How to Install Fiber-Optic Internet: A Comprehensive Guide

Rosslyn Elliott / Updated Jun 14, 2023 | Pub. Feb 02, 2023

In this guide, we will walk you through the entire process of installing fiber-optic internet, from choosing the right provider to setting up the equipment. Whether you’re a tech-savvy individual or a complete newcomer to fiber optic technology, this guide will provide you with the information and resources you need to successfully install fiber-optic internet.

What is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet is a broadband internet connection that uses fiber-optic cables to transmit data.

Unlike traditional copper cables, fiber-optic cables are made of glass or plastic and are capable of transmitting data at much higher speeds over much greater distances. Signals are sent  by light pulses through the fiber-optic cable by a device called a transceiver, which is located at the internet service provider’s data center.

The light signals travel through the fiber-optic cable to be picked up by a receiver at the customer’s location. The receiver then converts the light back into an electrical signal, which can be used by the customer’s computer or other devices to access the internet.

Because light signals travel so much faster than electricity, fiber internet’s “light speed” is an ideal choice for homes and businesses that require high-speed internet connectivity.

Advantages of Fiber Internet

There are several advantages of fiber internet, including symmetrical download and upload speeds, greater reliability, increased bandwidth, and the ability to send signals over a greater distance.

Symmetrical Download and Upload Speeds

Unlike any previous internet technology, fiber internet has symmetrical download and upload speeds. Older technologies such as DSL and cable have much slower upload speeds.

Our digital world is beginning to require more upload bandwidth for videoconferencing, large file uploads, and virtual experiences. With fiber, there will be no lags or upload times of hours for very large files. Fiber is also much faster than previous technologies. Right now, that means fiber is better for playing real-time video games and holding Zoom meetings for work. In the future, fiber could allow even more important human interactions all over the world.

teen plays online game as fiber internet supports fast uploads

Greater Reliability

Fiber internet is much more reliable than traditional broadband connections, as the fiber-optic cables are less susceptible to interference and degradation.

Increased Data Capacity

Fiber internet has a much greater capacity than traditional broadband connections, allowing customers to access more data and connect more devices at the same time.

Greater Distance

Fiber-optic cables are capable of transmitting data over much greater distances than traditional copper cables, making it possible to deliver high-speed internet to even remote locations. The chief challenge is that installing long fiber-optic lines to reach those remote locations is expensive. That’s why fiber service is not yet available in many rural areas.

Choosing the Right Fiber-Optic Internet Provider

The first step in installing fiber-optic internet is choosing the right provider. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which provider is the best fit for your needs. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following factors:

  • Speed and reliability: Look for a provider that offers high-speed internet and has a strong track record of reliability.
  • Cost: Compare prices from multiple providers to find the best deal for your budget. The fiber internet plan for you may not need to be the fastest speed on the market.
  • Availability: Make sure the provider you choose is available in your area.
  • Customer support: Choose a provider with a responsive and knowledgeable customer support team.

Customer service rep smiles as she works for an ISP with responsive customer service

How Fiber Gets to Your Neighborhood

Planning and Prepping by your Internet Provider

Fiber installation begins with a lot of planning and prepping by fiber internet providers. An ISP must create a map of where it intends to install cables, then begin obtaining permits from local municipalities. This part of the process typically takes several weeks, but it’s necessary for companies to gain permission before they start digging up roads or sidewalks.

Once the company has all its permits, it can start setting up underground infrastructure by digging trenches and laying down conduit pipes that protect the cables. In certain urban areas, companies may use existing conduit pipes instead of having to dig new ones. Before any actual cable is laid down, technicians must run tests to ensure that everything is working as planned.

Technicians lay fiber-optic cable through conduits underground, like this tube full of wires with the workmanDigging and Laying Down Fiber-Optic Cables

Once everything has been tested and approved, internet technicians will begin burying the cables in the trenches—or inside existing conduits—and connecting them at either end with splice boxes, which are junction points for connecting multiple lines together. Once all parts are connected, technicians will then inspect each connection to make sure there are no potential breaks or weak spots in the line. If everything looks good, they’ll fill in any trenches so that roads look normal again.

Testing The Connection

After all cables have been laid down and are sealed away in their conduits, technicians will test each line one last time before turning on service for customers. They run a range of tests from checking signal strength to making sure data flows correctly between servers and client devices like computers or phones inside homes or businesses using the service. After this final testing phase is complete, customers can finally enjoy their high-speed fiber internet connection.

How is Fiber Internet Installed at Your Home or Business?

Now you know how companies get fiber internet to your house. But what happens when you need your own fiber internet?

Preparing Your Home or Business for Fiber Installation

Before the fiber internet installation process can begin, you’ll need to prepare your home or business for the installation. Here are some steps to take before the installation process begins:

  • Identify the location where you want the fiber optic modem and router to be installed. This location should have access to a power source and be near the main point of entry for the fiber-optic cable.
  • Ensure there is enough space for the fiber-optic modem and router. These devices are typically larger than traditional modem and router units, so make sure there is enough room for them.
  • Check for any potential obstacles that could make it difficult to install the fiber-optic cable, such as furniture, wall coverings, or other obstacles.
  • Determine if you need any additional equipment or tools for the installation, such as mounting brackets for the fiber-optic modem and router.

