Friday, June 18, 2010

Dark fiber owners seek buyers -- but last mile will determine value

Today's Wall Street Journal reports dark fiber left dormant since the dot com bust of a decade ago is on the block, its owners hopeful that the transition to Internet protocol-based telecommunications that stalled around the same time will finally take off.

But now as then, the so-called last mile (or first mile as some refer to it) remains key since the dark fiber was put in place for long haul and in some cases middle mile infrastructure. Long haul and middle mile fiber standing alone do not a network make. It takes last mile fiber infrastructure to reach customer premises.

Potential purchasers of that dark fiber must assess the odds whether there will be sufficient last mile fiber to connect to. Reliance on legacy incumbent telcos and cable companies lowers the odds. They have largely upgraded and built out their networks to the extent their business models allow. Verizon, the sole legacy telco that was building fiber to the premises, recently pulled back to concentrate on wireless service in metro areas. But if local governments and telecom cooperatives crank up construction of fiber to the premises infrastructure to fill the gap left by legacy providers, the value of these dormant dark fiber assets will likely increase.

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