Have you ever had your streaming video freeze just as you were watching the most interesting part?
Well, if you are in one of the "chosen" cities by Google, your luck is about to change! Google has already introduced high-speed Fiber in three U.S cities - Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Kansas. Now, it plans to do the same for 34 cities around the country, including Phoenix, Nashville, and Salt Lake City.
The full list of cities can be found here.
But, What Is Fiber?
When the internet first came into homes, signals were sent on unused telephone lines. If you lived in an inaccessible area, you had to make do with slow satellite connections. These days, however, the bulk of our connectivity to the internet happens broadband, over physical cables that are buried underground. The term broadband refers to the ability to send several channels of data on a single wire.
The newest broadband service is fiber-optic. Google and other providers have created a network of 2.7-inch thick underground cables made of optic fiber. Optic fibers are small, extremely-thin (as small as 9 microns in diameter) glass tubes lined with mirrors. As infrared light travels through these wires, it bounces from one mirror to another and carries with it the information we send and receive.
You may wonder - how is information sent on light waves? To explain in simple terms, the email you compose is broken down into binary code, ones and zeros. In the world of light, 'One' is 'Light On' and 'Zero' is 'Light Off.' A light source -- typically a laser -- switches on and off rapidly at one end of the cable to transmit digital data.
Connecting The World
Today optic fibers not only connect homes and offices within cities, they even run from continent to continent! Optic-fiber cables crisscross ocean floors and travel thousands of miles underground on land. Under the ocean, these cables are known as ‘submarine cables’ and are laid by special ships. The raw transmission speed of these submarine cables is in the range of terabits per second, equal to over 1,000 gigabits!
How will this impact us? Well, a faster internet will mean significant improvements in casual internet browsing and uninterrupted streaming of television shows, movies and music. Google claims it is getting into the Fiber business to break the monopoly of Comcast and Time Warner - the two companies merged last year. Google believes this will spur Internet providers to improve the speed of their services, which will eventually drive the next generation of innovations.
Critical Thinking: Is Google Fiber coming to your town? What would you do if you had almost unlimited Internet speeds?