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What makes fiber optic cables better than copper?


Fast, effective communication is critical for both success and convenience in the modern world. Central to this success is the part played by networks, these are used to transmit data over distances of any length to get information from A to B. These networks, however, need to be connected to relay this data; this is where cables are brought into the equation. Cables, of course, have been used to connect networks for decades, but the 21st century has seen the emergence of fibre optic cables as the industry benchmark.

The Lowdown on Fiber Optic Cables

A fibre optic cable is a transparent strand – made from either glass or plastic – which is usually surrounded by a layer of cladding and then enclosed within a protective sheath to provide protection and insulation.

It’s along the fiber optic cables inner strand that pulses of light are transmitted, these pulses can be generated by either LEDs or lasers. Thanks to the presence of the cladding surrounding the central strand, this light can be bent at specific angles as it travels due to the differences in the refractive index. These light pulses zig-zag their way along the fiber optic cable until they reach their destination, where they are then converted back into data.

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable Over Copper

Until relatively recently, copper data cables had been the mainstay of network cabling. However, the rise in popularity of fibre optic cables has been due to the numerous benefits it offers over copper cables:

  • Speed: one of the most crucial benefits of fibre optic cables is their speed. Compared to copper cables – such as Cat 5 and Cat 6 cables – fibre optic cables bring a much higher performance to the table. Not only can fibre optic cables deliver speeds of 100 Mbit/s over 2km, but over 550m this increases to 10 Gbit/s.


  • Bandwidth: copper cables were designed with only voice communications in mind, so there was no need for huge bandwidths to be factored in. However, the rapid development of technology means that networks of today have to transmit voice, video and huge amounts of data. Therefore, they have been designed to handle higher bandwidths.


  • Minimal interference: fiber optic cables excel when it comes to minimising interference. This benefit is put in place thanks to the fact that fibre optic cables only carry light and not electrical signals. These electrical signals, which copper cables use to transmit data, create interference and inhibit the speed at which information can be relayed. Light signals, however, do not create interference, so fibre optic cables can achieve higher speeds.


  • Reliable: a major problem with copper cabling is that it’s prone to damage when pulled, but fibre optic cables – particularly glass built ones – are more resistant to stress. This minimises the risk of breakages and makes it more reliable. Fibre optic cables are also face fewer issues caused by moisture and temperature, so extreme weather events pose less of a risk.

Why Fibre optic cable?

Fibre optic cables are the modern cabling solution for good reason: they are faster and more reliable than traditional copper cabling. However, it’s important to understand that copper cables and fibre optic cables can still be used on the same network. Ultimately, though, you should be looking to maximise your usage of fibre optic cables to ensure the productivity of your network is optimised.

There is no ‘set solution’ when it comes to installing cabling that is correct for you and your business. Depending on your needs, the budget friendly approach of telephone cables may be suitable for a small network. On the other hand, a large network which handles significant amounts of data would be better suited working with fibre optic. Nonetheless, there’s a solution for every cabling project, and the right option will provide you with a boost in productivity.

For a more on Fibre optic cables and their uses please view our YouTube video: What is Fibre Optic Cabling (How does fibre optic cabling work).

Learn more about Fibre Optic Cabling Services 

If you have problems with your data cabling or telephone network or if you are considering moving office or changing your office layout, please contact us for a free network survey and quotation

Contact NM Cabling  for a free review  01923 888588

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