How Fiber-Optic Technology Improves Communication

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

If you are an internet user, chances are, you’ve benefitted from the incredible advances that have been made with fiber-optic technology. This amazing innovation allows for lightning-fast speeds, making it possible for users to enjoy a seamless streaming and lag-free online gaming experience. Unlike other types of internet connections, fiber does not utilize electric current; instead it uses light signals delivered by a glass fiber core.

This is how it works: “With copper wires, you’re looking at changes in electromagnetic fields, intensity and perhaps phase of that wave being sent down the wire,” says Malaney. “With optical fiber, you’re sending pulses of light, which is what we use to send information. The receiver converts those pulses back into electronic data.”

Optical fibers are much thinner than copper cables, and their core has a very high index of refraction compared to metals. This allows light to travel far more easily within the fiber than in other types of cable. However, this high index also has drawbacks, such as dispersion. This occurs because rays traveling along the same path in the fiber have different lengths, so they reach the end of the cable at different times.

Fortunately, engineers have found ways to improve signal degradation in optical fiber systems. They have developed technologies that manage the effects of dispersion, including wave-spreading; dispersion management; and solitons, which use nonlinear effects in the fiber to enable dispersion-free transmission over long distances. Additionally, improvements in manufacturing have reduced the absorption losses caused by impurities (primarily water) to an acceptable level.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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