1 Aug 2013

Is Fiber The Only Solution For Broadband In The Future?

According to many in the broadband industry, fiber is the way to go. After all, it is the fastest internet connection available to both businesses and residences.

Considering the fact that fiber has a unique construction which allows data to be transferred far faster than any other method possibly can, the idea that fiber is the most logical future choice is a no-brainer. Or is it?

Why Everyone Seems To Be Talking Fiber

Those involved with the economic development of communities say that fiber is not only the best route to go with future demand for content, but go further to say that communities need fiber for their future success. This is because the increasing need for high bandwidth by companies in industries like video and software production can only be delivered by fiber optic cable.

As far as education is concerned, fiber is often mentioned as the solution, as it is the only technology which can provide students with unhindered access to global learning tools and experiences. In the health industry, it is thought that fiber is the only solution that could provide a much-needed link between hospital departments and medical specialists around the world.

The thinking behind this is that as specialists are able to diagnose and treat conditions real-time via video, fewer patients will need to be transferred to other facilities for care. Finally, fiber is praised for its ability to facilitate sustainable development in communities.

This is because a fast connection like fiber can allow employees to conduct business from home, which thereby reduces travel time, and ultimately, total greenhouse gases emitted. Business can remain sustainable and profitable with fiber by taking advantage of features like tele-conferencing and large electronic file transfer.

The No-Fiber Solution

Despite all of the talk of how fiber may be the only solution, there is an alternative: the DSL ring. This patented technology is actually an upgrade to existing copper telephone line infrastructure. Not only that,  but the upgraded copper lines are capable of delivering internet speeds of up to 400 MBS, over long distances, and at a fraction of the cost of what it would take to accomplish the same goals with expensive fiber optic cable.

Optic Fiber Cable
[Image credits: www.northshorecomms.com]

The creators of this technology point to both the costs and the logistics when touting the DSL ring as the feasible alternative to fiber. The technology targets those companies who have realized that they can no longer compete with their wireline broadband counterparts.

Copper Bonding

This is another technology that many have been touting for a number of years. With this particular technology, customers can consider future demand, as this alternative can also support IPTV and other technologies.

Copper bonding has proven to be useful for rural communities where fiber optic infrastructure is not possible due to the high cost of building the infrastructure and running the cable to community homes.

Those who support copper bonding say that copper lines will have to be leveraged in order for IPTV service to be provided, as at the end of the day, broadband stimulus money spent will see only a small fraction of nodes in those less-populated areas being served by fiber connections.

There is obviously much in the way of discussion about which technologies will serve our future needs best. Many say that the upgrading of existing copper infrastructure is inevitable, and that a number of internet companies will be left without an alternative if they don't start building infrastructure now.  But the decision about whether or not to invest in fiber now remains out of the hands of consumers.

Those skeptical about fiber say that it won't be a universal means with which to get online for a number of years into the future. However, they say that providers will still be able to compete with copper by offering services like Triple Play.

Jesse Schwarz

About the Author:

Author Jesse Schwarz recommends The Internet Safety Guide for parents to receive advice on how to keep their children safe online, as well as to prevent computer viruses.