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Fiber Optic vs Copper

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the old-and-busted-vs-new-hotness dept.

Networking 234

pcnetworx1 writes "Recently companies, such as Verizon with their FIOS service, have begun to migrate from legacy copper to fiber optics. Corning (admittedly one of the largest fiber optic cable makers) is running an article which explains why it is actually cheaper to go for the fiber optics."

cancel ×

234 comments

why it is cheaper. (5, Informative)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019473)

laying fiber is 10x more expensive than copper.

But fiber carries hundreds to thousands more channels of data than copper.

that's why it's cheaper.

Re:why it is cheaper. (1)

countchoc12 (789688) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019474)

Cost-efficient, not cheaper.

Re:why it is cheaper. (4, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019493)

You forgot to mention that in the case of copper, many folks can do some basic maintenance whereas with fiber, one has to engage an "expert". I have joined 2 copper ethernet cables to get a longer one with a set of pliers before. If it were fiber, I'd be in big trouble since at that time, I was really broke.

Re:why it is cheaper. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019502)

may i recommend duct tape?

Re:why it is cheaper. (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019539)

Funny how a fiber optic cable making company forgot to include that in their analysis.

Re:why it is cheaper. (4, Insightful)

boa13 (548222) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019612)

Funny how a fiber optic cable making company forgot to include that in their analysis.

They're talking about high-bandwidth installations, and talking to business people. I doubt these people are interested in hack jobs the grandparent describes, especially since it's a sure way to say goodbye to your high bandwidth (tens of gigabits or so).

Re:why it is cheaper. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019618)

I have joined 2 copper ethernet cables to get a longer one with a set of pliers before.

An And t th& the quali;^$%#& quality of the le1cab$ c^#' cable eems seems to be just f/ fine!

Re:why it is cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019495)

Cost-efficient, not cheaper.
 
Or actually cheaper. For example, if your required bandwidth would need 11 traditional cables instead of one optic, and the optic one is ten times more expensive, it is still cheaper to go for optic.

Re:why it is cheaper. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019491)

Yes, in the long run it is really worth it to build fiber infrastructure. Companies like Surewest [surewest.net] are investing for the future, and will play a big role in competing with the telcos and cable companies. I am lucky enough to live in an area where Surewest offers service, and they have 10Mbps and 20Mbps bi-directional packages available. I know it is nothing compared to the service you can get in other countries, but to have that big of a pipe to the Internet in Northern California is damned good. Surewest equipment is full 100Mbps, and can scale to 1Gbps [cisco.com] without much upgrading (relatively).

Re:why it is cheaper. (3, Informative)

Melkman (82959) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019556)

Yeah, but they say its cheaper on the premises. Which it won't be until standard business PC's include an optical ethernet connector as they do copper ethernet connectors now. The cost of installing the extra interface card PC's is just too high, 1000BaseSX cards still cost more than a complete office PC, which today include a 1000BaseT NIC as standard. Also ethernet switches with all fiber interfaces are magnitudes more expensive than copper stuff. Conclusion: fiber at the premises is only the way to go if you got loads of money you don't care about.

Re:why it is cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019561)

thats stupid. verizon isnt running fiber the to pc's. theyre running it to the home. you dont plug "dsl copper" straight to your pc. it goes through a modem or a box that can convert it into a more usable interface, ie ethernet. verizons fios is the same deal. nobody is going to be plugging fiber into the back of their pcs anytime soon.

Re:why it is cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019631)

it's not coax with a docsis modem?

Re:why it is cheaper. (2, Informative)

CPUGuy (676781) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019723)

They setup a new box outside your house and transfer your phone lines onto the fiber channel (up to 4), and then run a cat5 cable around your house to where it will be installed inside, drill a whole through the wall, slide it inside, and then fill the whole with silicone.

For the connection we get (15/2), CAT5 is more then sufficient.

Re:why it is cheaper. (1, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019564)

Which it won't be until standard business PC's include an optical ethernet connector as they do copper ethernet connectors now. The cost of installing the extra interface card PC's is just too high,

All the fibre cables I have seen have rigid limits on radius of curvature. They are much worse than solid core copper cable. There is no such thing as fibre flex cable, so I can't see a good way to take fibre out of the switch room, into the cube farm, out of the wall and into the back of a PC, let alone across a table and into a laptop.

I would, however, believe that a wireless protocol could be used for that step, and fibre for everything else.

Is that old fiber? (3, Informative)

achurch (201270) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019808)

Because when I had fiber installed in my apartment a few months ago, the guy had no problem with taping it against the wall/floor junction (radius of curvature... (goes and measures) 3cm), and I still get close to 100Mbps. Perhaps not quite as good as copper, but not that much worse, either.

