The internet. We use it everyday at home, work, travelling in our car, checking in to a venue. It’s hard to imagine life without it!
The various methods of internet connection has drastically changed over the past 20 years. From traditional copper wiring and dial-up internet to NBN and wifi, it’s a constantly evolving technology.
We are often asked what the differences and benefits of each method are, so we have broken it down—acronyms and all–and included this easy-to-understand diagram.
Traditional – Copper lines
Traditional internet connection is when the copper lines run all the way to the Internet Service Provider without conversion to fibre optic at any point along the way.
FTTN – Fibre to the Node
Runs fibre optic cable to the closest node to the property. The internet signal then travels along the existing copper lines to the connection point (telephone wall socket) in the home.
FTTC – Fibre to the Curb
Fibre optic cable runs right up to the edge of a premises/property. From there, the existing copper lines are used to the connection point in the home.
FTTB – Fibre to the Building
The fibre optic cable runs all the way to a point within a building (often a communications room) and is then distributed to multiple outlets within the premises using copper lines. Often used for multi-story or multi-resident buildings or offices.
FTTH – Fibre to the Home
The fibre optic cables run directly to the residence and an NBN (National Broadband Network) device will be installed in the home as the connection point. No copper lines are used. These are common in newly built properties.
DSLAM – Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (or an NBN node)
A DSLAM is a piece of networking equipment that can process multiple internet connections at the same time, broadening the service area that high-speed internet can be offered. The DSLAM can be located at the local telephone exchange or a network of mini-DSLAMs can be established along specific points in a residential area. The equipment acts as an interchange point for the already installed copper wiring of a building and the new fibre optic lines. This device provides NBN for homes to connect to.
OLT – Optical Line Terminal
An OLT is a device that is the endpoint of the fibre optic lines and is located at the central hub of an Internet Service Provider. The OLT’s function is to perform a conversion between electrical signals from the fibre optic lines to the ISP’s network equipment.
Fibre vs Copper – The need for speed
Copper cabling has been installed in homes and buildings since telephone lines were invented over 100 years ago. A copper line is perfect for a voice signal however, the bandwidth it provides for internet connection is limited.
Copper is still used today simply because it saves on installation costs that fibre can attract since it is already there. This is especially relevant in rural areas where fibre cabling networks are yet to be set up.
Fibre optic cables transmit data through thin strands of either glass or plastic and offer a faster and more reliable service. They can transmit signal over a much larger distance- over 35kms on one single cable vs 100 metres per length of copper. They are also resistant to electromagnetic interference, which copper can experience if laid close to other cables.
The downside is that Fibre optics is more expensive to install than copper.
As seen in the graphic above, a hybrid approach is commonly taken to make the best of both technologies. Fibre optics are widely being installed as part of national rollouts and new building and residential developments, which are then being connected to existing copper cabling. This provides more bandwidth and reliability for customers while saving them on installation costs to run fibre directly into their homes – an option that suits most internet users’ requirements. Should a user require significantly more bandwidth and is willing to pay for installation costs, fibre optic cabling would be their best option.
For more information about internet options and support, contact us today.