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The Evolution of Internet Speed and Capacity Made Possible by Fiber Optic Technology

Aubrey Thomson
By: Aubrey Thomson Last Updated: May 23, 2022

With a constantly evolving technological landscape, the way people interact with the world has changed significantly even in the last couple of decades, moving from kilobytes (K or KB) to megabytes (MB) to gigabytes (GB). Surf Broadband Solutions CEO Gene Crusie has personally observed this interactional difference between him and his son, Noah.

“He doesn't know a world where he's not 100% connected to the internet at all times,” Crusie said. “When Noah looks at the world, he thinks about it differently than I do because he's always had the internet available at his fingertips. My generation grew up looking in books, reference materials, documentation, or even equipment manuals. Noah doesn’t know any of that. To him, the world is always connected and always on. Now, it's video.”

In 2000, people were using 56K dial-up connections. In 2006, people were using 20 MB DSL connections. In 2022, people are using up to 10 GB of fiber optic broadband. To put this in perspective, 1,024 KB is equivalent to 1 MB and 1,024 MB is equivalent to 1 GB.

Crusie explained that fiber is the driving force behind this perspective shift that makes this level of innovation possible. He states that the vast capacity of fiber is responsible for speeds 1000s of times faster than what people had even a decade ago.

“Think about just like extension cords around your house,” Crusie said. “If you're going to go a farther distance you need a thicker extension cord. At some point, there's a practical limit to how far you can extend an electrical signal. The same basic principle applies to traditional copper or cable systems: they have a loss of speed and performance that adds up over a number of feet, and it's inherently limited in the amount of capacity.”

Fiber, on the other hand, is transmitted with light, meaning it travels at the speed of light. Current cable and copper systems have limited bandwidth, but fiber is not restrictive in the amount of bandwidth it can offer users making it faster and more reliable. While current cable and copper systems are inherently limited, fiber is virtually unlimited.

Since fiber has such a large capacity, it has no data usage limit, also known as a data cap, like traditional systems. Because there is no data cap, Crusie said that fiber can cut that bill in half.

“We believe that fiber optic broadband technology is an equalizer that gives people access regardless of how much money they make, where they live, the color of their skin, their education, or background. It basically gives everyone access to the same resources so somebody that lives in rural America can have the same internet resources and opportunities as people that live in places with more developed broadband,” Crusie said. “What I've seen just in the last few years is that internet is no longer nice to have, it's a must-have, and broadband fiber is the next evolution of that.”

Going through a pandemic in the last couple of years amplified the importance of high-speed internet keeping society running. Surf is one of the largest telecommunications providers to school districts in Indiana and was able to rapidly deploy temporary wireless hotspots for students so they could continue their education even when school buildings temporarily shut down.

Crusie does not see this uptick in online interactions going down any time soon, rather he sees it climbing upward. Online schooling, video conferencing, telemedicine, and virtual reality will only grow over time.

With the upward internet trend, fiber has become increasingly important to meet that demand for reliability, speed, and capacity. Building fiber throughout the Great Lakes Region will increase housing prices by 3-5% and attract people who want to live a plugged-in life.

“When people choose to sign up with Surf, to go with our fiber broadband technology, they're really investing in the future,” Crusie said. “What we believe is real broadband is transformational and is going to fuel all kinds of future innovation. We really believe we're in the community transformation business.”

For more information about Surf Broadband Solutions and fiber optic broadband, visit https://surfbroadband.com/.