A Fiber Optic Networking Primer

A Fiber Optic Primer

Fiber is at the core of SkyWire’s network!

With ever increasing bandwidth needs, SkyWire relies on a fiber optic communication/ networking. What is a fiber optic network? Why is a fiber optic network needed for increasing bandwidth needs? It’s completely possible that you may not know a whole lot about fiber which is why we’re putting this information together. In this installment we’ve included information about what exactly we are referring to when we talk fiber. We hope to teach you some new information and answer the questions listed above.

What is fiber optic communication?

According to Wikipedia, “… is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information.[1] Fiber is preferred over electrical cabling when high bandwidth, long distance, or immunity to electromagnetic interference are required.”

About fiber optic cables

The most important component of fiber optic cables is the optical fiber. “An optical fiber or optical fibre is a flexible, transparent fiber made by drawing glass (silica) or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a human hair.[1] Optical fibers are used most often as a means to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber and find wide usage in fiber-optic communications, where they permit transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than wire cables. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with lesser amounts of loss; in addition, fibers are also immune to electromagnetic interference, a problem from which metal wires suffer excessively.[2] Fibers are also used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so that they may be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in confined spaces, as in the case of a fiberscope.[3] Specially designed fibers are also used for a variety of other applications, some of them being fiber optic sensors and fiber lasers.[4]

About Fiber Optic Cables

Optical fibers typically include a transparent core surrounded by a transparent cladding material with a lower index of refraction. Light is kept in the core by the phenomenon of total internal reflection which causes the fiber to act as a waveguide.[5] Fibers that support many propagation paths or transverse modes are called multi-mode fibers (MMF), while those that support a single mode are called single-mode fibers (SMF). Multi-mode fibers generally have a wider core diameter and are used for short-distance communication links and for applications where high power must be transmitted.[citation needed] Single-mode fibers are used for most communication links longer than 1,000 meters (3,300 ft).[citation needed]”

Why is a fiber optic network needed for
increasing bandwidth needs?

Streaming content is incredibly popular. Youtube, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other services are used worldwide and have minimum bandwidth requirements. So do services like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, or others… They all require a steady internet connection. With more and more people utilizing services like this, overall bandwidth requirements for internet service providers is increasing. Since fiber optic networking is the fastest and most reliable way to deliver increasing bandwidth to the masses, SkyWire has built a network around this technology. Fiber optic communication is fast. How fast is fiber optic networking? Wikipedia points out, “Researchers at Bell Labs have reached internet speeds of over 100 petabit×kilometer per second using fiber-optic communication.[2]” Holy smokes. That’s fast folks. Here’s a real world example. Without even maximizing the full potential of our fiber, we bring 10gb (Gigabits) of bandwidth into an MDU (Multi-Dwelling-Unit) building. This allows us to offer hundred of megabits per second speeds to our subscribers as well as supporting future speed upgrades. Since regular Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cable is physically limited at 1Gbps, SkyWire needs fiber for moving large amounts of simultaneous data. We are dealing with far more than 1Gbps traffic throughout our network so fiber optic connectivity is a necessity.

Now you should understand the medium through which fiber optic communication occurs. If we’re telling the story of fiber optic networking, consider the above the prologue. There are many chapters to follow that will be illuminating (get it?) on the subject of fiber optic networking.

Be sure to check back for the next installment in this informative series on fiber optic networking.