Future challanges

Fibre – turning sand into gold

Rural networks - turning sand to goldThere's a real buzz around fibre, but what is it that's getting people so excited? For some people it's the speed. For others, it's the opportunities it presents. Someone once said that the difference was like gliding along a motorway at high speed compared to bumping along a dirt track. Let's start at the beginning.

The thing we usually call a fibre is in fact a very thin thread. The thread measures 250 micrometres, approximately the same as a human hair. The thread has three layers: the primary layer is on the outside (250µ); within the primary layer there is the 125µ level, which is where the fibre is connected and spliced; and at the centre of the thread is the core, which actually carries the optical signal and which is just 9 micrometres "thick". The inner parts are made of pure quartz sand – the purest glass it is currently possible to produce. The glass in the core guides the laser light carrying the ones and zeros used by our computers and equipment to communicate with each other (instead of electricity over copper wires). The result is by far the fastest medium that exists.

Future proof with fibre optic
The speed of light is 300,000 km/second in a vacuum. In glass, light travels at about 200,000 km/second. The distance travelled by the light in the glass it not really an issue – all the ones and zeros are preserved for much longer (compared to copper wires which lose power over long distances, for example in rural areas). Using fibre as a medium is also more future proof than other technologies like wired or wireless. The fibre contains substantial overcapacity to accommodate the high speeds of the future. The technology already exists to transmit 40/100 Gbit/s in fibre over distances up to 40 km.

Competitive factor for future generations
Many Asian countries are hard at work, rapidly rolling out their national fibre networks. For them, fibre optic means more than fast surfing – they realise that it is a crucial competitive factor for future generations.

100 Mbit/s fibre broadband by 2020
The Swedish government's broadband strategy states that by 2020, 90 per cent of the Swedish population must have access to broadband of at least 100 Mbit/s. The light-based transmission technology to achieve these speeds already exists. And the demand is there. So our best advice is to start digging. And turn sand into gold.
 
Fibre optic - an environmental choice
Fibre optic has many advantages, many of them environmental. Fibre optic is designed for sustainable development. Fibre optic does not burden the environment with chemicals or radiation. Not to mention all the positive effects in terms of human interaction.

Fibre optic reduces the need to travel, and this cuts carbon dioxide emissions. People can meet up remotely – for work, leisure or keeping in touch with family and friends. It is now possible to access interactive experiences in the place where fantasy and reality meet.

The number of pensioners is increasing every year, and with it the need for good care. IT and broadband can be used to provide passive monitoring, allowing more of the elderly to continue living at home.

Long life cycle, good for the environment
With its long overall life cycle, fibre optic is a good environmental choice. There is also no need to extract expensive copper – a dwindling natural resource. In short, fibre optic is not just the fastest technology, but is also has what all the other technologies lack in terms of sustainability – whether we are talking about wireless, copper, ADSL/xDSL or cable TV.