The Future of Telecommunication

Copper cable networks are dead. The fact that they are still around is just because their funeral keeps being postponed. Meanwhile, a burial of a different kind is happening, as fibre optic cables are rapidly becoming the connection of choice for superfast broadband Internet speeds.

The major fixed-line broadband technologies that currently exist are Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), that transmits data over old copper telephone lines, cable broadband, that uses optic fibre or copper coaxial television network cables, and Fibre to the Home/Business (FTTH and FTTB).

The reason why older technologies prevail long past the point of obsolescence is that broadband communication requires network infrastructure. Copper cable networks are as ubiquitous as the landline telephones that were standard in every home at one point. It was therefore rather easy to upgrade telephone exchanges to handle ADSL and VDSL data connections over the same copper cable network that once handled the super slow dial-up Internet. But copper networks suffer a number of drawbacks. The quality of the copper can influence the signal quality, and an unfavourable signal-to-noise ratio can cause massive packet loss. This, in turn, means slower reliable speed. Network congestion is another factor since more devices connected to the same switchboard will have a negative effect on things like latency.

In markets such as UK and US, cable television networks have driven an explosion of highly competitive and increasingly faster broadband connections, first over copper coaxial cables, and now increasingly over newer fibre optic networks. The digital revolution in television has complemented broadband Internet handsomely, and the two technologies are now virtually inseparable.

Fibre broadband is the technology of the future, however. as neighbourhoods in cities across the globe are being dug up for optic fibre cables to be buried, broadband Internet is only going to get faster and cheaper from now on.