standard Fiber Optics Is the New Copper


One of the early uses of fiber optics was to make the hundreds of little windows light up in a model of the starship Enterprise D. Speaking from experience, it was a pain to wire, but a spectacular display when completed. As consumers, we didn’t know much about fiber optics back then. Sadly, little has changed. That’s too bad, because fiber optics is an important part of our lives whether or not we realize it. It is becoming as indispensable as copper.

Here are just a few of the ways fiber is lighting up our world:

Next Generation i/o for the Home

What could you do with 30 GB per second? The answer is, just about anything you can imagine. High-def, holographic television and gaming being live streamed over the Internet would be no problem at all. You’ve got to get a lot crazier than that to saturate the potential of fiber to the Home (FTTH). Right now, we are only scratching the surface of what we can do.

Some cable providers are already offering supercharged, fiber-infused services like Internet, television, and telephone. FTTH is not yet ubiquitous. You can check your availability at The good news is that it costs less to bring fiber to the home than it did to bring copper. A twisted copper pair could handle 6 telephone calls. A single fiber pair can handle 2.5 million at once. Broadband has never been so broadly available.

Fiber Optics Are at the Heart of New Medical Advances

Electron Component News (ECN) published a piece entitled, “Fiber optic sensors enable new MRI applications”. According to the piece:

Fiber optic sensors have become a critical technology enabler behind the latest functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) suite upgrades and new MRI equipment designs.

The article goes on to explain, in great detail, how this feat is achieved. The article continues:

The intrinsic passiveness and electromagnetic immunity of optical sensors plus the all-dielectric nature of optical fiber is ideal for both sensor design and optical signal transmission in and out of Zone 4 (MRI Scanner location) of the MRI suite.

It is not important that you understand all the specifics. It is enough to know that the next time the doctor is able to treat you via the use of advanced imagery, you have advanced fiber optics implementations to thank for it.

Fiber Optics Can Help to Avert Disaster

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and other deadly hissy fits thrown by nature are so damaging, in part, because they are difficult to detect before it is too late. Fiber optics will be a part of the solution that saves millions of lives over the next few decades. observed:

Initial efforts are exploring the use of seafloor seismometers, pressure gauges and temperature sensors for hazard warning and mitigation. As funding develops, sensors could be installed on future cables about 47 miles (75 km) apart.

The sensors being discussed, are to be incorporated in a fiber optic cable network across the floor of the Pacific. They say the cable is capable of transmitting data at 40 gigabytes a second. That would power a disaster warning system far outstripping anything we have today.

There is nothing wrong with copper. It is just that we have been using it in it’s current implementation for over a century. It has done an amazing job, but simply cannot scale to meet the needs of the next generation. Fiber is more than capable of meeting those needs for the next generation, and generations to come.


About the Author

Ali is a dental school graduate currently living in Amman, Jordan; born and raised in the US, a tech lover with a serious addiction to all things sweet. He is the co-founder of GeekOnGadgets, and a senior editor at our Sister site

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