The dark side of the fibre.

18 May, 2022

With this title so from the Star Wars saga, we refer to the dark fibre. According to the CNMC, there are almost two kilometres of this type of fibre deployed in Spain.

The dark side of the fibre.

What is dark fibre?

To sum up, it is fibre deployed but not used. The concept of dark fibre comes from the fact that it is a fibre turned off, “without lighting”.

Why is this fibre deployed but not used?

It should be seen, from the point of view of the companies involved, as an investment in infrastructure, given the potential demand for bandwidth. That is said, when there are works to bury wiring, for example, fibre networks, they take advantage to install and oversize fibre, knowing in advance which part is not going to be used. However, in this way, they avoid ‘raising streets’ in the face of an increase in demand for fibre services.

There are also other companies like the Spanish Electricity System, which is the company with the largest deployment of dark fibre, which has taken advantage by way of its subsidiary Reintel to expand the existing infrastructures easy to install, like the electric transport network and the railway network, among others. In the case of Lyntia, the second-largest company, they did so through the Naturgy gas pipelines.

Who owns the dark fibre?

According to the data published by the CNMC in its annual report 2020, the ranking of dark fibre by company is as follows:

ranking empresas fibra oscura

Last Monday, the insurance companies Axa and Swiss Life announced to have acquired Lyntia’s dark fibre, the second company in the ranking, for around 2000 million.

(Potential) users of the dark fibre.

As we have mentioned above, this infrastructure is oversized to cover the potential demand for bandwidth. Therefore, the owners may obtain economic benefits from renting these and other companies or operators.

Connecting different work centres to a ‘point-to-point’ connection highly available can be greatly beneficial for large corporations such as banks, multinationals, public administrations, etc.

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