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Chapter 1: Introduction to fiber optics


Introduction to fibre optics


Fibre optic communications make use of guided light signals to transfer information from a sender to a receiver at high speeds.  In our demanding world for fast data transfer, we heavily rely on fibre optic communications to transmit dense information, rapidly and over long distances.


The exceptional abilities of light make it a superior choice over other transmission technologies. The uniqueness of using a light-based communication carrier over the conventional method of copper wires or radio systems can be easily noted when we look at the properties of light.


An optical signal can travel long distances without the need for regeneration. In addition, fibre optic cables are much lighter and smaller than copper cables, provide a higher bandwidth capacity than copper or coaxial cables, and are immune to electromagnetic interference.


In summary, here are the advantages of fibre optic cables over copper cables:

  • Fibre optic cables occupy 100X less mass per length in comparison to copper cables.
  • Optical ports require 5X less power than copper ports.
  • Optical signals can travel 100X farther than digital signals without losing signal integrity.
  • Unlike copper wires, optical setups do not require electromagnetic shielding as they are immune to it.
Figure 1: The basic components of an optic transmission system


The basic components of an optic transmission system are shown in Figure 1, above.


  • The optical transmitter converts the electrical signal into an optical signal.
  • Light travels down the fibre, carrying information between the transmitter and receiver.
  • The optical receiver converts the optical signal back into an electrical signal.

June 13, 2018