What's the Difference Between FTTC and FTTP, and Why Should You Care?
1. What is FTTP?
FTTP, also called Fiber to the Home (FTTH) is a pure fiber-optic cable connection running from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) directly to the user’s home or business. Fiber optic cables are made of one or more optical fibers, which are designed to carry light. These optical fibers have the width of human hair and are covered with two layers of plastic to create a mirror around the fibers, total internal reflection.
Light travels through the fibers and bounces at very shallow angles off the mirror-like sides of the plastic, managing to stay inside the cable at all times thanks to the total internal reflection. When speaking on a landline connected to a fiber optic cable, analog voice signals are transformed into digital signals. A laser at one end then flashes on and off at precise intervals to send each bit of data. This is how information travels through the cable.
2. What is FTTC?
FTTC is a blend of a traditional copper wire cable and fiber optic cable. It uses fiber optic cables right up to the street cabinet (gray or green cabinets on the street that house active and passive broadband equipment), and then copper wire to connect the cabinets to homes and businesses. This is because it is incredibly expensive to install fiber optic cables in a home or a business, so copper is used as an economical substitute.
It also has a feature called DLM, or dynamic line management. This automated system ensures that the connection remains stable and error-free, as well as fast and high-quality. It monitors the system and when there is a problem such as poor-quality or low-speed, it acts and will either apply to interleave (correct errors in the line, such as problems with signals) or it will slightly reduce your speed. Much of the time, however, DLM does not need to take any action.
3. How Are They Similar? How Are They Different?
While both FTTC and FTTP promise high speeds, FTTP’s complete fiber optic connection allows for much higher speeds than FTTC. They are both faster than conventional ADSL, of course, but FTTP is much faster than FTTC, reaching speeds of 330 Mb/s while FTTC reaches speeds of up to 76 Mb/s. It is important to note that these may not be the speeds you are actually getting, so it is vital to test your internet speed from time to time.
FTTC stands out as a copper/fiber optic blend, which makes it less expensive to install. However, it was not built for the long term and its potential bandwidth is very limited, while FTTP was built so that it could be expanded on and improved upon.
4. What Are The Pros and Cons of Each?
FTTP is great in that it provides high-speed broadband service to users in their homes and businesses. Not only that but it is designed so that people can go back into the system and add-on to it as needed, built with the future in mind.
However, installing FTTP is incredibly expensive. While it can be considered the broadband of the future, as well as the most future-proof connection (in that it will be simple to add on to the system), trying to connect everyone, would simply be far too expensive. New infrastructure would need to be added, and that involves digging up the roads and the sides of the streets to lay the cables.
On the other hand, FTTC still provides great Internet speeds. The UK-based company Zen promises a minimum of 15 Mbps. You are also more likely to be able to find a provider for FTTC if you’re just a casual user. Many providers only offer FTTP connections to businesses, so the high-speed connection is not taken up by users at home.
But FTTC is on the way out. A recent study by the Technical University of Eindhoven and Dialogic predicts a need for about 165 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload by 2020. FTTC just won’t be able to support that.
5. Why Should You Care?
If speed is what you’re after and the price is not a factor, FTTP could be the broadband choice for you. If you’re on a budget and fine with speeds that are still faster than a regular connection but not as fast as FTTP, FTTC could be what you’re after. Either way, both are incredibly advanced broadband connections and care should be taken when making a decision.