xDSL vs. Fiber

7:07 AM UTS 33 Comments

The average internet consumer has no idea of the differences between the technologies xDSL and fiber optics that are used to provide internet access. This is quite understandable because wear mostly concerned about the end result, such as available bandwidth, latency, stability, maximum download speed and lately also maximum upload speeds.  The traditional web surfer (most of them are just surfing the internet and downloading webpages content to the PC/Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone) has changed to also being heavy up-loaders also, as he/she uploads or is streaming his/her content onto the internet (Youtube, facetime, webcam, dropbox etc. etc.). This behavior change has put additional emphasis on the upload capability of one’s internet connection. Upload speeds are becoming more and more as important as download speeds.
The truth is that while DSL and Fiber can both provide you with high-speed capabilities, these services are very distinct. Read on to discover the pros and cons of each one.
DSL vs. Fiber Internet
A Digital Subscriber Line or DSL connection is offered through the ISP (internet service provider) and uses the existing copper wire of your phone line to deliver high speed internet access. Often the ISP’s offer internet access services that support a certain download speed and a different upload speed (i.e. 32/3 Mbps). This is called Asymmetric DSL. This technology has evolved since the first implementation in 2005 on Curacao from ADSL via ADSL2+, subsequently VDSL to VDSL2, which UTS has currently deployed in the copper infrastructure. New evolved DSL technologies are available, such as vectoring and bonding;all to enable the ISP to offer higher bandwidths. The maximum obtainable speed in a DSL infrastructure relies heavily on two main parameters such as the quality of the copper wire-line infrastructure and the distance covered between the DSL modem in household and the DSL core network. The maximum supported speeds therefor various between 1 Mbps to 80 Mbps depending on distance and copper-line quality.

In order to enable ISP’s to offer higher bandwidth that are not influenced by environmental factors and consequently offer stable bandwidth, Fiber Optics is more and more used in the deployment of high-speed, high demanding broadband networks.

While xDSL (x can be A;Asymmetrical or V;VeryHighBitRate or S;Symmetrial) may not be as fast as a Fiber connection, a xDSLconnection is incredibly faster than ordinary dial-upand still suits the needs of most domestic users just fine.

xDSLis offered at a relatively affordable rate and is bundled with a standard telephone service. xDSL Internet requires a DSL modem and professional installation by an ISP technician, as a copper line must be available in your home or office.

A Fiber based connection is offered through the ISP that is using fiber optic cables to deliver the high speed internet access. Due to the fact that fiber optics networks are not influenced by factors such as distance or fiberglass quality, it offers the ISP unique properties enabling the ISP to offer Super-Fast, Reliable and Stable internet access.  Super Fast and Stability are properties that influence the customer experience very positively.

The process of installing fiber-optic Internet is usually more intrusive and takes more time than xDSL. That’s because unlike xDSL which uses your home’s or office’s existing phone line, fiber-optic Internet requires that a specific fiber optic cable be run to your home or office. Fiber Internet Access harnesses the speed, clarity and power of light through a dedicated 100% fiber optic connection to your home. A fiber optic cable transmits light signals that send TV, Internet and phone services directly to your home at incredible high speeds and quality levels. Because the fiber optic line connects straight to your home, it is a FTTH (Fiber To The Home) service. And with this advanced FTTH technology, it can deliver superior performance with remarkably high-quality TV and blazing-fast Internet with Gamer Certified speeds. (low latency)

Fiber Internet is carried by a strand of lightweight, thin, optic fiber via modulated light. Ye… we know those are a bunch of ‘high-tech’ terms, but it’s simply a thin fiber as thin as a human hair made of pure glass that can carry digital information over impressively long distances.
Just like xDSL, Fiber internet is usually installed by a professional.
xDSL Internet is considered reliable, but compared to Fiber, xDSL speeds vary due to a number of factors including network configuration, your location, line quality and length. xDSL internet is conducted by electricity through copper cable, copper is very sensible to environmental/climate changes. For example if it gets wet or humid the electrical flow may be hindered and this automatically affects your internet connection, speed and stability.

Fiber-optic is generally considered reliable. Fiber internet is considered a passive system, which means power does not need to be applied within the system network. So, because the conductor is glass, it does not generate electricity In other words fiber is immune to interference that can be caused by nearby power lines or high-voltage electrical equipment etc. Plus, with fiber-optic, there is less chance of your computer sustaining lightning related damage.

xDSL offers speeds that can accommodate the needs of most home or businesses. For example VDSL2with vectoring and binding can offer download speeds of up to 100+ Mbps on a healthy line in a distance of approximately less than 100m from the DSL Core network. Upload speeds of 1.5 to 30 Mbps are common; all this depending of the above mentioned conditions. The reality is that those households are connected to the DSL Core with variations in distance.

Another factor that influences the user experience is “latency”. Latency is the delay incurred during the sending/receiving and processing of data between two parties. In general latency is expressed in ms(milliseconds) and can range from 6to 100 ms (tested on UTS connections).The overall latency is influenced by the location of the internet server you are trying to reach or communicate with. Gamers of online multiplayer games are very sensitive to latency during their online gaming experience. If they press their trigger to shoot their online enemy with a latency of 200 ms and their online opponent has a latency of 10 ms, his bullet will be reach the opponent must faster.  Low latency gamers tend to always win from high latency gamers.

VDSL2 has a reputation of being fast, but Fiber internet supports even higher bandwidths and speeds. Plus, Fiber internet allows the user to send data over much greater distances while maintaining speed and latency. Fiber-optic Internet offers download speeds ranging from 2 Mbps up to 1Gbps, and upload speeds from 2Mbps to 10Mbps. The unmatched speed of Fiber internet allows every connected member to download, upload, stream and share files simultaneously without compromising performance.
Fiber-optic Internet is not yet available in as many neighborhoods as xDSL, but its availability is expanding. xDSL is notoriously accessible. In fact, its availability is one of its greatest advantages over fiber; especially in Curacao where we already have an existing copper wire underground infrastructure that has been implemented in nearly all neighborhoods. The network infrastructure of UTS is continuously modernizing. As part of this modernization, fiber optic will be available in all neighborhoods in the near future. Areas such as Jan Sofat, Zuurzak, Recompansa, FKP Nabij Vetter, Harmonie, are examples of neighborhoods that already have been upgraded enabling them to make use of Fiber Internet already.
Summarizing xDSLvs Fiber Internet

Internet Access    Download    Upload    Reliability    Stablity
xDSL    Up to 80Mbps(*)    Up to 60 Mbps    +    +
FTTH    Up to 1Gbps (**)    Up to 1 Gbps    +++    ++++

(*) depending on distance between DSL modem and DSL Core network
(**) Technical feasible but pending commercial availability.if50Mbps cost 149/month what would 1Gbps should cost?

Keep yourself informed via our “TECH SMART Blog"

-Broadband team-



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