As Utility Infrastructure
What is Fiber?
Fiber optic cable is the foundational technology for network infrastructure and communications. Instead of sending electrical signals over copper wire or radio waves transmitted through the air, fiber uses small strands of glass to send light signals over great distances. Fiber is not only the fastest way to send data, it's also stronger, more reliable, and harder to hack than cable, DSL, or fixed wireless. Fiber is not subject to interference like copper or wireless, so it won't matter if the weather gets bad or if everyone in the neighborhood is streaming at the same time.
How Fast is Fiber?
FAST. Not just fast - the fastest there is, by far.
DSL max speed: 100 Mbps
Coax (Cable) max speed: 950 Mbps
5G Wireless max speed: 2,000 Mbps
Fiber max speed (today): 25,000,000 Mbps
Fiber is the fastest technology there is and will be the fastest for a long, long time. Nothing else comes close.
Is 5G Going to Replace Fiber Optics?
The large wireless companies are spending significant amounts of money on marketing and advertising to build public anticipation for 5G networks. 5G stands for the 5th generation of wireless networks. The promise of 5G networks is that they will provide low latency mobile connectivity at speeds as much as 200 times faster than 4G. While these promised speeds can compete with today’s wired broadband, the main rule for wireless connectivity is this: “Wireless Works Best the Faster it Gets back to Fiber.” 5G networks will be Fiber dense with cell sites as close as every 1,400 feet and fiber optic cable will feed each of those cell sites. 5G is a complementary technology to Fiber to the Premise and not a replacement technology.
What if something better than Fiber comes along in 5 or 10 years?
It's logical to worry that the rapid evolution of technologies will make an investment in fiber obsolete. Fiber is unique because it is so resistant to displacement by another technology. The current capacity of fiber is far beyond demand and we cannot see the horizon for which demand will outpace the capacity of fiber.
The entire world has invested in fiber optics as the new backbone of communications. Businesses and municipalities alike have laid fiber and will continue to lay fiber. The chances of something better replacing fiber in the next 50 years are close to zero.
More Than Just Internet
Public Internet and Private Internet
One of the most powerful subscriber benefits that will come from the City's open fiber infrastructure will be the possible emergence of a New Private Internet running parallel to the existing Public Internet - over the same fiber strand. Private networks exist today and are widely used by municipalities, governments, and large corporations for applications that require enhanced security, privacy or reliability (low latency). The telecom industry refers to these private networks as special circuits.
The limitations of special circuits are that they are complex to configure and very expensive. In our community network private circuits will be easy to configure (on-the-fly) and free of charge, giving all subscribers access to technologies traditionally reserved for the wealthy. This will allow all subscribers an opportunity to participate in the emerging economy of mass automation, the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and Artificial Intelligence.
Traditional Fiber Network
Single fiber strand with internet from a single service provider (ISP)
Connect Bristol Fiber Network
Single fiber strand with internet and other services running in multiple private networks