Published on Dec 02, 2015
Optical fiber (or "fiber optic") refers to the medium and the technology associated with the transmission of information as light pulses along a glass or plastic wire or fiber. Optical fiber carries much more information than conventional copper wire and is in general not subject to electromagnetic interference and the need to retransmit signals. Most telephone company long-distance lines are now of optical fiber.
Transmission on optical fiber wire requires repeaters at distance intervals. The glass fiber requires more protection within an outer cable than copper. For these reasons and because the installation of any new wiring is labor-intensive, few communities yet have optical fiber wires or cables from the phone company's branch office to local customers (known as local loops).
Optical fiber consists of a core, cladding, and a protective outer coating, which guide light along the core by total internal reflection. The core, and the higher-refractive-index cladding, are typically made of high-quality silica glass, though they can both be made of plastic as well. An optical fiber can break if bent too sharply. Due to the microscopic precision required to align the fiber cores, connecting two optical fibers, whether done by fusion splicing or mechanical splicing, requires special skills and interconnection technology.
Two main categories of optical fiber used in fiber optic communications are multi-mode optical fiber and single-mode optical fiber. Multimode fiber has a larger core allowing less precise, cheaper transmitters and receivers to connect to it as well as cheaper connectors