If your building is already wired by one of these operators, your landlord has probably told you all about it (it's a money-making scheme for them). If not, see whether your building owner has an exclusive deal with a service provider. If it doesn't, get on the Web and identify operators in your area and see whether they're willing to wire you up.
Right now, these start-ups offer fairly run-of-the-mill service packages including Internet access, telephony and Web hosting, sometimes with systems integration. However, many would ultimately like to offer a range of business applications, joining an already established host of application service providers (ASP).
Existing ASPs, too, are hoping optical networking developments will unleash huge demand for their services. Right now, they are limited in the types of applications they can offer by the availability and price of high-speed connections.
"No doubt, we need more bandwidth. The public network poses a challenge, especially in the metro area, which is a huge choke point," says Amit Jasuja, senior director of system engineering at Corio, an ASP in San Carlos, Calif.
"ASPs have found that running the current generation of business applications over the WAN is problematic," agrees Daniel Sholler, a director at Meta Group, a research firm in Stamford, Conn. "Bigger companies demand quality of service. When they get it, they'll dive in."
Optical networking promises to deliver that quality, in terms of bigger bandwidth pipes and low, predictable delays, at affordable prices. It also promises to deliver phenomenal flexibility, giving you the opportunity to set up and tear down connections almost instantaneously. When this happens, it'll become easy for freelancers and small companies to work together in "virtual" corporations -- the model for the new world economy.