What is a Fibre Optic Cable? Everything you Need to Know.

24th January, 2023

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    Over the last 20 years, the telecommunications industry has rapidly evolved and fibre lines are quickly taking over. This is because fibre optic cables are greater for building a network that requires high speeds, heavy bandwidth connections and long distances. Fibre optic cables also come with less interference than its copper counterparts and are taking centre stage in today’s network building environment. 


    In this article we take a look at what a fibre optic cable is and unpack everything you need to know about these tiny light-carrying cables. 


    How do Fibre Optic Cables Work?


    So, how do optical cables actually work? Fibre cables, also known as optical fibres, work by transmitting light which makes them very different to traditional copper or aluminium cables which work by conducting electricity. Fibre cables are made of long strands of thin glass or plastic (oftentimes comparable to a single strand of human hair). Light is shone through these strands and they transmit data by sending binary code as pulses of light. Transponders at both ends of the cable convert this data into light, and then convert light back into data.


    What are Fibre Optic Cables Made Of?


    Glass or plastic is used in this technology as these materials exhibit what is known as total internal reflection. This is something that copper or aluminium is unable to exhibit. Essentially, this means that the signal within a fibre cable is able to travel further than that of its copper or aluminium counterparts.


    What is the transmission speed of fibre optic cables?


    Now that we have taken a closer look at “how do fibre optic cables work?” it’s time to take a look at their speed. Fiber optic cables, renowned for their exceptional data transmission capabilities, can achieve remarkable speeds when compared to traditional copper cables. The transmission speed of fiber optic cables is predominantly governed by the principles of light propagation within the glass or plastic core. These cables can transmit data at speeds close to the speed of light, which amounts to approximately 299,792 kilometres per second in a vacuum. In practical applications, the data rates of fibre optic cables commonly range from several megabits per second (Mbps) for slower connections to multiple terabits per second (Tbps) for high-capacity, long-distance communication networks. The impressive transmission speed of fibre optic cables has revolutionised modern telecommunications, enabling the rapid exchange of vast amounts of data across the globe with minimal signal degradation and latency.


    This is just one benefit of these cables, but let’s investigate further.


    What are the Advantages of Optical Fibre Cables?


    When planning a new network cable installation for a home or office, fibre optic cables are the best bet as they have significant advantages over any other cable competitors. 

    Below, we take a look at 7 advantages of fibre optic cables and how they can help better your connectivity.


    1. Fibre Cables for Greater Bandwidth


    Today, with more and more homes and businesses requiring data transmission, it is becoming important to have greater bandwidth availability in place.  Fibre optic cables have better bandwidth than traditional metal cables as information or data can be transmitted per unit time of fibre over other transmission media. 

    If your home or business network is currently stuck with low bandwidth or you are having difficulty meeting some of your data transmission requirements or having difficulties accessing cloud applications or even struggling with pixelated images, fibre optic cables is the upgrade you have been searching for. 


    1. Fibre Cables for Faster Speed


    We live in the technological age and we have become accustomed to receiving information at the click of a button. With this in mind, nothing is more frustrating than having to wait for a document or video to upload or download. This kind of waiting period can actually significantly impact meetings or business costs therefore it is vital that you have a fast internet connection, helping your business run smoothly in today’s fast-paced environment. Networks run on fibre optic cables have greater bandwidth, which means they are faster than even the highest speed copper internet connections. This is great for home use and for businesses, helping you or your employees upload and download documentation or data through a faster connection – saving you both time and money. 


    1. Fibre Cables for Longer Transmission Distances


    Fibre optic cables can help you achieve higher bandwidths with longer transmission distances as they are a low power loss medium. In fact, these advanced, hair thin cables are able to reach over 10 kilometres in distance in stark comparison to the maximum 100 metre distance that can be reached through copper cables. 


    1. Fibre Cables Offer Better Flexibility


    Copper cables of the past have been known to be unreliable in many aspects and this can greatly affect businesses and this kind of downtime can greatly hurt productivity or bring it to a halt completely. 


    In comparison to copper cables, fibre optic cables are much lighter and thinner meaning they are able to withstand greater pressure than copper cables – meaning less breakage or damage. Essentially, fibre cables are more flexible and able to bend with ease allowing them to resist corrosion which often attacks and breaks copper cables.


    Another benefit that comes with these sturdy cables is that they don’t conduct electrical currents, meaning they are resistant to interference, radio signals and lightning. As copper cables are designed to conduct electricity, they are incredibly vulnerable to lightning and even deliberate signal interference or scrambling. 


    As stated previously, fibre cables have greater resistance to corrosion, but they are also not susceptible to bad weather conditions which are renowned for stopping data transmission through copper cables. 


    1. Fibre Cables for Improved Latency


    Latency refers to a time delay between the cause and effect of a physical change in a system. Fibre optic cables that run fibre networks eliminate a variety of latency problems that users are faced with on cable internet. This is particularly relevant when it comes to uploading or downloading high-definition videos or content. 


    This will benefit your business by lowering any latency. This is especially important when it comes to VoIP users and the downloading and uploading of massive files without disruption – improving collaboration in an office environment. 


