Defining The Last Mile Problem and Fiber Optic Networks

Last Mile Solutions

A major concern with today's communication networks is commonly called the "last mile" problem. It involves finding a way to offer a fast, reliable service to the people that not only has a transmission rate of information, but also a low cost. Where this cost is highest can usually be found at the connecting point between the customer and company. While this is a concern for telephone and cable companies, it's particularly important for internet service providers, due to the constant increase in usage.

This explosion of usage has pushed the older networks to the capacity in the last few years, which has brought about the need for a faster system capable of handling more and more users. There a few different methods being employed, but they haven't truly found the perfect solution. For one, there are limits to the transmission of information due to "noise". This noise causes the transfer to experience distortions, and in turn corrupts it. A certain amount of the transmission is lost in this way, reducing the speed at which data can be sent.

The source of the signal has to be split over a lot of individual people as well. The way this is done is by using different sized capacity conduits to distribute the flow of information to where it needs to go. In some ways, it's like the body's circulatory system, where different sized channels direct the blood to the cells. High capacity conduits carry the source over vast expanses, while smaller volume conduits are used to send it to a specific place. At the bottom is the individual conduit for each customer. Separating the signal in this way makes it much easier to manage, and small service providers can deliver the product much more efficiently. However, it can get expensive as there are costs to connect everyone as well as routine repairs.

The Internet was built on connecting computers with wires, and the establishment of the LAN (Local Area Network) allowed several machines to be linked at once. As additional LANs were established and interlinked, a type of programming referred to as a protocol was a necessity. These are known as Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).

Improving conduit capacity usually isn't expensive. Most of the costs come from assembling the new conduit. Higher capacity conduits are needed, however, because the number of people using the internet is growing, but this has increased the system's capacity in the process. This has happened in the U. S. A., and all this extra fiber optic cable has created a surplus of sorts.

This surplus has turned out to be a good thing. Despite exponential growth in use of the internet, the fiber optics continue to perform well with little in the way of limits except near the individual user. But, the desires of the consumer are continuing to grow, making it difficult for the system to maintain. And therein lies to problem of the last mile. Providers have to meet the demands the public that wants more and more, and more of them that want the same thing. But at the same time, they have to find a way to deliver it at a reasonable cost.


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