Debunking Fiber Optic Myths
There are a lot of myths that lurk behind optical fiber technology. This is the product of most people not really understanding the state of things, because most folks don’t really grasp the nuances of the science. People get bite-sized basic overviews, which can lead to misconceptions and myths. However, to fully understand how to work with ots cable fiber optics, you need to know what you’re dealing with.
Part of that process is, of course, understanding what’s true and what isn’t about optical fiber. There are a number of myths and misconceptions, some of which might be true, some might not. Let’s take a crack at some of the most common ones and shed light on them.
Myth: The Laser Will Damage Your Eyes
Among the most prevalent claims is that if you look right into the light transmission used by optical fibers, it’ll fry your eyes. Supposedly, the laser light used to transmit data is powerful enough to cause damage to the corneas. In some extreme variations, this is said to be based on the laser technology that burns people’s warts off.
The truth is that fiber optic systems don’t have enough power to do that in general. Rather than lasers, what are used are light-emitting diodes that shoot beams of low strength. However, the myth does have a string of truth in some industries or in some situations.
Some specialized applications, particularly medical applications and cable access, use much more powerful variants of light. Telephone and data networks also use light that is powerful enough to cause possible harm. The other way to get potential damage to the cornea is if you look at the fiber termination point close up for an extended period.
Myth: Glass Shards from Broken Cables Aren’t Safe
Another myth you might hear is that damaged fiber optic cables aren’t safe due to glass shards. These cables rely on glass fibers to reflect light, so any physical damage can create tiny shards. These shards are said to be able to cut skin.
This myth is absolutely true and there are specific safety procedures for handling fiber optic shards. It is important to dispose of the glass shards made in the aftermath of cleaved fiber. Use safe cleaning chemicals and adhesives, because these scraps can cut skin or otherwise cause damage. You also want to avoid getting fiber scraps on your clothing. Treat these as you would any other glass shards and splinters.
Myth: Fiber Cables Break Easily
Glass is fragile, something that breaks with ease. The fibers are made of glass, so it follows that it should also shatter with little problem. This is a myth, and one that is pervasive and nowhere near true.
Yes, some glass fiber does require more care. However, the fibers are designed and assembled to withstand rugged installations and a lot of punishment. They can withstand a lot of pressure and force, and industrial cables are able to take even more than the standard ones used in homes and offices.
Myth: Copper is Cheaper
One persistent myth about fiber is that it costs more than the older alternative, copper. This was true at one point in time when the technology was newer. On an individual level, it might also be true. The typical length of fiber optic cable costs a little more than an equivalent of old copper cables.
However, if you look at the structure of the network itself and all relevant hardware, it can actually be cheaper overall. Fiber allows for the removal of telecom closets, reducing the cost. Fewer pieces of hardware also lower the overall power usage of the network. Higher data rates also mean less electricity is used for transmitting over longer distances, further cutting on power costs.
Finally, fiber optic cables will cost less in the long-term because you have to replace them less often. The typical fiber cable will outlive a copper one by about nine generations.
Myth: Fiber Doesn’t Work With Wireless
There are also those who are concerned that fiber optics don’t support wireless networking. This is a curious myth, one that doesn’t really make much sense. No one is entirely sure where it came from, other than perhaps that fiber hasn’t been seen in home-based networking and wireless equipment compared to copper cables.
The truth is that optical fiber technology does support wireless connections. Like any other cable, it is meant to transmit information from point to point. With the use of equipment such as routers or switches, devices like terminals, portable gadgetry, and others can gain access to the network. This is the same as any other cable. So in short, fiber optics do support wireless functions.
Myth: Fiber is Immune to Interference
Fiber optics is foolproof, according to some myths. There is no way to disrupt it and it is immune to interference. This is half-true. Yes, it isn’t interrupted by things like electromagnetic fields or radio frequencies. However, it can also be disrupted, particularly if the reflective materials that form the heart of the fibers aren’t intact and kept clear.
Optical fiber technology has changed the world. The speed and reliability have made them the core of so many industries and functions. There are a number of misconceptions and myths about the technology, stemming from misunderstandings. It is important to debunk these myths, so people have the right information.
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