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Stealth Communications Connects NYC

Stealth Communications had to install its own manholes when
trenching fresh fiber to reach unserved Brooklyn. Source: Stealth

With a population of over 8.4 million people living in its five boroughs, New York is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, home to Wall Street, Broadway, Fashion Week, Saturday Night Live, and a plethora of other cultural and business movements. The “City That Never Sleeps” was the anchor for $1.66 trillion dollars in economic activity in 2022, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. 

Deploying fiber in this most urban of urban cities is no trivial task, much less build an independent business that started life as an internet dial-up firm 28 years ago. 

“Stealth Communications started in 1995,” said Shrihari Pandit, President and CEO of Stealth Communications. “My wife and I started it entirely self-financed. We were originally a consumer ISP. It was a very difficult business because there was huge pricing pressure. We transitioned out of it and ended up focusing on businesses and business internet connectivity, selling fractional T-1s, T-1s, and ultimately T-3s.”

As Stealth grew through the late 90’s to 2010, buying circuits and dark fiber from other providers became increasingly problematic. “Your competitors want to sell to you, but they really don’t want to because you’re competing with them. They want the revenue, but they’re very picky when they want to do transactions, especially when it comes to fiber.” 

Stealth realized they needed their own infrastructure and independence, petitioning the City of New York to receive information and telecommunications franchises authorizing the company to install its own fiber throughout the city’s public right-of-way, obtaining them in 2013. That same year, the company started construction of its new fiber network, starting from midtown Manhattan towards the Financial District. 

“We now have our own system,” Pandit said. “We don’t contract with any other telephone company for service. We have our own in-house construction team that’s vertically integrated where we can excavate the roadways, put our own conduits in, put our own manholes in. Often, we’ll have to bring fiber into the buildings, and build risers to take them to the top floor. Having our own in-house staff allows us very quick mobilization for repairs and installation. We’re very unique in the city from that perspective.”

Stealth has deployed over 100 miles of fiber in its network, with its core in Manhattan and coverage in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn section was built as a part of a public-private partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) under the organization’s Connect IBZ program to build broadband infrastructure in the city’s unserved “digital deserts.” 

In Manhattan, Stealth uses the Empire City Subway Company, a Verizon subsidiary that holds a franchise dating back to 1891, to build and maintain the vendor-neutral conduit and manhole infrastructure under the streets. “In Brooklyn we had to build block by block and put in our own conduit,” said Pandit.

Being an independent fiber provider in NYC gives Stealth access to a wide range of very large institutions, including federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with hundreds of office buildings wired up. It also means meeting the expectations of customers who want high-speed unshared services, such as firms that want direct connections to the Nasdaq stock exchange. “We allocate a unique wavelength for each business,” said Pandit. “It’s a little bit higher cost, but this means there’s no loading or competition when compared to shared mediums such as XGS-PON. There’s no hardware between the customer and a core router.”