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Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Fiber Optic Cable

Are you confident you know the difference between a twisted pair and optical fiber cable? If not, read on to better understand how super-fast connections are becoming more accessible.  

The internet is a vast entity, so vast that it can be difficult to fully comprehend the complexity involved in delivering the right information to the correct device in a timely manner. There are two main considerations for how quickly your content is delivered: the speed of your internet connection and the ability of your physical cables to shift data. Network cabling has come a long way over the past decades from the original coaxial cables that were invented in the 1880s and still used today to twisted cables and now the latest fiber optic cabling. Understanding fiber optic cable and how it works will help you determine whether this tech is something you need for your business.

How Fiber Optic Cables are Different from Twisted Wire

Most people are familiar with traditional network cabling, also known as twisted pair cables or referred to with their “Cat” (Category) designation. These Ethernet cables come in a variety of standards and can handle speeds up to 100 Gbps for a short distance of up to 15 meters, but generally lose some of their fidelity and speed past that distance. Up to eight wires are twisted together, either with or without shielding to help reduce any digital cross-chatter. This type of Ethernet cord ranges from older Cat 3 and Cat 5 cables that are nearly obsolete and can handle up to 10 Mbps to Cat 6, 6a and 7 cables that are rated for up to 100 Gbps. This shift in cabling has been necessary due to the heavy demands of data traffic from consumers and businesses alike.

Unlike twisted pair cables, fiber optic cables utilize strands of glass and pulses of light to speed transmissions along their way. This more efficient and quick mode of transportation for your data packets makes fiber optic cables extremely useful for WAN installations where high volumes of data are being exchanged. The strands of glass fibers are only slightly thicker than a human hair and wrapped in an insulated casing, providing an exceptionally powerful boost to digital signals. Fiber optic cables are capable of maintaining the fidelity of transmitted information over longer distances than twisted wire cables, too.

Benefits of Fiber Optic Cables

Due to their unique manufacturing and structure, fiber optic cables are able to provide a wide spectrum of benefits for organizations. Fast and predictable high-quality connections are a vital component for businesses today, that are collaborating with vendors, customers and remote staff members across the globe. Tinny, poor reproductions of sound and slow response times for websites are simply not acceptable in today’s business world, making it crucial to have access to first-rate digital connections. Fiber optic cables are the best of the best in terms of networking, providing far more data accessibility over longer distances. Light doesn’t lose strength as quickly as data being transferred over a twisted wire, reducing the need to boost the signal. You’ll also find that interference is dramatically lessened as compared to other types of cabling.

When to Use Fiber Optic Cables

It’s true that fiber optic cabling is more expensive than some other forms of digital information transmission, but there are times when you need that added boost of quality or speed. Some of the ideal uses of fiber optic cabling include when you’re delivering media services to large residential buildings, directly connection buildings within a campus, or connecting to a node of copper cables — that are then sent the “last mile” to get to buildings in a specific area.

Still struggling with what type of cabling you need for your office upgrade or expansion? Contact the professionals at ICS in our San Antonio, Houston or Austin offices to schedule your free initial consultation with a network engineering specialist. We work with data and voice cabling and installation, phone and data systems, video conferencing and surveillance and more — providing top-notch service that you can trust. Our technicians have been working with organizations of all sizes throughout Texas since 1981, and our proactive and predictable support offers the assistance you need to maintain secure operations at all times.