Fiber Optic Cable Speeds: Everything You Need to Know

fiber optic engineer

Fiber optic cabling is one of the most essential pieces of technology in the world, changing how we live and work immeasurably.

As fiber-optic connections transmit data at a high speed, they’re increasingly popular for everyone with access to them.

This guide will discuss fiber optic cable speeds and the benefits of fast fiber optics for telecommunications and data transmission. 

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What is fiber internet? 

fiber optic cable repair

Fiber internet is a high-speed internet connection that uses fiber optic cables to transmit data. These fiber cables are made of thin strands of glass or plastic, each with a similar thickness to human hair and each carrying data in the form of light. Fiber internet is popular due to its high speed compared to other types of internet.

Fiber-optic or copper cables – which is faster?

Fiber-optic cables are much faster than copper cables. Why? Fiber-optic cables transmit data as light rather than the electrical data transmission used in DSL internet networks, traditionally based on copper wire technology.

As the speed of light is faster than the speed of electrons, fiber-optic cables are capable of a much greater transmission speed and have a higher bandwidth than copper cables. 

Fiber-optic cables are also less likely to experience interference and are more durable than their copper counterparts.

fiber optic cable vs copper cable

What is the maximum speed of fiber-optic cable? 

The maximum speed of fiber optic cable can be dialed up to 100Gbps (gigabits per second). This compares to the maximum speed of copper cables, which reaches as high as 300Mbps (megabits per second) and, therefore, slower than fiber-optic technology.

How fast is fiber-optic internet speed? 

Fiber-optic broadband is fast and perfect for your business’s Wi-Fi network. The average fiber internet connection speed is around 1000Mbps, about 10 to 20 times faster than the cable speed. This means both upload speeds and download speeds are radically improved, taking a few seconds to transfer large files with fiber internet, whereas copper would take you minutes to hours.

How do fiber optic speed tests work? 

Of course, during a fiber-optic network installation, you’ll want to know the exact speed you can expect from your new technology. A fiber-optic speed test can be carried out and is also helpful for assessing if repair works are required. But how do fiber optic speed tests work?

A fiber-optic speed test works by sending data or light signal through the length of the cable and measuring how long it takes for the pulses of light to return. The speed of the light signal is then converted into a data rate. This will give you an accurate measure of the maximum speed that your fiber optic cable can achieve.

Fiber-optic speed tests are simple to set up and only take a few minutes to complete. However, it is essential to note that a fiber optic speed test can be affected by several factors, such as the type of fiber optic equipment used and the length of the cable.

Also read: What Is Network Installation?

What equipment is required for a fiber optic cable speed test?

To carry out a fiber optic speed test, you will need:

  • Fiber Optic Cable
  • Fiber Optic Connector
  • Fiber Optic Test Equipment
  • Fiber Optic Cable Tester

The fiber optic cable and connector must join the two pieces of test equipment. The fiber optic test equipment sends the light signal through the cable, and the fiber optic cable tester measures the time it takes for the light to return.

Fiber optic cable speeds & distance

The speed of a fiber optic cable can be affected by the length of the cable. The longer the cable, the slower the speed. This is because the light signal travels further and is more likely to be attenuated.

The type of cable also impacts the speed of a fiber optic cable. There are two types of fiber optic cable: single-mode and multi-mode. Single-mode fiber optic cables are used for long-distance communication, while multi-mode fiber optic cables are used for short-distance communication.

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How do single-mode & multi-mode fiber optic cables affect the speed of transmission?

The difference between single-mode and multi-mode fiber optic cables is the diameter of the core, which is the part of the fiber optic cable that carries the light signal. The core of a single-mode fiber optic cable is much smaller than that of a multi-mode fiber optic cable.

For instance, if there is one light beam traveling in one straight line and the other bounces on a steeper angle, the straight line beam will reach the destination first.

Therefore, single-mode fiber optic cables carry higher bandwidth than multi-mode fiber optic cables. Single-mode fiber optic cables are also less susceptible to attenuation than multimode fiber optic cables.

How does fiber optic cable speed affect pricing?

The speed of a fiber optic cable may determine the cost of the cable. As you might expect, fiber optic cables with higher bandwidth are more expensive than those with lower bandwidth.

However, the cable type also affects the cost of fiber optic cables, with single-mode fiber optic cables being more expensive than multimode.

What could slow down fiber optic connections’ speed?

Several factors could slow down the speed of a fiber optic cable and create a less reliable service for internet users. These include:

  • Attenuation – the loss of power that occurs as a light signal travels through a fiber optic cable
  • Dispersion – the spreading of a light signal 
  • Fiber Length – the distance the light signal travels along the fiber optic cable 
  • Fiber Type – single mode or multimode fiber optic cabling. 

Is fiber just better because of its speed?

While speed is a significant advantage, it’s not the only reason it’s superior. It also offers lower latency, more data, higher reliability, scalability, and security benefits. These factors collectively contribute to a better experience, making new technology highly desirable for residential and commercial users.

How can I improve fiber optic speed?

There are several ways to improve the speed of a fiber optic cable. These include:

  • Using a shorter cable for a short distance
  • Using a single-mode fiber optic cable
  • Increasing the bandwidth

You can also improve the speed of a fiber optic cable by using an optical amplifier to boost the light signal.


How does fiber optic compare to traditional broadband speed?

Fiber optic speed outshines traditional broadband rates by offering significantly faster and more reliable connectivity. 

While traditional broadband may struggle with slower upload speed or inconsistent performance, fiber optics delivers a symmetrical rate, meaning both upload and download speeds are equally fast.

Can I upgrade my fiber optic internet speed if needed?

Yes, one of its advantages is scalability. Providers often offer various subscription plans with different speed tiers, allowing users to upgrade their internet speeds based on their needs. 

Whether for streaming high-definition content, running a home office, or supporting multiple devices simultaneously, you can upgrade your fiber optics to accommodate your requirements.

Contact The Network Installers 

Speed is an essential factor when choosing a fiber optic cable. If you require advice about a brand-new fiber optic installation or wish to explore upgrade options from your current fiber optic cable speed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Network Installers today.

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About Us
The Network Installers is a low voltage electrical contractor that provides data cabling, network installation, fiberoptic installation, and WIFI installation. We've been serving commercial customers since 2008 with exceptional quality, consistency, and professionalism.


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