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What is Fiber Optics Broadband?


In this digital era, predominated by fast to and fro communication, nothing can be smart with the smart gadgets unless a support fast paced internet connection is available. Unless you are an occasional internet user, a high-speed broadband connection would always be your priority and this is where Fiber Optics Broadband comes to picture, as with its high-speed capability, it has ventured into mainstream utilization in India.

Here, I have given a brief review of this latest minefield with definition, working, advantages, disadvantages, for you to decide its worth as the most preferred means of internet connection.

What is Fiber Optics Broadband?

As its name suggests, fiber optics broadband is the type of broadband connection which uses optical fibers to transmit and receive data or signal. It generally uses glass or plastic cables which overcome the disadvantages of slow speed and low distance bandwidth carrying capacity of traditional copper cables.

Even though other details are on similar lines with other broadband connections, its high-speed capability is what makes fiber optics broadband stand ahead of its contemporaries.

Currently, British Telecom dominates the fiber optics era with a promising speed of about 300 MBps in countries like United Kingdom, followed by Virgin Media which provides a speed of about 150MBps. Apart from them, there are other service providers like Vodafone and SSE.

Why is Fiber Optics Broadband required?

As mentioned earlier, for a hindrance free usage of internet, fast connectivity is always preferred over slow speed connections, which is obviously provided by fiber optics broadband. Given below are few reasons why we should consider fiber optics over other modes of broadband:

  • If you are an internet addict, always surfing internet and downloading enormous quantity of data, watching movies daily, fiber optics would always be a better option.
  • For professionals working at home using internet connection as the main source, a high speed, smooth internet connection provided by fiber optics would be irreplaceable.
  • In corporate offices and businesses, where video conferencing and huge quantity data transfer and reception is a frequent utility, a high-speed broadband connection provided by fiber optics is always a requirement.
  • Places such as residential areas, malls, restaurants, where people are most likely to share internet connection over multiple devices, a fast and secure internet connection provided by fiber optics is always a plus point.

How Fiber Optics transmit and receive data?

As evident from its name, fiber optics broadband relies on optical fibers to transmit or receive signals in form of light. Each optical fiber is a thin strand of glass or plastic as thin as a hair and contains the following two parts:

  • Core: Usually made up of glass, this is the innermost part from where the light passes through.
  • Cladding: It is wrapped around the core and is made up of glass or plastic.

Information, in form of light passes through the strategically placed glass pieces which create a phenomenon called Total Internal Reflection. Light hits the glass of the core at a shallow angle of less than 42 degrees and gets reflected back. The cladding, made up of a material with different optical density or refractive index, keeps the light from reflecting out of the optical fiber.

Light emitting techniques such as LED or high-speed LASER pulses are used inside the fiber to transmit light. The light pulses constitute encrypted binary data or bits/bytes of data which contains data in form of zeros and ones. One pulse denotes 1 whereas no pulse denotes 0.

Once the light pulses reach end of the fiber known as the last mile or last stretch of fiber, they are converted to electrical signal using an optical network terminal. It is the last mile which connects us to the backbone of internet or the chain of devices used to connect the globe through web.

Types of Fiber Optics Connections

As mentioned above, last mile fiber connection is the one which connects a user to the internet. There are about 3 types of such fiber connections provided by the internet service providers, each denotes as ‘Fiber to the X’, where X denotes the destination of fiber connection.

  • FTTH/FTTP/FTTD: Fiber to the home, premises, business or desktop consists of fiber cables straight to the destination. The connectivity line consists of a grail of fiber connections and is the most expensive among its peers.
  • FTTC/FTTN: Fiber to the curb, cabinet or neighbourhood is the most commonly used fiber optics connection. The fiber connection is limited to a street curb or a cabinet from where internet connection or signals are dispersed to destination (home or offices) through copper cables or DSL. It is the most affordable type of connections due to the least amount of money involved in infrastructure.
  • FTTB: Similar to the FTTC, fiber connection is limited to a building, from where the connection is distributed throughout the building using copper cables. The building can be a residential building, hotel, school or a hospital.

Advantages of Fiber Optics Broadband

Compared to its peers like DSL, Cables or Wireless internet, fiber optics connection is undoubtedly the latest means of internet connection wherein the formers have been used frequently throughout the years, especially DSL and cables.

Given below are few advantages of fiber optics over the other modes of connection:

  • Attenuation: It refers to weakening of signal over distance. Traditional connections such as DSL, copper wires, though have high bandwidth carrying capacity, lose bulk of their signal strength (about 94%) with larger distance, whereas fiber cables can transmit large amount of data with only 3% of signal degradation.
  • Interference: Transmitting data using copper wires often have risks of getting susceptible to fire or lightening when not properly installed or maintained. Also, copper wires release electromagnetic waves which can interfere with the signal and disturb the signal. On the other hand, fiber cables neither emit electromagnetic waves nor are damaged by electric current as they carry light instead of electricity.
  • Symmetrical Speed: One of the vital uses of internet is downloading and uploading information across the web. While a maximum downloading speed is often required for most of the users, some businesses like online retails, consumers like telecommuters depend upon high upload speed for their usage/business. Fiber communication is the only means which provides symmetrical upload as well as download speed, i.e. faster download as well as upload speeds.
  • Congestion: Even though fixed wireless networks have the capability to achieve same speed as fiber optics, their advantage is overruled by the fact that fixed wireless connection is shared among multiple users. Hence, even for a 100MBps network, a user, sharing the same with 10 others, gets a mere speed of 10 MBps. However, for a fiber optics network, this problem is not present.
  • Latency: With high speed capability, fiber optics eliminate the possibility of latency or unwanted delays with data processing. Using fiber optics connection, it is possible for a smooth VoIP based meetings, undisrupted downloads and uploads, fetch data from or move data to cloud and many more.
  • Security: Conventional internet connection modes such as copper cables are usually prone to information theft by information thieves and hackers through tapping or other methods. However, it is not possible to breach information using fiber cables as the cutting the fiber cable is the only way to get information.
  • Cloud Access: High speed and high bandwidth of fiber connection ensures faster access to data and applications stored in clouds which hosts important business-related tools from customer relation management (CRM) to data storage.

Disadvantages of Fiber Optics Broadband

  • Expensive: Compared to other internet connection modes, fiber optics broadband is the most expensive option despite its high-quality service.
  • Replacement: Replacing existing copper cables with new fiber optics cables takes a lot more time for installation than expected. A
  • Limited Application: Fiber optics can be used only on ground and cannot work with mobile communication.
  • Low Power: Light emitting sources like LED are low power emitting devices and switch to high power emitters prove to be more costly.
  • Installation: With their fragile structure, fiber optics cables are highly susceptible to tears or cut even slightly bent or spliced during installation.
  • Attenuation: Light from the existing power emitters is limited in strength with distance. After a certain distance light gets attenuated and dispersed. This can be overcome only by extra components like repeaters or EDFA.


Despite the disadvantages of high cost and installation difficulties, fiber optics broadband is the future of internet connection with its capability to provide speeds close to about 1GBps. In countries like United States of America, fiber optics service to businesses and even to residential places (though limited).

The above article contains a brief information about fiber optics broadband and any other information is welcome to be added in the below comments section.

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