What Are Fiber Optic Cables?

Everytime we think we’ve hit the pinnacle on a certain product, research and development turns up something better. Fiber optic cable has actually been in practical use since the 1790s but has evolved over the years to become a great modern way of transmitting signals and date. Though it used around the world everyday, fiber optic cable is still a mystery to most of the general public. Let’s look into the unique science behind fiber optic cables including what fiber optic cables are, their uses, and their advantages over other ways of transmitting data.

What Are Fiber Optic Cables?

Fiber optic cables are long bundles or stretched glass or plastic that are used to transmit messages and data that have been modulated into light waves. Individual fibers are typically coated with plastic before being bundled together within an exterior protective sheathing. There are many variations on fiber optic cable.

Uses of Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cables are mostly used in local area internet networks, long distance communication such as phone or internet connections, and is even available in some areas as a way to connect your personal computer to high speed internet. If you need a fast, reliable signal and price isn’t an issue, fiber optic cable is your best bet.

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable

  • Incredibly fast compared to traditional cables such as coaxial cable. In 2012 a team in Japan was able to transmit 1 petabit (1000 terabits) per second over a distance of 50 km.
  • Fiber optic cables are much less likely to lose or muddle signals due to their construction. Traditional copper cable can suffer from interference from large metal objects or sources of electromagnetism but the glass and plastic construction of fiber optic cable is immune from these interferences.
  • Fiber optic cable is much lighter than traditional copper cable, making it easier to transport and bury.

Disadvantages of Fiber Optic Cable

  • Much more expensive than traditional copper wiring. Fiber optic’s cost is the number one reason its use is not as prevalent into the public sector as copper cable and wiring.
  • Fiber optic cable is much more fragile than copper cables, and takes finesse to properly install.
  • Fiber optic cable is difficult to repair. Thousands of strands of glass are much more difficult to repair than hundreds of strands of copper.

While fiber optic cable does not see heavy use in the current market, the technology is becoming more widespread every day. Very soon you could see fiber optic cable installed in your neighborhood.

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