Re:why it is cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019844)

That's just not true. A modern FO cable can be bent harder than a Cat5 and be within standards. Cables I have used could be turned 100 times around a diameter of 5cm with a loss of less than 1dB.

Re:why it is cheaper. (3, Interesting)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019733)

10x more expensive ?? Why are they then using single mode fiber where multi mode would be enough (single mode is more expensive than multi mode) ?
I do not really buy the 10x more expensive argument... glass (even flawless) is cheaper pr. kg than copper... and btw. you can multiplex a signal on a copper wire too...
Where I live the most expensive part of laying anything in the ground is the digging.
There is one factor that in fact makes fiber cheaper than copper: glass is corrosion-free and will last forever.

Do the math (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019778)

If you put in 62/125 micron fiber in 1985, you'd still be using it.

But if you installed Cat3, then you yanked it and went to TSB Cat 5. Now they're goading us into Cat 6, and extended variants.

It's true that 20 years ago, one used bizarre jigs to terminate fiber, but those days are long gone. Optical TDR test equipment had dropped like a rock, and you can get unbelievably cool handheld and laptop-based diagnostic equipment these days for fiber.

And the cost to do fiber has dropped amazingly, too.

Fiber has always had a cutting edge-like price tag because the equipment was usually the fastest, like the first gigabit Ethernet, fiber channel SANs, and so on. But there's practical reason: you simply can jam far more data into a fiber pipe than a copper one, and this'll always be the case. The real limits of fiber simply have not been found yet, what with DWDM, multiple lambdas, and so on.

And no, I don't work for Corning. I'm an engineer that's designed a lot of MANs and WANs.

Re:why it is cheaper. (1)

cb0nd (893473) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019798)

Not to mention that fiber is very lightweitht, compared to copper, so there is no need for huge transmission towers for aerial transmission.

tell me something i didn't know.... (2, Interesting)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019492)

they basically said that for extremely high bandwidth or long range applications, fiber is the way to go. this is news? i've known this since I started networking (late '90s) and it was common knowledge well before then.

Re:tell me something i didn't know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019592)

As was found it Australia, Radio towers is much cheaper for long range, reliable applications... Floods ripped up all the fiber lines every single season is most rural areas in the West.

Re:tell me something i didn't know.... (4, Insightful)

boa13 (548222) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019607)

They also said that the price for installing fiber and the price for installing copper are now similar. This is news. Fiber used to be plenty more expensive to install than copper.

network security (4, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019494)

Fiber is a step above copper with respect to infrastructure security. While this doesn't have implications for everyone plenty of businesses and government agencies require that level of security.

Re:network security - not really (5, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019543)

It's not really that different. If somebody wants to wiretap your home's or business's Internet connection by climbing telephone poles or popping manhole covers, the fact that the connection is fiber just means they need to bring some splicing hardware instead of copper alligator clips, and have a co-conspirator / getaway-driver with you to explain why your fake phone company truck is working at Midnight ("because that way it won't interfere with our customer's business", which is true for real repair people as well as wiretappers.) It's a bit more of a skilled job, but it's not the easiest place to attack most businesses anyway. More typically, you're an insider, but if you're an outsider, you want to crack into the victim's firewall over the Internet, or email them trojan horses, or if you *must* do hardware, you want to get into their phone closet where they've got the yellow sticky with the router password. But it's probably an inside job.

Re:network security - not really (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019695)

A smart intruder may want to do some remote work on the routers or the computers of telephone companies.

Re:network security - not really (2, Informative)

joecr (922134) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019783)

You also forgot that because of the EM field generated by copper it's signal can be read from several feet away, where as fiber doesn't have this problem. The exact distance depends on several variables including, but not limited to the following, What kind of network is going through the copper, how many pairs in the bundle, weather it is shielded or not, etc...

So this means it is easier to detect a wiretap on a fiber network then on a copper one, because you have to splice the fiber, where as you can just park your device a few feet away & still get the signal with copper.

Can You Hear Me Now? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019507)

Listen ma, I'm using fiber optics!

Benefits of Fibre: Electrical Isolation (2, Informative)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019512)

Carry on downloading during that thunder and lightning!

Re:Benefits of Fibre: Electrical Isolation (2, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019548)

Unless you've got an independant power source, then you still run the risk of frying your computer via the powerlines.

Re:Benefits of Fibre: Electrical Isolation (2, Interesting)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019555)

Well, yes, I was referring to the situation whereby my router is sucking off the UPS, and my wireless notebook is on battery power.

Re:Benefits of Fibre: Electrical Isolation (1)

jasontheking (124650) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019650)

if lightning hits the cable , won't the light flash travel down the cable and knock out both ends anyway?

