The IT Law Wiki


Fiber optic (also called fiber) is

the medium associated with the transmission of information as light impulses along a strand of glass.[1]
a method for the transmission of information (sound, video, data) in which light is modulated and transmitted over high purity, hair-thin filaments of glass.


Optical fiber cable, already used by businesses as high speed links for long distance voice and data traffic, has tremendous data capacity, with transmission speeds dramatically higher than what is offered by cable modem or DSL broadband technology.

Fiber optic's technical and economic advantages over traditional copper technology include: greater bandwidth or transmission rates; longer distance between repeaters (amplifiers in the case of traditional copper technology); expandable technology; digital transmission with little of no loss of signal quality; lack of susceptibility to A/C induced noise and radio frequency (RF) interference; higher reliability; and lower predicted maintenance costs.[2]

Fiber transmits data at speeds far exceeding current DSL or cable modem speeds, typically by tens or even hundreds of Mbps. The actual speed experienced will vary depending upon a variety of factors, such as how close to the computer the service provider brings the fiber, and how the service provider configures the service, including the amount of bandwidth used. The same fiber providing broadband can also simultaneously deliver voice (VoIP) and video services, including video-on-demand.

Fiber optic technology may be provided in several ways, including fiber to a customer’s home or business or to a location somewhere between the provider’s facilities and the customer. In the latter case, the last part of the connection to the customer’s premises may be provided over cable, copper loop, or radio technology. Such hybrid arrangements may be less costly than providing fiber all the way to the customer’s premises, but they generally cannot achieve the high transmission speed of a full fiber-to-the-premises system.


  1. The Broadband Availability Gap, OBI Technical Paper No 1, Glossary, at 132 (full-text).
  2. Through the Looking Glass: Integrated Broadband Networks, Regulatory Policy, and Institutional Change, at 6.