FTTX Explained - FTTN vs FTTC vs FTTB (w/ Infographic)
Shopping for fiber optic Internet service can get confusing with all the acronyms that fly around these days. The different types of fiber optic connections are commonly referred to as FTTP, FTTB, FTTC, and FTTN, but what exactly does each mean?
That's what we'll be explaining today in this blog post in addition to the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
FTTN vs FTTC vs FTTB vs FTTP
It's important to understand the pros and cons of each of these fiber connection options and the degree to which slower infrastructure like copper phone lines are used to make the final connection to your Internet users. The basic rule of thumb is that the more copper line that a broadband service travels over, the more speed is lost along the way.
Fiber To The Node (FTTN)
FTTN ("Fiber to the Node") runs a line of fiber optic cable to a node that's in the vicinity of your home or office building. From there, the broadband service is provided through the existing copper or coaxial cable infrastructure available.
Fiber to the Curb (FTTC)
FTTC ("Fiber to the Curb") brings a fiber optic line to a location close to your property, but it stops there and connects to existing copper lines to deliver broadband service to your home or office. FTTC is the newest option to appear for fiber optic broadband service and comes closest to a direct fiber connection without actually entering your building.
Fiber to the Building (FTTB)
FTTB ("Fiber to the Building") and FTTP ("Fiber to the Premises") are different acronyms for nearly the same type of fiber optic connection. The fiber cable reaches your property, and in the case of FTTB directly into the building where you need Internet access.
Fiber to the Premises (FTTP)
FTTP ("Fiber to the Premises") is also referred to as FTTH ("Fiber to the Home"). Fiber to the Premises is just a broader term used to include commercial (ie; non-residential) buildings. The fiber cable in FTTP reaches right into your property just like FTTB and is the most direct fiber-optic connection available.
The amount of copper wire required means that internet service provided by an FTTN connection to an exchange located 750 meters from your office will be noticeably slower than an FTTC connection that uses copper for only the last 50 meters between the curb and your Ethernet router. That being said, all three fiber connections are much faster and more secure than traditional DSL and cable Internet service.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of FTTN, FTTC, FTTB, and FTTP
When comparing these types of fiber optic connections, there's a number of factors that should be considered when choosing which is right for your situation. Whether what's needed is the best possible bandwidth or minimal installation time, they each have advantages and disadvantages that make them better suited to different customers.
Fiber optic Internet connections are much faster than copper wire connections like cable and DSL Internet services. That's because fiber uses photons of light to move data instead of electricity, which allows for far more bandwidth to travel down a single cable. A fiber-optic connection is like a direct line from an Internet backbone.
An FTTN connection to your Ethernet network will fall short of these numbers because it moves data across a stretch of copper lines to your location. FTTN bandwidths can range between 50Mbps and 100Mbps when downloading when the node is not far away from you. A node that's over half a kilometer away, however, can have its maximum bandwidth reduced to only 25Mbps to 50Mbps.
FTTC connections have become more popular as a compromise between the expense of an FTTB installation and the reduced performance of an FTTN connection. Because of the short distance of copper wire used, FTTC service can be comparable to FTTB. At the same time, it eliminates the need for some of the costly installations inside your building.
When it comes to data transfer speeds, you'll get the maximum throughput to your Ethernet routers from FTTB connections that eliminate the slower copper phone and cable infrastructure between you and your ISP. While FTTB connections can reach bandwidths up to 1Gbps for downloads and 400Mbps when uploading data, more typical maximum speeds are 100Mbps and 40Mbps, respectively.
Which of these fiber connections you need in terms of bandwidth depends on the number of users that will be supported and the amount of data they'll use during peak hours. A 12Mbps connection can easily support several end-users who only need to browse the Internet, send and receive email, or conduct VoIP calls. A large corporate office with hundreds of users, on the other hand, can demand large amounts of bandwidth during peak hours and require a direct FTTB connection.
Fiber service connections that run a line directly into your building will require a special VDSL2 modem than can interface with fiber broadband service. Depending on the connection type, the actual cable that reaches the modem might be a fiber optic cable or a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable. FTTN connections also require the installation of a special connection box in your building to connect the direct line to the fiber Internet node. This is true of FTTB connections as well. A utility box will be installed outside of your building and a network termination device with a power supply is installed inside. FTTC connections often use special connection equipment that delivers broadband service to a wireless router inside your building. This usually requires a power supply and a connection to a standard telephone wall jack.
The installation costs of a new fiber broadband service is about the same for all three types of connection. Most ISPs will charge a flat activation fee. The same is true of monthly service charges: They will vary depending on the bandwidth and service plan you choose for your Internet service. The costs here will be comparable between FTTB, FTTC, and FTTN service. The main difference will be the speed that can be achieved by each, not the overall service charges.
The long view is also something to keep in mind when choosing which type of fiber broadband service is best for your needs. When it comes to maintenance, it's better to eliminate copper wire infrastructure from your connection, which is often the weak link both in terms of its bandwidth and its age. If you'll need to replace the existing infrastructure in the future, it may be better to bypass from the start with FTTB or FTTC service. Studies have shown that FTTB and FTTC equipment has a lifespan that's over 20 years, while FTTN equipment requires maintenance sometime between 5 to 20 years after installation.