About that dark fiber

One of the fantasies I hear these days says there’s tons of dark fiber all over the place so bandwidth is essentially free. Never mind all the routers it takes to light it up, the fiber is there so anybody can use it for next to nothing. You’ve probably heard this too.

It turns out that “next to nothing” is really about a billion bucks (WSJ subscription required):

Verizon Communications Inc. signed an agreement today with five major Asian telecom carriers to build the first high-speed trans-Pacific undersea cable system directly linking the U.S. and China.

According to the company, the planned $500 million project will offer an alternative to the single low-capacity cable that now provides the only direct link between mainland China and the U.S. Currently most Web traffic between the two countries has to go through Hong Kong or Japan, at times causing transmission delays.

Meanwhile, AT&T Inc. is in talks with Telekom Malaysia Bhd. and Singaporean carrier Starhub Ltd. to build a cable line linking Southeast Asia and the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter. The consortium could invest $400 million to $500 million if the deal is completed, says a person familiar with the matter.

Oops. I guess all that dark fiber isn’t in the right places, is it?

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