Revolutionizing Connectivity: The Crosstown Fiber Story

In an era where digital infrastructure forms the backbone of modern society, the journey of Crosstown Fiber stands as a testament to innovation, perseverance, and the power of visionary leadership.  The company’s President and CEO,  Mike Underdown, recently discussed these themes on the Doug Noll Podcast.  His insights offer a glimpse into the world of fiber optic infrastructure and its transformative impact on urban environments like Chicago.

Evolution of Fiber Optic Infrastructure
Underdown’s career in the telecommunications industry, spanning over three decades, began with his early days at Telephone Communications Group. It was there, under the mentorship of Howard Bunkie, a pioneer in fiber optic technology, that Underdown garnered invaluable insights. He learned about the pivotal role of fiber infrastructure in the evolving landscape of modern telecommunications.

“Well, you know, the internet, it’s not getting any smaller,” Mike observed. “And the best component that drives the internet as a utility is fiber optic infrastructure.” This insight is a cornerstone of Crosstown Fiber’s mission. The company specializes in high-speed data transmission through fiber optics, renowned for their capacity to transmit signals over long distances with minimal signal loss. This technology is ideal for long-haul communication networks, and Crosstown Fiber adeptly applies it to meet the unique challenges of urban environments. Their work is particularly crucial in linking data centers and enabling efficient data transfer across great distances, an essential component in today’s digitally connected cities.

Fiber Vision
Crosstown Fiber’s inception is rooted in a project to design and build infrastructure for education facilities, funded by a grant from the E-Rate program. This initiative evolved into Crosstown Fiber, focusing on expanding high-speed connectivity across commercial sectors. This includes cloud and hyperscale entities, as well as financial, healthcare and life science companies. 

The company’s commitment to deploying underground fiber optic systems in the Chicago metro area illustrates a dedication to reliability and sustainability. This approach addresses broadband deserts within urban areas, similar to tackling food deserts, emphasizing the importance of equitable internet access. 

Leadership, Team Dynamics in Digital Infrastructure
A key to Crosstown Fiber’s success lies in Underdown’s leadership style, emphasizing team building and the melding of experienced industry veterans with fresh, innovative minds. He values diverse perspectives, believing that the right mix of experience and naiveté can lead to groundbreaking solutions in infrastructure development.

Underdown upholds the philosophy of “being curious, not judgmental,” creating an environment where communication and understanding are paramount. This approach has proven instrumental in navigating the complexities of urban infrastructure projects, and finding solutions where others may not.

The story of Crosstown Fiber, as narrated by Mike Underdown, is not just about laying cables underground; it’s about laying the foundation for future generations to thrive in a digitally connected world. For those interested in exploring the full potential of digital infrastructure and its impact on urban landscapes, visit Crosstown Fiber to learn more and discover how you can be part of this transformative journey.