Clueless Technophobe Seeks Fiber Optic Advice

Jul 25 09:49 2013 SelJones Print This Article

In this article we explain in detail fiber optic technology and the benefits of using this kind of broadband as well as the differences between ADSL and fiber to help you make the right choice when deciding which broadband to purchase.

Many of us start looking at fiber optic broadband and really are scared of the technology.  We don’t understand how it works,Guest Posting we don’t know why it works and we don’t know what is best for our circumstances.  After reading this article, you should be a little less fearful of finding a fiber optic broadband provider and you should know how to do so too.

We’ll go through a bit about how the cables work and how it’s different to ADSL which is the most standard form of fixed line broadband so that you can understand exactly what you should be looking at.

How does fiber optic broadband work?

Fiber optic broadband works through fiber optic cables.  Essentially, these cables are purposed designed for the transfer of internet data.  The cables have a core of fiber optic material and then a layer outside of this core that reflects back light ensuring the fast passage of data.  Outside of this, there’s a plastic coating that protects the cables.

The cables really are good at the job.  ADSL broadband is the broadband that comes in to your telephone line and travels all the way over the copper cables of the telephone infrastructure developed by BT.  Unfortunately, the copper cables are far less able to transfer data than fiber optic cables.  After all that wasn’t the job they were built to do.  That’s why when you go further from a telephone exchange i.e. the place that your telephone equipment is installed close to you, you’ll get slower internet connections on ADSL.  However, with fiber optic broadband the connections remain fast because there’s no loss of speed over distance.

This is the great thing about fiber optic broadband.  It means you can have super-fast speeds with fewer bottlenecks, higher levels of performance and better data integrity.  In the future, we’re going to really fast fiber optic broadband connections up to a gigabyte per second.  In fact, they are already rolling out. 

Generally, the max on ADSL is up to 24Mbps and you have to be lucky to get that.  With Virgin Broadband you can get fiber-to-the-home offerings at 100Mbps. 

Let’s now have a look at the difference between the types of fiber optic broadband.

Types of Fiber Optic Broadband

One of the most confusing aspects of the fiber optics is that there are two types of technology.  One is a little bit similar to ADSL.  Let’s have a look how.


Fiber-to-the-cabinet is broadband that offers good levels of speed but some loss of speed over distance.  Essentially, the fiber optic cables will go to your street level cabinet and then the final part of the journey will be over the copper or aluminium cables that come in to your home and interface with your telephone socket.  You therefore need a telephone line and you’ll have a bit of loss of speed and you’ll feel a little bit like you’re on ADSL.  However, the speeds on this type of connection are much faster than ADSL and the bottom level connections tend to be around 38Mbps. 


The true fiber optic broadband connections are fiber-to-the-home.  This means that the fiber optic cables come all the way into your house, normally into your living room.  With Virgin Media, they carry their cable TV network over the cables too and therefore you get your broadband and your television over these cables that are installed for you by an engineer.

If you’re lucky enough to already have an NTL or Virgin Broadband fiber line brought into your house then you won’t need to pay installation in most cases although an engineer may come out.  If you don’t have the cables you may need to have a fee charged to your account although many companies will waive the fee if you take a decent level package.  Obviously with the cables coming all the way into your home, your internet will be faster, and you’ll get more of the advertised speed. 

Checking whether you can get fiber optic broadband

So, you’re sold on the idea of fiber optic broadband and now you want to know how to get it.  The easiest is to jump online and do a post code search of your area.  Essentially, websites such as uSwitch, Broadband Choices, Broadband Expert, and many others enable you to pop in your post code and find out which service providers are offering their packages in your area. 

If you can’t get fiber optic broadband because the cables aren’t installed you’re out of luck and you have to be looking at mobile broadband or ADSL broadband.  However, they may be several providers offering their connections in your area.  And if BT Infinity has installed their cable as they have in around 60% of the country, you may be able to have a choice of providers who sublet the BT Infinity service.  If you can Virgin Broadband, you may be able to get the best speeds out there at the moment.

Other Things to Consider

Many of us perceive that when we jump on fiber optic broadband, we are going to have an amazing but some people get disappointed.  The reason for this is that often companies have traffic management policies which infringe on your experience.  For example, Virgin Media will slow down person to person file sharin and have a traffic management tiered structure that will affect certain other activities too.  On top of these, during certain times of the day, they may slow your connection so that they can manage their network appropriately.  Even their unlimited packages can have fair usage cap so that if you use a certain amount of data during a certain period they will slow your connection and punish you by throttling.

The truth is that Virgin Media haven’t had the best reputation in terms of unlimited broadband.  Nowadays, they do have the top speed unlimited broadband package, however, it is their most expensive offer and if you’re looking at the lower package that doesn’t cost quite so much you may better off looking elsewhere if there are connections available to you.

The Minefield of Broadband Advertising

As a technophobe, you’ll probably be really confused about the broadband advertising out there.  You should ensure that you understand the terms download, upload, and ping and also usage allowances.

Download Speed

Download speed is the speed of connection downstream.  It’s anything that you’re looking at and taking from online.  For example, if you are taking pictures that have been sent to you for your e-mail you are downloading; if you are looking at web pages you are essentially working downstream.

Upload Speed

The upload speed at which you can send information is important.  If you’re sending photos to Facebook, sending an e-mail or sharing files with people from your computer then you are working upstream.

Ping or Latency

Ping or latency is the speed of response from the server.  Essentially, if you are working on a website and you send a request to move to the next page, it is the amount of time it takes to get the response that is happening.  It’s very different from speed and it’s normally measured in a response time.  It’s like the reactions of the internet rather than their speed of movement.  Ping is important to things like online gaming and video chat online. 

Download Allowances

You should also be acutely aware of the download allowances of a package.  You should ensure that you understand your usage profile so that you can get the right package for your requirements.  Normally, with fiber optic broadband all the installations are done for you so it’s your upfront research that enables you to get a decent connection.

Sometimes with ADSL, you may well need to install the router yourself.  It can be very daunting but it is a simple process.  If in any doubt you will have neighbours and people around you no doubt that have done the process before and will do it for you.

Broadband is simple if you get it right.  It’s when you start cutting corners and using equipment that shouldn’t be used that you start having problems.  Make sure that you get the right package for you and get someone competent to install it.  

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Fiber optic broadband sounded good to Sam Jones for the faster speeds.  He knew that the best deals were listed on sites like uSwitch and took a few minutes to sign up to a great value for money offer.

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