What Is Fiber Optics?

Written by on 03-02-2021

Imagine a pipeline helps water to flow from one place to another, similarly to fiber optics, fiber optics is a cable that associate with transmitting telephone calls and emails. Those transmissions of information are traveled through a light pulse along with a glass or plastic strand or fiber.

There are 3 ways of information traveling:

  1. Wire cable – A landline telephone that comes with a wired cable, transmitting sound to another cable that connects to the receiver.
  2. Radio wave – A cellphone that sends voice using an invisible radio wave without attaching to a cable.
  3. Fiber optic – Fiber optic sends information using a beam of light particles (or photons) down a glass or plastic pipe

Fiber Optics are commonly used in telecommunication services like the internet, television, and telephone. Fiber optics transmit data in a form of light particles inside the cable, the light will send through the cable with a zig-zag form of bounces called total reflection. It travels 30% slower than a speed light due to the glass layers are denser. To strengthen the fiber optics transmission, sometimes it requires a repeater (extender) to regenerate the optical signal.

The advantage of using fiber optic over copper cable is because it has higher bandwidth and transmits speed. Instead of using copper cables that are vulnerable to power lines, and lightning, fiber optic is free of electric currents, making it resistant to fire.

In a single cable shown above, you can see from the inside, there are multiple thin strands of glass or plastic known as optical fibers, also in a cable like this, strands can be 2 or more than a hundred. It’s so thin, you can compare it with a strand of hair, one optical fiber can carry 25,000 telephone calls, if it's an entire cable, it can be reached to millions of calls.

There are two types of fiber optic cables:

  • Single-mode fiber – This cable is used for a long-distance because its glass fiber core diameter is small, lesser attenuation (the reduction in signal strength). It travels with a single beam (a straight laser) rather than in a zig-zag form, and it has greater bandwidth than multimode fiber too. Sigle-mode fiber is considerably expensive as it requires precise calculations to produce due to the laser in a smaller opening.

  • Multimode fiber – This cable is used for a short distance because its core is larger, making the light signal bounce and reflect more (zig-zag form). It uses LED to create a light pulse, and due to the diameter in multimode fiber is larger, it allows multiple light pulses to travel in a cable at one time, which means there will be more data transmission. However, using multimode fiber can possibly lose signal, reduction, and interference.


There are advantages and disadvantages of using fiber optics:

  • Advantages:

- It supports a higher bandwidth.

- It does not require a signal boost since it’s traveled by the light.

- Less electromagnetic interference.

- It is capable to be submerged into water, usually, it’s used undersea.

- It’s stronger, thinner, and lighter than copper wire cables.

- It does not require to be replaced frequently.

  • Disadvantages:

- It’s a lot more expensive than a copper wire cable.

- It requires more protection from the outer layer.

- It’s difficult to install a new cable.

- Signal can be lost if the cable is bent or curved.