Fibre, fibre everywhere – but where do you start?

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

We’ve all heard the ads on the radio, or read them in magazines, the ones telling us that ‘fibre is here’ or that it is ‘coming to a suburb near you’, but what does it all mean, and how do you choose between all the companies that want to ‘light you up’?

Let’s start at the beginning.  What’s the big deal about fibre, and how is it different to ADSL?

Fibre is like ADSL on steroids – it is faster, more reliable and more stable and instead of the old fashioned copper cables (the ones that get stolen, leaving you disconnected), it is fibre optic, a single strand of which, can power the entire world’s internet today.

Think – no buffering while you’re watching a YouTube video, and downloading content is quick and easy.  Imagine – movie downloads that are almost quicker than making a bag of microwave popcorn.

So where do you get fibre?   Fibre is currently being rolled out in metropolitan suburbs across the country and you will know if you have fibre in your area, if you’ve see the pavements being dug up and large rolls of cable lining your street.   But there’s more to this than just seeing the fibre, literally being rolled out.

The companies that are digging up pavements and laying the fibre in the ground, are the infrastructure providers – they are creating the backbone, the network, on top of which internet services can be provided.

Many suburbs have more than one infrastructure provider available – with many new ones popping up, as the fibre revolution takes hold.  It is important to choose an infrastructure provider that has a good track record, strong network reliability, and also, open access.

What do we mean by open access?  It means that you will have a choice of internet service providers and you can select these based on your needs, your budget and the packages they are offering.  Infrastructure providers that don’t support open access, or choice, will look to lock you into an agreement with the ISP of their choice.

But isn’t an ISP the same as an infrastructure provider?  An ISP is the enabler of what is possible with fibre.  An infrastructure provider lays the fibre in the ground, and provides the network or backbone for running services, like internet connectivity and is responsible for any maintenance that is required.  Without an ISP in place, that fibre will lay dormant in the ground, despite its capability to connect and transmit data.

So how do you know which infrastructure provider to choose?  Start with your existing ISP if you have one, especially if you want to keep them as your service provider.  They’ll be able to guide your decision on which infrastructure provider they are partnering with.

If this is your first time looking at fixed line connectivity, then getting in touch with ISPs that you have heard about and asking them, or checking out other fibre areas, might be a good option.

So you’ve chosen to switch, what will change?  Switching to fibre will allow you to use the internet like never before.  It’s like switching from a bicycle to a four wheel drive SUV. With a superfast connection, you can go further, faster, and uninterrupted.

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