Slow Internet? Try Fiber

There are some businesses that need extremely fast internet. In fact, I would say that as more software applications run from the cloud, the dependence businesses have for their software working correctly will be the measurement of necessity for faster internet speed.

This is why fiber optic networks are so crucial to the evolution of software-as-a-service. Because the software is running in the cloud your internet speed is the largest determining factor as to whether the software works efficiently. Of course, this is assuming that you don’t have a laptop, PC or tablet that has insufficient processing power; but other than this, it is your bandwidth that will determine how well cloud based software works in your environment.

Jordan Bruce wrote a great article describing the factors that change internet speed and I just wanted to add more detail regarding one them. In the article, Bruce gives 3 main factors:

1.) Quality of Service provided by the internet service provider.

2.) The quality of your wireless technology.

3.) Network Density – or the amount of wireless connections to your wireless router.

Numbers two and three are basically controlled by the end user, so I’m only going to bring more detail to number one. Hopefully such knowledge will equip you to better choose between offerings from ISPs.

Being aware of the differences regarding the quality of service offered to you by an ISP will help you understand their suggestions. This is not to say that an ISP would intentionally steer you into bad service, but rather that more knowledge can help a discussion with them be more productive. The quality of service from one ISP might be different from another, so it’s good to have a basic understanding of at least one aspect that determines this. With regards to quality of service, a fiber optic cable running on your road is usually a good indicator that your location can transmit data at faster speeds than on copper.

The differences between fiber optic cables and copper lines is a very interesting.

The cost to install fiber is generally a bit more expensive, (but don’t let this deter you from exploring it further). To start, it is more lightweight than copper. Fiber optics can be compressed and made thinner than anything possible with copper making it cost less to install or transport. The kevlar jacket surrounding its fibers also make it more durable. You can pull fiber with 10 times the amount of strength of copper. In order to obtain a higher speed with copper, you’d need to upgrade to cables with more weight and which take up more space in cable trays. Fiber is easier to test and its smaller size make it easy to fit in cabling ducts. These differences can mean a lot to businesses who are looking to ensure they pay for the right infrastructure within their building.

But how sturdy is the hardware?

Copper is sensitive to electricity. Think weather. Cold weather; rain; lighting storms; all of these contribute to a loss of signal for copper. With a fiber cable, however, electricity is not what carries the signal, it’s light. And light signals degrade much less than electrical ones. This means more efficiency in transmitting data.

What about security?

Let me first go on a small tangent regarding security, in general, in the tech world.

If someone is heavily motivated at hacking your cables for data, they will break through – irrespective of fiber or copper. Whether they get caught or whether the amount of data stolen is sufficient to cause harm is a discussion of conjecture. After all, hackers are just as innovative at creating hacking tools as employees are at tech companies who develop security tools to combat them (however, my bet is with the security tool developers). With enough money a motivated hacker can use tools (a micro-bend clamping device) that will bend fiber to the point of leaking light. I bring this up because it’s important to know how to get out of a technological arm-bar if you’re in one, because sometimes you just can’t stop the arm bar. So you want to be prepared for the worst.

Before addressing the hacker, first let me say that when it comes to cabling your best chances of security are fiber because it doesn’t radiate signals like copper. You’re also better able to monitor any light that leaks from the cable. Plus you can centralize your electronics hardware in one location instead of having closets stuffed with wiring equipment throughout the building.

So if you choose fiber and someone is still looking to hack, then your next option is to encrypt all sensitive data in transit. I specified “sensitive” because it would be laborious to encrypt absolutely everything in transit, though some organizations will encrypt it all – especially if they need to remain compliant on regulations like HIPPA (a.k.a, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is responsible for protecting individuals health information and identity).

Let’s Be Real; It’s all about Speed

Well, no – it’s actually not. There are businesses in Maine and New England who truly don’t need the high speeds that fiber offers. Some businesses are doing fine with using boosters – (which help with boosting the 100-meter limitation of unshielded twisted pair copper). With fiber, those distances can be up to 24 miles carrying up to 10 Gbps (which is 10 billion bits per second). Speeds of this magnitude are unfathomably high and most small businesses won’t need this much speed. Instead, businesses might be more interested in the reliability and the ease with which they can turn on faster speeds with fiber. It’s good to choose an ISP that can offer both.

Infrastructure Matters

The reason I wrote this post is so people in Maine have an understanding of one more aspect that affects their internet speed. I hope this article was helpful. If you have any technology questions related to cloud technology or fiber optics, don’t hesitate to email me directly at:

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1 comment for “Slow Internet? Try Fiber

  1. Zeus
    November 7, 2015 at 12:32 AM

    I would much rather pay for copper. I don’t need extremely fast internet speeds.

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