Fiber optic cable is becoming increasingly popular for data transmission in industrial environments.
Fiber optic cable has the following advantages over copper wire:
1. Immunity to EMI
Copper wire is very susceptible to electromagnetic interference caused by electrical devices that draw large amounts of current, such as motors, transformers, and variable frequency drives. Fiber optic cable is totally immune to electromagnetic interference.
2. High data transmission rate
The data transmission rate for fiber optic cable is much higher than for copper. Twisted-pair copper cable is generally limited to a data transmission rate of about 1 MBPS (million bits per second). Coaxial cable can carry about 10 MBPS. Some special coaxial cables can handle 400 MBPS. Fiber-optic cable can typically handle 8000 MBPS, and laboratory tests have shown that rates as high as 200,000 MBPS are possible.
3. Wide bandwidth
Due to the high frequency of light, fiber optic cable has a very wide bandwidth as compared with copper wire. The bandwidth of the fiber-optic cable is about a million times that of copper wire.
4. Compactness and lightness
Fiber optic cables are much smaller and lighter in weight than copper cables. A single fiber is approximately 0.001 in. (1 micrometer [formerly “micron”]) in diameter and can carry five times more information than a telephone cable containing 900 pairs of 22 AWG twisted conductors.
5. Long transmission distance
Fiber optic cables can reach 10’s kilometers in transmission distance compared to the maximum 100-meter distance which is the limit of copper cables.
6. High flexibility
Fiber is flexible, can bend easily, and resists most corrosive elements that often attack copper cables. It is also not susceptible to inclement weather conditions, which can interfere with or stop data transmission through copper cabling.
7. Better reliability
Fiber is immune to temperature changes, severe weather, and moisture, all of which can hamper the connectivity of copper cables. Fiber does not carry electric current, so it does not present a fire hazard like old or worn copper cables can. Besides, it does not emit sparks or cause short circuits, which is important in explosive gas or flammable environments.
8. Design and installation easiness
Fiber is lightweight, thin, and more durable than copper cable. Plus, fiber optic cable has pulling specifications that are up to 10 times greater than copper cables. Its small size makes it easier to handle, and it takes up much less space in cabling ducts. Although fiber is still more difficult to terminate than copper, advancements in connectors are making termination easier. In addition, fiber is actually easier to test than copper cable.
Fiber optic cable keeps data secure. It doesn’t radiate signals and is extremely difficult to tap. If the cable is tapped, it’s very easy to monitor because the cable leaks light, causing the entire system to fail. If an attempt is made to break the physical security of your fiber system, you’ll know it. Fiber networks also enable you to put all your electronics and hardware in one central location, instead of having wiring closets with equipment throughout the building.
10. The low total cost of ownership
The cost of fiber cable, components, and hardware is steadily decreasing. Installation costs for fiber are higher than copper because of the skill needed for terminations, making the fiber more expensive than copper in the short run, but it may actually be less expensive in the long run. Fiber typically costs less to maintain, has much less downtime, and requires less networking hardware. And fiber eliminates the need to rewire for higher network performance.
11. Easy to upgrade
With a fiber optic system, upgrading can be a breeze. The key is to swap the hardware equipment. It is compatible with digital technology.
12. Grounding is not required
Fiber optic cable allows transmission between two points without regard to the electrical potential between them. Fiber optic cable does not have any metal conductors; consequently, it does not pose the shock hazards inherent in copper cables.