How does a fiber optic network work?

A fiber optic network is basically similar to a conventional telephone network constructed with copper cables. The key difference is that the copper cables used in the telephone network with increasing length, an inductive resistance forms and without appropriate technical precautions, the signal strength decreases significantly after just a few kilometers.

Unlike other lines, fiber optic networks can theoretically achieve data rates well in excess of 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) in both upload and download, regardless of distance. Current fiber-optic line offers on the market usually have transmission speeds in the range of 100 Mbit / s in the upload and download. So far, private customers hardly exploit this capability. However, this may change depending on how technology and the proliferation of data-intensive Internet applications and modern consumer electronics – such as HDTV and streams – are progressing.

Fiber is an investment in the future and, in the long run, the first choice for building a broadband infrastructure.

However, there are already some broadband technologies today like Sopto, but they are far from the performance of a fiber infrastructure:

Current Broadband Infrastructure

Television cable

48% penetration in television coverage compared with a market share of just fewer than 15 percent in the Internet supply in the field of broadband cable. Many households therefore have the technical possibility of a fast Internet connection, but do not use it. The offered data rates are at max. 100 Mbit / s for download, but only at 6 Mbit / s in the upload. However, these speeds are only theoretical values, as many users have to share this bandwidth.


DSL technology uses the telephone line for the transmission of fast Internet. On the wired broadband connections DSL has a share of 84%. However, the range is highly distance-dependent. With the VDSL technology commonly used today, a data rate of 50 Mbit / s is possible for download – but only up to a distance of a few 100 meters. The further a customer lives away from a distribution point, the lower the data rate available to him.

Mobile: LTE

Especially T-Mobile and Vodafone are currently working intensively on the expansion of their LTE 800 networks – a new mobile standard that offers higher data rates and shorter response times than previous technologies. However, the available data rate decreases with increasing distance from the base radio station. In addition, all customers of a radio cell share the overall data rate. With the general increase in the use of the mobile Internet, the available data rates of LTE will never achieve the possibilities of a wired supply – certainly not that of a fiber optic infrastructure.


Another alternative technology is the WLAN or WIMAX standard. Here data rates of more than 100 Mbit / s in upstream and downstream are possible. If the inhabitants of a whole district are to be supplied by radio, each customer has at least several Mbit / s available for download. Since the transmitting power of the stations for WLAN and WIMAX amounts to maximally a few watts, there is only a small electromagnetic radiation. A discussion about electrosmog will therefore hardly arise. By contrast, LTE 800 base stations often operate with radiated power of about 300 watts. Due to the lower performance of WLAN and WIMAX, there must be a line of sight connection between the sender and the receiver, which means that usage is restricted to stationary terminals.


The satellite remains indispensable for the supply of more remote areas, which are neither reached by wire-bound techniques nor by radio. Standard there are 10 Mbit / s in the down and 2 Mbit / s in the upload. Since the satellite is about 38,000 km away from us in the sky, response times of about 0.7 seconds are inevitable. This is the price for instant availability of fast internet in virtually every location.

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