Technology typically develops incrementally through tenacious resolve and in quantum leaps through disruptive and revolutionary creations envisioned by pioneering inventors which may infiltrate every aspect of human existence. The Internet of Things and its connected smart devices promise to be those revolutionary creations that could result in a hyper-connected world.
Ultimately, in a hyper-connected world, every possible aspect of human, animal and inanimate objects could be monitored in real time. People are increasingly becoming ‘switched on’ or are ‘always on’ and although connectivity is already part of a large percentage of individuals’ and enterprises’ daily functionality, concerns about network failures and the dire consequences of downtime remain. Also, it would be devastating if limitless information fell into the wrong hands, but if used responsibly, the possibilities and benefits that can be gained from monitoring systems of the future are endless.
For example, cities worldwide are changing into smart cities through interconnected technologies playing a critical role in capturing, transferring, and translating data into meaningful patterns required to develop and reinforce urban infrastructure. Currently, this is only possible with high-speed fibre optic networks that provide the infrastructures to transmit vast amounts of data.
Despite debating whether fibre optic networks will be substituted with 5G networks, experts agree that wireless and wireline networks will complement each other in the future. Since 5G deployment has only started recently, fibre optic is leading in all sectors and will remain the focus in re-imagining homes, cities, health care, communities, environments, manufacturing, and marketing.
Fibre optic cable networks
The deployment of fibre optic cables enabled the transfer of data at speeds that would support the implementation of artificial intelligence in different infrastructure ecosystems. Applications such as surveillance systems for crime prevention, autonomous drones to survey lands, a smart traffic management system to analyse congestion and prevent accidents or smart buildings to support sustainable living, all operate thanks to fibre optic in smart cities.
Fibre optic is vital in improving the quality of life of people in cities and reshaping them into smart cities. With the arrival of fibre optic cables, opportunities arose for the use of ultrafast-broadband and low latency communication instead of traditional copper cable networks with their own limitations.
Superfast broadband consists of a tier of broadband fibre which describes speeds ranging from 10Mbps to 1Gbpss. Anything faster than that falls into the ultrafast, hyperfast or gigafast categories, thus terms that describe even bigger ranges of speeds than ‘superfast’.
Superfast broadband or ‘next-generation broadband’ offers faster speeds than have been available to date using older generation networks. It is available to both home and business users and services are connected to homes via fibre-optic cables for some or all of their path from the provider to a router. This is more effective than the traditional copper wires used for landlines and ADSL connections.
There are various types of fibre optic networks or fibre optic legs currently used, for example, FTTH, FTTC and FTTN. Fibre to the Home (FTTH), also referred to as FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), moves between the property line switch box and the residents’ junction boxes and because the connection goes directly to individual residences, it offers a higher bandwidth.
Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) refers to the installation and use of optical fibre cable directly to curbs near homes or businesses. FTTC is designed as a replacement for plain old telephone service and coaxial cable or twisted-pair infrastructures are used to provide last-mile service from the curb to the home or business. Fibre to curb technology thus consists of suitable wires that can carry high-speed signals over short distances.
FTTN (Fibre to the Node or Neighbourhood) includes fibre optic cables running to a node that is in the vicinity of a home or office building from where the broadband service is provided through existing copper or available coaxial cable infrastructures.
As broadband fibre is deployed into more areas of the country, faster speeds will become increasingly affordable. The capabilities of cloud computing, advances in smart technology, and rapidly growing numbers of Wi-Fi enabled devices will emerge to create a hyper-connected world.
Broadband or fibre connections will be a necessity to enable the average household to make the Internet of Things functional. It is also clear that both fibre optic networks and 5G will complement each other to run successfully. Together both technologies will provide a well-integrated Internet experience over fixed and mobile applications. 5G will provide mobility which is lacking in fibre optic networks while fibre optics’ role will be inevitable in pushing the 5G goals forward.
IoT can potentially change our world, but we need to prepare for an integration of an envisaged hyper-connectivity that enriches our lives, protects our privacy, and secures our ever-increasing volumes of data.
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