Fiber optic connection: What do FTTC, FTTB and FTTH mean?

fiber optic cable photo featured image

For the Internet supply, a connection to the so-called fiber optic network is a guarantee for high download and upload speeds. If you are connected to the network of fiber optic cables and book a corresponding tariff, then large amounts of files can be downloaded and uploaded quickly. However, there are a few important differences in the distribution of fiber - these are described with the abbreviations FTTC, FTTB and FTTH / FTTP. What this is all about and what the difference to DSL or VDSL is, I will explain to you here.

What are DSL and VDSL?

Both the technology of the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and that of the Very High Speed ​​Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL) are based on copper cables. These are used to send electronic signals for data transmission on the Internet. The data transmission is realized via the telephone line.

DSL and VDSL differ in their frequencies and protocols, which in turn lead to corresponding data rates. VDSL2 comes in the latest Profile 35b from 2015 (also called "Super Vectoring" or "V plus") to total data rates of up to 400 Mbit/s for download and upload. Ideally, this corresponds to 50 MB/s.

Internet via fiber optics comes in various forms, which we explain here (Photo: Denny Müller / Unsplash).
Internet via fiber optics comes in various forms, which we explain here (Photo: Denny Müller / Unsplash).

Fiber Optic Internet: Lasers and hollow fiber optics

With regard to the signal line for Internet use, fiber optics are cable bundles consisting of several strands of hollow glass fiber optic cables. High-speed, high-frequency laser signals are passed through these to transmit data. The transmission of Internet data via light signals instead of electronic signals results in significantly higher data rates for both download and upload. The maximum is theoretically 20.000 Mbit/s, ideally up to 2.500 MB/s. Up to 1.000 MBit/s are currently offered for private (cable) connections – around 125 MB/s.

Despite the lack of a power line, greater susceptibility to mechanical stress, and higher installation costs, fiber optics offer several advantages over copper wiring. There is no risk of leakage currents, greater distances can be covered between distributor and node points without data loss, the high data rates result in a certain degree of future security, and the use of light pulses instead of electronic signals means there is greater security against eavesdropping.

FTTP, FTTL and FTTD - Connections for companies

Before we get to the important terms and models of fiber optic network expansion that you should know as a private user, we will quickly get the terms for companies out of the way. In the area of ​​professional customers, i.e. companies, authorities and offices, educational and research institutions, server locations, etc., there is of course a need for high data rates, which is why the fiber optic lines reach to or into the building or even directly to the point where the computer technology is connected must.

The following fiber optic connection types result accordingly:

  • FTP: Fiber to the Premises, brings the fiber optic cable directly to the building to be converted into electronic signals there. In the private user area one speaks of FTTB (see below). The connection is not a fiber optic connection per se, but a cable connection.
  • FTTL: Fiber to the Loop, brings the fiber optic line to the connection point for the router or other Internet connection technology. In the private user area one speaks of FTTH (see below). This is a true fiber connection that is not converted to a cable connection on site.
  • FTTD: Fiber to the desk, brings the laser signals of the fiber optic connection directly to the network socket in the office or server room via fiber optic cables. Here, individual connections are supplied instead of relying on copper distribution within the building or system, as is the case with FTTL.

Fast Internet connections via the fiber optic network are essential, especially in facilities that require direct communication with other facilities or that move large volumes of data. If servers are used, fiber optic cables and corresponding converters can also be used for their connection and communication. High demands apply quality fiber optic cable for the fastest internet. The direct connection to the network is only useful if the internal communication technology is right.

FTTC – Fiber to the Curb / Node / Street

Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) or Fiber to the Node (FTTN) is the type of distribution that brings the fiber optic network to a street junction or similar signal conversion. This is why there is also the term Fiber to the Street (FTTS). The abbreviation FTTC is most commonly used, at least in this country, to describe that the fiber optic cable is only connected to the distribution for the housing estate or street.

From there it continues from the distribution boxes (outdoor DSLAMs) via copper cables to the houses and apartments, for example with VDSL2 standards. The high fiber optic transmission rates are not exhausted up to the house connection, but only ensure that many VDSL connections can be provided. With FTTC there are therefore no real fiber optic or cable tariffs for the points of consumption, but only VDSL offers at most.

Special form: FTTdp

A special form of FTTC is FTTdp, which stands for Fiber to the Distribution Point. Here, no distribution box on the street (or DSLAM for Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) is used, but a conversion technology built into the cable duct itself. This gets its power from the copper cables of the outgoing VDSL lines for the controlled buildings.

However, FTTdp is not suitable for larger urban areas, as the technology housed in the cable duct can serve a maximum of 48 VDSL ports. In an outdoor DSLAM on the street, several line cards are used to control residential buildings, each with up to 96 ports.

FTTB – Fiber to the Building / Basement

The next step is the fiber optic connection, which extends to and into the building. This is called fiber to the building for detached or semi-detached houses, and fiber to the basement for multi-family houses. This is where the distribution box, which divides the internet connection between the individual apartments, is usually housed in the basement. The abbreviation FTTB has established itself for both.

It is also characteristic of both that the connection point of the fiber optic cable converts the light signals into electronic signals and routes them to the router connection via copper cables. Here, too, the last few meters are covered with electrons. With FTTB, there are no fiber optic tariffs for consumption points in apartments or companies, but rather cable tariffs. The connection of cable routers is not implemented via the telephone socket, but via the Internet cable connection of the multimedia socket.

FTTH – Fiber to the Home

One speaks of fiber to the home (FTTH) or fiber all the way to the home when the fiber optic cables are connected to the apartment or other point of consumption. The fiber optic network, which is required in the house or company itself to route the signals from the utility network to the pickup points, is referred to as fiber in the home (FITH).

The light signals are first converted into electrical signals by the router or the server technology, which can lead to data rates of more than 1 Gbit/s with modern technology. Business connections are used in Germany e.g. B. offered by Vodafone with up to 10 GBit/s. With FTTH, FTTL or FTTD, real fiber optic tariffs are used instead of cable Internet tariffs.

Finally: Summary comparison of Internet tariffs

Now you know what the individual abbreviations FTTC, FTTB and FTTH mean in terms of the fiber optic expansion mean. They can be linked directly to the respective tariffs of network operators and internet providers. Finally, a small overview of the features:

  • VDSL tariff: If FTTC is used, you only get a VDSL connection and can only use one such tariff.
  • cable tariff: If FTTB is used, you can alternatively use the cable Internet connection of the multimedia box and use a tariff offered for this purpose.
  • fiber optic tariff: If FTTH is used and the light signals reach the router, it is a fiber optic connection for which you can book a corresponding tariff.

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