Fiber Optic Cable: The Future of High Speed Communications

fiber cabling

Fiber optic cable is a special type of communications cable that uses pulses of light to transmit information, rather than the electrical signals transmitted over traditional copper cable. The characteristics of optical fiber enable it to transmit data at speeds much greater than other cable types. As a result, telephone, internet and television providers nationwide are in a rush to convert parts or all of their networks to One of the best examples is Verizon's FIOS network, which involves running fiber optic cable directly to customers' homes and businesses to provide internet, phone and television services. Currently the majority of FIOS customers are businesses, since the service is cost prohibitive for most residential customers. As with all technological developments, however, price will come down over time, and it is a safe bet that eventually the phrase "high speed internet" will be synonymous with fiber optics.

There are two reasons fiber optic networks are substantially more expensive to install than copper cable based networks. The cable itself is more expensive, and the installation of fiber optic cable is significantly more involved than copper networks, requiring specially trained technicians and specialized equipment. Despite the higher cost, the insatiable demand for internet bandwidth continues to drive growth in the realm of optical fiber. Rumors of Google's plans to create a nationwide fiber optic internet service, which have circulated for years, have recently been confirmed. Google is using Kansas City, Missouri as a guinea pig for this project, running their own fiber optic cable along the utility poles all over the city. Google reports that their internet service will be both cheaper and much faster than internet service from traditional utility companies. More information about Google's fiber optic projects can be found at the Google Fiber Blog:

In addition to Google, hundreds of local utility companies in cities all over the world are busy adding optical fiber to their networks. A common trend is to first install a fiber 'backbone', or main distribution line, then add more and more fiber as demand allows. Thus fiber optic cable is steadily being pushed closer and closer to the end user, and in some cases, like the FIOS network mentioned above, fiber optic cable is run directly to the customer's location.

Yet another example of the growth in fiber optic cabling is the recent news of a trans arctic fiber cable to connect London to Tokyo. Demand for high speed communications between these two financial centers is driving the project, which will involve running 15,500 kilometers of fiber optic cable submerged in the Arctic Ocean. The cables, which will be submerged 3 miles under the surface, will reportedly be capable of speeds up to 10 Terabits per second.