Data Cabling

Introduction to Fiber Optics

Fiber optics is the technology of the future: reliable and high-performance data cabling. It offers physically and technically virtually unlimited capacity for speeds that will meet the growing demand for bandwidth for many decades to come. Copper lines will soon reach their performance limits. This is why businesses now rely on fiber optics as a future-proof technology.

The advantages of optical fibre

With fiber optics, high-speed Internet, HD television, telephony, video on demand or computer games can be accessed simultaneously – all over a single line.

This is made possible by the constant high performance of fiber optics. The line does not have to be shared by several households.

This is the case with current copper-based technology, which severely limits the bandwidth available to individuals.

Fibre optic allows much higher bandwidths than copper lines. Signals can be transmitted much faster in fiber optic cables than in copper cables with up to 40 gigabits per second.

There is also no loss of performance with increasing line length, because glass fiber can continuously guarantee a high bandwidth over very long distances. In contrast, the range of copper lines diminishes rapidly after only a few hundred meters from the cable junction and is then quickly exhausted completely.

Fibre optics allows the same bandwidth both upstream and downstream, which is particularly important for commercial enterprises.

Data transmission in fibre optic cables is insensitive to electromagnetic interference and offers a higher degree of security against tapping than other line networks.

With increasing line length, there is no attenuation in signal quality, which in copper cable, on the other hand, ensures that the data transmission rate decreases with every line meter. This is not the case with fiber optics, because optical networks are ideal means of transporting data.

The advantages at a glance

  • An exclusive connection used only by the respective participant
  • Faster Internet connections than any other transmission technology
  • Highest availability and guaranteed bandwidths up to the gigabit range
  • Insensitive to electromagnetic interference
  • High security against tapping
  • No loss of speed over longer distances

Fibre optics to the Building

The English technical term for this is “Fiber to the Building”, the common abbreviation FttB. With this type of connection, the fibre optic cable is usually routed into the building via the basement.

Within the building, further transmission then takes place either via glass fibre (Fibre to the Home/FttH) or by converting the optical signal to the existing antenna cables or telephone lines. In most cases, a WLAN or powerline network is set up directly at the router.

What is fibre optic?

An optical fibre is a long thin fibre made of high-purity quartz glass.

To manufacture it, thin threads are drawn from a glass melt and processed into a variety of end products. For example, glass fibres are used as optical fibres in glass fibre networks for optical data transmission. Here, the data is encoded as light signals and transmitted through optical lines.

The following comparison shows how powerful glass fibre is:

An optical fibre cable consists of several dozen individual optical fibres. A telephone cable, on the other hand, contains about 1,000 line pairs, each of which can supply a household with telephone and DSL.

In terms of capacity, a single fine fibre optic cable can replace around 40 of the cables in the telephone cable and thus supply many times more households.

How is a fiber optic cable constructed?

A fiber optic cable bundles several dozen optical fibers (3), each of which is nine to 62.5 micrometers thick. The cross-section shows that up to twelve glass fibres can be bundled in one loose tube (2). Up to 24 loose tubes can be present in one fiber optic cable – in this example there are five filled with optical fibers.

If the required number of fibres in the cable is less than the number of possible cores, dummy elements (5) are used. The loose tubes are stranded around a glass fibre reinforced (GRP) central element (4).

The source elements/fillings (1) inserted in the cable core contribute to longitudinal water tightness. Strain relief elements in the PE outer sheath (7) increase the tensile strength.

History of glass fibre development

Since 1870, scientists have been trying to transmit light signals through different media. With the development of the first laser by Theodore Maimann in 1960, light could be transported in a concentrated form through a medium.

The first optoelectronic fiber optic system was invented by Manfred Börner in 1965 and applied for a patent for AEG-Telefunken.

After the glass fibre optics had been further developed, impurities could be removed, which led to transmission losses.

In 1970, the American company Corning Inc. developed and produced the first fibre optic cable that transmitted signals over long distances without major losses.

In 1985, British Telecom transmitted signals without intermediate amplification over a distance of 250 kilometres for the first time.

In 2009, a world record was set over a distance of 580 kilometers: 32 terabits per second were transmitted on a single optical fiber.