Thursday, 7 March 2013

90s Rock Stars to Invest US $200 Million in Data Centres



The U.S. states of New York, Virginia and, in particular, Pennsylvania, have received a major boost this week, with news of a project to build data centres in four towns as well as a 300-mile fibre-optic line spanning from New York City to Northern Virginia.

The company behind the project is Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based United Fiber and Data (UFD), who – with investment of $200 million (£132.6m) – has planned a fibre line to the tune of $29 million (£19.2m) and four data centres to be based in the Pennsylvania towns of York, Reading, Allentown, and the company’s home town of Lancaster. Each of these will cost a total of $40 million (£26.5m).

The $200 million investment towards this exciting new project is being provided to United Fiber and Data by engineering investment firm Think Loud Development, a company owned by three members of rock band Live. Although, not particularly well known in the UK, Live was tremendously successful in the U.S. during the mid-nineties, selling 20 million albums, including 8 million copies of their critically acclaimed “Throwing Copper.” The Live band members involved with Think Loud are Chad Gracey, Chad Taylor, and Patrick Dahlheimer, and their investment in the data centre business sees a change in trends beyond the usual private equity firm invested industry.

The 300-mile fibre line will stretch from New York City to Ashburn, Virginia, bypassing the much-used 95 interstate route in favour of travelling west through New Jersey and interconnecting with many financial trading locations and key data centres between the two locations. The network will stretch through all four data centre towns and on to Fredrick, Maryland, before reaching its end point in Northern Virginia.

Despite the route being longer physically, UFD has designed the network to deliver the lowest possible latency, powered by highly advanced equipment. The diverse routing is expected to increase reliability dramatically, offering businesses along or near the network improved bandwidth flexibility.

Boosting the Economy

The data centre project will see the building of four 20,000 square feet centres, one of which will be located near the Lehigh River in Think Loud’s hometown of Allentown. According to the York Daily Record, the project also stands to provide a substantial boost to the Pennsylvania economy, generating approximately $2 billion (£1.3 billion) in tax revenues over the next 30 years, along with the creation of much needed jobs.

For their part in the project, United Fiber and Data is expected to expand from its current standing as a 9-person company into one employing around 350 people. A further 100 jobs will also be created with the building of a new office block in the Neighbourhood Improvement Zone of Allentown, which is to act as the corporate HQ of UFD. Construction of this building and of the Allentown data centre is projected to begin within 6 to 8 months and take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete.

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