While it may sound ominous, it’s not. Dark Fiber is simply fiber optics that, while installed (either underground or aerially), isn’t currently connected to electronics, such as transmitters, amplifiers, and receivers. In other words, it’s not ready to transmit data. To allow for future network growth, it’s often installed with fiber that will be immediately used. Dig once, bury once is far more economical―in terms of hard and soft costs―than dig twice, bury twice.
In the early 2000s, the Internet boom resulted in the installation of hundreds of thousands of dark fiber miles. Along with service providers, it was installed by city governments, school districts, and enterprises wanting to connect campuses. In fact, it was estimated that in the early 2000s over 90% of installed fiber was dark.
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