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What is an ultra fast broadband network?

An ultra fast broadband network is made up of fiber optic cables that can upload and download at least 300 megabytes per second (Mbps) of information — meaning that data can fly along such networks. Ultra broadband networks based on fiber optic cables are the cornerstone of agile, digitalized and sustainable societies because they overcome the limitations of traditional copper cable networks.

How does ultra fast broadband work?

Each cable in the ultrafast broadband network is made up of bundled optical fibers. One optical fiber uses light to carry 90,000 television channels and 3 million voice calls, and can send information over very long distances without distorting the signal. Ultra broadband internet access is therefore a lot faster because it uses optical fiber than with traditional broadband, making it possible to share vast amounts of data in real time — facilitating rapid data transfer in smart cities, businesses and homes. A look at the different speeds of broadband connection clearly shows the difference between ultra fast broadband fiber and the rest. The most common broadband connection is called ADSL, and uses the copper wires in your telephone landline.

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It has a peak speed of about 24 megabits per second (Mbps). In an urban area, an ADSL network’s standard speed is about 14 Mbps. Then there’s “superfast” broadband, which makes use of a mix of copper and optical fiber cables, which delivers speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Compare that to “ultrafast” broadband that is delivered by fiber optic cables directly to the home, and runs at speeds over 300 Mbps and up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), i.e. 1,000 megabits.

What is the difference between broadband and fiber?

The difference between broadband and fiber resides in the underlying technology. Traditional broadband networks send data signals in the form of electrical pulses through copper cables, while fiber optic cables are made of glass and transmit data signals in the form of light pulses sent by laser. Fiber optic cables don't conduct electricity, so there are no issues with ground loops or lightning strikes.


On a practical level, there are several differences.

  1. Network availability. Broadband networks are everywhere, whereas optical fiber networks may not be available for every office, factory or home – especially if these are located in a remote or rural location.
  2. Reliability and capacity. Fiber networks are more reliable, since they are not affected by electrical disturbance, and do not get overloaded with traffic during peak hours like broadband networks do.
  3. Speed. An optical fiber network’s speed is far superior to broadband. Moreover, when traffic on a broadband network increases, speeds will slow down during peak periods.
  4. Cost. While installation costs have come down for optical fiber networks, they still cost more than traditional broadband.

How fast is ultrafast broadband?

Ultrafast broadband is the fastest way to upload and download, with speeds that are about 10 to 40 times faster than traditional ADSL broadband. An ultrafast connection can work at speeds of up to 1 Gbps (i.e. 1,000 Mbps), while the peak speed of a traditional ADSL is about 24 Mbps. To download a 4-minute song from the internet, for example, would take 3 seconds with a 10 Mbps broadband connection, and 0.3 seconds with an ultrafast broadband connection running at 1 Gbps. Downloading a two-hour movie on 10 Mbps would take 21 minutes, or 10 minutes with a 20 Mbps connection, 1.5 minutes with a 100 Mbps connection, or 8 seconds with a 1 Gbps ultrafast connection.

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