In your quest to purchase and install the optimal communications network for your enterprise, you will have to answer one major question: fiber optic or copper cables? Copper held the monopoly on communications cabling for decades, but, since the advent of fiber optic, IT professionals have started to leave copper behind. Here are six reasons to choose fiber optic over copper in your data center.
Faster Signal Transmission
Copper cables work by transmitting electrical pulses through a copper wire. How much of the signal comes through depends on the strength of the original pulse. At its destination, components monitor the wire’s electromagnetic field for changes. For high-speed data transmissions, copper wires demand greater power. This is why many copper cabling systems experience slow connection and download speeds.
Fiber optic cables use glass fiber strands to carry light impulses transmitted by laser or LED light. Even if the wire is several miles long, with twists and turns, the light signal will make it to its destination without interruption.
It uses total internal reflection to allow the rays to bend and refract with negligible loss. The transfer of data via light instead of electrical pulses provides transmissions at higher speeds and from greater distances with minimal signal loss. With copper, signals can travel 100 meters at 1,000 megabits per second. With fiber optic cables, signals can travel 40,000 meters at 1,000 Mbps.
Attenuation describes the signal loss that often comes with the transfer of data through copper wires. Due to power loss, copper cables can only transmit data up to 9,328 feet. At this point, the distance is too far for the signal to travel successfully through the wires. Fiber cables, on the other hand, can transmit signals from 984.2 feet to 24.8 miles (130,944 feet). Less attenuation means a stronger signal regardless of the distance.
Zero Electromagnetic Interference
Electromagnetic interference (EI) can present a serious problem to copper wires. If improperly installed, copper cables can produce electromagnetic currents. These currents can interfere with other copper wires and completely dismantle a network. EI will make a user have to reinstall the wires to repair the system and prevent the same problem from occurring again in the future. Since fiber optic cables do not conduct electricity, EI is not a problem. Users can enjoy a consistent strong connection without the risk of EI.
No Risk of Fires
Over the long term, the jackets on copper wiring can wear down and present fire hazards. Faulty copper wiring has been responsible for thousands of home and business fires over the years. Since fiber optic cables deal with light, they eliminate this risk. No electric current travels through the core. Instead, fiber optic wires are made with thinly spun glass (about the width of a strand of hair) wrapped in two layers of plastic. Even if the plastic were to wear down over time, the glass and light inside would not pose a fire hazard.
Long-Term Reliability and Returns
Fiber optic cables last longer than copper ones, with less risk of breaking. Businesses don’t have to worry about replacing fiber optic cables as frequently as copper wires. Copper cables are more prone to fractures and damage than glass and plastic. In addition, better bandwidth performance can support the growing need for transmitting larger quantities of data. Fiber optic cables can carry companies into the future, lending long-term returns on investment without fear of having to replace cables with newer models anytime soon.