Fiber optic network

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Glass fiber conduits for blow-in technology
Telecom fiber optic cables laid underground
Empty pipe branch to a building for fiber-to-the-building
Pictogram on fiber optic cable from Deutsche Telekom
Cross-section of seven bundled empty pipes (speed pipes) with a diameter of 12 mm, which will later blow the fiber optic cable; the orange coating, as in the picture above, is missing
Individual conduits in comparison to the cross-section, the different color markings, which allow easy laying and branching, are clearly visible

A fiber optic network , also known as a photonic network , is a transmission medium for data communication in the form of a connection between several fiber optic cable systems (including light guides ) to form a network .


So far, fiber optic networks are not designed in most cases to the consumer, ie to consumers and businesses, but form less the backbone ( backbone ) of the communications networks, the "last mile" then usually the existing telephone copper wire pairs or coaxial cables are. This is made clear by the fact that network level 2, i.e. the network that connects the individual main distributors with one another, is almost completely built up with fiber optic cables, while the last mile is almost always wired using two-wire copper lines. At the transition from the fiber optic cables to the copper lines, the incoming optical signal is transformed into an electrical signal in the corresponding distribution boxes by converters, which is passed on to the respective apartments.

In the course of the increased bandwidth requirements, however, the end of optical transmission was moved ever closer to the customer. The world's first fiber optic local networks were installed by Deutsche Telekom under the name OPAL (Opal '93) as early as the early 1990s with the start of operations in 1993. Currently, both Active Optical Networks (AON) and Passive Optical Networks (PON) are being further developed as architecture for future fiber optic networks .

When expanding the network with fiber optic cables, a distinction is made between various expansion stages (FTTx) depending on the location of the fiber optic network termination:

Fiber to the Node / Curb / Street

As FTTN ( English fiber to the node , fiber to the neighborhood ), FTTC (English fiber to the curb 'fiber to the edge'; in the vicinity of the participant ) or FTTS ( English fiber to the street ) is the laying of fiber optic cables to the next distributor, the cable distributor . Here, the so-called main cables are upgraded from copper to fiber optics or supplemented by fiber optic cables.

For example, the VDSL2 offers from Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom are to be categorized as FTTN.

Like all other FTTL technologies, FTTN technology is a fiber optic connection technology in which the glass fiber is routed in the connection area between the local exchange and the switching distributor. Signal conversion takes place there via the Optical Network Unit (ONU) and further transmission to the subscriber connection via copper cables . The distance that can be bridged is approx. 500 m; the data rate is between 2 Mbit / s and 12 Mbit / s in the upstream and between 25 Mbit / s and 52 Mbit / s in the downstream .

An access network structured in this way is called a hybrid access network , and the subscriber line is called a hybrid TAL . An outdated form of an FTTN network is HYTAS -Outdoor, which does not allow broadband use.

Also, cable operators such as Unitymedia use the Fiber-to-the-node technology. The television and radio programs as well as Internet connections are brought up to the distributor and from there to the customer via coaxial cable .

In most cases, however, complete FTTC networks are not built. This means that only part of the cable splitter is connected with fiber optics, the other part is connected with new copper cross cables .

Fiber optic house connection via the water pipe

Fiber to the distribution point

Under FTTdp (Engl. Fiber to the distribution point ) refers to the fiber optic cabling to the cable rod and the cable shaft (Engl. Manhole ) in the street. This shortens the copper cable lengths even further than with FTTC. In contrast to FTTC, the DSLAM , or CAN , is located in a waterproof, hardened housing in the shaft or on the telephone pole itself, where it is connected to the copper cables that lead to the residential units.

Some manufacturers, such as B. Huawei or Alcatel-Lucent also call these encapsulated, waterproof DSLAMs micro CAN , as they are equipped with a maximum of 48 xDSL ports and therefore only serve a few connections. The micro CANs are supplied with DC voltage via the existing copper cables, since there is usually no power connection available in the shaft or on the cable rod. The optical fibers themselves run from the shaft / telephone pole to the local switchboard , where they are connected to an aggregator . This in turn bundles the data lines and forwards the data traffic to the backbone / core network.

