The ability to transmit data electronically is critical in today’s business world. Getting that email out on time, attending a clear and consistent video conference, and maintaining a strong connection in a professional group chat are all essential to staying in touch and in-the-know. Even our personal lives can be impacted by data transmission. We have established connections with people all over the world, and we want to stay in touch with loved ones on different continents or spouses who are traveling for work. Consumers now expect instant communication in real time, so having the proper tools to share information quickly and smoothly is necessary to remaining relevant in the communications and technology industries.
Two main methods for connecting to the internet are copper-cable and fiber-optics. Certainly, each has its advantages, but all-in-all, fiber-optics outshine copper for several important reasons.
Copper typically transmits within the broadband range of 3Mbps to 25Mbps. However, moving data at 1 gig per second, fiber-optics blow the copper competition away. Why the difference? Because fiber-optics transmit pulses of light energy, and these light pulses (photons) travel at just shy of the speed of light. In contrast, copper cables transmit electrons, which also move quickly, but only at about 1% the speed of light. Big difference!
Signals travel along fiber with less loss over time (known as attenuation) than that of copper, meaning data can travel further—copper can send signals for 9,328 feet as opposed to an impressive 24+ miles for fiber.
Electrical systems utilizing copper will always be at higher risk for arcing, producing sparks. Fiber-optics do not transmit electricity, whereas copper cables do. Electric currents can catch fire; light currents cannot. For environments that require high levels of safety the intrinsically safe nature of fiber optic systems are a better fit than electrical systems which may require extensive mitigation.
Fiber-optic cables are very lightweight. While precise weight differences depend on exact cable types, the same size of glass cable will typically weigh only 30% of copper cables. For industries where saving weight is critical this weight difference provides big benefits.
Copper is not as durable as fiber-optics. Fiber can withstand between 100 and 200 pounds of pressure, compared to copper’s ability to tolerate only 25 pounds of pressure. The weaker copper is more likely to be damaged or completely broken during typical use; and broken cable means a loss of communication, time, and money.
Copper’s tendency to break or catch fire more easily than fiber means that it is overall a less reliable source of data transfer. Furthermore, changes in environmental conditions can affect copper’s ability to do its job. Copper wires are typically connected to the phone company, and their access to wires means a risk of making errors, whereas fiber is installed independent of the phone company.
Here at Fiberguide, we understand your company’s reliance on data transmission to keep your business successful. With over 40 years of experience and sites in 30 different countries, we aim to provide innovative solutions for your various fiber needs. We manufacture over 500 different specialty optical fiber part numbers to keep your data moving smoothly.
Author: Kevin Rauscher