Optical fibre technology has revolutionised communication networks worldwide, providing high speeds and more excellent reliability than traditional copper wire-based methods. It is a versatile infrastructure that can be used for many applications, such as data transmission, voice services, video streaming and more. While optical fibre has many advantages, it has a few potential drawbacks compared to other connection options. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of an optical fibre network to help you decide if it’s a viable option for your business or home network setup.
What Is Optical Fibre?
Optical fibre is a cable made of a thin strand of glass, plastic, or both that delivers information in the form of light. It is used for telecommunications, data transmission and internet connections. Optical fibres are a reliable and efficient method to rapidly transport massive volumes of data for long distances.
Compared to copper cables, optical fibres offer significantly more bandwidth and less interference from electromagnetic radiation and crosstalk between wires due to their low signal loss. As a result, visual communications can be used where copper cables would suffer from signal degradation or interference issues such as electrical storms or power surges.
An optical fibre typically consists of eight parts: core (the central component which transmits information), cladding (which helps keep light signals confined within the body), the coating layer (covers the outside surface preserving sturdiness), buffer tube (protects the cable against mechanical damage while routing it through buildings and other structures) and terminating connectors that join two fibres together allowing them to transmit information back-and-forth along its length quickly and securely.
In everyday applications, we can find optical fibre anywhere from modern Internet infrastructure to medical endoscopes — meaning that today’s world relies heavily on this technology for communication.
Types of Fibre Optic Cable
Fibre optic cables are part of the telecommunications infrastructure allowing high-speed data transmission over long distances. These cables use light pulses to transport information instead of electrical signals, providing a more incredible speed, less interference and better quality connections than traditional copper wires. The different types of fibre optic cable are categorised by their core type and structure:
Single-mode fibre optic cable is a fibre optic cable designed to transmit data over long distances. It comprises an outer protective jacket, a cylindrical cladding layer that surrounds the core and acts as an interface between the body and the surrounding material, and an inner glass or plastic-coated optical fibre.
Unlike multimode cables, data transmitted through single-mode cables travel down one ray path in a continuous line, which sends out multiple rays of light at different angles over greater distances. As such, single-mode wires are ideal for transmitting data long distances with minimal signal loss, making them perfect for broadband networking applications such as satellite TV broadcasts or high-speed internet service providers (ISPs). Furthermore, due to their smaller diameters and lighter weights compared to copper cabling options – they also have lower installation costs and maintenance requirements.
Multi-mode fibre optic cable is an optical fibre that utilises several “modes” of light to transmit information over longer distances than traditional single-mode cables. As the name implies, multi-mode fibre optic cable permits more than one mode per fibre. You will most likely find the following types on the market: 62.5/125 microns and 50/125 microns OM1 & OM2 fibres.
Multi-mode fibre has larger core diameters than single-mode fibres, typically ranging between 8 and 10 microns for older technology compared to two standard sizes of around 50 or 62.5 microns for laser-optimised MMF (OM3 & OM4). This allows multiple rays of light to be transmitted simultaneously over longer distances within the same cable with higher bandwidth capacity than single-mode cables, which can only handle one ray at any given time – making it ideal for transmitting data from a long distance away from its source. Multi-mode Fiber Optic Cable also offers cost savings because its installation requires fewer cables and less labour due to its inherently wide core diameter, enabling more incredible transmission speeds without using expensive optics or additional power sources.
Applications such as Local Area Networks (LANs) specifically benefit from using multi-mode optical fibres due to their potential for faster data transfers of large amounts of information—aside from being able to reach farther distances—such as voice communications, video conferencing services, multimedia streaming/sharing applications etc. Aside from this, they can also be used in television broadcasting systems, telecommunication centres and other sectors where high-speed transfer connections are required over long distances with minimal attenuation losses to maintain signal integrity throughout the journey until it reaches its destination point safely and securely with no errors whatsoever!
Gradual Index fibre Optic Cable
This new form of the cable provides faster speed and more reliable networks than traditional fibres as it utilises higher-grade glass components that can support more incredible network speeds with fewer errors. The cable is also more durable and able to withstand harsher environmental conditions. Gradual Index, fibre Optic Cable, also uses fibre core diameters larger than traditional fibres, allowing for increased capacity and longevity of the network connection. Finally, this cabling provides excellent flexibility in connectivity, allowing for multiple devices to be connected in a single location with minimal interference between them. By using Gradual Index fibre Optic Cable, businesses and homes can enjoy faster speeds and better reliability. Whether connecting multiple computers or streaming HD video content, this cabling provides reliable results.
4 Loose Tube Fibre Optic Cables
4 Loose Tube Fibre Optic Cables are a type of fibre-optic cable that is used in optical telecommunications networks. It consists of four tubes, each containing up to 12 fibres, surrounded by a gel-filled buffer tube for protection against moisture and other environmental elements. The construction design of the four loose-tube fibres allows it to provide high bandwidth capability with an extensive temperature range – from -40° Celsius up to +70° Celsius. This type of fibre-optic cable is suitable for outdoor applications in harsh environments such as underground, submarine, or aerial installations. It also offers excellent flexibility for installation and future network expansion because it can be reeled onto spools without damaging the optical fibres inside the tubes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Optical Fibre
We have gathered some critical points regarding optical fibre, giving you an overview of its advantages and looking at any potential drawbacks of this form of communication.
Advantages of Optical Fibre
Easy to install
The installation of optical fibre is considered one of the main advantages that it offers. Optical fibres are thinner and lighter than traditional copper wires, making them easier to install with less effort or time. This makes visual fibre ideal for areas with limited access to wiring, such as ceilings and walls, and outdoor applications in culverts or bridges. Additionally, cables used for optic fibre installation can be pulled through small openings without using conduits or changing wall configurations.
