Fiber Optics Run Down: Features, Benefits, Safety

By: CableOrganizer®

Your Network Needs More Fiber in its Diet.

Are you trying to decide between fiber optic and copper cabling for your computer networking installation? Some might consider that decision a moot point, like trying to decide between a horse and buggy versus an airplane to get you across the country. That may sound a bit harsh, but the truth is that fiber optics have completely revolutionized communications. Perhaps that isn't convincing enough for you. We get it. You like to read articles with facts and such. No worries! We like to write them for you! So, without further ado, we'd like to share a few more reasons why you should at least consider fiber optic cable.


fiber optic

We should probably first explain exactly what fiber optic cables are and how they differ from metal wiring.

Since the invention of the electromagnet and the telegraph in the 1820s, electrical wiring has utilized copper (remember what we said about the horse and buggy?). This made sense, since copper scores a WIN in all the right categories: high conductivity (the highest of all non-precious metals), high tensile strength (that helps it resist stretching, scratching and cuts) and high ductility (which means in addition to being tough, copper is also pliable and flexible).

All of those things are great for electrical applications, but when it comes to network and telecommunications situations, it turns out copper wire isn't necessarily the only game in town…and thus we come to the optical fiber. Instead of braided or bundled metal, optical fibers are glass or plastic strands, each only slightly thicker than a single human hair, used to transmit light. As early as 1880, Alexander Graham Bell (aka the guy that invented phones) was using fiber optics to transmit voice signals over an “optical beam.” Eventually, his technology was refined enough to be commercially adopted for the data transmission age.

Let’s explore why fiber might be a better choice in these applications than copper:


Metaphorically, much like fiber does for digestion, fiber optic cables move data along. Basically, when compared to copper, fiber optic is much more efficient and secure for network applications. Fiber optic cables can transmit far more information, with a greater degree of fidelity, over greater distances. And since it's harder to “tap” than copper, it has the added benefit of extra security for the data being transmitted.


Remember when we said copper was great for conducting electricity? Well, because fiber optic cables are glass-based, they are not conductors at all. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, if you're transmitting data instead of electricity. It eliminates the need for grounding. It also makes them immune to any type of electrical interference, even lightning. Since fiber optic cabling is so resistant to interference and atmospheric conditions, it can be used outdoors — and near electrical cables — without concern.

Glass fibers don't only avoid interference, they are virtually free from the threat of corrosion, too! While copper cabling is sensitive to water and chemicals, fiber optic cabling runs almost no risk of being damaged by harsher elements. As a result, fiber optic cable can easily endure “living conditions” that coaxial cable just can't, such as being put in direct contact with soil — or in close proximity to chemicals.


Fiber optics may surprise, astound, amaze and take you aback with their qualities, but one thing they won't do is shock you. A major benefit of fiber optic cable is it doesn't pose a threat of injury from fire, sparking or electrocution to the user if it breaks, since it utilizes light and not electricity.

HOWEVER, there are other risks to keep in mind when using optical fiber cables. The light, for example, they transmit isn't visible to the naked eye, but it can still damage the retina of anyone foolish enough to look directly into a live cable. Additionally, since most fiber is made of very thin glass, it can easily puncture skin if not handled with care. This is mainly an issue with “open fibers,” i.e., fibers not wrapped in a protective cable jacket. However, when the cable is stripped, trimmed and cut, fiber slivers can easily become scattered about and penetrate skin if not properly handled and disposed of.


To avoid being injured by fiber optics, be sure to take the proper precautions when dealing with them:

  • • Wear the proper protective eye wear. That includes safety glasses.
  • • Make sure the work area is properly ventilated and well-lit.
  • • Avoid smoking, eating and drinking in the work area.
  • • Wear a disposable apron to avoid fiber shards getting on clothes. Also check clothes for fibers.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before touching your face or eyes.
  • Use a securely closed container for discarded fiber scraps. Properly dispose of it when finished. Thoroughly clean the site when the job is done.

But it's not all doom and gloom; far from it! Come to the light (just don't look directly at it!) and let fiber optics take your telecommunications or datacom network to a whole new level. From the cables themselves to patch panels, from network testers to wallmount fiber enclosures, we have everything you need at CableOrganizer®.

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