Seems simple... (3, Funny)

Oid.Surin (896240) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019514)

Higher speeds, longer distances... And never forget the bragging rights of... "I am on fiber."

Re:Seems simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019554)

In some non-US parts of the world, we've had bragging rights about fiber for MANY years now...When will you catch up?

take the words right out of my mouth... (5, Informative)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019636)

the ever multiple-personalitied Anonymous Coward said:
In some non-US parts of the world, we've had bragging rights about fiber for MANY years now...When will you catch up?
I was just about to state something to that extent.

I am currenly on 100Mbps up/down fiber for just about US$50 per month (split among two other roommates equals less than $20/person) just outside of Tokyo. Lots of people say "The US is so broad that we can't do this!", but I fail to see why this kind of connection isn't available in US cities. I am outside of the most dense parts of Tokyo (in fact, I am in a suburb of Kawasaki), but that didn't stop the ISPs (So-Net in my case) from running fibre to apartments.

Come on, USA! At least in the cities, there is no reason to be so far behind with regards to residential access!

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019710)

Down here in Sasebo, I've got 50Mb down/12Mb up for about the same price...

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019713)

forgot to preview/mention that this was ADSL and not fibre...

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (1)

Xocet_00 (635069) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019728)

Would you mind telling me what you paid for installation, and what your wait time for installation was? I live in Kawasaki (Tama ward) and I'm currently on an NTT DSL line using Fusion GOL as my ISP. My "12Mbps" connection cannot break around 1.2Mbps, even at low-use hours. I'm fed up with it, and the Fusion GOL support people. However, I've been told that getting fiber usually takes months to set up.

Good Questions... (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019843)

Well...my Japanese roommate set the whole thing up, so I don't know the exact details...I'm pretty sure the installation wasn't free, but I am pretty sure it wasn't more than 3months worth (so about 15,000 yen). Interestingly enough, we got it when they were doing a campaign, so we got the first 3 months free (or free installation if you want to look at it that way). The wait for instillation was about a month. This was 2 years ago, BTW...We've been on the same service ever since...

As for campaigns, things seem to have calmed down a bit, though it wasn't that long ago that TEPCO was offering an initial free 3 (or was it 6?) months if you installed their "hikari-fibre" service. Pay attention to the ISPs campaigning in many stations and you can probably find a good deal. :D

Basically, that is the best idea. Recently (i.e. in the past year or year and a half), a lot of companies were pushing fibre optic connections and/or really fast ADSL connections, including some with deals like free installation and a free first #months for a certain contract (my ass says something like 2 years). Hell, not more than a year ago, YahooBB was giving away free WiFi capable routers with their ADSL service on top of the couple of months for free.

Of course, I believe that for things like high speed ADSL, it depends on your location. Shop around and see what you can find. Good luck. :D

One clarification... (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019877)

The Grandparent post (to which I responded) said that he didn't get more than 1.2Mbps on a 12Mbps DSL line...

Even with mine, I almost never get much faster than 1~2Mbps on individual fast connections (e.g. downloading from servers in Japan, using BitTorrent, etc), but I have definitely had more than 10 connections each downloading at about 1Mbps simultaneously...

This kind of makes sense for me because of the factors involved: 1.) I use AirPort Extreme, so really, my computer (and one of my roommates on the same type of computer) am limited to a theoretical max. of 54Mbps; 2.) my other roommate is directly connected to the router using 100Mbps ethernet; and 3.) lots of places on the internet are just not able to handle connections that fast and/or have lots of simulatenous users so have to divide their bandwidth (I think...does that make sense?).

Anyway, the point is, even with all three of us using the connection simultaneously, I highly doubt we ever max. out the connection. On the plus side, for the most part regardless of how much bandwidth any of us is using (which is almost always less than the theoretical max), we never individually experience slow-downs in our connection from our own personal little side of the internet (well, except when my other PowerBook using roommate is streaming music to the AirPort Express to his stereo).

Nice, eh?

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019854)

KDDI, Tepco and SBB would get fiber or wire to you in about 10 nanoseconds. Before you blame Fusion too much, they're dependent on what their backbone provider will run to your area. But, in general, shop around. GOL is a completely lost cause now: it's a shadow of its former self, merely a Fusion brand for the gaijin ghetto. If there are more than 3 or 4 of you in your apartment block, you might get KDDI to run gigabit fiber to you. You'd then get 70Mbps VDSL to the fiber closet.


For personal reasons, I'm desperately sad that GOL/Fusion sucks so severely now. Move elsewhere: it costs bugger all, and you can always change again in the future.

