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What are fiber optics networks

How Fiber Optics are Revolutionizing our Internet Connection

It is indisputable that the internet has revolutionised our lives. As we developed faster and faster internet speeds though, it has become necessary to develop new technologies to transmit all this data. At first, people simply used phone lines, using dial-up and DSL. Then as internet media became more popular, cable internet became popular, because it had orders of magnitude more bandwidth than phone lines. Now, in our age of 4k streaming and other intensely bandwidth heavy applications, it has become imperative that we have the fastest internet possible. At these speeds, electrons sent over copper are no longer fast enough. We need fiber optics for the modern world.

Optical fiber transmits light instead of electrical signals to send data. An optical fiber cable consists of a core and a cladding layer which are selected to have a large difference in refractive index. This will cause total internal reflection inside the core, meaning that light will bounce around and go from one end of the cable to the other without being absorbed by the surrounding cladding. Around this there is a protective buffer coating made of resin. Because optical fibers use light instead of electrical signals being sent through copper, they can have over a hundred times more data transmitted through them, and at lower latency as well.

Unfortunately, optical fiber is also expensive; only recently have companies began providing what is known as 'fiber to the premises', meaning that the customer's house is connected to the network with optical fiber. Previously, optical fiber was only used in national networks, with customers usually being connected to a local node with copper cable. The first major fiber internet provider was Google Fiber, which offered 1 gigabit download and 1 gigabit upload speeds for $70 a month. Meanwhile, traditional cable internet companies such as Comcast will for $70 a month sell you internet with 25/5 down/up. A service approaching Google Fiber speeds can cost well in excess of $250 a month--Comcast's 'Extreme 505' offers 505/105 down/up for a wallet-smashing $400 a month.

Fortunately, led by Google Fiber, more and more companies both large and small are now offering fiber-to-the-premises, bringing cheap, fast internet to customers. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a city with cheap fiber internet. For those that do, however, this plethora of internet service providers is creating competition that leads to innovation and lower prices--what could be more American?

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