How Fiber Broadband Works
Fiber broadband is the fastest method of delivering high-speed Internet to residences and businesses. Similar to DSL, cable, and fixed wireless, fiber broadband connections bridge the “last mile” between the mainstream Internet “backbone” and customer residences.
While DSL and cable utilize existing phone and TV infrastructure to transmit data as frequency “vibrations” over copper wires, fiber networks transmit data using light over specialized cables packed with glass fibers.
Light moves very fast (186,000 miles per second, to be specific), enabling speeds up to 1,000 Megabits (one Gigabit) per second on fiber-optic networks — almost 100 times faster than the US broadband average of 11.7 Megabit per second.
Consumers think of fiber as a new technology, but the Internet “backbone” network connecting cities and countries has been built with fiber-optic cables since the dawn of the Internet. The first submarine fiber-optic cable connected the US to France and Britain back in 1988, and hundreds currently criss-cross the ocean floor all around the world.
The only thing that’s “new” about fiber broadband is the use of fiber-optic cables to connect the “last mile” directly to consumer residencies, which has been slow to expand due to the high cost of installing new cable networks.
Companies that sell fiber broadband often describe themselves as "100% fiber networks". That term is misleading because there are several tiers of fiber broadband service recognized by the FCC, and most of them switch to coaxial or ethernet cable at some point between the ISP office and your modem jack.