What is Dark Fiber?

Dark fiber is pre-existing underground infrastructure that does not yet have the hardware or software that enable it to run services. While fiber optic cables that are actively sending data via light wavelengths are considered lit, the rest of the unused fibers laying in wait are deemed unlit—or dark. In this guide we discuss everything there is to know about dark fiber.

Dark Fiber Defined 

What is dark fiber? Dark fiber represents an underground infrastructure of unused optical fiber that’s devoid of data traffic. Dark fiber lacks the software or hardware to run services. Active fiber optic cables send data through light wavelengths are deemed lit, while the unused fibers waiting to be used are considered dark or unlit fiber. 

Cognizant of the prohibitive cost of physically digging fiber optic routes, fiber optic companies lay more cables than needed. That allows them to meet future demand without incurring additional costs. The surplus network infrastructure is known as dark fiber and is available to third parties. 

You can establish your own dark fiber optic network for complete control over your IT network and infrastructure. Previously a reserve for service providers, dark fibers are popular with enterprise companies seeking to future-proof their operations. Dark fiber allows you to bolster your bandwidth, scale your network, increase performance, reduce latency, and save money.

Dark Fiber and Fiber Optics 

Optical fibers are ultrathin strands of clear glass about the size of human hair bundled together into optical cables. They comprise a super thin core and a thicker cladding. Fiber optics transmit data over vast distances as light using a laser

Light travels through fiber optic cable by repeatedly bouncing off the walls. Each light signal hits the core at an acute angle creating a total internal reflection that lets it travel the cable’s entire length. The speed of data transmission is dependent on the laser. Light pulses travel through the core while the cladding with its lower refractive index contains the signals inside the core. 

How Does Dark Fiber Work? 

Dark fiber networks are set up in point-to-point configurations, rings, or point-to-multipoint configurations. Thanks to Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing, dark fiber can transmit multiple data streams over the same optical cable simultaneously. That results in increased security and delivers high-performance data speeds. With DWDM, you can turn a single optic fiber cable into a host of multiple virtual fibers. For instance, you can multiplex several high-bandwidth services without speeds of up to 100 Gb/s onto a wavelength delivered on one dark fiber strand. While dark fibers are popular with government institutions and financial institutions, other customers are wising up to their many advantages.

What are the Benefits of Dark Fiber?

Many advantages of using a dark fiber network come from giving you total control of your IT infrastructure, allowing you to manage capacity, and scale as your data needs demand. 

Bandwidth Scalability

Dark fiber allows you unlimited bandwidth while giving maximum control and flexibility over your entire network. Companies with colossal data requirements can split dark fiber into individual wavelengths through Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) for a limitless bandwidth. Dark fiber paired with DWDM drive most of the cloud computing and Web 2.0 solutions in use today. 

Privacy and Security 

Dark fiber offers better privacy and security for your business by helping you create a private network. With your own network, you can handle cloud workloads on-premise for enhanced security and performance. 

Improved Speed 

With internet providers, data gets bounced a lot before getting to its destination. With dark fiber, you get to build the most direct and efficient path from point A to point B. This is crucial for companies that depend on real-time data, such as algorithm-based trading in financial services. 

Who Provides Dark Fiber? 

Since dark fiber is an unused part of an existing network, they’re owned by telecommunication companies. These companies lease or sell dark fibers to clients wishing to future-proof their business, get more bandwidth, and reduce network latency. Dark fiber providers lease out unused portions of their network in lit or unlit condition. With the unlit fiber, the dark fiber service providers leave you to customize and set up the fiber as you wish to allow business continuity. 

The best dark fiber providers in the country include Verizon Data Networks, Zayo Dark Fiber Network, Crown Castle Dark Fiber Network, and Lightpath Fiber. 

How to Buy Dark Fiber? 

Buying a dark fiber can be a lengthy process. First, you must identify and reach out to telecommunication network service providers serving your locality. If there’s a fiber path nearby and the company is willing to sell you a dark fiber strand, you need to request a quote with dark fiber pricing. You can either lease a dark fiber monthly or opt for a Fiber Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) basis. 

Luckily, you can drastically reduce the turnaround time with the help of specialized services such as Cteleco. Cteleco connects you directly with dark fiber providers, effectively cutting out the quote solicitation process. 

Dark Fiber vs Lit Fiber?

Lit fiber are fiber optic cables currently in use; hence they’re lit by the service provider’s electronics. This option is ideal if you have well-defined bandwidth needs. It allows an ISP to handle the liability of managing the network and keeping the uptime up to par. It’s the most flexible and operationally convenient form of fiber optics for most businesses. 

A dark fiber optic network is ideal if your bandwidth needs are difficult to define or you wish to establish a custom, private, and secure network. After leasing dark fiber from a service provider, you take on the responsibility of lighting it up. That means hiring the staff and buying your own transmission equipment to operate the dark fiber. 

With dark fiber, get to define the capability of your network architecture, security, speed, and no limits on uptime. Dark fiber is suitable for use case cases that require extremely low latency, such as large data centers. Or companies with large networks reliant on real-time data transmission or have particular security needs. 

Why Would My Company Need Dark Fiber?

Dark fiber lets you scale your network to match your growing business needs without saddling you with exorbitant monthly fees. Dark fiber guarantees data security, privacy, matchless speeds, and network performance. Besides helping you meet wide-ranging business needs, dark fiber will future-proof your business. 

Limitless bandwidth and reduced latency increase your ability to process real-time data, creating new revenue streams for your business. Best of all, dark fiber lets you scale operations without incurring additional networking and connectivity costs. By allowing you to create a private network, dark fiber favors on-sight data management, further reducing your reliance on third parties. It gives you complete control over your data while delivering a predictable and reliable uptime. 

 Summary: Dark Fiber 

Dark fiber is an unused portion of an underground optic cable network available for lease to interested parties. The fibers are dark because they’re not installed with the technology necessary to move data as light pulses or signals. On purchasing dark fiber strands, you need to configure them for data transmission. Setting up your own dark fiber network is a cash-intensive affair as it calls for skilled staff members and specialized equipment. However, you can rest assured that the resultant benefits and cost savings increase dark fiber’s ROI. 

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