Fioptics confusion: Is it really fiber or not?

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 10:52:13-04

Cincinnati Bells' Fioptics service is expanding across the Tri-State. But as it does, more and more homeowners are ending up confused.

Does Fioptics mean a super high speed fiber line right into your home? Or could there be exceptions?

Thought Fiber Was Coming to their Homes

People living in Hamilton's old North End were thrilled to learn fiber was coming to town, courtesy of Cincinnati Bell Fioptics.

Lisa Rea signed up, saying "the lady on the phone, she was like we have new fiber optic lines, and they just got put in your neighborhood."  Rea envisioned a new glass fiber line to her house, and super speedy internet.

But while Rea's phone bill went up, her web pages felt almost as slow as ever, she says.

"Look, it's got the little circle going round and round and round, and it's waiting for the page to load," she said.

An internet speed test confirmed a slow 7.5 megabits per second, which is faster than dial-up internet, but nowhere near fiber speed.

So she called for a Cincinnati Bell repairman, and got some stunning news when he inspected her lines.

"He says, 'Honey, I got to be honest with you. You don't have fiber optic lines. You have copper lines, that are as old as the neighborhood.'"

Fiber May be Streets Away

It turns out that "Fioptics" can mean several services.
True fiber is called "Fiber to the Home," or FTTH, where  you get a high-speed glass line right into your house, and rocket fast internet speeds.

What Rea has is called "Fiber to the Node," or FTTN.
This is where the fiber ends on the street, or several streets away, then copper runs to your home. You really have DSL service, which is "high speed" copper line internet.

How You Can Tell

So how do you know if your street really has fiber? You  can look up at the telephone poles and look for the telltale boxes on the phone wires, but that can be difficult for a layman to figure out.

An easier way is to ask if your home qualifies for Fioptics TV service. Lisa doesn't qualify for fiber TV, and still has to use her DirecTV dish.

"The TV's not available in this area. It's still not available in this area. Now I know why" she said.

She's learned a lot about fiber, and wants other homeowners to learn too, so they don't end up confused or disappointed as she was.

Some good news: Cincinnati Bell has agreed to lower Rea's monthly rate a bit, since her service is not much faster than before.

But it cant say when true fiber glass lines will get to her street and homes.

As always, don't waste your money.


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