Fiber Optic Communication - What is it and why is it beneficial?

February 29, 2020

When comparing fiber optic cables to other mediums, fiber optic cables have a much lighter weight, a smaller diameter, and the ability to avoid corrosion and rust due to a non-metallic construction. These characteristics place fiber optics at the top of the list for communications in today’s world.

The world we live in runs on the ability to communicate and send information rapidly from one place to another. Without a medium to send data back and forth, the power of many technologies would be useless. One of the most powerful technologies for communication today is fiber optics.

What is fiber optic communication and how does it work?

Fiber optic communication is a method of transmitting data using light, rather than electricity like standard wires and cabling. Fiber optic cables are used in different areas with the largest being for telephones, the Internet, and television.

Every fiber optic system is composed of three main parts:

  • Transmitter
  • Fiber optic cable
  • Receiver

The transmitter takes analog or digital information and converts it into digital pulses that are then transmitted through a light source. This light source is connected to the fiber optic cable which carries the signal in the form of light pulses to the receiver. The receiver has a light detector that reads the incoming light pulses and amplifies them so that a digital or analog signal can received (CircuitDigest).

Why are fiber optics the best option?

Fiber optic communication, when compared to other methods of data transfer, such as copper wire, has a vast number of benefits.

Speed

To begin, fiber optics allow for data transmission speeds that have never been seen before in previous technologies. While copper Internet connections can transfer data at about 50 Mbps, fiber optics can easily run above 1 Gbps and have been tested successfully at speeds of over 1000 times this (Pilot Fiber).

Distance

When it comes to transmission distance, fiber optics come out on top, as they can send data tens of miles with very minimal signal loss. In the case that a distance causes significant signal loss, amplification is very simple and easy to achieve. Since these cables use light instead of electricity, interference is nonexistent. Standard electrical communication can be compromised by electric fields; however, light does not react to this type of interference.

Physical Aspects

When comparing the physical aspects of fiber optic cable to other mediums, fiber optic cables have a much lighter weight, a smaller diameter, and the ability to avoid corrosion and rust due to a non-metallic construction. These characteristics place fiber optics at the top of the list for communications in today’s world.

As new technologies begin to run at faster speeds, communication infrastructures must keep up, and fiber optics make that possible. Without this technology, our world would be at a major bottle neck, but thanks to fiber optics, the possibilities are endless.


About the Author

Michael Zanoff is a freshman at Colorado School of Mines. His passion for the design process and robotics has led him to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He enjoys keeping up with new technology and learning about the world around him.