End of the day, everything boils down to communication…
Wonder how people lived in those days when there was absolutely no way of communication over long distances. There was an era when the string phones were used, the ones we see children playing around with, where they would use the string and a tin boxes with a diaphragm. It is basically the diaphragm that vibrates when the sound is emitted at one end and is transmitted through the string to the diaphragm at the other end. This is the idea behind the invention of telephones that dates back to 19th century. It is the culmination of the efforts of numerous scientists that we reap today and lead a blissful life enjoying the benefits of the telephone.
There are many cables that can be used for transmitting information from one end to another. Coaxial cables, the Ethernet cables and now the fiber optic cables are being used in the field of telecommunications. The larger bandwidth and the ability to cover long distances, is making the fiber optic cables hugely popular networking cables of late.
Understanding Fiber optics better:
A fiber optic cable is a cable that has a glass or a plastic fiber called optical fiber, which is capable of transmitting information in form of light particles. It could be a single fiber or a group of fibers inside a non-conducting tube. Each of the fiber has a thickness as that of one-tenth of a human hair and is capable of handling as many as 25,000 telephone calls. Simple math can tell you how many calls a single optical fiber can handle.
If you want to experiment to check how the fiber optics work, here is what you can do. Let us suppose you want to send information through fiber optic cable from your house to your friend’s house from a computer. First off, you will have to connect a laser to your computer, which would convert the electrical information in form of light pulses. Once the light particles travel down the laser and emerge out at the other end, ideally a photoelectric cell should be there at the other end to receive the light pulses, which will then convert it into its electrical equivalent.
Technology behind Fiber-optics:
Imagine a glass tube and a light wave travelling through it. The light-wave will bounce down the pipe hitting the glass at a certain angle which is ideally less than 42° with the glass tube, making it reflect back thereby hitting the surface like a ping-pong ball travelling down a narrow cylindrical tube. There is this theory that when a light ray hits the glass surface making an angle less than 42° with the surface, the light ray completely reflects back without leaking out as if the tube were a mirror. This phenomenon is called the total internal reflection. Even if there was a chance of light wave leakage; that would not be possible with the cladding that surrounds the core tube in which the light wave travels. The purpose of the cladding is to basically retain the light signals inside the core.
There are three types of fiber optic cables – single mode, multi-mode and a plastic optical fiber (POF).
Advantages of Fiber optics over conventional copper cabling:
Have you ever experienced the noise while speaking over the phone, well in case you did, it is nothing but the Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI). EMI is the disturbance caused when an external source affects the electric circuit. Fiber optic cables are immune to Electro- magnetic Induction. In traditional copper wires, the current travelling through the wires interfere as copper is a conductor of electricity, however, in case of fiber optic cables, the light particles travel through the wire, even through the places, where EMI would otherwise block the transmission.
Magnetic fields and current induction not only creates noise, but also makes way to data leakage in case of copper cabling. However, where fiber optic cables are concerned, the magnetic fields are not surrounding the cable, but only within the fiber optics cable. So, there is no way that we can control the signal being transmitted unless we cut open the fiber optic cable.
This is one of the biggest advantages of using fiber optic cables. Unlike the copper wires, which are prone to emit sparks as they transmit current through the wires, fiber optic cables are much safer in the confined areas or oil refineries where there is a threat of catching fire.
Installations made easy:
In the process of increasing the transmission capacity or bandwidth of the cable, inevitably, the thickness of the cable also increases. This makes passing though the ducts in the buildings a somewhat difficult affair. Fiber optic cables on the other hand are thin and flexible making it easier for the installations. While using the copper cables, the fire retardants are also supposed to be used in order to avoid the fire accidents, which is absolutely not the case while using the fiber optic cables.
Greater bandwidth and longer run:
Fiber optic cables have greater bandwidth enabling the huge amount of transmission of data within fractions of a second. The fiber optic cables can carry the information over long distances without any noise intervention.
With the consideration of all the factors that are in favour of the fiber optic cables, these form the ideal choice for any sort of commercial use where data communications is concerned.