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The differences between fiber and copper
Latest company news about The differences between fiber and copper


The Differences Between Fiber and Copper

Fiber optic and copper cables are built with very different materials, and as such are used in different circumstances for different tasks.

Fiber optic cables are built with a silica glass fiber core, about the width of a human hair. It transmits data via light, by allowing it to bounce back and forth down the length of the glass core, while a glass cladding surrounds the core and ensures the light is retained within it. This is then wrapped with additional insulating material, including a layer of plastic to strengthen the core, followed by a layer of gel-filled sleeving or kevlar (depending on the manufacturer) and then a layer of colored plastic to identify the fiber optic cable type.


The outer layers also deliver a measure of fire resistance, as well as dictate whether the cable is rated for running behind walls, or not.

Copper cables have a core of copper wiring, though come in a few different types. There are solid copper core cables, like coaxial cables, which are then covered by multiple insulating and protective layers, and twisted pair copper cables, which have between one to four pairs of insulated copper wiring that are twisted together in pairs and then enclosed within various protective and insulating layers.


The specific configuration of the copper cables is dependent on their intended use, but the ultimate design is the same: a copper core, surrounded by insulating and protective coatings. Some will also include additional strengthening measures like splines.

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You’ll find copper and fiber optic cable options for all sorts of cable types, but in all cases fiber optic cables are the more premium solution. They offer greater performance, with much higher data rate ceiling than copper – several hundred times higher in some cases; they support greater cable lengths; they’re more reliable, being less susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI); they’re more durable, with a much greater pressure resistance than copper cables, and they’re harder to snoop on too, with any compromise of the cabling easily detectable.

If you’re trying to pick between fiber vs. copper cables, then you’ll want to factor cost too, (fiber optic cables are typically more expensive) but from almost any other perspective, fiber cables are the clear winner.


Advantages of Copper Cable
In the fiber vs copper cables head to head, there aren’t many metrics that copper comes out on top. It’s not going to win a face off on performance, distance, resistance to EMI, or physical durability, but there are some areas where copper still holds a significant advantage.

The first is cost. While the price per foot of fiber optic cabling has come down significantly over the years, copper wiring is still the cheaper solution. Part of that is the reduced cost of the cabling itself, but a greater part plays in to copper cabling’s other great strength: existing infrastructure.


Fiber optic cable is seeing increased usage in all manner of digital infrastructure, but the majority of what already exists, especially when involving legacy networks and systems, is still copper cabling. With additional costs involved in replacing even outdated or failed copper cables with fiber optic, and even greater costs and complexity when trying to run copper and fiber optic cables as part of the same network, running pure copper cabling can often be the cheaper solution.


Long term, the fiber vs copper cable debate will be easily won by fiber, but there is always likely to be a place for affordable copper cables.

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cables are a superior cable solution to copper in almost every way. For starters, the performance, or maximum data rate they can support is so much greater than anything copper cables can achieve. Where copper cables are limited to around 10 Gigabits per second in the absolute best case scenario, fiber optic cables can manage as much as 60 terabits per second, theoretically. While in reality that figure is more realistic and viable for existing network equipment, it’s still possible to get hold of fiber optic network patch cables that can handle 100 Gibabit network speeds.


When it comes to fiber vs copper cable lengths, too, fiber optic holds a significant advantage. While individual copper cables have a maximum range of around 330 feet, some fiber optic cables can carry data up to 25 miles. That is only the most capable of single mode fiber optic cables but even more affordable and typical multimode fiber optic cables can manage 1000 feet per cable.


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As much as the fiber vs. copper cable debate may seem settled at this point, that’s not to say that copper cables can’t still be useful. If you’re building a home network, or any network where the necessary speeds aren’t greater than 10 Gigabit per second, then copper patch cables are perfectly viable. You can even mitigate the problems with copper cable shielding by opting for a modern design, like a Cat 6a cable, which features capable shielding and can also have additional durability through a reinforcing spline.


Fiber optic cables are the superior solution for longer network cables, however, especially if they need to be run through walls, or buried under the ground, and when building network infrastructure where the ability to transfer masses of data to a number of individual systems at a time is important.

If you’re building an A/V setup that needs a long video transmission cable, too, you’ll want to use an active HDMI cable. Those are fiber optic and deliver the kind of performance necessary for high-bandwidth data delivery over distances that passive copper HDMI cables just can’t manage.





Pub Time : 2024-06-18 15:53:22 >> News list
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