There are many advantages to using fiber-optic cable compared to copper cables.
Given that the fibers used in fiber-optic media are not electrical conductors, the media is immune to electromagnetic interference and will not conduct unwanted electrical currents due to grounding issues. Because optical fibers are thin and have relatively low signal loss, they can be operated at much greater lengths than copper media, without the need for signal regeneration. Some optical fiber physical layer specifications allow lengths that can reach multiple kilometers.
Optical fiber media implementation issues include:
- More expensive (usually) than copper media over the same distance (but for a higher capacity)
- Different skills and equipment required to terminate and splice the cable infrastructure
- More careful handling than copper media
At present, in most enterprise environments, optical fiber is primarily used as backbone cabling for high-traffic point-to-point connections between data distribution facilities and for the interconnection of buildings in multi-building campuses. Because optical fiber does not conduct electricity and has low signal loss, it is well suited for these uses.
The figure highlights some of these differences.