Commercial buildings are experiencing a growing need for connectivity as businesses rely more heavily on networking technology to accommodate various devices. The demand for network access extends beyond computers. Cell phones, televisions, IP phones, security cameras, printers, machine-to-machine controls, building management systems, and automated guided vehicles all need network access. As new employees join the workforce or when Internet of Things (IoT) tools emerge, additional devices must be incorporated to stay competitive in the market.

Legacy copper-based network architecture has several limitations that hinder your business’ scalability and performance. The foremost concern is the requirement for increased bandwidth as more devices are added. It forces businesses to continuously pay higher bandwidth costs or sacrifice speed for individual devices. Copper networks are also susceptible to signal degradation and latency, with these issues becoming more pronounced over longer distances of around 100 meters. Moreover, the accumulation of network devices onto a copper network generates excessive heat, which increases energy costs and the potential for fire. These limitations impose constraints on both network scalability and business growth.

Fortunately, Fiber to the Edge (FTTE) offers a comprehensive solution to overcome the limitations of traditional copper-based network architecture. It represents the next phase in local area network (LAN) design. This article aims to provide a thorough coverage of FTTE and its benefits for your business. So, let's delve into the details.

What is Fibre to the Edge (FTTE)?

What are fibre optics?

You may have already heard about fibre optics, but we can quickly go over its core components. Traditional copper-based networks use copper cables to transmit data between devices in a LAN network. As you can figure from the name, fibre optics is a technology that uses thin strands of transparent glass or plastic fibres to transmit digital data in the form of light pulses.

Because of the unique characteristics of fibre optics technology, fibre optics can offer higher bandwidth, better transmission over long distances, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and better security compared to copper networks. Plus, fibre cables can be 80% lighter than copper cables, and they don't often require cooling.

Generally, fibre architecture is a much superior option for network deployment. In fact, all internet service providers are moving towards a fibre-focused infrastructure. Even many data centers are also entering fibre-based architecture. There are many applications for fibre optics in the communication and network field. FTTE is one of the key applications in network construction.

Fibre to the Edge (FTTE)

All major internet service providers (ISP) market offer "Fiber to the X" (FTTX) services, where "X" represents various points in the network. For example, Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) means deploying fibre cables directly to residential homes. Similarly, Fibre to the Building (FTTB) means ISP brings fibre optic connectivity to multi-dwelling units such as apartment buildings, condominiums, or office complexes. These examples are Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure offered by ISP.

Fibre to the Edge, on the other hand, is a local area network (LAN) infrastructure designed and deployed by individual businesses. FTTE extends fibre connections all the way to the network edge or end users. In other words, you use fibre cables to construct your business network and connect all your devices. The end user, such as computers, security cameras, or smart devices, can access your network through cables or Wi-Fi.

Why is FTTE beneficial over traditional network architecture?

We have already covered all the limitations of traditional copper architecture's limitations and many benefits of fibre optics in general. Here we can summarize all the benefits that are specific to FTTE.

High-Speed Connectivity

As mentioned before, when you add new devices to legacy networks, you are running the risk of squeezing your bandwidth and speed. Fibre cables allow a wider range of frequencies than copper cables. That translates to higher bandwidth. Plus, fibre cables have low attenuation and are immune to other electromagnetic signal interference. All these unique characteristics of fibre optic cables contribute to FTTE's faster internet speeds and improved data transmission quality for end users.

When it comes to real-world use cases, FTTE enables the seamless delivery of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as video conferences, transmitting security camera footage, cloud services, and other data-intensive activities.

Reliable and Consistent Performance

As we just mentioned, fibre cables are immune to electromagnetic signal interference. In addition, optical signals are difficult to tap into or intercept. It means that FTTE not only offers higher signal transmission quality but also provides better security.

Unlike copper cables, fibre cables also do not suffer signal degradation over long distances. FTTE can significantly minimize signal loss. You can genuinely extend your consistent network connectivity to the edge of your network reliably. This is particularly crucial for businesses and organizations with complex network structures that rely on uninterrupted connectivity for critical operations.

Reduced Latency

Fibre optic cables have lower latency compared to copper or coaxial cables. Lower latency translates to faster response times. If your business requires swift response time or real-time data transmission, such as video conferencing or financial transactions, FTTE can significantly reduce latency and improve user experience.

