During the last telco bubble, which was pretty closely related to the dot com bubble, one of the big speculative areas concerned just how much bandwidth was going to be needed -- leading to a number of companies spending billions on laying fiber optic cables all over the world. Of course, like plenty of other big infrastructure plays (remember Iridium?), these are incredibly risky ventures. You have to judge the market right, have the technology work properly and get the timing right -- all in a way to make sure you can get a return on a tremendous capital outlay. In the case of all this fiber, much of it has been laying "dark" over the last few years -- allowing some companies to snap it up cheaply (again, similar to Iridium). Of course, unlike Iridium, it seemed pretty obvious that eventually bandwidth needs would increase, and that dark fiber would become pretty handy. Om Malik reports that more and more dark fiber is being lit up, and the "bandwidth glut" is starting to decrease. There's even talk of laying more fiber across the Pacific. Still, it is interesting to see yet another case where a speculative boom funded the infrastructure that later becomes quite useful for pennies on the dollar. Update: And just like that, Level 3 has snapped up ICG's fiber.
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