How does Fiber Optic Internet Work?

Fiber internet is popular for businesses looking to boost productivity. We’ll explain how these tiny glass tubes of light can transfer anything from emails with cute cat GIFs to high-definition videos anywhere around the world.

Fibre Optic Cable Cross Diagram

First Off, What’s in a Fiber Optic Cable?

The most common fiber cables are made of 5 layers:

1. Core

The first and most important layer is the core. The core is made up of thousands of glass tubes bundled together and supported by a central strength element (e.g. a metal rod).

2. Cladding

The second layer of a fiber optic cable is the protective sheath called cladding. This increases the core’s total internal reflection to prevent data loss.

Total Internal Refraction

3. Plastic Coating

Plastic coating is wrapped around the fiber optic cable to reinforce the core and cladding for the third layer.

4. Strengthening Fibers

The fourth layer of the cable is made of strengthening fibers for added support.

5. Cable Jacket

Finally, the layers are wrapped in a cable jacket to protect against elements. This outer layer is found on every cable and wire.

 

How do Fiber Optics transmit data?

Your data signals go through three steps when being transmitted by fiber optics. Let’s take a liking a post on Facebook for example:
Stage 1:
After clicking “like” on your coworker’s witty post, that action becomes an electric data signal sent to your internet transmitter. The transmitter then converts the data into a light signal by changing its pulse and intensity.

Stage 2:
Light signals travelling long distances pass through regenerators along the way that give boosts to avoid attenuation.

Stage 3:
Thanks to the boosts, the strong signal arrives at the destination attenuation-free. The destination’s transmitter receives the signal and decodes it back to digital format to complete the transmission. You have officially liked that Facebook post! Now let’s check Twitter.

What is total internal reflection?

Total internal reflection happens when light reflects (instead of passing through) after hitting a shallow angle, like bouncing off a mirror. As light travels through the fiber optic cable, total internal reflection causes it to bounce off the cladding walls and stay inside the tube.

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