Four myths about fiber optic cable

Thought you knew your fiber stuff? Check out these four myths:

Myth #1: Fiber is too expensive.
Fiber used to be more expensive than copper. Today, however, because manufacturing costs are down and terminations are easier, fiber is often less expensive than the equivalent copper installation. Once installed, fiber optic maintenance costs are significantly less than copper ones.

Myth #2: Fiber is difficult to install.
In the old days of grind-and-polish connectors, installing fiber optic cable was a difficult, precise business that required a specialist. But improvements in fiber optic terminations and technologies have made them as easy to terminate as CATx connectors, and now many technicians prefer to install fiber because of its smaller diameter, lighter weight, and ease of testing.

Myth #3: Fiber is fragile.
Although terminating fiber cable does require some care to avoid breaking the glass core, in other respects, fiber is actually more robust than copper. Fiber optic cable can withstand a higher pulling tension than copper, is rated for larger temperature ranges, and is immune to EMI/RFI interference. In fact, one of the reasons the military prefers fiber is for its ruggedness and survivability.

Myth #4: Fiber is impossible to hack.
Because a copper cable “leaks” electromagnetic signals, a hacker can read data nearby without actually touching the cable. A fiber cable, on the other hand, uses light that stays within the cable, so a hacker must physically tap into it to gain access to data. So it’s true that fiber cable is more secure than copper cable, but it’s not true that it’s impossible to hack—all that’s needed is a network tap and physical access to the cable. For this reason, it’s important to secure fiber optic cable by protecting it from unauthorized tampering and by encrypting data that must be kept private.

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