Fiber Optic Networking Explained
The Information Age is in full swing, and the internet is the key component of it all. Your business relies on the internet to communicate, store information, process sales and reach new customers. It’s essential to your operations, so you want it to be the best it can be.
Technology is always improving in some way, and the transfer of data over the internet is no exception. Today’s peak in internet data transfer comes in the form of fiber optic internet, and it’s quickly replacing the old ways of providing internet service.
But what is fiber optic internet? Is fiber optic internet better than other types that are available in your area? Read on for the answers to your questions about fiber optic internet vs. cable. You can also contact Kirbtech with your specific questions about fiber optic network installation for your business.
What Is a Fiber Optic Network?
A fiber optic network, also known as fiber internet or just “fiber,” is a type of broadband internet connection known for its fast upload and download speeds, as well as its reliability. Fiber optic networking technology uses special fiber optic cables that can send data at speeds that approach the speed of light. This is achievable because the data moves along fiber optic cables as light before reaching its final destination and converting into electrical data that your business’s smart devices and appliances can make sense of.
Besides the light-transferring fiber optic cables involved in fiber networking, there’s also another component to every fiber optic internet setup. This is called the “last mile.” Let’s break down these two essential components of fiber networking:
- Optical fibers: Optic cables consist of optic fibers, which are tiny glass fibers that are slightly larger than a strand of human hair. These tiny fibers bundle together to form the optical cables used in fiber optic internet technology. These fibers carry pulses of LED or laser light down the length of the cable, which is how the cables carry information. The cables bring this information to a network terminal where the light converts to an electrical signal that businesses can use for their purposes.
- The last mile: This refers to the data’s journey from the network terminal to its end-user. The network terminal will send the internet signal through a regular Ethernet connection to its final destination. Although this is known as the “last mile,” the distance is often shorter than a mile.
There are some alternatives to the last mile. One is using a connection known as “pure fiber.” This type of fiber optic networking skips the last mile and runs the fiber connection directly to the end-user. This type of connection is the fastest available type of fiber optic networking, but it’s also the most expensive.
Another alternative is using copper cables — like the standard copper coaxial cables you may know — to carry the fiber optic internet from a shared terminal called a “street cabinet,” creating a fiber optic cable internet connection. This gives fiber internet access to an entire city block, campus or business headquarters. While this option is more affordable than many of the other options, it does sacrifice some speed because of the use of copper coaxial cables.
Fiber Optic vs. Cable — What Are the Differences?
Fiber optic and cable have many differences that set them apart for business use. Here are some of the main characteristics that define those differences.
Fiber optic internet and cable internet each use a different type of physical structure to transmit data. As you read above, fiber optic internet sends information as light across small, flexible glass strands. These strands are bundled together to create fiber optic cables, which are then covered in protective layers of plastic. The light reflects off the walls of the cable like a mirror, all the way from its starting point to its final destination.
Coaxial cables use a copper core that’s surrounded by aluminum, a copper shield and an external layer of plastic. These cables allow the transfer of data using the same technology that brings pictures and sound to cable televisions.
At the time of this writing, coaxial cables have far greater availability than fiber internet connections. In fact, cable internet is almost everywhere in the United States, reaching 88% coverage across the states. And cable internet is easy to get. You simply pick up the phone, call a local cable internet provider to buy a plan for your business and schedule an installation.
Fiber optic networking has expanded in recent years, but it is still rarer than cable internet throughout the United States. This is especially true in some rural areas that may still deal with slow cable internet connection speeds. You can expect to see fiber optics in more communities in the coming years as its availability continues to increase.
Every business wants reliability in their internet connections. With today’s standards of internet technology, both cable internet connections and fiber internet connections are extremely reliable in the right conditions. The main difference is that cable internet can face issues from factors that affect electricity.
Businesses in areas with frequent power outages or electricity interruptions could experience breaks in their internet connection over cable. Fiber optic internet in these areas will be unaffected by these same outages because fiber optic cables transmit light as data instead of electricity. This makes fiber optic internet more reliable in situations with potential electrical issues.
The main performance factor businesses look for in their internet is its speed. You can divide internet speed into two categories — upload and download speeds. Improvements in cable have it currently able to reach download speeds ranging from 10 to 500 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds around 5 to 50 Mbps. Since cable is a shared network, you can expect a reduction in speed during peak hours or if many people in your business building are uploading and downloading at the same time.
Fiber optic internet can reach upload and download speeds of a range of at least 250 to 1,000 Mbps. This means you can download and upload files at incredible speeds, which is essential for businesses.
When fiber optic internet was first bursting into the public scene, it was considerably more expensive than cable internet. As fiber internet has become more widely available, its prices have started to decrease. But it’s still more expensive than cable internet.
The cost of cable depends on several factors, including your existing television or phone services as well as your location. Since cable internet uses the same lines as television, many service providers offer bundles that can help reduce costs. Fiber optic internet prices vary depending on your location, your usage and the internet speeds you’re looking for.
