What is Fibre Broadband, and How Exactly Does It Go So Fast?

fibre, fibre optic, fibre optic broadband, briant broadband, superfast internet, ultra fast internet Everyone by now knows what fibre optic cable is, but do they know how it works and why it’s so much faster than cable or wireless digital broadband?

In the 1980s telephone companies started putting fibre optic cables under the ground instead of copper cable. The benefit was that the media, glass, was much cheaper than metal, could carry vastly more information, and carry it over much greater distances without the need for signal boosters, switches or repeaters. Copper wire had been in use since the days of the telegraph, and it was quite sufficient when it wasn’t common for every home to have a phone, and the only signal that it had to carry was the voices of the two people having a conversation.

With the advent of the micro-computer, the internet and world wide web, the needs of the infrastructure changed, so the phone company started using fibre optics instead of copper. But if you were using a home computer in the 90s once it became more common for a home to have a computer and internet access you might not have seen much in the way of ‘fast internet’ as we understand it today. Your computer will have still been connected to your modem via a copper cable, and that dial-up modem will have been connected to local exchange via metal cable. Hubs and servers all over the world would be connected by fibre optic lines, but there was still so much metal in the system that the full speed potential could never be reached.

That’s changing very rapidly now. The internet is no longer regarded simply as a useful tool, it’s become so much a part of our lives that it is being considered by many to be a utility, just like gas, electricity and water. Consequently, in order to provide the kind of speed people need to make the internet serviceable, notwithstanding however many people are all using it at the same time, it’s necessary to ensure that as many people have access to fibre all the way up to their property, or an equally acceptable alternative. Read more

Switching Over To Fibre? Myths & Realities

Ofcom suggest that as many as 94% of British homes could take advantage of fibre broadband, however, only 45% of us have taken advantage of superfast internet. What are the advantages of switching from cable to fibre optic data transfer, and what are the stumbling blocks preventing people from taking up fibre?

A recent Which? survey found that 41% of internet users said they weren’t considering moving over to fibre because they were currently happy with the speeds they were getting. 20% said they didn’t use the internet enough to make it worth while changing provider or switching their contract.

While it’s true that the average speed currently provided via metal cable, around 12Mbps, is quite sufficient for browsing, using social media and streaming a movie, as data use increases both in individual homes and generally throughout the population, those speeds won’t be sustainable with the current infrastructure and won’t be sufficient for the average homeowner.

As media continues to be delivered by Earth based technology (cable & transmitter to antenna) the metal cable infrastructure cannot keep up with the amount of data which needs to be delivered as we continue to increasingly inhabit the internet. As our demand for more data, delivered more reliably increases every year the current infrastructure will increasingly find it hard to cope. However, fibre is more than capable of taking over and delivering what is required. Read more

Mesh Networks, What Are They and Are They Worth It?

Hands holding a wifi enabled tabletA few years ago anyone complaining about poor WiFi signal in their home would receive the sage advice “well, stand somewhere else then”. Today though, strong, consistent, reliable signal is not only something that we all expect wherever we go, it affects how our entire home communications and entertainment systems work, and it can even knock thousands off the value of your home.

Broadband service providers such as BT are tackling the problem with their superfast fibre broadband and discs, circular routers which can be placed about the home in poor signal areas in order to boost coverage so that all of your connected devices work perfectly. Several mesh network WiFi providers offer small, discreet additional points which act as routers and then there’s Powerline, a set of routers which plug into the power supply and extend the WiFi reach in whichever room they are located in. Read more

The Future Is Faster With Fibre

installing fibre opticVirgin Media is currently experimenting with 8Gbps, which is 22 time faster than the top speed of any current broadband provider, and more than 200 times the average speed a UK consumer receives.

If you have ultra high HD TV you could download a movie in 20 seconds instead of the hour it would take at normal download speeds. If you’re only watching in regular HD the film could be yours in five seconds instead of fifteen minutes that the average broadband customer would expect to wait.

While speed doesn’t necessarily equate to bandwidth, the fact that anything you do will be done instantly means that it will be out of the way and immediately, ready for the next task you throw at it. So those speeds will be brilliant for the connected home. As more devices are added to the network currently, if you’re only getting a standard service, things begin to lag. If you’re streaming a movie, the kids are playing an online game, someone is playing music in another room then you’re going to start to notice things take longer to happen, Alexa is slow to respond, movies freeze or start to buffer (and that always ALWAYS happens just when you’re getting to a good bit or pivotal point in the dialogue. I don’t know how it knows, but it definitely does!) Read more