesses using dark or lit fiber from Columbia Fiber Solutions get to pick and choose their service providers and the electronics that best fits their needs.

Columbia Fiber Solutions is owned by Columbia Ventures Corp. a multinational, diversified holding company whose headquarters is in Vancouver, Washington. However, the people who manage and maintain Columbia Fiber are many of the same people who originally designed and built the network when Avista Corp owned it. They have extensive knowledge of the network and how to make it work, according to Everett. Columbia Fiber's clients include many of the area's leading health care providers, schools and colleges, financial institutions, telecom carriers, call centers, and other small and large businesses and government institutions.

For more information, go to or call John Everett (509) 688-4519.

Billie Moreland
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