It’s about the size of a human hair, yet it can deliver high-definition television, broadband Internet and telephone service throughout your home. That’s the power of fiber-optics, as a new Hardy Telecommunications Youth Advisory Board learned at its first meeting October 1.
The six students met at Hardy’s Lost River headquarters. Hardy Marketing and Human Resource Director Derek Barr showed the group the copper cables used to deliver DSL Internet and telephone, then compared it to the much smaller size of a fiber-optic cable, which provides much faster Internet speeds as well as high- definition digital television.
“You can’t even really describe the difference between what is possible with fiber versus other telecommunications technology,” Derek said. “At a standard copper speed, it might take two to three hours to download a typical movie from the web. With the standard speeds possible with Hardy OneNet fiber, that same download will take 10-15 minutes. With copper, your Internet speed is limited by distance. Fiber doesn’t have that problem.”
The difference also applies to streaming video or playing videogames, he said.
Moorefield High Freshman Brock Dolly said he never realized all that is possible with fiber-optics.
“The thing that interested me the most was how all of that information can be sent through something that’s so small,” he said.
Derek also explained that a fiber network like Hardy’s helps all of the area’s mobile phones to operate. Hardy Telecommunications connects the local cell towers to fiber, then carries that tower’s voice and data traffic through its landline network, a process called backhaul.
“Anyone who has a mobile phone is familiar with how the mobile companies encourage you to use a wireless Internet connection at home, work, or wherever,” he said. “That’s because they want to lessen the amount of data traveling over their cellular network and instead rely on your Internet provider to shoulder the load. Wireless can’t do what fiber-optics can. But most people don’t know that even simple telephone calls with a mobile phone use the landline fiber network as well.”
Hardy works with local wireless carriers to spread the availability of cellular coverage, Derek said.
“We’re happy to supply fiber to the towers and provide the backhaul,” he said.
Hardy formed its Youth Advisory Board in 2007 to educate students about Hardy Telecommunications and the telecommunications industry, and for the students to share their ideas and thoughts about technology important to them. The group is comprised of students from East Hardy and Moorefield high schools.
In addition to Brock, this year’s Youth Advisory Board members are Corey Whetzel, East Hardy junior; Ben Shirk, Moorefield junior; Rachel Wilson, East Hardy sophomore; Mitchell Martin, Moorefield sophomore; and Kaitlin Kerr, East Hardy freshman.