Fiber Must be the Foundation for our Future-Ready Intelligent Infrastructure

If copper wire is “trickling garden hose”, fiber is a “15 mile wide river.” Carrying information, symmetrically, at near the speed of light, fiber is the only acceptable foundation for our future-enabled infrastructure.

If copper wire is  a two-inch pipe, or a “trickling garden hose”, fiber is a “15 mile wide river.” With this vivid description, Harvard Professor Susan Crawford supports the assertion that what we can accomplish with fiber as a foundation is practically limitless.

In fact, there is broad agreement that fiber infrastructure is the essential replacement to copper wire or coaxial cable. The way we use the internet today—and the way we want to use it in the future—demands future-enabled infrastructure. Carrying information, symmetrically, at nearly the speed of light, with many orders of magnitude greater capacity than the next-best technologies, fiber is the only acceptable foundation.

Consider the awe-inspiring possibilities for advanced telemedicine service—beyond the basics of video calls with care providers. The distributed future of healthcare delivery requires vast amounts of data streaming, both ways, over a connection that cannot be affected by conditions like solar flares and concrete walls.

Exciting new wireless applications such as 5G also require fiber network infrastructure. Fiber is paradoxically the critical underpinning to connect to our wireless future. Wireless signals are only wireless until they hit the closest antenna and run on wires for the rest of the trip. Without better wires, all our wireless devices will be too congested.

Here at Underline, we believe open access, fiber-extensive networks are the 21st century pathways to opportunity: critical for the continued economic innovation of our nation’s places, and the essential information foundation for every future-ready community. They are this century’s equivalent of the roads, electric grids, and water systems that previously defined our nation’s leaps forward.

For future reading, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published this excellent paper making the case for fiber as the only solution: 

“Fiber-to-the-home deployments are a better option for consumers today, and they are the only option that will allow expansive, efficient upgrades to America’s networks for a generation....Fiber will enable the next generation of applications that depend on high-throughput, low-latency, high-reliability connections. There is an identifiable “speed chasm” between fiber and everything else that is only going to grow more pronounced in time.

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