Is Fiber Internet Connection the Future of Smart Home?
What will be the next solution to the crowded internet space as more people set up smart homes?
Since the days of dial-up access, the internet connection comes into the house at a single point. Back in those days, a length of telephone wire connected the family computer to the outside world. The switch to WiFi and broadband didn’t change much, except households now connect their wireless router to the outside world – still through a cable. All your devices connect to the internet through that central hub. In a typical house, you might have a Roku box, a laptop or two, the family’s smartphones, and an Xbox hooked up to the router. In a smart home? You’ll have a lot more devices than that. Think light switches, thermostats, smartphones, surveillance systems, media streamers, medical devices, smart kettles, and maybe a Roomba. The more devices connected to the network – and ultimately the internet connection – the slower the speeds become for each device. Think of those annoying “video is buffering” messages. Or choppy music playback through wireless speakers. Some devices might not work at all. The increasing number of WiFi networks in your neighborhood also make the problem worse. The radio bands get crowded, and interference causes its own issues. That’s not something you want in a world where things like wearable medical devices will need a stable, reliable internet connection. What’s the solution to this crowded internet space as more people set up smart homes? Fiber internet.
What’s the Difference Between Fiber Internet and Current Cables?
The first internet cables were made of copper wiring. They’ve served us well, but now their limited capacity is slowing down the system. The bandwidth decreases the longer the distance a signal must travel. Lightning strikes or power surges can affect their efficiency. Fiber optic cables work differently. Each glass thread within the cable bundle is only the diameter of a human hair. They transmit data as light waves instead of electrical signals. Because light travels so fast (186,000 miles per second), you can expect home internet connection speeds of around 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) on a fiber network. The average internet speeds in the US are currently 18.7 Mbps. On a fiber connection at 1Gbps (1000Mbps), for example, downloading huge Blu-ray movies could take seconds. Using light waves also makes fiber internet more stable and less vulnerable to power surges. Even using different lasers to transmit data can increase the bandwidth, making fiber technology far more future-facing than copper cables.
How Can Users Get the Benefits of Fiber Internet?
Only 25% of the United States has access to fiber internet. In Europe, that figure is often higher such as in the UK where it is closer to two-thirds. Some providers claim to be a fiber network, which can be misleading. Their network might use fiber cable only as far as your neighborhood, and the old copper cables take over the connection into your home. But copper cabling costs money to maintain, so more providers will switch to fiber cables to save money in the long term and provide better service to their customers. Once you have fiber coming into your home, what do you do next? An excellent way to set up a simple home network is to install plastic optical fiber (POF) to carry the faster connection around the house. Combine it with multiple WiFi points around your home to improve coverage. POF is cheap and being plastic, easy to bend and manipulate when you come to install it. You can even install it in the mains ducts of your home since it doesn’t conduct electricity. It’s limited to speeds of 10 Gbps, but that should suit your needs for at least a decade. If you’ve already set up your smart home, then the existing devices will enjoy the faster speeds. Make life even easier by controlling them all from a single interface, using an app like the SURE Universal remote. You’ll gain peace of mind knowing you can operate your smart thermostat from your vacation home without your smart security system losing connection and cutting out. Over to you – do you have fiber internet? Did you notice the difference it made to your connection?