High speed fiber internet and TV, via Verizon’s Fios, AT&T’s U-verse, and other services, is expanding across the country.
But as it does, more and more homeowners are ending up confused. Does fiber always mean a super high speed fiber line right into your home?
Or could there be exceptions?
Thought Fiber Was Coming to their Homes
People living in one old neighborhood were thrilled to learn fiber was coming to town.
Lisa Rea signed up, saying "the lady on the phone, she was like we have new fiber optic lines, and they just got put in your neighborhood."
Rea envisioned a new glass fiber line to her house, and super speedy internet.
But while Rea's phone bill went up, her web pages felt almost as slow as ever, she says. "Look, it's got the little circle going round and round and round, and it's waiting for the page to load," she said.
An internet speed test confirmed a slow 7.5 megabits per second, which is faster than dial-up internet, but nowhere near fiber speed.
So she called for a repairman, and got some stunning news when he inspected her lines. "He says, 'Honey, I got to be honest with you. You don't have fiber optic lines. You have copper lines, that are as old as the neighborhood.'"
Fiber May be Streets Away
It turns out that fiber, or fiber optics, can mean several services.
True fiber is called "Fiber to the Home," or FTTH, where you get a high-speed glass line right into your house, and rocket fast internet speeds.
What Rea has is called "Fiber to the Node," or FTTN.
This is where the fiber ends on the street, or several streets away, then copper runs to your home. You really have DSL service, which is "high speed" copper line internet.
How You Can Tell
So how do you know if your street really has fiber? You can look up at the telephone poles and look for the telltale boxes on the phone wires, but that can be difficult for a layman to figure out.
An easier way is to ask if your home qualifies for fiber TV service. Lisa doesn't qualify for fiber TV, and still has to use her DirecTV dish. "The TV's not available in this area. It's still not available in this area. Now I know why" she said.
You can’t have full TV service over copper phone lines.
She's learned a lot about fiber, and wants other homeowners to learn too, so they don't end up confused or disappointed as she was. As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)