Dark Fiber Middle Mile refers to the segment of fiber optic infrastructure that extends from the main backbone network into local neighborhoods and communities but stops short of the final connection to individual homes or businesses. This unused, unlit fiber provides a crucial link between major data highways (the backbone) and the final distribution networks (the last mile), allowing private service providers to lease this infrastructure and extend their services.

Dark Fiber in Network Infrastructure

In network terminology, there are three main segments:

  1. Backbone: Comparable to highways, these are major routes connecting cities and regions.
  2. Middle Mile: These routes distribute data within a specific area, like city streets.
  3. Last Mile (or Drop): These driveways connect individual homes to the network.

Dark Fiber Middle Mile Open Access Model

In the Dark Fiber Middle Mile Open Access model, a community builds the fiber infrastructure in the streets (middle mile). It allows private providers to bring the necessary electronics to light up services and build the drops to individual homes and businesses. This model facilitates widespread access to high-speed internet and other services by leveraging existing dark fiber infrastructure.

Pros of Dark Fiber Middle Mile Open Access
  • Encourages Private Investment: With most of the infrastructure investment already made, private providers are more likely to invest in the community.
  • Inclusive Connectivity: By having fiber available in all streets, even economically weaker areas can potentially be connected.
  • Simplified Operations: No need for the community to have knowledge in network operations or invest in electronic equipment.
Cons of Dark Fiber Middle Mile Open Access
  • Selective Provider Investment: Providers may focus on areas with stronger economies to maximize profits, potentially neglecting less profitable areas.
  • Dependency on Providers: The community needs to reach agreements with private providers for using their infrastructure to deliver community services, which may not reach all residents.
  • Limited Customer Choice: High initial investment by the first provider in last-mile infrastructure can deter new entrants, potentially leading to monopolistic issues such as high prices and low service quality.

The Road System Analogy

To better understand the Dark Fiber Middle Mile model, consider the following analogy:

  • The backbone is like the highways connecting cities, ensuring regional connectivity.
  • The middle mile can be compared to the smaller streets in a city, where traffic is distributed.
  • The last mile is like the driveways at homes, connecting individual residences to the larger network.

Without the backbone, a city cannot effectively connect to the global network; without the middle mile, houses have nothing to connect to. In the Dark Fiber model, the community invests in the backbone and middle mile, enabling private providers to build out the last mile as needed.

How COS Business Engine Supports Dark Fiber Middle Mile

Our COS Business Engine software enables communities to efficiently manage their dark fiber infrastructure. By providing a BSS/OSS platform for leasing and managing access to dark fiber, it ensures that private providers can easily utilize this infrastructure to deliver high-quality services to their end-users.

Learn More About Dark Fiber Middle Mile

To explore the concept of dark fiber and its benefits for your community, check out our resources: