You’ve probably heard of fiber-optic internet, and how it’s the next step in the internet revolution. After all, the people buzzing about fiber internet run the gamut from corporate CEOs to video game addicts. And that wide spread of appeal is certainly justified. Gigabit speeds, miles-long cables, laser lights – what’s not to love?
But if you’re one of the 25% of Americans with access to a fiber-optic network, questions about how all this stuff works may be sprouting up in your mind. All this science-fiction, high-tech mumbo jumbo sounds too good to be true. Well, we’re here to assure you that it’s 100%, capital-R Real. Let’s get down to the details of how fiber-optic cable works, and how it can benefit you and your business.
Understanding the old infrastructure is the key to grasping the importance of fiber.
We’ve talked quite a bit in previous blogs about old analog telephone lines. Old-fashioned internet, such as DSL, works by using these same preexisting copper wires as analog lines, which were laid about a hundred years ago. Essentially, these wires take electrical signals and transmit them over a certain distance, until they must be reiterated again; the process repeats until the data reaches its destination.
Most of this data is sent via a rudimentary binary – an electrical signal goes on, and that means one, while a signal turning off means zero. This series of ones and zeros gets translated by your computer, and presto, you’re on the internet. Now, the problem with copper wires is that the digital binary can only be sent one electrical signal at a time, and that limits the amount of information that can be transmitted over a period of time.
And that’s why bandwidth for DSL internet never really exceeds 100 Mbps (megabits per second). Using a coaxial cable or a telephone line also means your connection is susceptible to electrical or radio interference. Signal strength diminishes during periods of high electromagnetic interference, which means more unexpected slowdowns and occasional outages.
So, how does fiber fix this problem?
Imagine all those on and off signals that go through copper wire. They’re all limited to a single pathway and restricted by the speed of electrical conductivity.
Now, envision hundreds of those pathways wrapped around each other, each the thickness of a human hair. Together, they form a cable the same thickness as that copper wire. Then, instead of being transmitted at the speed of electricity which is 99% slower than the speed of light, they travel only 31% slower than the speed of light. Picture, moreover, that those signals are generated by a laser that can turn on and off several billion times per second.
This is possible because of what scientists call total internal reflection. Basically, each fiber strand is crafted out of a glass so pure, that even if it were several miles thick, you wouldn’t be able tell you were looking through it. The strand is then covered with a reflective optical material called the cladding. The mirrored coating reflects light at a shallow angle, allowing it to travel through the fiber optic cables over long distances without escaping.
A few other advantages to fiber:
- Signal strength diminishes with both copper wires and fiber optic cable; however, light signals are not nearly as affected by long-distance travel as electrical signals. Copper cable links are limited to a distance of 328 feet to maintain signal strength, whereas optical cables can run up to almost 25 miles. What does this mean for you? Less links in the chain mean less volatility, maintenance, and service dropouts.
- Electrical and radio interference be gone! Glass and plastic fiber lines are insulated against outside interference with a buffer coating. They’re also a closed system, unlike copper wire networks.
- Fiber optic lines are more resistant to damage and wear and tear. That includes physical force, as well as fire hazards (high temperatures will melt or soften copper wire).
Is fiber internet a good fit for me?
If your business or organization requires a large number of employees to access the internet simultaneously, there’s no comparison – fiber is the way to go. Many fiber optic cables contain dark fiber, which are strands of fiber that are unused for the time being. This ensures that bandwidth will be scalable in the future, in order to accommodate for ongoing technological advancement and growing companies.
To Find the Perfect Internet Solution for Your Business, Contact CTS Telecom Today.
Curious about what fiber-optic internet access can do for you? Schedule a free demonstration courtesy of CTS Telecom. We have an array of business internet services for all applications and budgets. And if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, we offer colocation, voice, internet, cloud services, and data transport. We invite you to discover how CTS Telecom can take care of your business’s needs. To get started, contact us today.