A little bit of fiber can do wonders

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

A little more fiber in our lives would be a good thing. Right?

I hope so. This week I signed up for the fiber optic package that Yucca Telecom just started peddling. They’re supposed to come out next week and run the fiber under my yard and replace traditional copper phone wires with, I guess, hollow cables or glass or something.

I know what it’s supposed to do and basically how it works but to be honest what sold me was when I pulled out the phone bill and the Internet service bill, totaled them up and saw I could save $10 or so a month. In addition to the savings, I’m supposed to get Internet service that is supposed to be many times faster than the high-speed wireless service I’m currently using at home. Having my phones on fiber is supposed to make for clearer connections and fewer weather-related problems.

They tell me fiber optics works by basically sending a light signal down a tube small as a piece of spaghetti. That tube is supposed to be able to bring me all the phone service, Internet service and eventually television signals I can ever dream of, with just that one strand of spaghetti.

It’s a long way from what many of us remember growing up, with party-line phones and huge television antennas that could pick up only a couple of stations. Instead of sharing the line with four neighbors, people will be able to give each of the kids their own private line. Internet service should be fast enough to do video-conferencing from home and once we get television on the fiber, look out! Television channels could become as common as Web sites.

As the equipment involved in broadcast and Web media gets cheaper and less complicated everything could be online, from your kid’s teacher to their soccer game on Saturday. E-books, movies-on-demand and other creature comforts of the future could be just around the corner as we become digitized and fiberized right in our own homes.

In fact, to heck with those silly gasoline prices I was moaning about last week. Soon I won’t need to burn any fuel to get to the library, bookstore, video rental store or theater. That stuff, along with digestive system regularity, will all come through fiber. I will only need to go into work once a week or so to see what the few, the fiberless, have sent me through the U.S. Postal Service. So I won’t be burning much fuel and the price (in theory) will drop.

I know there’ll be a few catches along the way. The ads are already screaming to me that I have to experience High Definition Television on a new set. All the phones say they’re digital instead of analog now. I just stopped using a pulse-tone dialed phone when we moved.

My Macintosh computer is ancient. Four years old I think. That’s about 89 in human years or 13 in dog years. I have underwear that’s older. My wife asked me if putting it on a fiber diet would blow the computer up or something.

I said no, we all have to accept changes and the computer will have to also. I patiently explained to her that with the higher speed the computer should be just fine as long as she stayed off the online women’s wear shopping sites, which I’m told are not fiber compatible.

I think she believed me. I’ve got to sign off and turn the computer over to her now, she wants to get in as much shopping as possible before the guy gets here to install the spaghetti.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481 ext. 33 or e-mail:
karl_terry@link.freedom.com