    1. Fibre Cables for Stronger Security


    Fibre optic cables are renowned for keeping data secure as it doesn;t radiate signals, making these cables incredibly difficult to tap without informing the user. Fibre also have greater physical security as they are installed in a single and central location, as opposed to copper systems where equipment is installed and distributed throughout various locations.


    In summary, fibre optic cables come with significant advantages,  having greater bandwidth allowing for a higher speed, while ensuring security and ease-of-use.


    Now that we have taken a closer look at what fibre cables are, what they are made of and the advantages that come with this technology, let’s take a look at the different types of fibre optic cables available.


    Types of Fibre Optic Cables


    As with most ground-breaking technologies, there are a variety of classifications that come with optical fibre cabling. The components and characteristics of fibre cables directly impact its efficiency when it comes to speed, signal, bandwidth and more. 


    Let’s take a look at the kinds of fibre optic cables available today.



    Multimode and single mode optical fibre cables are two significantly different types of cables and deliver varying performance levels at distance.As suggested by the names, multimode cables are constructed around larger cores and this guides many modes simultaneously while single mode fibre optic cables are constructed around a single strand of glass fibre and have a narrow diameter. 


    Multimode fibre significantly increases the reflection, which results in higher dispersion and attenuation rates, increasing bandwidth delivery over shorter distances. In contrast, single mode fibre has less internal reflection as light passes through, which reduces attenuation and allows for higher speed data transfer over long distances. 


    With the above in mind, applications that need a larger volume of data to be sent over a shorter distance (communication between localised businesses) will use multimode fibre while single mode is better for extremely-long distance signal transmission.



    Data transfer rates from fibre optic cables are reliant on a variety of factors. The number one factor being the mode of the cable (as seen above). Optical fibres can be arranged in either multimode configuration or single mode, and this delivers higher or lower speeds over a range of distances.But whether you are using multimode or single mode, fibre cables will still offer the fastest mode of commercial connectivity and communications data transfer available in the modern market.



    Multicore or multimode fibre is made up of various specifications that range from two to dozens of cores. For perspective, common or regular configurations for everyday networking include two core fibre optic cables, 8 core options and up to 24 core options. The more cores carried by a cable, the better the amount of bandwidth, allowing for higher data handling over shorter distances. 



    More delicate than plastic fibre optics, glass cables are actually very robust when it comes to mechanical strength and resistance to chemicals, weather fluctuations and moisture. This makes glass fibre optic cables ideal for longer range uses where cables would usually be submerged or buried in a location. Glass fibre cables are also more commonly used in demanding and long-distance applications but tend to be more expensive to purchase and install than its plastic counterparts. Now that we have an understanding of the different characteristics that make a variety of fibre optic cable options, let’s take a look at what fibre optic cables can be used for.


    What are Fibre Optic Cables Used For?


    Fibre Optic Cables for the Internet 

    Fibre is a better choice when it comes to intensive information transfer or when high speeds are needed to increase workflow. 

    Fibre for internet connectivity is also safe to use for high voltage locations and within flammable areas. It is also the ideal choice for demanding environments – this is why fibre internet connectivity is popular in large businesses and industrial spaces. 

    Fibre Optic Cables for Medical Applications 

    Fibre optics opportunities for the medical industry are vast and include a range of procedures and uses that can better surgeries and diagnostics while improving recovery time and patient comfort. 

    Some fibre applications used in the medical industry include endoscopes and biomedical sensing apparatus. Fibre optics is also driving technical advancements in minimal invasion surgeries or procedures such as using fibre cables in catheters, hypodermic needles and related devices. 

    Fibre Optic Cables for LED Lights

    LED lighting plays an important role in bettering the environment and global warming. 

    With this in mind, Fibre Optic cables have played an important role in the development of this technology as fibre optics are able to transmit data in a versatile and “clean” way.

    Fibre Optic Cables for Television 

    TV companies and customers get a wide variety of benefits thanks to fibre optic cables. Some of these advantages include greater bandwidth, quicker data transfers and improved image quality. 

    Fibre cables for television are also more robust when it comes to challenging weather, interference and lighting. All of this means that fibre optics in television is actually more cost effective as the maintenance after installation is lower than that of copper wires. Customers are also able to enjoy high quality visuals and a superior end-product – making for greater customer relationships across the sector.  

    Fibre Optic Cables in Vehicles 

    As the world continues to advance when it comes to technology and bettering our lifestyles, there have been massive improvements in the automobile space. Vehicles have been greatly enhanced for greater and safer driver experience and automotive fibre optics are leading the way in vehicle innovation. 

    With the demand for better in-vehicle digital information platforms and systems, fibre optic cables are leading the way forward, allowing the production of heavy data loads within the vehicle. 

    Fibre optic cables are also lightweight meaning they are the perfect option for a variety of vehicle features including lighting, diagnostics and safety features that require the reliable transfer of data between receivers and transmitters located throughout the vehicle. 


    In Summary


    Fibre Optic cables play a vital role in the progression of connectivity and industry as these tiny and durable cables are expertly designed for greater bandwidth, distance and longevity – leading the way in the technological age.


    For further information related to fibre optic cable technologies, contact our expert team today.

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