In recent years it has become apparent that fiber-optics are now replacing copper wire as the best means of communication signal transmission. They span the long distances between local phone systems more easily and provide backbones for many communication networks. Other applications include cable television services, university campuses, office buildings, industrial plants, and electric utility companies.
A fiber-optic system is similar to the copper wire system that fiber-optics is replacing. The difference is that fiber-optics use light pulses to transmit information down fiber lines instead of using electronic pulses to transmit information down copper lines. Looking at the components in a fiber-optic chain will give a better understanding of how the system works in conjunction with wire based systems.
Fiber optics cable functions as a "light guide," guiding the light introduced at one end of the cable through to the other end. The light source can either be a light-emitting diode (LED)) or a laser. The light source is pulsed on and off, and a light-sensitive receiver on the other end of the cable converts the pulses back into the digital ones and zeros of the original signal.
There are several advantages over traditional metal communications lines:
- It is a particularly popular technology for local-area networks. In addition, telephone companies are steadily replacing traditional telephone lines with fiber optic cables. In the future, almost all communications will employ fiber optics.
- Fiber optic cables have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. This means that they can carry more data.
- These cables are less susceptible than metal cables to interference.
- The cables are much thinner and lighter than metal wires.
- Data can be transmitted digitally (the natural form for computer data) rather than analogically.
- The only potential disadvantages are that the cables are a bit more expensive to install, and they are more fragile than wire and are difficult to split.
Even laser light shining through a fiber optic cable is subject to loss of strength, primarily through dispersion and scattering of the light, within the cable itself. The faster the laser fluctuates, the greater the risk of dispersion. Light strengtheners, called repeaters, may be necessary to refresh the signal in certain applications.
While the cable itself has become cheaper over time - a equivalent length of copper cable cost less per foot but not in capacity. FO cable connectors and the equipment needed to install them are still more expensive than their copper counterparts.
National Communications Training Centers (NCTC) has developed a three week, 105 hour curriculum in FO and category 5/6 including telephone systems. This intensive hands on course is taught by leaders in the field. NCTC Graduates are fully qualified as installers of fiber, fiber splicer technicians, data cable technicians, CAT 5/6 copper cable installers, assemblers of FO cable and repair, test and inspection of fiber. Graduates will receive a Certificate of Completion by NCTC. Upon successful completion of the F.O.A. exam, graduates will also be certified by the F.O.A.
For more information about classes, contact NCTC at our San Marcos office at (760) 471-9561.