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Google’s Dark Fiber plan bucks trends, leases fiber lines from other networks

Gary Stevens / Stealth Communications / CC 4.0

Google could be set to hugely expand its fiber offerings around the United States, after it announced that it will be bringing online various “dark fiber” networks that have sat dormant for far too long. While it will be restricted to certain areas in certain cities, Google will soon make it much easier for people to get access to ultra-fast internet connections.

Dark fiber isn’t quite like the dark web, so don’t imagine an underground network of millions of spaghetti’d fiber optic cables all wrapped together, like a technological king rat. Dark fiber is more like the forgotten child of the high-speed era. It’s cable that was laid by companies in the hopes that someone would pay them to use it in the future.

How much unused fiber optic cable actually exists is very much dependant on the state and city authorities, as some have seen fiber as much more important for their locale’s future than others. San Francisco is one city with plenty of unused cabling, so all Google has to do is install the connections from the local hubs to individual buildings and it’s off and running.

Other cities that expect to benefit from utilizing existing, unused infrastructure include Salt Lake City, San Atonio, Nashville, Huntsville, and Charlotte among others.

Unfortunately, to save on costs Google is only planning on wiring up buildings where multiple businesses or families can purchase fiber connections. But if all goes well, it won’t be long until it offers the same package to individual homes.

One of the more interesting aspects of this announcement, as pointed out by Motherboard, is that Google is using someone else’s network. Existing U.S. telecoms companies don’t often do that, as they’d rather control the whole connection, but Google is happy to break with tradition to increase fiber availability it seems.

This practice is much more common in other countries however. In the UK, British Telecom (BT) and TalkTalk regularly lease the use of their lines to rival ISPs and indeed, until somewhat recently, BT was the single line operator in the entire country.

It will be interesting to see if Google sets a precedent, and we see more companies going down this route in the future.

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