Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable is a high-speed data transmission medium. It contains tiny glass or plastic filaments that carry light beams. Digital data is transmitted through the cable via rapid pulses of light. The receiving end of a fiber optic transmission translates the light pulses into binary values, which can be read by a computer.

Because fiber optic cables transmit data via light waves, they can transfer information at the speed of light. Not surprisingly, fiber optic cables provide the fastest data transfer rates of any data transmission medium. They are also less susceptible to noise and interference compared to copper wires or telephone lines. However, fiber optic cables are more fragile than their metallic counterparts and therefore require more protective shielding. While copper wires can be spliced and mended as many times as needed, broken fiber optic cables often need to be replaced.

Since fiber optic cables provide fast transfer speeds and large bandwidth, they are used for a large part of the Internet backbone. For example, most transatlantic telecommunications cables between the U.S. and Europe are fiber optic. In recent years, fiber optic technology has become increasingly popular for local Internet connections as well. For example, some ISPs now offer "fiber Internet," which provides Internet access via a fiber optic line. Fiber connections can provide homes and businesses with data transfer speeds of 1 Gbps.

Updated December 5, 2014

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