Key Attributes of Optical Fiber
Finally, as a prelude to the remainder of the book, we conclude this chapter by reviewing the major attributes of optical fiber.
The advantages of fiber optics (compared to copper cable) include superior transmission quality and efficiency. Since the optical signal has none of the characteristics association with electrical signals, optical fiber does not suffer from common electromagnetic effects such as experiencing interference from other electrical components, such as power lines, electrical machines, and other optical links.
Because it does not emanate energy outside the fiber, the optical signal is more secure than copper and wireless media, which are easy to monitor and glean information from the residual energy emanating from these media.
Glass fiber is very small and of light weight, a significant attribute for network operators who must install communications links in buildings, ducts, and other areas that have very limited space for the communications links.
We learned earlier that fiber has a very wide bandwidth which allows for the transport of very large payloads, some in the terabits-per-second range.
Since the fiber is comprised of glass with a very small diameter, it is fragile and is somewhat difficult to connect and splice. Also, because glass is not a conductor of electrical current, it cannot carry power to the regenerators (which are used to strengthen signals on long spans). This situation is changing, as passive optical networks are deployed (a subject for Chapter 8).