July 14, 2014
Interest in Dark Fiber Quickly Rising
By Clayton Hamshar
There is a growing interest in a technology called dark fiber as of late, as the desire for higher data speeds lead enterprises to seek out new solutions that improve on the inadequacies of the current infrastructure.
Dark fiber refers to fiber optic cable that has been laid but remains unused. Much of it was laid in the late 1990s during the dot-com bubble when telecommunications companies speculated heavily assuming constant expansion. The high data capacity of fiber optic cable is one of its main benefits, but also was one of the reasons for the bubble’s burst; wavelength-division multiplexing technology allowed many times the amount of data to be sent through a single cable, which significantly reduced demand. Paired with the much lower cost of perfectly adequate-at-the-time copper wire, fiber optic cable was left in the ground unused, and to be attended to in the future.
Ethernet connections since then have still relied on this copper wire, which is not as fast or cost-efficient in the long run, but much cheaper per installation. Fiber optic cables have a very large upfront cost, but in the end it is a fraction of the cost of wire per data connection. Still, many companies have never bothered to switch over to the technology.
As Motor E Magazine explains, fiber optic cable has a number of other advantages over copper wire, including the need for only a single transmitter and receiver, as opposed to electricity sent over wire, which must be re-transmitted periodically to avoid signal degradation. In addition fiber optic is not prone to electromagnetic interference like wire is from others in the bundle and power lines. This enhances security of the line, since the lack of an electromagnetic field makes it much more difficult for hackers to tap in to, and a high resistance means it is not likely to spark and cause fires.
Companies such as Solveforce have bought up large areas of dark fiber around the country, focusing on making it accessible to enterprises that are interested. The many benefits are quickly becoming apparent as data loads continue to increase, and more companies adopting the technology means the cost is constantly being driven down to more reasonable prices.
Fiber optic is clearly in line to be the driver of communications in the future, and as it becomes more universal, data speeds across the board will improve significantly. Currently most often found within buildings and in metropolitan areas, the efforts of companies such as Solveforce will enable the technology to spread and constitute a more solidified and efficient national network.
Edited by Adam Brandt
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