In simple terms, it’s a piece of glass that can carry data at the fastest possible speeds, it’s a technology that was invented in the early 20th century but due to manufacturing limitations wasn’t rolled out to the masses until much later.
Fibre optic cables send a pulse of light down a fibre at light speed capable of speeds far in excess of 1,000Mbps. In fact, they are physically able to deliver far greater speeds but the technology to do so at present is extremely expensive and bulky.
There’s two types of fibre connections. One is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and the other is fibre to the premises (FTTP). However, only FTTP is true full fibre connection directly to your home or office.
FTTC means that your street cabinet is connected to fibre but your speed is limited by the copper between the cabinet and your home. Copper cables transmit with much lower bandwidth making them significantly inferior to fibre optic cables and as a result, the speed you get isn’t that remarkable especially if you don’t live right next to the street cabinet.
So when you read “Super Fast Fibre” or something on those lines what they mean is fibre nearby but not quite to your door.
Two examples of this are BT Openreach’s G.Fast technology or Virgin Media’s DOCSIS 3.0 & 3.1 both of which are a fancy way of saying fibre to the cabinet with copper for what is known as the “last mile”. Although both of these new technologies will potentially speed up those in the immediate vicinity of a cabinet, as the distance increases from the cabinet performance drops significantly.
Unfortunately, it is therefore a case of the rich getting richer in terms of speed. At the moment G.Fast is in trial phase and the DOCSIS system is only available to certain locations so to the vast majority we need to rely on the FTTC option which at best delivers 70Mbps and on average is around 40Mbps.
To put it in perspective, having hyperfast broadband directly to your home (FTTP) will allow you to download a 2-hour long 4K film in 10 minutes or less, compared to 6+ hours on the standard copper connection (FTTC), one that most of us have in our homes at the moment.
A huge benefit of a fibre optic connection is that it is immune to interference, each home is fitted with a unique cable which makes the connection a lot more secure. Another advantage is that the speed you get isn’t dependent on the distance of your home to the street cabinet.
A current issue in the industry is that customers are unaware of the difference between fibre all the way to the home or just to the cabinet, so much so the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have commissioned an independent committee to determine how to change this so that people know what they are buying.
Here at Grain we connect customers only with a true full fibre to your home connection, FTTP, focusing specifically on new build fibre. We have full control over our network allowing us to be proactive and deliver symmetrical download/upload speeds. This also means that your connection will not be affected by peak times usage or your neighbour’s online activities. You can still reach crazy fast speeds. Whilst still on a competitively priced package.
The demand for fibre optic to your home connection will increase steadily over the next few years in direct response to the very connected lives we all live. We are working hard to connect as many homes as possible, fibre broadband is the future.