Fibre vs Fibre: Which is it?

Home internet services has never been so confusing for the consumer. For years we’ve essentially understood what we were paying for when we gave the ISPs a bunch of our money every month. We knew how much bandwidth we were getting, the speeds it was coming to us, and the price we were paying. Packages ranged from standard home user, advanced user, to home business user. This was all well and good for us, even when we knew we had one of the slowest broadband speeds in the world bundled with the highest price being paid, we were always content with the services we were getting.

These days, word is going around from the ISPs, Internet blogs, your friends, and even your trusty I.T buddies over at System Lifeline that the new wave of high-speed Internet is something called Fibre Optic. Fibre Optic internet is the next-generation access to gigabit speeds in your home. The difference being that megabit (What you’re getting now) is 100 megabits per second and gigabit is 1000 megabits per second. A huge difference when you think that downloading your songs and movies and even streaming via Netflix is pretty good already. Looking at gigabit speeds, those songs that usually take a few minutes to get or movies that take an hour can now be downloaded within seconds. Google has projected that a 14 gigabyte movie (Raw blue-ray HD movie) can be downloaded in a little under 2 minutes.

In the discussions of fibre optic internet, we must realize that currently in Canada (and parts of the United States) that the fibre we are getting and paying for isn’t truly fibre in the sense that the speeds being achieved fall below gigabit standards. This is where the consumer becomes confused about what is advertised and what they are paying for. The backbone which provides the main pipeline to supply the network connection may be fibre-optic but the connection from the backbone to your home and past the demarcation point is more likely an old coax copper connection. This reduces the speed and performance tremendously and you might as well be back on your old cable connection. Even on Roger’s website, they are advertising Internet packages with full “Fiber” connection however the speeds are capped at 350mbps? . Add to the fact that the price tag is a whopping $225 a month and you’re looking at a very expensive piece of sub-par service. Bell internet also advertises a similar faux-fibre service with a hefty price tag so there is really no way of getting around the gouging. What these companies have done is cleverly capitalized on the hype of Fiber without actually having to provide a true 100% gigabit connection to your home. Even if they did, you’d more than likely have to re-wire your home (if it is wired with cat5 megabit cabling) with a gigabit switch/router and cat6 cabling in order to get the full potential and power of the increased speeds.

However it looks like we may have to wait until true gigabit comes around our residence. Until our current providers supply us with what we should be paying for or Google Fibre surprises everyone and jumps the border to expand their high-speed gigabit connection to us Canadians, then we may be stuck with our boring old cable connection and cheap knock-off Fibre.

I think for now we have to settle for what’s available but not before doing some research about the services provided. There is nothing wrong with your standard megabit connection right now if it gets you where you want to go. The problem with the current Fibre services that are available is the way it’s advertised to us. Fibre has become a business tactic because of the hype associated with it. People love fibre because it’s new and supposedly very fast, but we are being sold an illusion of quicker speeds for a far more expensive price. Perhaps for now, don’t buy into the hype until you can be guaranteed a fair return on investment.