Advantages & Disadvantages of Fiber-Optic Cabling

Bridge Cable deals with all installation of various network cables and devices

Due to the constantly rising demand for faster speed and higher bandwidths fiber-optic transmission is fast becoming a popular choice when having a new structured network cabling system installed and like any type of cable fiber-optic cabling does have its advantages and disadvantages. However according to a recently published report by Global Newswire the fiber-optics market was globally valued at approximately 2.75 billion dollars back in 2016 and is expected to grow to a staggering 3.72 billion within the next four years.

What Is Fiber-Optic Transmission?

Fiber-optic cables are a complex design that uses the transmission of light pulses to carry data rather than voltage transmissions that traditional copper cabling uses. A fiber-optic cable consists of hundreds or thousands of fiber-optic strands that are as thin as human hair and made of very pure glass. There are two different types of optical fibers and they are single-mode and multi-mode fibers.

Each of the individual fibers consists of a thin glass core surrounded by a reflective outer optical cladding, that is enclosed in a protective plastic coating. When they are put into bundles to form a cable they are further protected by an extra outer jacket and are capable of transmitting the light pulses over vast distances to get the data to its intended destination.

There is a fiber-optic transmitter that produces and encodes data to send via a light signal, which is usually a laser or some kind of LED. Basically, the light travels through each of the fiber-optic cores and is continuously bounced off the reflective cladding by a process of ‘total internal reflection’ which helps it to travel great distances.

There is some loss of signal when the light is transmitted over distances that are over half a mile, so there are optical re-generators that are spliced along the cable to assist in boosting it along. These re-generators consist of specially coated optical fibers, the coating is there to serve as a special laser amplifier for the light signal.

Finally, when the light signal reaches its intended destination there is an optical receiver then takes the incoming digital signal and decodes the data, and sends it to the workstation’s devices.

Below are the different advantages and disadvantages of choosing fiber-optic cabling and its components over the current number one choice of copper-based network cabling systems.


Advantages of Using Fiber-Optic cabling

The use of fiber-optic cabling offers some big advantages in today’s technologically advancing world and the main ones over copper are set out below.

Bandwidth – One of the main benefits of using fiber-optic cable is the extremely high bandwidth that it can offer, which is far greater than any of the different categories of copper cable capabilities.

Distance – Fiber-optic cables are capable of transmitting data over very long distances with a minimal amount of power loss.

Security – Data security is a huge concern in the communications market and as fiber-optics transfer signals via light, there is no way that the data can be tapped into.

Size – Fiber-optic cable is a much smaller diameter than coaxial cable and this means there is more space in the transmission.

Weight – As fiber-optic cables are thinner and made of glass or plastic, they are much lighter and easier to install.

Future Growth – It is easy to add new equipment to an existing fiber-optic cable infrastructure to accommodate an increase in bandwidth.

fiber-optic cabling

Inspect your patch cables as well.

Disadvantages of Using Fiber-Optics

Even though there are some great pros of using fiber-optic transmission, the disadvantages do need to be taken into account.

Fragility – As fiber-optic cables normally consist of glass they are much more fragile compared to other electrical wires.

Installation – Fiber-Optic cables are much more difficult to install and can easily get damaged during the process. If you bend a fiber-optic cable too much it will break and also they are not easy to splice.

Attenuation and Dispersion – As the signal is transmitted over longer distances, the power of the light signal will be attenuated or reduced. Attenuation is a lot lower for fiber-optic cables compared to the other types of cable. Also, fiber-optics can be affected by dispersion which is when the signal is spread over time.

Cost – Even though the cost of a fiber-optic cabling installation has dropped dramatically over the last couple of years, it is still a much higher outlay than when installing a structured networking system using copper cables.

Final Thoughts

Fiber-optic media is fast becoming a strong contender within the world of data cabling and even though it does currently have a number of disadvantages; it is inevitable that it will continue to grow in popularity as technological advances continue to offer greater bandwidth and faster speeds.

Bridge Cables trained technicians can help you decide whether fiber-optic cabling is the right choice for your business so why not give us a call today…