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10/31/2007 - Columbia Fiber Solutions Expands Fabric

Spokane has dark fiber – lots of dark fiber – already in place and available for lease. Columbia Fiber Solutions has about 350 buildings in Spokane, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene with dark fiber into their communications closets. If it’s not already there, it is very close, according to John Everett, general manager of Columbia Fiber Solutions, the company that leases the fiber. Dark fiber is for businesses that want full control over their networks. The electronic equipment needed to light the fiber – once expensive and complicated – has become quite affordable and no more difficult to set up and maintain than your local area network, according to Everett. These networks are often in rings with built in redundancy. They are self healing, have essentially unlimited bandwidth, are completely private, and secure. “A lot of businesses are using fiber,” says Everett, “and they aren't all big companies.”

Columbia Fiber Solutions acquired Avista Communications’ extensive fiber optic cable network in October 2002. Since that time, they have increased that network to include the Mead, West Valley, and East Valley School districts. They have recently completed a second fiber line into North Idaho – through Rathdrum – that will provide redundancy to the Coeur d’Alene terminus. Also recently completed is the connection of both Eastern Washington University (EWU) and the City of Cheney from a vault west of downtown into the Columbia Fiber suite in the US Bank building -- and there, EWU is further connected to the Network Operations Center (NOC) at the Riverpoint Campus. The Inland Northwest Gigapop leased segments of Columbia fiber to connect the Gigapop to the US Bank Building, the Wells Fargo tower, and the Riverpoint NOC. This connects EWU, along with WSU, to both the Gigapop and VPnet.

Columbia Fiber is in the process of connecting six Group Health locations in a ring architecture. Columbia Fiber had previously provided both INHS and the Rockwood Clinic with their own ringed wide area networks. Many financial institutions – large and small – lease fiber from Columbia. These networks allow companies to centralize and simplify their network investments. One IT department can manage voice, data, Internet, video, and security over one network. According to Everett, it is the advances in Ethernet technology that has made network electronics both affordable and easy to maintain; hence, making dark fiber leasing available to smaller companies. “We are really fortunate that businesses have access to so much dark fiber in Spokane,” says Everett.

According to Everett, Columbia Fiber is continually vigilant in maintaining their fiber lines. Every time there is street construction, violent weather, or even tree removal, Columbia Fiber is watching. They make no secret of where to find their fiber. Their fiber map is on the Columbia Fiber Solutions Web site. Everett emphasizes that Columbia is a local company, making local decisions, with 24 x 7 local on call staff.

To learn more about Columbia Fiber Solutions, visit

Billie Moreland
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