Fiber optic Internet connections have some incredible performance on tap, and often show this off in very tangible ways. For example, one of the nation’s largest fiber optic carriers manages to deliver industry leading digital cable offerings, advanced Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Internet telephone systems, and data rates that dwarf the competition all over the same fiber optic connection. Considering that the net result is still a data connection with far more usable bandwidth than even the fastest broadband connections offered by metal wires and electricity when they are not burdened by video or audio signals, it is safe to declare fiber optic Internet connections official fast.
There is more to the situation than just a simple declaration of performance, however, especially given the way that certain segments of the IT industry and our lives in general are moving. In simple terms, we are about to be handicapped by our lack of bandwidth. That limitation is due to the evolution of broadband signals sent via electricity of metal wires, an antiquated and outdated system that has been updated and revised to the point where there may not be much more growth left in it. Instead, we are looking at a future that will belong to fiber optic Internet and all of the data it can push. Here are just a few ways in which fiber optic Internet performance will change our world in the immediate future:
Fiber Optic Internet Fuels Backups
Our computers are constantly asked to store everything from programs to pictures, video, and audio files. Those media files increase in size as accuracy and complexity improves every single generation, and show no sign of stopping this phenomenal growth. Thankfully computer storage devices show a growth rate that is up to the challenge, but metal wires and broadband technologies that rely on electrical signals over those wires are not keeping up pace. That might seem hard to believe given the impressive growth of broadband since the mid-1990s, but let us look at some numbers.
In the mid to late 1990s we started to see the rise of gigabyte capacity drives and closed the decade out with a handful of drives that could store a few gigabytes each. At the same time, broadband technologies in the 256 to 512 Kbps range were becoming available. Fast forward a decade or so to 2010 and you are now looking at drives that are literally 500 to 1000 times larger in storage capacity, and still end users are able to push them to their limits. By comparison, DSL speeds and cable modem speeds are reaching speeds several dozen and perhaps nearly 100 times as fast, but the disparity is clear. Try as they might, metal wires and broadband technology that relies on electrical transmission over those wires is hindered by the fact that storage and computer standards can evolve far faster.
How can you back something that keeps growing faster than the backup transmission medium? You can use all the clever algorithms in the world, but sooner or later you will have some tough choices to make. Or, you can choose fiber optics that have scaled almost perfectly in line with local storage standards and are just starting to become mainstream.
Fiber Optic Internet Fuels Applications
So, online backups and applications developed to deployed and used online as services, also known as The Cloud, are at a serious disadvantage in this regard. Local storage subsystems simply have far more to offer both in terms of bandwidth as well as overall storage capacity than what is publicly available versus the cloud. This will change as companies start buying up real estate and deploying server farms that offer unparalleled performance and enable end users to start buying thin clients where performance is far less important than it ever was on a local level.
Security and privacy concerns are going to linger, and this model will not work for everyone, but even those that do not want to engage fully in cloud computing can still use it selectively with better broadband connections such as those offered by purely fiber optic networks. The only roadblock remains in getting the approval and permits to deploy fiber optic connections directly to the homes and offices of consumers.
Photo by: Tim Pierce