Fiber Optic Cable: What Is It and How Does It Work?


Fiber optic cable has grown in popularity in recent years as the demand for faster data transmission speeds in networks has increased. Some people, however, may be aware what fiber optic cable is. What is fiber optic cable, and how does it work? Continue reading to learn more about fiber optic cable definition and how it works.

What Exactly Is Fiber Optic Cable?

Fiber optic cable, also known as optical fibre cable, is a type of Ethernet cable with one or more data-transmitting optic fibres. It is similar to an electrical cable in construction, but it is used to carry light, and the price of fibre optic cable is significantly higher than that of copper cable.

Fiber optic cables, which use light pulses, allow for both long-distance communication and high-speed data transmission. Speeds of fibre optic cable can typically range from 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps and even 100 Gbps. As a result, it’s widely used in many internet, cable television, and phone systems around the world.

What Are Fiber Optic Cable Components?

A fiber optic cable is usually made up of five parts: the core, the cladding, the coating, the strengthening, and the outer jacket. The “core” of an optical fiber is made up of extremely small strands of glass or plastic. The “cladding” is an insulated wrapping that surrounds the “core” and provides a lower refractive index, allowing the optical fiber to function.

The “coating” of an optical fiber is a protective layer. The “strengthening,” or strengthened part, protects the core from crushing forces and excessive stress during installation. As the name implies, an outer jacket is intended to protect the cable from environmental threats.

How Does Fiber Optic Cable Function?

“How it works” may be the most concerning issue after determining “what is fibre optic cable.” Light travels down a fibre optic cable by bouncing off the walls several times. 

The fiber core and cladding bend the entering light at a specific angle due to their own transmittance.

Light signals bounce off the core and clad in a series of bounces as they travel through fiber optic cable, a process known as complete internal reflection.

Types of Fiber Optic Cable

There are two types of fiber optic cable: single mode fiber (SMF) and multimode fiber (MMF). 

A single mode fiber‘s core diameter is approximately 5-10 microns, whereas the core diameter of a multimode fiber is approximately 10 times that of a single mode fiber.

In telecommunications, single mode optical fibers frequently operate at wavelengths of 1310nm or 1550nm, whereas multimode fiber operates at 850nm and 1300nm. 

Multimode fiber has a shorter transmission distance by model dispersion than single mode fiber because of its larger core size and support for multiple light modes (from OM1 to OM5).

Multimode optical fiber is used for short-distance transmission within buildings, such as computer network connections, whereas single mode fiber is used for long-distance transmission, such as 100 km between buildings.


Based on the information provided above, you should now have a basic understanding of what fiber optic cable is and how it works. Optical fiber, which transmits data using light pulses, has a faster data transfer speed. Furthermore, it can meet a variety of transmission distance requirements using both SMF and MMF.

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