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Optical networks offer major advantages over copper

By Max Burkhalter
July 12, 2012
There are plenty of reasons to choose fiber-optic cabling systems over copper wiring. However, organizations have been deterred by the high cost of optical networking solutions. This is beginning to change because reduced cabling costs and an increased need for high-performance networking solutions are combining to make fiber more attractive for many companies. According to a recent Cabling Installation & Maintenance interview with members of the Telecommunications Industry Association fiber optics LAN section team, there are a few key optical network benefits that stand out.

The first is the longer link capabilities of optical networks. In a typical copper cabling setup, the infrastructure is capable of transporting data within a link range of 100 meters before interference and other issues disrupt services too much. However, some forms of multimode optical cabling can go as far as 400 meters without any trouble, TIA representatives told the news source.

Future proofing is another advantage of fiber-optic cabling infrastructure, as the LAN section team told Cabling Installation & Maintenance that optical hardware has the potential to handle future Ethernet performance standards, making it an ideal fit for many service providers and data center operators.

"Today's multimode fibers offer users the ability to support their network needs well into the future. With laser-optimized multimode fibers, companies can easily migrate to 40 GbE or even 100 GbE and higher in their backbones. These fibers offer enough 'headroom' to support anticipated applications for at least 10 to 20 years," TIA team members told the news source.

It is also worth noting that one of the major downsides of fiber - difficult installation - is becoming less problematic. Members of the fiber-optic LAN section team told Cabling Installation & Maintenance that most technicians are now familiar enough with fiber that typical installation concerns are no longer a major problem. In fact, fiber is often easier to deploy than some state-of-the-art copper systems.

When considering an investment in fiber it is key to realize that while the cost may be high at first, the value created by the network is high. While fiber is expensive, its ability to withstand a decade or more of use without having to be replaced means that organizations are getting more for their money. Furthermore, fiber media conversion tools can be used to strategically deploy fiber alongside copper, helping companies control costs while implementing optical networks where needed.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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