How Fiber Optic Cable Works

fiber optic cabling

Fiber optic technology is the future of telecommunications. It’s faster, more reliable, and has higher bandwidth in comparison to traditional copper cabling. But how do fiber optic cables work? This article takes a deep dive into the science and technology behind fiber optic cabling. We will explore how optic connections are constructed and how they transmit data along with the cabling.

Who invented fiber optics? 

fiber optic cable repair

Fiber optics were originally used in the 1950s during endoscopy procedures as a way for doctors to see inside a patient without making an incision. During the 1960s, engineers used the same type of technology to make phone calls traveling at the speed of light.

But it was in the early 1970s when Corning Inc created the first fiber optic cable. The team, led by Dr. Robert Maurer, was working on a project to develop a new type of glass that could be used in optical fibers. The goal was to create a strong and lightweight glass, which resulted in the invention of fiber optic cables.

What are fiber optic cables made from?

Fiber Optic Cable

When looking at how fiber optic cable works, it’s important to understand the components of the cable, which include:

  • Core – the innermost part of the fiber optic cable, made from a type of glass that has been specially designed for optical fibers.
  • Cladding – is a layer of glass that surrounds the core and reflects light beams.
  • Coating – to protect the optical fiber cable from moisture and environmental factors, a coating is applied to the outside of the cladding.
  • Strengthening fibers are made from a type of glass that is stronger than the core and cladding, protecting the cable from damage. 
  • Outer jacket – this is the final layer of protection, made from a tough, weatherproof material. 

Is fiber optic cable made of glass? 

Optical fibers can be made of glass, but there are also plastic optical fibers. The glass optical fibers are typically made of silica, which is a type of quartz. The glass is melted and then drawn into thin fibers. The plastic optical fibers are made of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), a type of plastic which also goes through the same melting and drawing process to construct the fibers.

How fiber optic cables work in data transmission 

A fiber optic cable contains thin strands of fibers, and light travels through the core of the strand. Each of these is approximately the same width as a human hair. 

Light signals transmit data through fiber optic cables from one destination to the next. In single-mode fiber, a laser sends pulses of light down the fiber optic cable, whereas multimode fiber relies on LEDs. These pulses are then converted into electronic signals for computers and other electronic devices to process.

This is different from traditional copper cabling, where the data is converted into an electromagnetic signal that travels down the cable.

What are the types of fiber optic cables? 

Fiber optic cables tend to fall into two main categories: single mode fiber optic and multimode fiber optic cables. So, what are the differences between them?

  • Single mode fiber optic cables are typically used in long-distance applications. They have a smaller core diameter than multimode fiber optic cables and can transmit data at high speed.
  • Multimode fiber optic cables are typically used in short distance applications. They have a larger core diameter than single mode cables. The best fiber optic cable bandwidth available in the market is currently around 100 gigabits per second (Gbps).

What are the uses of fiber optic cable? 

Fiber optic cables have a variety of uses, including:

  • Telecoms – fiber optic cables are used in installations to transmit data and voice signals between telephone exchanges and customers.
  • Internet service and data communications – fiber connections link computer networks, servers, and other electronic devices together, for example, connecting a fiber optic internet WAN to an ethernet network.
  • Cable TV – fiber cables carry the optical signal from the cable company to your home.
  • Medical diagnostics – fiber optic cables transmit images and data from medical equipment.
  • Security – fiber optic networks can carry video and data signals in security systems.

Why are fiber optic cables faster?

One of the main benefits of fiber optic communication compared to copper wires is the speed of data transmission. So, now we know how fiber optic cable works, let’s look at why fiber optic is faster than DSL or traditional cabling.

  • Bandwidth–  fiber optic cables have a much higher bandwidth than copper cables. This means they can carry more data at any one time.
  • Electromagnetic interference can cause data transmission to be slowed down or even stopped. This can be a problem with copper cabling but fiber optic cables aren’t affected. 
  • Light transmission – fiber optic cables use light to transmit data, whereas copper cables use electricity. In fiber optic technology, there is no need to convert the data into an electromagnetic signal. 
  • Attenuation – Fiber optic cables are less susceptible to attenuation than copper cables. Attenuation is the loss of signal strength as it travels along the cable, which is a common problem with copper cables, particularly over longer distances. 

How to check fiber optic cable 

If you have an existing fiber optic cable installation and it’s not functioning as expected, how can you check the integrity of your cable? The first step is to check the connectors. Ensure they are properly connected, and there is no damage to the cable or connector.

Next, you need to check the condition of the cable. You can visually inspect the exterior of the cable for any damage, such as nicks, cuts, or tears. Use a fiber optic tester to check how well the cable is functioning. 

fiber optic engineer

Arrange your fiber optic cable works 

If you find any signs of wear and tear, or if you’d like to book a professional assessment of your fiber optic cabling, get in touch with The Network Installers We offer fiber optic cable repair services and will speedily repair any damage. Alternatively, get in touch with our team of experts to discuss a brand-new fiber optic cable installation. 

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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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