Originally posted on NEDAS Live!

In the latest NEDAS Live! Podcast episode, host Ilissa Miller, engages with Mike Underdown, the President and CEO of Crosstown Fiber, a leading dark fiber network operator based in Chicagoland. Underdown offers a comprehensive overview of Crosstown Fiber’s journey, challenges, and preparations for the evolving landscape of digital infrastructure.

With over 30 years of extensive experience in the industry, Underdown shares valuable insights into the significance of fiber infrastructure. Crosstown Fiber’s origin is revealed through its involvement in the Chicago Public Schools’ E-Ray program, laying the groundwork for its expansion and unique positioning within the Chicagoland area.

Underdown further explores the intricacies of building a dark fiber network, emphasizing Crosstown Fiber’s distinct approach. Underdown highlights the importance of viewing the network as real estate, focusing on the uniqueness of its position. The challenges faced during construction, such as river and railroad crossings, underscore the complexity of building in urban environments. The discussion also touches on the importance of avoiding common routes and finding unique pathways to ensure a diverse and reliable network.

Underdown also describes Crosstown Fiber’s customer base and the diverse range of applications, from government agencies like Chicago Public Schools to commercial enterprises. He emphasizes their role in providing high-count fiber and robust conduit systems, and shifts to the challenges posed by supply chains, revealing insights into the demand for fiber and the company’s strategies in dealing with delays. The importance of keeping cables consistent and the exploration of alternative vendors like Hexatronic are also highlighted.

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