Fibre optics as backbone of telecommunications

Despite disruptive technological changes in the past decade, fibre-optic technology has endured and matured into the backbone and key transmitter for global telecommunications. The explosive growth in demand for broadband transmission capacity is mostly due to the Internet and wireless communication’s rapid penetration in modern society. 

People and businesses have become super connected and are increasingly dependent on digital data and online communication ranging from email, online shopping and streaming videos to Cloud-based computing and business analysis based on ‘Big Data’. Consequently, the lives of billions of people are dependent on fast broadband connectivity. 

Fixed-line infrastructure

Telecommunications providers have been switching to data transmission over fibre-optic cables and consequently, they have become the indispensable backbone of hybrid communication networks of fixed-line, mobile infrastructure, and data centres. Additionally, because of the exceeding performance of optical fibre for broadband services, twisted-copper networks of fixed-line networks are being replaced by fibre-optic cables.

Mobile infrastructure

In mobile telephony and data traffic, radio signals transport voice and data to and from portable transceivers consisting of a network of ‘cells’ that are served by a fixed-location transceiver. These fixed access points and base stations are connected to a fixed-line cable network. Fibre optic cables are currently the preferred choice to serve as a backhaul or intermediate link between the core network, and the small subnetworks or cells at the edge of the network.

Fibre-optic technology is superior to any other cable-based alternatives 

Operators are thus using optical fibre to connect mobile base stations, although many mobile base stations still depend on ‘old’ technology which needs to be replaced and when a new connection is required, optical fibre is installed because of its superior transmission speed, and its potential to expand transmission speed supporting 5G. 

Experts say that future access networks will include fibre as an essential part of the network infrastructure as wireless and wireline technologies converge and the dividing lines become less clear. This is evident as Markus Laqua, a German telecommunications industry expert says: ‘a deep fibre network is essential for all future access technologies’. 

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Concurrently, as Big Data and industry 4.0 are increasing the volume of Internet traffic and driving the need to expand data centre storage capacity, fibre optics will become an indispensable part of today’s hybrid telecommunication ecosystem. Fibre-optics is the cable-based technology with the highest potential for transmission capacity. 

With the evolving Internet of Things, the explosive growth in wireless communication such as smartphones and Wi-Fi will increase total data traffic run over mobile networks. Additionally, technological developments in virtual reality, autonomous driving, and the smart grid will continue to increase data traffic making a superior global communication network indispensable. 

Fibre-optic technology is superior to existing copper and coaxial technologies because of its unique physical characteristics. In terms of the future of fibre optic cables, the technology for expanding its transmission capacity through more advanced active components for signal transmission and reception is already being developed It will allow information to travel at speeds increasingly approaching the speed of light without interference between adjacent wavelengths. 

The advantages of optical fibres thus include extremely high bandwidth and a greater capacity to carry more information at a faster rate, which is the ideal that the telecommunications industries are striving towards. 

The telephone, email, fax, and videoconferencing are lifelines in modern society and optical fibre cable provides safer and more secure communication. This is invaluable for the transfer of sensitive data. Since optical fibre radiates no magnetic field, it is impossible to tap the signal transmission unless one cuts into the fibre. 

Besides safer and secure communications, the telephone, which previously was limited to sound only can now link with video images and speakers. As for video conferencing, fibre optics allows faster and clearer transmission of image and information, which replicates traditional face to face. Through optical fibre, a clear visual image of people involved in the conference and data charts shown would provide a better understanding for both parties during transmission.

It is clear from the previous discussion that fibre optics not only serves as backbone but also allows superior communication experiences.

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