Dark Fiber

What to Look for in a Dark Fiber Service Provider

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

From IoT to AI, to smart cities and self-driving vehicles, rapidly evolving technology and the digital transformation of business are driving the demand for networks that enable greater customization, performance, and security. The market for dark fiber networks is quickly expanding as organizations seeking to future-proof their data initiatives are discovering the advantages of leasing or purchasing unused optical fiber, or “dark fiber,” as their bandwidth, latency, and operational demands grow. 

In fact, according to a recent report published by Zion Market Research, the global dark fiber network market size was valued at $5.4 billion in 2022 and is predicted to more than double to $12.3 billion by the end of 2030. The market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 12.31% during the forecast period.

While dark fiber networks provide numerous benefits, they also require a higher level of technical expertise and investment compared to traditional leased lines or managed services. Finding the right dark fiber service provider is critical to ensure the reliability and scalability of an organization’s network infrastructure. 

To help organizations navigate the process of finding a network solution that meets their unique requirements and priorities, we’ve highlighted what to look for in a dark fiber service provider.

Meeting Your Business Network Needs

Historically, dark fiber networks were the domain of large-scale enterprises. Today, however, professional service firms, healthcare organizations, government agencies, and K-12 school districts have also started implementing dark fiber to streamline their networks and simplify the way they manage their technology initiatives. When evaluating a dark fiber networking partner, consider the following factors: 

  • Coverage and Network Reach: Assess the provider’s network coverage and reach. Ensure that their dark fiber network covers the geographical regions you currently connect with as well as planned areas for expansion. A provider with an extensive footprint can help you establish connections to remote or distributed locations.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Your network requirements may change over time. Choose a provider that offers scalable solutions, allowing you to easily increase or decrease your bandwidth as needed. Flexibility to accommodate varying data loads and future expansions is critical.
  • Redundancy and Reliability: Dark fiber is often chosen for its potential to create redundant pathways and enhance network reliability. Ensure that the provider offers network infrastructure that enables control of bandwidth for business-critical applications, along with redundancy options and a strong track record of uptime and reliability.
  • Fiber Quality and Capacity: Inquire about the quality of the optical fibers used by the provider. High-quality, low-latency fibers with ample bandwidth capacity are critical for improving the performance of network applications, supporting data transmission and enabling future growth.
  • Interconnection Options: Check if the provider offers interconnection services to data centers, cloud service providers, and other important network hubs. Interconnection options can simplify your network architecture and improve connectivity.
  • Support and Maintenance: Understand the level of support and maintenance the provider offers. Prompt response to issues, proactive monitoring, and rapid resolution of problems is crucial to minimizing downtime and disruptions.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can shortlist the dark fiber service providers that align with your network requirements. Next, you’ll need to evaluate the cost.

Cost Transparency and Flexible Pricing Options

When evaluating a network partner, it’s critical to understand the provider’s pricing structure, including any one-time setup fees, monthly charges, and additional costs for scalability or maintenance. Look for vendors who offer the flexibility to choose the pricing that aligns with your budget and long-term goals and provides transparency when it comes to related costs. 

Ask for thorough cost comparisons between leasing and purchasing dark fiber, and consider the cost predictability for each option. For example, ask about whether flat rate pricing on leases will accelerate during the term, and if the provider charges for incremental service updates for purchased dark fiber. 

Evaluate the available financing options and consider the cost of hardware expenses when setting up a dark fiber network.

Dedicated Network Operations Centers 

A dedicated Network Operations Center (NOC) specifically catering to dark fiber customers can provide numerous benefits, enhancing the overall management, performance, and reliability of the network. 

From proactive monitoring that can identify potential issues before they escalate into major problems, to real-time alerts for network anomalies, outages, or performance drops, a dedicated NOC provides security, minimizes business interruptions, and reduces the potential for data loss. Dark fiber networks often serve critical operations that require round-the-clock availability. A dedicated NOC can offer 24/7 support, ensuring that any network issues are promptly addressed, while also managing redundancy measures and backup connections so that the dark fiber network remains reliable and available even in the event of failures.

NOC professionals can also analyze network performance data and monitor network usage patterns to optimize configurations for the best possible performance and provide insights to accommodate growing demands.

Customizable Solutions for Network Ownership and Management

The final consideration when choosing a dark fiber network provider is the availability of customizable solutions that will ignite digital transformation and enable business growth.

Customizable solutions for network ownership and management must include industry-leading expertise so organizations can leverage the experience and industry knowledge of the network provider in building, managing, and optimizing customized fiber optic networks. These solutions should also deliver measurable time and resource savings, and they should be tailored to the business’s specific requirements, ensuring that the network aligns with their operational needs.

With more than 20 years of experience designing, engineering, and optimizing large-scale fiber networks, FiberLight leads the industry in building customized dark fiber solutions. Our fiber-rich footprint across key innovation hubs ensures access to fast-growth markets with new fiber, multiple configurations, flexible ownership and financing options, and unsurpassed customer service. To learn more about FiberLight’s Dark Fiber Network Solutions, visit https://www.fiberlight.com/fiber-services/dark-fiber/