With Democratic control of the House, Senate, and White House and widespread support for an infrastructure bill, the United States has a narrow opportunity to catch up to the rest of the world on last-mile fiber deployment. Assuming that the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act will be the basis for any legislation included in the infrastructure bill, the act should be revised with open access infrastructure (including open conduit and dark fiber that are subject to government oversight) as its central tenet.
The continued growth and evolution of the digital economy remains a driver for strong data center growth and development throughout Virginia. As reported in a March 2021 Virginia Business article, a new dark fiber network is expected to expand opportunities for data center development in strategic Virginia locations.
This new 680-mile regional fiber optic network will connect the large concentration of existing data centers in Northern Virginia to the Virginia Beach cable landing station and, in turn, provide access to the subsea, intercontinental high-speed internet cables running to Europe and South America.
Over the last year, the lack of broadband access in New Mexico was on full display. Our expansive state needs innovative, cost-effective solutions to this problem.
We are business leaders, spanning six different sectors, taking part in the Leadership Albuquerque program through the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. We believe broadband access is critical to our economic growth and well-being. Broadband brings people together – teachers to students, doctors to patients, first responders to the sick or hurting, and family members to one another. It enables the connections we need in order to learn, grow and lead productive and healthy lives.
As such, we support Senate Bill 360, which would allow unused fiber – called “dark fiber” – that is already in the ground across New Mexico to extend broadband access to rural communities. Sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, the bill would reduce the need to build new broadband infrastructure across miles and miles of land by using what we already have to reach our most vulnerable communities.
Coenen began by explaining that the term “dark fiber” refers to fiber optic cable that has been laid in the ground but isn’t being used. “Whenever somebody buries a fiberoptic cable, most of the cost is in getting that cable into the ground,” explained Coenen. “Something like less than 10 percent of the cost of such a project is actually the fiberoptic cable. So, what they do is bury as many actual fibers as possible.” In many cases, less than half of the actual cables underground are being used, leaving the rest available for companies to lease.
So why would an enterprise be interested in leasing this dark fiber?
- It’s all about the money.
- Dark fiber can also improve latency.
- Dark fiber can provide redundancy.
- Dark fiber does require some expertise.
- You shouldn’t be afraid of dark fiber.