As wireless subscribers continue to use more network resources than ever before, and data consumption continues to intensify; operators are racing to add more capacity in order to handle traffic and provide the speeds that customers have come to expect.
There are a few key ways that operators can increase this capacity, including the purchasing of more spectrum, making more of their existing spectrum available, and densifying the network.
Network densification, essentially means adding more cell sites within the existing infrastructure to increase the amount of available capacity. These would be located in areas that are currently strained in terms of capacity and require the most support to offload existing traffic. This would be high density urban areas for example.
This straight-forward approach is one of the simplest way for operators to quickly and efficiently add more capacity to a network.
In many places these connections could be made using dark fibre (fibre connections that are in place but aren’t being used), however much of this dark fibre is owned by private companies (for example in the UK where most is owned by BT) and operators aren’t able to freely use it.
As the development of 5G continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, and technologies such as small-cells are being introduced in urban areas in an attempt to densify networks and allow for improved customer connectivity and to keep up with surging data demands, infrastructure providers know that there will be a market for dormant fibre (also known as dark-fibre).
Much of the world’s wireless infrastructure relies on the complex network of fibre-optic cabling running alongside microwave technologies to provide essential connectivity.
A considerable amount of dark-fibre lies ‘in-waiting’ until networks have expanded to the point that they are required. This has led many companies to continue to lay excess dark-fibre in a hope to capitalize on it in the future.
Dark fibre will play a key role as mobile ecosystems continue to evolve in to the future.