Telia Carrier expands its connectivity across the 'Silicon Prairie' region

Telia Carrier is filling in additional locations in its U.S. footprint while also adding more diversity to its routes. To wit: Telia Carrier has turned up a new latency-optimized Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) route between Denver and Chicago with stops along the way in Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska.

The latest U.S. upgrades also included new metro ring overbuilds in Chicago and Denver. Telia Carrier also has a new core point-of-presence (POP) near Chicago's O'Hare Airport to serve a nearby data center cluster, and a new core POP in the Denver area near the Denver Tech Center's data centers.

The long-haul route from Chicago to Denver bypasses the downtown areas in those cities to directly tie into the data center hubs.

Another POP was added in Des Moines to serve regional demand in Iowa while new DWDM services connect to the 1623 Farnam data center in Omaha.

RELATED: Telia Carrier bolsters its U.S. network with new DWDM fiber route

While new fiber builds and additional DWDM routes would seem more likely along the densely populated East Coast, the Midwest is also seeing a spike, according to Telia Carrier CEO Staffan Göjeryd.

In fact, parts of the U.S. heartland have earned the moniker "Silicon Prairie," which includes three tech hubs in Des Moines, Omaha and Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Silicon Prairie News.

In some areas of the Silicon Prairie, Telia Carrier competes against Lumen (formerly CenturyLink, and Cogent.

"Silicon Prairie is something that's been picking up over the past few years," Göjeryd said. "There's been quite a bit of investments going into those markets in the data center field and for large-scale connectivity. There's also been investments in quite a lot of fiber in those regions as well to enable greater connectivity not only through the regions, but also within the cities in those regions."

Göjeryd said increased demand for content is also driving the need for more connectivity for Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers. Telia Carrier had an existing presence in Omaha, but the latest expansion added an IP layer to provision Telia Carrier's full suite of services from wavelengths on up.

"We can see markets booming a little bit from a connectivity layer perspective and in different time sequences," Göjeryd said. "But the fact that it's spreading further and further out into many different regions in the U.S. versus being very centralized in a few major cities and Tier 1 markets is definitely a trend that we've seen over the past few years."

Telia Carrier's Silicon Prairie expansion project started to take shape over a year ago. Göjeryd said that in order to offer more diversity and redundancy, it has worked with a wider range of fiber providers including Uniti Fiber, Unite Private Networks (UPN) and Nebraska Link.

Telia Carrier is also branching out on the optical networking side. Previously, Telia Carrier used Infinera for its U.S deployments, but Göjeryd said Ciena is now in the mix as well in the more recent build-outs.

"We're super excited about lining this stretch up and adding to the redundancy and diversity that we that we are building towards in the U.S. footprint," Göjeryd said. "It's definitely a great opportunity for us and we're really looking forward to servicing those markets in a strong and good way going forward."

Along with Lumen, Cogent NTT, GTT, Tata Communications and Telecom Italia, Telia Carrier is among the largest Tier 1 backbone providers in the world. Telia Carrier's global internet backbone, AS1299, is the currently the world's largest, according to Dyn Research's global backbone rankings. All told, Telia Carrier's backbone accounts for nearly 65% of the global internet routes.

Telia Carrier currently has more than 320 global POPs and about 67,000 kilometers of fiber. Göjeryd said over the past five or six years, Telia Carrier has typically added 10 to 20 POPs per year. Telia Carrier adds POPs as it builds new stretches for its services, as well turning up more POPs in existing locations based on customer demand.

RELATED: Telia Company sells off Telia Carrier to Swedish pension funds for $1.1 billion

On Oct. 6, Sweden's Telia Company announced it was selling off Telia Carrier to Swedish pension funds for $1.1 billion. The deal for Polhem Infra to buy Telia Carrier is expected to close in the first half of 2021 once it passes regulatory approvals. Given the number of countries that Telia Carrier operates in, it will be winding its way through the approval processes over the coming months.

Göjeryd said Telia Company has been refocusing its business on its Nordic-Baltic footprint. Being owned by the pension funds will provide Telia Carrier with a new source of capital.

"We perceive that they (the pension funds) will have a more singular focus on our business, and, of course, that they will have access to capital in a different manner," he said. "We have a strong position that they want to enable even further going forward."