Monday, July 23, 2012

Dark Fiber for Bandwidth and Security

The step up from copper-based bandwidth solutions to fiber optic connections is an important and necessary move for many companies. For others, it’s just not enough. Where do you go when the best service options on fiber optic lines don’t have the bandwidth or security features that you require? Dark fiber steps in where lit fiber falls short.

Find out what dark fiber assets are available for your company to lease...How can lit fiber service fall short of the mark? After all, It’s possible to get as much as 10,000 Mbps or 10 Gigabit SONET or Ethernet delivered to your door. In some cases, you can push this to OC-768 or 40 Gbps. The carriers themselves are upgrading their backbone networks to 100 Gbps.

All true, but some companies still have a need for more bandwidth, more control and more security. You get those things when you control the fiber itself rather than a service that runs on the fiber and is available to any paying customer.

What you may be looking for is called dark fiber. It’s dark because it hasn’t been “lit” with laser light yet. This is fiber that has been installed in the ground or on poles overhead but not pressed into service. There was a enormous fiber buildout in the late 1990’s that led to a fiber glut less than a decade later. The fiber was installed in anticipation of a major boom in Internet services that went flat when the tech bubble burst at the turn of the century.

Some of that fiber is still available for lease. Most, though, has been acquired and now more dark fiber is being installed. This time there looks to be no end to the demand for business bandwidth. Big data, health care automation, a move from local data centers to the cloud, and other advances are changing the landscape for business. There really isn’t any going back to the days of paper filled file cabinets or even software packages running on local PCs. We’re becoming more and more interconnected and both the size of data files and the necessary speeds of transmissions are increasing.

Carriers, financial institutions, research labs, video production companies and others who generate massive traffic may be interested in leasing dark fiber to connect two or more locations within a metro district or between cities. A number of large network operators have dark fiber assets for lease, including Zayo with fiber in the ground in many cities.

On campus, you might think about trenching your own fiber optic cable. Beyond that, you need to lease fiber from a company that is in the business of installing fiber over long distances. They invest by burying multiple cables with multiple fiber strands along the routes where they have permission to dig. You’ll probably be leasing one or two strands out of a hundred or more within the cable. Those will be your strands for the duration of the lease. You’ll need to install the equipment at both ends of the fiber run to transport your data.

The way to transport really massive amounts of data from point to point is to use Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) to send multiple laser beams at slight different wavelengths or colors through the fiber. Each beam is independent and transports anywhere from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps. DWDM might generate 100 or more separate wavelengths. Each wavelength can transport any protocol you desire independently of what any other wavelengths are doing.

Dark fiber security comes from the fact that you control the entire fiber strand. Only your equipment is connected to it. That gives any potential intruders no access points to tap into your data streams. If you need even more guarantees of security, you can always choose to encrypt your packets while they are traversing the fiber.

You don’t have to go all the way from SONET or Ethernet over Fiber to Dark Fiber. You can simply lease one or more wavelengths or go with a managed fiber solution where the fiber provider also installs and operates the termination equipment at each end. They are essentially expertly managing your fiber for you for a fee.

Do you have requirements beyond what common bandwidth solutions can accommodate? If so, find out what dark fiber assets and managed fiber services are available for the locations you have in mind.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Note: Photo of fiber optic conduit spools courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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