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The Beginner’s Complete Guide to Fiber Wire and Fiber Optical Cable

In 2018, the value of the global fiber optics market was $6.5 billion.

Both a rising demand from the medical industry and more businesses relying on cloud-based applications result in a higher demand for fiber wire. This means the future for fiber optic internet looks bright.

But what is fiber optic cable and is fiber internet the right choice for your business? We go over everything you need to know about fiber optic communications in this beginner’s guide.


A Brief History of Fiber Optics

Fiber optic technology has been around for longer than most people think. Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone) also invented the photophone, a device that transmitted sound on a beam of light. Unfortunately, when the weather was cloudy, the device didn’t work.

Still, Bell’s invention became the first step in fiber optic communication that eventually led to fiber internet.

In 1976, AT&T engineers installed a fiber optic system in Atlanta, Georgia. Other experimental systems were installed including a test system in Long Beach, Chicago, and the British Post Office.

Since then, fiber optic installations started appearing all over the globe as an alternative to copper wire. Unlike copper cable, fiber has a much higher capacity to carry data. This made fiber cable essential after the internet boom in the 1990s.

What Is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet works by sending data as light through fiber optic glass cables. Other internet options out there include cable, DSL, and satellite.

The optical fibers in fiber wire are so small that they’re roughly the size of a human hair. Despite their small size, optical fibers have two critical parts that make the transfer of information possible.

The inner part of the fiber is the core which is most often made of glass. This is the part that lets light pass through. The cladding covers the core and it’s usually a thicker type of plastic or glass.

Fiber Wire vs Other Network Types

So what’s the difference between fiber cable and DSL, cable, or satellite internet? And is fiber the better broadband internet connection option? Let’s break each choice down.


DSL stands for “Direct Subscriber Line”.

DSL broadband internet uses landline phone wires, which means it’s more readily available. DSL makes use of the old copper cables that were once installed for phone lines. You can connect your devices either wirelessly or with a cable. 

Fiber networks can offer speeds up to 10 Gbps whereas the average DSL speed is between 3-7 Mbps (for high-end service).

DSL connection speed and reliability change depending on how close you are to the company office providing your service. Although data can’t travel as fast through copper as it can through fiber, many people rely on DSL because fiber may not be available to them.


Cable internet also uses copper cables to send data. This is also how we’ve watched cable television for years.

Many businesses choose cable internet because they are already connected to a cable network or find it simple to set up a connection.

Cable internet is faster than DSL but not as fast as fiber. According to Techwalla, the average internet speed for cable is between 4-6 Mbps. That’s comparable to high-end DSL services.

Cable service may offer enough speed for many small to medium-sized businesses. One consideration to keep in mind is that some internet providers have data caps. A data cap is a monthly limit to the data you can transfer or receive.

If you’ve hit or surpassed a data cap, your cable provider may throttle your internet. This is when your internet company slows down your internet speeds.


To connect with satellite internet, you must have a satellite dish on your home or business.

With satellite, your computer sends a request via your modem to that satellite dish. The signal request is then transmitted to a satellite in space and then sent to your provider. The provider transmits the signal back again all the way to your computer.

You can connect with Ethernet or with a router and Wi-Fi. Because satellite transmits data through the air, it can run into interference. A shielded cable option like copper cable or fiber reduces or prevents interference.

Benefits of Fiber Internet

Fiber cable provides the fastest internet speeds and fiber is often considered the most reliable service. But is a fiber network the best choice for your home or business? Take a look at some of the pros of fiber optic internet.

Fiber offers symmetrical speeds. This means that both download and upload speed remain equal with a fiber connection. Businesses that rely on upload speed, as well as download speed, may find this their best option for their needs.

Fiber optic internet speed is faster because light travels much faster than electricity does through copper cables. And unlike satellite, fiber cables are less susceptible to interference.

Fiber cables can carry a higher capacity of data over a longer distance. There is also less signal degradation with a fiber connection.

Making the Switch to Fiber Cable

Before you make the switch to fiber, make sure it’s available in your area.

The best way to check if you can make the switch is to contact a fiber network service. For example, Fiber Shentel Business provides networking solutions to homes and businesses in its service area.

Although the fiber optic network is expanding, it isn’t available everywhere yet. But with more people requesting fiber for their home or business, that’s likely to change soon.

Fiber optic internet requires special equipment. You’ll need fiber wire and there are two choices when it comes to installation.

Fiber to the premises (FTTP) means the cable runs directly to your home or business. Fiber to the node (FTTN) means that the cable runs to a nearby hub. Installed cable/DSL lines would have to connect from the hub to your home.

Is Fiber Right for You?

Ready to make the switch to fiber wire or fiber optic internet? If you need a reliable, high-speed service then fiber could be the perfect solution.

Keep in mind that compared to other types of internet service, fiber is more expensive to install. You may need to pay a monthly fee for a router as well. However, costs are generally lower over the long term.

It’s important to consider your budget as well as your business needs regarding internet speed before making your choice.

Looking for more articles like this one? Be sure to check our blog regularly for more advice and the latest news on technology.

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