Traditionally, most homes and businesses are cabled with copper wiring. Back in the 1820s copper wiring was ideal because it is the most conductive metal out there; it’s extremely durable and flexible. So, it made a lot of sense to utilize this metal, especially for electrical applications. However, when it comes to telecommunications and network connectivity, our trusty copper wires are not the way to go. The telephone wire is over a century old, which during our time of technological innovation, sets it back even further than 100 years.
Allow me to introduce you to our friend, Fiber. Instead of braided or bundled metals, Fiber is made up entirely of glass or plastic with strands that are slightly thicker than a single human hair.
When comparing the two cables, the advantages of fiber far exceed copper — I mean far. Fiber Optic cables can transmit way more information, much faster to even greater distances than copper. In terms of fidelity, Fiber also beats out copper. Also, when it comes to security, Fiber cannot be “tapped” into like copper. So, Fiber does a much better job in terms of security, quality and speed. Those ridiculous high internet speeds you’ve been using can all be attributed to the modern use of fiber cables.
Unlike copper, glass is horrible at conducting electricity, which in our case is a great thing. It means that fiber optic cables do not need to be grounded to keep them safe. It also means that they are immune to any sort of electrical interference — including lightning. Fiber cables cannot be corroded either while copper cabling is sensitive to certain elements like water and other chemicals. So, fiber cables can be placed virtually anywhere with no concern.
Another issue is safety. Copper wires are extremely sensitive to their environment. So, water and even soil can cause issues with copper. Not to mention that extremely high voltage that is being passed through it. Fiber cables pose no danger of injury, fire or electrocution since they transmit data using light and not electricity. So, even if the cables were to be torn open somehow, there is no threat. However, I should point out that if you do manage to tear open a fiber cable that is active — you probably shouldn’t stare directly into the light that is being emitted.
To address the elephant in the room — Yes, fiber networks can be cheaper than copper networks — if designed correctly. When Fiber was first introduced, the main concern wasn’t its technical capabilities but rather the financial costs of implementing it. Since then, we’ve seen some strides into making it more affordable and nowadays, with proper design it can be comparable and even less expensive than copper in some cases.