What is dark fibre and its benefits? Is it right for my business?

Definition of dark fibre

Dark fibre may sound like something from a sci-fi movie but it is purely spare network fibre in the ground. Because it is ‘unlit’, it is referred to as dark fibre.  The cost of digging fibre optic network routes is costly; hence, spare cables can be laid to provide additional capacity going forward.

If you decide to go with a dark fibre network, you will hire fibre optic cables from ISPs (internet service providers) or phone companies such as BT.  Rather than pay for an internet service – which is the norm – you hire cables. You then control the cables, providing your own infrastructure to give an internet connection.

Benefits of dark fibre

Let’s look at six benefits of using dark fibre for your business:

  1. You own the cables – this means that you have far more control.
  2. Scale up bandwidth – as your network grows, you have plenty of capacity.
  3. Area of coverage – you decide in which areas to hire the fibre optic cables ensuring ample reach when you need it in specific geographic areas.
  4. Diversity of route – you control the cables, design your dark fibre network to suit your needs, and provide secondary paths for added security.
  5. Flexibility – you have the freedom to deploy and manage technology chosen by you in whatever configuration you need.
  6. Privacy and security – the cables belong to you and so does the network, making it 100% Say goodbye to sharing.

Is dark fibre right for my business?

Businesses should consider the following before deciding on dark fibre:

  • Are your bandwith needs likely to increase beyond one Gbps? Then dark fibre will be far more cost-effective than using an ISP. The cost of dark fibre is fixed for a long time i.e. 10 to 20 years so you always know how much you will be paying. The fibre is yours to use for the chosen period of the contract. This will involve a high cash outlay upfront so if you go for a shorter lease to avoid this, make sure the contract is renewable.
  • Is your business expected to grow rapidly? You can future-proof your network with dark fibre ensuring that you always have sufficient for your needs.
  • You are expanding an existing network or building a new one for geographically separate premises. Plan and purchase dark fibre cables in locations that meet your needs. By planning your infrastructure in this way, the savings can be immense.
  • You have a sufficient budget to purchase termination equipment. This includes routers and optical transceivers for every network point. (Only if the network is incredibly complex will an ISP be less expensive). It’s worth noting that original equipment manufacturers can mark up optical transceivers by up to 350%! Opt for brand equivalents that provide the same performance for less money.
  • You want your network to be private and customised. For example, this is important where money is being transferred or employees working remotely. It also offers a great USP for your brand.
  • Security matters. Dark fibre networks are private; keep the hardware on-premise whilst owning or leasing the fibre cables. This is a great help for companies that have to comply with specific security regulations.

While dark fibre networks may not be right for every business, if you have ample budget, require increasing bandwidth needs, high privacy, security, and the potential to customise, then going down the dark fibre route makes sense. Assess your needs accurately and if it’s clear that dark fibre is for you, your business will find it flexible, smart and cost-effective.

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