Fiber optic cables carry communication signals using pulses of light generated by small lasers or light-emitting diodes.

Fiber Optic 101

Fiber optic cables are cables that contain several thousands of optical fibers in a protective, insulated jacket. These types of cables are designed for long-distance, high-performance data networking, and telecommunications- what we know best. Fiber optic cables provide higher bandwidth and transmit data over longer distances than wired cables. Fiber optic cables are responsible for supporting much of the world’s internet, cable television, and telephone systems.

How They Work

The two primary types of optical fiber cables are single mode and multi-mode. Single-mode fiber uses extremely thin glass strands and a laser to generate light, while multi-mode optical fiber cables use LEDs.


  • Fiber optics support a higher capacity. The amount of network bandwidth a fiber cable can carry easily exceeds that of a copper cable with similar thickness. Fiber cables rated at 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, and 100 Gbps are standard.

  • Light can travel for much longer distances over a fiber cable without losing its strength so the need for signal boosters is lessened.

  • A fiber optic cable is less susceptible to interference. A copper network cable requires shielding to protect it from electromagnetic interference. While this shielding helps, it is not sufficient to prevent interference when many cables are strung together in proximity to one another. The physical properties of fiber optic cables avoid most of these problems.

Below are some of the most popular uses of fiber optic cables:

Internet: Fiber optic cables transmit data at very high speeds. This technology is therefore widely used in Internet cables. In comparison to traditional copper wires, fiber optic cables are less bulky, lighter, more flexible and carry more data.

Cable TV: The use of fiber optic cables in the transmission of cable signals has grown fast in recent years. These cables are ideal for transmitting signals for high def televisions because they have greater bandwidth and speed. Also, fiber optic cables are cheaper as compared to the same quantity of copper wire.

Telephone: Reaching telephones within or outside the Philippines has never been so easy. With the use of fiber optic communication, you can connect faster and talk to your friends without any lag on either side.

Computer Networking: Networking between computers in a single building or across nearby structures becomes way much faster with the use of fiber optic cables. Users can see a marked decrease in the time it takes to transfer files and information across networks.

Surgery and Dentistry: Fiber optic cables are widely used in the fields of medicine and research. Optical communication is an important part of non-intrusive surgical methods, popularly known as endoscopy. In such applications, a minute, bright light is used to light up the surgery area within the body, making it possible to reduce the number and size of incisions made. Fiber optics are commonly used in microscopy and biomedical research.

Lighting and decorations: The use of fiber optics in the area of decorative lighting has also grown over the years. Fiber optic cables provide an easy, economical and attractive solution to lighting projects. As a result, they are widely used in lighting decorations and illuminating Christmas trees.

Mechanical Checks: Fiber optic cables are widely used in checking hard-to-reach places. Some such applications are on-site inspections for engineers and also inspection of pipes for plumbers.

Military and Space Applications: Because of the extremely high level of data security needed in military and aerospace applications, fiber optic cables offer the ideal solution for data transmission in these areas.

The Automotive Industry: Fiber optic cables are very important in the lighting and safety features of present day vehicles. They are widely used in lighting, both in the interior and exterior of vehicles. Because of its ability to conserve space and provide superior lighting, fiber optics is used in more vehicles every day. Also, fiber optic cables can transmit signals between different parts of the vehicle at very fast speed. This makes fiber optic cable invaluable in the use of safety applications such as traction control and airbags.


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