It may sound a little unusual, but it’s true. The internet we use today transmits data in the form of light. Electrical signals are converted into light and then sent through an optical fiber to other places. There this optical signal is again converted into an electrical signal which can be understood by our devices.
What is Optical Fiber?
Optical fiber is a kind of cable, which is made up of very thin strands of plastic and glass. Optical fiber is used to send data signals in the form of light. Light keeps traveling in the cable until it reaches its destination. Also, light signals are much faster than electrical signals.
But how does the signal not get weak?
As we try to throw light over a long distance, we have all experienced that light scatters and becomes dim. It can only go to a certain extent.
Then how do these optical fiber cables carry light without a signal loss for thousands of miles across oceans?
Optical fiber cables are made up of very fine hair-like strands and have certain properties which make it possible. Optical fibers use a phenomenon called TIR (total internal reflection), the cables are made such that no light is lost and light keeps traveling inside the cable in a zigzag pattern.
Still, the signal can become weak due to air resistance or other similar imperfections. But to solve this problem and to keep the signal strong two things are used. These are Repeaters and Amplifiers.
- Repeaters- Repeaters are situated in places where the signal is readable but weak. These repeaters turn the optical signal into an electronic signal and then turn the electronic signal back into an optical signal to keep it moving. However, repeaters are complex and also increase latency so nowadays amplifiers are used instead.
- Amplifiers- Instead of regenerating the signal, amplifiers make the signal stronger. Amplifiers use some chemicals to make that happen.
These fiber optic cables also have various benefits over other cables.
Pros of fiber optic cables
Fiber Supports Very High Bandwidth Levels
When it comes to bandwidth, no currently available technology is better than fiber – especially single-mode fiber. Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth to carry more data than copper cables of the same diameter.
Fiber is Inherently Secure
Fiber cables don’t emit signals; connecting taps to a fiber cable to intercept data transmission is incredibly difficult.
Fiber is Intrinsically Safe
Because electricity isn’t involved with transferring data (data is transferred via light instead), the benefits of fiber include the fact that it’s safe to handle.
Fiber Withstands Water and Temperature Fluctuations
Fiber optic cable isn’t impacted by temperature changes, bad weather, or moisture. For example, if it comes into contact with rainwater, communication goes on as usual. If lightning strikes a fiber cable, the surge of electricity will not be propagated because the fiber cable doesn’t contain any metallic components.