Reduce Power Consumption

Unlike copper cables, fibre optic cables themselves do not require electrical power to transmit data. That feature alone will save businesses significant power over time. Also, fibre cables have much longer distance limitations, which eliminates the need for additional power-consuming signal repeaters or signal boosters in the network infrastructure.

Additionally, FTTE deployments often involve modern, energy-efficient network equipment that is not hampered by cooling. With all these factors together, FTTE will save a significant amount of power or money over time.

Space Saving

As previously mentioned, fibre optic cables are much thinner and lighter than traditional copper or coaxial cables. This characteristic allows for more compact and space-efficient infrastructure deployments. FTTE eliminates the need for bulky cable bundles and complex cooling equipment, which frees up a significant amount of physical space. This is particularly advantageous in densely populated areas, where space constraints are a concern.

Increased Application Options

With higher bandwidth and greater capacity but fewer limitations, businesses can put a wider range of services and applications on the network for their end users. This includes high-definition video streaming, cloud-based services, virtual private networks (VPNs), Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and more. FTTE enables businesses to meet the evolving demands of business operations and support innovative technologies.

Future-Proof Infrastructure

Fibre optic technology has a significantly higher data transmission capacity than traditional cables. By investing in FTTE, businesses lay the foundation for future technology upgrades and scalability. Modern digital communication, business operation and manufacturing require higher data speeds, and this demand continues to grow rapidly. FTTE provides a future-proof infrastructure to support these advancements without requiring major network reconstruction or compromise in performance.

Who is FTTE for?

FTTE (Fiber to the Edge) is beneficial for a variety of businesses and organizations that require high-speed and reliable network connectivity. If your business requires a lot of video conferences, constantly interacts with the cloud, or has a complex surveillance system, you will experience many of the benefits of FTTE. Here are some real-world examples.

Technology Companies

Technology-focused businesses, such as software development firms, IT service providers, and cloud computing companies, heavily rely on fast and reliable internet connectivity. FTTE allows these businesses to deliver products and services efficiently. FTTE will also facilitate seamless communication between team members and clients.

Online Retail

E-commerce businesses depend on fast and reliable internet connectivity to run their online platforms, manage inventory, and process transactions. FTTE ensures a smooth shopping experience for customers. It enables quick data transfers, efficient order processing, and secure payment processing. If your business has an active online retail platform, FTTE will help you to improve customer experience and satisfaction.

Financial Institutions

Banks, financial services firms, and stock exchanges require secure and high-speed network connectivity. In this case, a high-speed connection is not only for payment transactions. As we all know, stock prices are changing every moment and are super-fast. Financial institutions need to have real-time market updates. Their accuracy requirement could be down to nanoseconds.

FTTE can offer the fastest connection with the lowest latency to financial institutions so that they don't miss any crucial opportunities. It can also facilitate secure and fast data transmission. Financial institutions can handle large volumes of transactions while maintaining reliable connections with FTTE.


Modern factories rely on data-intensive processes, such as real-time monitoring, machine-to-machine communication, and supply chain management. There are more and more IoT devices under development that will help the manufacturing industry in the future.

FTTE enables efficient data exchange between machines and supports industrial automation and monitoring systems. Overall, it enhances operational efficiency and allows effective management of manufacturing processes.

Hospitals and Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers and hospitals can benefit from FTTE by ensuring fast and secure transmission of medical records, real-time consultations, and remote diagnostics. FTTE enables high-quality video conferences between patients and doctors, remote patient monitoring, fast access to massive medical databases, and improved telemedicine services.

Residential Buildings or Condominiums

If you own a condominium building, FTTE can provide residential users with fast and reliable internet connectivity. It allows your tenants to stream high-definition shows, play online games, and work from home. You will provide your tenants with a much better entertainment and working experience. By making your tenants lives better, you also increase the value and demand for your building.

Government and Public Services

Governments and public service organizations can use FTTE to improve communication and public services because it enables efficient data sharing, secure networks, and smart city applications. FTTE can facilitate the implementation of advanced technologies, such as IoT sensors, traffic cameras and management systems, and public safety networks. It will significantly improve government operation efficiency and public safety.

What do you need to know when constructing your FTTE?

