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Communications In the Cloud Blog

Fiber is Better Than Copper

July 7, 2013
Fiber

Fiber optic internet has become the gold standard for high-quality, fast data transmission capable of supporting a wide range of bandwidth-intense business tools, such as VoIP, video conferencing or cloud storage applications. Yet many companies are still wary of investing in them, sticking to traditional copper wire instead, keeping the fiber vs. copper debate alive.

Copper wires have their advantages, including their low price and their widespread availability even in rural areas, making them a default choice for many businesses. But while they’re still seen as a less expensive, adequate alternative to “over-hyped” or “over-priced” fiber optic connections, the reality is that copper lines are limited in nature and are unable to keep up with the evolving network requirements of modern business applications.

Why is fiber optic technology better than copper wire lines?

BANDWIDTH

Traditional copper wires have been used to transmit voice signals since the advent of the telephone over a century ago, but they are quite limited in nature and are unable to meet the bandwidth needs of modern business applications. Fiber optic connectivity can provide over 1,000 times as much bandwidth as copper cables, support a wide range of business technologies and provide a scalable network infrastructure for future growth.

UPLOAD/DOWNLOAD SPEED

While traditional copper wires function based on the transmission of electrical signals, fiber optic technology sends pulses of light to carry data along strands of optical fibers, making much faster internet connections possible with equal upload and download speeds. According to the FCC, fiber internet providers consistently deliver 117% of advertised speed, even during times of peak demand, ensuring that all business operations are properly supported.

RELIABILITY

The copper cable is a relatively delicate technology and is susceptible to damage by a wide range of environmental factors including moisture, severe weather, electromagnetic fluctuations, and even accidental changes made by telephone company personnel who have access to the cables. Even the smallest damage can cause latency, jitter or outages on the network, severely affecting business applications such as VoIP phone systems. Fiber is immune to such conditions and thanks to the wide range of monitoring techniques available, a compromised optical fiber can be detected and replaced quickly before it can cause further damage.

SECURITY

Copper connections are also susceptible to wiretapping, jeopardizing company networks and data security. Fiber optic cables are significantly more difficult to intercept and compromised cables are easy to detect, providing businesses with a much higher level of security.

SLAs

With real-time, network-sensitive applications such as VoIP growing in popularity, latency, jitter and packet loss are becoming increasingly important indicators of a network’s health. Reliable connections free of such disruptions have become indispensable tools to robust business communications. With the sensitivity of the copper wire and its degradation over time, copper service providers usually don’t offer any guarantees for the performance and quality of their network. In contrast, fiber optic internet providers offer a variety of SLAs (Service Level Agreements) to guarantee uptime and keep latency, jitter and packet loss to a minimum.

COST

While at first glance fiber optic connectivity is the more costly option, copper networks come with a number of hidden expenses for service providers, who in turn charge more per bandwidth to make ends meet. With the durability of fiber and its significantly lower maintenance costs, ISPs can decrease the price per bandwidth of their optical offering, feeding mission critical applications at a much lower cost.

Copper wires have served as an adequate medium for voice signal transmission for over a century and provide much needed, low-cost internet connections in rural areas. But today’s cloud-based communications technologies are pushing the boundaries of bandwidth and speed requirements, making traditional copper networks more outdated than ever. Fiber optic technology provides a much more scalable, robust network for sensitive business applications and future growth.

If you are considering upgrading your business infrastructure, contact us for a free consultation and we can help you determine the best solution for your network.

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