Ken Bourinot, Jr.
Technology Consulting & Master Planning Services Leader
What is fiber to the desktop (FTTD) exactly? It is a direct connection of fiber optic cabling from the network to a PC. It can be used in place of a standard copper network connection. Since the cost of fiber optic cable has come down over the last few years, there are more opportunities to consider it as a solution for network connectivity.
There are many advantages to FTTD. Higher bandwidth is the first and most obvious advantage. Fiber can carry data at Gigabit, 10G or 100G speed. Basically, it is only limited by the speed of light. Copper on the other hand, can only carry 40 Gbps max. Installing FTTD will future-proof your network capabilities, and allow you to do things like stream high-definition video, and play video games competitively at fast network speeds.
With Esports becoming more prevalent than ever, fiber to the desktop is an ideal solution. Many U.S. colleges and universities now offer competitive varsity Esports (and even scholarships) to attract the best players. They have facilities designed specifically for competitive gaming with gamer pods consisting of a high speed PC. Gamers require a very fast, and very reliable network connection. A slight network glitch could cost a gamer a game.
Have you seen viral videos of a gamer’s reaction when their network fails them? It is not a pretty sight. Installing FTTD in a gaming facility eliminates the worry about your network speed, and reliability.
Distance is another obvious advantage. Copper cabling has a hard limit of 295 feet before you start experiencing network issues. Depending on the cable, fiber optic cabling can range from 1500 feet to several miles. There are situations where the telecom room in a building is just too far away, and running FTTD will be less expensive than adding a new telecom room and outfitting it with backbone cabling, network switches, and equipment racks.
If keeping your network secure is a high priority, you may want to consider FTTD over copper. Copper is fairly easy to tap into and steal data. Fiber optic cable transmits signal through light, and does not emit an electromagnetic signal the way copper does. This makes it far more difficult for hackers to get into the network. Government buildings, financial institutions, healthcare facilities, military facilities, and other critical facilities with highly secure networks should consider FTTD.
Implementing FTTD is relatively simple. It requires a fiber switch in the telecom room, a fiber optic cable run to a wall plate or floor box near the desktop, and a connection from your desktop’s fiber optic network interface card (NIC). Then you are up and running with a highly secure, superfast network connection.
While FTTD is not necessarily the right solution for every building, there certainly seems to be an uptick in demand, especially during the current construction boom. Getting the telecommunications conversation started early in a project, and understanding the client’s network expectations are critical when considering FTTD.