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Fiber optic internet is unarguably the fastest and most reliable internet type which quickly gained popularity all over the world due to its various benefits over other forms of internet connectivity. Compared to DSL, cable, and other connection types, fiber optic internet is able to deliver significantly faster speeds and superior credibility for the price.

But what makes this technology blow its competitors out of the water? Yes, you guessed it right—it is the unique way it works! Now, you must be getting curious to know how fiber-optic internet works and how can you get a fiber internet connection? So, hold your horses because in this guide we have covered everything you need to know about how this latest technology transmits information through what is truly a mesmerizing process.

What is Fiber-Optics?

Fiber optics is the advanced technology used to send out information over long distances—as pulses of light via optical fibers which have a glass core and a cladding made out of plastic or glass, albeit with a different optical density.

This technology has proven to be more reliable and robust than the older ones. Though comparatively new, running fiber to homes is a rapidly evolving method of delivering much higher speeds and bandwidth to consumers for a more seamless audio and video experience.

Current fiber technology can offer dual-way transmission speeds—upload and download—of more than one gigabit a second. And as traditional technologies stretch their performance and speed limits, continuous advancement in fiber technology can boost the bandwidth available without bringing into play new networks. This is why fiber networks are often called futureproof.

How Does Fiber-Optic Work?

Fiber optics is basically a transmission channel—a pipe—to transmit signals over long distances at incredibly high speeds. Let’s find out how this entire thing works!

Light Beams Travel through Fiber Optic Cables

In the first stage, light travels through a fiber optic cable by bouncing off against the cable walls over and over again.

Know that fiber cables are created from incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic called optical fibers. Largely speaking, they are not even tenth as thick as human hair and can carry around 25,000 phone calls. So, an entire fiber-optic cable has the potential to carry several million calls.

Total Internal Reflection Occurs

Now, each light particle springs down the pipe with constant internal mirror-like reflection. These photons come into contact with two main parts of optical fiber:

  • The Core: Generally made of glass, the core is the innermost bit of the fiber, where the light travels through.
  • The Cladding: Generally made of a thicker layer of glass, the cladding is wrapped around the outside of the core. As it has a low refractive index, its role is to keep the light signals inside the core.

Both Core and Cladding work together to develop a phenomenon called Total Internal Reflection. That is when the light strikes the glass at a certain angle—less than 42 degrees—and reflects back again. 

Optical Fiber Carries Laser Pulses Down the Line

Light is relayed down the fiber in Laser or LED pulses that travel at extraordinarily fast speeds. These pulses transport binary data—a code of ones and zeros—that makes up everything you see online, even the words of this article you are reading.

Of Bits, Bytes, and Binary Code

Bits are just individual ones and zeros that together makeup a Binary code. These bits convey messages in sorted eight-part patterns—Bytes.

Translating bits of a binary code into light pulses is quite simple. No pulse translates to zero and one translates to one. These pulses can easily travel around sixty miles without facing any degradation. To transmit data across tens and thousands of miles these pulses are subjected to optical amplifiers that enhance the signal to prevent any data loss.

The Last Mile Conversion

As soon as the light pulses reach their target, an optical network terminal (ONT) changes them into electrical Ethernet. And that’s how light finally translates into something you can utilize to connect your devices to the internet.

This conversion takes place at the end of the Last Mile—the last stretch of fiber—that establishes a connection between the consumer and the backbone of the network.

Types of Last Mile Connections

Well, all fiber home internet services are not the same.  There are multiple types of last mile connections that internet service providers can install. And it is the last mile connection that decides how pure your fiber internet connection really is.

Each type is referred to as—Fiber to the X—with x depicting where the fiber connection actually ends. Let’s learn about two of the most commonly used last mile connections:

  • FTTH or Fiber-to-the-home: Most fiber optic providers run fiber-optic lines directly to each home serviced. This is the purest and most expensive form of fiber connection, with no copper or coaxial cables involved.
  • FTTN or Fiber-to-the-node: Some fiber optic internet providers stop just short by delivering fiber to a main curb or node—around 1,000 ft. from the farthest subscriber location—that serves an entire neighborhood. The remaining distance is mostly covered using copper or coaxial cables, affecting the speed and quality of the overall connection.

How Can I Get Fiber Internet?

While fiber sounds appealing if you are crazy for all things internet, the truth is its availability is still scattered in the U.S.  Fiber is most commonly available in densely populated urban centers and suburbs, since the high installation cost makes it nearly impossible to extend fiber lines into rural areas. If you happen to live in a rural area, don’t worry, there are good internet options for rural areas too—but unfortunately, they don’t include fiber optic services yet.

With that said, fiber network is rapidly expanding to new towns and cities. Here’s a quick look at some of the largest U.S. fiber internet providers:

Fiber Internet Providers

Speed Range

Starting Price

Contract

AT&T

300 Mbps – 940 Mbps

$35/mo. for 12 months

None

CenturyLink

940 Mbps

$65/mo.

None

Windstream

1 Gbps

$37/mo. for 3 months
After 3 months: $67

None

Optimum

940 Mbps

$80/mo. for 12 months

None

 

There You Are!

To conclude, fiber optic internet has a huge inventory of pluses. But, in the end, what truly matters is the contentment you gain, and the value of your investment. Until fiber availability spreads out, chances to witness a dip in prices are slim. And that brings us to give you a heads up—don’t forget to check the availability of a fiber optic internet provider in your area, before you invest any more of your precious time figuring out if it is the right time you make a switch.

To check out the fiber providers in your area, enter your ZIP code here and take your pick from a list of options available. Or call at 1-855-349-9328 and have experts update you about fiber optic internet availability in your area, they can even help you choose a provider and plan that may be the suitable fit for your needs and budget.