A creative solution to the sometimes-exorbitant cost of planning for and installing fiber-optic systems, dark fiber’s reach is quickly expanding. Already, the “dark” concept plays a huge role in connectivity across dozens of cities and in a wide array of industries. Read on to learn more about this revolutionary solution and when it’s a preferred option:
What Is Dark Fiber?
The term “dark fiber” refers to any fiber-optic system that is currently unused. If not yet utilized, the fiber is available for later use in fiber-optic communication. The approach’s memorable name derives from the literal lack of light; standard fiber-optic threads use light pulses to transmit information, so if fibers are purposefully unused, they remain “dark.”
Why Are Dark Fiber Cables Installed?
Installing cables can be prohibitively expensive. Costs include planning, routing, creating channels or ducts, obtaining necessary permissions and, ultimately, installation. These costs can add up quickly if the constant need for new fiber systems arises.
To reduce the cost of planning and securing permission, companies and government organizations go above and beyond current demand. Providers install extensive cable that may be used in the future. This tactic proves particularly beneficial for markets in which demand does not yet exist but is expected to grow quickly.
Although dark fiber may not be immediately used by the organization responsible for its installation, it’s often utilized by other entities. The installing company may rent or lease out dark fiber to other users, who then enjoy increased scalability without the cost of building and maintaining unused systems.
Types of Industries That Use Dark Fiber
Long a critical component in telecommunications, dark fiber plays an increasingly important role in a wide array of industries. Examples include:
- Real estate
Several public entities now look to dark fiber to increase scalability and cut costs. For example, Denver Public Schools recently awarded a contract for a dark fiber network spanning 618 miles. Likewise, the City of Santa Cruz is making waves by tapping into a revolutionary public-private approach involving an expanded dark fiber network.
Benefits of Dark Fiber
Cost savings may be the chief benefit of dark fiber, but it provides several additional perks worth considering. A few of dark fiber’s top benefits are outlined below:
Rapidly increasing bandwidth requirements call for new solutions. Dark fiber offers the potential for virtually unlimited bandwidth.
Following an initial investment, dark fiber offers the potential for quick and effective scalability. This benefits rapidly changing organizations which — although they may not yet require extensive fiber-optic networks — anticipate a need for growth in the near future.
Companies can rent dark fiber as part of a holistic approach that includes traditional Ethernet or VoIP access.
Reliability and Control
Dark fiber removes many of the external factors that limit business connectivity. Reliable networks can easily be maintained without turning to traditional tech-support services.
A Bright Future
In its early days, dark fiber existed almost exclusively in vast metropolitan areas such as New York City. Now, however, its reach is rapidly expanding. Dark fiber currently plays a prominent role in networks across Denver, Tulsa, Minneapolis and Houston. New industries and geographic regions are expected to embrace dark fiber in the near future. This alternative approach may soon form the backbone of network operations.
For clients seeking to manage their own fiber network equipment, PS LIGHTWAVE leases Dark Fiber routes, offering high-quality network reliability, multiple speeds and security. PS LIGHTWAVE maintains Dark Fiber routes for customers, providing ongoing support while monitoring the physical health of the network. Contact us for more information.