The telecommunication industry is what keeps our world connected. It delivers the internet to our business, home and the palm of our hand. It connects us directly to each other with near-instant verbal and video communication. It is the massive infrastructure of cables and wavelengths that is constantly at work transmitting our digital world. With the development of more complex technology, we needed to increase bandwidth to transmit more information faster than ever possible before. Optical fiber made this a reality with speeds over 100Gbps on a single glass strand the size of a human hair. For many years fiber was working behind the scenes, connecting major communication hub cities and the high-end routing equipment used by internet service providers and server farms. These optical backbone pathways supported thousands of bi-directional communications at any given moment. It was only since the turn of the century, our internet service providers started pushing for fiber installation in metropolitan rings and even fiber to the home/curb/node/business technologies. This gives each of us the same communication channel once used to reliably direct thousands of conversations available wherever we go. It is virtually impossible to communicate in today’s tech-heavy world without passing the information through fiber cabling at some point in its journey.
Optical fiber is not just used by wired phone and cable providers, it is also widely used in the wireless phone industry. As part of recently developed 4G and beyond telco standards, optical cabling is required to connect wireless phone tower antennas back to their local ground stations. Since each user’s wireless device is sending and receiving just a single data channel to a tower antenna, the wireless transmission has no problem carrying it. The tower antenna receives many signals at once and packages them together before sending them down a much larger bandwidth pipeline. Fiber provides this information fast lane for stacking thousands of wireless phone and tablet user’s data streams on a single bi-directional channel for its delivery to the nearest wireless ground station.
Mines are among the largest man-made structures on earth. These structures use a massive network of cabling from the surface to its lowest levels that provide reliable communication, live video and diagnostic information from measurement equipment. The mining industry is required to follow strict standards to assure the safety of its workers and continued efficient operation. Mining tunnels can span several miles which can cause distance restrictions on low voltage copper cabling that limits both bandwidth and performance. It should be no surprise then that optical cabling is preferred for carrying this crucial information. Optical cabling is able to transmit Gigabits of information per second up to 90km without signal regeneration and with crush-resistant armored jacketing, it is able to reliably perform in the most extreme environments.
Power and Water Utilities:
Utilities provide us with the reliable power and water to guarantee each day runs smooth for our businesses and at home. In order to efficiently meet the high demands of its users, utilities need to share communications and information securely at speeds faster than ever before. Fiber cabling provides the infrastructure for them to get the job done right. For power, these communication lines allow them to turn on additional generators when experiencing high volume or save the community money by turning off generators when the power is not needed. This cabling infrastructure allows them to get critical live information from equipment hundreds of miles away and make a quick decision. Utilities maintain massive networks connecting campuses, sub-stations and a web of established pathways. In some communities, utilities are even installing fiber optic cabling at the top of electric poles in the ground wire (OPGW) and alongside new pipes and canals. Working with ISPs and their local government, this allows them to lease the lines offering a high speed fiber backbone to connect neighborhoods and grow area commerce. A win for all parties, but most importantly, the users. Optical cabling helps utilities deliver safe, reliable and efficient services to all of their customers.
Broadcast Audio Video:
With the introduction of high-definition broadcasting in the early 2000’s, the broadcast industry had to make massive changes to meet customer demands. In addition to the new and expensive camera systems, they needed a reliable high bandwidth optical pathway that could stretch a long distance and connect these cameras back to their editing booths. Much of the design for broadcast cabling was taken directly from military applications. They needed rugged secure lock connectors, complex reel systems and a crush-resistant cable that can withstand the occasion large truck rolling over the top of it. Optical cabling is now used to broadcast nearly every major sporting event in the world. It’s on the sidelines of every NFL, NHL, and MLB game making sure that you receive the clearest possible view from the comfort of your home. It’s also found throughout your favorite news broadcasters, television shows, and movie studios. As long as high bandwidth and 3D video are in demand, optical cable will be there to support it.
It did not take long for fiber to enter the security industry. It’s often used to reliably connect security cameras and detection equipment that are part of an outside perimeter or are otherwise distance isolated from a control center. The very nature of optical fiber transmission makes it nearly impossible to tap without detection and ideal for transmitting large amounts of encrypted information safely. Little did we know at the time, the true potential optical cable possessed within this growing industry. Fiber can be very sensitive. In fact, with new fiber available, we can detect tiny vibrations in the environment surrounding a fiber cable and use this information to trigger an alarm system. This allows us to attach cable to a perimeter fence and immediately detect a target that comes into contact with it. It can even be buried in the ground as an invisible tripwire detecting footsteps. With this new technology, you can detect and monitor potential threats without their knowledge long before they are able to reach a vulnerable area. As optical cable’s capabilities continue to expand, it has become clear to experts at FNT that it will continue to grow in this new and exciting industry.
How much information can we actually fit on a single fiber cable? How far can we actually send that information? These are questions that lab scientists are working on every day at universities around the world. TIA/EIA Standards have been written for reliable transmission of 10Gbps and 40Gbps on commercial duplex fiber cabling but this is far from what scientists have already proven in lab environments. For example, in Jan 2013 using multi-core fiber technology, NEC and Corning were able to transmit an incredible 1.05 Petabits per second a distance of 51km. For reference, 1 Petabit equals 1,000 Tbps or 1,000,000 Gbps or 1,000,000,000 Mbps (average home internet speed in the US in 2014 was around 40Mbps up/down combined). Speed isn’t the only aspect of optical transmission being tested. In optical computing, they are re-thinking the very basic structure of how we store and move information digitally by replacing electrons with photons. This greatly improves speed, reduces heat and has the potential to change our world of two position data (1’s and 0’s) to 8 or more positions by rotating photons at alternating speeds. The future is looking bright for optical cabling and components.