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What's All The Fuss About Fiber Internet And Why Does It Matter?

Fiber Optic Internet, The Headlines

Meet John Jones.

John could be anyone. Your best friend, your neighbor, a relative, your boss, or a co-worker. Above all, he’s someone you think has it all going on. He’s up on the latest trends and he’s got it all together. He’s a techno-gadget guy, and he is the one person who makes you feel like you need to “keep up with the Joneses.”

If you are a buyer of technology or a gadget-lover, you undoubtedly know someone like John and have experienced the feeling of wanting something, even though you may not even know what it is - or why you want it. You’re not sure what it is, but John has it, so you gotta have it!

Problem is, if you don’t really know what “IT” is, or how to differentiate between the options, “IT” is kinda difficult to shop for, eh?

How does it make you feel when you’re in this situation? Do you feel worse while you’re shopping for “IT” during the “not knowing” part of the process or after you’ve bought “IT” during the “I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do” part of the process?

If this whole Fiber (pun intended) thing has you feeling a little uneasy, you’re not alone. For most of us, the only thing we think of when we hear the word Fiber is that we get plenty of it in our diet, so mission accomplished! For those of you wanting to keep up with the Joneses, I’ll give you a few gold nuggets to sink your teeth into and hopefully you’ll find them more satisfying than Grape Nuts in your diet during your pursuit fiber (optics that is) in your technology diet. If we accomplish that, I know Euell Gibbons will be proud of us both.

Most of us have heard of Google Fiber. Truth is, when you hear words like “Google Fiber”, you’re likely to stand up and take notice because of their name recognition and track record of providing industry-leading solutions over the years. Google has essentially validated the word Fiber and now that it’s available at an affordable price in some locations, we now feel like we can (and should) have it for our business.

What’s all the fuss you ask?

The answer is you, we, and us. If you are reading this, you and likely everyone you know wants more. More of everything, and that means access to everything over an Internet connection. Your Web surfing, your gaming, your e-mail, your movie streaming, your data backups, your Cloud business applications, your Facebook and social media. You not only want more, you want it faster and you want it all the time with no hiccups or outages. In fact, the world has become so dependent on Internet access, you likely don’t know what to do with yourself if you don’t have it.

In the beginning, Internet access started out as important and has now progressed to mission critical for your business, and now LIFE critical. It may sound crazy, but it’s probably not too far off base to say that it has become an addiction on par with some of the worst drug addictions our society faces. Much has been written on the topic, but many of us would have withdrawal symptoms if we didn’t have it. The kicker is that the fuss is getting bigger, it can’t be legislated away, we can’t build a wall to keep it out, and it’s not going away.

Some Background:

In our pursuit of Fiber optics for our business, none of us want to learn how to build a watch. We just want to know what time it is – and time is of the essence for all of us that are concerned about time to market, satisfying users, and delighting customers.

As perspective, one of the key aspects of this thing called fiber is the physical aspect. Fiber Optics consist primarily of physical-layer technology elements. Just like plumbing, roads for your automobile, and train tracks for the railroad. Building Fiber and Fiber networks takes time (and money). You can’t just download them like software. This is why Fiber isn’t available everywhere, and it’s not likely to be available everywhere anytime soon. It’s premise-specific. In fact, it’s so premise-specific, you may have it in your building, but that doesn’t mean you have it available in your office suite or all the way to your desktop.

What is Fiber Internet?

Fiber Optics comes in all colors, shapes and sizes and is used for a variety of things. As such, you should probably seek guidance in your search to make sure you’re getting the tool you need for the job you are trying to accomplish. Technically, it’s not a commodity – at least not yet. The devil is in the details so to speak. Case in point, if you are trying to replicate 20TB of healthcare data a distance of 20km, you may want to consider buying or leasing Fiber and procuring your own data switches on either end of that Fiber. In that case, your data doesn’t traverse the public Internet, so don’t request a quote for Fiber Internet at “gigabit speeds” from a predominantly consumer or residential provider. You’d be fishing in the wrong pond – and you’ll have some “splainin’ to do” as they say when the boss finds out.

