Traxyl installed the fiber along the driveway leading to the town of Warrenton’s public utility building off Falmouth Street. The town is interested in ways to bring broadband service to underserved areas, as is Fauquier County.
Traxyl’s sticky method came up during a chat that led to an “aha!” moment. “Dan’s sister is a dentist. This is a similar resin to what’s used by dentists. This all started with a talk around the dinner table,” said Stephen T. Carter, co-founder and chief operating officer at Traxyl.
Dan is Daniel R. Turner, Traxyl’s founder and chief executive officer. His uncle, Keith H. Turner, is vice president of sales. There’s also another Turner – Phillip K. – who is the company’s technical adviser. He’s Dan’s dad.
The company developed what it calls FiberTRAX, a way of establishing the final connection of broadband service from the provider to the customer, whether that be a government building, business or home.
At the Falmouth Street location, Traxyl ran 360 feet of fiber from a connection at a junction box by the street, down the long driveway, past a parking area to a box affixed to the outside of the building. The line isn’t live, it’s not transmitting data, but the installation is meant to mimic what a Traxyl connection would look like.
The specially-made resin sticks the thin fiber to the asphalt. The fiber is visible. It was installed during a single day on Oct. 1. The installation at the utility building is serving as a test to see how well it holds up under weather conditions and to vehicles running over it. So far, so good, Carter said.
“This is bare fiber directly on the road surface encased in resin. The traditional way is to trench it or string it overhead,” he said. Digging and burying takes more time and it’s more expensive. Putting it overhead is unsightly.
“Everybody is trying to get rid of overhead lines or connecting to higher speeds,” said Keith Turner. “The town of Warrenton is interested in high-speed fiber without tearing up roads. “Cars drive over this every day,” he said as he pointed out the line that’s taking a beating from the tires of vehicles.
The goal is to perfect the installation of the fiber to drive the cost down to between $2 to $6 per foot as opposed to the $40 to $100 Carter said it costs to bury a line. The rockier the soil, the more costly it is to bury it.
The Traxyl way is less disruptive, he said. It’s also easier to repair. Investors have come out to look at the test installation. “We’re developing a machine to install this fiber automatically” rather than by hand, Carter said. “We’re looking at air compressor guns.”
Investment income will help finance that effort.
“Eventually we want this to be part of the paving operation,” said Keith Turner. “We’re installing a dark fiber network in broad daylight,” he quipped. The company is looking for other places where it could do test installations.
Town and Fauquier County officials are interested in what Traxyl is doing. The board of supervisors want to expand broadband service to underserved areas of the county. Traxyl’s method could be one way to make the final connection to the end point building to the place at the street where a service provider has a connection.
Traxyl is also talking to officials in Winchester and Baltimore about their method.