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019855)

The reason we're only barely getting fiber in major US cities at this point is because the telco companies are doing their best to maximize profits, ie, charge as much as possible while delivering as little as possible. Basic capitalism at work. It's precisely this attitude that has repeatedly kept America from being at the forefront of technology deployment time and time again. It's only been in the last year or two that most places have been stepped up to 3Mbps download speeds (we're still capped on upload), which they could've been offering us when DSL rollouts began in 1996. From here, they'll eventually uncap upload speeds and offer it to us as if it were a new and exciting thing, and American's being as dumb as they are, will lap it up...

Re:take the words right out of my mouth... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019918)

Come on, USA! At least in the cities, there is no reason to be so far behind with regards to residential access!

OK. I'm an American downloading pig. I trade (legally and encouraged by the artists) live music that averages at about a Gig of data per show, and all of the regular other junk that I do. I have, I guess, about the fastest internet one can get now at work, Internet2, and soon to be upgraded to Lamda Rail.

Sure, I guess I would take a 100Mpbs connection at home at the same price or lower than I pay now for my 1.5-5 Mpbs connection at home (I don't know what the speed is now, its pretty fast). Especially for the upgraded upload bandwidth.

But, what I'm getting at, is I don't see a pressing need to have such high bandwidth at home at this time. Sure, this is subject to change in the future, but I do not at all feel as though my bandwidth is inadequate.

Yeah, I sometimes I could wish that I could transfer gigs of data from work to my house at the speed that I can from machine to machine at work. But then again, I have a laptop that I can put the data on at work, and bring the laptop home and then transfer the data at gigabit speeds to my home PC.

Aside from the real geek factor of my bandwidth is bigger than yours, do people really need that much bandwidth at their home for regular stuff? If I had a server that I ran or if I ran a business from my home, that would be different. But essentially, I have somewhere between a T1 and a T3 in bandwidth to my house which used to cost THOUSANDS a month not too long ago.

Some of why I get the low rate is because it uses the old infrastructure that was already laid, cable TV. Other options are DSL which too use existing infrastructure.

At this time, I see no real benefit from either the consumer point of view or a business model to lay that much new cable to each and every home and apartment in either a city or the whole country,

My hands are firmly gripped on my geek badge as it is being pulled from me.

Wow.. (1)

HeliumHigh (773838) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019518)

Whoah dang, it took them a while. Now will we actually have upload speeds to match our download speeds?
brDidn't think so :(

Re:Wow.. (1)

HeliumHigh (773838) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019525)

Whoah dang, it took them a while. Now will it actually accept break tags the first time round???
Didn't think so :(

Re:Wow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019578)

The problem with consumer upload speeds has to do with regulations. Unfortunately a consumer device can only have a transmitter so large; so the upload speeds are limited by this. An ISP on the other hand, can have a large transmitter on their end to provide the higher bandwidth.

fiber speeds over copper (1, Informative)

bjason82 (820735) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019519)

My aunt used to work for this israeli company called actelis who was pioneering an algorithm that would allow fiber speeds to be achieved over existing copper. It was somehow, with a piece of hardware about the size of a microwave, able to reduce the number of errored packets transmitted, improving the efficiency. On the other hand I've also read about a technology called DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing [protocol]) which allows each wavelength of light (aka each color) to be it's own data channel on the same fiber line. With this protocol they estimate a single fiber optic wire could transmit 2 GB of data per second. Not sure why it hasn't been widely accepted yet.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019559)

reduce the number of errored packets transmitted, improving the efficiency

I am sure you could do this over fibre as well.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019635)

DWDM is accepted, however from a CPE point of view each receiver would
A) have to have an array of demodulation circuits for each wavelength and some kind of negotiation from the service provider headend
B) have only one wavelength demodulation circuit

Both options are currently very expensive it is a reason DWDM is the best choice for fiber these days and they usually select a Passive Optical Network (APON,BPON,GPON or EPON) lay dark fiber and then later upgrade to dedicated FTTP with the demand in bandwidth.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (1)

Eric604 (798298) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019639)

DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing [protocol]) which allows each wavelength of light (aka each color) to be it's own data channel on the same fiber line.

Sounds like "multi mode fiber". The problem with it is dispersion which makes it unusable over long distances.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019729)

uh.. no

DWDM fibres are single mode fibres for all of the wavelengths used for each channel. Dispersion still plays a role, but not as much as it does for a multimode fibre.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (1)

jepaton (662235) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019669)

There is of course the wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavelength_division_m ultiplexing [wikipedia.org]

Note: A single mode fibre can carry 160 channels of 10 Gbits/s, or 1.6Tbits/s.

