What is Fiber Optics?
FibernOptics is a technology that works by sending signals down hair thinnstrands of glass fiber (and sometimes plastic fiber.). A fiber cablenconsists of a bundle of these glass threads, each of which is capable ofntransmitting messages by way of light waves. This is not a newntechnology and is in fact a concept that is over a century old, howevernit has only been used commercially for the last 40 years, with the firstninstallation in 1976 in Chicago.
By the 1980s, fiber networksnconnected major cities around the world and by the mid-80s, fiber wasnreplacing all the telco copper, microwave and satellite links. In then90s, CATV discovered fiber and used it first to enhance the reliabilitynof their networks. Along the way, they discovered they could offer phonenand Internet service on that same fiber which greatly enlarged theirnmarkets. Now, even fiber to the home is cost effective. Computers andnLANs started using fiber about the same time as the telcos. Industrialnlinks were among the first as the noise immunity of fiber and itsndistance capability make it ideal for the factory floor. Mainframenstorage networks came next, the predecessors of today's fiber storagenarea networks – or SANs.
Fiber optics has several advantages over traditional communications lines:
- Fiber optic cables have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. This means that they can carry more data.
- Fibernoptic cables are less susceptible than metal cables to interference.nBecause they are made from glass they do not suffer from induced EMF's.
- Fibernoptic cables are much thinner and lighter than metal wires. This makesnthem a logical choice for aircraft and situations where weight is ancritical factor.
- Data can be transmitted digitally (the natural form for computer data) rather than analogically.
Some myths regarding fiber:
Light from the fiber will harm your eyes:
Fibernoptic sources, especially LEDs used with multimode fiber are generallyntoo low in power to cause any eye damage. Some laser transmitters usednin telecom and CATV systems have very high power and they could benharmful, so it is better to be safe than sorry. It is advised to nevernlook into the end of the fiber as it is infrared light, so your eyesncannot see it under any circumstances.
Fiber is extremely hard to work with:
nFiber is no harder to install, splice or terminate than copper wire. Itntakes some training, practice and patience, but so does copper.
nToday, fiber is cheaper than kite string or fishing line. Connectorsnare getting cheaper too. And all the while, copper components arengetting more expensive as they try to keep up with fiber for new highnbit rate networks. And a good fiber test set is under US$1000 while ancopper tester will run US$6000 or more.