A Guide to Fiber Optic Internet
Long gone are the days of tieing up your phone line, listening for the tones and beeps and waiting to get connected to the internet. Fiber. It's the future of of internet technology, and for good reason. But do you really know why fiber is so innovative? Here's why.
Articles published September 9, 2019 by Ron Schmudlach
Types of Internet Connections
Technology has moved well beyond the days of dial-up, now offering broadband internet service. Broadband is offered in different forms and it’s likely you’re using one of the most common four forms right now: DSL (digital subscriber line), fiber optic networks, cable internet and satellite. DSL connects you to the internet through unused telephone wires and can slow down the farther away you are from a switching station. Cable, as it sounds, is provided through your local cable TV provider. With cable internet, your speed varies by the number of users sharing the connection bandwidth. Satellite internet, while slowest of the broadband options, is a good option for those in remote areas because it doesn’t require lines. Satellites, located at your home, in space and at your ISP (internet service provider), send and receive internet signals.
Fiber optic internet technology uses the power of light passed through fiber optic cables at very high speeds to connect your computer. Fiber optic cable, rather than copper lines used with DSL and cable, allows the signal to be sent at a more maintained speed across distances, making fiber internet much faster than other forms of broadband.
How Fiber Optics Work
Fiber optic communications allow a beam of light to be sent through glass located within the fiber optic cable. Though they are tiny, these optical fibers are pretty complex. Light is transmitted down the fiber optic cable in LED or laser pulses at extremely fast speeds. The pulses carry the binary data, or coding system, that make up everything you see when connected to the internet.
The pulses are converted into electrical ethernet at the end of what’s called the Last Mile, or last stretch of fiber that connects you to the internet. Fiber is not always used in a residential case, but is widely used for business and neighborhood purposes. In the Last Mile, fiber connections can be turned into other types of internet connections when the fiber actually ends. This is known as FTTX (Fiber to the X) with X being where the fiber optic cable ends, later represented by FTTP (fiber to the premise), FTTH (fiber to the home), FTTB (fiber to the business), FTTD (fiber to the desktop), FTTB (fiber to the building), FTTC (fiber to the cabinet/curb) FTTN (fiber to the neighborhood) and FTTS (fiber to the street).
Benefits of Fiber Optic Internet
It’s no surprise that fiber optic internet far surpasses the speed of other broadband options such as cable or DSL; but just exactly how much faster is it? A fiber optic connection can reach upward of 500 Mbps in comparison to a DSL connection maxing out at 15 Mbps.This means shorter upload and download time and higher quality streaming.
Fiber optic internet also proves to be more reliable than its competition. While DSL and cable rely on electricity, fiber optic internet does not, protecting it from power outages or other frequent interferences. Additionally, since DSL and cable rely on copper wires, service quality can vary greatly depending on the distance from the ISP.
Installing Fiber Optic Cable
Like some of the other broadband options, fiber optic cables can be installed either through lines strung across poles or by being buried underground. Aerial fiber installation can be complex for ISPs. The somewhat fragile fiber optic cables risk damage from tree limbs, storms and other utility work.
Underground fiber offers several options for installation. The fiber optic cables can be buried in new or existing conduit or ducts, plowed in using special machinery, installed through directional boring, buried using micro-trenching or buried under water.
Gaining Access to Fiber Internet
ISPs continue to push for expanded fiber optic internet access. And local, state and national governments have made America’s access to broadband a priority. The National Broadband Plan sets out a roadmap for strategic growth of the American broadband ecosystem. The plan will work to ensure at least 100 million U.S. homes have affordable access to download speeds of 100 mbps, while every American has access to some form of affordable broadband service.
The Aureon Fiber Optic Network provides more than 3,800 miles of Iowa-owned connectivity, and we’ve made significant investments toward future expansion of our network.
Interested in leading the way with fiber internet access for your business?
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Broadband Internet Access: a broad term describing high-speed internet access, including fiber internet, that is always on and faster than dial-up internet.
Switching Station: also known as an internet exchange point, is where the main internet connection is split among homes, businesses, etc.
Broadband: a measurement of the quality of data that enters the network over a period of time, measured in bits per second.
Bandwidth: the maximum rate at which a network can transfer data.
ISP: Internet service providers are companies that offer access to the internet and related services. ISPs own the equipment and access required to provide internet access.
Fiber Optic Communications: a method of transmitting information using pulses of light through optical fibers.
Optical Fibers: flexible, transparent fibers of glass or plastic for which light signals can be sent.
Binary Data: data used to create what we see on the internet labeled as 0 and 1.
Last Mile: the final leg of the network delivering internet to the end user, often not a mile.
FTTX: known as Fiber to the X is a way to describe where the fiber optic internet connection stops. This can be a building, neighborhood, street or the actual computer itself.
Aerial Fiber: a type of fiber optic cable used for outside installation, most commonly between utility poles.
Underground Fiber: fiber optic cable that is installed directly underground or placed into a buried duct.
Conduit: a tube or trough, traditionally underground, used to protect electrical wiring and fiber optic cable.
Micro-trenching: the installation of fiber optic cable by way of a small groove in the ground rather than a large trench.
MBPS: Megabits per second is one way to describe an internet connection speed.