Since fibre optics networks use light pulses and fibre cables to transmit digital signals rather than electric currents, you should expect there to be different network equipment involved in constructing this network. You may need to replace many components from a traditional copper network. This section will cover all the network components you need to know about building a fully operational FTTE network.

Fibre Optic Connectors

Since we are using fibre cables, which have many strands of thin fibre, you should expect that they require different connectors than traditional RJ-45 connectors for copper cables. Fibre optic connectors must ensure accurate alignment of the fibre cores to enable efficient and reliable data transmission. There are many connector types in the market today. Below, we are going to cover six popular connector types.

LC (Lucent Connector)

The LC (Lucent Connector) is widely regarded as one of the most popular fibre optic connectors in the market. It is small and commonly used in high-density environments, such as data centers, telecommunications, and enterprise networks, where space is limited. The LC connector is rectangular-shaped, features a push-pull latching mechanism and is commonly used for single-mode and multimode fibre connections. We will discuss the difference between single-mode and multimode fibre connections in the next section.

SC (Subscriber Connector)

Another popular connector is the SC connector. They are square-shaped connectors that feature a push-pull coupling mechanism. SC connectors could be twice as large as LC connectors. The common use cases for SC connectors are in data communications, telecommunication networks, and cable television applications. SC connectors are easy to install and provide good durability and performance.

MPO/MTP (Multiple-Fiber Push-On/Pull-off)

MPO/MTP connectors are for high-density applications that require multiple fibres. They use a push-pull latching mechanism and feature a rectangular ferrule with multiple fibres (typically 12 or 24) aligned in a single row. Their unique design makes them suitable for high-speed data transmission and parallel optics applications, such as data centers and high-speed backbone networks.

ST (Straight Tip)

The ST (Straight Tip) connector features a bayonet-style coupling mechanism and is commonly used in local area networks (LANs) and older telecommunications applications. ST connectors are robust and suitable for harsh environments. That means it is a popular option for FTTE networks if you don't demand the most advanced performance.

FC (Ferrule Connector)

The FC (Ferrule Connector) connector features a threaded coupling mechanism, where the connector is screwed on to secure the connection. FC connectors provide excellent stability and reliability, which make them suitable for high-precision optical equipment and laboratory applications.

SC/APC Connector

The last one is the SC/APC (Angled Physical Contact) connector, which is a variation of the SC connector with an angled end face. It provides better return loss performance and is an ideal option for applications where low back-reflection is critical, such as fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.

Here are a few examples of the most popular fibre optic connectors. Their performances vary in different aspects depending on many factors. So, when choosing connectors for your own FTTE networks, you need to consider factors such as space, fibre types, transmission distance, density requirements, bandwidth requirements, and compatibility with existing equipment.

Single Mode Fiber (SMF) Vs Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF)

In fibre optics, "mode" refers to the path that light takes as it travels within an optical fibre. A mode represents a specific path or trajectory that light can follow within the fibre core. The mode determines how the light propagates, interacts, and disperses inside the fibre. There are two main types of modes in fibre optics, which are single mode and multi-mode.

Single Mode Fiber (SMF)

By definition, single mode means only one mode of light can propagate. The core of a single-mode fibre is very small (typically around 8-10 micrometres) and allows only a single path for light to travel through. As a result, single-mode fibres offer high bandwidth and low dispersion, making them suitable for long-distance and high-speed communication applications. If your business covers a large open space and your business operation prioritizes speed and bandwidth, SMF is a better option.

Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF)

On the other hand, multi-mode means multiple modes of light can propagate through the fibre simultaneously. The core of the multi-mode fibre is larger (typically 50 or 62.5 micrometres) compared to single-mode fibres, allowing different paths for light to travel. Due to the multiple paths, multi-mode fibres can experience dispersion, where different light modes arrive at the receiving end at slightly different times. This dispersion could lead to signal distortion over long distances. It is ideal for shorter-distance applications within buildings, campuses, local area networks (LANs), and data centers.

Once again, when choosing your fibre optic operation mode, you must consider factors such as the desired transmission distance, available budget, and the equipment used in the network. Please make sure that the fibre cable, connectors, and other equipment you have all support the mode you choose. Otherwise, your network will not perform properly.

Other Devices Required for Fibre Optics

We already cover fibre optic connectors and fibre modes. They are certainly not enough to construct a fully operational FTTE network. What other essential devices and components do you need for a fibre optics system? Let's find that out.

