In an attempt to fill America's seemingly insatiable need for broadband access, six energy and telecommunications companies announced Tuesday the formation of a high-speed fiber optics company that would connect major eastern cities in the U.S. with secondary markets.

The company, called

America's Fiber Network

, plans to reach about 35% of the national wholesale communications capacity market. It will provide telecommunications capacity to Internet service providers, competitive local exchange providers, long-distance providers and wireless communications companies.

The majority owners of AFN, with about a 90% combined stake, are

AEP Communications

, a subsidiary of

American Electric Power

(AEP) - Get Report


GPU Telcom

, a subsidiary of



; and

Allegheny Communications Connect

, a subsidiary of

Allegheny Energy



FirstEnergy Telecom

, a subsidiary of


(FE) - Get Report


CFW Communications



R&B Communications

are minority owners of the business.

AFN is currently seeking a chief executive and executive management team. Pete Thomas, vice president of AEP Communications, is serving as interim president.

AFN will connect 13 big cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. with 26 smaller, underserved markets like Athens, Ohio; Binghamton, N.Y.; Morgantown, W. Va.; and Charlottesville, Va. The network -- more than 7,000 route miles long or 140,000 fiber miles -- will stretch from New York to Chicago and Rochester, N.Y. to Johnson City, Tenn. The goal is to expand that network to 10,000 route miles or 200,000 fiber miles by the end of this year.

A route mile describes the distance covered by total installed fiber optic cable, while a fiber mile describes the number of strands of fiber in a length of fiber optic cable multiplied by the length of the cable in miles.



, White House and other government leaders have expressed concern about the 'bandwidth divide' -- smaller markets left behind by the Internet and the rapid expansion of e-commerce because of limited bandwidth availability," said Thomas in a statement. "America's Fiber Network is bridging that divide."