Digital connection technology has come a long way since its inception. In the 1970’s, Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf established the internet protocol suite of TCP/IP which became standard networking. Later internet service providers appeared on the scene. Also in 1970, Corning Glass Works successfully developed optical fibre. It has proven to revolutionise the internet connectivity industry. The late 1980’s brought about the first commercial internet service providers. Fast forward to the 1990’s; the internet became a permanent fixture in homes and businesses. This industry has been witness to exponential growth and development.

1990’s Ushered in the Era of . . . Waiting

The pre-broadband era in the 1990’s saw the dial-up connection which occupied the phone disallowing anyone to make phone calls. You had to choose between being on the internet or having your telephone available unless you had an additional line. The internet connection speed was a painful 56kbps which is an incredibly slower speed than the slowest broadband speed of today. To put it in perspective, anything other than text could take 30 minutes up to hours, even a full day to download.

From Corning Glass Works to Urban Utility

It has taken about four generations to develop fibre optics to become a usable medium. The first generation was developed in 1975. It conducted at a speed of 45Mb. Two years later this technology was utilised by a phone and electronic company in California, US. It’s application spread to be used in a test urban area at a speed of 140Mb. By the 1980’s, fibre optic cables were put in place in Canada to create the start of a fibre optic network for Sask Tel, connecting 52 communities. Each level of improvement involved manipulation and control of the optic light, so by the fourth generation, optical amplification was introduced as well as dividing the optical wavelength. This amplified data capacity. This was the start of the revolution of connection speed and capacity.


Broadband was commercially ushered in during the 2000s. Fibre optics has become a transmission capability utilising a range of frequencies of light. This allows numerous messages to be disseminated at the same time conducted by the optical fiber. Therefore, a signal could be split between the phone and the internet. This also allows for much faster connections and downloading and sending files were much faster with an optical regenerator that boosts the light signal over long distances. These signals are picked by an optical receiver that receives and decodes the light signal. These individual fibres are smaller than copper wires, so more wires can be bundled together. With time, this technology is becoming more affordable and optical fibre is less expensive than copper wire and transmission speeds are increasingly faster with heavier usage such as sending and receiving larger files.

What is the difference between cable and fibre optic?

Both cable and optic fibre connections employ fibre optics. The difference is the “last mile” of connectivity to the home or business from the neighbourhood connection box. This usually consists of copper wire for many fibre optic broadband connections. With cable broadband, the last line of connection is a coaxial cable. At this time, cable broadband is faster with speeds up to 300Mb versus fibre optics is 76Mb. There are emerging providers that connect fibre to the premises (FTTP). This means that fibre runs from the neighbourhood exchange box right to the premises or residential unit. There are now providers that offer 1Gb of connectivity.

Exponential Growth

There are factors that are pushing for faster, greater capacity and more available internet connectivity. One is the exponential growth of the international online business. Also, there is a trend toward a virtual workforce. Rising industries, such as global gaming, continues to grow and has become a multi-billion dollar business. This has lead to a continual demand to connect with different types of media both locally and globally that requires high definition output as well as the fluidity of interface of different hardware and software.

Greater Choices

There are different things to consider when choosing a package, and connection speed is only one of them. You need to compare bundling of services for phone and TV and choose the package that is right for your home and busines so is that going to be cable or fibre optic? It is best to be open to all possibilities offered. For those expat individuals living in the UK, companies such as Broadband Choices offers several broadband providers and their different packages and bundles to choose from. Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, Wateen Telecom and Wi-Tribe are some providers to view what they have to offer for broadband services to bundle phone and TV.

There are other technologies ready to eclipse what we have today such as satellite technology. These will be even greater drivers to increase more demand for faster connectivity in the nearer horizon.


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