Fiber to the home (FTTH) isn’t very common in the United States yet due mostly to the costs involved. The cables themselves are more expensive, the people, such as myself) required to install, terminate, and hookup the fiber optic cable are also more expensive than those required for installing traditional copper coaxial cable since the skills required are more advanced than for copper cabling. However, CenturyLink recently announced that they will be performing three trial rollouts of FTTH in the near future: One lucky city is Salt Lake City, one is Las Vegas, and the other is Omaha.
Fiber to the Home means speeds of up to 1 Gbps. This means no wait time for your Netflix movies.
Why Fiber to the Home?
Fiber optic cable, while more expensive than traditional copper cables, are able to carry far more data per cable than copper can. Since light (using lasers) is used to transmit the data, the speeds that fiber is capable of are also far greater than copper. Normally, with a fiber installation, when more speed is desired, new cables aren’t needed, just new equipment at one or both ends.
It’s also not susceptible to electronic interference like copper cabling is. Lightning strikes on the cable also tend to do less damage, so maintenance costs are lower, as are equipment costs, since data can travel for much longer distances over a fiber optic link.
CenturyLink Offers Fiber with Speeds Up to 1 GB in Salt Lake City
I’m going to admit up front that as of this moment, CenturyLink’s Utah rollout is only directed at businesses in multi-tenant buildings (office buildings) in the areas around Salt Lake City (Salt Lake, Sandy, Midvale, Draper, etc.). For those businesses that sign on, CenturyLink is offering upload and download speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps). That’s significantly faster, especially in upload, than any Cable broadband offering out there, by a factor of at least ten. Unfortunately, like I said, right now this is only for businesses. Home service will come, though.
Fiber to the Home for Residents of Omaha, Nebraska
Here is the story that I base my above prediction upon: CenturyLink announced, before they announced the Utah rollout, that by the end of March of 2014, they will be offering fiber to the home for up to 48,000 homes and businesses in and around Omaha, Nebraska.
This service will over speeds of up to one Gbps symmetrically, meaning both upload and download speeds will be up to one Gbps, depending on the level of service purchased. This is contrast to what most Cable companies offer: Asymmetrical upload/download speeds of maybe as much as 50Mbps (Megabits per second) down and up to a maximum (usually) of ten Mbps up. What this means is that customers of CenturyLink in the Omaha area can be experiencing speeds that as much as 20 times faster than what they have now.
What this means practically to prospective customers is that they will experience little to no lag or delay when they stream videos from Hulu, Netflix, or Redbox. Web pages will load in the blink of an eye. That memory card full of vacation photos you want to upload to Facebook? Even hi-def photos will upload in a snap. Your Internet experience enjoyment will no longer be limited by the speed of your connection, but by the amount of traffic and the speed of the server at the other end. Even better, this is only a pilot program, meaning more will come as this proves successful.
Las Vegas Rejoices with One Gigabit Fiber to the Home/Premises
Remember where I said in the last paragraph that the Omaha program was only a pilot program and more locales would follow? I wasn’t lying. As I was doing the research for this story, I received another email: “CenturyLink to offer one Gigabit fiber to the home/premises in Las Vegas.” That’s right residents of Sin City: Time to rejoice, time to enjoy everything the Internet has to offer at blazing speeds.
The company said that it plans to finish the Vegas roll-out by Fall of 2014. They’ve also said they most likely aren’t done announcing new cities/regions for FTTH roll-outs. The only thing I haven’t been able to find out is how many homes and businesses they plan on enrolling in the Vegas pilot.
AT&T & Google Also Offer Fiber to the Home
Not wanting to be left out, both AT&T & Google have announced that they will be rolling out FTTH services in the Austin, Texas area. AT&T’s service will also offer speeds of up to one Gbps, symmetrical. I can’t find any data on what speeds Google is offering. Apparently the offerings from both companies are up and ready to go.
There are currently 26 areas around the country where gigabit fiber services are offered. Most of these are only for businesses and/or are offered by the cities themselves. You can expect this number to rise dramatically in the next 18 to 24 months. I’m not hearing anything firm yet, but I’m hearing the names of some major cities being bandied about, and I’m also hearing that there could be up to 100 fiber-active cities/municipalities within 18 months.
Photo Credit: Dennis van Zuijlekom