Advantages of Fibre Optic Cable
In the majority of structured cabling installations, there will always be a copper data cabling element. Furthermore, in the majority of installations, there will also be a fibre cabling requirements. In addition, there are cases where a choice needs to be made whether to install an element as fibre or copper. For example with backbones and links to elements further away from the nearest data switch. There are certain advantages of fibre optic cable that make it the preferred choice in certain situations
What is Fibre Optic Cable
Fibre cable is constructed of multiple strands of glass or plastic, which are then cladded. Each cable contains multiple cores and always in even numbers for transmission and receiving. These cores are then wrapped in a protective casing. Finally, the cables are completed with an outer jacket.
Transmission down the cable is via pulses of light. These are converted from electricity are either end by media converters. Thus, they differ from copper cables in that copper using electricity only to send signals. A further article comparing copper and fibre cables can be found HERE
What are the types of Fibre Optic Cables?
Fibre cables are designated as either
- Singlemode Fibre
- Multimode Fibre
The cable types are then further categorised as
- Singlemode – OS1, OS2
- Multimode – OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, OM5
The different categories signify the transmission capabilities of the cables. Thus as technology designs a newer, faster, and better cable type, it is ratified to a certain standard and therefore given a category.
8 Advantages of Fibre Optic Cable
The following are some of the advantages of fibre optic cable.
1/ Ability for Longer Distances
Copper cables have a regulation limit of 100m for transmission. Multi-mode cables can transmit the same speeds over several hundred metres and Singlemode over several kilometers. Therefore, in situations where connectivity is required over long distances, fibre cable is the cable of choice.
2/ Faster Speeds
Due to having cores that use light for transmission, fibre cables can transmit data at much faster speeds than their copper equivalent. There is also less loss and corruption to the transmission.
3/ Less interference from outside elements
Copper cables have the disadvantage that signals from other cables and outside influences, such as power cables, lights, and noise, corrupt their signal. This results in lost signal and data. However, as fibre uses light for transmission, it doesn’t have the same problem of interference, as light isn’t influenced by these factors.
4/ Increased Bandwidth
In a like-for-like size of a cable, the fibre cable will carry a greater bandwidth compared to the copper equivalent. Furthermore, Singlemode will have twice the throughput of multimode cables.
5/ Smaller cable size
The actual cores of the fiber cables are small, and the majority of the cable size is due to the protective sheath and coating. Therefore, as core sizes increase, the cable doesn’t increase in overall size as much. For example, the difference in size between a 4 core and 8 core fiber cable is far from double the size. However, with copper cables, you need 1 cable per link, so it’s always double the size.
For example, for a 24-way link, you would need 24 copper cables or one single 48 core fibre. Furthermore, the 48 core fibre cable would be the same size as one Cat6a cable.
6/ Sturdier cable construction.
The fibre cable is wrapped in a Kevlar coating. Although the inner cores are very fragile, the overall cable is very strong. It can be installed and takes a lot more to damage it than a copper cable. Any slight damage to a copper cable usually renders it unsuitable for use.
7/ Scalability for future technology.
As with all technology, there is a shelf life where certain fibre cable categories are not suitable for certain applications. However, their suitability lasts a lot longer than copper equivalents. As fibre components have changed (i.e the termination type) there has always been a simple solution, such as a bespoke patch lead to change the connection from panel to switch. Furthermore, as technology grows, the newer media converters can send more information down existing fibre.
8/ Future cost savings
As previously mentioned, optical cables don’t increase in size much as their cores increase. Therefore, neither does the cost. Thus, doubling the core size doesn’t double the cost of cable as it would with copper.
In this instance, future considerations can be installed during initial project times and be in place. For example, 8 cores are only currently required, but a 24 core cable is installed to allow for future growth. The cost increase is small compared to it almost tripling with copper links.
For a range of further articles on Fibre Optic Cabling please visit our FIBRE OPTIC KNOWLEDGE CENTRE
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