What is Dark Fiber? And how does it work?

Have you ever wanted a truly unlimited internet connection? Meet Dark Fiber, the fastest internet connection most people didn’t know existed.

Before we dive into explaining Dark Fiber, we must explain what Fiber networks are and how they work. Fiber Optic networks are systems that transmit information by sending data over pulses of light across fiber-optic cables made of fine glass/plastic strands. Fiber networks provide quicker speed, higher bandwidth, and more reliability than traditional cable-based internet networks.

What is Dark Fiber

What is Dark Fiber?

Dark Fiber is a type of internet service that provides organizations with unlimited and exclusive bandwidth and operates on existing fiber-optic infrastructure that isn’t being utilized. Dark Fiber is a unique service that provides a very specialized level of internet bandwidth, exclusivity, and availability as they operate on fiber-optic networks dedicated to specific organizations.

How is Dark Fiber Different from Regular Fiber?

When telecommunication Consulting Companies lay fiber-optic infrastructure, they install a far greater amount of fiber cables than is needed for current demand. Traditional Fiber networks operate on “lit fiber,” which are fiber optic cables that are actively used by an internet service provider and/or customers. Dark Fiber, on the other hand, refers to the spare “unlit fiber” that is not being used and is available for use by companies with the budget and means to manage their own Fiber Optic networks.

Dark Fiber fundamentally operates the same as traditional Fiber Optic networks, but the key difference with Dark Fiber is organizations need to manage the Fiber Optic network themselves. When an organization signs up for a traditional Fiber internet service, they sign up to have their external internet network managed by an Internet Service Provider. The external internet network is everything outside of the company’s premises.

For example, a traditional organization will have a network topology that includes:

  • Internet Gateway/Router (often managed by an Internet Service Provider)
  • Firewall (this can be managed by an Internet Service Provider or an IT Organization)
  • Network Switches
  • Core and Edge Computing Devices
  • End-User Devices

In this example, a traditional organization won’t have to worry about switching infrastructure across the United States to ensure packets are being effectively delivered to and from both ends of the fiber like an Internet Service Provider. The organization also doesn’t have to worry about purchasing and managing lighting equipment needed to “light” fiber for internet access and communications.

What are the advantages of Dark Fiber?

1. Security and Privacy

A Dark Fiber network is managed privately by the organization using it and is not shared at any point. The customer is the only one with visibility into the data traveling through the network.

Dark Fiber is ideal for industries that deal with sensitive data and require real-time information, like financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare firms. Dark Fiber networks are the most dependable for many applications ranging from high-performance computing to cloud to simpler applications like VoIP.

2. Technically Limitless Bandwidth

One of the most significant benefits of Dark Fiber is that it allows businesses to manage the capacity and scale of bandwidth as they need it at a relatively fixed cost. If an organization needs to increase their bandwidth, they can change the equipment at the end of the fiber.

3. Absolute Control Over the IT Infrastructure

Dark Fiber gives businesses the freedom and flexibility to deploy and manage the technology of their choice. For example, it allows organizations to use Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing, or DWDM, which effectively splits the fiber into individual wavelengths across the spectrum, allowing for greater capacity. This level of functionality is major for organizations that need minimal latency and maximum bandwidth for their business operations, like manufacturing, media & entertainment, and financial services companies.

What are the drawbacks of Dark Fiber?

1. Relatively high cost

Traditional Fiber internet service is usually more expensive than cable/coax internet service, and Dark Fiber is more expensive than traditional Fiber internet service. It’s worth weighing the benefits of a private Dark Fiber network against the overall costs.

If Dark Fiber is the right fit, it acts as a business driver as it is necessary to meet the required bandwidth, latency, and financial needs. For most firms, slight improvements to their existing network will yield the results they desire rather than requiring a switch to a Dark Fiber network infrastructure.

Businesses that are deploying Dark Fiber networks typically must invest in the lighting equipment needed to make the Dark Fiber operate as an internet connection. Some firms can provide and manage this equipment as a service, but that adds to the expense of Dark Fiber.

2. Lack of Availability

Although the US has an extensive Fiber Optic network, there are areas where fiber connections may not be available. In some instances, fiber may have been installed many years ago, and most of the additional fiber could have already been saturated.

Additional Dark Fiber can be installed, but installing an extension or setting up the whole infrastructure could require long lead times and be costly as building permits, construction plans, and more must be approved.

3. Constant Monitoring

Having full control of your internet infrastructure implies challenges at the technical level.

It may require the business to partner with a company and/or hire additional IT staff to help keep the private network running smoothly, increasing the overall operation cost. When working with traditional Fiber internet service providers, you benefit from an expert staff that has been working in the industry for years and stacked support infrastructure.


Dark Fiber is not a one-size-fits-all, but the organizations that have the capacity to operate on Dark Fiber are tackling much larger business challenges. If you’re looking for limitless internet bandwidth and a network that can support seasonal spikes and can flex and contract with your needs, Dark Fiber may be the solution for you.

If you’re looking to deploy a Dark Fiber Network Solutions Online for your business, schedule your free consultation today with The VoIP Guru. Identifying the ideal Dark Fiber partner can be confusing (we know this because we partner with over 10 different Dark Fiber providers), and we’re happy to help you identify and deploy the best Dark Fiber Internet Service for your business.

The VOIP Guru analyzes your communication systems and works with your team to identify the best solution for your business. We aim to deliver a technical win, financial win, and business win while helping you benefit from the best rates from the top Dark Fiber providers in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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