A complete guide to fiber optic internet

This resources form OTELCO provides an overview of fiber optics, DSL, cable, and fixed wireless networks. It also provides information on the benefits of broadband, construction methods, and finance and regulatory considerations.

Technology

Broadband technology relates to a high-speed, higher bandwidth connection to the internet used to transmit data, voice, and video across long distances.

The greater bandwidth of a broadband connection, the more data can be transmitted at higher speeds.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in 2015 that, to be considered broadband internet, the service must offer download and upload speeds of at least 25 and 3 megabits per second. The six main types of broadband technologies are digital subscriber line (DSL), cable modem, fiber, wireless, satellite, and broadband over power lines (BPL).

Digital subscriber line (DSL)

DSL technology uses copper telephone lines to deliver a high-bandwidth connection to the Internet, with typical data transmission speeds ranging from 512 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps (millions of bits per second). DSL service requires a certain proximity to the DSL provider's central office. There are two main types of DSL technologies: asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL) and symmetrical digital subscriber line (SDSL). ADSL is asymmetrical because its users receive a lot of data but do not send a lot of data. SDSL is primarily used by businesses that require fast speeds for both sending and receiving large amounts of data. 

Cable Modem

Cable modems use the coaxial cables used by cable companies to send pictures and sound to your television and allow for data transmission. Cable modems are external devices that provide speeds of 1.5 Mbps or more. Speeds vary depending on the option selected from your cable provider, the cable modem, and internet traffic.

Fiber

Fiber broadband uses fiber optic technology that converts electrical signals to light. These electrical signals carry the data and are sent through transparent glass fibers. Fiber transmits data significantly faster than DSL and cable modems, usually by tens or hundreds of Mbps. Fiber connections can also deliver voice and video and can be an alternative to traditional cable connections.

Wireless

Wireless broadband is either mobile or fixed, it transmits data using radio signals from ISP's facility to the customer's location. Wireless can provide long-range transmissions to areas that are remote and do not have access to DSL, cable, or fiber. The speed of wireless is similar to DSL and cable.

Satellite

Satellite broadband is a form of wireless broadband that uses satellites in the earth's orbit to transmit data. Satellite provide broadband connectivity to remote areas. Satellite broadband speeds vary depending on many factors, but are generally 500 Kbps for downloads and 80 Kbps for uploads.

Broadband Over Powerlines (BPL)

BPL transmits data over existing power lines, it can be set up using a building's existing electrical system. Bpl supplies speeds similar to DSL and cable. BPL is a relatively new technology and is only available in select areas. However, using existing power lines reduces the need to build new costly infrastructure.

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