Certain network operators, such as B. Swisscom also speak of FTTS ( Fiber to the Street ).

Fiber to the basement

As FTTB (Engl. Fiber to the basement or fiber to the building ) the laying of fiber optic cables is up to the building designated. For example, fiber-optic cables are laid in the house basement. Thanks to modern connector technology, the fiber-optic cables can be routed into the house via existing gas or water connections, thus avoiding complex civil engineering work. In the house, the signals can then be routed to the apartments or business premises via existing copper lines and VDSL technology. Optionally, the continuation within the building also takes place via Ethernet . This corresponds to the branch cable level .

Opened housing of a fiber optic termination point (Gf-AP, not yet finally connected) of Deutsche Telekom from 2018. Installation location: building outer wall

Fiber to the loop

As FTTL (Engl. Fiber to the loop ) is laying down to the subscriber called. They therefore already correspond to so-called network level 4 . The companies Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent are mainly installing FTTL connections .

Fiber to the home

As FTTH (Engl. Fiber to the home or fiber all the way to the home ) is called the laying of fiber optic cables to the home of the subscriber. An important part of this is FITH ( fiber in the home ), which means the fiber optic network within the house. Fibers that are less sensitive to bending are often used there, which enable them to be laid in existing pipes or ducts. Cables with these fibers are often only 3 mm thick (or thinner) and can be laid in a radius of 15 mm (specified according to ITU G.657A). In the apartment, these cables are taken up in an optical telecommunications outlet (OTO, Optical Telecommunications Outlet) and routed to fiber optic couplings . From there they are connected to the terminal equipment (e.g. a router ) with a fiber optic connection cable . There, the light signal is converted into electrical signals and distributed further via common cabling (e.g. RJ plug connection ). The data transfer rate is over 1 Gbit / s in the downstream.

Fiber to the desk

As FTTD (Engl. Fiber to the desk , in German: Fiber to the Desk) refers to the network cabling an office building or campus with fiber-optic cables to the network outlets in the various offices.

Advantages and disadvantages

There are some advantages and disadvantages of installing fiber optic networks to the customer compared to installing copper networks and radio link.


  • No fault currents can occur in fiber optic cables due to defective or faulty electrical installations. In the event of a fault, a high current can flow on the shielding of a copper cable, which threatens to damage the expensive hardware.
  • Fiber optic cables as the transmission medium allow a greater distance between the exchange and the customer without incurring transmission losses.
  • Fiber optic cables are considered future-proof technology because no other transmission medium has higher bandwidth reserves.
  • Fiber optic cables offer high security against eavesdropping .


  • No power can be transmitted over fiber optic cables. Therefore, an emergency power supply in the event of a power failure on the customer side by the network operator is not considered (see emergency power supply in ISDN ). However, this possibility of emergency supply disappears quickly in the course of the extensive dismantling of ISDN towards All-IP connections .
  • Fiber optic cables are significantly more sensitive to mechanical loads than copper cables.
  • Compared to directional radio links , transmission via fiber optic network offers a small delay. So z. B. used a radio link between the exchanges between Frankfurt am Main and London .

Cost and economy

The costs of a nationwide fiber optic expansion depend largely on the distances between households. The nationwide expansion of fiber optics in Switzerland would cost between CHF 21 and 24 billion (EUR 17 to 19.5 billion), but for 60% of the inhabited areas it would only cost CHF 8 to 9 billion (CHF 6.5 to 7.3 billion). EUR). In Switzerland, around 70 to 80% of households can be supplied economically with fiber optics. In Germany, the cost of a nationwide expansion of fiber optic cables is estimated at 70 to 80 billion euros.

