What is Fiber Optics?

Fiber optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber.

What is Fiber Optics used for?

Fiber optic cable is used by many telecommunications companies to transmit telephone signals, Internet communication, and cable television signals. Due to much lower attenuation and interference, optical fiber has large advantages over existing copper wire in long-distance and high-demand applications. However, infrastructure development within cities was relatively difficult and time-consuming, and fiber optic systems were complex and expensive to install and operate. Due to these difficulties, fiber optic communication systems have primarily been installed in long-distance applications, where they can be used to their full transmission capacity, offsetting the increased cost. Since 2000, the prices for fiber optic communications have dropped considerably. The price for rolling out fiber to the home has currently become more cost-effective than that of rolling out a copper based network. (Source: Wikipedia)

What is a Fiber Optic Network?

West Carolina’s fiber optic network will consist of approximately 1360 miles of new and existing fiber optic cable that will be used to replace all of our existing copper cable in our ILEC area. Instead of a traditional copper cable pair, customers will now have a fiber strand all the way to the side of their house. The fiber media is made of glass and uses lightwaves to transmit data, while the old copper media uses electrical signals to transmit data. Fiber is preferred over copper because it has the capacity to carry a lot more data, and it is not as susceptible to electrical noise and interference. This greater capacity of the fiber not only allows West Carolina to provide our current high bandwidth services like high definition television and high speed Internet, but it also positions us very well to provide more advanced services for years to come.

What are the orange plastic pipes for that are going into the ground around Abbeville?

The orange plastic pipes that are seen around the area are used for a specific method of construction used during installation of the new fiber optic cable called ‘directional boring’. The boring equipment is used to drill under driveways, roads, creeks, and culverts. While it costs more, boring is less disruptive of the customer’s property. Once the hole is drilled by the boring equipment, the orange pipe is pulled into the hole to create a path to easily install the fiber optic cable. The boring crews typically do not perform the actual installation of the cable, so the pipe is temporarily left sticking up out of the ground to make it easy for the cable placement crews to locate it. After installation of the cable, the ends of the pipe will be buried and will no longer be visible.

When did the project start?

Construction began in September 2008. We began adding live customers to the network in February 2009.

When will the project finish?

Conversion of customers over to the fiber network is scheduled to be complete by June 2011.

How many households will be affected?

We estimate 10,000 households will be converted to the fiber network.

Is this just for West Carolina Customers?

Yes. However, West Carolina Customers are divided into two territories, the ILEC and CLEC territories.

The ILEC areas cover the original West Carolina Telephone Service area. This is the area that will have fiber optic cable. The reason for this is that today this area is served on copper cable and the loop lengths are too long for us to provide all the services that we offer to all our customers. In other words, this is a large territory that covers from Starr Iva to the far end of McCormick County, and in order for us to provide all of our services, a fiber optic network needed to be installed.

The CLEC areas cover the towns of Abbeville, McCormick and Calhoun Falls. A copper network was completed in these three areas in 2003. With these being smaller areas than the ILEC territory, all services that West Carolina offers are available to all customers in the CLEC area. As a result, it is not necessary to install a fiber optic network at this time.