How Is Fiber Optic Internet Installed?
Here’s a step-by-step guide for how fiber optic internet is installed.
1. Find a Fiber Optic Internet Provider Near You
The first step is to search your area for a fiber internet provider. One of the easiest ways to do this is to search online for fiber internet providers near you. Make sure your locations settings are on when you make this search. Or, you can include your city or town as a keyword in your search.
Once you’ve found a list of providers, choose the one you’d like to work with. You should base your decision on several factors, including the following:
- Package pricing
- The quality of customer service
- Available speeds
- User reviews
2. Schedule Your Fiber Optic Internet Installation
After making your choice of provider, it’s time to schedule your installation date. Make sure you or a trusted individual is present at the time of installation, as you’ll need to let the technician have access to the inside and outside of your business building.
During the installation, the technician will install the optical network terminal either outside or inside of the building. They’ll run an optical cable from a nearby equipment box to the optical network terminal, which will then carry the internet connection into your business’s router via an Ethernet connection.
3. Buy or Lease a Fiber Optic Internet Router
When it comes to the router your business uses to connect to your fiber internet service, you have two options:
- Buying the router: You can buy your own fiber-ready router. This gives you the chance to buy the exact router you want at the price you want. And if you ever need to switch service providers, you get to keep the router.
- Leasing the router: You’ll pay a monthly fee to your fiber internet provider if you choose to lease a router from them. Doing this will save you money in the short term while ensuring the router perfectly matches the internet speed of your fiber package.
4. Connect Your Devices to Your Fiber Internet
Once the installation is complete and your router is up and running, you’ll be ready to connect your business’s computers and smart devices to your fiber internet network. Check the label on your router for your internet network name and password. Once you’ve connected your devices, you’ll be ready to use fiber internet for your business.
Business Benefits of Using a Fiber Internet Connection
The true benefit of fiber optic internet is that it can set you apart from the competition and enhance your company’s efficiency in many unique ways. Here are some of the ways fiber internet can do this for your business.
Faster Internet Speeds
Running a business demands fast internet speeds to stay efficient. The goal is to reduce the amount of time you spend waiting for uploads and downloads to finish, and fiber optic internet can help you achieve that goal. With the incredible speeds that fiber internet offers, you and your employees can share data, transfer files and receive essential information faster than ever before.
So, remember the bottom line when it comes to fiber optic vs. cable internet speed — fiber is always going to win the speed test.
Full Utilization of and Access to the Cloud
Faster internet speeds open the door for you to use internet services to their fullest potential for your business. This includes utilization and access of the cloud, which is almost essential for today’s businesses. The cloud connects companies to their clients and even helps increase efficiency within the workplace thanks to the ease of sharing and collaborating that the cloud offers.
But full utilization of the cloud demands a strong internet connection with fast speeds, especially when using more intensive cloud programs. You can take full advantage of the cloud for your business when you have fiber internet speeds to back you up.
You expect your internet to be reliable when you’re running a business. If you’re looking to increase the reliability of your business’s internet, then fiber internet is the way to go. Fiber optic cables can resist damage from severe weather because they’re underground, which means severe weather along the cable’s path will have less of an effect on your internet connection.
And since fiber optic cables use light instead of electricity to transmit data, you’ll still have your internet connection even when electrical disturbances take place along the fiber optic cable’s path. This will help you experience less downtime in your business.
Bandwidth refers to how many people can use the internet at the same time without a reduction in speeds or internet quality. It’s essentially an extension of reliability. If you have many employees using the internet at the same time, you’re going to need a wide bandwidth to accommodate what they’re trying to do.
Fiber optic internet has a much wider bandwidth than regular cable internet. This means your employees can avoid competing with each other for faster upload and download speeds and having to time when they’ll do things like video meetings.
Increased Security Capabilities
Fiber internet can give you increased online security for your business. Hackers can easily access an existing cable internet network through network tapping and other methods. This differs from fiber internet since the only way to stop a fiber internet line is to literally cut the fibers, which are buried underground.
The high data transfer speeds of fiber internet can also increase your business’s physical security features. Security cameras and live-streamed footage all benefit from the high speeds. You can get a much clearer image from your security cameras sent straight to your smartphone thanks to fiber optic internet.
Although fiber internet is more expensive than cable internet, it can save you money over time because you’ll be able to avoid downtime and security risks associated with cable internet. When other businesses have to pause operations to wait for their internet to return or handle a security breach, you can continue your work like normal.
Plus, with the ability to have many employees using the internet at the same time, your company can increase its efficiency to reach more customers and generate more sales. The cost of fiber internet will quickly pay for itself.
Contact Kirbtech for Fiber Optic Network Installation and Setup
Fiber optic internet is the way of the future. But the technology is already here, and it’s waiting for you to use it to your business’s advantage. Kirbtech is ready to provide the services you need for fiber optic network installation and setup. We’ll handle every step to make the process easy for you so you can focus on running your business.