Optical Fibre Cables

Of course, for any network, you will need plenty of cables. For FTTE networks, you will need fibre cables. These cables are the physical medium for transmitting light signals across your entire network. They consist of one or more optical fibres enclosed within protective jackets. They are available in various types, such as single-mode and multi-mode, to suit different transmission needs.

Fiber Optic Transceivers

Transceivers are a new type of device you need to add to your FTTE network construction. Their function is to transmit and receive optical signals in a fibre optic network. They can also convert electrical signals into optical signals for transmission and vice versa. You will always need these fibre-optic transceivers for FTTE networks because devices like computers, security cameras, and IP phones can only transmit and receive electric signals. This means you may need Category (CAT) copper cables in certain parts of an FTTE network. We will talk more about it in a later section.

Fiber Optic Switches and Routers

Fibre optic switches and routers provide the same functionalities as regular switches and routers in a network. The main difference is that these fibre-optic switches and routers have ports for fibre-optic connections, which provide connectivity and management capabilities for fibre-optic networks.

Fiber Optic Patch Panels

Patch panels are also unique and necessary to fibre networks. It is a piece of equipment that serves as a central point for terminating and managing fibre optic connections. Patch panels typically feature adapter panels or fibre optic connection interfaces. They provide a structured and organized way to connect and route fibres within a network.

Media Converters

As mentioned earlier, certain parts of an FTTE network still need copper cables. Therefore, you will need a media converter to convert signals between different transmission media, most likely between fibre optic and copper. Media converters enable easier integration of fibre optic segments with existing copper-based network infrastructure.

Fiber Optic Splice Closures

Splice closures can protect and join fibre optic cables. They provide mechanical protection and environmental sealing for spliced fibre connections. Splice closures are typically used in outdoor or harsh environments to ensure the integrity of fibre connections.

Fiber Optic Test Equipment

You will need specialized test equipment to install, maintain, and troubleshoot fibre optic networks. This includes tools for measuring power levels, inspecting, and cleaning connectors, conducting OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer) testing, and verifying signal quality. It is always a good idea to have testing and monitoring tools handy. If there is any degradation in the network, you can perform at least some preliminary tests instead of calling trained professionals all the time.

Fibre Vs CAT Cabling in A Fibre Network

The last important factor we must cover is fibre optic cabling vs Category (CAT) copper cabling in a fibre-based network. A fibre-based network certainly requires fibre cables to be the primary medium for transmitting data. However, we also mentioned that copper cables still play a role in certain aspects of network infrastructure. Why is that? And how can we tell what cable to use at certain parts?

Why do we need copper cables in a fibre-based network?

Today, not all devices and network equipment support fibre connections, and we do not expect this to change any time soon. The most common network devices are computers, security cameras and IP phones. These devices can only process electronic signals, not light pulses. It is inconceivable to imagine that all our computer components, such as CPUs, motherboards, RAMs, and hard drives can suddenly process light pulses. This is even less possible for low-cost devices such as IP phones and security cameras.

Another reason is that many established networks in older buildings already have copper cables built behind walls. In such cases, it is more convenient to leverage the existing infrastructure and connect it to the fibre backbone.

It is also very common that some network equipment, such as IP phones and IP security cameras, requires electrical power through copper cables. This power over Ethernet (PoE) technology does not exist for fibre cables. Therefore, you still need to rely on copper cables to connect these devices to your network.

Therefore, we can conclude that copper cables provide compatibility with various network devices and interfaces. You can use fibre cables for connections between switches and all the access points (APs) and routers. When it comes to device network access, it is still very common to see copper cables. So, ideally, you should upgrade your network equipment, such as switches, routers, and servers, to support both fibre optic and copper interfaces, allowing for seamless integration of different connectivity options within a network infrastructure.

How to choose between fibre and CAT cabling in an FTTE network?

As mentioned before, even if the backbone of an FTTE network consists of fibre cables, there is still a need for copper cables. They are simpler and cheaper to deploy. More importantly, if you can choose the right places to use copper cables, you will not feel the performance difference at all. But how do we make the judgment call? Here we can give you a few indicators.


