Could Dark Fiber Light Up the Future?

Most of today’s data transporting are based on fiber optic network, which has faster speed and larger scale than ever before. However, needs for the data transporting capacity are still growing rapidly. The fiber optic network operators and providers usually lay more fiber optic cables than what is needed to avoid installing the fiber cables again and again, which also curbs the costs efficiently. These additional fiber cables are known as dark fiber or unlit fiber.

Dark fiber is optical fiber that has been installed and ready for use but is not currently being used, which has no electronics on either ends.

Dark fiber is primarily needed by operators taking into account the increasingly high demands of the end-user. Now the dark fiber can be leased or sold to individuals or companies who wants to create their own privately-operated optical fiber network rather than just leasing bandwidth or wants super fast speed and a highly secure network. The dark fiber network can be set up in a variety of ways, including dark fiber rings, point to point or point to multipoint.


Benefits of Dark Fiber
  • Capacity: Dark fiber is a network of fiber optic cables that can carry high amounts of data at high speeds over hundreds of miles. Dark fiber also has unlimited expansion capability.
  • Flexible & Freedom: With dark fiber, the choice of network equipment would be more flexible. Individuals can choose the network equipment that supports the specific requirements.
  • Security: Fully dedicated, private physical network infrastructure.
Limits of Dark Fiber
  • Cost: the price for high performance dark fiber network is not low. Lighting up dark fiber requires maintenance and management. The time and equipment spent on lighting up the dark fiber is also an important part of the expense.
  • Location: Dark fiber networks are generally only available in the areas where fibers have already been installed which limits the application of dark fiber network. Dark fiber network is typically run between data centers and other places with existing fiber infrastructure.

As more and more individuals and companies look for platforms to improve internet bandwidth and data connectivity, dark fiber has become a popular topic. The performance of dark fiber is seductive. However, cost and limits of dark fiber should also be considered. There are many companies providing high performance dark fiber network, like Google whose price is very high. While the availability of WDM reduced the demand for fiber optic, which lower the price of dark fiber in some extend. The future of dark fiber is still in arguing and discussing.