Situation in Europe

FTTH connections are still not widely used in Europe. After all, some projects with several 100,000 connected end customers have already been implemented in metropolitan areas. Most connections are in Scandinavia and Italy . A city-wide FTTH relocation was decided in a referendum in Zurich . There it is predominantly utility companies and municipalities that have recognized the importance of a good communication infrastructure and have successfully set up appropriate networks commercially.

The international Euro-One initiative, a cooperation between various operators of fiber optic networks, operates an intercontinental fiber optic network of more than 85,000 km in length.



Before 2001, many cities in the new federal states were supplied with glass fibers for the ISDN network, which were often led directly to the subscribers. While this project allowed the fiber optic network to grow rapidly, it later caused problems with the introduction of the first DSL connections. This experience initially slowed the expansion of fiber optic networks. In addition, there were very large television cable networks in the west that could be used for various communication services (BIGFON, broadband integrated local telecommunications network). The networks laid in OPAL technology from the early days are typically not or only slightly included in the calculation of the fiber optic networks (backbone), as the lines differ from those of today.

In 2006 the length of the German fiber optic network was only around 340,000 km. Of these, around 200,000 km of fiber optic cables, around 60 percent were in the greater Berlin area .

Since fiber optic networks have meanwhile been recognized by well-known studies as a future technology , the broadband expansion has made considerable progress since then: Internet access with data transmission rates in the downstream (coll. "Download rate") of at least up to 50 Mbit / s for 75.5% of all households are now available available in Germany (as of end of 2016). At the end of 2010, less than 40% had access to such Internet connections.

Overall, however, it is noticeable that, especially in rural areas, it has not yet been possible to provide complete broadband coverage. While urban areas are now almost fully supplied, at the end of 2016 only one in three rural areas had internet access with download rates of up to 50 Mbit / s.

Against this background, the federal government intends in the short term with its digital agenda to give all households at least access to download rates of up to 50 Mbits by 2018. It should be noted that at the end of 2016 only around 7% of the fast Internet access that has now been made available is using FTTH technology. This corresponds to just 2.7 million connections.

Most of the newly created connections with download rates of up to 50 Mbits, on the other hand, are achieved through vectoring by Deutsche Telekom or an FTTC solution. One of the reasons for this is that the federal broadband funding program is technology-neutral and subsidizes FTTC expansion projects as well as FTTH network developments.

Nevertheless, the FTTH expansion has been increasingly pushed for some time: As early as 2011, Deutsche Telekom announced at CeBit 2011 that it was expanding an FTTH network in the cities of Braunschweig , Brühl , Hanover , Hennigsdorf , Neu-Isenburg , Kornwestheim , Mettmann , Offenburg , Potsdam and Rastatt will begin and will open 160,000 households across Germany by the end of 2011. After several delays, corresponding tariffs for the use of FTTH were published in August 2012.

Now that a far-reaching network connection with download rates of at least 50 Mbit / s has been achieved, it is also the declared aim of all established parties to continue expanding broadband towards the gigabit society after the 2017 federal election . In July 2018, the BMVI published its revised guidelines for broadband funding. Under this, the federal government only supports the expansion of FTTB and FTTH networks; conversely, the maximum funding amounts for such projects have been increased significantly.

Main network operators

The owners and operators of fiber optic networks in Germany are primarily companies from the telecommunications, cable television and energy supply sectors. You started at a very early stage to lay fiber optic cables parallel to high-voltage lines or with them in order to save expansion costs. The fiber optic networks created in this way are partly used by the owners themselves and partly rented out to other telecommunications companies (see also bitstream access ).

The largest owner of laid fiber optic cables (fiber optic road kilometers, but these can contain a number of individual fiber optic cables) in Germany is Deutsche Telekom with over 500,000 km (as of December 2019). In comparison to Telekom, Vodafone is also a very large owner of fiber optic networks with over 58,000 km , not least due to the takeovers of Kabel Deutschland (2015) and Unitymedia (2019). 1 & 1 Versatel maintains the largest alternative fiber optic network in Germany with a length of 47,000 km (as of December 2019). In addition, a large number of regional providers, the so-called city carriers, have also set up their own fiber optic networks. For example, NetCologne in Cologne and the surrounding area has now laid a total of over 25,000 km of fiber optics for fiber-to-the-building. The Colt Technology Services has a 3,700 km network (Europe over 46,000 km).