The reason it is not widely accepted (outside of big telecommunicatons suppliers) is the huge cost. For example, each channel requires a seperate laser, and may cost in the region of $20000 each. Multiply that by the maximum number of channels and you are looking at about $3.2 million just for the lasers alone. Once you add the detectors and high speed electronics to process all this DWDM is VERY expensive.

Only long distance telco links and Microsoft can justify the expense:

http://www.lucent.com/press/0698/980603.nsa.html [lucent.com]

Jonathan

Re:fiber speeds over copper (3, Informative)

DuSTman31 (578936) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019670)

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing isn't so much a protocol as it is an improved method of encoding.

The main obstacle to adoption, as far as I'm aware, is the crosstalk incurred at the amplifiers.

Most fiber-optic connections these says make use of amplifying L.A.S.E.R.s wherein the incident EM photons induce the emission of photons of identical frequency from atoms which are in an energetic state. However, due to the finite power of the pumping source, and the finite population of the atoms used as lasing medium, there can be problems with crosstalk - Transmitting a high level on one frequency depletes the population of energised atoms in the lasing medium and causes the amplification ratio of the other frequencies to drop.

I read a while back about one type of L.A.S.E.R. amplifier where a single frequency was injected transversely to the path of the intended amplified radiation. This would make each frequency have a constant "big" competitor for the energised atoms, and thus drastically decrease the magnitude of this crosstalk.

Re:fiber speeds over copper (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019697)

``fiber speeds over copper''

That sounds like my 14K4 modem, which proudly proclaimed on the box that it could do 57K6, because it supported v42bis (I think). Yes, it could, if the compression algorithm used really did deliver a 4:1 compression ratio - which, of course, never happened when transferring things that needed it; the only large things one transferred were already compressed, and the algorithm wouldn't do much on those.

Of course, what you're talking about is completely different, I just wanted to share my story.

fiber's great, till your lasers start burning out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019523)

-very- strange stuff starts happening, when lasers on either end start to flake out.

Re:fiber's great, till your lasers start burning o (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019905)

I've hear about weird stuff happening with fibers. Something like it during some malfunction burning at intervals along its length, and then somehow repairing itself. - What's that about?

Audiophile response (5, Funny)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019529)

I'm sorry, but I prefer the richness and a more natural warmth of browsing the internet over copper wires. Fiber optic lends a certain harshness to the "feel" of internet surfing, resulting in a less enjoyable experience.
I use special oxide free copper wiring and power cords to eliminate excessive "power banding" that produce a grittiness to the intenet.

That's why I'm sticking with copper.

Re:Audiophile response (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019535)

LOL! Wish I had mod points for you!

Re:A True Audiophile response (2, Funny)

sloths (909607) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019566)

Cable? I boycotted recorded sound long ago. Now I strictly attend live performances.

Re:Audiophile response (1)

Eric604 (798298) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019679)

I use special oxide free copper wiring and power cords to eliminate excessive "power banding" that produce a grittiness to the intenet.

"Connecting wet" also helps reducing external influences: make your data communication equipment water proof and submerge it in water. Make sure there's at least 3 inches of water on all sides, place it on a mug or something to have enough water below. Never use tap water, instead use distilled water, which can be easily found in your supermarket or drugstore.

Re:Audiophile response (1)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019787)

I like gold better. If the modern paper civilization collapses I can always discover gold in my backyard. *grabs shovel*

POTS (1, Offtopic)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019542)

Back in the day of 56k modems, you could only get 56 if you dialed into an isp that supported it somehow, and even then, only get that speed incoming. Connecting to your friend's 56k modem would yield only 33.6 in each direction IIRC. What kind of device was needed and how did it work to support 56k connections, and how much did they cost?

Re:POTS (0)

m50d (797211) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019569)

That's simply not true. Early 56ks would drop down to 33.6 at the drop of a hat, but if you had a good line it was possible to get 56 both ways to another modem the same.

Re:POTS (1)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019603)

Afraid not - 56k modem to modem would mean there's more than one analog to digital conversion, which wasn't possible with v.90.

Can't find a recent article on this but here's a start: http://www.wt.net/56k.shtml [wt.net]

You could get 56k, (FCC limit of 53k in the US) one direction only. Here's a better article on how skipping 1 analog/digital gets you a speed boost. (ie: ISP data to you at 56k, but data to ISP at 33.6k) http://www.99main.com/support/how56kworks.shtml [99main.com]

Re:POTS (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019576)

What kind of device was needed and how did it work to support 56k connections, and how much did they cost?

The ISP had to have ISDN lines on their side going into their modem bank.

Re:POTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019581)

You are correct sir. Mod previous response down!

