Myth: Bell Fibe TV is Fibre to the Home
In my mailbox this week, I received an offer from Bell Canada which offered the Digital Home Bell Fibe TV for a discounted rate.
In a glossy brochure that accompanied the offer Bell Canada stated that Bell Feb TV was “a new TV service delivered through our new state-of-the-art fibre optic network.”
So what is a fibre optic network? A fibre optic network is one where signals are sent from the broadcast distributor or internet service provider to the home owner over fibre optic cable. Makes sense right? In the telecommunications industry, such a network is known as a Fibre to the Home or FTTH network
A fibre optic network is far superior to a network which terminates over twisted pair telephone cable because a fibre optic cable uses light to carry internet transmissions and television signals at rates that are simply not achievable through telephone wires.
The truth is that Bell Fibe TV is NOT Fibre to the Home (FTTH) and the TV signal is not delivered to your home at high speeds via Fibre optic cable. In the case of the Digital Home, those Fibe TV signals would be delivered to us through the fifty year old telephone wires that have delivering internet service to us for the last decade or so.
In Canada today, only a very small percentage of households are actually serviced by a Fibre to the Home network. The biggest Fibre optic implementation in this country is Aliant in Atlantic Canada which expects to have FTTH service available to over 600,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2012. While the number sounds large, it still represents less than 2% of all homes in Canada.
The reason Aliant will be able to offer Fibre optic service to its customers is that it spent hundreds of millions of dollars to tear up streets and hook up strands of fibre optic cable to over half a million homes.
Few firms have been willing to extend Fibre optic networks to existing neighbourhoods because of the high cost. The cost of implementing a Fibre optic network to homes in mature neighbourhoods is estimated at between $1,000 and $2,000 per home. The process is also quite disruptive since new optical cable has to be run along streets and up to the demarcation point of your home.
So what is Bell offering with Fibe TV and Fibe Internet?
They are offering Internet television or IPTV and VDSL internet service over the same copper wires that they’ve been using to deliver DSL internet service for the last ten or fifteen years.
The only difference is the within the Bell network they have increased the use of Fibre optics to enhance their infrastructure. This is a leap forward but, as a homeowner, you will never receive the true benefits of a fibre optic network until you have a fibre optic cable inside your home. Think of the telephone wire that goes into your home as a funnel. Bell can move bits around its network at vast speeds but once it hits that funnel (your telephone wires), the speed of transmission slows right down.
In summary, Bell Fibe TV uses the same twisted pair telephone wires to deliver television signals and internet service to existing neighbourhoods and will never deliver fibre optic speeds until Bell spends the money to run fibre optic cable straight to the entrance of your home.
Discuss in Digital Home’s Fibe TV discussion forum.