$5 million for "dark fiber" in the Southern Tier

By Matt Porter

December 13, 2013 Updated Dec 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Dark Fiber may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but the high speed fiber optic cable has real life benefits soon to be arriving in the Southern Tier.

Director of Broome-Tioga BOCES regional information center, Dan Myers, said dark fiber networks are the basis for today's high speed networks.

"Dark fiber has no limit, it has unlimited capacity," Myers said. "So you can use it for multiple services maybe offered by the cable company, services that are delivered to schools, services that are delivered to hospitals."

New York awarded the Southern Tier Network, a non-profit organization, $5 million to build miles of dark fiber to connect Broome, Tioga, and Tompkins counties.

The money is part of the $81.9 million awarded to the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council for 86 projects.

Dark fiber is essentially regular fiber optic cable that hasn't been connected. Once cables are connected to a computer, light is sent through the cables which blink on and off to translate into 1s and 0s for computers on the other side.

"The limit of the wire is really restricted by the number of times you can turn a light on and off," Myers said. "That determines the capacity and the speed."

Binghamton University president Harvey Stenger, who also co-chairs the STREDC, said the super fast speeds will connect BU with Cornell and Corning Community College.

"This will now allow us to share data at very high speeds between those three places that are about 60 miles apart," Stenger said.

Chair of the Southern Tier Network Marcia Weber said building the dark fiber network will bring some of the fastest internet speeds possible to the region.

"We're taking giant steps forward is what we're doing here," Weber said.

Weber said having the high speed network could also convince high tech companies to move to Binghamton where real estate and other costs are cheaper.

"For small businesses and entrepreneurs who may have high-tech companies, but may not want to live in New York City or Boston," she said, "We're going to allow them to work from here."

The network will be available for businesses and local services from hospitals to schools.

It's expected to be an essential service for businesses in the state's innovation hot spot at Binghamton University.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.