What the Heck is Fiber?
March 6, 2023
Intro to Fiber Internet
Fiber optics (commonly referred to simply as fiber) is a wired internet technology that gives us access to a safer and faster internet connection. Unlike most wired internet connections which send data through pulses of energy, fiber technology sends data through pulses of light. Since fiber is made up of tiny strands of glass or transparent plastic, light can travel quickly and easily through the fiber, making data transfer as fast as light. Fiber internet is faster than other wired and wireless options, offers more security than a wireless connection, and, although costly upfront, will likely be a cost-effective internet solution over time.
Fiber cables are usually installed underground but can also be installed above ground and underneath the ocean. The first step for the installation process is to install conduit, a protective cable, into the ground using a drill or plow. After conduit is in place, fiber is sent into the conduit through a technique called fiber blowing, which uses a machine on wheels that sends the fiber through the conduit with air, preventing friction and reducing the risk of damage to the fiber. Sections of the fiber route that split off on the main line need to be spliced, which is a process that connects strands of fiber with a tiny and nearly optically perfect laser weld. When the fiber splits off into a neighborhood, access to the fiber is available from an underground buried access hatch used for underground utilities and fiber connections called a flowerpot.
Many communities are installing fiber throughout their location to build a fiber network, a connection to broadband internet that covers a large number of homes, businesses, and government agencies. Think of a fiber network like a road system. The main route, called the backbone, is the “expressway” of the route, connecting fiber to key points such as a power source and computer internet hub. Connecting the backbone to various communities is the middle mile, which is like a highway traveling from the expressway to a town or city. Finally, the last mile connects the middle mile to neighborhoods and business areas, like a road traveling from the highway to a neighborhood or the town’s business district.
To get fiber internet at home, you need an internet service provider that offers fiber (for example, Bug Tussel) and your house must be close enough to connect to the fiber network. Your internet service provider will offer you options for installing the fiber from the last mile to your home, similar to installing a driveway from a road to your house. Your internet service provider may get your house connected directly by installing fiber from the flowerpot to your home (either underground or on an aerial power pole) or indirectly by connecting the fiber from the flower pot to your phone or TV cables. Either way, your modem and router will plug in to the fiber connection and your home network will be powered by fiber internet!