The way that people are using the internet is going through a change. Just as when ADSL broadband took over from the old dial up system, fibre optic broadband is gradually going to become the standard broadband service. But what is fibre optic broadband? Why is it any different from the ADSL broadband most of us are using at the moment? What advantages does it bring and what, if any, disadvantages are there? Before you read on you may want to run a speed test on your own broadband to see how much of an improvement you could see if you switch to fibre optic.
First of all, what is fibre optic broadband and what advantages does it provide? In simple terms it is a different way of delivering an internet connection to your home. ADSL broadband currently uses copper wiring to transmit the signal from the exchange to your home. The problem with this is that interference is prevalent and often means that a lot of households are left frustrated by the quality of download speeds they receive, especially at peak hours. This isn’t so much of a problem for people who are close to the exchange but for people towards the end of the exchange, their signal has been diluted and they may struggle to get speeds of over 2Mb. Fibre optic broadband transmits light signals through silica glass cables which travel faster and with less interference. This results in higher bandwidth and faster download times for everyone.
The general download speed of fibre optic broadband is a lot faster than our current ADSL broadband. At the moment ADSL broadband can achieve speeds of up to 24Mbps but realistically most of us can only expect around 4-10Mbps. In some areas that are far away from the exchange, speeds of less than 2Mbps are normal. Fibre optic broadband can deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps with most people being able to receive speeds of 20Mbps and over. This is a massive improvement that will enable people to download music quicker or stream videos on sites such as YouTube without having to wait for it to buffer.
You may feel that broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps is fast but some providers are estimating that they will be able to provide speeds of up to 300Mbps by the end of 2013. This will revolutionise the way that we use the internet. Websites will be able to provide more downloadable content, in bigger files and we’ll be able to access more information, faster than ever before.
Some households will understand how the number of people using the internet at the same time can affect download speeds. If you have a family and 2 kids are on the internet downloading music while you’re trying to watch a video on YouTube, you will note that it takes a lot longer to load. This is because of the interference and it is something that fibre optic broadband will reduce dramatically. A number of people in the same house should be able to use the internet however they choose and not affect the other people surfing the web.
So there are plenty of advantages but are there any disadvantages? Well at the moment the main disadvantage of fibre optic broadband is its availability. You may find that the service you want is not available in your area and may not be in the foreseeable future. This can be very frustrating for people who require a faster internet connection but are unable to receive a service that households a few miles down the road may be getting.
Another drawback with fibre optic is the price compared to standard ADSL broadband. If you have researched the monthly prices of the fibre optic services then you will know that it can be a lot more expensive than what you are currently paying and this may be enough to put you off making the switch. This is likely to be a temporary drawback and the prices are bound to fall once fibre optic broadband is more widely available. However, at present you may feel that, on the balance of things, a move to fibre optic broadband is not the best option for you.
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