5 Reasons Fiber Optics Should be Your Best Friend

Published: 09/14/2016

Have you ever considered how fiber optic technology might benefit your application? Here are five reasons why fiber optic interconnects should be your go-to high speed data solution:

1. Fiber optic interconnects are fast. Really fast. A university in Scandinavia recently demonstrated communication speeds of 43 terabits per second across a single fiber strand using a single transmitter/receiver pair. This type of speed would allow an entire 1 TB hard drive to be downloaded in under a fifth of one second. With this bandwidth you could download all 726 Star Trek franchise television episodes and 11 Star Trek movies (in HD) in under a second. You could download the entirety of the English Wikipedia database (5,237,627 articles at the time this article was written) with complete edit history in uncompressed XML format in about two seconds. Even outside academia fiber optics are moving a lot of data every day; the fastest commercially available single fiber interconnect system operates at 100 Gbps (gigabits-per-second) Ethernet, and the IEEE (the organization that defines Ethernet specifications) is working on standards that will define 400 Gbps and 1 Tbps (terabits-per-second) across fiber.

2. Fiber optic interconnects are smaller and lighter. A fiber optic glass strand is typically about 125 microns in diameter – a mile long piece of this glass would weight just-under two ounces! In a standard installation scenario this fiber strand will be protected by light weight, non-metallic protective cable elements such as aramid (the same material as bullet-proof vests) and high performance protective jacketing. Even with all of this protection, a typical fiber optic cable will only weigh-in at about 15 pounds per mile of cable.

3. Fiber optic interconnects are efficient. Whether it’s the fuel an aircraft burns to haul around the miles of cable that make up its various interconnect systems or the power a transceiver consumes to drive a signal across a cable, fiber optics are more efficient than other forms of interconnect. Even the energy required to construct fiber optic elements is less compared to copper, aluminum or other cable types. Any way you look at it fiber optics are green.

4. Fiber optic interconnects are robust. Although there are some aspects of fiber optic interconnects that are specialized and require certain care to properly use and maintain, overall fiber optic interconnects are much more robust than standard electrical interconnects. This ruggedness is why fiber optic cables are broadly utilized in the harshest military, industrial, medical and aerospace applications. Fiber optic cable is very resistant to the types of damage that effect interconnect systems; it offers very high bending/flexing tolerance, very high impact and crush resistance and extremely high tensile strength. Modern fiber optic cable and connectors are designed to withstand the most demanding environments and installation scenarios, whether it’s a satellite operating in the cold vacuum of space, a remote military communications outpost operating in the desert or a surgeon operating on a heart.

5. Fiber optic interconnects are cost effective. In terms of Gbps/cost nothing can compare with fiber optics, especially when the cost of overall communication system is taken into account. The future-proofing a passive fiber optic installation offers is practically priceless; Fiber optical cabling does not degrade over time the same way that other wiring types do and the ability to upgrade the equipment operating at either end of a interconnect without having to replace the interconnect itself represents enormous cost savings potential.

Carlisle Interconnect Technologies offers a comprehensive range of rugged and high performance fiber optic cable products. Carlisle’s fiber optic cable is designed to provide maximum performance in the aerospace, military, medical and industrial applications.