In 2013, the United Kingdom saw its annual number of installed optical fibres grow to 172%. You are most likely to find optical fibres in high speed internet cables, but what are they? Why are they so special and what else are they used for? Here are 5 amazing things about fibre optics:

1. Optical fibres carry Light

Shockingly, you can not get a shock from optical fibres. They contain absolutely no electrical current, only light. This makes them safer as they produce no heat and aren’t prone to being a fire hazard, unlike metal wiring.

Inside fibre optic cable

2. Optical fibres are faster

Evidently because optical fibres light, the data transfer is faster than the traditional cabling due to its capacity. At present, typically optical fibres can transmit 10-80 Gigabits per second over a single channel. With Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM), multiple channels can be transmitted over a single optical fibre cable. The current record is 15.5 Terabits per second over a distance of 7,000 kilometres. That’s the equivalent of 10.3 million 1.5Mbps DSL connections.

Fast fibre optics

3. Optical fibres carry binary data

Digital data is binary. This suits optical fibres as binary digits can be transmitted through an optical fibre as on and off signals by switching on and off a light source.

Binary light

4. Optical fibres are used everywhere

Optical fibres are not only used in data transmission. Their range of use extends to photography, medical imaging and even artificial Christmas trees!

Fibre optic tree

5. Optical fibres are Green

Typically the amount of energy needed to transmit a message across a given distance is more cost efficient using an optical fibre as opposed to transmitting electrical signals down a copper cable.


Posted by Blessy Rwabukera Niyongabo