Wednesday, September 27, 2017


We just had a gigabit fiber connection installed. This means that our internet connection theoretically tops out at around a billion bits per second in both directions, compared to about 180 million bits per second down and 12 million bits per second up on our old connection. That's cool—but it's also cheaper! The new connection will replace our old internet service and our old voice-over-IP landline (yes, we still have a landline). Plus, we plan to downgrade our television service by canceling our cable television subscription, since we mostly use Netflix and Amazon Prime video these days anyway. (When I told Anders that we would be canceling our cable subscription, but that we'd still be able to watch videos on Netflix and Amazon, he asked, "What else is there?").

There have been a ton of Sonic trucks in our neighborhood for the past month or so, getting fiber to the poles. That pole box is called a local convergence point, and it serves between 288 and 432 homes. Upstream, it connects to a central office, using a strand of fiber optic cable for every 32 connections, with each fiber connected upstream to an OLT ("optical line terminal"). The local convergence point splits each OLT connection into 32 individual fiber connections.

Last Friday afternoon, I got this text. (Don't bother trying the link. It'll just tell you, "This order has been completed.")

I scheduled the first available installation window, from 8-noon this morning. And Greg from Sonic showed up at 8:01 a.m. I was the first installation on our block.

The previous day, Sonic trucks roamed all over the neighborhood doing "fiber drops." This involves running fiber from the terminals on the utility lines to each of the houses with a Sonic Fiber pre-order. (The pic below is a FlexNap multiport terminal near the pole outside our house.) Our neighbors on both sides of us and three directly across the street all had fiber drops, too. (I'm sure there are many more on our block; those are just the ones I noticed.)

Greg drilled a hole through the side of our house to get the fiber into our basement.

From there, it went into a "fiber optic termination box." (This pic is likely the last one I will take of the inside of this box, as it has a security screw on the outside.)

A short fiber patch cable runs from the termination box to the wall-mounted ONT (Optical Network Terminal), which is a transceiver that converts the fiber connection into an ethernet connection and a telephone connection. (You can see a telephone line splitter connected to the transceiver. One side of the split goes to our telephone, and the other to our printer that we use for faxing.)

The ethernet output from the ONT goes to this residential gateway ("RG"), which has 4-port gigabit switch for wired connections, and a wifi router. For the moment, I'm using both this and our old wifi router as APs, on the theory that I should be able to get better coverage in our house this way.

Here's the bandwidth we're getting, using a wired connection. It's not actually a gigabit, but I'm not sure whether that's the connection or just a limitation of the USB 3.0 ethernet adapter I used for this test. Regardless, this is plenty of bandwidth.

UPDATE: It turns out it was neither the connection nor the ethernet adapter. Using a native (i.e. not web-based) Speedtest client, I get much better results.

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