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What does a Fibre Optic Cable Do?

The way in which we communicate has radically changed over the last two decades. Firstly, advancements in technology have led to a landscape where we can communicate with anyone in the world no matter where they are. Furthermore, we can do this quickly and with minimal disruptions to quality. Thus, one of the driving forces behind this advancement is the availability of many fibre optic cable types.

Fibre optic cables allow for a higher bandwidth and transmission speeds over a greater distance than those achieved on copper structured cabling

Common Fibre Optic Cable Questions

  1. What is a fibre optic cable?
  2. How are fibre cables made?
  3. Are all fibre cables the same or are there different types?
  4. How fats and how far can I run a fibre cable?
  5. Advantages and disadvantage of fibre cabling

What is a Fibre Optic Cable? What is meant by an optical fibre cable?

Fibre Optic Cable

Generally, a fibre optic cable is similar, at least in aesthetic terms, to an electrical or structured cabling cable. However its method of operation is very different. Therefore, instead of transmitting electricity over its cable length, fibre optic cables transmit high speed data via pulses of light. Subsequently these are converted from and to electricity both ends of the cable

What are fibre optic cables made from?

Cables are constructed of long, thin strands of glass fibre that are housed within an insulated jacket. Thereofre a fibre optic cable transmits light signals through its glass core. Depending on the specification of the cable the light will either be sent via a LED source or a laser.  LED is where a multiple large zone of light is shone down the cable. In contrast  a laser device transmits a signal laser light direct along the glass core of the fibre optic cable.

Are all fibre optic cables the same?

To the naked eye fibre optic cables all look very similar and the inner glass cores being so small look similar even though they range in diameter

Fibre optic cabling can vary in the following ways

  • The fibre cable can be either single mode or multimode
  • The fibre cable can have a different number of inner cores
  • Categories of single and multimode can be categorised into sub categories of different performance capabilities
  • The outer sheath can be suitable for internal or external conditions, the outer coating can be armoured or surrounded by a corrugated steel tube (CST)
  • The sheath can be PVC, LSOH or Euro class fire rated

There are two main types of fibre optic cables:

  • Single mode Fibre:

    Working with just a single light path, single mode fibre can transmit signals over distances of up to 100km. The electronics required to work with single mode fibre cables are expensive and are most commonly found in telephony applications, local area networks and cable TV.

    The categories are OS1 and OS2

  •  Multimode Fibre:

These types of fibre optic cables differ to single mode fibre cables in that multiple light rays travel throughout the cable. This allows connections to be simplified and present a cheaper                    option. However, due to the light dispersion that takes place, the range on offer in multimode fibre cables is much reduced; the distance on offer is usually around a maximum of one km.

The categories are OM1 through to OM5

Fibre Optic Speeds and Distances

Fibre Optic Cable Installation Chart











How many cores in fiber optic cable?

Fibre optic cabling works via a transmit and receive return path on separate cores so 2 cores are needed for each connection

Standard office connections are usually 4-16 cores and will depend on the number of connections required. Larger core sizes are usually installed in larger projects or to allow for future connections

A design may call for separate connections between floors for Network, CCTV, Access, Telephone and WIFI. This would require a minimum of 10 core fibre (5 x 2 connections)

Fiber Optic Cabling in Computer Networking

The backbone of any good computer network should always be fibre optic cables. Communication in business needs to be quick and it needs to be efficient. And fibre optic cables allow both these conditions to be met. Large files can be seamlessly transferred between users and communication via video conferencing can be delivered with a crystal clear, uninterrupted level of quality. And fibre optic cables are more than capable of supporting large numbers of employees. Therefore, fibre optic cables are a fantastic choice when it comes to setting up any computer network.

Copper cables will be installed from the cabinets to the user outlets and the fibre optic cabling will link the separate cabinets throughout the building or campus

Fiber Optic Cabling Advantages and Disadvantages

As with any product, a fibre optic cable comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages:

Fibre Optic Cabling Advantages:

  •  High Bandwidth: Compared to other cables on the market, such as copper, fibre optic cables provide the highest bandwidth available for transmitting and receiving data.
  •  Small Size: A major advantage of fibre optic cables is their small size. This not only helps you to save space, but allows for simpler organization of your network.
  •  Distance: Fibre optic cables are able to take advantage of their low power loss to transmit data over large distances compared to rival cables.
  •  Low Error Rate: The fibres within the cables are highly resistant to electromagnetic interference, so the risk of errors during transmission is significantly reduced.

 Fibre Optic Cabling Disadvantages:

  •  Install Issues: Fibre optic cable isn’t the easiest material to install due to its fragility. Bending the cables can easily damage the glass fibres and the thin jackets also mean that they are susceptible to being cut.
  •  Costs: The many benefits of fibre optic cables do not come cheaply. And, compared to copper cables, they are much more expensive to purchase.


With these benefits it is of little surprise that fibre optics are fast becoming the cable solutions for choice for businesses that want reliable, fast connections.


More reading …How to convert an LC Connector End to a ST Connector End.

For more information on what fibre cabling could do you for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


About NM Cabling Solutions – Network Cabling Specialist

NM Cabling is a technology, structured cabling and electrical integrator working throughout the United Kingdom.

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