Things are changing quickly in the digital landscape. With a high rise in the use of smart and connected devices, there is an increasing demand for high-speed connectivity. By 2025, the number of connected devices will reach a remarkable 51.9 billion.[¹]
Being connected digitally is shaping the human experience. People rely on their smartphones for everything from email to shopping. Entire industries and governments are beginning massive implementation projects involving smart devices designed to improve processes, collect data, and analyze large data sets in seconds. This has all led to a rise in the need for reliable-high speed connectivity.
McKinsey reported that data traffic is expected to expand approximately 20% annually over the next five years. The surging requirements around reliable connectivity demand an advanced infrastructure that simultaneously delivers high speeds across countless devices. In the same report by McKinsey, fiber optic technology is the chosen emerging technology that can support these challenges viably. [²]
As the world continues to push forward with advancements in smart technology, the importance of accessing fiber optic networks rises. And, for communities that are early adopters of fiber networks, an immense amount of opportunity awaits them.
This guide will uncover the importance of fiber optic technology. It will explore how community members, leaders, and agencies can collaborate to unlock the benefits of fast connectivity and improved bandwidth through the use of private networks. The end result is that individuals can take the steps today to set up their communities for success tomorrow.
The Power of Fiber Optic and Private Networks
To understand how private fiber optic networks work, it is important first to discuss the powerful benefits of fiber technology.
Fiber technology is up to twenty times faster than cable.[³] The incredible speeds accomplished through fiber networks are a reflection of a few key facets:
- The data transmission method. Fiber networks utilize light signals rather than electrical signals to transmit data. These networks feature incredible speeds with little signal degradation.
- Higher bandwidth. Anyone who has attempted to connect too many devices at once to a poor internet connection understands the concept of bandwidth. Fiber networks are capable of transmitting more data simultaneously than cable networks. This becomes paramount when dealing with data-intensive applications and many connected devices simultaneously.
- Ease in scalability. One of the key benefits of fiber optic technology is the ability to scale a network based on needs quickly. By upgrading equipment on either end of the fiber optic cable, these networks can offer higher speeds and greater bandwidth without replacing the entire physical infrastructure.
Private fiber networks tap into this technology, allowing an organization or a group to create an exclusively dedicated fiber optic infrastructure. Since they are separate from the public internet, these private networks can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an organization, group of businesses, or government entities.
Key benefits of a private fiber optic network include the following:
- Improved security. Because private fiber networks operate outside the realm of public networks, they provide increased security. These networks can be designed with additional security measures, such as encryption, to control access further.
- Dedicated infrastructure. Private fiber optic networks are built for the exclusive use of an individual organization or a determined co-op of organizations. This means network capacity and performance can be carefully controlled.
- Cost-effective. While private fiber networks necessitate an upfront investment, which can be costly, over time, long-term cost savings can be achieved by eliminating the recurring fees associated with public networks. Not only that, but organizations can control these costs and are not subject to the continual fluctuation of new fees and tiered usage structures.
- Private Fiber Networks vs. Dedicated Internet Access. Private Fiber Networks are not to be confused with Dedicated Internet Access. A private network is about the secure and private data exchange within a certain group, while dedicated internet access ensures consistent high-speed internet access. They serve very different purposes but can be used in conjunction to provide secure, reliable connectivity for a business.
Fiber and Private Networks Can Benefit and Create Opportunities in Communities in Five Key Ways
While the above has covered some of the essential ways fiber and private networks can be beneficial, the benefits extend even further. The following explores five ways in which fiber technology is helping to create opportunities in communities across the globe.
1. Economic Growth and Business Attraction
One of the first areas in which fiber technology plays a vital role is in a community’s economic growth and ability to attract new business. When a community seeks to develop and grow, fiber can be crucial in unlocking that next step.
A prime example of this can be found in Pittsburgh. This city invested in fiber technology with the goal of attracting new business, particularly related to the tech industry. According to this use case, Pittsburgh has attracted research institutions, medical centers, and tech startups, which all depend on fast, secure, and reliable fiber networks and excellent bandwidth.[⁴]
Through the implementation of high-speed networks, communities can attract companies seeking out new locations for future headquarters. Through this business growth, communities can create a cyclical growth pattern, attracting more businesses and residents.
2. Enhanced Education
Regarding innovative educational opportunities, fiber networks can help support new practices and expanded resources. With high-speed connectivity, the virtual classroom becomes accessible for teachers and students from any place at any time.
High-speed networks offer the connectivity necessary to access digital resources. This helps ensure that the materials utilized are up to date. Even in a small town, instructors and learners can tap into the rich global educational resources available.
From here, the opportunities abound. High-speed connectivity equals high-speed streaming. This allows classrooms to become collaborative places driven by the latest in technology.
Lastly, fiber networks allow teachers to create personalized learning paths. Adaptive learning technologies curate personalized paths of learning. Data-driving teaching unlocks new insights into learning behaviors.
3. Support Healthcare
There has been an incredible transformation in how smart devices can improve healthcare. Healthcare providers can now easily monitor patients around the clock — on-site and at home through connected devices. Patients are empowered by real-time updates on their health, and care becomes highly personalized based on this continual collection of data. However, using emerging healthcare technology and the creation of smart hospitals require fast speeds and improved bandwidth.
This is where fiber technology is leading the way. In a report on emerging tech trends, McKinsey points out how fiber networks will support a high density of connected devices and sensors in healthcare settings. Healthcare providers are making incredible strides in treating and managing chronic diseases by monitoring patients in real-time.¹
4. Smart City Initiatives and Improved Public Services
High-speed connectivity can support improved public services and smart city initiatives. There are numerous methods by which communities might decide to put improved connectivity to use, including the following:
- Optimized transportation systems. Through real-time monitoring, public transit systems can adapt to traffic flows and decrease congestion.
- Increased public safety. Networked surveillance cameras can help law enforcement respond to incidents with improved speed. A smart city where residents are always connected can communicate emergencies in real-time.
- Environmental monitoring. Using continually connected sensors, community leaders can begin to collect data on key environmental indicators, such as pollution, air quality, and water quality. This helps inform future planning decisions and provides the data necessary to implement new sustainable initiatives.
- Smart parks. Free public WiFi access, smart lighting, interactive kiosks, and smart waste bins are just a few ways cities use high-speed connectivity to create an enhanced park experience. Smart parks integrate various devices, sensors, and applications to create an interactive space, often focusing on improving sustainability.
5. Innovation and Collaboration Within the Community
Finally, with high-speed fiber networks, communities can improve collaboration and innovation. The opportunities are immense. Community members, leaders, business owners, and government agencies can all collaborate in real-time. Resources from around the globe can be tapped into, and technology hubs are born.
Tips and Resources for Implementing Fiber and Private Networks
For those who wish to see the implementation of fiber networks in their own community, the process begins with education. Raising awareness about the potential benefits and opportunities that fiber technology can deliver is critical.
From here, setting up a collaborative effort with other individuals, businesses, and organizations can help create a funding pool for the upfront investment. Developing a community plan that outlines objectives, goals, and a structured implementation plan is important. During this stage, it can also be beneficial to seek out local, state, and federal funding to assist in covering the costs of a fiber network.
Lastly, interested community members should tap into existing resources available through established telecommunication providers to explore what options exist and what it would take to implement a private network.
Discover how Cox Business can help bring the benefits of high-speed fiber optic networks to your community.