With fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband, the network of fibre optic cables runs to a premises' local telephone network junction box, from where data is transferred through regular copper cables to a building. Since copper wires tend to significantly slow down the speed of a connection, FTTC broadband has a maximum speed of 100 Mbps.
To get anywhere near the superfast broadband speeds of 1,000 Mbps that are possible with fibre cables, you need to live in an area where there are FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) connections available. In these cases, cables run all the way into your home.
If you live in an apartment building, there might be a FTTB (fibre-to-the-building) connection, where the cable runs all the way to the outside of the building, but is then piped via alternative means to your apartment.
Virgin Media offers fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) broadband, which can deliver speeds of up to 360 Mbps.
This is the fastest broadband speed that is widely available in Ireland and the provider is regularly awarded for its broadband speeds. However, the actual speeds achieved by an end user will depend on a number of factors, including distance from the local junction box and the number of devices connected to the network at a given time.
Until recently, fibre connections tended to be the preserve of cable operators like Virgin Media, and generally only available to customers in urban areas.
However, eir has invested substantially in its own network, and SIRO has partnered with Vodafone, Digiweb and others to deliver fibre-to-the-home connections and speeds of 1,000 Mbps to homes and businesses in Ireland.
Most urban users with good broadband connections may not notice significant differences following a change to this new technology, however rural customers with poor connectivity could benefit immensely.
In the case where a rural customer has a traditional ADSL connection with speeds or around 2Mbps, fibre could bring about a significant increase in speed. For example, a connection achieving a speed of 50Mbps would enable a user to download a 700Mb feature-length movie in under two minutes.
Fibre broadband is more stable than ADSL connections and does not suffer from drops in speed as a result of multiple users. In fact, this technology, which allows for bundled services, is thought by experts to be the only connection type capable of handling the expected growth in demand for high-speed broadband over the next decade.
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