H2O Networks recently hit the news with plans for a roll-out of a true fibre-to-the-home service in a number of UK towns. A press release today gives detail of a dark fibre service that can be purchased from the company.
H2O Networks will install a dark fibre from £699 per month in a local area as a point-to-point connection. This means that it links two sites together over an passive optical fibre--It does not include Internet access. This may sound expensive but when you consider that you could use this fibre for bandwidths of up to 1Gbps (or possibly multiples of 10Gbps depending on the quality of the fibre and your budget), its utility becomes clearer.
"Dark fibre is a much overlooked, but totally viable solution to solve the UK’s bandwidth needs [...] BT set the bandwidth tariff about 30 years ago and not only is it hugely expensive, it is also extremely restrictive. No-one could have predicted the current levels of demand for bandwidth, so the future lies with dark fibre."Elfed Thomas (Managing Director), H2O Networks
The main difference with dark fibre is that the hardware you connect to each end of the link is entirely up to you. This gives you the flexibility of running an IP network, storage networks or video transmission. Potentially the fibre can be linked to another network with onward links to the Internet, so for example an Internet Service Provider could provide true fibre optic speeds all the way to individual premises making 100Mbps and faster Internet connectivity a real possibility particularly in blocks of flats.
The baseline figure of £699 a month is for a maximum of 1.5 km of dark fibre. Quotes for longer distances can be obtained from H20 Networks. One potential use for this is serving areas where the existing copper local loop lengths are very long which result in slower speeds. By using the sewer network to provide a cheaper solution for connecting a street cabinet in a broadband not-spot area, it becomes possible to offer faster services to the community.