FTTC, or fibre to the cabinet, is now a term that has entered common parlance. But if you want to understand the importance of this cutting-edge technology and why it is being implemented on a wide scale, it is necessary to look at the background and establish the most important benefits which it brings to the table.
FTTC has been developed in order to gradually phase out the use of traditional copper and metallic wiring in the delivery of internet connectivity. Fibre-optic technology has several benefits over existing wiring, the main one being that you can experience increased download speeds and connection consistency because the signal will not degrade in quality over the length of the cable.
Advertised speeds for DSL connections are usually unable to match up with real-world performance, which is typically lower because of the metallic cabling used. Fibre-optic systems can come much closer to reaching the theoretical maximum speed for any service, which is an obvious benefit for both the end user and the telecoms firm.
The reason that fibre-optic services are not more widespread is that there is significant expense associated with rolling out the infrastructure which is necessary to support this type of connection. FTTP (fibre to the property), a set-up which connects a building directly to the networking using fibre and eliminating metallic cables, is particularly costly and only viable in areas with particularly high population densities.
FTTC addresses the issues associated with cost by bringing the fibre connection to a street-level cabinet, which is how it got its name. These cabinets are typically located within around 300 metres of any property which they serve, which means the metallic wiring which does the rest of the job of delivering the broadband connection will have little or no impact on the data speeds. It also means that there is no need to install fibre-optic cabling at each and every property in the vicinity. This brings down the investment requirements and speeds up the rate at which FTTC can be adopted.
The increased performance offered by FTTC has only been available for a relatively short period of time. Prior to the roll-out of FTTC by BT, the only fibre-optic style service available to consumers and business users in the UK was offered by Virgin Media. The full FTTP approach taken by Virgin Media means that coverage levels are limited. But with BT setting aside £1.5 billion to invest in superfast broadband and the lower costs associated with FTTC installation, it will be possible for a far larger number of customers to access the internet at much higher speeds.
FTTC was made commercially available in January of 2010, with download speeds reaching a theoretical maximum of 40Mbps and upload speeds maxing out at 10Mbps. This significant speed increase over traditional DSL connections, which would typically offer between 8Mbps and 24Mbps at the very top end of their performance, makes FTTC easy to recommend.
FTTC will soon be able to provide 80Mbps download speeds in many locations, which will help it to continue its pursuit of full FTTP connections that are beginning to breach the 100Mbps barrier. Eventually, the telecoms firms will be looking to introduce a 1Gbps service via fibre-optic cabling and this should hopefully be supported via FTTC and FTTP set-ups.
Fibre is the future and there are clearly plenty of investments being made in the updated infrastructure. All that is required is for businesses and domestic users to start taking advantage so that telecoms firms are convinced of its long-term viability as a broadband service that will both provide better services and perhaps increased profitability.
This article was written by Daisy Group plc who are a leading specialised communication company providing robust and secure business solutions including Fibre to the Cabinet or FTTC, SDSL and Annex M Broadband to small medium and corporate business across the UK.