The excitement is pulsating as Connexion nears completion of its new municipal broadband service. The curious among us, however, are asking, “How does fiber-optic internet work?” Fiber-optic internet is the catalyst for the future of Fort Collins’ business and residential internet prosperity. A proper explanation of fiber technology is in order. Let’s address some common misconceptions and together harness a greater understanding of the wonder that is fiber-optic internet.
Firstly, How Does Fiber-Optic Internet Work?
Traditional broadband internet service is provided through coaxial cable – copper wrapped in more copper, aluminum, and plastic (think: phone lines). This technology worked great for what it was but was fickle and easily interfered with by fluctuating weather patterns and electromagnetic activity (see: Fiber vs. Cable).
Fiber-optic technology is a massive improvement. Rather than the interruption-prone copper infrastructure, fiber lines are made of hundreds of strands of glass, fractions the size of a human hair. “Glass… breaks?” Not this glass. Fiber lines are treated to withstand wild amounts more pressure than their cable ancestors.
At near light speed, each of these strands of glass transmits our precious internet data upon the shoulders of pulses of light. A second layer of glass, known as cladding, shrouds each strand giving the pulses of light a second surface to bounce from as they travel down the wire. This structure enables the signal to go farther, faster, and without interruption or slowing.
Let’s take this new knowledge and look at those myths we mentioned.
Myth #1: Fiber-Optic Technology is Unreliable
We get it. It’s normal to doubt what’s new and allow understanding to be roadblocked by blanket claims of unreliability. Two truths here. First, fiber technology has actually been around since the 70s and has grown in popularity due to the current fiber-optic internet push. Second, fiber-optic technology is incredibly reliable.
Unlike traditional copper cable lines, fiber lines experience less attenuation (think: weakening signal across distance) and, therefore, can transmit data much farther distances. Fiber-optic lines also bring with them security benefits as they are more difficult for hackers to infiltrate. And an extra plus, they maintain greater bandwidth than traditional cables, so your speeds will remain unaffected during family-internet hours.
Myth #2: Fiber-Optic Internet is a Luxury
We’ve gotten this one a handful of times, and it’s simply not true. Fiber-optic technology is the future of the internet. The perceived high costs of this technology are largely due to the lack of necessary infrastructure. Thanks to Connexion, as we stated above, that infrastructure is available in Fort Collins. All that’s left to pay for is the service.
Further, because fiber transmits data using light instead of electricity, energy savings make the costs of fiber endlessly worth it in the long run. While you’ll be able to find cheaper internet technology, you’ll pay for it in quality. As fiber continues to become the norm, you will certainly find yourself making the switch eventually.
Myth #3: Fiber Lines are Less Durable
Because fiber lines are stronger than traditional copper wire, they are more resilient to extreme weather, fire, and other hazards. Also, because they use light instead of electricity, power outages and electromagnetic interference have nearly no effect on their supremacy.
Fiber-optic lines are treated to withstand exponentially more pressure than traditional cable lines. This remains true even when temperatures drop to uncomfortable lows. And remains true still when temperatures undergo dramatic fluctuations. Ever had a cable gone bad because it was bent funny? Fiber cables can withstand those potential bends and retain their integrity.
Myth #4: Maintenance of Fiber is a Chore
A couple of things to note here. As stated above, fiber technology has been around since the 1970s. While it’s unclear just how long this infrastructure can last, it is clear that its lifespan can last at least decades. According to the FCC, 33% of homeowners have switched ISPs in the last three years, and another 20% have seriously considered switching for one reason or another. The “at least decades” lifespan of fiber-optic cables is more than sufficient.
Secondly, fiber technology utilizes a more advanced monitoring system known as a graphical user interface. This allows your service provider to more accurately pinpoint the source of any issues that may occur, and in turn, alleviates any occasion that the whole system would need to be dug up and replaced. Repairs are quick and painless.
How Does Fiber-Optic Internet Work? Now You Know.
What seems like magic is really just incredible advancements in technology. Fiber-optic technology is the cream of the crop regarding the future of the internet. As bandwidth needs to increase and the internet scene grows in competitiveness, fiber will remain the road most traveled. Connexion has paved that road for the City of Fort Collins.