What Are Fiber Optics? Learn the Why, How and What Behind This Incredible Technology

April 16, 2019

What do your cable TV, internet network and landline all have in common? They are all most likely supported by fiber optics. Fiber optics are strands of glass fibers that are designed to provide long-distance, high-performance data networking and telecommunications, but what exactly are they?

What are fiber optics?

Fiber optics are pretty amazing. In fact, they are so amazing that the man who designed them received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009 for his work. Optical fibers are incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic. In fact, one optical fiber is one-tenth the width of a human hair. A fiber optic cable is made up of anywhere from two optical fiber strands up to several hundred, all housed inside a single cable.

How do fiber optics work?

Fiber optics use photons, or light particles, to transmit digital signals. The light is directed between the optical fibers through the use of shallow angles, which cause the photons to bounce back and forth down the cable. The core of the cable is the part that transmits the photons, while a second layer of glass, called the cladding, keeps the light from escaping. The capacities of fiber optic cables is staggering. When used for telephones, for example, each optical fiber can carry 25,000 calls, so a cable made of hundreds of strands has the capacity to carry millions of calls.

How are fiber optics made?

Optical fibers are made through processes similar to those used to create other glass products. To create an optical fiber, a glass rod is heated to the melting point and then pulled into a thin fiber of about 125 micrometers. Each fiber is wound together with other fibers to create a thicker strand. The fibers are then encased within a protective polymer buffer or jacket.

What are fiber optics used for?

Most people are not aware of how universal fiber optics really are. In fact, any part of your life that includes a data network or telecommunications is most likely supported by fiber optics. As a company that offers fiber optic installation in MT, here are just a few of the ways we know our customers are using fiber optics every day:

  • Networks: Computers once used telephone lines to connect, but fiber optic cables carry far more data far more quickly compared to these older styles of electronic transmission.
  • Broadcasting: When there were fewer households with TV and only a handful of channels, electromagnetic waves were used to transmit signals. But to provide millions of homes with thousands of channels, TV providers switched to optic fibers to provide digital broadcasting.
  • Medicine: Fiber optics support medical devices that help doctors look inside human bodies without cutting them open.
  • Military: Fiber optic cables are inexpensive, high-capacity, lightweight and robust against attack, which makes them secure and perfect to support high-tech military operations.

Fiber optics support much if what we do in the modern world. If your business depends on fiber optics and you’re looking for fiber installation in MT, be sure to call on the experts at Tech Service Company!

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