What is fibre internet and what happened to dial-up?

What is fibre internet and what happened to dial-up?

When exploring the question of what is fibre internet let’s start by remembering dial-up? Yikes, who would want to! Back in the day, when internet first started, dial-up was it, and it was groundbreaking. People went nuts for dial-up to be able to connect to the internet and then they went nuts waiting for it to connect.

Now, we have fibre, and people go nuts for fibre because it’s so fast, and then they go nuts because it’s so expensive? So, what makes fibre internet so fast and so seemingly expensive?

Allow us to shed some light on the subject and bring you up to speed by answering that very question.

It all started with dial-up

Let’s browse back over time. Dial-up internet used the same cable as your landline telephone. With dial-up you could not connect to the internet and make a voice call at the same time. When you ‘dialed-up’ to the internet you would get speeds of 56Kbps (kilobits per second). Let’s put that into perspective. Your minimum speed with fibre internet is now 50Mbps (megabits per second) and 56Kbps is 0.056Mbps which means it was much slower – ouch! A web page that is 1mb in size will take roughly two and a half minutes to load with a dial-up connection. With fibre it should take a maximum of 2 seconds. Seeing the light yet? Keep reading.

Dial-up internet connection
Waiting to connect with dial-up

Enter broadband internet

Broadband internet was a groundbreaking innovation in internet speed. Broadband internet uses the same cable used for a TV connection in your home. This existing cable infrastructure was leveraged to bring faster internet speed into the home.

The downside with broadband internet is that the cables are shared amongst other homeowners in your area. This sharing of the cable means that the bandwidth (read ‘slow internet speed at home’) is being divided amongst the other homes in your area causing slow internet speeds during ‘peak’ hours.

Give (A)DSL internet a cheer

DSL, which means digital subscriber line, is used to access the broadband data over the internet. This internet type uses a DSL modem and common telephone lines to carry its data from computer to computer. The benefit of DSL is that it carries voice at the same time as internet data over the same telephone lines which means you can browse and make telephone calls at the same time.

DSL is not as fast as cable, but it is cheaper. Ah, “cheaper!” – a word we all understand. With DSL you don’t share bandwidth with other homeowners in your area as each home has a dedicated connection.

Give ADSL internet a cheer
Give me an A, give me a D, give me an S…

The types of DSL internet available

  1. ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and means that the download speed is considerably faster than the upload speed. ADSL is used mainly in homes.
  2. SDSL stands for symmetric digital subscriber line and means download and upload speeds are the same. SDSL is used more in a business setting.
  3. VDSL stands for very high bit-rate digital subscriber line. VDSL is the fastest form of DSL which runs on copper wire. It is made to travel over short distances. Now, for longer distances VDSL can use fibre optic cable which is 3x faster than ADSL. The light draws nearer.

So what is fibre then?

Fibre internet is currently the fastest internet speed available today with download and upload speeds of up to 1000Mbps. Unlike VDSL that uses copper cable to send data using electricity and can be affected by electromagnetic interference, our hero fibre, sends data with light. Yes, with light! This light is sent through fibre optic cable (thin glass cable) and travels three times faster and over considerably longer distances (without interference) than copper cable. Fibre cable is therefore expensive to manufacture and to install and is part of the reason why it is not so easily available in remote or rural areas.

Fibre internet travels at the speed of light
Fibre internet sends data with light

There you have it. We hope that shed some light on the question! 

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