Fiber Optic Cable Vs Copper Cable

Published on Updated on November 28, 2023

Building a network with huge bandwidth and higher transmission speed has emerged as a key requirement in recent years. To accomplish this, several network cables have been used over the years. Traditionally, copper cables are widely used which are now being connected to fiber optic cables for better connectivity and geographical network expansion. In the case of new networks, especially in application where high-speed internet is a prerequisite, only fiber optic cables can be used entirely. Both cables offer unique advantages and specific beneficial features. Copper cables can be found in many places and they are an economical choice for network device connection. There are several advantages of fiber optic cables, which makes them a more enticing cable infrastructure solution than their copper counterpart. Would you like to know what makes them popular among other cabling installations or what are the benefits of fiber optic cables? This post aims to simplify the selection by discussing this cable technology in detail. So, stay tuned.

Image of fiber optic cable vs copper cable

What is Copper Cable?

Copper cables are the conventional cables used in various electrical and electronic installations. The highly conductive copper strands are insulated in non-conductive plastic sheaths. Copper is tough and durable yet flexible, and hence can be bended as a strand. This helps wire installations with turns, elevations, and so on. These are bundled in pairs and hence one cable may have two, four, or more wires bundled in an insulated cover. There are various types of copper cables such as coaxial and twisted pair. The twisted pair cables may be shielded (STP) or unshielded (UTP). Copper cables have evolved over the years with Gigabit Ethernet cables that comply with IEEE 802.3 standards. There are newer versions of cables being developed over the years, such as Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat7, Cat8, and so on. These Cat series cables are twisted pair cables with four pairs in each. The evolution of these cables have led to development in terms of network speed, transmission rate, and so on, and hence are commonly used in large complex networks.

What is Fiber Optic Cable?

This type of cable uses optical fibers or glass fiber strands that are enclosed in a non-conductive casing for insulation mostly made of plastic. Fiber optics as a technology has been revolutionary in terms of increased network bandwidth, transmission speed, signal strength, security, and more. In each fiber optic cable, there is a bunch of these glass fiber strands cladded by a glass layer around the fiber core. Above this is the buffer tube layer for protecting the cladding. The upper most layer is the protective jacket layer. While copper cables have evolved over time, there are many fiber optic cable advantages over the former.

Why Choose Fiber Optic Cables Instead of Copper Cable

Both copper cables and fiber optic cables transmit data over the network but in very different ways. A copper cable carries electrical pulses along its metal strands, whereas fiber optic carries pulses of light along flexible glass threads. The following pointers will help you understand the difference between fiber optics and copper cabling and also the benefits of fiber optic cables in detail.

  • Huge Bandwidth: Copper cables are equipped with limited bandwidth, and thus preferred for a voice signal transmission. On the other hand, fiber optics offers more bandwidth than copper cable of the same diameter. This cable structure has a standardized performance of more than 10 Gbps. More bandwidth means more data transmission with greater reliability.
  • Long Distances: Both fiber and copper-based signaling suffer weakening of the waveform over distance. However, fiber optics transmit data over much longer distances. In fact, the differences are vast. Copper cables can carry signals to the typical length of 330-foot as per governing standards. Depending upon type and signaling of the cable, fiber optics can transmit up to well over 25 miles.
  • High Speed: Both cables can transmit data over the network, but undeniably fiber optics do this faster than copper cables. Fiber optics has a core that carries light to transmit data, allowing cables to carry signals at speeds around 31% slower than the speed of light. With fiber optic cables, there are fewer chances of signal degradation.
  • Highly Secured: Data transmission through fiber optics is always safe. Since the cable doesn’t transmit electricity, it can’t be tapped by an antenna, while copper-based cable requires an antenna to pick up the energy radiated from the cable, which will cause the entire system to fail. Besides this, fiber optic is made of glass and hence does not produce electromagnetic interference (EMI). So, it can’t catch fire easily.
  • Reliability: Fiber optic cable is resistant to weather changes and moisture, which can hamper otherwise hamper connectivity. As discussed earlier, fiber cable does not carry electricity, and hence seamless connectivity is possible.
  • Cost-effectiveness: The initial investment for fiber cables is much higher than copper cables. But, with the rise in production technology, the overall cost of fiber cables has steadily decreased. Also, it is cost-effective in the long run.

With all the above-mentioned benefits, fiber cable has replaced the copper cable in several aspects of networking. If you are looking for high-quality fiber optic cables to build your upcoming network, then it is important to source them from reliable industry-leading suppliers. Check our whitepaper how to choose fiber optic cables for more information. VERSITRON specializes in the design and manufacturing of copper and fiber optic cables. With vast industry experience and expertise, the company provides a wide range of connectivity solutions for audio, video, and data applications.

Rich Tull

Rich Tull
R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron, a leading technology company specializing in data communication and networking solutions. With expertise in Guiding network switches and media converters, R.W. Tull has played a pivotal role in driving Versitron's success. His deep understanding of these technologies has enabled the company to provide innovative and reliable solutions to clients. As a visionary leader, He ensures that Versitron remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering cutting-edge networking solutions that enhance data communication efficiency.
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