FTTP: Are your devices affecting your Internet speed?

OTELCO employee works on poles in the snow.

OTELCO is dedicated to deploying Fiber infrastructure.

Most rural providers have extensive DSL infrastructure and are gradually building FTTP infrastructure as finances permit; OTELCO is among them. As we continually expand our Lightwave zone, we want to share some information to help our subscribers who are in those areas to make the most of their service.

DSL vs FTTP

DSL and Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) are 2 mechanisms for the delivery of Internet access. DSL uses copper telephone lines to deliver bandwidth speeds that can reach 40 or 50 Mbps, while FTTP uses glass fiber to deliver the signal. This information is for those who have FTTP available in their neighborhood.

Lightwave Fiber Internet offers FTTP that can deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps, which transfers data at literal lightning fast speeds. Most average households do just fine with 50 to 100 Mbps.  In some cases where a resident is telecommuting and is dependent on the transfer of very large files, 150 Mbps service might be in order. Check out our blog that explains Internet speed jargon.

Today, most homes employ both a wired network and a wireless network; regardless of the signal that’s delivered to a premise, there are several factors that affect that signal on those networks. Many of us will conduct speed tests to be sure that the signal is in line with what we paid for.

Did your speed test surprise you?

All the devices in your home share the bandwidth, so when you conduct a speed test, any devices in use affect the result.

Is Your Equipment Affecting Your Speed?

Think of it like plumbing; you may have a 3” water supply pipe to your house that delivers a high volume of water, but then, after the pipe connects to your household plumbing, all the piping is ¾”, and the volume of water moving through the pipe is greatly reduced.

Similarly, your home network is only as strong as its weakest link. There are several factors that might affect Internet speed in your home. Devices and equipment can be factors, and we’ll talk more about them later. For now, let’s talk routers.

If you want multiple separate wired or wireless networks for your home, a router is necessary in addition to the modem or Optical Network Terminal (ONT).  Think of the router as a roadway for your signal; there are a few varieties that handle Internet ‘traffic’ in various ways.  Let’s decode the names.

Standard Generation Bandwidth Wavelength
802.11 b 11 Mbps on 2.4 GHz
802.11 a 54 Mbps on 5  GHz
802.11 g 54 Mbps on 2.4 GHz
802.11 n 300 Mbps on 2.4 or 5 GHz

802.11 is the title of the oversight standard established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has no meaning other than to designate the equipment as an Internet router.

The letters b, a, g, and n specify the generation of the equipment.

The router information that actually matters is what follows.

The Mbps (Megabits per second) number designates the speed that the router can handle. GHz (gigahertz) refers to the radio wavelength that transmits the wireless signal. Router speed is pretty clear; you want to size the router Mbps specification to your signal.

blurred traffic jam

5 GHz allows for more “traffic” on your home network.

Now for the GHz Spec

In the simplest terms, think of 2.4 GHz as a single lane highway that goes for a long distance but with a lower volume of cars, and 5 GHz as a multi-lane highway that only goes a short distance but allows for more cars to travel at once. Think of the devices on your network as the cars, and think of your home as the landscape.  If you have a lot of devices in use simultaneously, you’re OK with 5 GHz because it offers multiple lanes for ‘traffic’. If your home is a mansion, or any large building with a ‘longer highway’, you might want to deploy a dual-band router that offers both 2.4 and 5 GHz ability to allow for both volume and distance. These routers are of the 11n generation and emit both signals, then your devices actually use whichever signal best serves that particular device.

Some other potential bottlenecks in your network

Your Computer

If, for example, your computer uses a network card that is of the 802.1b generation, it will limit the signal to 10 or 11 Mbps no matter how much bandwidth you have.  If it’s not a hardware issue, misconfigured network settings or background programs can also chew up bandwidth. CNET offers tips on how to determine your computer’s  capabilities.

Shot of a family having fun indoors

Too many devices streaming at once can slow down your speeds.

Your Wireless Devices

Although your devices will have more bandwidth to share when running simultaneously, they may not perform any differently for the same reason a computer might be limited by its network card. There are numerous other factors that can impact the wireless signal to your devices as well:

Distance from the wireless access point
If this is an issue, locating your access point to a more central place is a good start. Sometimes it will help to install a wireless extender or repeater.

Physical barriers
Walls and other obstructions can affect how your devices operate. A 2.4 GHz signal is less likely to be impacted by physical barriers.

Signal interference
Cordless phones and microwaves are two likely causes. A 5.0 GHz is less likely to be affected by signal interference.

And then there’s Signal Loss

Even on the Lightwave fiber network, there can be a tiny loss of signal (2 or 3%) just by it passing through the various pieces of hardware. Cabling is another element to consider; Cat5e or Cat6 are best to handle higher bandwidth, avoiding 90 degree bends in the cable is also important, and the maximum length of cable runs should be determined by the cable capacity.

Back to where we started, what happens in your house has a profound effect on the signal your ISP delivers; hopefully, this information helps you to get the most of that signal.

Discover if You Are in the Lightwave Zone