Citizens' initiatives

In rural areas, the FTTH expansion is being implemented in part with great commitment from the local population:

In the district of North Friesland in Schleswig-Holstein, for example, Germany's first society with citizen participation (BürgerBreitbandNetz GmbH & Co. KG; BBNG) was founded in this form on February 1, 2012. The aim of this company is the implementation of a fiber optic network in southern North Friesland financed, among other things, by private individuals, companies and municipalities. The aim is to reach around 20,000 connections; as of the end of 2019, BBNG had won more than 8,000 customers for its fiber optic network. In 2010, the broadband network GmbH & Co. KG was founded in Breklum for the expansion of a fiber optic network in central North Friesland. As of September 6, 2017, more than 9,300 houses with a maximum transmission of 1 Gbit / s were already connected. The FTTH expansion area was not yet fully developed at this point in time.

In Eichenzell in Fulda district the first FTTH Citizens Network was put into operation. In 2016, all districts of the rural community are connected downstream with a maximum of 1000 Mbit / s. The citizens' project is financed solely through the contributions of the participants and does not require any public subsidies.

In the town of Hamminkeln on the Lower Rhine, the people living outside the Loikum district have laid approx. 100 km of fiber optic cable over a length of approx. 25 km. To do this, they developed a steerable cable plow with which the cable bundles could be brought into the ground quickly and inexpensively. The finished network will be operated by Deutsche Glasfaser , which focuses on rural areas.


Telekom Austria has been investing a total of around one billion euros in the general expansion of the Austrian fiber optic network since 2009. The focus will be on FTTC in terms of area, but FTTH lines are also being laid in isolated cases, especially in new buildings. In 2009, Telekom Austria announced the first tests with fiber optics in Austria . Villach , Klagenfurt and the 15th and 19th districts of Vienna ( Fünfhaus and Döbling ) were selected as test regions .

In March 2011, the 15th and 19th districts of Vienna were the first areas in Austria to be supplied with FTTH by Telekom Austria; Villach and Klagenfurt were already connected with FTTC in 2010. The highest generally available data transmission rates of 100 Mbit / s are significantly lower than abroad, the technical upper limit for individual households should be 1 Gbit / s. By the end of 2011, 2.1 million households (50% of all households in Austria) and businesses in the so-called "GigaNetz" should have been supplied by Telekom. Connections with a download rate of up to 16 Mbit / s are included in the “GigaNetz”. It is not known how many of them are actually supplied with fiber optics. At the same time, VDSL is offered in different versions. This means that data transmission rates of around 16 Mbit / s in the downstream are also possible in smaller communities. This is achieved above all through the nationwide connection of all telephone exchanges to the fiber optic network since around mid-2012. Starting from the latter, it is still copper lines over which customers use the respective product.

In 2016, Energie AG Oberösterreich operated the largest fiber optic network in Upper Austria under the PowerPrimenet brand , and the expansion of FTTH connections for private customers has been under the PowerSPEED brand since the beginning of 2014 . The fiber optic network from Infotech EDV Systeme GmbH in Ried im Innkreis in Upper Austria has a total length of 2000 km. The cable network operator UPC operates a fiber optic coax network in Austria. Wien Energie operates and is expanding a fiber optic network for FTTH access based on the “ Open Access Network ” model in Vienna under the “Blizznet” brand . In the current state of development, mainly parts of the southern and eastern districts have been developed. In 2010, Wien Energie had a fiber optic network of 1,241 km. According to Wien Energie, the network now covers more than 2000 km.

