Every year on April 22, the world comes together to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Recycling, conserving scarce resources, buying sustainable products, and volunteering for local cleanups are some of the most popular ways people help the environment on Earth Day.
Another, less known, way for our society to become more sustainable is to think about the future of a resource constantly growing in importance—the internet.
TDS Telecom recently announced plans to triple its fiber footprint to 1.2 million service addresses by 2026. We already know about the many advantages of fiber internet and Dedicated Fiber Access (DFA) from a performance standpoint—including faster internet speeds, more bandwidth, increased reliability, and its assortment of advanced business services. But did you know that fiber is also referred to as a “future-proof internet solution” due to its many environmental advantages over copper-based products like DSL? Here are five primary reasons:
1. Less energy consumption
Fiber allows a passive connection between two power-consuming endpoints—the subscriber and TDS’ electronics (also called nodes)—on distances greater than 20 km (or 12½ miles). Lesser “wired” broadband technologies require more frequent placements of active electronics (“amplifiers”) and power connections across shorter distances. When you consider the vast size of service connections in a network, copper-based solutions require significantly more energy to function.
“If networks were all built with nodes as they are in fiber, we’re talking about a substantially lower amount of power sources needed to support the network,” said TDS Director of New Market Implementation, Bob.
2. Less toxic waste
In the event of a failure to the electric grid, technologies require some sort of backup power source. Most often, this is accomplished by providing battery backup or running an additional power generator next to equipment locations.
The lower instance of electronics in a fiber network means fewer batteries installed—and since they have a shelf life of three to five years—fewer batteries in landfills.
3. Less greenhouse gases
Not only is fiber less wasteful and more efficient, but it also produces less harmful gas emissions. According to an article from Posteo News, fiber optic cables emit 88% fewer greenhouse gases per gigabit than networks based on copper wires.
This study, which was commissioned by the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Europe, urged phone companies around the world to update their networks with fiber, stating that the network updates would benefit both users and the environment for years to come.
4. Fiber is more durable
Thin, durable fiber cables are composed of glass optical fibers, compared to metal in heavy, bulky, copper-based products. Not only is the transmission process in fiber more efficient, but the connection will continue to work longer without the fear of erosion.
This is especially true when you consider how the materials interact with natural elements like water. If a fiber splice case fills with water, it will likely continue to function properly. Conversely, if a copper splice case fills with water, the electrical current will cause it to short.
“Because fiber is glass, we don’t have to worry about many of the electrical characteristics that have concerned us in the field for years, like bringing surges towards a customer or our offices,” said Bob.
5. Fiber is the future
DSL makes use of existing phone lines and cable internet uses the same cable connections as a television set. Fiber, however, is something completely new and separate from the old framework. Fiber cables run separately throughout the network, directly from the network to the customer.
“Fiber technology can be easily upgraded by changing the endpoints with minimal disruption to the passive fiber itself,” said TDS Director of Network Engineering, Chris.
The ability to upgrade service more easily has several positive impacts, including less construction, fewer truck rolls, and fewer trouble calls.
“Fiber is as far into the future as we can see today,” said Bob. “Customers can easily upgrade from 1Gbps today, and then somewhere between 2 to 7 Gbps tomorrow, or even more after if they desire. That’s our vision for the future—being able to put fiber in place, and then years down the road being able to return with another piece of equipment, do a quick swap and increase the speed without plowing in any new cable.”
Years down the road, it’s clear that the future-proof fiber network will be compatible with the cutting-edge, sustainable technology of the future—including alternate power sources and smart home or office devices.