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What Is Fiber to the X?

Fiber to the X is installed to run as close as possible to the end consumer.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2014
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Fiber to the x (FTTX) is optical fiber that runs as close as possible to the end consumer. This replaces the metal cabling traditionally used by telecommunications companies for the last segment of line. The “x” in “fiber to the x” may be a curb, cabinet, home, business, node, or other end point. Demand for high speed and very reliable telecommunications worldwide increases pressure on telecommunications companies to extend their fiber coverage to better meet the needs of customers.

In typical installations, telecommunications companies establish a baseline optical fiber network. When a customer needs to connect to the network, a technician installs a wire loop, a short line between the network and the consumer. This typically runs from the local exchange all the way to the customer. Metal cabling can vary in quality, resulting in a variable signal. Consumers could experience less quality than expected from their network access if the cable is degraded or of poor quality.

By contrast, with a fiber to the x installation, the technician runs a fiber line. This line may reach to various points to connect with metal cable. It might run to the curb, for instance, or up to the wall of a structure before connecting with the metal cables needed to bring the network inside a home or business. Companies can also bring fiber to the cabinet used for switching in a neighborhood or community. Conventional copper wiring connects the cabinet to each customer.

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Consumers may be able to access higher speed, more reliability, and better quality through a fiber to the x installation. The drawback to such installations is that they are much more expensive than conventional ones. Telecommunications companies pass this expense on with new line connections and in some cases the added cost may not be worth the benefits of fiber to the x. For industrial and business applications, the cost-benefit analysis may be more obvious because the long-term benefits can be substantial.

Not all telecommunications companies offer fiber to the x, and the wait time on installations can be long. Consumers with an interest in this service can contact providers in their area to determine who offers it and to get quotes on their options. A technician should be able to provide accurate cost estimates and a discussion of how much the speed and reliability will increase. It is also important to consider interior wiring, which the telecommunications company is not responsible for, as it could interfere with the signal if it is in poor condition.

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