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How Does Fibre Optic Cable Work?

Most residential and commercial buildings connect to the internet via network cables. Fibre optics are a type of network cable used to transfer data between network systems. But how does fibre optic cable work? The technology behind fibre optics involves the transfer of information through a coded light beam. Fibre optics can be applied in several fields such as the medical and automobile industry.

Here at Glenco, we have a licensed and experienced team who have provided electrical service to greater Sydney for over 30 years. In this article, we answer the question: How does fibre optic cable work?

Optical technology

Fibre optic cables utilise optical technology to transfer data between network systems. Optical technology involves the use of light to transmit information and data over long distances. The data is transformed into a coded beam of light, which travels at two thirds the speed of light. When the beam of light is received at a network system, it changes back into electrical data, which can be interpreted by your computer or device.

Optical technology is in a wide range of industries. The science behind medical procedures and the equipment used can be complex. Fibre optic technology is used in medical equipment such as biomedical sensors and endoscopes. The use of optical technology is increasing within the automobile industry as well.

How does fibre optic cable work

Many of us might have homes or businesses that connect to the internet via fibre optic cables. The technology behind it is quite complex, so you may have asked yourself, “how does fibre optic cable work?”. To answer that, we need to have a closer look at what these cables are made of and the processes of transmitting data, which we explain below:

What are they made of?

Fibre optic cables are tiny “pipes” made of glass or plastic. These pipes have a diameter around the size of a single strand of human hair. A thick layer of glass and plastic covers the fibre optics to prevent light from escaping. A buffer tube and protective outer layer surround the fibre to offer protection.

How do they transmit data?

Once the fibre optics cables are installed and connected, data can start transmitting through them. On either end of the cable, is a system that can transform electrical data into a coded light beam and vice versa. For example, if you upload a picture onto the internet from your home computer, that action is sending electrical data coded in a beam of light. This data is then received elsewhere and turned back into electrical data.

How does light travel across the fibre?

Storing data in a beam of light seems like it belongs a thousand years in the future, but that technology is available today. As the light beams are pulsed through the strands of glass and plastic, the beams will bounce off the walls. As a method to prevent light from escaping, fibre optics use a phenomenon called total internal reflection. This internal reflection reflects all of the light once it hits the walls of the fibre cables.

Types of fibre optic cable

If you’ve ever wondered, “how does fibre optic cable work?”, it is important to note that there are two main types of fibre optic cables: single-mode and multi-mode. Single-mode optical fibre is usually used for the internet and TV and can travel long distances. Multi-mode optical fibre is used over shorter distances to connect computer systems. Below we discuss in more detail the difference between single-mode and multi-mode fibre optics:

Single-mode fibre optic

The single-mode cables are used when connecting your cable TV, internet and telephone to your home or workplace. Single-mode optics can potentially send information over a hundred kilometres. The core of a single-mode fibre is small, with a diameter of five to ten microns. The light beams coded with information do not bounce off the walls of a single-mode optic. Instead, the light passes straight through the middle of the core.

Multi-mode fibre optic

Multi-mode fibre optic cables can provide several different pathways for the light beam to travel through. The light that passes through a multi-mode cable uses total internal reflection to travel along the fibres. These cables are usually used over short distances to connect network and computer systems.

Advantages of fibre optics in internet technology

Fibre optic cables have slowly been replacing the older coaxial and copper wire systems. There are many advantages in upgrading your network to use fibre optic cables. Faster download speeds and minimal interference are a few of the advantages of using fibre optics. Below we discuss the benefits of installing fibre optic cables in your home or business:

Bandwidth capacity

With today’s technology, programs and apps can require large amounts of data. Old copper wires used for connecting networks can struggle with the volume of information. Fibre optics can handle significantly more bandwidth and allow you to download or upload large files.

Connection speed

Fibre optics use light beams to transfer information. With data travelling at the speed of light, it is significantly quicker than using alternative copper cables. Fast connection speeds mean quicker downloading and uploading for you or your business.

No throttling

If you are still using copper cables to connect your home or business to the internet, you may experience “throttling”. Throttling refers to when internet service providers will limit the amount of bandwidth available during peak hour usage. Fibre optic cables can handle more network traffic in peak hours than the copper alternative.

Safety

Fibre optics can be considered safer to work with than the other alternatives. Due to no electrical current, the chance for an electrical fire is reduced. It is important to note that installing fibre optic cables can be dangerous. The installation process should always be carried out by a licensed electrician.

Durability

Fibre optic cables are more durable than copper or coaxial systems. Even though fibre optics are made from glass and plastics, they can still withstand immense amounts of pressure. This is due to the small size of the optic cables.

How Glenco can help

In today’s society, homes and businesses rely on stable and quick internet connections. By encoding light beams with information, fibre optic cables can transfer vast amounts of data nearly at the speed of light. There are many useful benefits to upgrading fibre optics, such as quick downloads and a smooth online experience.

At Glenco we have over 30 years of experience servicing and installing electrical systems. Our experienced electrical team are level 2 authorised service providers and can safely work on electrical power sources within the community. Our team is highly trained and experienced in installing fibre optic cables.

Contact us to find out how Glenco can help!

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