Fiber-optic communication systems are becoming increasingly common in modern society. Where once they were restricted to government or business use, fiber-optic systems are now available to individual households. This has been driven by the rising demand for high bandwidth connections for a variety of industrial and residential purposes.
What is a Fiber-Optic Communication System
A fiber-optic communication system uses fiber-optic cables to transmit information via light channeled through the cable. In most cases, this light is coherent laser light, although some recent systems use light emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than lasers. Modern fiber-optic communication systems make use of a cable to carry the light impulses to a receiver, which converts the signal into a usable form. In some cases, the fiber-optic line is directly connected to its recipient, while in other cases the signal may be transferred to another medium, such as a conventional copper line, before it reaches its final destination.
While fiber-optic communication lines are a fairly recent development with the first commercial systems having been introduced in 1977, they have rapidly proven themselves superior to traditional landlines. This, coupled with a growing need for ever-increasing data-transfer rates, has resulted in fiber-optic communication systems becoming dominant in most developed nations.
Fiber-optic systems have a large number of advantages over copper wire cables. Among the most important are the following:
- Because fiber-optic cables are both lighter and smaller in diameter than copper lines, they can be more easily produced and installed.
- Fiber-optic systems use significantly less energy than copper lines and are thus immune to many dangers associated with the electrical current used in copper lines.
- Fiber-optic communication systems can be used to transmit more information than copper cables and are well-suited for use with digital communications.
- When compared to copper cables, fiber-optic cables are both immune to electromagnetic interference and produce no interference when operating.
- Finally, fiber-optic lines are less expensive than copper cables, which can drastically reduce the cost of installing new lines or maintaining older ones.
Primary Uses of Fiber-Optic Communication Systems
Currently, the most important use of fiber-optic communication systems is to provide a low-cost medium to carry an ever-increasing amount of commercial and private data. Where once a slow data connection over a copper line was acceptable, business owners and homeowners alike now demand the ability to stream data requiring several thousand kilobytes per second (KBps). In addition, the increasing demand for extensive physical cable and internet networks has resulted in a need to drastically reduce the cost and physical space required for installation. In both cases, fiber-optic communication systems are far superior to copper lines. This has resulted in fiber-optic systems becoming dominant in the home and business broadband sector, whether for conventional internet or media streaming services.
The low cost and high efficiency of fiber-optic cables has also resulted in the large-scale replacement of copper undersea and land trunk lines, and has dramatically improved the quality of long-distance phone and data transmissions. In addition, these systems are far easier to repair or replace as needed, and are not subject to the same data transmission limitations their predecessors faced.
Because of their wide range of advantages when compared to other systems, the use of fiber-optic communication systems is certain to continue to grow at a rapid place. Although most homes currently use fiber to the home (FTTH) technologies, it is almost certain that fiber-optic systems will continue to displace copper lines, eventually replacing them in newly built homes. Fiber-optic communication systems will continue to be the dominant communication technology of the future.