If you’re doing something like accessing the internet at a coffee shop or using your cell phone to make a call, you’re relying on fiber optics. But what are they exactly and how do they work? Let’s take a closer look at how they function and the industries that rely on them. 

What Is Fiber Optics?

A fiber optic is a strand of optical glass or plastic that transmits light through the material. Previously, many companies relied on copper cables but fiber optics has become increasingly preferred as they allow for high bandwidth and transmit speeds. 

How Does Fiber Optics Work?

Optical fibers transmit data through pulses of light, known as photons. The outer coating, made of high-refractive-index material, changes the direction of light pulses while the core, made of a material with a low refractive index, slows the pulses and ensures transmission fidelity.

Light signals traveling through fiber optic cable bounce off its core and cladding in zigzag patterns, a phenomenon called total internal reflection. Due to the denser glass layers, light signals travel about 30% slower than light, instead traveling at light’s speed.

To ensure that the signal will stay strong throughout its journey, fiber optics transmission may require repeaters, located at spaced intervals, to keep boosting the signal. They work by converting the signal to an electrical one and processing that before converting it back to an optical one to keep the signal going strong. Newer fiber optic cables are now able to transmit up to 10 Gbps of information, but the higher capacity typically leads to a cost increase. 

Types of Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables can be broken down into two different types: 

Single-Mode Fiber: Single-mode fiber is typically used for longer distances because of its core’s small diameter. This small core decreases attenuation, a loss of signal strength. As the opening is narrower, light rays are focused into one small area, offering a shorter route and increasing the distance a signal can travel.

Unlike multimode fiber, single-mode fiber has a considerably higher bandwidth. The laser is used for single-mode fiber’s light source. Single-mode fiber optic cable is usually more expensive than multimode fiber, as it requires precise calculations to create the laser light in a smaller aperture.

Multimode Fiber: As it has a wider opening, multimode fiber is best used for shorter distances and results in increased bandwidth as multiple pulses of light are sent through the cable. However, this can lead to an increased risk of signal loss, reduction, or interference. It can often make it difficult for more signals to go through. The light used in multimode fiber optic technology is typically made by a light-emitting diode (LED).

What Industries Use Fiber Optics? 

Various industries are reliant on fiber optics for different reasons. Most commonly, internet and cable television use fiber optics to support long-distance connections between computer networks in different locations. It’s also frequently used in computer networking and broadcasting to provide better connections. Additionally, the medical field uses fiber optics for its medical instruments and procedures. This includes things like X-ray imaging, endoscopy, and light therapy. 

Trust 561 Communications for your Fiber Optics Needs 

From maximizing the security of business assets to simply maintaining a strong digital connection, fiber optics are a must for any business that wants to compete in the modern market. 

Contact 561 Communications today to learn more about our services.