FAQs: Fiber-Optic Internet

What is the difference between DSL and fiber? 

For a great overview of traditional DSL versus fiber-optic internet, watch our Tech Tip video here.

Fiber-optic internet is an internet connection that transfers data via fiber-optic cables. “Fiber” refers to the thin glass wires inside the larger protective cable. “Optic” refers to the way the type of data is transferred; in this case, light signals. So a fiber-optic network is an internet network in which data is delivered in light signals via small, flexible glass wires.

The fiber line running to your home from the main cable contains just a few strands of fiber, but those strands could theoretically carry all the information in the Western USA. 

DSL is an internet connection delivered via the type of lines used for landline telephones. The abbreviation stands for “Digital Subscriber Line.” Telephone lines are made mostly of copper. While copper is an ideal conductor, data cannot travel as quickly via telephone lines as it can with fiber-optic systems.

What is the difference in speed?

Fiber-optic networks can deliver speeds up to 1 gigabit per second that is the same as 1,000 megabits per second. The fastest DSL speed Whidbey Telecom offers is 50 Mbps.

It’s important to note that fiber’s “speed” is not referring to the speed of the signal in the fiber, but the bandwidth potential of the fiber.

Does download and upload speed matter?

Upload speeds represent the amount of data sent from your device to the internet in a given second. This impacts simple tasks such as sending emails and accessing cloud-based applications. Upload bandwidth is also consumed with each item seen on a web page.

Modern applications have placed a greater demand on upload bandwidth than ever before. Video conferencing, interactive learning, online gaming, high-definition live streaming, and voice over IP (VoIP) calls require a constant two-way communication. Even simple tasks like email or word processing programs are becoming more reliant on the cloud. Cloud-based storage for photographs and videos can max out a slow upload.

Most users tend to be more interested in how quickly they can receive data, as opposed to how long it takes to send data from their computer. However, it’s worth considering that a slow upload speed can delay the average browsing experience. Having to accommodate simultaneous uploads should be considered when deciding which internet service plan to go with.

What do you mean when you talk about symmetric and asymmetric speeds?

Whidbey Telecom’s BiG GiG Fiber Network is the only internet network on the island that offers symmetric upload and download speeds.

Symmetric connections have the same downstream speeds as upstream. This means that you can send a file to someone else just as fast as you could get it from them. Asymmetric connections tend to offer much slower upload speeds, which can slow your internet usage to a crawl. Both cable and DSL networks are typically asymmetrical by design.

How will a fiber connection improve my home and life?

Fiber is a great economic leveler for rural residents. Your home will have the same advanced capacity as a high-tech building in any major financial district. Imagine streaming HD video to as many devices simultaneously as you want without any buffering. This is especially important in rural and heavily wooded areas like ours, where connectivity can be spotty.

Is there any added benefit to the value of my home if I have fiber?

Yes, there is! The Fiber Broadband Association found that access to fiber increases a home’s value by 3.1%. The boost is roughly equivalent to that added by a fireplace, half a bathroom, or a quarter of a swimming pool. Fiber-equipped homes also sell and rent faster than average, according to surveys.

Why is fiber a better option than wireless?

In short, WiFi is great for mobility, but does not offer competitively fast speeds or the reliability of wired connections. Fiber is a long term investment that facilitates wireless, but wireless is not a replacement for a full fiber-to-the-home network.

Is fiber a good investment for my business?

Yes, fiber-optics are a good investment. There is a very minimal price difference between our BiG GiG Fiber packages and our traditional DSL packages. You will gain serious bandwidth, reliability, and speed advantages for years to come.

Why a buried fiber network?

Whidbey Telecom’s network is 100% buried. Buried networks are all about reliability and being future-proof. You can count on your fiber connection to work in windstorms or heavy rain.

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