Frequently asked questions about fiber Internet

Fiber Internet isn’t necessarily new. But because some myths about it persist, and because there’s a lot of buzz about where it is and how to get it, we thought we’d do our best to clear up some of the things our customers are asking us about most often.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth is a measurement of data transfer speed. Sometimes referred to as bitrate, bandwidth gauges infrastructure’s capacity to transmit data quickly and efficiently. In general, the higher the bandwidth the more speedy the Internet connection.

How much bandwidth do I actually need?

It depends on how you’re most commonly using your Internet connection. The rise in online video streaming has increased the need for high bandwidth, since the slightest interruption in data streaming can negatively affect video streaming. Additionally, high definition resolution televisions and streaming fast-paced content such as sporting events tend to eat up large amounts of bandwidth. This and other factors contribute to higher-than-ever average data usage at the household level.

Why can’t copper cope?

The farther data travels over a copper wire, the slower the data is transmitted. The same can be said of fiber optic cables, but since they use laser light to transmit data they’re capable of transmitting data faithfully over much longer distances. Whereas copper infrastructure is capable of maintaining high bandwidth for only a couple of hundred yards, fiber optic cables are capable of transmitting messages over many miles.

Why go fiber instead of wireless?

Like many of the broadband promises made by Internet providers, most speeds advertised by wireless Internet providers are assumed to be shared among all users. This means that, though wireless providers may promise astronomical broadband speeds, each customer’s share in those speeds drops every time a new customer joins the network. This can lead to broadband shortages and interruptions during peak usage.

Don’t most Internet providers claim to have fiber infrastructure?

Yes, they certainly do. But, in most cases, this is just a way of saying they have some fiber infrastructure. It’s usually used to get signals close enough to their customers so that they can switch to copper wiring for the final push to the premises. This drastically reduces the bandwidth that’s available to the end user. When choosing an Internet provider based on promises of a fiber connection, it’s important to confirm that the fiber infrastructure truly makes it all the way to the premises.

Will I actually have access to all the bandwidth that I’m advertised?

Many cable, DSL and wireless providers heavily oversubscribe their networks. Too many customers share too little bandwidth. This leads to bandwidth shortages during times of high usage, such as early evening when many users are streaming movies and television programs. Because fiber networks, when operated correctly, offer more bandwidth per user than can be used under normal circumstances, fiber networks tend not to have this problem.

What’s the difference between ‘fiber to the home’ and ‘fiber to the premises’?

Really, this is just a matter of semantics. We often use the term fiber to the premises (FTTP) at Arch Fiber Networks because many of our customers aren’t looking for fiber to a stand-alone home. Rather, they’re interested in taking fiber into an office building, lofts, apartments, or just generally whichever type of space they’re looking to connect. To let our customers know we’re up to the challenge, we use the more general FTTP.