The Ultimate Guide to Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable blog image

Communication is, of course, the backbone and great connector between all of us, globally. In our modern times, a simple click on the iPhone will present to you a family member’s face, voice, and background setting in nearly five seconds. 

And while we’re aware of the internet and its power, there’s often a lack of information surrounding the intricate technology that powers the internet, giving us access to numerous daily tasks, like searching something on google, giving a friend a call, or signing into your Mars Electric account. 

Today, in this blog, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the world of fiber optics, to let you know what exactly they are, how they work, and the different types that are commonly in use. 

Keep reading to better understand fiber optic cables and discover how you can start your next wire and cable project with Mars Electric today. 

What is a Fiber Optic Cable?

So, let’s begin with understanding what a fiber optic cable actually is. 

A fiber optic cable is a network cable that’s composed of two layers of glass and insulated by an outer casing called the jacket. Designed for high-performance data network transmissions over long-distances, fiber optic cables provide higher bandwidth and are the key component to a majority of the world’s TV, phone, and internet systems. 

How do Fiber Optic Cables Work?

A fiber optic cable works through the use of light transmitting through the thin, hair-like strands of glass that are pieced together within each cable. At the core, also known as the center of each strand, is where the light travels – down the pathway and then reflected by another layer of glass that surrounds the core.

Due to its noted immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), fiber optic cables are considered extremely desirable, delivering long-distance optical signals in a variety of areas, including wide, local, or metropolitan. 

Benefits of Using Fiber Optic Cables

When considering fiber optic cables over long-distance copper cabling, there are a few key benefits to using fiber optic that you should be aware of, including:

  • Higher Capacity – Fiber optic cables can carry a larger network bandwidth than long-distance copper cabling, despite having a relatively similar thickness. 
  • Increased Lighting Distance – With a fiber optic cable, the requirement for signal boosters aren’t as necessary due to their ability to carry light for much longer distances. 
  • Decreased Interference – While a copper network cable requires protecting in order to prevent electromagnetic interference, a fiber optic cable contains the physical properties within it to prevent and avoid any of these interferences. 

Single Mode vs. Multimode Fiber

Single mode and multimode fiber are the two primary types of optical fiber cables that are commonly used today. While both use transparent glass or plastic fiber in order for light to guide from one end to the other, there are a few key differences between them.

Single Mode Fiber

Single mode fiber optic cable has a smaller core diameter, reducing the wavelength of incoming light and allowing only one mode of light to circulate. Through this reduction in light reflections from the smaller core, signals can travel further.

Colleges and universities, as well as cable television and telecommunication companies will often use this type of optic cable due to its higher bandwidth and ability to travel longer distances.

Multimode Fiber

Multimode fiber optic cables have a larger core diameter, therefore increasing the transmission of modules. With these larger cores, more data is able to pass through at any time, ultimately creating more light reflections and a higher attenuation rate, delivering a reduce signal quality over long distances. 

Short distance applications including video or audio data in local area networks (LAN) will often use multimode fiber optic cables.

Which Fiber Optic Cable is Better?

Deciding which fiber optic cable is better will ultimately come down to your need and distance requirement. For example, if you’re operating a data center with large amount of data in a confined space, multimode is going to be your best option due to its superior light-gathering capability. 

However, on the contrary, if you’re a telecommunications company requiring data to travel longer distances without distortion, single mode fiber optic cable will be more superior as its narrow core size diminishes reflection, delivering long-distance travel with no distortion. 

A multimode fiber can deliver a distance of around 300 – 400 meters, whereas a single mode fiber can deliver 10km – 80km+. 

Shop Fiber Optic Cables at Mars Electric Today!

Whether you’re searching for a single mode fiber optic cable or a multimode fiber, we’ve got all you need and more here at Mars Electric! Since 1952, we’ve been the leading full-service distributor of electrical supplies and we’re here to help make your job easier, providing you with the exact products, services, and support you need!

For more information on fiber optic cables or to speak to one of our knowledgeable team members, please contact us today! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the advantage of using single mode fiber over multimode fiber?

A: In general, single mode fiber optic transmissions omit a faster speed over multimode due to the limited amount of light reflections taking place in the core. 

Q: What is the advantage of using multimode fiber over single mode fiber?

A: Multimode fiber optic cables often cost significantly less than single mode fibers due to the more rigorous alignment requirements of the latter fiber. Multimode fibers also support larger, more localized data transmissions far better, making them the better option for enterprise and data center networks. 

Q: How far can each type of fiber hold?

A: Single Mode: A single mode fiber optic cable, in theory, has an unlimited bandwidth, however, in most cases, will transmit six miles or more depending on individual light output. 

Multimode: This answer, again, will depend on the application, however in most cases, a multimode fiber has a max distance output of around 1,800 feet. 

Q: What are the components of a fiber optic cable?

A: There are three essential components that make up a fiber optic cable: the core, the cladding, and the coating.

Q: What Is the Best Type of Fiber Optic Cable for Both Indoor and Outdoor Use?

A: Tight-buffered fiber optic cable, such as an armored cable, is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use as they provide greater protection against the elements.

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