September 30, 2022

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What are the differences between optical fiber and copper wire (ethernet cable)?

6 min read

What are the differences between optical fiber and copper wire (ethernet cable)?



What are the differences between optical fiber and copper wire (ethernet cable)?

The choice of a data center transmission medium is always a contentious topic, especially in dedicated facilities such as data centers, where technical and business considerations need to be taken into account.

Some people believe that fiber should be selected, while others believe that copper should be selected There are often different opinions on such issues.

So what is the difference between copper wire and optical fiber? Is it better to choose optical fiber or copper wire?

In order to make you clear how to choose copper and fiber, this article will answer you in detail from multiple dimensions.


What is the difference between optical fiber and copper wire?

Optical fiber and copper wire are two common data center transmission media, both of which have anti-interference and good confidentiality, so what is the difference between optical fiber and copper wire?

The difference between the two is mainly reflected in the following four aspects:

Materials

Optical fibers are used as light transmission tools and are usually made of glass or plastic, while copper wires are made of copper cores (such as oxygen-free copper, pure copper, miscellaneous copper, bronze, etc.).

Transmission signal

Optical fiber uses photoelectric conversion technology to transmit optical signals, which has the advantage of being free from electromagnetic interference; traditional copper wires transmit electrical signals, which are rapidly attenuated and susceptible to interference when used for long-distance transmission.

Transmission distance

As can be seen from the above, the transmission distance of copper wire is limited, generally not more than 100m.

For example, the longest transmission distance of Category 8 network cable is only 30m, which is suitable for indoor applications (such as offices, data centers, etc.).

The longest transmission distance of optical fiber can reach 100km.

For example, the transmission distance of single-mode fiber can usually reach 10~20km, which far exceeds the transmission distance of copper wire and is very suitable for long-distance transmission applications.

Transfer speed

Theoretically, the propagation speed of optical fiber is not as fast as that of copper wire.

The propagation speed of optical fiber is about 2*10(8th power) m/s, and the propagation speed of copper wire is about 2.3*10(8th power) m/s.

So why does fiber travel slower than copper wire?

This is because when the optical fiber transmits signals, according to the principle of total reflection, the actual transmission distance of the optical fiber is much greater than the length of the optical fiber.

Transmission rate

When the transmission distance is the same, the attenuation and loss of the optical fiber are small, and the maximum transmission rate can reach 100Gbps (such as OM4 fiber jumper ). (such as Category 8 network cable , DAC passive copper cable ).

In general, the transmission rate of optical fiber is much higher than that of copper wire.

Maintenance management

The copper wire crystal head production and equipment port connection operations are very simple, while the optical fiber cutting and fusion, equipment connection and other operations require higher and more complicated operations.

Costs

Due to the relatively complex manufacturing process of optical fiber, the price is higher than that of copper wire.

Nowadays, with the continuous improvement and innovation of optical fiber technology, the price of optical fiber has dropped.

Compared with copper wire, optical fiber has excellent durability and long life cycle, and it is not easy to be damaged after installation.

Therefore, its maintenance cost in the later stage is much lower than that of copper wire, and optical fiber can save wiring space, while copper wire needs to occupy more space.

More space to implement network cabling also brings additional costs. Overall, the total cost of fiber is actually much lower than copper wire.


How to choose optical fiber and copper wire?

Optical fiber and copper wire are different in transmission rate, transmission distance, maintenance management and price cost.

So in practical applications, should we choose optical fiber or copper wire?

The following will analyze the characteristics and technical aspects of the wire to teach you how to choose.

What are the differences between optical fiber and copper wire (ethernet cable)?

Fiber characteristics

It can be seen from the above that in addition to the advantages of high bandwidth and long transmission distance, optical fiber also has the characteristics of low attenuation, strong durability and high reliability.

At the same time, because the optical fiber is an insulator, it will not be affected by electromagnetic interference and crosstalk during use, so it can be laid next to industrial equipment.

In addition to the advantages of good anti-interference, confidentiality, and easy installation/maintenance/management, copper wire also has good flexibility and emergency power supply capability, which can continue to supply power to equipment even if the power is exhausted.

Technology

From a technical point of view, the appropriate type of data center transmission medium can be selected based on the following three aspects:

1. The ability of the medium to transmit signals

If the wiring environment is harsh or the anti-interference ability is required to be high, the optical fiber is selected, and its immunity from other signals and anti-interference performance is stronger than that of copper wire.

2. Does it need to be powered by a cable

It can be seen from the above that the copper wire can supply power. If the power supply needs to be supplied through the cable, the copper wire is selected.

3. Issues such as portability or mobility

If you need to change and move frequently, choose a fiber with bend sensitivity.

In simple terms, it is generally more suitable to choose optical fibers when ultra-large bandwidth and long-distance transmission are required (such as industrial Ethernet cabling), and in the case of short-distance transmission and low transmission rates (such as in buildings or corporate offices)。

Considering the cost, it is more suitable to choose copper wire, of course, the premise of making such a choice is that your device supports the connection of the transmission medium.

Finally, if you still have some doubts about the use of the two, you can seek the help of professional technicians.


Conclusion:

After comparing optical fiber and copper wire from multiple dimensions above, have you already understood the difference between the two and know how to choose to buy it in practical application?

If you are still not sure how to choose, you should find a technician to address related issues.

What are the differences between optical fiber and copper wire (ethernet cable)?



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