It’s no question whether fiber optic cabling is the way to go when it comes to lightning-fast, large-capacity networking. Fiber optic Internet is your data, delivered by light, at the speed of light. But you might find yourself wondering: Why…light? Why not pure electricity? Why not the noble, free-roaming radio wave or the cantankerous, high-frequency x-ray?
Today, we’re illuminating this question in three simple parts:
For starters, and it goes without saying: light’s fast. In fact, it’s the fastest thing out there (so long as it’s moving through a vacuum!). But, wait. Doesn’t every part of the electromagnetic spectrum move at the speed of light? Can’t we get more power in our signal by using a source stronger than a laser? For example, we mentioned x-rays above, which do propagate at much higher frequencies than does visible light. That might make intuitive sense at a glance—but, as we’ve explored, it’s not the intensity of the frequency that matters, only that there’s a frequency at all. In networking, strength is independent from power, meaning that less is often so much more and that power doesn’t always equate to speed. Fiber optics are all about finesse.
There’s an old saying at NebraskaLink: “Light doesn’t leak.” Unlike wires and cables made of copper, fiber optic cables are isolated vacuums and completely retain the signals flowing through them. This is possible due to the total internal refraction achieved by the mirror-coated cladding surrounding the cable’s inner glass core, all of which we’ll dig into in-depth in our next blog. Whereas it’s a simple matter to tap, sap or “leach” a traditional cable line mid-transmission, it’s just not possible with fiber. Because fiber optic networks are totally isolated from A to B, it means there’s virtually no noise, no leak, no loss.
Light signals can travel much farther along fiber optic cable than conventional signals without having to be amplified. Whereas copper cable signals require a boost from a repeater every 1.5 to 2 miles, fiber optic cable attenuates much more steadily and only needs re-amplification every 60 mi (100 km). That’s terabytes of information traveling from Lincoln’s Haymarket to Omaha’s Old Market in the blink of an eye, without any stops in-between, requiring virtually zero maintenance over the course of the cable’s lifetime. And not only can fiber optic cables go the distance—because of the way light travels inside the fiber optic cable’s core, there’s room in a single cable for multiple lines each bearing 100,000x the data capacity of traditional cabling. So go ahead: make that call to corporate and conference in every single one of your employees all at once. You’ll always have six-figure bandwidth to spare.
If you want to learn more about NebraskaLink and our network, don’t hesitate to contact our team here. We’re always happy to shed some light, whatever the weather, ‘round the clock.
 (The manner in which light propagates, or moves in waveforms through real space, is dependent on the kind of space through which it moves. In this way radio waves—which comprise a part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation and so move through vacuum space at the speed of light—could move much faster through a certain space occupied by a selective occluding medium such as Bose-Einstein Condensation which scatters or impedes the propagation of light but not that of lower-frequency EM radiation, such as radio waves).