The requirements for long-distance communication have greatly increased in recent years.
From the comfort of our own home we can connect to the other side of the earth in a live time! It may be something we consider self-explanatory, but it would not be possible without the optical fiber.
A huge technological breakthrough that started as a medical device and reached our homes.
A brief historical overview.
In the early 1840s, Daniel Colladon and Jacques Babinet, observed that they could direct light through a water pipe, using the phenomenon of refraction.
After nearly a century of effort and experimentation, Harold Hopkins and Narinder Singh Kapany achieve their first image mission through a bunch of thousands of fibre. This is the construction of the first gastroscope we use today.
Kapany himself coined the term “fiber optic”, and a decade later engineers were able to send the first telephone signal, via fiber optic.
Today, they are increasingly replacing the copper infrastructure, reaching the homes of more and more consumers.
How does fibre work?
Fibre works by sending the encoded information through a glass or plastic duct. Specifically, each cable contains very thin glass or plastic fibre, the amount of which depends on the connection or use we have (eg client connection or backbone network).
Each cable consists of 3 parts:
The core: the conductor mentioned above, where light travels.
Cladding: encircles the core and traps light inside it.
Plastic lining: external protection against damage and moisture.
In essence, the lining around the core acts as a mirror. The light bounces on its walls and the information manages to travel along the pipeline. But to continue without getting out of it, the cable should not have angles greater than 42 degrees.
Why do we prefer copper?
It has lower manufacturing costs and reduced energy consumption, as the signal loss is less than that of copper. That is, it can cover much longer distances before signal amplification is needed.
It is much lighter.
Greater capacity due to its much thinner construction. Each fibre has 1/10 the width of a human hair! So we can put more on the same cable.
Unlike copper, many optical fiber in a cable do not affect each other and thus have a clearer signal (telephone or television).
There is no risk of fire as it is not leaked by electricity.
They provide greater convenience and security for use in military networks as they do not emit electromagnetic radiation and are not affected by corresponding interference.
However, because of its construction, special treatment and attention is needed, as they are quite sensitive. Precise alignment and cleanliness are required when installing them. They also need to follow such a path so as not to make large angles.
The optical fiber in the provision of telecommunication services.
The use of optical fiber in network infrastructure to provide services is nothing new. For years, the backbone of the grid has been made of them, and the copper has continued from where they were suspended. The less copper (that is, the closer we get to fiber optics), the better and faster we are connected.
Specifically there are 4 network architectures:
By Riick – Project by the uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1919753
Fiber to the Node or Fiber to the Neighborhood (FTTN) or Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTCab) [visuals to the node, a common network point]
Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) [visuals up to the local distributor-cafe-the big white boxes in our neighborhoods]
Fiber to the Building (FTTB) [visuals up to building]
Fiber to the Home (FTTH) [visuals]
The first 2 (maybe the 3rd) are implemented with VDSL / VDSL2 technology which has been used for years and is quite popular . In the case of ADSL, copper occupies an even larger portion of the network.
In summary, while fiber technology has been around for decades, only in recent years has the need for copper replacement become apparent. The volume of data that surrounds us is constantly increasing and our technology is getting closer to their optimum utilization. Due to their enormous influence on both the telecommunications networks and the medical and military sectors, it is certain that they will continue to evolve and integrate into new areas of our daily lives.