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What is Dark Fiber?

Dark fiber can sound intimidating to the imaginative. Perhaps these strands are related to a fantastical other realm and malevolent in intent. Nevertheless, dark fiber is only scary from the point of view of an unused resource. Dark fiber refers to unused fiber optic cable.

Organizations using dark fiber can receive several benefits including:

  • High Performance
  • Increased Security
  • Easy scalability

What is dark fiber?

what is dark fiber

Ever had the cable or phone company dig up your parking lot or the lovely landscape at your business to upgrade or fix connectivity? It’s a hassle for you and for the company. So, instead of hiring crews to dig great big swaths of land again and again, the companies often lay down more lines than are initially called for, to meet potential network capacity needs. Many of the fiber assets available today reflect the optimism of the telecom boom of the late 1990s.

The unused fiber left on the market by a subsequent decline in telecom need for the cables has since been labeled “dark fiber”. Not because these fiber optic strands are particularly nefarious, but rather because they are not in use; there is no data being sent in the form of light pulses on the cable lines, therefore the “dark” reference.

Dark fiber cable strands can be leased to individuals or companies to establish connections of all kinds. It only makes sense. The cable company was looking to future-proof, but wants to earn money in the meantime.

How is dark fiber accessed?

Technology today makes it possible to access and package the extra, unused cable capacity for a variety of network solutions. The individual client can lease unused strands of fiber optic cable to create a privately operated network. The client can then tailor the wavelength and network traffic speed to adapt to the service platform of their choice. Users can overlay any protocol needed while retaining the flexibility to expand and control their network connectivity needs.

Buying dark fiber puts the customer in control of the cable itself, but also gives them responsibility for remote monitoring, maintenance, and repair.

Dark fiber advantages

An enterprise needing high bandwidth fiber optic connectivity can see many benefits from leasing dark fiber:

High Capacity and Performance

Dark fiber allows organizations to transmit multiple data signals simultaneously at different wavelengths. The cables are optimized for fast data transfers, even with larger transmissions.

Increased Security

Dark fiber networks are designed for security because the lessee purchases a strand of unlit fiber cable separate from the main network. The network is managed privately by the organization using it, which means the customers are the only ones with visibility into the data traveling through the network.

Easy Scalability

Dark fiber setups are optimized for easy customization to meet current and future network needs. Since customers own and manage their own dark fiber cables, they are able to scale up with ease as they require more bandwidth and speeds.

Who uses dark fiber?

The underlying network infrastructure for dark fiber optic cable is essentially the same as lit fiber. Yet, instead of constructing a new connectivity network or partnering with a network operator, those who go the dark fiber route see lower infrastructure costs and greater control. For those lacking the resources to manage a network on their own, many dark fiber-optic providers offer managed wavelength services that include support and expertise.

Dark Fiber is a good fit for:

  • Education- Schools requiring scalable networks to support their network-based learning platforms and apps can address capacity needs through dark fiber
  • Government- Dark fiber is designed to increase security when handling sensitive communications.
  • Enterprises- Dark fiber is easily configurable to support business needs as they arise, promoting productivity and competitiveness.
  • Telecom providers– A communications service provider might expand its service or offer more accessibility in a particular area by piggybacking on a dark fiber network to strengthen its telecom infrastructure.
  • Financial institutions- In a separate use case, financial institutions managing technological innovations might want to implement a variety of interfaces above the standard options from a carrier. By electing to use dark fiber, the enterprise gains the ability to customize its network connections and greater control over equipment employed.
  • Municipalities- Municipalities with low-latency applications might also find cost savings in dark fiber as they gain direct control of the transmissions and related equipment.

Leverage Dark Fiber From SCE Carrier Solutions

Edison Carrier Solutions, a business unit of Southern California Edison, has more than 5,000 miles of fiber optic network available in a 50,000 square mile service area. For more than 20 years, the company has been providing critical connectivity of standard single mode fiber in point-to-point or ring configurations as lease options.

Interested in increasing your network’s customization capabilities while promoting enhanced security and performance? Speak with a network expert today and we can discuss how your organization can leverage dark fiber.

What is Dark Fiber

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