Re:POTS (3, Informative)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019593)

Lucent / Livingston PortMaster [ebay.com] , Cisco 5200 [cisco.com] , 5300 [cisco.com] , 3600 [cisco.com] and a T1 line or an E1 line, dependig on country. These days you can do it on a 260 [cisco.com] as well.

Essentially, one of the sides of the connection had to be digital, if you ran two analogue signals (Two modems) back to back, you got 36K, but they found out if that one of the sides of the connection was digital, and was essentially guaranteed to be error free, they could push the speed at which that side transmitted. Hence what the other side recieved at. Whether you actually got 56K was also extremely dependent on the quality of your line. I remember being about 200m away from the exchange on the copper run (I worked at an ISP, so we had a line run for testing) and still only getting 52K.

We used to tell customers it was just the theoretical maximum as nobody in the country at the time had a chance in hell of getting those speeds.

Re:POTS (1)

minvaren (854254) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019717)

The 52/53k limit was due to power restrictions on the lines. This article [lowendmac.com] has this and more gems about 56k.

Re:POTS (1)

honest_aly (877511) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019934)

The reason you never saw 56k was the FCC limited the 56K modems to a theoretical max of 53k because of fears of crosstalk on the lines. The reason that two modems when dialed into each other never exceeded 33.6k was that you needed one end of the 56k connection to be on a digital line so that only a single DAC can exist on the line (the one from you to the computer upstream since you're on an analog phone line and your ISP isn't).

Re:POTS (1)

boa13 (548222) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019600)

Connecting to your friend's 56k modem would yield only 33.6 in each direction IIRC.

That's because the modems did 56k down, 33.6k up, at best. Your download being your friend's upload, and vice-versa, the best you could do together was 33.6k. I guess ISPs have special modems that do 33.6k down, 56k up.

Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019577)

I've wondered why nobody's developed a fiber standard for things like connecting external disk drives to personal computers? Wouldn't it be great to just snip an unjacketed monofilament line to length, and stick it into a grab-and-hold fitting? I'd love to see cheap plastic fiber replace cat-5 cabling for any runs from 1 to 100 meters.

-jcr

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019586)

I've wondered why nobody's developed a fiber standard for things like connecting external disk drives to personal computers

Fibre cables can't have sharp bends in them because the photons would literally not make it around the bend if it is too tight.

Because of this the cable has to be carefully laid. You can't just string it anywhere.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019604)

Fibre cables can't have sharp bends in them because the photons would literally not make it around the bend if it is too tight.

Because of this the cable has to be carefully laid. You can't just string it anywhere.

This is true for today's high-bandwidth glass fibers, but is it necessarily the case? I'm not talking about multi-kilometer signal paths.

-jcr

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019651)

This is true for today's high-bandwidth glass fibers, but is it necessarily the case? I'm not talking about multi-kilometer signal paths.

I don't know if you can get away with less quality over short runs. Because it is an optical system I would expect that it will either work or not, there won't be much middle ground.

Most of my experience with fibre dates back about ten years when I was involved with a large, distributed CCTV system. The cable would enter the building via a large pit (about a metre across) and from there it would be cable tied to mesh cable guides all the way to the network terminating gear.

Where the cable had to negotiate a corner in a room (for example, wall to ceiling) it would follow a gentle curve from one cable guide to the next with a radius of curvature of about 200mm.

Fibre cabling around the 19 inch racks which held the equipment was done with a similar amount of care.

The funniest thing I saw was a contractor who used an auger to bore a hole straight down into one of our main inner city roads. The auger went straight into the pipe holding the fibre for a nearby traffic camera and 100 metres of cable wound itself around the auger bit exactly like pasta aound a fork.

Needless to day that length of cable was totally stuffed.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019878)

With fiber optics as with anything else in the field of computers and electronics "10 years ago" == medieval times. Nowadays you can do cable spaghetti with fiber. You even get patch cables as soft as spaghetti, way more flexible than Cat5.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019709)

'fraid the laws of physics are against you on this one. The light simply won't reflect if the bends are too sharp. Different materials can allow slightly sharper bends, but nothing like you can have with CAT5.

Worked in a data-centre? (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019602)


Nope I thought not. Fibre-attach is the standard way that people connect from a server to a SAN, its very expensive at the moment and its much easier to use things like USB 2.0 or Firewire 2.0 as they have much lower production costs.

So its already invented but you probably can't afford it.

Re:Worked in a data-centre? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019611)

I have worked in data centers, and that's why it seems to me that FDDI is overkill in many situations. I should be able to get Gigabit-Ethernet equivalent speeds over short runs of plastic fiber.

