Reinventing International Dark Fiber
By Fredrik Hane
July 27, 2021
As anyone who reads this publication knows, the explosion in data traffic around the world is pushing many fiber backbones to their limits. However, the surging demand for dark fiber, both on short-haul and long-haul stretches, cannot be explained merely as a function of increasing traffic volumes. Of equal importance is the fact that a growing number of heavy users of data communication – not just carriers and hyperscalers but also major corporations and other types of organizations – have come to demand a level of security, independence and overall control that only comes from having your own dedicated dark fiber, on top of which you install your own active equipment of your own choice over which you have total control.
In many places today, dark fiber is abundant on the local level, but along international stretches there is much less fiber than most people think. For example, in the Nordic region, an enormous amount of fiber has been deployed over the last fifteen years, extending to companies and consumers in both cities and the countryside, but during the same period international fiber build-out has more or less stood still. When Eastern Light built its new sea cable between Sweden and Finland two years ago, it was the first cable between the countries to be built in more than a decade, and the situation is similar for most international stretches in the region.
Stockholm-based Eastern Light is one of the players that has assumed the role of correcting the lack of long-haul international dark fiber infrastructure in its part of the world. Eastern Light is a Swedish independent company that builds, owns and operates its own long-haul dark fiber infrastructure in northern Europe, and our expansion plans for the coming years include a number of new backbone stretches in this area, both on land and at sea, across the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as Poland and Germany.
The Baltic Ring
One of our currently ongoing projects is the “Baltic ring”, the construction of a regional fiber optic sea cable system in and around the southern half of the Baltic Sea, built with the express purpose of providing international long-haul dark fiber along the most efficient routes between major data centers and key communication hubs in the region. The first part of this ring, Eastern Light’s new sea cable system between Sweden and Finland in operation today, goes from Stockholm in the west, to Kotka in Finland, 600 km to the east, going on shore at a number of locations along the way, including several addresses in Helsinki. The rest of this ring will be built in stages over the coming three-year period, and includes a new sea cable