Article
I can remember when my brother and I would talk long distance. Across the yard … with two tin cans and a tight string. Times have certainly changed, haven't they. And as technology advances, almost hourly, I'm sure changes will always be with us.

Fiber Optics – Some of the Benefits for Datacomm

Steve Maurer, IME
I can remember when my brother and I would talk long distance.

Across the yard … with two tin cans and a tight string.

Times have certainly changed, haven't they. And as technology advances, almost hourly, I'm sure changes will always be with us. I think it was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus that said the only constant in life is change. Or something like that.

Anyway, in the world of data communications, there certainly have been changes galore. Of course, copper wiring has been around a long time. And even fiber optic cable isn't really new.

And both have their place in the world, for sure. There really may not be any right or wrong answer as to when to use either one. But fiber does have some distinct benefits.

Let's look at a few.

You can't beat fiber for high bandwidth levels
No other technology under the sun beats fiber for the sheer amount of data that can be transmitted. When compared to copper cables of the same diameter, fiber wins … hands down.

Think about it. Data travels along optic fiber at pretty much the speed of light. The only thing really slowing it down is the equipment used in the system to handle the data. Upgrading the electronic components is often necessary to take advantage of the speed.

The larger bandwidth capability is great for heavy demand usage tasks such as web conferencing, streaming HD videos, and cloud-based applications.

Zoom.

High signal strength, coupled with low attenuation
Because broadband wired data transmission relies on electrons moving through copper conductors, resistance is a factor. The signal degrades quickly as it moves farther from the source of transmission or switch. Repeaters are necessary to boost the signal over long distances.

Fiber signals also degrade, but not as fast. The low attenuation makes fiber an ideal choice for large areas where maintaining speed, reliability, and access are crucial.

External factors have minimal effect on fiber
Even though you might think fiber is kind of … well .. wimpy, it's really stronger than copper, even though it's lighter and more flexible. It's not susceptible to inclement weather conditions. Water doesn’t faze it a bit.

It's also resistant to electrical interference. In areas populated by huge industrial equipment, electromagnetic interference generated by the equipment doesn't affect fiber transmission. No cross-talk or interference will hamper data transmission in this case.

Unless it's physically cut, fiber-optic cables provide the most reliable data flow.

There are some other benefits, and yes, some drawbacks to using fiber for data communication.

But those will be the subjects of another article.

Look for it!
Photo courtesy of Legrand
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