Fibre Optics | Cabling and Internet Speeds

How the Introduction of Fibre Optics Has Transformed Connectivity


Once, smoke signals and flags were the only forms of long-distance communication. Radio and Morse code were vast improvements, but today, fibre optics rule. The invention of the computer chip marked the most significant step in the evolution of digital electronics, offering engineers a means to squeeze dozens of components into the tiniest spaces. However, the latter were themselves only the components of larger devices, such as personal computers.


PCs were a big success, but the early models were little more than fancy typewriters with the added ability to operate simple games and perform calculations. In 1969, America’s Advanced Research Project Agency Network (ARPANET) demonstrated the ability to share data and work collaboratively by connecting multiple computers to form a private network.


Twenty years later, an English computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee took networking to a new level with the invention of the World Wide Web, or, as we now know it, the Internet. However, although the final connection between the user’s machine and the web hosting or application server is now performed wirelessly, cabling still plays a vital role in the operation, particularly in networked systems. More significantly, the type of cable used for these connections can influence the system’s performance.


Cabling Before Fibre Optics


Since electrical energy was first harnessed for human convenience, copper wire was the preferred conduit to distribute it, and until the introduction of ever-larger computer networks and the increasing dependence on Internet connectivity, it performed its task adequately. It was at this point that users became aware of the disadvantages of a copper cable.


Despite being an excellent conductor, the intensity of signals transmitted along a copper wire decreases with distance, a phenomenon known as high latency. Furthermore, the signal can become distorted as the cable ages due to interference from other cables and electrical equipment nearby.


Twisted pair cables are still used for telephone lines but were mostly replaced by the more stable Cat 5 and Cat 6 Ethernet cables in other applications where lengthier cables are not needed. However, the breakthrough for Internet users had already been established during the mid-1960s, when a Standard Telephone Laboratories employee pioneered the use of fine optical glass fibre for long-distance communication. Charles Kuen Kao was subsequently awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics, and his achievement eventually led to the feasibility of super-fast broadband.


How Does Fibre Optics Work?


This technology draws on a device used in various applications, including cable TV services like Multichoice DStv. A laser diode acts as an electrical-to-optical converter to form a pulsed signal. The glass fibre cable is enclosed in an opaque covering that lets the light pulses bounce off the sides to produce a strong signal, which, unlike an electric current, is unaffected by external interference. Thanks to the extremely low latency of glass fibres, almost 4 million households in South Africa now enjoy unprecedented Internet upload and download speeds.


However, the impact of fibre optics has been even more impressive in the business world. Commercial users can now transmit data locally or anywhere on the planet and save thousands of rands on costly airfares and hotel accommodation when conducting their business via a video teleconferencing call and instantly sharing and exchanging reports, marketing plans, and other documentation on demand.


Fibre Optics Could Transform Your Business Also


At CCI Technologies, we have over 30 years of experience in the design, implementation, and maintenance of innovative cabling and connectivity solutions for the 21st century. If your business is plagued by snail-pace Internet connectivity, lost signals, and too much unplanned network downtime, the problem could be your cabling, and fibre optics could be the answer. So, why not contact us to arrange an inspection, and we will tailor the perfect turnkey solution for your business network?

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