Fiber Optics: History and Advantages


You may know that the simplest form of fiber optics is a medium used for carrying information from one point to another in the form of light. It consists of a transmitting device, which generates the light signal, fiber optic cables (eg. LC to SC cable) that serve as a conduit for pulses of light to travel over distances, and a receiver, which accepts the light signal transmitted. It’s known that fiber systems are often be sued as the alternative to traditional copper-based communications systems since fiber optic cables outweigh copper cables in less signal loss and immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI). This article is going to detail the fiber optics used in communication systems in terms of their history and advantages.

Fiber Optics: History

In 1880, the photophone was invented, a great inventory used to speak into a microphone which would then cause a mirror to vibrate. The sun’s light would strike the mirror, and the vibration of the mirror would transmit light across an open distance of about 656ft (200m). The receiver’s mirror would receive the light and cause a selenium crystal to vibrate, causing the noise to come out on the other end. Although the photophone was successful in allowing conversation over an open space, it had a few drawbacks: it did not work at night, in the rain or if someone walked between the signal and receiver. Then this idea was given up.

200m reach with the sun light

In the 1950s, the laser was invented. This device was a finely controlled beam of light that could transmit information over long distances. Unfortunately, the same drawbacks also plagued the laser. Although it could be used at night, it did not work during rain, fog or at any time when a building was erected between the sender and the receiver.

Scientists at Corning developed the first practical fiber optic cables in the 1970s, based on the idea of “total internal reflection”. This is the principle that fiber cables are built upon, and it basically means that an optical fiber consists of a core of transparent glass, surrounded by the outer layer, (called “cladding”) of slightly less transparent glass which reflects the light back into the core.

What Makes Fiber Optics Special?

What is special about fiber optics? As mentioned above, fiber optic cables are made out of glass and carry pulses of light energy. The idea of a flexible piece of glass sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but in some ways, fiber optic cables are stronger and more durable than copper cables.

Nowadays, fiber optic cables are used for many different telecommunication applications, like data centers, data warehouses, server farms, SANs, and LANs. But actually, in their practical use, there exists a common question. One may find himself faced single-mode fibers (SMFs) and multi-mode fibers (MMFs) which are terminated with different connectors, such as LC (LC to LC fiber cable single mode), SC (LC to SC cable), MTP/MPO (MTP cable). When such things occur, it’s important to keep in mind that SMFs and MMFs are not compatible with each other, and can’t mix them together between two endpoints.


Fiber Optics: Advantages

Why is fiber optics used in telecommunications? There are several reasons that make fiber systems more popular than copper ones.

  • Large Bandwidth & Long Distance

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be passed along a cable in a given time period. If we think of cables as pipes, then bandwidth is the amount of water that can flow through the pipe in a second. The bigger the pipe, the more water can flow. Consider a normal communication cable that may be used to carry a single phone call. It is built out of copper and may have the bandwidth of a normal drinking straw. By comparison, a fiber cable of the same physical size would provide more bandwidth.

Since fiber optic signal is made of light, very little signal loss occurs during transmission, and data can move at higher speeds and greater distances. In most cases, copper cables are limited to a range of 100meters or less. In contrast, the relatively small diameter and light weight of fiber optic cables can allow a wide range of distance reaches from 550meters to dozens of kilometers, which makes fiber ideal for applications where signals have to travel over long distances.

  • Immunity & Reliability

Fiber optics provides extremely reliable data transmission. It’s completely immune to many environmental factors that affect copper cable. The core is made of glass, which is an insulator, so no electric current can flow through. It’s immune to electrometric interference and radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI), crosstalk, impedance problems, and more. You can run fiber optic cable next to industrial equipment without worry. Fiber is also less susceptible to temperature fluctuations than copper and can be submerged in water.

  • Security

The data is safe with fiber cable which doesn’t radiate signals, letting information difficult to be tapped. More specifically, the dielectric nature of fiber optic cable makes it impossible to remotely detect the signal being transmitted within the cable. If the cable is tapped, it’s very easy to monitor because the cable leaks light, causing the entire system to fail. If an attempt is made to break the physical security of your fiber system, you’ll know it. Fiber networks also enable you to put all your electronics and hardware in one central location, instead of having wiring closets with equipment throughout the building. They are very attractive for use in governmental institutions, finance/banking and other environments with major security concerns.


Nowadays, fiber optics has seen much growth in both private and public networks. The long-distance capabilities of fiber optic cables make them ideal for voice and data links. As a fiber patch cord manufacturer, Fiberstore supplies various kinds of fiber optic cables terminated with the same or hybrid connectors on the ends to cover countless applications, at really cost-effective prices. Worth your try.

Please don’t miss these Articles

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Optical Fiber

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Summary of Fiber Optics You Ever Wanted to Know


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