Decoding dark fibre

As the demand for high-speed connectivity continues to skyrocket, many operators are considering dark fibre as a solution for achieving virtually unlimited capacity and flexibility. But what exactly is dark fibre and how can it benefit businesses like yours?

Let’s explore the opportunities dark fibre can unlock now and in the future.

What is dark fibre?

Dark fibre may sound mysterious, but at its core, it’s one or multiple unlit and unmanaged fibre-optic cables.

Unlike traditional fibre networks, as the owner of a stretch of dark fibre you can choose which equipment you want to use to light it up, giving you full control over your network from end-to-end – from service protocols to bandwidth. This gives you the freedom to expand your network as much as you need, without limitations.

Future-proof your network

But it’s not just about controlling your network, it's also about preparing your business for the future. As technology continues to advance, dark fibre helps your network keep up. With dark fibre, you gain the freedom to increase bandwidth as needed, securing your network for the future. In an era of constant innovation and emerging technologies like AI, the metaverse, or driverless cars, dark fibre paves the way for the seamless transition of vast amounts of data.

Manage costs and enhance flexibility

Dark fibre can be a great way to control operating costs, particularly when scaling up a network over time, as you own the end-to-end management and operation of the service. While you may need to invest in hardware, you can make such purchases as a one-off, treating it as a long-term investment instead of continuous expenses. Perfect if you anticipate high bandwidth needs in future.

Beyond the hardware advantages, dark fibre also offers greater flexibility for your profit and loss (P&L) compared to managed services. Depending on your financial preferences, with Virgin Media Business Wholesale, you can choose between a sales-type lease or an operational lease.

A sales-type-lease allows you to buy dark fibre as a one-off CAPEX sale. In effect, the fibre becomes your asset for the duration of a long-term lease, which allows you to recognise it as your own asset on the balance sheet – rather than it being part of an ongoing cost to your business.

This type of agreement helps reduce ongoing operational expenses tied to connectivity, improving your financial position (EBITDA). If a shorter contract works better for you, you can opt for a traditional operating lease option.

By embracing dark fibre, you can effectively control costs, adapt to future growth and optimise your financial performance.

Considerations for dark fibre

Before committing to dark fibre, there are some factors to consider. As soon as a length of dark fibre is lit up, it becomes liable for business rates, commonly known as “fibre tax”. The business that lights the fibre is responsible for paying this.

Additionally, building and operating a dark fibre network requires specific skills and resources, so having the right expertise on hand is important. Quick resolutions to any issues that may arise also depend on having available engineers where and when you need them.

Partnering with the right service provider

While dark fibre presents certain challenges, choosing the right network service provider is key to making an informed investment decision. At Virgin Media Business Wholesale, we’re here to help guide you through the complexities of dark fibre. Leveraging our extensive 190,000km network, we collaboratively plan and deliver network routes across the UK, offering flexible commercial options tailored to your needs.

By partnering with us, you gain access to our project delivery expertise. We have a proven track record of delivering large-scale and complex dark fibre infrastructure projects for carriers, mobile operators, hyperscalers, broadcasters, data centre operators and Altnets throughout the UK. What’s more, our dark fibre coverage spans our entire network footprint, with no regional restrictions.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards a more connected future, get in touch with us at and download our whitepaper, Unlocking the Opportunities of Dark Fibre to learn more.

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