We already established that fibre optic cabling provides significantly higher bandwidth than CAT cabling. Therefore, if you see a branch of the network that does not require high bandwidth, you can simply use copper cables and never worry about it again. For example, IP phones and printers demand the least bandwidth resources in an office environment. On the other hand, if you do video conferences often or your security cameras need to transmit video footage to a remote location, then fibre access makes more sense.


We also mentioned that fibre optic cabling allows for longer transmission distances without signal degradation, especially fibre optics operating in single-mode fibre can transmit data over distances of tens or even hundreds of kilometres without requiring repeaters or signal boosters. However, what does all these mean for business? Typically, when constructing a network, any distance over 100 meters, fibre cables are the preferred option. For distances less than 100 meters, if there are no other constraints, either copper or fibre will work fine.

Radio Frequency Interference

Copper cables are sensitive to other wireless signals or electromagnetic fields generated by another parallel cable. Fibre cables do not have this concern at all. Therefore, if you are expecting a wireless signal interference or a big bundle of wires, fibre cabling is a preferred option. A typical example of this would be a data center. Modern data centers all use fibre connections to avoid interference and improve performance. If you are not expecting any interference, copper cables will do the job.

Physical Environment

Fibre optic cabling consists of thin glass or plastic that is immune to corrosion and can withstand harsh environmental conditions. It is lightweight, flexible, and immune to temperature fluctuations. So, if your business requires these cables to operate in harsh environments, fibre cabling will last much longer.

Installation, Maintenance, and Cost

Fibre optic cabling is lighter but requires specialized tools, expertise, and careful handling during installation and maintenance. CAT cabling is relatively easy to deploy and cheaper than fibre cables. If your business has no constraints on time and money, please follow the other technical indicators mentioned above to choose between fibre and CAT cabling. Even if time and money are tight, we still recommend that you follow those indicators as much as possible instead of just using copper. If you use too much copper cabling, your performance will suffer. It loses the point of building an FTTE network in the first place.

What are some limitations of fibre cabling?

This article has covered the benefits of fibre cabling so much. Are there any limitations of fibre cabling? Of course, we mentioned a few of them in this article as well. However, for most businesses, the benefits of fibre cabling trumps its limitations. Here, we will summarize all the limitations of fibre cabling for your reference.

Installation Complexity and High Cost

As we just discussed, fibre optic cabling installation requires specialized skills and tools. Plus, fibre cables could cost more than ten times copper cables. On the surface, it does seem that deploying fibre cabling requires a higher initial cost. However, if you add all the operation, maintenance, and cooling costs for copper systems, it is tough to say copper cabling has much price advantage in the long run at all.

Vulnerable to Physical Damage

Fibre optic cables are immune to corrosion and can withstand harsh environmental conditions, but they are also sensitive to bending, crushing, and stretching. If the protective jacket of fibre cables is peeled off, it means there is a big chance for the light pulses to leak, which will lead to signal loss. Therefore, fibre cabling requires proper protection and management to avoid damage.

Susceptibility to Contamination

Fibre optic connectors and interfaces are highly sensitive to dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Even minor contamination can impact signal quality and result in degraded performance. Regular cleaning and maintenance of connectors are necessary to prevent signal loss and maintain optimal transmission.

Power Dependency

As mentioned before, fibre cables cannot transmit power. Many fibre network components, such as transceivers and switches, require power for operation. A fibre system also cannot deliver PoE features to IP phones or security cameras. Even worse than that, when there is a power outage or disruption, it can affect the operation of your entire fibre optic network. So, if you are planning to deploy an FTTE network adding a backup power system is very crucial.


The increasing connectivity demands of commercial buildings require businesses to adapt to more advanced networking technology to accommodate a wide range of devices. The emergence of Fiber to the Edge (FTTE) presents a transformative solution that addresses all the limitations of legacy architecture. By transitioning to FTTE, businesses can effectively handle the expanding number of devices, support higher bandwidth requirements, mitigate signal degradation and latency issues, and reduce the risks associated with excessive heat generation. Ultimately, adopting FTTE will increase operational efficiency and improve business outcomes.

To stay competitive in today's connected world, businesses must recognize the potential of FTTE and its ability to revolutionize their network infrastructure. By embracing FTTE, organizations can unlock their full potential to meet the evolving demands of a digitally driven business landscape. If you are considering transiting to an FTTE network, book your appointment with Panopticon today at 416-613-8828.