If on the other hand, you have a staff of 100 employees in a single location that primarily uses the public Internet to surf the Web or Cloud applications, then you’ll likely shop for Internet services from an Enterprise ISP. In this case, and against common belief, you aren’t shopping for this nebulous thing called “bandwidth”. Once again, the devil is in the details, and shopping for bandwidth like a commodity can be like shopping for ground beef in a Vegan supermarket. You might find it, but it’s probably not what you think it is.

Fiber Internet is a solution that’s truly Fiber Optic from end to end - meaning the end at your premise to the end where the upstream ISP network is located. From the A location to the Z location as we say in telecommunications. You’ll want a qualified network engineer or a trusted advisor to help you assess your options. It might be helpful to know that the wires are typically thin and either yellow or orange (at least from the outside coming in).

One key item or remember when shopping for Fiber Internet service is that Fiber is rarely cheap or quick to get. As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. If someone tells you they need to tear up the road, it costs a lot, and you can’t have it for several months, then you’re probably on the right track. If the ISP says that Fiber is already built into your facility, you’ll probably still want them to prove it, but you should be all set. In that case, the provider is “built in” already, so the timing and cost should be significantly reduced – because someone has already borne the initial build costs and done the heavy lifting.

Why is it better?

There are four factors. Dedicated, Capacity, Latency, and Reliability. Dedicated means just that. Yours and only yours. We all see this with our residential connection – as the number of homes in our neighborhood increases, the amount streaming increases, and as the number of users increases, the connection slows down. Usually, about 3PM in most neighborhoods when the kids get home from school. Of the four, Reliability is the hardest to pin down. However, enterprise service providers of Fiber will include an SLA (Service Level Agreement). While this doesn’t guarantee reliability, it’s a commitment based on what the provider thinks they can adhere to or they wouldn’t be in business very long. Typically, you will see something like 99% or 99.999% (which is 5 nines of reliability/uptime). To be clear, “Business Class” service is a marketing term. Unlike First Class service on an airline, you won’t be able to pick your seat and sit in it. You won’t get kicked off the airline, you just won’t have a seat to sit in to begin with.

How do you know when you have it?

Unlike the winning lottery number, it can be difficult to tell if you have “IT”. The essence of Fiber is not the raw amount of bandwidth per se, but rather the latency, or lack thereof. If we take a highway for example, the bandwidth is the number of lanes on the highway and the latency is the speed that cars can travel in each lane. You can find some analogies on the Internet about latency, but suffice it to say that low latency is required for certain types of applications that require speed of packet delivery, while other types of applications require more bandwidth. No two networks or connections are created equal, so you’ll want to ask for some tests to determine reliability and performance and compare those against benchmarks. Compare those benchmarks to your situation and you’ll be headed in the right direction. Ultimately, you’ll know you have it when it’s the fastest and most reliable Internet service you’ve ever had. You'll know because once you have it, you'll never want to be without it.

Where can I get it?

If you are looking for voice and data services, a quick check on Google Fiber’s footprint might do the trick. If you are local to the Indianapolis area and surrounding counties, it’s handy to know that LightBound has been providing Fiber services since 1998 – nearly 20 years. In fact, most of the buildings in the downtown area are “lit” with LightBound Fiber. Our Fiber extends to cities like Anderson, Columbus, and Bloomington Indiana as well. This is particularly helpful if you need to extend your datacenter for disaster recovery or in cases where you might need access to other providers or other networks such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft.

As of May 2017, there are no other fiber providers in Indianapolis that also have an Indiana-based, HIPAA Compliant, SSAE16 SOC2 Certified datacenter as well as CLEC services for voice to include SIP services - all backed by a 24x7x365 locally staffed network operations center. These foundational elements might come in handy if you want to build a solid IP foundation for your business.

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If you are curious about whether LightBound is already built-in to your location or if we have access nearby, let us know.  

Click here if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you build a rock solid IP foundation.