Fiber Optic Cable 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 inspecting 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.
1. Fiber Optic Cable Supports Very High Bandwidth Levels
When it comes to bandwidth, no currently available technology is better than fiber–especially single-mode 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 ready.
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.
2. Fiber Optic Cable is Inherently Secure
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 realize the issue.
3. Fiber Optic Cable is Intrinsically Safe
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.
4. Cable Withstands Water and Temperature Fluctuations
Temperature changes, bad weather, or moisture did not affect fiber optic cable. 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 with no changes in performance, making it ideal for rugged environments like outdoor, long-distance, and industrial applications.
5. Cable is Immune to EMI
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 affected by EMI, either. You can deploy them right next to industrial equipment without worry.
The Takeaway for IT Pros Choosing Fiber or Copper Cables
The right medium for your network really depends on your needs. However, if you have significant bandwidth needs, investing in a robust, scalable infrastructure will pay for itself. As we’ve seen, fiber optic cabling allows for greater ROI via its faster speeds, increased durability, cleaner signaling, and smaller physical footprint.