Fiber Optics Internet Access

Want faster internet service? A new kind of web connection is on the technology horizon - faster even than cable.

Telecommuter Carlos Gonzalez is a cable internet user.  "The importance of cable is the speed that it brings." Right now, cable is the fastest way to surf the web from home. But what if you could have something that was even faster?  Physicists have made this possible with fiber optics. Edward Whittaker, PhD, Stevens Institute of Technology: "The kind of speed you can have if you actually had fiber optic cable coming into your home are just, you know, hundreds of times faster, the user would see things instantly."

That's why several phone companies are replacing their old copper wires with a network of fiber optic lines. They provide high-speed internet connections right now, but will ultimately deliver phone and television service, too. Edward whittaker predicts, "it could create new industries for people being able to do things at home that they couldn't do otherwise, and really giving the kind of capability that only big universities and companies and so forth have had in the past."

Fiber-optic lines are strands of glass as thin as a human hair that carry digital information in the form of light waves. They can carry millions of bits of information--much more than cable wires-- and at higher speeds, over longer distances. "It does sort of give almost unlimited capacity to each user at home to pull in or maybe transmit information."

Fiber optic internet may cost a bit more for than other systems, but Carlos says he's willing to pay for the added speed. "The technology is like there with you, and if it can happen faster, I would love it."

Verizon is now laying fiber optics in parts of texas, and eight other states. The technology is expected to be widely available, by the end of 2007.