What You Need to Install Fiber-Optic Internet

Fiber-optic Internet is a relatively new technology, but it’s quickly grabbing its fair share of the market. While fiber connections aren’t widely available yet, the potential network speed and reliability make it a strong competitor. Fiber-optic cables are cheaper, weigh less, and are easier to maintain than standard cable lines, making this new technology a top pick for service providers as well. If you’re considering moving to fiber-optic Internet but aren’t sure what to expect from the installation, read on to learn more about the process and benefits.

Check out our guide to fiber optic modems:

Best Modems for Gigabit Internet

The equipment

Fiber-optic Internet isn’t run through traditional copper wiring. Instead, data is transmitted as small beams of light, allowing information to move further and faster than ever before. Since the system is fundamentally different from other Internet networks, there will be a few new pieces of equipment you’ll need to set up a fiber-optic connection.

First, you’ll need fiber-optic cable.

If your chosen service offers fiber to the premises (FTTP), the installation technicians will run the cable directly to your home. The cable will then be routed to your terminal jack to connect the network in your house. If, on the other hand, your provider offers fiber to the node (FTTN), the fiber-optic cable will terminate at a nearby off-premises hub, and the final distance from the hub to your home will be run with traditional cable/DSL lines.

For FTTP services, you’ll also need a new modem.

Traditional cable and DSL modems will not work with fiber Internet, as the signal translation differs. Instead of converting analog signals into digital signals, as a traditional modem does, a fiber-optic modem — sometimes called an optical network terminal (ONT) — translates the light signals into digital signals. In this regard, the modem functions as a bridge, with your fiber-optic connection on one end and an Ethernet port on the other.

Finally, if your fiber services are faster than your old connection, you may need to invest in a new wireless router that can keep up with the speeds you’ve ordered.

Most providers include necessary equipment in service installation packages, but it’s a good idea to verify the details beforehand. Some providers charge monthly rental fees for routers, for example, so you’ll want to verify which devices you can purchase yourself.  

The Process

The first step is to ensure that your area is able to receive fiber-optic service. Any Internet Service Provider (ISP) should be able to give you this information and tell you what plans are available at your location.

Once you verify that you can receive fiber-optic services, schedule your installation. Keep in mind that installation times and costs may differ depending on your home’s current arrangement. If your home already has an established fiber-optic connection, the setup will be much simpler. Homes without a current fiber network, however, will need to have new lines run to bring the fiber services in. Fiber-optic lines can be connected to your house either aerially — along existing telephone poles — or underground. While most aerial installations can be done the same day, an underground installation will require digging and may take a bit longer.

Once the line is established, the technician will install your modem/terminal as the connection point for the fiber-optic cable. This terminal can vary in size, but most are roughly 7 inches high and 3 inches wide. It can be mounted in your house — usually in a garage or basement — or outdoors.

As soon as the terminal is functional, you can then connect your wireless router and set up your Wi-Fi network. Your technician may also be able to run new Ethernet lines and ports through your walls, allowing greater direct network access. Be aware that, as drilling and digging may be required to get fiber-optic network installed, you’ll need to have a workspace cleared for your technician. If you are currently renting your home, it’s a good idea to obtain written consent from your landlord before getting started.  

The Payoff

Overall, installing a fiber-optic network can be fairly painless, assuming that you’re near a provider’s network and have space for the equipment. Most Internet service providers offer a few different fiber-optic bundles and can professionally install the network for you. Fiber-optic Internet is one of the fastest connection types available, so if you need high speeds, low latency, and an overall reliable connection, the setup is definitely worth the effort. Check this list of fiber-optic providers to see what fiber plans are available near you.

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