Is Fibre Optic good for network speed only?

Jan 18, 2017

There are several benefits of using optical cables over copper cables and it’s not just about network speed and data transmission!

Higher Bandwidth – longer range, better network speed

Fibre optic cables are made of glass threads which transmit data at the speed of light in glass (around 180,000 to 200,000 km/s…!). Because the speed of light is the fastest speed known, data is transmitted faster than via copper wires or cables.

Category 6A Cable (the standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet) is classified by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to handle a bandwidth up to 600 MHz over 100 meters. Multimode Fibre, on the other hand, would have a bandwidth of over 1000 MHz.

fiber optics cables inside

The speed of transmission is limited by the endpoints, and not by the cable itself. Once you’ve installed fibre, you can increase your network speed simply by swapping out the endpoints.

Immunity to Electromagnetic interference

Fibre optic cables are non-metallic. They transmit signals using pulses of light in glass threads as we explained above. As a result, they are immune to Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). If you would like to know more about this subject, read this article.

In copper cables, the integrity of signals can be affected by electrical noise. This can also reduce speed of transmission, as larger numbers of lost and/or corrupted data packets can lead to excessive levels of retransmission.

Attenuation loss can be as low as 0.2 dB/km in optical fibre cables, allowing transmission over long distances without the need for repeaters than you will have with copper systems to ensure satisfactory performance over long distances with higher data rate.

As they don’t carry current, fibre cables can’t generate even the smallest spark. They thus eliminate the spark hazard – which is an advantage in intrinsically safe environments such as chemical plant or oil refineries.

fibre optic cables plugged in connectors

Cyber Security

Fibre Optic networks have been praised to be the most secure infrastructure yet. Intercepting copper cable can be performed by connecting taps to a line to pick up the electronic signals with very little chance of detection. Putting a tap on a fiber cable to intercept data transmissions is very difficult. It is also easy to quickly identify compromised cables, which visibly emit light from transmissions.

However, due to the recent cyber-attacks and the increased accessibility of optical networks, it is important that communications crossing these networks are properly secured.

We recommend IT Network Managers to follow closely any new reports and documentations about the subject to keep up to date with best practices, from data encryption to real-time security processing at the optical layer. We recommend this study published by Princeton University.

Ease of installation

Fibre optic is easier to install than Copper Ethernet Cables. Fibre cables stays flexible whereas copper cables generally become thicker and therefore more rigid when increase the transmission capacity.

Fibre optic connector types are also easier to install because of their nature. You don’t have to strip your fibre cable as you will do with copper Ethernet Cables – meaning less hassle and work for the installer. Fibre cables are now quick and simple to terminate, and the latest designs can be bent through remarkably tight radii without damage.

Keep also in mind that the maximum length of a cat 6 (the standardized twisted pair cable for Ethernet) is up to 100 meters (328 ft) when used for 10/100/1000BASE-T.

striping ethernet cables

To Go Further:
Learn about our PCs with fibre optic ports or watch this video: