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Optical Fiber

Last Edit: 10/01/17

Optical fiber - more commonly referred to as fiber-optic - is a hair thin artificial fiber, which is capable of providing higher data transmission standards, when compared to copper based communication networks.

Simple put, fiber-optic communication works by transporting light, and it achieves this by using "total internal reflection". Total internal reflection is an optical phenomenon where light bounces when directed at a specific angle. Fiber-optic cable is hair thin, made from glass, and is capable of supporting total internal reflection.

Total internal reflection, an image showing light bouncing at an angle, as what happens in fiber optic communication systems

As the light bounces, it can be transported great distances; without the light current suffering as much attenuation (a gradual lowering of intensity) - when compared to electrical cable systems, such as BT's aging copper landline network.

Fiber-optic, surprisingly, is not a modern discovery: using reflected light as a means of communications was demonstrated in the 1800's. The issue was finding a reliable way of implementing the technology. The current fiber-optic cable was invented in the 1970's.

Fiber-optic broadband networks are slowly being launched across the United Kingdom; which is sometimes referred to as super-fast broadband. Fiber-optic, due to it's lower attenuation, can provide vastly superior download and upload speeds when compared to copper and mobile broadband networks.