Universities snatch up unused cable for faster bandwidth

In a move to avoid the high cost of retail cable, universities and nonprofits have formed consortia to buy up “dark fiber

In a move to avoid the high cost of retail cable, universities and nonprofits have formed consortia to buy up “dark fiber” cable, laid but unused fiber optic cable, to operate high-speed networks, reports InformationWeek. In a boon for researchers, this high-speed cable is being purchased at deep discounts due to the collapse of the telecom market.

The most high-profile of these projects is National LambdaRail, a large fiber infrastructure capable of connecting more than 25 U.S. cities at speeds in multiples of 10 Gbps. Another of these of these partnerships is facilitated by FiberCo, allowed the University of Michigan, Wayne State and Michigan State University to purchase three pairs of dark fiber between Chicago and Detroit. Other regional and metropolitan partnerships have been modeled after LambdaRail, providing high-speed connectivity across the Northern States.

"By working through FiberCo, we were able to leverage the national-scale pricing structure and a streamlined fiber acquisition process it has developed," said Scott Gerstenberger, external networking manager for the University of Michigan. "The dark fiber acquired through FiberCo will help bring the next wave of optical networking capabilities to Michigan institutions at an early stage."

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