Differences in Fiber Technology

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Not all fiber technology is the same – and the differences can be confusing. Try to explain the difference between fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC). And there are more terms than those two!

Here, we’ll explore the difference between the four types of fiber technologies.

Fiber-to-the-node (FTTN)

A “node” is simply a network box that is shared among multiple homes or businesses. FTTN is also known as fiber-to-the-neighborhood because the fiber-optic cables are brought to the end of a street to provide service for multiple residences – or perhaps an entire neighborhood.1

The “last mile” service is the zone from the node to the house. It’s not necessarily an exact mile long. However, it could be slightly less or multiple miles away. Copper or other materials are used to create the wire from the node to the home or business. To deliver data to more than one customer, a coaxial cable or an unshielded twisted pair cable is typically used.2

Fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC)

FTTC is nearly the same as fiber-to-the-node, except it is a few meters closer. While FTTN is more than 1,000 feet away from the home, FTTC is less than 1,000 feet.3 Literally, the fiber-optic cables are brought to the curbs close to a home or business.

To make up for the distance from the curb to the location provided with fiber-optic service, a coaxial cable or other wiring is used. Then, the signal is carried the short distance on this medium.4

Fiber-to-the-building (FTTB)

This fiber-optic cable installation brings fiber to a building or a shared property.5 From there, businesses or those living in apartments, for example, will get their connection through other cabling. This cabling would likely be made of copper, although other wires can be used.6

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)

FTTH brings fiber directly to a room in a home or business through one of two architectures. The point-to-point architecture is typically used for large businesses.6

The passive optical network (PON) is used for smaller businesses and homes. With this architecture, just one fiber can be split 32 ways to deliver video, voice and data services to multiple locations. This is a very cost-effective way of delivering fiber services.7

Because this installation uses the least amount of metallic cabling, FTTH brings the fastest speeds and the most bandwidth to residences and businesses.8


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This post was written by the Beacon team.

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