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Fiber Optics vs. Copper: Fiber Adoption Rates Rise as Costs Subside

For many years, economics has been a deciding factor when it came to choosing between copper and fiber optic cable for networks both large and small. We currently see this manifested in areas such as telecom, where both fiber and copper networks have been installed based on various economic factors of the day.

While both types of cable have proven themselves as more than adequate, we’re now moving away from the ‘why?’ of fiber optics toward the ‘when?’ stage – meaning that it’s only a matter of time before fiber is the default choice when it comes to new and upgraded network installations. The main force behind this shift is the adoption rate of fiber optic technology. As fiber becomes more ubiquitous, prices are falling steadily – making it a viable and preferred product from both an economic and tech standpoint.

Aside from increased affordability, there are three main reasons to choose fiber optics. Each represents a great opportunity for businesses.

Greater distance without degradation – With no threat of latency over great distances, fiber is the choice for speed and dependability in networks that stretch across the street – or across the country. Signal degradation is significantly less on a fiber network – around 5dB/km – meaning less power is required during transmission. Because of this, power required to input signals within the network is also lowered, resulting in lower overall transmission costs.

Higher capacity – Fiber is much faster when it comes to data transfer rates throughout a network, making it the transmission medium of choice for data centers, large networks and networks that require increased security and immunity to electrical interference. This is especially important as the adoption of cloud applications increases and fast response times from the cloud translate into greater efficiency and increased ROI.

 

COPPER FIBER
BANDWIDTH MAX. IS 1 GIGABIT 10 GIGABIT AND
CLIMBING
FUTURE NEEDS CAT 7
IS STILL BEING DEFINED
VERY EXPANDABLE AND IS
EVOLVING
DISTANCE 100
METERS @ 1000 Mbps
40 km+ @ 10,000
Mbps
NOISE Negative
response to EMI/RFI and Voltage surges
No
Effect
SECURITY Easily
tapped into
Almost impossible to
tap
PULL-STRENGTH 25
pounds
100-200 pounds

 

No interference – Unlike Copper, fiber can be installed alongside power lines and other objects that cause interference without any signal loss or data degradation. This allows fiber networks to be installed alongside new and existing electrical infrastructure on both large- and small-scales. This greatly reduces infrastructure expansion and management costs for companies.

Companies should also take into account that the reliability of copper is very dependent on the physical characteristics of the cable – twist a wire too much or remove too much insulation at a connection point and one runs the risk of performance loss. The same goes for line tension and kinks – either of which can cause loss of performance, unlike fiber which has its own specs, but is far more forgiving.

Who is a good candidate for fiber optic?

Just about any company with a network is a candidate for fiber optic technology, however they tend to fall into three main categories, including:

Companies in need of network upgrades (partial or full)
Existing/outdated networks can pose a potential risk liability for companies as legacy technologies approach the end of their useful life. Investment in reliable network technology that provides security and upward mobility into the future reduces the risk of costly downtime and provides companies with networks that are sure to meet the growing demands and capabilities of technology.

Companies in need of additional network and infrastructure (redundant or expanding)
Because fiber and copper work together in the same network, there is no reason why companies who are augmenting their current network and infrastructure investments can’t expand with fiber technology. For many companies, using fiber as the cable of choice for additional networks represents the first step in overall migration. CTOs, IT managers and others responsible for budget are using fiber network expansions as testing grounds to prove that fiber represents greater security and ROI over copper.

Companies that require initial network installation at a new or retrofitted facility
New network installations at an existing or retrofitted facility can benefit from choosing fiber optic technology over copper. Because fiber optic cable can be used alongside power and other interference-emitting sources, fiber represents far more versatility – which is a benefit when it comes to installing new networks in pre-existing and upgraded buildings.

As copper inches closer to its capability limits, fiber optic technology has become established as the option whose limits outpace that of copper. And, while the capabilities of copper haven’t been maxed out, its limits will, eventually, be reached while the limits of fiber optic technology continue to expand.

Companies on every scale are seeing the reliability of fiber optic technology and are using it to support the most critical aspects of their networks. Across provinces, or across the hall, mission-critical data is being carried on fiber optic technology because of its security, reliability and future potential.

If you’ve thought about fiber optic for your networks in the past, but stopped short because of price, it may be time to reconsider. Interlink can use fiber optic technology to create a network that will meet your needs long into the future.

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