Fiber and copper cable each have their place, with their own advantages and characteristics. Depending on the application, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer when choosing between the two. In fact, they’re complementary in many ways.
As our world becomes increasingly hungry for more bandwidth, and costs of fiber optic cable come down, ICT professionals are starting to take a closer look at it. But before you decide whether copper or fiber is best for your application, there are a few benefits of fiber cable that you should know about.
When it comes to bandwidth, no currently available technology is better than fiber – especially singlemode fiber. Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth to carry more data than copper cables of the same diameter.
No matter what new fiber-optic technologies make it to market in terms of transceivers or other electronics, the benefits of fiber include the fact that its performance isn’t limited by the cable itself. Instead, it’s limited by the electronic components that make up the system. Upgrade the components and your fiber cabling will be good to go.
Latency decreases with fiber as well, enabling faster download and upload times, as well as faster access to resources. Because of this low loss, fiber can also carry data across longer distances without delays or interruptions.
Fiber cables don’t emit signals; connecting taps to a fiber cable to intercept data transmission is incredibly difficult.
Because the signal traveling through a fiber cable is contained inside the individual fiber strand, it must be accessed from the end of the cable by cutting into it. In most cases, this would take the network down, and everyone would quickly become aware of the issue.
Because electricity isn’t involved with transferring data (data is transferred via light instead), the benefits of fiber include the fact that it’s safe to handle.
Fiber optic cable isn’t impacted by temperature changes, bad weather or moisture. For example, if it comes into contact with rainwater, communication goes on as usual. If lightning strikes a fiber cable, the surge of electricity will not be propagated because the fiber cable doesn’t contain any metallic components.
It can withstand harsh environments without any changes in performance, making it ideal for rugged environments like outdoor, long-distance and industrial applications.
Placing lots of electronic cables (which carry electric current) in a dense environment can create crosstalk between cables – which causes performance issues and data-transmission interruption.
Fiber cables, however, don’t produce electromagnetic interference (EMI). They aren’t impacted by EMI, either. You can deploy them right next to industrial equipment without worry.
Joining Belden in 2015 as a fiber product engineer, Nelson Oliver has a strong engineering background. With a bachelor’s of science in optical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. In his current role with Belden, Nelson designs and engineers dependable, reliable fiber optic cabling solutions specifically for enterprise applications.