How Fiber Optic Cables Work


As experts in the communications and network infrastructure field, we have extensive knowledge and experience installing and maintaining fiber optic cables. 

We have compiled a comprehensive answer to the question, ‘How do fiber optics work?’ Here you will learn about the technology behind the cables, how they transmit data, and the advantages they offer over traditional copper cables. 

What Is Fiber Optic Cable?

Before answering “How do fiber optics work,” we must first answer another question: What is fiber optics? A fiber optic cable is a thin, flexible strand of glass or plastic used to transmit data over long distances. The cable is made up of one or more optical fibers, which are extremely thin strands of glass or plastic surrounded by a protective coating. These fibers are so thin that they are almost invisible to the naked eye.

Fiber optic cables offer many advantages over traditional copper cables, such as faster data transfer speeds, greater bandwidth, and resistance to electromagnetic interference. They are also more durable and not affected by temperature changes or moisture. They are much thinner and lighter than copper cables, making them easier to install and maintain. 

How Do Fiber Optic Cables Work?

Fiber optics work by sending light through the fibers, which are then converted into electrical signals that can be transmitted over long distances without losing their strength or integrity. The light signals travel through the fibers by a process called total internal reflection. This process allows the light to travel long distances without losing intensity, making fiber optic cables ideal for high-speed data transmission. 

How Do Fiber Optic Cables Transmit Data?

To convert data into light, an encoding circuit and transmitter are used. The encoder circuit modulates the electrical signals to ensure that the data can be transmitted accurately and reliably over the fiber optic cable. It then converts the electrical signals into a format that can be transmitted over the fiber optic cable, which may include changing the amplitude, frequency, or phase of the light signals. This process is called modulation. With modulation, multiple channels of data can be transmitted over a single fiber optic cable. The transmitter then takes the output of the encoding circuit and converts it into light signals using a light-emitting diode (LED) or a laser diode. These light signals are sent to the receiving end through the fiber optic cable.

Once the light reaches its destination, a receiver converts the light signals back into electrical signals. The receiver uses a photodiode, which converts the light into an electrical current. The electrical signals are then sent to a decoding circuit, which reverses the process of the encoding circuit and converts the signals back into the original data.

Fiber Optic Cable Types

The two most common types of fiber optic cable are single-mode and multi-mode. Within these types, there may be variations in material. For example, plastic fibers may be used instead of glass to reduce cost and increase flexibility, or UV and water-resistant jackets may increase the cable’s outdoor utility. 

  • Single-mode fiber: This fiber optic cable uses a small core (typically 9 microns in diameter) and a single-light transmission mode. With a small core and single-light transmission modes, longer distances and higher bandwidth transmission are better than multi-mode fiber. Single-mode fiber is typically used in high-speed, long-distance telecommunications systems such as transcontinental and undersea cables.
  • Multi-mode fiber: This fiber optic cable uses a larger core (typically 50 or 62.5 microns in diameter) and multiple modes of light transmission. This fiber allows for shorter distances and lower bandwidth transmissions compared to single-mode fiber. Multi-mode fiber is typically used in short-distance communications systems such as local area networks (LANs) and data centers.

Uses for Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables are becoming increasingly important in today’s digital age as the demand for high-speed internet and data transmission continues to climb. Their faster data transfer speeds and greater bandwidth make them ideal for telecommunications, data centers, homes, small businesses, industrial, and automation applications. 

The growing number of devices connected to the internet, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), creates increased bandwidth requirements and solidifies the need for fiber optic cables. Their ability to transmit data over long distances at extremely high speeds makes fiber optic cables suitable for long-distance telecommunications infrastructure, such as transcontinental and undersea cables.

Fiber optic technology is also growing in business use cases, as they offer many advantages over traditional copper cables, such as category 6. For example, a limitation of a category six cable is that it can only transmit data over a distance of under 350 ft. Fiber optic cables can transmit data over much longer distances without losing signal strength or integrity, which makes them ideal for use in large buildings that run from the main server room to the intermediate distribution frame (IDF). 

Fiber Optic Cables: The Future of Communication and Networking

Fiber optic cables are the future of communication and networking. Offering faster data transfer speeds, greater bandwidth, and more reliable data transmission than traditional copper cables. Choosing Newport Network Solutions Inc as your fiber optic infrastructure provider brings you many advantages over other providers.

Newport Network Solutions Inc is committed to customer relationships. We are highly responsive, available 24/7, and pride ourselves on being “plumbers for your data network.” Our technicians use highly sensitive equipment which allows us to test the lines after installation to ensure you get the best quality service. We offer high value for the price and are known for our honesty, integrity, and expertise. We are a true partner to our customers and are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure their needs are met, especially when something goes wrong. To get started with your fiber optic upgrade, contact us today.

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