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Dark Fibre Rising

connectivity, Fibre, IoT | Sanjaya Ranasinghe on February 22, 2019

Our offices are now catering for highly data driven businesses and connectivity has become a prerequisite like gas or water. Fibre has long been considered the best connectivity solution for the reliability and resiliency it provides over traditional copper cabling. But there is another fibre-based amenity that can make your building more appealing to companies with sophisticated telecom requirements: dark fibre.

Dark fibre describes a network of purpose built fibre infrastructure configured to be leased by tenants for their own use, i.e., not only to connect them to the internet but, for example, to another office or directly to their dedicated data center. Tenants can create their own, privately operated networks by leasing dark fibre optic cables rather than buying an internet service package on a shared network from a traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP). Dark fibre provision was a $1bn industry in 2018 in the USA alone.

There are a number of advantages for connecting via dark fibre- the first being increased security. Dark fibre connections enable businesses to securely transfer data across their network without touching the public internet where the majority of data breaches take place. As data security becomes a growing concern for tenants dark fibre has become a sophisticated means of extending secure networks outside of the tenants’ demise.

Secondly, newer, scalable IT solutions like the cloud place a burden on traditional internet connections that are paid for on a monthly basis at a fixed speed. Businesses that lease dark fibre and opt to control their own networks are able to scale their connections as needed, without waiting for an ISP to do so for them. Tenants are now establishing dark fibre connections directly to an AWS - Amazon Web Services, the system that powers most of the world’s websites - data center to give them the control they need to operate as their network requirements increase in real time.

Finally, whilst control over scaling speeds is important for many tenants, control over maintenance windows can be even more important to e-commerce and financial service firms. With typical lit internet services, you are bound to the service provider’s maintenance schedule. This can pose a problem for businesses that need “always on” round the clock connections. Leasing dark fibre can be a great way to gain greater control over the downtime on your network.

It’s important to understand that dark fibre isn’t as easy as plugging your office router into a dark fibre connection. Many businesses do not have the onsite staff networking expertise to equip or manage their own networks using dark fibre. A strong IT team is required who are capable of repairing the network and understanding how the infrastructure can work for their organization. However, for a company that needs dark fibre for their network set-up, having it readily available in a building makes an office move much easier.

As such, landlords should consider dark fibre support as a marketable building amenity. IT teams are becoming more involved in leasing decisions so features such as dark fibre will begin to resonate as early as within the leasing process for tenants. Landlords should understand from the fibre providers in the building whether they can support  dark fibre services for tenants alongside internet services they offer. Above this landlords should ensure that they have additional infrastructure capacity for new dark fibre services to be brought to the building. These capacity considerations include, but is not limited to; entry ducts and telecoms room and riser space. Given dark fibre offers the ability for increased security and control of tenants’ critical data systems landlords must reflect this requirement by ensuring the space through which telecoms equipment and cabling is routed through their building is suitably secure, dedicated and controlled.

From cloud and edge computing, to the Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent building applications, new technology is eating up bandwidth and increasing the connectivity needs for corporate and enterprise businesses. This demand for connectivity, coupled with increasingly stringent security requirements, are factors driving a growing number of businesses to investigate dark fibre as an alternative to commercial internet service.

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