Optical Fiber Cable

What Does Optical Fiber Cable Mean?

An optical fiber cable is a type of cable that has a number of optical fibers bundled together, which are normally covered in their individual protective plastic covers. Optical cables are used to transfer digital data signals in the form of light up to distances of hundreds of miles with higher throughput rates than those achievable via electrical communication cables. All optical fibers use a core of hair-like transparent silicon covered with less refractive indexed cladding to avoid light leakage to the surroundings. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the optical fiber, it is normally covered with a high-strength, lightweight protective material like Kevlar.

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Optical fiber cable is widely used in fiber optic communications.

Techopedia Explains Optical Fiber Cable

First commercially deployed in 1977, optical cable is the primary source of long-distance, high-bandwidth communications between telephone companies, multisite organizations and various other long-range communications applications. The composition of optical cable starts with the outer jacket, which is made of a strong and often flexible material. This is followed by plastic cover used to bundle individual optical fiber cables. An optical fiber typically consists of a transparent core surrounded by a transparent cladding material with a lower index of refraction. Light is kept in the core by total internal reflection. Single-wavelength or multiple-wavelength light is passed through the core and keeps traveling inside the core due to the lower refractive index cladding surrounding it, which bounces the light back when it tries to escape.

Two common types of fiber optics are:

  • Single-mode fiber (SMF)
  • Multi-mode fiber (MMF)

Interconnection between multiple fiber strands is much more complex and difficult to achieve, than the ones between electrical cables.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.