NJFX’s Santaliz Says High Speed Fiber, High Availability Infrastructure to Revitalize the Jersey Shore


Photo: Gil Santaliz, founder and managing member NJFX Photo Credit: Courtesy NJFX

Gil Santaliz, founder and managing member NJFX | Courtesy NJFX

The New Jersey Fiber Exchange (NJFX) recently opened a carrier-neutral “Meet-Me Room” in Wall that will give customers direct access to Tata Communications’ subsea cable network.

The company also broke ground on its 64,800-square-foot, Tier 3 carrier-neutral data center, which is adjacent to the Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) substation.

Both of these developments should have a positive effect on Monmouth County residents, said Gil Santaliz, founder and managing member of NJFX. Santaliz is also the founder and former CEO and managing member of 4Connections, a metro dark fiber network provider that he started in 2001 and sold to Cablevision in 2008.

One reason why the new data center and Meet-Me Room could revitalize the Jersey Shore is that JCP&L is providing the electricity for both.

“We have made a commitment to make sure that JCP&L continues to invest in this infrastructure,” said Santaliz. “By working with JCP&L, we are helping Monmouth County have the most reliable infrastructure available. We are tied to that infrastructure.”

In addition, “our new facility and the Meet-Me Room are going to encourage many carriers to invest in additional infrastructure and bring more fiber down towards the Monmouth County area,” he said.

“As you get more fiber, you get more price competition, and the incentive for innovation increases. The lower fiber prices will help our local schools and hospitals as well. The price point for Internet will probably be 10 percent of what you would pay a local Internet provider because there will be wholesale rates at this building.”

Traditionally, all data traveling overseas from New Jersey had to go to a point in lower Manhattan first, where interconnections with overseas cables existed. This is somewhat ironic, given that the transatlantic cables terminate in New Jersey and on Long Island.

Santaliz told NJTechWeekly that the tradition of overseas interconnections happening in New York is a legacy from the days when AT&T was a monopoly.

However, “in our industry proximity means security,” he said. “The fewer hops I have to make between where the international cables actually land and where I pick them up is of value.” It makes sense that companies operating out of New Jersey data centers (as well as other data center hubs in Chicago and Ashburn, Va.) would choose to go directly to the cable landing and then go back out internationally from there, Santaliz said.

Santaliz told NJTechWeekly that in recent years New Jersey has become home to a disproportionate number of data centers, and is probably second only to Ashburn in terms of total data center floor space available. Most of New Jersey’s data centers are in the Piscataway, Carteret and Mahwah areas because of the  industrial-strength PSE&G service there.

Photo: NJFX representatives at the groundbreaking for the new data center in Wall Photo Credit: Courtesy NJFX

NJFX representatives at the groundbreaking for the new data center in Wall | Courtesy NJFX

“One of the challenges to developing this capability was that, traditionally, the Jersey Shore communities haven’t been the best place to put a data center because of the lack of electrical infrastructure. PSE&G has great infrastructure in their territory, but we’ve been working with JCP&L, convincing them of the importance of doing this. They have been very supportive of us and provided the necessary high availability electrical infrastructure to put a building this important in their territory.”

Santaliz added that, in order to get the deal done, he had spent 16 months working with the international cable operators, talking about how this would work and how it would benefit their businesses. Tata picked up a “minority stake” in NJFX. “They put a value on providing this capability to our industry.” And Tata can thus offer its international companies access to the Tier 3 site at the NJFX facility.

“We are now securing express routes with several facilities-based carriers such as Sunesys, who delivers dark fiber connections to NJFX from the U.S.’s busiest telecom hubs, including Ashburn, VA, 401 North Broad St. in Philadelphia, PA, and Piscataway, NJ, as well as all of New Jersey’s prominent financial exchanges,” Santaliz noted in a prepared statement. 

 NJTechWeekly.com asked Santaliz about the data center’s and Meet-Me Room’s preparations in case of a disaster. For one thing, being located outside of New York City is a good thing, said Santaliz, as it protects “our industry from a 9/11 type incident.”

The data center’s location is 28 feet above sea level, and the JCP&L facility was not impacted by Hurricane Sandy, he told us. The data center will be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and a F4 category tornado, and will have provisions for extra fuel and water if needed.

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