6 Steps of the Fiber-Optic Internet Installation Process

Install fiber-optic internet diagram of how fiber internet runs through a home with labels for ONT router cables

Once you’ve prepared your home or business for fiber-optic internet installation, it’s time to begin the installation process. Here are the steps for installing fiber-optic internet:

  1. The installation technician will arrive at your home or business to assess the installation site and determine the best route for the fiber-optic cable.
  2. The technician will then begin installing the fiber-optic cable, which typically involves drilling holes through walls and running cable through the holes.
  3. The technician will install an optical network terminal (ONT) to connect you to your fiber internet provider through the fiber-optic cables outside.
  4. Your fiber internet router will be installed and connected to the optical network terminal (ONT) with an ethernet cable. The ONT works as a “modem" for fiber internet.
  5. The technician will then test the fiber-optic connection to ensure it’s working properly.
  6. Finally, the technician will provide you with instructions on how to use the fiber-optic modem and router and answer any questions you may have about the fiber-optic internet service.

The entire fiber-optic internet installation process typically takes several hours to complete. If you want to confirm your speed later that day after the fiber is installed, you can test your internet speed here.

Checking Fiber Availability in Your Area

Want to get fiber, but you don’t know where to start? The first step in getting fiber internet is to check if it is available in your area. Consult our internet map of states here and find your city to see if there are fiber internet plans available. Our detailed list of internet service providers and plans in cities around the USA will get you off to a good start. The good news is that most cities and even many smaller towns are beginning to get fiber providers.

What If My Area Doesn’t Have Fiber?

Reach Out to Elected Officials and Nonprofits

If the research shows that there isn’t any municipal fiber currently available in your area, then it might be time to reach out to your local elected officials and start advocating for better broadband access in your community. There are a number of organizations dedicated to helping citizens fight for better broadband access. Nonprofits can help equip you with the resources you need to make a compelling argument for why your city or town should invest in municipal fiber infrastructure.

The digital divide between those who have high-speed internet and those who don’t has been in the national news for years now. Fighting for fiber is crucial to  future economic opportunity for everyone in America. Fiber internet will be able to handle all technological advances for the foreseeable future.

Shaking hands as fiber advocates reach out to elected officials to close the digital divide

Rally Support from Your Community

In addition to reaching out to elected officials, you can rally support from other members of your community who may be interested in getting better broadband access as well. Connecting with like-minded people will make it easier for you to present a unified front when advocating for municipal fiber infrastructure in your area. It will also give you more eyes on the ground looking out for developments related to improving broadband access. As a group, you can stay aware of changes unfolding around you and take advantage of any new opportunities as they arise.

Getting municipal fiber installed in your area requires some legwork from you and your  local elected officials, but the effort can pay off big time when you enjoy faster internet speeds at an affordable price point! With some determination and planning, getting municipal fiber could become a reality sooner rather than later. Before long, everyone will be benefiting from increased connectivity and improved digital experiences.

The Good News on Closing the Digital Divide

If you advocate to get fiber installed in your area, you will have allies beyond the nonprofit world. Many states now have active plans to install more fiber infrastructure. Fiber internet providers are building rapidly with federal aid. So your own efforts can contribute to a better future for everyone, as the public and private sectors try to close the digital divide as quickly as possible.

Opportunity comes from high-speed internet access with woman smiling at her tablet

FAQ: Install Fiber-Optic Internet

How long does it take to install fiber internet?

The time required to install fiber internet can vary, but it usually takes anywhere from a few hours to several days.

Do I need to be home for the installation?

Yes, someone over the age of 18 must be present during the installation. You will schedule a fiber internet installation appointment with your ISP.

Is there a cost for fiber internet installation?

The fiber installation cost can vary depending on your internet service provider and the complexity of the installation. Some providers may offer free installation while others may charge a fee.

How do I prepare for fiber internet installation?

Preparing for fiber internet installation may include clearing a path for the fiber-optic cable, ensuring access to your modem/router location, and providing necessary consent forms. Your internet service provider will give you specific instructions.

What does fiber internet service cost?

Fiber internet plan costs vary, and many providers may offer promotional specials for new customers. However, here is a general guide to fiber internet plan pricing from major internet providers in 2023. Keep in mind that for average users, a fiber internet plan of 200-500 Mbps will provide ample speed.

 

  Fiber Internet Cost (approximate)
Internet Speed Up to 100 Mbps 200-500 Mbps 1000 Mbps 2000 Mbps 5000 Mbps
Price $40/month $50/month $70/month $110/month $180/month

 

 

Friendly fiber-optic technician installs fiber-optic cable in a wall box