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Networking Communications

Fiber Optic vs Copper 234

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the old-and-busted-vs-new-hotness dept.
pcnetworx1 writes "Recently companies, such as Verizon with their FIOS service, have begun to migrate from legacy copper to fiber optics. Corning (admittedly one of the largest fiber optic cable makers) is running an article which explains why it is actually cheaper to go for the fiber optics."
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Fiber Optic vs Copper

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  • network security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OffTheLip (636691) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:33AM (#14019494)
    Fiber is a step above copper with respect to infrastructure security. While this doesn't have implications for everyone plenty of businesses and government agencies require that level of security.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @05:54AM (#14019539) Journal
    Funny how a fiber optic cable making company forgot to include that in their analysis.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:09AM (#14019564) Homepage Journal
    Which it won't be until standard business PC's include an optical ethernet connector as they do copper ethernet connectors now. The cost of installing the extra interface card PC's is just too high,

    All the fibre cables I have seen have rigid limits on radius of curvature. They are much worse than solid core copper cable. There is no such thing as fibre flex cable, so I can't see a good way to take fibre out of the switch room, into the cube farm, out of the wall and into the back of a PC, let alone across a table and into a laptop.

    I would, however, believe that a wireless protocol could be used for that step, and fibre for everything else.

  • by boa13 (548222) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:31AM (#14019607) Homepage Journal
    They also said that the price for installing fiber and the price for installing copper are now similar. This is news. Fiber used to be plenty more expensive to install than copper.
  • by boa13 (548222) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:34AM (#14019612) Homepage Journal
    Funny how a fiber optic cable making company forgot to include that in their analysis.

    They're talking about high-bandwidth installations, and talking to business people. I doubt these people are interested in hack jobs the grandparent describes, especially since it's a sure way to say goodbye to your high bandwidth (tens of gigabits or so).
  • by bjoeg (629707) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:51AM (#14019648)
    As the repost properly would say. Copper can be sufficient enough, but what starts happening when in future the speeds and demands of the copper start increasing? It needs to be replaced, which means installation all over again.

    With fibre, in same scenario as above, not much will change, so the same cable can be used for higher speeds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:02AM (#14019673)
    I call bullshit on this one,
    You certainly don't need to CUT the fiber that you are interested in tapping.
    The only thing you need to do is peel of the protective layers and then bend the
    fiber enougth and pick up the signal on the outside of the fiber when the light bounces
    on the wall inside the fiber. This will NOT disrupt the service for the people that you
    are trying to wiretap. Google for it if you don't trust me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:31AM (#14019855)
    The reason we're only barely getting fiber in major US cities at this point is because the telco companies are doing their best to maximize profits, ie, charge as much as possible while delivering as little as possible. Basic capitalism at work. It's precisely this attitude that has repeatedly kept America from being at the forefront of technology deployment time and time again. It's only been in the last year or two that most places have been stepped up to 3Mbps download speeds (we're still capped on upload), which they could've been offering us when DSL rollouts began in 1996. From here, they'll eventually uncap upload speeds and offer it to us as if it were a new and exciting thing, and American's being as dumb as they are, will lap it up...
  • future proofing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interactive_civilian (205158) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .uromam.> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @11:31AM (#14020509) Homepage Journal
    I understand and somewhat agree with what you are saying, but the idea of "good enough for now" is short-sighted at best, IMHO...

    please allow me to pull some numbers out of my ass...

    20 years ago, 9600baud was "good enough for now". 15 years ago, 14.4kbps was "good enough for now". 10 years ago, 33.6kbps (or was it 56kbps at that time?) was "good enough for now." (well, for some people...those of us on T1s or greater to university networks would beg to differ). 5 years ago, 1.4Mbps cable was "good enough for now (speaking from my own experience)...

    Now? Some companies, like Apple are allowing downloading of TV programs. Some day that may become movies, or as someone else mentioned "IPTV". I imagine that somewhere around that time, 100Mbps Fibre will be "good enough for now", but will eventually be surpassed. Someday we will see something like "1Gbps? Good enough for now..."..."1Tbps? Good enough for now..."

    I would not be surprised if those came in my lifetime...

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @11:33AM (#14020521) Journal
    Why do you say that it is 10x more expensive? The install costs are roughly:
    • digging. (same cost)
    • Amplifiers ; fibers amp is cheap and fewer are needed due to their ability to go longer distance.
    • buying the media (copper/fiber). copper is cheaper, but this represents a small costs.
    • connectors; copper is cheaper to do.

    In addition, during the lifetime, fiber requires less power, and due to fewer amps it has fewer points of failure. Of course, a break in the line is more expensive.

    So 10x? I don't think so.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @12:37PM (#14020838) Homepage
    the big Canadian telcos have been replacing all their copper with fiber for years now. I know for a fact you'd have a damn difficult time finding copper between towns in British Columbia -- even the dead-end podunk town 100km to the east of my home, population 400, has fiber to its switch. And if what I've heard is correct, all new developments this past five to ten years have been laid with fiber to the local switch, and possibly dark fiber to the home in addition to the copper pairs.

    I a little startled to hear that fiber is a big deal in the USA. Talk about behind the times!
  • by Bishop (4500) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @01:11PM (#14020998)
    Everything you wrote is contrary to my experience with fiber optics.

    Changing fiber connectors is not expensive. It takes more skill then crimping copper, but it is not hard. It requires some specialized equipment but it is nothing outrageous. Changing the connector types should not be an issue. All infrastructure fiber should be terminated in a patch panel with a pigtail used to connect the hardware (servers/switchs/etc) to the patch panel. Fiber is somewhat fragile so once infrastructure fiber in in place it is best if it is not touched.

    I am not aware of any shop replaceing GBICs every other week, every other month, or indeed ever. In my experience fiber transcievers have been more reliable then copper. At any rate Cisco GBICs aren't that expensive. Through Google I found multimode transcievers for $180.

    Any shop that ran copper 10 years ago is running new copper now to take adavantage of 1Gbit/s. Those shops will be running new copper again in 10 years. Fiber shops are using the same old fiber with new switches. When 10Gbit becomes affordable fiber shops will switch over to that.

    At my last shop every 24 devices had a 1Gbit/s fiber link to the fiber plant. This density was choosen to keep the copper runs short. Most switches are not full so there are actually fewer then 24 devices per fiber. There are 4-6 dark fibers for every fiber in use. This gives room for spares and future growth. That may be excessive, but the cost of fiber is cheaper then labour. It is a great setup.

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