In the federal state of Lower Austria, the expansion of a nationwide fiber optic network has been driven forward since 2015. Since rural regions in particular have little chance of benefiting from an expansion of the fiber optic network, NÖGIG was founded with the aim of providing Lower Austria with broadband internet coverage. To test the so-called “Lower Austrian model”, 5 model regions were selected in which broadband expansion is currently taking place. These model regions are Thayaland, Triestingtal, Ybbstal and Waldviertler StadtLand . According to data collected by Andrea Tony Hermann from the Econet team around Peter Filzmaier , only around 2% of households in rural areas have data transmission rates of 100 Mbit / s. The Waldviertel was named as one of these problem regions.

The RegionalKabelMölltal Ges.mbH operates in the middle Mölltal in the state of Carinthia , a FTTH network in the next data services and cable television and telephone service. The municipalities of Mühldorf , Obervellach , Mallnitz , Flattach , Rangersdorf and Winklern are currently developed.

it & tel has its own fiber optic network in Austria. This backbone network has a transmission rate of 1 to 10 Gbit / s.


In the city of Zurich, the broadband network ewz.zürinet provides data rates of 1 Gbit / s (symmetrical) for private and business customers. In Basel, St. Gallen, Bern and Lucerne, the local municipal utilities are in the process of implementing a comprehensive, open fiber optic network by 2016. In addition, regional electricity suppliers such as the St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke or the power station of the Canton of Thurgau are installing a nationwide fiber optic network in their catchment area. Customers can usually choose between several providers who offer various subscription combinations (Internet, television, telephony or individual subscriptions), data tariffs and rates (usually up to 1000/1000 Mbit / s).

Swisscom works in cooperation with the local technical companies in Lucerne, St. Gallen, Bern, Zurich, Geneva and some other regions, with Swisscom assuming between 50 and 60% of the total costs. According to. By 2015, about 20% of all houses in Switzerland will have fiber optic connections available to OFCOM . The canton of Friborg wants to have a nationwide fiber optic network implemented by 2024.

In October 2009, the most important Swiss network providers agreed to use joint coordination to avoid a mess of cables between competing networks. The agreement stipulates that a cable with four different colored glass fibers will be laid for each subscriber connection. One of these fibers is for exclusive use by the network operator. At the same time, the same standards and a single connector type were agreed to make it easier to switch providers.

Since March 2018, the Swiss mobile operator Salt Mobile has been offering most households in Switzerland an internet product with a fiber optic connection in the home (FTTH) that enables data transmission rates of up to 10 Gbit / s in both downstream and upstream. The providers Iway AG and Swisscom have also been offering 10 Gbit / s on FTTH since June 2020.

In May 2020, Salt Mobile and Sunrise announced the expansion of another 1.5 million households. This corresponds to around 40% of all Swiss households. The expansion should be completed between 2025 and 2027.


In Luxembourg, POST Luxembourg has been providing a fiber optic network since September 2011, which is already well developed. Data rates of up to 1000/500 Mbit are offered. FTTN ( VDSL ) and FTTH are marketed together, which is not always obvious to the consumer. The technology was based on GPON .


In the Netherlands, the network expansion with FTTH is already well advanced. In many larger municipalities, all households are equipped with their own fiber optic connections. Further fiber optic networks are being set up or in the planning phase. The largest network operator is the company Reggefiber, which in November 2011 had opened up 144 municipalities and was in the planning and approval phase in 31 municipalities. Reggefiber is a joint venture between the Reggeborgh investment company and KPN . The declared goal is to drive the network expansion steadily and to equip 90% of households with FTTH by 2015. The fiber optic networks are generally open to different providers; the network operators do not normally act as providers at the same time. As a provider, KPN has the highest market penetration.

There are typical triple play offers in the program, but smaller providers also offer very special offers such as pure Internet with public IP address blocks for business customers. The prices are cheap in European comparison - for example, the triple play offer from KPN with 55 (10 HD) TV channels, 100 Mbit / s symmetrical Internet and flat-rate telephony costs 65 € per month.

Situation in asia


The company "Tellcom İletişim Hizmetleri A.Ş.", founded in 2004, was the sole provider of Fiber-to-the-Building (FTTB) and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) on the Turkish market from the end of 2007 to 2012. This company is a subsidiary of the Turkcell Group.

