What Makes Fibre Internet Different?
You want to ensure your business has the Internet horsepower it needs to keep your team as productive as possible. Service providers tout a fibre connection as the superior choice, but you’re not sure how it differs from more traditional DSL and cable Internet services.
I have written before about what you should consider when choosing an Internet service, but let’s take a closer look at the technology behind the Internet options that are available today.
Looking under the hood of Internet services
Internet connections were once divided into two general categories.
First, there were dial-up and DSL services. Telephone companies delivered these data services via the same copper cable infrastructure they used to deliver voice services. Thanks to various advancements in DSL technology over the years, and the fact that your connection is not shared with others, it remains a viable choice today for normal office applications such as email or web browsing.
Cable television companies were active in those early days, too. They used their existing deployments of coaxial cable for television (a type of shielded copper-based technology), to also deliver voice and Internet services. These connections were shared with others using the same network, and speed fluctuated based on the number of subscribers.
But the backbone of the global Internet is fibre-optic cable – strands of glass or plastic that can be almost as thin as a human hair. Data on fibre literally moves at the speed of light, and the capacity of fibre is staggering.
But fibre isn’t just about speed.
Fibre is more reliable, durable and consistent. Compared to copper-based technologies, there is far less signal loss during transmission. This allows data to move at higher speeds and over greater distances without degradation. Nor is it subject to electrical or environmental interferences that result in noise or crosstalk. Fibre is also more secure – information sent via fibre-optic cables is more difficult to intercept and read.
The two main categories of fibre Internet
Fibre Internet services are defined by how close the fibre infrastructure comes to your door:
Fibre to the Node (FTTN): A service provider delivers data services from a central office (CO) to a series of nodes, or street cabinets, via a fibre connection. A single node may service a neighbourhood, a business park, or a large office building – with that remaining “last mile” connection running on traditional copper-based infrastructure.
Service providers have worked to bring these nodes closer and closer to subscribers, with corresponding improvements in speed, bandwidth and quality of service – making this a big step up from an all-copper connection.
Fibre to the Home or Business (FTTH/FTTB): This is as good as it gets. The fibre connection comes all the way to your premises – a single direct link with your service provider’s CO. You enjoy the ultimate combination of speed, reliability, consistency and security. Bandwidth speeds are also symmetrical, which means your upload and download speeds are the same.
But the deployment of the necessary infrastructure to enable FTTB throughout Canada is still very much in progress. Bell, for example, is making substantial investments to replace infrastructure that took decades to build in existing communities. Where services are being extended for the first time to new subdivisions and business parks, however, FTTB is the technology of choice.
The bottom line
Faster and more reliable Internet service is about much more than just shaving seconds off sending that large email attachment. Consider new ways to support your team, secure your data and take your business mobile, with cloud computing services, data centre backups or video-conferencing and cloud-based collaboration tools. There are a variety of services available that can make your business more productive, more competitive and more agile, but they depend on a fast and reliable fibre-based Internet connection to move large blocks of data.
In my next post, we will look at trends in global Internet traffic that emphasize why fibre is the best way to future-proof your business.