Is Fibre Internet worth the money?
Here’s why fibre internet is worth the money—and here’s how to get a fibre connection of your own.
What is fibre-optic internet?
Watch a shirt video here on how fibre internet works.
Fibre internet uses fibre-optic cables instead of copper wires. Fancy.
In a nutshell, fibre internet lets you surf the interwebs through fibre-optic cables. Those cables then send data to and from your computer by harnessing the power of light. (Cue dramatic echo.)
But that may be too simple of a definition for the tech-savvy among us, so let’s dig in a little more.
“Fibre-optic cable carries light very well over relatively long distances with low attenuation and distortion of the light signal,” says Frank Cornett, a retired electrical engineer for Intel.
What is attenuation?
In terms of your internet connection, attenuation means the strength of the signal sent to your computer gets weaker over time. That change makes the signal harder for your computer to process overall. With fibre, the signal stays stronger so you get faster internet and better streaming. Zoom.
That light signal uses binary to communicate with your computer. “. . . The presence of light might indicate a binary one and the absence of light would indicate a binary zero,” says Frank. Pretty cool.
Differences between fibre, cable, and DSL internet
You might now be wondering why fibre is so much better at transmitting data than cable or DSL internet connections. Well, the answer lies in the types of cables used.
How does cable internet work?
Curious to learn more about cable internet? Check out our guide here.
DSL and cable internet both rely on copper wires to transmit data—the same kind of wires that transmit your voice over a telephone line. That goes to show you just how long this technology has been around.
“In contrast to fibre-optic cable, which carries light with relatively low attenuation and distortion, copper wires significantly attenuate and distort the voltage signals they carry,” Frank explains.
That’s a bad thing, and it gets worse.
Distance is a big problem for cable and DSL
The problem of attenuation and distortion for copper wires gets worse the longer those wires get—so the farther away from your neighbourhood node and internet service provider (ISP) you live, the worse your signal could get. Attenuation and distortion also get worse with your internet speed. (That’s why DSL and cable internet can only go so fast.)
That’s why “a link made up of fibre can provide much faster data transfer than copper,” Frank says. That means faster load times, higher-quality streaming, and less mashing of the reload button when your favourite website won’t load fast enough. (Yes, we’re button mashers and we’re proud.)
“Fibre transfers data faster than copper wiring. That means faster load times, higher-quality streaming, and less mashing of the website reload button.”
Here’s a quick look at how quickly you can download files with fibre internet versus DSL and cable.
How fast is fibre-optic internet?
|Approximate file size||1,000 Mbps fibre connection||100 Mbps cable connection||25 Mbps DSL connection|
|4-minute song||4 MB||0.03 sec.||0.03 sec.||1 sec.|
|9-hour audiobook||110 MB||0.9 sec.||9 sec.||36 sec.|
|45-minute TV show||200 MB||1 sec.||16 sec.||1 min. 7 sec.|
|2-hour movie||1.5 GB||12 sec.||2 min. 8 sec.||8 min. 35 sec.|
|2-hour HD movie||4.5 GB||38 sec.||6 min. 26 sec.||25 min. 46 sec.|
Speed/time examples are estimates.
Who is fibre internet best for?
You might be wondering who the heck needs a 1,000 Mbps connection since most video and music streaming needs 25 Mbps, max. Check you internet speed here.
One thing fibre internet offers that cable and DSL don’t is symmetrical download and upload speeds—meaning your upload speed is the same as your download speed. So if you pay for a 300 Mbps fibre connection, your upload speed should also be 300 Mbps. (With cable and DSL, upload speeds normally only rev up to an average of 10–15 Mbps.)
That’s perfect if you upload a lot of files, work remotely, or livestream.
Different types of fibre internet
Fibre internet comes in three types, and fibre to the home (FTTH) is the best.
There are three types of fibre internet—and not all are made equal.
Fibre to the home or premises (FTTH or FTTP) means your fibre internet connection goes straight into your home. If your home isn’t already set up to receive a fibre connection, you may need your ISP to drill holes or even dig nearby. This is the holy grail of fibre connections.
Fibre to the curb (FTTC) means your fibre connection goes to the nearest pole or utility box—not an actual concrete curb. After that, coaxial cables will send signals from the “curb” to your home. This means your connection is made up of part fibre-optic cables, part copper wires.
Fibre to the node or neighbourhood (FTTN) provides a fibre connection to hundreds of customers within a one-mile radius of the node. The remaining connection from the node to your home is often a DSL line that uses existing telephone or cable lines.
For FTTN fibre internet, this is where things get tricky. The farther you live from the node, the longer the DSL line needs to be to reach your house—and the longer the line, the more attenuation and distortion you get, causing slower internet.
“With FTTN, the DSL link from the node to the home amounts to a bottleneck in the overall link,” says Frank. We don’t know about you, but bottlenecks and internet don’t sound like a match made in heaven.
How to get fibre internet?
Contact one of our friendly sales consultants today to find out if fibre is available in your area.
021 200 7774