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York-based UFD connects into New Jersey

David Weissman
717-505-5431/@DispatchDavid
  • United Fiber and Data's fiber optic network is now available in New York and New Jersey
  • The York-based company plans to run its line through York and into Virginia by Dec. 2016
  • The company's Gigabit Revolution project it is currently studying is separate.

United Fiber & Data's fiber optic network is one state closer to York County.

Employees of Hylan Datacom & Electrical pull York-based United Fiber and Data's fiber-optic line into the tunnel to run it into New Jersey.

The York-based company on Thursday installed its fiber optic line underneath the Hudson River in New Jersey, which became the second state successfully connected.

The proposed 400-mile fiber backbone that will be routed through rural areas, including York County, from New York City to Ashburn, Virginia, is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, according to company CEO and founder Bill Hynes.

Before Thursday, UFD's Dark Fiber network comprised just a 24-mile path around lower Manhattan, but Hynes said the company should be able to move more quickly through the rural areas because they offer less congestion.

The project has hit some delays — for regulatory, legal and weather issues — but the company is back on track, Hynes said. He added the project is currently entirely funded by private investors.

Those investors include members of the York-based band Live.

Live plays at the Wyndham

Chad Taylor, lead guitarist for the band, said his involvement in the project is all about helping his hometown advance.

"If you look at the most advanced companies, like Apple or Google, they're centered around data," Taylor said. "If York doesn't have the Internet infrastructure, we can't land the new companies and jobs."

Hynes said UFD's fiber optic line will be immediately beneficial to large businesses and serve as an attraction for tech companies looking to expand or move along the East Coast.

United Fiber and Data CEO Bill Hynes (second from left) poses with Live band members (from left) Chad Taylor, Chad Gracey and Patrick Dahlheimer, who are founders of the company.

UFD's fiber backbone isn't directly meant for residential customers, so a company such as Comcast or AT&T would need to connect to the line for it to be available in homes, according to company President and COO Chris Lodge.

Comcast spokesman Bob Grove said they, like every national provider, leases some fiber from other companies, but they have their own extensive network that provides the vast majority of their customers' Internet access.

Once UFD's line is complete, the Pennsylvania Gigabit Revolution can become a reality. The Gigabit Revolution promises Internet connection 333 times faster than current speeds, according to UFD's brochure.

In a separate project, UFD is also conducting community outreach studies on gigabit technology in six Central Pennsylvania communities, including York and Hanover.

The study, which will be complete in May, is funded in part by a $1.5 million grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, according to spokeswoman Heather Gryp.

"Every community has been very interested," said Gryp, who is part of the group researching the feasibility and engineering of Gigabit Internet in York, Hanover, Pottstown, Ephrata, Doylestown and Reading.

The group is offering free Technology Action Plans to local businesses to help each determine costs and benefits.

UFD held a community meeting on Jan. 27 at Martin Library to discuss the potential technology and will hold another meeting April 22 to discuss the study's results, Gryp said.

Dominic DelliCarpini, dean of York College's Center for Community Engagement, said he sees numerous potential benefits of the Gigabit Revolution for York College.

DelliCarpini said potential benefits included financial trading students connecting directly with New York City's stock market and students conducting internships remotely with companies .

Gryp said cities with Gigabit Internet have seen graduation rates climb 7 percent and home values rise more than 3 percent.

"It's about starting a cultural revolution in York," Taylor said. "We want to create an environment where skilled students and youth want to stay and work."

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.