Since 2012, Türk Telekom has been the second provider in this market.

Tellcom İletişim Hizmetleri A.Ş. was previously with the Superonline brand and has been known in Turkey since May 2011 with the “Turkcell Superonline” brand.

Between 2007 and 2010, these fiber internet products were only offered in isolated districts of the major cities of Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and İzmit. Turkcell Superonline has been expanding its fiber optic network very quickly in many cities in Turkey since 2010.

In June 2011 connections with 20 Mbps / 5 Mbps (for about 20 euros per month); 50 Mbps / 5 Mbps (for about 40 euros per month); 100 Mbps / 5 Mbps (for about 80 euros per month) and up to 1000 Mbps / 20 Mbps (for about 400 euros per month).

Turkcell has been offering Superonline IP telephone services since 2011 and triple play (Internet, IP telephone and television) has been possible since May 2012.

At the end of 2011, Turkcell Superonline had over 300,000 FTTB and FTTH customers. In September 2013 there were over 500,000 customers.

The Turk Telekom , as the sole owner of the DSL infrastructure in Turkey, was initially little interest. However, after significant customer losses, in 2012 it began to invest in this area and to prepare its fiber optic cable network for private Internet access.


FTTH was introduced in Japan in 1999. The technology's breakthrough came in 2001, particularly in the metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Osaka . On September 17, 2008, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that between March and June of that year the number of contracts concluded for FTTH with 13.1 million for the first time exceeded that for DSL connections with 12.3 million and 45% has the highest share of broadband connections.

The average download rate for end customers is 66 Mbit / s throughout Japan and 78 Mbit / s in Tokyo. The bandwidth was initially 10 Mbit / s at the end customer via Passive Optical Network (PON) at NTT, the largest telecommunications company in the country . In 2006, Gigabit Ethernet PON ( GEPON ) or broadband PON with 100 Mbit / s in the downstream prevailed among end customers. Some services offer 1 Gbit / s to the end customer using Single Star (SS).

Situation in North America

United States

In the US , u. a. AT&T , Verizon and Google FTTH. As in Germany, there have only been offers in a few metropolitan regions so far, as the costs for comprehensive installation are very high. At least in urban areas, households can have Internet connections with data transmission rates of 50/5 (down- / upstream) to 100/10 Mbit / s. Google also offers 1/1 Gbit / s.


In Canada , several larger telecommunications providers such as Rogers Communications , Bell Canada , Bell Aliant or SaskTel offer services in larger cities. The data rates are between 50 and 200 Mbit / s.

Situation in South America


Telefónica has been offering FTTH in some districts of São Paulo since January 2008 , the standard data rate there is 8 Mbit / s, but up to 100 Mbit / s can be ordered. FTTH comes there along with an ADSL2 + WiFi modem. The prices are very high compared to European standards, for example an 8 Mbit / s line costs R $ 240.00 (approx. EUR 78) (as of 02/2008), with a monthly minimum salary of 380, 00 R $ (approx. 123 EUR) for many almost unaffordable.


  1. This corresponds to around CHF 3500 (EUR 2847) per household.

See also

Web links

Commons : Fiber Optic Network  - Collection of Images

Professional associations

Individual evidence

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  2. Example with expansion card. Herp Derpson: Connection via cross cable # 1. August 9, 2014, accessed June 21, 2018 . Herp Derpson: cross cables. October 13, 2014, accessed June 21, 2018 .
  3. ^ Alcatel-Lucent Intros Fixed-Access Micronodes , Converge Digest
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  51. ( Memento of the original from April 28, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
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  56. ( Memento of the original from July 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Turkish) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  57. ブ ロ ー ド バ ン ド サ ー ビ ス の 契約 数 等 (平 成 20 年 6 月末) . (No longer available online.) Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications , September 17, 2008, archived from the original on February 24, 2009 ; Retrieved January 26, 2009 (Japanese). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /