27 Mar The Advantages Of Fiber Optic Cables Over Copper Wire
The use of copper wire within telecommunication has now been around in many parts of the developed world for over a century. In order for societies both internationally and locally to communicate a telephone copper cable infrastructure had to be put in place – this was the foundation of linking human beings with one another. However, these humble beginnings were not able to satisfy the demands of a rapidly developing society hence there was a need to accommodate modern demands of access and sharing of information; and instantaneous communication that ensemble contemporary life styles. In a quest to match these demands of modern society the fiber optic technology was developed in the 1970s and later installed and put into operation in the 1980s/1990s.
What is fiber optic technology? It refers to the transmission of data through thin strands of transparent material that is usually in either plastic or glass and packed in cable format.
What are the Advantages of Fiber Optic Cables over Copper Wire?
- Faster Transmission. Copper wire bears a limited bandwidth of 1.5 Mb/s per 2.5 Km which is sufficient for a voice transmission, however, fiber optic links offer over 1,000 times as much more with a much larger bandwidth of 2.5 Gb/s per 200 Km. This is to say fiber optic transmission speeds are very fast and cover long distances – they come close to the speed of light.
- Diverse data type transmission. Whereas copper wire can only transmit voice transmission, fiber optic cable goes a step further by offering connectivity and transmission to television signals, and internet connections.
- Lighter Cables. Fiber optic cables are smaller in diameter and by far much lighter in weight than copper wire cables. This means large amounts of fiber optic material of can be transported at an affordable fee.
- Immune to electromagnetic interference. It is common where copper wire cables if installed incorrectly can cause electromagnetic currents that interfere with other wires and transmission but the same cannot be said for its counterpart. Fiber optic cables do not conduct electricity.
- Less attenuation. Where data is transmitted over long distances it experiences a loss of signal. For copper wire cables an estimated loss of 94% per 100 m is experienced while fiber optic cables experiences a loss of 3% per 100 m. Even though data is repeatedly relayed to cover for the loss in transmission, it is obvious that fiber optic cables out shines copper wire cables.
- Cannot catch on fire. Because they are immune to electromagnetic interference fiber optic cables are a fire hazard.
- Hard-wearing material. Copper wire cables are more prone to damage and are costly to maintain than fiber optic cables. Repairing damaged copper cables across counties incurs heavy expenditure. Investing in fiber optic cables is economical.
- User Specificity. Even though copper wire cable infrastructure is readily available particularly in rural areas; this crucial piece of infrastructure is under threat to the illegal scrap metal trade cutting off many communities in third world countries and costing millions of dollars to their governments for replacement. Fiber Optic Cables on the other hand is user specific – it can only be useful once installed but will of no value once cut.
In conclusion, we are fortunate to live in a world where a sizable part of the population have experienced the journey of copper wire and fiber optic cables. However, a much younger generation may not experience and appreciate life as it was way back when communication was a very slow process. Fiber optic technology is a gift to future generations – one we cannot afford to over look the gains.