Putting The Optimal Back In Optical

Few things have caused such a stir in the networking industry as optical fiber. It promised untold benefits but appeared to be only for the large and rich as it is comparatively expensive. Let us take a good look at this shiny cable and get some tips on what to do when acquiring it.

Through the looking glass


Just when we thought we had seen it all along came fiber optic technology. As far as cabling technologies are concerned fiber optic is the top of the class. It is especially good at transferring visual information due to its high efficiency coupled with high resolution.

From grain of sand to fiber glass

At the centre of it all are tiny strands of glass that used high quality silica glass that was heated up and at about sixty feet per second stretched into filaments that allows light to rush through with the minimum of interference. Not many of us know that it does not have to be glass but can also be plastic. The former, though, is the most common. The filaments are monitored continuously during the manufacturing process for flaws. It is their ability to reflect that allows signals to travel faster than through any other medium. And the “optic” stands for light. The sun literally never sets on pushing light through these fibers.

Fast and reliable

Einstein wasn’t kidding when he said nothing beats the speed of light. In 2013 scientists achieved transmission of over 400 Gbits/sec. That’s faster than anyone can say “polish that mirror”. The fibers are placed inside specialized casings that absorb shock but still leave maneuvering space so the cables can be bent and run across tight spaces. The processor is completed by adding an optic transmitter changing the information into light and an optical receiver that changes it back to its original form. All of this translates into optical fiber cabling’s ability to carry larger chunks of information over longer distances with less data loss and interference faster than any existing network cables. Eat that, copper!

The rights and wrongs of getting it done

Optical fiber turns out to be pretty expensive but used in appropriate application outweighs the disadvantage of requiring specialized skill to maintain and repair. The things that apply to other types of network cabling also apply here. The network designer should understand that using the right cable for the right purpose is paramount. The standards and applicable laws have been put into place for a good reason and should be followed.

In most instances, they optimize the performance of the network and assists with ease of maintenance. The design as well as installation should be carried out by professionally trained technical people familiar with all aspects of networking. Often network complications come after paying for incompetence. Just think about it. After making the decision to pay for the latest and the best it makes no sense to entrust it to those that have not got the confidence that comes with having successfully installed similar networks in the past.

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