Serving ID, OR, NV, CA, UT, CO, WA & ND Since 1991
Fiber optic cable can offer much higher speeds at a much greater distance than copper. Another benefit of fiber optic cable (made from glass) is that, unlike copper, it isn’t susceptible to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). Using fiber optic cabling whenever possible is an excellent way to future-proof your data network.
With fiber optic cabling, there are multiple types. Multimode (OM4 is the current standard), for distances up to 550 meters, and Single mode (OM2) for distances up to 10km. Fiber optic cabling is typically run through either a plastic inner duct or is armored with metal flex pipe. These offer a level of protection to the cable to discourage anyone who might be working near these cables from damaging them. (See graphic below for speeds that are possible with fiber optic cabling).
You’ll typically see fiber optic cabling as a “backbone” or “feeder” connecting your data closets (MDFs and IDFs), see article on “The Importance of Structured Cabling” for more information on MDFs and IDFs. There are multiple reasons for using fiber as your feeder cabling between closets: the data closets are often more than 100 meters apart (so fiber is the only option), considering this connection is such an important link and will be running a lot of data traffic, you’ll want to get as much bandwidth as possible, and as mentioned previously, you won't have to worry about Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).
Fiber optic cable typically has 6, 12, or 24 strands of fiber per cable. With multi-mode fiber, you can connect 1 device (usually a network switch) per 2 strands, with single-mode you can connect 1 device per individual strand. It’s important to consider how many devices you may need and it’s always a good idea to have some extra strands in case one breaks (glass is more fragile than copper) and to accommodate for future growth. For example, let’s say you have one switch for your data network, a second switch for your phone network, and a third for your guest network. In this scenario, you would need 6 strands of multi-mode fiber to ensure each switch had its own pair of strands to keep the networks separate in the IDFs. Though 6 strands would be just enough, you wouldn’t have any spares, so it would be wise to go with 12 strands in case one strand gets damaged and to accommodate for future growth.
Under certain circumstances, using fiber optic cable to connect a workstation or other type of network device may be necessary (for example, if the device is over 100 meters from the nearest network switch or requires speeds over 10 Gbs). In such instances, a fiber optic-to-ethernet adapter may also be required.
In any case, it is critical to know when you should use fiber optic cabling to offer the best performance for your data network.
Fiber optic cabling should always be professionally installed to ensure that building codes are met, cabling is properly certified with a tester, and is accurately labeled.