Optical Fiber in Search of Users

Even though close to 100 million miles of optical fiber has been laid around the word in the last two years, only 5% of the fiber in the ground is currently being utilized, reported the New York Times in a recent issue.

08/08/2001


Even though close to 100 million miles of optical fiber has been laid around the word in the last two years, only 5% of the fiber in the ground is currently being utilized, reported the New York Times in a recent issue.

The problem is that despite the availability of optical fiber capable of transporting tremendous amounts of data, there is a big shortage of the local-access connections required to gain access to the World Wide Web.

"There may be a significant amount of dark fiber in the ground, but it takes a lot more money to light fiber than to lay it and even more to deliver it to the end-user," said Howard E. Janzen, who runs the Tulsa, Okla.-based fiber-optic network giant Williams Communications.

The Times compared the situation to the post-Civil War railroad boom where speculators built rail lines, but often left it up to local towns to build roads to the stations.

"Today it's the responsibility of the capital markets to fund construction of all parts of the [fiber-optic] network, and suddenly, it's not clear whether investors will continue to do so," said Brian Kinard, a venture capitalist based in San Francisco, as quoted in the Times .





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