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What is fiber-optic internet?

Eric Mayer | 08/03/2021

What is fiber-optic internet?



SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Midco officially announced its move to an all-fiber optic internet network. 


But what is fiber-optic internet? It is a method of broadband just like a cable modem, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), wireless or satellite. The difference with fiber is it transmits data at speeds far exceeding all other methods, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 


Midco Chief Technology Officer Jon Pederson described fiber optic as “a super, hair-thin piece of glass bundled together in what looks like a normal cable.” 


Pederson said fiber optic technology is “virtually limitless” and Midco’s Fiber Forward plan will upgrade and expand the Midco network to 22,000 miles of fiber across six states. 


Midco announces $500 million for fiber-optic internet upgrades 


“It provides a foundation upon which everything else can be built,” Pederson said. “Whether that’s performance increases, reliability, low latency, your new business, medical service.” 


“It’s an important part of life, almost as much as water,

sewer and electrical,”




For Midco CEO Pat McAdaragh, the problem with fiber in past years has been how expensive the fiber optic cable costs. 


“Recently the math has gotten a lot better because of the volumes being sold,” McAdaragh said. “It is going to be the technology of the future. It is today and it’ll slowly replace old technologies.”  


44.2% of South Dakotans have access to fiber-optic internet service.


Midco’s Fiber Forward plan will lay 22,000 miles of fiber across six states.


With Midco’s existing network, McAdaragh said upgrading won’t be too difficult. He said the main difference will be with the “electronics where you hook up the center point to the end point.” 


Once connected to a home, business or school building, McAdaragh said WiFi or wired networks throughout will be important. 


“We think the in-home experience is only going to get better because the back network is great,” said McAdaragh, who noted new homes should focus on having the latest ethernet cables throughout. 


McAdaragh also mentioned existing homes with coaxial cabling could work with MoCA technology. 


Midco is aiming to provide 10G speeds, 10 gigabytes per second, in the future. According to industry tracking firm BROADBANDNOW, 44% of South Dakotans have access to fiber-optic internet service. 


Midco currently offers 1G speeds, 1 gigabyte per second, and having access to fiber networks will be an important decision for many homeowners. 


“It’s an important part of life, almost as much as water, sewer and electrical,” Pederson said.


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