Fiber optics are strands of optically pure glass that carry digital information as pulses of light. Each glass strand is surrounded by a material that reflects the light back into the glass core and a coating to protect it. Hundreds of thousands of these coated glass strands are bundled together to make the fiber optic cable that delivers broadband to your home or business. Fiber can provide very high data transmission speeds.
Fiber to the x (FTTx) is a generic term for any broadband network architecture that uses optical fiber to replace all or part of the traditional local loop used for last mile (the connection between the customer and the telephone company, cable company or ISP) transport. The variations (i.e., what the “x” refers to) depend on how far the fiber extends toward the home (or business). For example:
- FTTN (Fiber-to-the-Node): Fiber is terminated in a street cabinet up to several kilometers away from the customer premises with the final connection being copper.
- FTTC (Fiber-to-the-Cabinet or Fiber-to-the-Curb): This is very similar to FTTN, but the street cabinet is closer to the user’s premises—typically within 300 m(about 1000 feet).
- FTTB (Fiber-to-the-Building or Fiber-to-the-Basement): Fiber reaches the boundary of the building, such as the basement in a multi-dwelling unit, with the final connection to the individual living space being made via alternative means.
- FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home): Fiber reaches the boundary of the living space, such as a box on the outside wall of a home.
- FTTP (Fiber-to-the Premises): This term is used in several contexts—as a blanket term for both FTTH and FTTB, or where the fiber network includes both homes and small businesses.
The further fiber extends into the network, the higher the resulting end-user (realized) speeds.