-jcr

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

darco (514434) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019613)

I've wondered why nobody's developed a fiber standard for things like connecting external disk drives to personal computers?
It's called Fibre Channel [wikipedia.org] . It is used on Apple's XServe RAID [apple.com] , for example.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019621)

Fiber channel isn't really what I'm describing. I'm talking about extremely cheap media, here. Polyester monofilament, which doesn't need to be capable of carrying signals for kilometers.

-jcr

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

MasterOfDisaster (248401) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019691)

What's the need? (Besides the buy new gear syndrome) what cheap consumer device creates data faster than you can transfer with, say Firewire 800 or USB2? Consumer hard drives are an order of magnitude slower or more, and all but high end solid state memory is around the same speed. Firewire already does video.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019780)

What's the need?

The chief benefit I see would be the convenience of joining devices together with a length of fishing line, which could simply be cut to length with no need for connectors. Slice it with an x-acto knife, and it's ready to go.

I've built a lot of cables in my time, and it's a nuisance.

-jcr

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019646)

It's called Fibre Channel, and just about all decent-sized SANs use it.

Re:Why not short-haul fiber? (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019759)


What about something like the S/PDIF interconnect that we have for digital audio?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPDIF
http://www.epanorama.net/documents/audio/spdif.h tml

FireWire (1)

Henriok (6762) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019852)

FireWire have fiber optic connectios (glass and plastic fibre) specified for 800-3200 Kbps up to several kilometers. We use it in house for backup purposes, and I know of TV-stations that uses it for live connection of DV-cameras straight to the editing studio some distance away.

The problem with this it the same as with all optic links, the cable is rigid and can't be turned nearly as tight as copper cables. It isn't that practical for the applications you mention.

Cost vs common sense (1)

jimmypw (895344) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019585)

It doesnt take a genius to think that who actually needs optics? As said earlier in the article t will cost about 10X as much to wire optics insted of copper. The company i worked for did CAT6 points for about £35 each. When you want fiberoptics and it going to flood wire a building the cost will be totally unjustifyable. Why spend £350 per point when you can spend £35 and have the job done just as well just not as fast and for 99/100 businesses this will be more that fast enough to spread around that email that says there is cake in the kitchen.

no way! (2, Funny)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019599)

I tried fixing a broken fibre, but the solder wouldn't stick!

A new way to go online!? (3, Interesting)

TheZorch (925979) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019609)

I will be thuroughly impressed if fiber can be brought from the pole into the home. A analog/digital converter would allow uses to keep using existing phones on an all fiber phone network, but a whole range of new products could be used for digital Internet access. DSL doesn't work via fiber optics, so an all fiber phone system could usher in a whole new type of Internet service via the telecoms and at speeds that exceed what DSL can offer right now. Regular modems would still work but much more efficiently than before since fiber isn't volunerable to EM interference like lightning from thunderstorms, high-tension powerlines, peak cellphone usage (yes this does effect copper landlines), raido signals (try going online via an unfiltered phone line if you live near an airport), and sun spots.

Fiber lines are harder to illegal tap. There is a device that can connect to a standard copper pbone cable without piercing the outer insulation. By turning a set of dials you can listen in on all of the phone conversations going on through that cable. Such a device wouldn't work on a fiber line because it exploits certain laws governing electromagentism and how electricity travels through wires. In order to illegally tap a fiber line you'd have to cut it, that would disrupt service for a while, and its would instantly be noticable.

Re:A new way to go online!? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019673)

I call bullshit on this one,
You certainly don't need to CUT the fiber that you are interested in tapping.
The only thing you need to do is peel of the protective layers and then bend the
fiber enougth and pick up the signal on the outside of the fiber when the light bounces
on the wall inside the fiber. This will NOT disrupt the service for the people that you
are trying to wiretap. Google for it if you don't trust me.

Re:A new way to go online!? (1)

anarchistic (928051) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019692)

It's not even that complicated, once you have the device to detect the evanescence wave that surrounds the fibre.

Re:A new way to go online!? (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019718)

That's what Verizon's FIOS is, internally known as FTTP - Fiber To The Premis.

Verizon is engaged in the staggering task of rewiring (dewiring?) America, or at least that part of it that falls into Verizon's territory. Whole towns are being upgraded to fiber - first down the street, then indeed brought to your home when you order the service.

The fiber carries voice, data (internet) and video into your home, with the voice being ATM based (converted so that you can use your existing phones), although obviously you could choose to use VOIP instead.

Copper is cheap for now (2, Insightful)

bjoeg (629707) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019648)

As the repost properly would say. Copper can be sufficient enough, but what starts happening when in future the speeds and demands of the copper start increasing? It needs to be replaced, which means installation all over again.

