In December 2013 The Wall Street Journal published an article by Drew Fitzgerald and Spencer Ante titled “Tech Firms Push to Control Web's Pipes” which dispelled many rumors about the state and availability of dark fiber in the U.S. and world. Are the authors contrarians, or are they simply stating the truth about reality? The facts make it clear that the latter is accurate, but to some that are either intentionally, or blissfully, ignorant both may be true.
The WSJ article says: “Technology giants like Google Inc. and Facebook (News - Alert) Inc. are expanding efforts to control more of the world's Internet backbone, raising tensions with telecom companies over who runs the Web.
“In the past year, these companies that supply much of the world's online content have ramped up their investment in Internet infrastructure. The moves include bringing online new submarine and underground cables they have funded, striking long-term agreements to lease so-called dark fiber, and building their own networking hardware.
“In the process, they are beginning to rival some of the telecom companies that count them as clients. Google (News - Alert) has spent years piecing together a network of private fiber-optic cables and now controls more than 100,000 miles of routes around the world, said one person familiar with its assets. That is bigger than the size of the continental U.S. network run by Sprint (News - Alert) Corp., which covers less than 40,000 miles.
“Executives at the tech companies say they are aiming to reduce costs, improve the performance of their Internet services, and guarantee they have enough capacity to support the growing traffic in online video, photos, games and other services generated by their businesses….
“The development is troubling for many telecom companies, however, which say they are reluctant to relinquish control of those lines to their biggest customers.”
Basically, the tech giants like the telecom companies want control over as much of their networks as they can get. To gain control they are building, buying and leasing as much dark fiber as they can where they need it as soon as they can get it and put it to use.
There is clearly a fiber gap in the U.S and borne out of the necessities outlined above we are entering a decade of investment and growth in the physical layer that will bring new dark fiber routes to all points of the country. This in turn will drive everything in networking above it, including the country’s GDP.
Hunter Newby is CEO of Allied Fiber (News - Alert) LCC (www.alliedfiber.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi