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What is FiOS, and Why Is It Better

131A lot of attention has been paid recently to the new fiber optic options for home entertainment such as streaming video or music, and super-fast and reliable internet connections. The service is called FiOS and stands for Fiber Optic Service. Because bringing this service to your home requires a completely new set of cables, FiOS availability is limited but is growing as miles of new cable are being laid every day.

What is Fiber Optics

Fiber optic systems use a thin glass or plastic wire that will carry data using light. The strands of wire are about the thickness of a human hair and individual wires are as long as 3,300 feet. Each wire is wrapped in a sheathing material that has a different refraction property from the main wire. Hundreds of these wires are bundled together to form a cable.

How Does It Work

Light is used to transmit data along the fiber optic cables. When you request a webpage from your home computer on a FiOS network, the request is converted from your computer’s electrical signals into pulses of laser light by an Optical Network Terminal (ONT). The request is sent to the appropriate web server that replies to your request and sends it back to the ONT where the light to again converted back into the signal your computer can process.

Why Is It Better Than Cable or Satellite

Traditional copper cables have a few disadvantages over fiber optics. Because copper lines carry their information as a stream of electrons, they are very suspectable to other forms of electromagnetic (EM) interference. FiOS systems are immune from that kind of system interference since laser light is unaffected by EM and the wires themselves are electrically neutral. Also, electrical signals traveling along a copper wire degrade quickly the further from the source while the light traveling along a fiber optic cable degrades very little over extremely long distances.

As opposed to satellite TV services, FiOS is unaffected by the weather or other types of atmospheric conditions. Plus, most satellite systems are one-way downstream connections, with upstream data still being handled through the cable or telephone wires.

FiOS can achieve extremely high data transfer speeds, and the limit is usually the routers and conversion equipment rather than the cabling itself. Currently, some FiOS providers are offering plans that have 500Mbps as opposed to traditional cable limits of around 10Mbps. This speed allows for enhanced picture quality for your high-definition television, plenty of bandwidth for downloading or streaming movies or music and still have room for surfing the internet.

Check whether your home has FiOS availability and if so, by making the change to a better technology you will not be disappointed.


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