The benefits of fiber have become a necessity for consumers of practically every size. Because bandwidth expectations have increased substantially since the original incarnation of the internet, copper just doesn’t cut it today. Virtually every form of computing technology is beginning to implement fiber in some fashion.
In server network architecture, fiber has become the preferred method to connect everything on a server rack. Fiber channels mostly boast a higher rate of transfer than Ethernet, though it is a topic of much debate. It’s true that Ethernet can achieve speeds of up to 100 gigabits/sec and doesn’t require special switches, HBA adapters and cables, like fiber. The real benefit is that fiber doesn’t rely on TCP, it uses the loss-less protocol FCP with a resolute error checking. Basically, should communication between endpoints falter with Ethernet, packets could be resent which can contaminate data in some instances.
Why Fiber is Better
In a nutshell, electrical transmission have the tendency to lose electrons during travel. The longer the distance, the more electrons that disperse through insulation. Interference is another problem with copper because of the magnetic fields generated by an electrical current. When several lines of active copper lines are run adjacent to each other, crosstalk between the lines can further degrade the quality of the transmission.
Fiber is much less expensive when compared to copper. Not only do materials cost less, but bandwidth density is much greater meaning that more data can be transmitted by fiber when compared to the same volume of copper. It is also much safer. Fiber has a high level of electrical resistance as it is mostly non-conductive. With copper, when a line of high potential voltage is near another highly conductive source of much lower potential electrical energy, electrons move between the conductors. If this occurs near a volatile substance, bad news is sure to come.
Fiber in Europe
Fiber is also becoming a widely implemented for the underlying telecom infrastructure various networking stations. Though it is major expense for companies like AT&T and Verizon that have been the primary drivers for the fiber expansion in the US, it is also much cheaper to maintain in the long run. Fiber also has the benefit of maintaining high speeds over long distances – a task copper fails.
Europe is in the process of becoming more connected with fiber rolling out to certain regions of the continent. In Italy, fiber is beginning to spread its reach to many larger cities. The company Telecom Italia originally installed a fiber network in just three cities last year which includes Naples, Turin and Rome. Now, an additional 21 large cities have been accommodated with fiber. The list includes:
- Reggio Emilia
Telecom Italia’s main ambition behind this deployment is to equip business with higher speed internet services between various cities. It’s a great benefit to those who are using advanced communication applications such as Video and VoIP, which needs more bandwidth than the old copper network could provide over long distances. The company is also provisioning connections for residential use as well.
Businesses will be able to utilize speeds of up to 30 Mb/s which can be maintained at distances of at least 100 miles. Residential locations will be able to access speeds of near 100 Mb/s. By the end of the year, virtually every urban location in these cities as well as over 450,000 residences will have access to the fiber network. By the end of 2015, fiber is slated for availability to some 564,000 residential properties.
Fiber in the US
In North America, AT&T and Verizon are major players laying down fiber across the nation. As Verizon currently serves the largest number or residences in the US, they are refraining from expanding the network at this point in time. As of last year, Verizon hit the 5 million customer mark of their FiOS service that can provide anywhere from 15 Mb/s up to 300 Mb/s in most areas. Verizon states that there is still room to spare on the existing network, so the goal is to bring other customers in these locations on board.
Other providers are providing fiber based services in order to remain competitive, like Google who is expanding the Google Fiber network in Kansas and Missouri. Google is just now breaking into the market by implementing their own brand of fiber service, capitalizing on serving those who need high speed connections. However, some are shying away from fiber and simply boosting offerings of their existing copper network. Time Warner, for example, has started to implement some fiber connections in New York City. In areas where they overlap with Google’s new fiber service, like Kansas City, Missouri, they have both boosted speeds and lowered prices.
Fiber is definitely a profitable venture for businesses willing to invest in the infrastructure. Yet, it is very interesting to see companies like Time Warner gloat about a 97% profit margin, even after cutting prices and boosting service.