Jul 15, 2020

Harnessing the power of dark fiber networks

connectivity
Dark Fiber
Networking
Harry Menear
3 min
Array
Dark fiber networks may be the key to supporting the ongoing growth of hyperscale data centre networks...

Fiber optics are the connective tissue that holds the modern world together. They form the backbone of the modern internet, carrying 99% of all data sent around the world. 

Back in 2017, it was estimated that there were more than 1.1mn kilometres of fiber optic cable around the world - around three times the distance between Earth and the Moon. As the planet becomes increasingly interconnected (to itself, not to the Moon) and the volume of data being created swells past 2.5 quintillion bytes every single day, Earth’s fiber optic nervous system is an increasingly critical piece of infrastructure. 

As the need for capacity to connect more and more hyperscale data centre facilities to the net increases, dark fiber is becoming one of the most important commodities in the industry. 

What is dark fiber?

Dark fiber is unused or unlit fiber optic cable, often laid alongside connected lines, that isn’t hooked up to allow the passage of data traffic. Dark fiber is typically leased to third-party companies by the network operator to allow for increased traffic. 

Recently, several companies have emerged in this field, deploying new dark fiber routes to link up major data centre hubs. Hyperscale players are also building out their own networks; just last year, Facebook began selling unused capacity to other companies, effectively entering the wholesale fiber business.

Data centre investors and operators, forever seeking to improve the efficiency and capacity with which their facilities can reach network hubs, have been readily investing in and acquiring companies that specialise in providing dark fiber network access. 

Dark fiber investment surges

Currently, the dark fiber network operating industry brings in around $4.5bn in the US alone each year, and is expected to grow as a CAGR of around 12.2% going forward as investment continues to rise and the industry continues to mature. 

In 2019, SDC Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Summit Infrastructure Group, a Northern Virginia dark fiber provider, with access to about 700 kilometres of cable. “Summit has built a highly differentiated network infrastructure in the world’s largest data center market,” said Todd Aaron, Managing Partner of SDC Capital in a press release. 

Also last year, colocation company Cologix purchased Montreal-based dark fiber company Metro Optic. “This acquisition allows us to maximize the value and efficiency of our Montreal footprint by offering Hyperscale capacity, access to robust interconnection hubs and now also the underlying infrastructure to connect those entities,” said Bill Fathers, Chairman and CEO of Cologix, at the time.

Last week, Stream Data Centers announced that its near-complete Phoenix I data center in Goodyear would become a part of the growing Cox Business fiber network. The partnership will allow Stream customers to interconnect their Stream services with other data centers or to their local offices using either dark fiber or internet transport services with speeds up to 100Gbps. “Stream's customer base is made up of Fortune 500 and hyperscale cloud providers, which makes Cox Business' ability to deliver low latency, diverse dark fiber route options to the most demanding of customers highly complementary,” added the company in a press release. 

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Jun 14, 2021

Inside the future of Ireland’s subsea cable landscape

Interxion
AquaComms
euNetworks
IDA
4 min
Meet the industry experts sitting down to discuss subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity, and the fate of Ireland’s digital economy. 

On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, experts from Aqua Comms, GTT, euNetworks, the IDA, and European data centre leader Interxion will take part in a virtual panel to explore the evolving relationship between subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity and the future of Ireland’s digital economy. 

You can tune in to the event, which is taking place between 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM JST on Tuesday, here - or view it later on-demand. The hour-long panel will also conclude with a 20 minute Q&A session with the audience, moderated by Interxion’s Senior Director of Market Development, Mike Hollands

The Gateway to Europe

Since the first transatlantic cable was laid in 1858, briefly connecting Newfoundland and Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland has served as a critical gateway for North American organisations looking to gain access to Europe. 

Today, some of the largest firms in the world, like Pfizer, Janssen, Zurich, Metlife, Google and VmWare use Ireland for their European Headquarters. The combination of an English-speaking workforce (a boon made all the more important as Brexit makes the UK and the north of Ireland an increasingly complex environment that provides diminishing opportunities to access the rest of Europe), a cultural and regulatory landscape that welcomes foreign investment, and world-class connectivity makes the country an unparalleled choice for firms looking to establish a foothold in the EU. 

As a result, Ireland has become one of the world’s leading data centre hubs. And, thanks to the exponential growth of Data Gravity, and the increasingly essential nature of digital infrastructure, Ireland’s role as a launchpad into Europe is only likely to grow more prominent.  

The future of Ireland’s digital economy is, experts from Interxion argue, closely linked to its ability to provide connectivity between Europe and North America. The further development of the country’s subsea cable industry will form the keystone of the discussion being held on Tuesday, as experts from throughout the industry share their insights into the challenges and opportunities that face operators working towards a more connected future for Ireland. 

Meet the Experts 

On Tuesday, speakers from the IDA, Aqua Comms, GTT Communications, euNetworks, and Interxion will discuss key themes, including key facts about Ireland’s existing subsea infrastructure, plans for the future of the industry, the challenges that need to be overcome, the interaction between subsea and terrestrial networks, and the next steps in Ireland’s role as the gateway to Europe. 

Ciarán Delaney

Ciaran Delaney, VP of Operations and Optical Engineering, GTT
Ciaran Delaney, VP of Operations and Optical Engineering, GTT

Ciarán Delaney has served as the VP of Operations and Optical Engineering at GTT since 2017. With more than 10 years worth of experience in the telecoms industry, he’s a leading expert on transatlantic connectivity, with an in-depth knowledge of both submarine and terrestrial cable systems.  

Nigel Bayliff 

Nigel Bayliff, CEO, Aqua Comms
Nigel Bayliff, CEO, Aqua Comms

Currently serving as the CEO and Director of the Board at Irish submarine cable firm Aquacomms, Nigel Bayliff has more than 30 years of experience in the telecom infrastructure market. His past roles have granted him unique perspectives gained from buying, building and running international submarine cable networks as an operator as well as developing and implementing cables as a constructor. 

Toby Williams

Toby Williams, Head of Infrastructure Investment, euNetworks
Toby Williams, Head of Infrastructure Investment, euNetworks

As the Head of Infrastructure Investment at euNetworks, Toby Williams has spent over a decade developing digital infrastructure throughout Europe, Ireland, and the UK. He has also done extensive work developing dark fibre networks, which are a key component in providing the agility and capacity necessary for operators to overcome the challenges posed by Data gravity. 

Shane Nolan

Shane Nolan, Head of Technology and Emerging Business, IDA Ireland
Shane Nolan, Head of Technology and Emerging Business, IDA Ireland

The Irish Investment Development Agency (IDA) is one of the key drivers of overseas investment in the country, and is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland. Shane Nolan has worked in various roles throughout the IDA for more than 18 years, and is currently serving as the organisation’s Head of Technology & Emerging Business. 

Mike Hollands 

Mike Hollands, Senior Director of Market Development, Interxion
Mike Hollands, Senior Director of Market Development, Interxion

Interxion: A Digital Realty Company, is one of Europe’s leading data centre operators and, as part of Digital Realty’s Platform DIGITAL, is taking a leading role in raising awareness of the threat posed by Data Gravity. Mike Hollands has served as Interxion’s Senior Director of Marketing Development & Strategy since 2017, and is a 15 year veteran of the industry. At Tuesday’s event, he will serve as moderator, guiding the discussion surrounding the evolution of Ireland’s role as a gateway to Europe and regional data centre and subsea cabling hub. 

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