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What is a Fiber-Optic Network?

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  • Written By: S. Lilley
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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A fiber-optic network is a computer-to-computer or computer-to-Internet network created using fiber-optic cables. These cables are made of thin strands of glass that transmit light. Computer information is converted into light pulses to send across the cables and is converted back into regular data when it reaches its destination.

One main advantage of a fiber-optic network is its ability to function over long distances when compared to other types of network cables. Coaxial cables, for example, require repeaters to send a signal over long distances, which ultimately can result in signal loss. A fiber-optic network requires very few repeaters over the same distances, thanks to the light-pulse technology used to transmit the data, and it suffers little to no signal loss or loss of quality.

Fiber-optic cables also have two major benefits — speed and bandwidth — over other types of network cable. Fiber-optic cables can transmit information at much faster rates that comparable network cables. The same cable can also carry more information simultaneously than other types of cables used in personal and business networking.

Fiber-optic network cables have the ability to transmit both electrical power and computer data simultaneously, adding to the cables' versatility. In addition to regular computer data, the same cable creating an Internet network connection could also be used to transmit audio and video signals. Fiber-optic television services often also offer Internet service for this very reason.

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Fiber-optic network cabling can be used to carry more data than other types of cables used to create networks. This can save money for network users in the long run, because it takes less fiber-optic cabling than coaxial cables or Ethernet cables to create the same size network. Fiber-optic network cabling also is not susceptible to electronic interference, thanks to the conversion of information into light pulses for transmission.

The creation of a consumer-level fiber-optic network requires just a few pieces of equipment. A modem specifically intended to be used with a fiber-optic network is required for networks designed to communicate with the Internet. Specially designed fiber-optic network cables are also required to connect computers to the modem, or computers to other computers. Major computer operating systems are compatible with fiber-optic Internet and local area network connections. This prevents users from having to purchase new software to get a machine connected to the network.

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