With fibre, in same scenario as above, not much will change, so the same cable can be used for higher speeds.

Fiber to the home (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019686)

I gotta say I work for a Telco that is now installing "Fiber to the Home" and it is great. The ease of use and setup is fantastic. We are just in the process of rolling out this service and provisioning an new customer is very easy and it is great to work with a device 40 miles away and have no lag, after doing the same kind of work with Cable Modems and Dialup over the years this has be the way to go.

We support 802.11 wireless (it sucks, The technology isn't reliable and most people don't understand how to use it!), Cable modems, Dialup, fixed point wireless (this sucks worse, slow and almost unusable), and now "Fiber to the home" of all of them the fiber seems to be the best. We are even considering replacing some cable lines with fiber in existing builds where we have had problems with the cable or we have higher bandwidth demands.

I know the cost is more but maintenance is much lower and that is what kills you in the long run, going out and splicing a rodent chew. Fiber just doesn't have the same problems.

Just my opinion, but I use it now, in the real world and it isn't speculation at this point.

None of them (3, Funny)

ClippySay (930525) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019688)

/ None of them. Chromed steel all the \
\ way!                                /
        \     ____
         \   / __ \
          \  O|  |O|
             ||  | |
             ||  | |
             ||    |
              |___/

Re:None of them (1)

khedron the jester (888418) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019866)

Again, clippy annoys the slashdot readers...

IPv6 (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019711)

Perhaps the big players should try and coincide a wide spread roll out of fibre with a general aboption of IPv6. That way we could get all the pain and expense over and done with in one hit. Mmmmmmh huge untypeable IP addresses - just what I've always wanted.

Re:IPv6 (2, Informative)

imroy (755) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019903)

I don't know about other countries, but AARNET here in Australia recently upgraded their network [aarnet.edu.au] with 10Gbps fibre connecting major metropolitan centres as well as Seattle and LA in the US. Slower copper links are used for redundancy and connecting not-so-major metropolitan centres. And it supports IPv6 as well as IPv4.

It's refreshing to see their attitude about IPv6 in their design goals [aarnet.edu.au] :

Therefore IPv6 must be afforded the same priority within the new network as IPv4. A network that treated IPv6 as a second-class citizen was not going to be acceptable and so the type of traffic should not influence performance of the network.

Also, Australians can use their IPv6 migration broker [aarnet.net.au] to get a local IPv6 tunnel.

Fiber at home (or at the office) (2, Informative)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019811)

I'd love to have fiber drops to the rooms of my house. It was'nt the cost of the fiber which was prohibitive. It was the cost of the Fiber SWITCH!

From someone with Verizon's FIOS Service, (4, Informative)

neildiamond (610251) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019850)

here are the problems! 1. Monopoly CONTROL! Verizon isn't just trying to give you high speed Internet, they're trying completely take over your phone. Once your phone is on fibre, you can no longer switch local service providers (unless they allow that for some reason). The reason is that the fibre line is completely theirs and the old copper was financed by govt regulated monopoly. This is a return to the old Bell only days! 2. They do everything possible to cut off copper service to your house even if you tell them not to so as to make it nearly impossible to get a phone line from someone else! (Took me over a month!) 3. Why else would you want a copper phone? POWER OUTAGES! Copper phones usually have their own power and continue to work when the main power goes out. Fibre phones installations come with a battery pack that you have to maintain. They saw the phone can get 4 hours of talk time. Not so good if you run a company or home business on that line. Plus, the only thing that worked during 9/11 was the copper phone line (yes sometimes the lines were busy, but it still mostly worked as cell phones didn't). Internet was pretty slow at that point too. If having a working phone isn't important to you, you could always go with Vonage or whatever, but that's still relying on a single communications channel not to fail in a major emergency. 4. Verizon's customer service sucks. THey know they have you by the balls and once you have fibre, there is no going back! That said, the internet service is pretty sweet. I've been running it since September and not a single burb since then. The 1.5 Mbs upstream speed is really nice too. So my advice is switch your local phone service to someone else and then get Verizon to do your Internet. That way they have to leave your copper phone lines in place. However, they just bought out MCI and the other local phone guys are pretty sucky so beware! Verizon is the next M$ watch out!

Re:From someone with Verizon's FIOS Service, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14019919)

VoIP.

Optical S/PDIF, the need for bandwidth. (1)

drn8 (883816) | more than 7 years ago | (#14019936)

Ive never had any of the "breakage" issues associated with fiber when using fiber audiocables in my home theater, and I think that lacking home optical internet connections is a hinderance to commerce, just think about all the money that can be made off the sale of services on the internets once 100+mbps fiber connections are the norm for the average consumer.
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