What are Fiber Optic Cables?
A fiber optic cable is a type of transmission cable made of optical fibers that are bundled together. The optical fibers are extremely sensitive and fragile, so to add protection they are often protected with lightweight material like Kevlar.
These fibers are used to transfer data in the form of light over large distances and at fast speeds. They use a core of transparent, hair-like silicon that is covered to avoid light leaking out during transmission.
Benefits of Fiber Optic Cables
So why use fiber optics? In our office, we have several reasons that we might choose them over other wiring options. I’ll lay out a few of them below.
One of the biggest benefits of fiber optic cables is faster speeds. Since these cables use light to transmit data, information can be sent at speeds just under 30% slower than the speed of light – significantly faster than traditional copper cabling. Fiber optic connectivity offers internet speeds that range up to an impressive 100 Gbps.
These increased speeds are important because it prevents internet slowdowns when internet access demand is high – a demand that will only continue to grow as we incorporate internet connectivity into more aspects of our lives, especially as more and more people work remotely and telecommute.
Latency, which describes delays that occur when processing data online, is also reduced with fiber optic internet. This means that downloading or streaming high-definition content is significantly improved. As a result, fiber optic users can expect better voice quality during VoIP use, faster data transfers to the cloud, and increased download speeds.
Another advantage provided by fiber optic cables is greater bandwidth. Traditional copper cables were designed for voice transmission, so their limited bandwidth was never designed to handle the level of data transmission we expect from highspeed internet.
Low bandwidth can cause slow internet speeds, delayed data transmission, and pixelated video quality as the size of uploads and downloads increases.
Fiber optics were designed with this in mind, so they can actually carry more data than a copper cable within the same diameter. This technological improvement facilitates things like web conferencing, file sharing, high-definition streaming, and cloud applications.
Fiber optic cables also offer significantly improved reliability over copper transmission lines. Fiber optics are not affected by weather (which I’ll discuss in a little more detail in a minute), temperature changes, and moisture – all of which can significantly impact the connectivity of copper cables.
Additionally, fiber optics don’t carry electric currents so any electromagnetic interference that occurs will not interrupt data transmission. As a result, cables can easily be placed near industrial equipment without worrying about interference. This also makes them less of a fire hazard, an issue that can occur with worn-down copper cables.
Maximized Transmission Strength
Maximized transmission strength is another benefit provided by fiber optic cables. They can transmit signals much farther than copper cables, which are typically limited to about 328 feet. Depending on the wavelength and network, some fiber optic cables can carry signals up to 25 miles.
When traditional broadband internet is transmitted over a copper cable, the signal strength degrades as the data moves away from the switch. This issue does not occur with fiber optics, as there is significantly less data degradation during transmission.
Cybersecurity is a major concern for most individuals and businesses, and the security offered by fiber optics is notably better than that from copper cables.
When data is transmitted through fiber optics, the only way to access it is from the end of the cable. In other words, someone would have to cut the line – something that would instantly take the network down and make everyone aware of an issue.
If someone has tampered with a copper cable, it may not be immediately evident that a leak is occurring. This allows hackers to take advantage of network weaknesses and data leaks to steal information and manipulate data.
Fiber Optic Cables are Impervious to Weather
So perhaps this one doesn’t apply universally, but in our office, one of the reasons we might install fiber optics is because we are located in the south, where we experience a lot of storms, particularly in the summer. A lot of our residential customers are running wire from their main house to a secondary structure. Maybe it’s a pool house or carriage house/office above a detached garage. Whatever the case may be, as I mentioned above, if the distance is greater than 330 feet, we’re going to use fiber optics anyway, but the potential for strong weather that would damage copper wire and fry someone’s system is just too great to not go with fiber optics in those cases.
Reduced Long-Term Costs
Sure, installing fiber optic cabling has a higher initial cost than copper wires, but the long-term costs are actually lower. Since fiber optics are more reliable, the total cost of maintenance and ownership is reduced.
In addition, the cost of fiber optic cables has continued to decrease as the technology has advanced and related components have improved, making it an increasingly attractive option.
There are plenty of instances where we still use copper cables in our installations, and many situations in which fiber optics aren’t called for or really necessary. Hopefully this post has shown you why we offer fiber optics and what purpose they serve when we use them.