Dark Fiber Network Operators in the US Industry Market Research Report Now Available from IBISWorld

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With mounting bandwidth needs from downstream firms, the Dark Fiber Network Operators industry has returned to growth in recent years; in the coming five years, industry operators are anticipated to continue adding route miles to their networks, spurring revenue growth. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has added a report on the Dark Fiber Network Operators industry to its growing industry report collection.

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Strategic acquisitions and rebounding corporate profit will facilitate industry growth.

With mounting bandwidth needs from downstream firms, the Dark Fiber Network Operators industry has returned to growth in recent years. Dark fiber is simply optical fiber that is not yet connected to telecommunications transmission equipment; if the fiber were connected, it would be considered “lit.” Industry operators primarily lease or sell previously installed fiber to a range of markets, including telecommunications and internet-based companies, allowing these firms to manage their own networks.

During the tech boom in the late 1990s, a significant amount of telecommunications companies started to lay new fiber in anticipation of future sharp increases in demand for their services. However, when the tech bubble burst and technological advancements reduced the need for cable, demand ultimately fell short of supply. Yet, falling lease prices and increasing bandwidth needs since 2005 have caused the industry's performance to pick up in recent years. According to IBISWorld Industry Analyst Stephen Hoopes, “Over the five years to 2013, industry revenue is anticipated to increase at an annualized rate of 7.2%, to reach $1.0 billion; this growth includes a 3.6% rise in revenue expected in 2013 alone.”

There are numerous benefits associated with leasing dark fiber for downstream markets. For example, firms that are growing quickly and are uncertain about changes in future bandwidth needs can upgrade their data capabilities without coordinating with a carrier. However, fiber cuts can cause long outages for users of dark fiber, particularly in the case of long-haul services, where the problem can be a substantial distance away from the actual user. These long routes also highlight the high fixed costs and barriers to entry associated with becoming a new dark fiber network operator.

Over the five years to 2018, industry revenue is anticipated to increase. Over the past five years, industry players have added route miles to their networks through the purchase of smaller companies, largely because of the high cost of installing new cables. “This trend is anticipated to continue over the next five years; as such, the number of industry enterprises is forecast to decline,” says Hoopes. Meanwhile, growing corporate profit and demand for data transfer will underpin industry revenue growth, while pricing difficulties associated with long-term contracts and mounting external competition will temper the industry's performance.

Market share concentration within the Dark Fiber Network Operators industry is moderate. The top four companies are Zayo, Quanta Services, Level 3 Communications. The industry's level of concentration has increased in recent years. Among the industry's major companies, Zayo's market share has increased the most. While increasing downstream demand has explained some of this growth, a remarkable number of acquisitions in recent years have primarily explained the company's rapid expansion. In particular, the $2.2 billion acquisition of the industry's largest player, AboveNet, which included an additional 20,590 route miles of fiber, caused the company's revenue in fiscal 2013 to grow.

For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Dark Fiber Network Operators in the US industry report page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

The Dark Fiber Network Operators industry primarily leases unlit (unused) direct fiber-optic networks to third-party organizations. The industry excludes companies that primarily provide lit services and proprietary and traditional cable operators

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalization & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.ibisworld.com or call 1-800-330-3772.

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Gavin Smith
IBISWorld Inc.
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