From the Lab

Shining a Spotlight on Dark Fiber’s Return

Twenty years after the telecom industry collectively blew its budget on massive network deployments, the market is once again showing an interest in dark fiber.

According to a December report published by research firm IBISWorld, the dark fiber market has grown more than 10% annually since 2009. And while the report projects that the industry will see consolidation over the next five years, researchers also expect that providers will continue to increase the number of route miles they sell access to through at least 2019.

Why is dark fiber in the spotlight again? One major reason is because large enterprises are looking to gain more control over their network infrastructure.  As bandwidth demands continue to rise, many organizations seek managed service providers to manage their networks to ensure performance and security, and to increase their flexibility to add network capacity as needed.

Financial services companies want lower-latency connections. Healthcare companies want to reduce fears over the privacy of patient medical records. And educational institutions want to control costs while also guaranteeing their ability to expand network capacity over time.

Growing enterprise interest in dark fiber means that data centers also need to adjust their thinking. In addition to providing wholesale Ethernet services from cable and telecom providers, data centers – now, more than ever – should also offer the option of carrier-neutral fiber connections. One approach to connectivity isn’t inherently better than the other, but the fact that enterprise customers have different requirements suggests that both options should be on the table.

At Keystone NAP, our partnership with Sunesys gives us the ability to provide customers with access to thousands of miles of dark fiber. Those connections, which aren’t owned and operated by any telecom carrier, offer enormous flexibility for companies wanting to control how their network infrastructure is provisioned, maintained, secured, and upgraded.

We consider dark fiber to be a critical part of our services offering, and we plan to continue expanding access going forward. Data center services should always mirror customer demand, and the trend right now shows more dark fiber usage on the horizon.