A complete guide to dark fibre

25 March 2024
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As bandwidth needs rise and information technology (IT) continues to converge on the data centre, the demands on many businesses’ networks continue to grow.

In order for businesses to meet this demand, many are now choosing to integrate dark fibre to optimise their network infrastructure for performance, security, and scalability in the digital age.

In this guide, we provide you with everything you need to know about dark fibre, including what it is, how it works and its main benefits. 

What is dark fibre in the UK?

To put it simply – dark fibre refers to  unused optical fibre cables installed and laid underground but do not have traffic running on the fibre strands, i.e. they’re not currently in use for data transmission.

The term “dark” in the name refers to the fact that these fibres are not actively transmitting data, so they are “dark” or inactive. These cables are typically part of a larger network infrastructure laid out by telecoms companies or internet service providers.

Dark fibre can be leased or purchased by organisations for their private use, providing the maximum level of control  allowing businesses to manage their own equipment and use their own protocol.

a complete guide to dark fibre
Learn all about Ogi’s new high-capacity infrastructure.

Let’s look at dark fibre in a little more detail…

How does dark fibre work?

Buying dark fibre isn’t the same as buying telecommunication services. Instead, you also need to deploy and manage the equipment needed to light it up. 

For businesses that require high-speed and high capacity broadband, dark fibre is a fantastic solution as it allows you to create and control your own private optical network. It offers near limitless capacity and provides the assurance of dedicated connectivity.

Dark fibre vs lit fibre

Fibre optic cables are designed for high-performance data networking and telecommunications. Dark fibre and lit fibre are basically two different states or conditions of fibre optic cables in a network infrastructure.

Dark fibre optic cables are inactive, and businesses can lease or purchase a dark fibre infrastructure and provide their own equipment to ‘light’ the fibre (use it for internet access and communications).

On the other hand, lit fibre refers to fibre optic cables that are currently in use by a service provider to transmit data. From the very first installation to operation, the service provider will manage the connectivity and provide access to the high-speed and reliable service. 

In short – lit fibre cables have constant light pulses streaming through them, whereas dark fibre networks don’t have any light pulses passing through them, making them inactive (until a business provides and deploys the equipment to light the cables). 

Ogi’s new high-capacity infrastructure harnesses the power of the country’s motorway and trunk road network to connect England, Wales and beyond with new dark fibre and microduct products.

Get in touch with a member of our team to learn more about what we offer. 

a complete guide to dark fibre
Dark fibre optic cables are inactive, whereas lit fibre cables are currently in use by a service provider to transmit data.

What are the benefits of dark fibre?

Dark fibre offers several benefits to businesses that lease or purchase it for their private network infrastructure. 

The 6 main benefits of dark fibre include:

  1. Increased security
  2. Scalability
  3. Network speed
  4. Reliability 
  5. Customisation
  6. Future proofing

1. Increased security

One of the most significant benefits of a dark fibre network is the enhanced security it offers compared to shared or public networks. 

Once a business purchases or leases dark fibre, it is owned and operated solely by the organisation. This means that outside entities can’t track or record the data and information being transmitted through the fibre. Organisations can implement their own encryption and security measures to protect sensitive data.

For organisations that rely on transmitting sensitive information over a secure network, for example, healthcare, broadcasting and financial industries, this is ideal. 

2. Scalability

Another reason why many organisations choose dark fibre is that it allows for scalability. Since they have complete control over the infrastructure, organisations can scale their network bandwidth according to their needs, as data demands increase.

For example, when an organisation is looking to expand, dark fibre allows them to easily upgrade or expand their network capacity without relying on third parties. If they had lit fibre on the other hand, the process of requesting more bandwidth from an ISP could take a number of weeks and would actually cost more in the long-run.

3. Network speed

For organisations who depend on fast communication between communication portals or large data centres, low network latency, i.e. ‘network lag’ is crucial, as they need to quickly communicate with one another. 

As running a dark fibre network requires businesses to purchase/lease and deploy their own transmission equipment, they have total control over the speed, so businesses using the technology don’t have to worry about sharing bandwidth with other customers. 

4. Reliability

Another important benefit is that, as dark fibre operators are equipped to handle any necessary repairs and maintenance tasks, dark fibre networks offer a flexible, reliable and high-speed bandwidth service that ISP simply can’t match. 

A dark fibre network gives businesses full control of the system and allows them to resolve the issue themselves instead of contacting ISP to send out a technician (which could result in delays). This allows businesses to minimise downtime if any problems occur, which is of course crucial for businesses that want to lower their costs.

A Complete Guide to Dark Fibre
Learn how Ogi’s new dark fibre is meeting the demands for high-capacity, reliable connectivity in Wales.

5. Customisation

Last but certainly not least, dark fibre allows businesses to fully tailor their network protocols, configuration and security measures to meet their specific requirements and needs of their applications and users. 

In addition to this, organisations can seamlessly integrate dark fibre into their existing network infrastructure, i.e. their routers, switches, and other networking equipment, ensuring compatibility with their current systems.

6. Future-proofing

Investing in dark fibre provides a future-proof solution for meeting growing bandwidth demands. As technologies like 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing continue to evolve, having a robust fibre infrastructure in place ensures readiness for upcoming technological advancements.

Ogi’s dark fibre

Ogi wholesale is a landmark fibre project – a first of its kind for Wales – exclusively available from the only full fibre provider dedicated to Wales.

The diverse route increases capacity from England into Wales, providing capacity, diversity and resilience to carriers, hyperscalers and Internet Service Providers looking to expand across the south of the UK.

The new network brings bespoke dark fibre and microduct infrastructure services to the market along with a suite of lit services and data centre products.

If you’d like to learn more about our services and what we do, get in touch with our business sales team on 029 2002 0535 or email pro@ogi.wales. And for more tips and industry insights, check out our regularly updated blog pages.  

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