Dark Fiber: The Pros and Cons

Dark fiber (also known as "dark fibre") refers to unused, dormant network fiber. Still potentially useful, dark fiber can be found in many areas. It's simply optical fiber that is no longer being used by the business that placed it. However, though the optical fiber isn't being used right now, it's still available. Dark fiber can be purchased directly from the companies and the ISPs that own it, or leased and rented. When leased and rented, dark fiber has some clear advantages over new fiber-optic networks. 

What are the advantages to Dark Fiber?

Dark fiber is often used by businesses as a way of improving internet installations. Rather than having to run dedicated fiber lines, a business can lease existing fiber lines. Running fiber lines can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; with dark fiber, the majority of the expense is already baked in. If an ISP isn't making use of the fiber installation on its own, it's often willing to lease out the fiber for a reasonable cost. 

Many businesses find themselves going beyond the threshold of what their current internet service can support, especially if they're in a business that demands a significant amount of data. Dark fiber gives a business the ability to boost internal and external communications without having to engage in an expensive, time-consuming upgrade project.

Occasionally, individuals may purchase dark fiber as well. An individual or a community may be able to lease or purchase dark fiber in lieu of waiting for fiber to be run to its location, or a community may even start its own low-tier ISP that contracts through a larger ISP.

Are there any disadvantages to Dark Fiber?

Dark fiber isn't available everywhere; it's usually only found in areas where there were substantial fiber networks to begin with. In more rural and remote areas, it's more likely that fiber connectivity was never run at all, and consequently there would be no fiber network to take advantage of. An individual can find out whether there is dark fiber available in an area by contacting the local high-tier telecommunications companies; the larger the town, the more likely it is.

When purchasing or leasing dark fiber, you often become responsible regarding the maintenance and repairs for that dark fiber. This is true even if you haven't outright purchased the fiber; a lease may also require that you complete your own maintenance. That can be time-consuming. Not every business, organization or community wants to be responsible for its own system, and the cost of repairs can become prohibitive. 

This can be avoided, however: some service providers, such as PS LIGHTWAVE, provide 24/7/365 monitoring and support, and they're able to offer the same amount of network management and support as a traditional fiber connection. 

Is Dark Fiber right for your business?

Whether dark fiber is a good choice is highly situational. Not only do individuals or businesses need to be in an area where dark fiber is available, but they also need to have the knowledge, skills and human resources to manage and maintain that dark fiber — or access to a professional and experienced partner such as PS LIGHTWAVE. If all of the stars align, it's an excellent way to acquire a fiber connection without having to run the line.

As fiber ages, dark fiber is becoming more plentiful. The more fiber that's laid down by companies, the more likely it is that dark fiber will exist. A significant amount of build-outs occur due to speculation: fiber expands into areas that it may not ultimately end up serving. The longer fiber is a popular technology, the more dark fiber will exist.

While it's not for everyone, the option of dark fiber is something that should be explored by any business looking to boost its telecommunications support. Individuals who currently don't have a fiber network in their community or who have been contemplating the addition of fiber to their community may want to inquire with their local companies. For more information about getting best-in-class technology and looking into the merits of dark fiber solutions, contact the experts at PS LIGHWAVE.

PS LIGHTWAVE provides high-speed, fiber internet for public and private commercial entities in the Greater Houston and surrounding areas.

Through our high-quality infrastructure, innovative technology and expert, locally based support, we deliver not only the best in connectivity and reliability but in scalability and redundancy. We invite you to learn more about our services, our history and our dedicated team.