how does fiber optic internet work

How Does Fiber-Optic Internet Work?

how does fiber optic internet work

In the world of fast internet speeds, fiber-optic is king. You may have heard of it. As the fiber infrastructure spreads across the globe, more and more people are able to access these lightning fast internet speeds through their local internet providers. But how does fiber optic internet work? What makes it so much quicker than the conventional delivery methods?

Once you understand how fiber optics work, it’s easy to see why it’s such a great solution for providing your internet needs in the near future and will be for years to come.

How does fiber optic internet work?

By now, most people have heard something about fiber optic internet options, but many still don’t know what that means to them. Is it faster? Is it more reliable? The short answer is yes, but that only tells part of the story. Understanding the specific benefits fiber optics provide to the world at large comes down to having an understanding of the answers to one question: how does fiber optic internet work?

The simplest way to explain the way fiber optic internet works is that the cables that connect the network are transparent, usually made of glass or plastic, and data passes through them in the form of light pulses. These light pulses transmit binary information. Everything on the internet is made up of ones and zeros(binary), and a burst of light indicates a one, and an absence of light indicates a zero. By reading the bursts of laser light that pass through the cables, our devices are able to interpret and display the information being sent.

Since the core of the cable is made of fragile materials like glass or plastic, it takes a little more effort to make building an entire infrastructure out of them a feasible option. 

A fiber optic cable consists of three parts: the core, the cladding, and the buffer. The core is the channel through which the light bursts pass, the cladding acts like bowling bumpers and keeps the information progressing down the length of the core, and the buffer protects the internal parts from external forces. It’s a simple design, but one that comes with great advantages as far as internet speeds are concerned.

Upload vs download speeds

In the world of internet providers in the twenty-first century, it all comes down to speed. It’s no wonder one of the most pressing questions people have regarding their choice of service providers is what speed is fiber internet compared to DSL and cable.

With DSL and cable, download speeds are much faster than upload speeds. This is because when you upload, you are essentially transmitting information upstream. This is not the case with fiber optics. On a fiber optic connection, upload and download speeds are virtually identical, meaning that if you can get 1Gbps download speeds, you can get 1Gbps upload speeds as well. 

You may not need speeds that fast, but even springing for a fiber connection on the slower end of the spectrum will likely increase your average speeds across the board. Anyone who works with large files, like those associated with video and online gaming, will notice the biggest difference.

Fiber optic infrastructure has grown exponentially over the past decade, and a good percentage of homes and businesses are now connected to the fiber grid. If you live or work in western Wisconsin, contact WWT to find out if these superior internet speeds are available at your location.

Fiber vs DSL and cable

Fiber optics aren’t susceptible to the same kinds of interference that copper wires and coaxial cables are. That’s why, when we look at DSL vs. fiber and fiber vs. cable internet, fiber is able to deliver uninterrupted streams of data. Since traditional technologies rely upon a transference of electricity, they can be affected by things like solar storms and other forms of electromagnetic interference. Pair this reliability with the superior internet speeds you’ll get with a fiber optic connection, and fiber stands clearly above the rest.

The last mile 

The technical term for the last leg of the internet infrastructure, or the portion between your internet service provider and your home or business, no matter how long the actual distance is. If that portion is built on outdated technology, you will see a bottleneck in speeds over that “last mile.” If you aren’t experiencing the internet speeds, you think you should. You may need to update this weak link in the chain.

Fiber to the home (FTTH) connections provide the best possible internet speeds. The bottlenecks are eliminated, and you can send and receive data at the speed of light. If you’re interested in a connection like this, ask your local provider, 24-7 & West Wisconsin Telcom, what you need to get fiber optic internet installed.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

Getting connected to fiber internet may be more attainable than you think due to the Affordable Connectivity Program. You are likely eligible if your household income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line or if you or someone you live with currently receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.

If your household is eligible, you could receive:

  • Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program

Is fiber optic WiFi right for your home?

If your internet speed is important to you, fiber optics provide the max speed currently available. Since it’s working at the speed of light, there’s not likely to be anything that beats it in the near future, so getting set up with fiber optic internet means you’ll be set for the long haul. How long does fiber optic cable last? Fiber optics is deemed future proof.

It’s a simple concept, but fiber optic internet is a game changer. Now that you know more about what it is and how it works, you have the info you need to know if and when fiber internet is right for you. Plus, next time somebody asks you how does fiber optic internet work, you’ll be able to share your newfound technical knowledge and impress everyone in the room.


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