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Optical fibre - Everything you need to know !

Fiber optic cables are made up of millions of tiny strands of glass.
Fiber optic cables are made up of millions of tiny strands of glass.

Optical fibre

Optical fiber is a means of data transmission that uses very thin strands of glass or plastic to transmit light that carries information.

Fiber optic cables are made up of millions of tiny, hair-like strands of glass and plastic bundled together. These tiny strands transmit the 0s and 1s that make up the transmitted data using light pulses.

It is used primarily for high-speed communications, such as broadband internet and telecommunications networks.
Fiber optics offers advantages such as high transmission speeds, high bandwidth, low signal attenuation, and immunity to electromagnetic interference.
There are several types of optical fibers.
There are several types of optical fibers.

The different optical fibers

Optical fibers can be classified into different categories based on a variety of criteria, including their structure, composition, and application. Here are some common categories of fiber optics :

Single-mode (single-mode) fibers :
Single-mode fibers, also known as single-mode fibers, allow a single mode of light to pass through the fiber core. They are mainly used in long-distance and high-speed applications, such as long-distance telecommunications networks and fiber optic links between cities.

Multimode (Multimode) Fibers :
Multimode fibers allow the passage of multiple modes of light through the fiber core. They are used in short-haul and high-speed applications, such as local area networks (LANs), inter-building links, fiber optic applications in data centers, and more.

Offset dispersion fibers (LSD) :
Offset dispersion fibers are designed to minimize chromatic dispersion, helping to maintain signal integrity over long distances at high bitrates. They are used in long-distance telecommunications systems and high-speed fiber optic networks.

Non-Offset Dispersion Fibers (NZDSF) :
Non-offset dispersion fibers are designed to minimize chromatic dispersion over a wide range of wavelengths. They offer lower dispersion than offset dispersion fibers, making them suitable for high-speed long-distance transmission applications, such as fiber optic telecommunications networks.

Plastic Fibers (POF) :
Plastic optical fibers are made of polymeric materials rather than glass. They are cheaper to produce than glass fibers, but they have a lower bandwidth and are typically used in short-distance applications such as local area networks (LANs), audio-visual connections, and industrial applications.

Metal-coated optical fibers (PCF) :
Metal-coated optical fibers are coated with a layer of metal that confines light to the fiber core. They are used in specific applications such as fiber optic sensors, fiber optic lasers, and high-power communication systems.

An optical fiber is made up of the following elements :

Core :
The core is the heart of the optical fiber through which light propagates. It is usually made of glass or plastic and has a higher refractive index than the cladding sheath that surrounds it. This allows light to propagate through the core by total internal reflection.

Cladding Sheath (Cladding) :
The cladding sheath surrounds the core of the optical fiber and is usually composed of a material with a lower refractive index than the core. It helps confine light inside the nucleus by reflecting light rays that try to escape from the nucleus.

Protective Coating :
The protective coating surrounds the cladding sheath to protect the optical fiber from mechanical damage, moisture, and other environmental elements. It is usually made of a plastic or acrylic material.

Connectors :
At the ends of the optical fiber, connectors can be attached to allow connection to other optical fibers or electronic equipment. Connectors facilitate the transfer of light and data between fibers or devices.

Fiber optic cable :
Multiple individual optical fibers can be bundled together and wrapped in an outer sheath to form a fiber optic cable. This cable protects individual fibers and makes them easy to install and manage in a variety of environments.

Additional items (optional) :
Depending on the specific needs of the application, additional elements such as fiberglass reinforcements, strain relief sleeving, metal shielding, moisture absorbers, etc., can be added to the optical fiber to improve its performance or durability.
Main fibre optic connections
Main fibre optic connections

Main fibre optic connections

Fiber to the Home (FTTH) :
With fibre to the home, fibre is deployed directly to the subscriber's home. This allows for very high connection speeds and high bandwidth. FTTH services generally offer symmetrical speeds, meaning that download and upload speeds are equal.

Fiber to the Building (FTTB) :
In the case of fibre-to-the-building, the fibre is deployed to a central point in a building, such as a communication room or a technical room. From there, the signal is distributed to the various homes or offices via Ethernet cables or other means of connection.

Fiber to the Neighborhood (FTTN) :
With fiber to the neighborhood, fiber is deployed to an optical node located in a neighborhood or geographic area. From this node, the signal is transmitted to the end subscribers via existing copper cables, such as telephone lines or coaxial cable
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s. This technology is also known as DSL over fiber (Fiber to the xDSL - FTTx) or DSLam.

Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) :
In the case of fiber to the node, the fiber is deployed to a point close to the subscriber's home, such as a telephone pole or a street cabinet. From there, the signal is transmitted to the end subscribers via existing copper telephone lines over short distances.

These different types of fiber optic connections offer varying speeds and performance depending on the distance between the end user and the fiber connection point, as well as different deployment costs. Fiber to the home (FTTH) is considered the most advanced and high-performance solution in terms of connection speed and reliability.


A fiber is made up of three layers of materials :

- the inner layer, called the core
- the outer layer, called the sheath
- a protective plastic cover, called a buffer coating

Emission of the light signal :
The process begins with the emission of a light signal at one end of the optical fiber. This signal is usually generated by a light source, such as a laser diode or a light-emitting diode (LED
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
), which converts an electrical signal into a light signal.

Propagation in the fiber :
Once emitted, the light signal enters the core of the optical fiber, which is surrounded by a reflective sheath called a "cladding sheath." Light propagates through the fiber core by total internal reflection, which keeps the signal confined inside the fiber and prevents signal loss.

Signal reception :
At the other end of the optical fiber, the light signal is received by an optical receiver, such as a photodiode. The receiver converts the light signal into an electrical signal, which can then be interpreted, amplified, and processed by electronic equipment.

Data transmission :
The electrical signal resulting from the conversion of the light signal contains the data to be transmitted. This data can be in digital or analog form, and it is usually processed and routed to its final destination, whether it be a computer, a phone, network equipment, etc.

Repeaters and amplifiers :
Over long distances, the light signal can weaken due to optical losses in the fiber. To compensate for these losses, optical repeaters or signal amplifiers can be used along the fiber path to regenerate and amplify the light signal.

Advantages and disadvantages of fiber optics

Optical fiber, although it is revolutionizing Internet access and eventually replacing DSL connections, is not without its flaws. It brings some advantages over copper wire in terms of speed and reliability.
However, there are points of vigilance specific to any technology that uses light to consider.

Here is a summary of the main positive and negative points of fiber :
Advantages of Fiber Optics Disadvantages of fiber optics
1. High Throughput : Enables very high transmission speeds, up to several gigabits per second. 1. High upfront cost : Installing fiber optics can be expensive due to the need to deploy specific infrastructure.
2. Low latency : Offers low latency, ideal for time-sensitive applications, such as online gaming or video calls. 2. Vulnerability to physical damage : Fiber optic cables can be fragile and require careful handling to prevent damage.
3. Immunity to electromagnetic interference : The optical transmission is impervious to electromagnetic interference, which ensures a more stable and reliable connection. 3. Distance limitations : Light signals can degrade over very long distances, requiring the use of repeaters or amplifiers.
4. High bandwidth : Fiber optics offers high bandwidth, making it possible to support a large amount of simultaneous data without congestion. 4. Complex deployment : Setting up fiber optic infrastructure can require careful planning and regulatory approvals, which can be time-consuming.
5. Data security : Optical signals do not radiate and are difficult to intercept, providing a higher level of security for communications. 5. Limited availability : In some areas, especially in rural areas, fiber may not be available, leaving users dependent on existing communication technologies.

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