Fiber Optic Technology in Everyday Life

By: CableOrganizer®

fiber optic cords

As technology in every walk of life moves at a quicker pace, the need for speed has been equally important. Fiber optic technology has been the technology of choice to move things faster with a clearer connection, whether it’s internet, phone, or television service. It is also prominent in data centers, medical applications, military and aerospace, industrial and manufacturing processes, lighting, and more.

News outlets report fiber optic technology is the best on the market for broadband (high-speed) internet. Signals pulse light over glass or plastic fibers, for a connection that voyages at literal light speed. Corning first developed it in 1970, and it far outpaces cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies, which travel over traditional lines. DSL uses the copper cable in standard landline phones, while cable internet uses the same coaxial cable that delivers cable TV service.

COVID-19 lockdowns especially helped to raise awareness about the necessity for strong internet connections, as people transitioned to remote school and work. Virtual healthcare is another facet of digital life that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic to drive the need for better internet, especially in unserved and underserved communities. The Fiber Broadband Association reported in 2022 that even with the online life that developed during COVID-19, 43% of households within the United States still only had fiber internet access, a year before the public health emergency officially ended in May 2023. This compares to Europe during the same time period with 57% of households with access to fiber internet. Asia is even higher, with 84% fiber optic access as of 2022. The vastness of the United States with the many rural and suburban pockets, versus the more densely populated cities in Europe and Asia, are among the potential reasons for the lag in the U.S.

The aftereffects of the pandemic have also halted some progress with bringing quicker fiber optic telecommunications services to particular communities in the United States, with some projects postponed because of supply chain interruptions, transportation delays of raw and finished materials, and the labor shortages. The demand for fiber optic internet has also led to a temporary shortage in supplies, as the need for this internet technology continues to increase.

For those who may be in the 57% of the nation without fiber internet, especially residents of rural communities, they’re often turning to wireless technology for quality connections. That industry has seen an uptick in the need for fiber optics too, with a greater demand for 5G antennas and other equipment running on fiber optic cabling, for the bandwidth needed to provide service.

Tech giants are investing in fiber optics for their data centers to keep their systems running efficiently. These Big Tech companies are also growing their own undersea fiber optic networks, with cables running on the sea floor, something formerly reserved just for government entities and telecommunications providers.

The expansion of fiber optic systems has been costly and time-consuming because of the need to set up underground and undersea infrastructure. The installation requires intensive labor, and road closures to often bring fiber optic technology to communities. News reports discuss the lofty goals for broadband fiber installation by 2025, which will require about 1.5 million installers. There has been a deficit in the workforce of about 850,000 workers skilled in fiber optic installations, with only about 650,000 technicians in the field as of 2022.

How is fiber optic technology used in applications outside of the telecommunications industry?

  • In data centers, fiber optics link servers, network equipment, and are part of storage systems within data center infrastructure.

  • In medical applications, it is used in procedures like endoscopy and for minimally invasive surgeries.

  • In manufacturing and industry, fiber optic sensors are used to detect temperature, vibration, and strain. This type of technology enhances safety, optimizes processes, and overall improves efficiency in this setting.

  • In military and aerospace applications, it is used to make communications networks more secure, with an immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI).

  • In lighting, it is especially used in decorative capacities, in public spaces, buildings, museums, theaters, and more.

Shop at CableOrganizer® for fiber optic cables, patch cords, connectors, enclosures, patch panels, and other fiber optic supplies.

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