Chow Down on Fiber in Dallas
Fiber in Dallas is coming soon. Not the kind you eat that helps keep your digestive system healthy. This is the kind that delivers blazing fast Internet speeds, as well as more feature-rich TV and Phone services. The industry actually calls it fiber optic cable, but those of us that install it call it fiber. This fiber rollout will be brought to you by AT&T’s U-verse, with what they’re calling GigaPower. This is great news for Dallas area residents.
What is Fiber Optic Cable?
Fiber optic cable has been in limited use for a number of years in the telecommunications industry. Fiber optic cable is made using large cylinders of glass that are superheated, causing the glass to stretch. During this process it is pulled at a constant rate to form a small fiber of glass. This process is called extrusion. Lasers are used to send data from one point to another. Since multiple data streams can be modulated into that beam of light, data speeds are much higher than copper cables.
Why is Fiber Optic Cable Used?
Most Cable and Phone providers use it to connect their central and field offices and from these offices they’ve normally used either a twisted pair or coaxial copper cable to deliver the signals to your home. The reason for this is that it’s cheaper. Copper cables require amplifiers if the signal is going to be sent farther than a couple miles. These amplifiers, and the booster stations that house them, aren’t cheap to build or operate. Data signals can travel up to ten times as far over a length of fiber without any appreciable signal degradation. That’s why you can usually find a building or “big green box” somewhere in almost every neighborhood that belongs to the phone company.
Taking Fiber the “Last Mile”
However, with the increased demand for multimedia services delivered over the Internet and large file transfers, these providers have, over the past decade or so, begun to use fiber to deliver their services to individual customers. We call this fiber to the home (FTTH), or running the fiber the “last mile” (copper cabling usually requires boosters about every mile or so).
AT&T’s Fiber in Dallas Rollout: Lengthening List of Fiber Rollouts
I’ve written pretty extensively here on Digital Landing about other fiber rollouts throughout the country from various providers. For example, CenturyLink is offering it in a number of locations now and has plans to offer it in even more by the end of the year. Verizon has been touting their Verizon FiOS for a couple of years now. I even had FTTH when I lived in small-town Kansas from RuralTech. It won’t be long before copper cabling being used by providers is a thing of the past. We’ll still use it in our homes, because it’s still fine for sending large data streams over short distances, but you won’t see it as the medium of choice in a few years.
The Inside Scoop on AT&T’s Fiber in Dallas Plans
As I mentioned above, this FTTH rollout is from AT&T and will be part of their U-verse service, with a new service name of AT&T U-verse GigaPower. The GigaPower moniker is a play on the fact that the service will offer data speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps). Subscribers that opt for that level of speed will be able to stream about 50 movies in full HD at once, or download a full HD movie to watch later in a matter of about a minute. With current copper speeds, that same movie could take up to an hour to download.
This news of a rollout of fiber in Dallas isn’t new. AT&T published a list of 100 locations they were considering back in April of this year. The plans call for an immediate rollout (installation and offering) in the Highland Park and University Park areas with an immediate offering of 1Gbps to all subscribers. My readers in the Austin area may know that AT&T started offering U-verse GigaPower to Austin residents at 100 Mbps back in December of 2013. Many Austin area customers may already be running a gigabit speeds by now.
Other areas around Dallas-Ft. Worth, including those two metro areas will roll out this summer at speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) with the offering of 1Gbps to these areas coming by the end of 2014. Apologies to my cousin and aunt in Houston, they’ll have to wait a bit longer to get their chance to cruise at the speed of light because it looks like the only plans currently in the works are to light up North Texas. Sorry guys.
According to the press releases I’ve seen, the reason the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area was chosen is that these areas are a hub of technological innovation for Texas. The hope is that the availability of higher data speeds will spurn innovation and technology development in the area, giving the area’s economy a much needed boost. E-commerce companies with faster Internet speeds can process more requests, meaning they’ll hopefully have to upgrade and add equipment, and hopefully increase staffing levels in order to keep up with increased demand.
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