Dark fiber is optical fiber infrastructure (cabling and repeater) that is currently in place but is not being used. Optical fiber conveys information in the form of light pulses so the "dark" means no light pulses are being sent. Dark fiber can refer to infrastructure that is in place but not yet ready to use. For example, some electric utilities have installed optical fiber cable where they already have power lines installed in the expectation that they can lease the infrastructure to telephone or cable TV companies or use it to interconnect their own offices. To the extent that these installations are unused, they are described as dark.

"Dark fiber service" is service provided by local exchange carriers (local exchange carrier) for the maintenance of optical fiber transmission capacity between customer locations in which the light for the fiber is provided by the customer rather than the LEC.