The world of IT loves an acronym. Newcomers to the world are often greeting with a blizzard of these acronyms, almost like it’s a secret language that you need to master quickly to be accepted.
For outsiders these terms can cause confusion. Quite often the techie people will drop them into a conversation with the non-techie people which puts the non-techie person in a dilemma. Do they pause the conversation each time to ask what the term means or do they simply nod and smile and hope that it relates to something they might need?
When it comes to the internet and the type of connection your workspace needs it’s all too common to get baffled and bewildered by terms used. At ip-Xchange we have mastered the art of speaking both techie and non-techie. We recently were asked by a client ‘What does FTTC mean and what’s the difference between this and a dedicated internet connection?’ Let us explain…
FTTC is short for ‘Fibre To The Cabinet’. It may also be known as Fibre Broadband. This means that fibre optic cables are used to connect the telephone exchange to the local street cabinet (the metal boxes you see on streets and pavements). The connection that then runs from the cabinet to the local users is traditional copper wire. This means that while the connection is quicker (because of the use of fibre optic cables) it still needs to go via the copper wires to its final destination which means that those who have the shorter copper wire (i.e those who live closer to the cabinet) tend to get better speeds than those who live further away.
FTTC tends to be a cost effective way of delivering faster internet speeds without the use of a dedicated fibre connection. However because it’s used by others (this is known as contended) the speeds advertised are more of an indication rather than a guarantee of what you’ll get. Take a look the next time you see an advert for fibre broadband and watch out for the use of ‘Up to’ when the speeds of the service are mentioned.
Also speeds can vary depending on the time of the day and so aren’t ideal for businesses who need a guaranteed speed and service. Quite often you’ll notice this at home if you have several users on your network (browsing, streaming music or films, gaming), it can slow down the service compared to other times of the day.
On the subject of ‘speeds’ with FTTC you don’t get the same upload and download speeds. This is because of the service being shared (or contended) and so typically you’ll get a much slower upload speed than download speed. Providers will often claim unlimited usage. This is a bit of a play on words by the Internet Service Providers (ISP). Technically it is true that they provide you with a fixed cost service and you can download and upload as much as you like at no additional cost, but is there a catch? FTTC services provide you with a fair usage data allowance and depending on the provider this could be an allowance per month or per day, so once you pass that allowance point your service speeds are greatly reduced. You will still have a service but at a slower speed until your allowance cap refreshes at the end of the day/month. Again this isn’t ideal for business users who rely on a fast service to send out or receive data on a daily or monthly basis.
Dedicated Internet Connection
This can also be known as a Leased Line, Fibre Ethernet or Dedicated Internet Access. This is a connection that is rented from your service provider and is uncontended (i.e. it’s not shared with anyone else). It gives much greater speeds than FTTC. The dedicated connection will deliver the speeds as promised, as opposed to the FTTC service that gives you an indication of top speeds as a best case scenario. It does cost more than your more regular FTTC service but the service can be divided up amongst users at your workspace which makes it much more cost effective.
With a dedicated connection you get the same upload and download speeds guaranteed. This is ideal for business users who need a strong reliable internet connection that is unaffected by other users. The best way to think of it is like your own private lane on the motorway. You can go much faster (within the speed limit of course!) and are not having to deal with other motorists. An FTTC service would be like the normal motorway, occasionally it can be quiet but most of the time you’re having to compete with other motorists (users) and that can affect your speed.
So hopefully you now have a better idea of what these terms mean. If you don’t mind sharing your internet connection with others and don’t need guaranteed upload and download speeds then FTTC should be ok for you. If however you need a more business orientated service with dependable upload and download speeds then a dedicated connection may be the best fit for you.
Hopefully this has made things a bit clearer. If you have any questions or are looking to change your workspace internet supplier then give our friendly team a call, we promise we won’t talk techie!