Fiber to the Home (FTTH) is the delivery of a communications signal over optical fiber from the operator’s switching equipment all the way to the subscriber’s home or business premises. The evolution of FTTH and other fiber optic technologies paved the way to the disposition of existing copper infrastructure such as telephone wires and coaxial cables. Here in Zimbabwe, our own Internet Access Providers such as Liquid Telecom, TelOne, Powertel and Telco have been rolling out FTTH services to provide better and reliable connectivity to their subscribers.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
Fiber-to-the-Home is a relatively new and fast growing method of providing vastly higher bandwidth to consumers and businesses, and thereby enabling more robust communication services over the Internet. These include the fast growing popularity of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Video on Demand (VoD) and other regular data communication services such as email and social media.
The rise of FTTH and other fibre optic technologies has seen powerful and innovative players like Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe already sitting on 40Gigabits per second capacity whereas Zimbabwe in total is only using 19Gigabits per Second, leaving the operator with an excess capacity of 21Gigabits per Second. This is mainly because the operator was able to build its core network around a very resilient and scalable optical ring.
Also, the adoption of FTTH as a modern means of transmitting data in the telecommunication industry saw the birth of IPTV with the likes of NetFlix and ShowMax already causing a stir in the market. This is mainly because of the resiliency and reliable connectivity provided by the fibre optic cables.
Connecting homes directly to fiber optic cable enables enormous improvements in the bandwidth that can be provided to consumers. Current fiber optic technology can provide two-way transmission speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. Further, as cable modem and DSL providers are struggling to squeeze increments of higher bandwidth out of their technologies, ongoing improvements in fiber optic equipment are constantly increasing available bandwidth without having to change the fiber. That’s why fiber networks are said to be “future proof.”
How far does the fibre go?
A good FTTH service will not only terminate at the door, but will be taken to where it’s needed in the house. It will also include a Wi-Fi router similar to the ones supplied with ADSL services; larger houses will generally require more than one Wi-Fi router or booster to ensure that there is coverage wherever it is required.
Does the fibre service provider install all the devices?
Sometimes the Wi-Fi routers are provided, but installation is excluded. In this case, a consumer needs to ensure that they are capable of installing the Wi-Fi router and connecting it to the fibre. It is often better to go with a fibre supplier who will do this for their customers, avoiding possible costly mistakes and saving the consumer from the hassle.
How much data can you get?
Fibre providers will often offer capped or uncapped services, but what does this mean? Capped services offer consumers a limited quantity of data. After the data has reached its limit, or ‘cap’, the consumer will have no more data left to use and will need to ‘top up’. The consumer will then receive additional data, but often at exorbitant top up rates, getting penalized for every extra megabyte of data they consume over their cap. Uncapped services provide unlimited amounts of data, but consumers need to understand the fair usage policy attached to their contract to make sure their expectations match up to the service.
How can you manage your data use?
FTTH providers need to be able to provide their customers with transparency into their data usage, preferably through an online portal. In this way, consumers can manage how much data they use, what it is being used for and pull reports as needed. At the very least, providers need to offer their customers monthly reports.
What support do you get?
There should always be support offered with the fibre service, to minimize failures and provide customers with a way to report faults. Ideally, customers should not even need to log a call – support should be proactive and the fibre provider should actively monitor the service. Consumers need to confirm the details of their support, understanding what level they should expect, what the service times are and that the support is in line with their needs.
FTTH is the answer to having a tech savvy home, and enables all those services that make life easier and better, such as streaming television shows and movies, online shopping and sharing photographs. However, it is essential that customers use a FTTH service provider that will give them the full service, support and equipment that they need to have that simpler, better life.
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