Fiber Optics vs. Coax.
For Your Information
Three greatest advantages:
|, Signals travel a long distance inside fiber cable without degradation — 20 miles or more under
some circumstances. In contrast, as the distance traveled by a signal in copper wire or coax in-
creases, the bandwidth decreases. Short lengths of coax, for stance — the lengths typically
found in a small building — can carry 1 Gbps. That's a thousand times more bandwidth than
typical broadband service using DSL over copper wire, and 200 times more than typical
broadband over cable TV coax. But those speeds are impossible over longer distances. The
closer fiber gets to a building, the faster the service that is available to the building's residents
and businesses. Service providers have been bringing fiber closer and closer for years, and now
they are bringing it inside end users’ buildings.
2. Fiber cable is thin. It can, in fact, be made thinner than a human hair. It can be carried on a thin
ribbon, or inside a "microduct” of hollow plastic only an eighth of an inch wide. One typical
fiber cable configuration with about 200 super-thin strands is about the thickness of a standard
coax cable. That fiber cable could theoretically carry enough bandwidth to handle all the in-
formation being sent on Earth at any one time today. The bottom line: Fiber can be "hidden
easily on the surfaces of walls in old construction.
3. Once installed, fiber 1s upgraded by changing the electronics that creates the light pulses, and
not by replacing the cable itself. The fiber is amazingly reliable. Nothing hurts it except a
physical cut, or the destruction of the building it is in. Passive optical networks, or PONs, are the
most common type of network. They use a minimum of electronics. In fact, there are no elec-
tronics at all between the provider's central office and users. This vastly improves network reli-
ability. Now, as we noted above, bandwidth providers are increasingly bringing fiber optics all
the way to customer premises. That technology, FTTH or fiber to the home (also called FTTP,
for fiber to the premises or FTTx for fiber to everyplace) 1s the “gold standard.” But in cases
where the population density 1s too low, or where high-quality coaxial cable or copper networks
exist, It may make sense under some circumstances to bring fiber only partway to the customer.
The fiber is then connected to the existing copper for the last jump to users’ premises.
*Source - FTTH Council: Fiber to the Home — Advantages of Optical Access 2008
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