What is fiber internet, and is it really better?

By: Christina Southern on Aug 3, 2020 9:42:00 AM

Fear blog 1 imageLong, thin strands of pure glass about the size of a human hair are the foundation of the world’s fastest internet, capable of connection speeds of 10 times faster than regular cable. When bundled together, these strands create a cable that allows information to travel through them in a beam of light over long distances.

That information is delivered directly to your home, providing instant internet connection and seamless streaming of movies, music, gaming and more on every device in your home, all at the same time. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Fiber optic internet really does live up to the hype.

Here’s a rundown on what fiber is and how it is different from traditional internet options:

Does Fiber internet live up to the hype infographicHow is fiber so fast?

To answer that, let’s start with why traditional DSL and cable internet are so slow. When you’ve experienced lags as you stream Netflix while your kids are online gaming in the other room, it’s probably because of metal. More specifically, copper metal.

Traditional internet sends electricity through copper wires to deliver the information needed for gaming and streaming a Netflix show at the same time. We call this information “data.” Copper wire was originally intended for transmitting simple voice data over shorter distances, which does not make it ideal for carrying large amounts of data at high speeds. Today’s growing technology means data sizes are only getting bigger, making fiber optic internet crucial for the future.

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Since fiber optic internet sends information at the speed of light along thin strands of glass, large amounts of data can travel very quickly, giving them much higher bandwidth. 

What is bandwidth? The amount of data that can be sent in a short amount of time.

With higher bandwidth, we’re talking internet connections speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, making fiber 10 times faster than copper wire connections. What’s that mean for your home? The capacity to stream Netflix, play online games, video chat with your friends in Japan, upload photos to Facebook, take online courses, and much more all at the same time with no lag. Learn more about that here.

Is fiber more reliable?

Let’s compare the reliability of traditional internet to fiber optic by looking at three main concerns: electrical and radio interference, signal strength over long distances, and how it’s affected by damage and aging.

  • Signal strength: Both light and electricity are weakened when they travel long distances. The farther information must travel, the more it breaks down and the weaker it will be when it reaches your home. However, there is a dramatic difference between what is a long distance for copper and what is a long distance for fiber. The copper cables of traditional internet begin to lose signal strength the moment they begin and are limited to roughly 330 feet or less. That’s just under the length of 1 football field. Fiber-optic cables, however, have the capacity to run nearly 25 miles without losing strength. That’s the length of 440 football fields.
  • Interference: Electromagnetic signals or radio interference can have a big impact on copper, reducing signal strength. Indoor and outdoor radio signals near the copper cables can interfere and induce noise. Fiber, however, is more insulated against outside interference, making its signal much more secure.
  • Damage and aging: While fiber may seem more fragile than copper, it’s not. Fiber lines can withstand between 100 and 200 pounds of pressure, while copper can only hold up to 25 pounds. Plus, internet providers often bury fiber underground, protecting it from the elements so pressure is rarely an issue, unlike that of copper, which is strung up to polls and subject to the weather and accidents. Also, copper is much more likely to break down over time because it is exposed to the heat of its electrical current.

As technology has dramatically advanced through the years, so has the need for improved internet capabilities. The home internet industry is answering that demand with fiber. Next, learn how high-speed internet is changing the way we connect with our communities and the world.

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Topics: What is fiber internet?, C Spire Fiber

Your home. Our inspiration. C Spire Home is a home services provider offering customer inspired products such as lightning-fast gigabit fiber internet, streaming TV and unlimited home phone, all backed by over 99.9% reliability and award-winning 24/7 customer support. We’re committed to providing services that improve your home life and keep you connected to what matters.