Optical fibres provide a multitude of advantages when it comes to performance. These advantages come from optical fibres comprising long, thin strands of glass or plastic material containing tiny channels filled with air or other gases. As light passes through the thread, it bounces along the inside surface and travels far before losing energy. This gives optical fibre much greater speed and lower attenuation than copper-based cabling systems, allowing for superior performance in many applications.
Higher Carrying capacity
Optical fibre has the highest carrying capacity of any communication medium, providing a data rate of up to 10 Gbps and beyond over just one fibre strand! This is because optical fibres can transmit far more data than copper cables, as light signals travel down an optical fibre with little signal loss or degradation.
Optical fibres can simultaneously carry multiple data channels over long distances—known as WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing). This allows for an outstanding bandwidth resulting in blazing-fast transfer rates of up to 100Gbps! Compared with other media, such as radio waves, they offer shallow attenuation characteristics, meaning they can carry signals over extended distances without needing intermediate retransmissions.
Less signal degradation
Optical fibres possess lower levels of interference or crosstalk from nearby equipment or other electronics traffic – this results in a more precise signal transmission without any added noise or distortion often encountered when using copper wire connections. As a result, installing an information-providing system utilising optical fibres helps reduce the potential for network disconnections due to interference from electronic sources or environmental conditions such as strong winds and lightning storms that may affect other wired installations like those based on coaxial cable technology.
Finally, thanks to its minimal signal loss over long distances – combined with its innate electrical insulation abilities -alongside improved bandwidth capacity compared with metal wire lines; no doubt utilising optical fibre cables can help reduce network costs while offering robust performance regardless of where they are located geographically speaking – making them ideal for data transfer between locales separated by oceans or vast tracts of land.
Optical Fibre offers unparalleled security when compared to other forms of communication technology. This is because it uses light signals to communicate, which are only possible to intercept or view with special equipment. Additionally, optical fibre carries signals further with less power loss than other cables, meaning the movement remains secure over long distances and with thick walls impeding its path.
Optical Fibre contains a physical layer of protection for data in transit that conventional wiring does not have and provides robust encryption capabilities for preventing unauthorised access on different levels from access point to endpoint usage. Furthermore, this cabling helps maintain privacy regulations such as HIPAA compliance and provides more reliable network connections since Optical Fibre can be immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI).
Optical Fibre itself is more challenging to gain physical access by thieves or hackers due to its material makeup – fibre optic cable must be severed or damaged for someone outside the secured zone(s)to gain access – thus giving an extra layer of protection beyond data encryption alone.
Disadvantages of Fibre Optic
Optical fibre is an excellent form of communication technology, but it does come with certain drawbacks. One of the most significant disadvantages is its low power output. This can limit its range and require more powerful transmitters to reach longer distances or larger audiences. At the same time, this may sound like an issue for smaller-scale applications; even larger-scale applications have been known to need help with their optical fibre’s low power output.
Fragility is a significant drawback of optical fibres. It is well known that the diameter of an optical fibre strand ranges from 10-100 microns, which makes them very thin and fragile compared to other electrical components. What’s more, their lightweight design makes them vulnerable to external vibrations. This makes them prone to physical damage by sharp objects or heats lying on the ground or running through walls.
The fragility of optical fibres severely limits the places where a cable can be used since proper protection must be taken during installation so that it is not damaged due to external factors such as construction work or even natural disasters like earthquakes. Moreover, environmental conditions such as temperature variations also affect its performance causing significant attenuation losses over time. Additionally, water ingress has been observed in some cases leading to corrosion of the glass fibre core resulting in attenuation loss and increased bit error rate (BER).
To address this issue, manufacturers have produced various types of protective sheathings for optical fibres with improved flexibility and strength for outdoor use, such as armoured cables, which are composed of multiple layers protecting it from any mechanical stress or crush forces, but this contributes significantly increasing the cost making them expensive than conventional copper wires cabling solutions.
The main disadvantage of optical fibre regarding distance is that the length of an optical fibre cable is limited. This limitation commonly ranges from 2 to 80 to 100 kilometres, depending on the materials and threads used. Beyond this limit, light signals degrade as they travel further along the length of the line, leading to sluggish speeds and connection issues.
Additionally, since wavelengths of light sent through fibres can be affected by temperature changes in their path, longer distances will cause more errors due to thermal expansion and contraction, which can create interference with transmitted signals. As more heat accumulates down the line, it can bend reflective paths within the cables, thus affecting their overall performance. The reflection possibilities multiply over more considerable distances, so more repeaters may be needed on a long link than on a short link – resulting in higher losses on long links and increased costs for additional equipment required for maintaining signal quality across long distances.
A few other practical disadvantages associated with using optical fibres for extended lengths is that these cables are subject to damage, such as pressure or tension caused by improper installation or vibration produced by nearby operating machinery/equipment; another factor could include bird strikes since birds tend not to recognise buried cables at night time due to lack of visibility which could lead them into contact with exposed lines causing possible infrastructure damages. These challenges make delivering reliable services over very long distances more accessible, with frequent maintenance checks required at regular intervals and proper installation techniques used during setup phases or replacement tasks if necessary.
Optical fibre has many advantages, making it an excellent option for business and home networks. Fibre-optic technology is your best bet for lightning-fast speeds and unparalleled reliability, making it the go-to choice for applications that demand a large amount of data to be transmitted in no time. However, it would be best to consider the potential disadvantages before installing an optical fibre network. If you’re still unsure, our team at CDS Cabling Ltd can help you determine whether this technology suits your needs. Request a quote today on our website – we’ll be happy to help get your network up and running smoothly and efficiently.