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Networking Communications

Fiber Optic vs Copper 234

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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  • they basically said that for extremely high bandwidth or long range applications, fiber is the way to go. this is news? i've known this since I started networking (late '90s) and it was common knowledge well before then.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:56AM (#14019543) Journal
    It's not really that different. If somebody wants to wiretap your home's or business's Internet connection by climbing telephone poles or popping manhole covers, the fact that the connection is fiber just means they need to bring some splicing hardware instead of copper alligator clips, and have a co-conspirator / getaway-driver with you to explain why your fake phone company truck is working at Midnight ("because that way it won't interfere with our customer's business", which is true for real repair people as well as wiretappers.) It's a bit more of a skilled job, but it's not the easiest place to attack most businesses anyway. More typically, you're an insider, but if you're an outsider, you want to crack into the victim's firewall over the Internet, or email them trojan horses, or if you *must* do hardware, you want to get into their phone closet where they've got the yellow sticky with the router password. But it's probably an inside job.
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @06:58AM (#14019548) Journal
    Unless you've got an independant power source, then you still run the risk of frying your computer via the powerlines.
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:00AM (#14019555) Journal
    Well, yes, I was referring to the situation whereby my router is sucking off the UPS, and my wireless notebook is on battery power.
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:23AM (#14019586) Homepage Journal
    I've wondered why nobody's developed a fiber standard for things like connecting external disk drives to personal computers

    Fibre cables can't have sharp bends in them because the photons would literally not make it around the bend if it is too tight.

    Because of this the cable has to be carefully laid. You can't just string it anywhere.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:30AM (#14019604) Journal
    Fibre cables can't have sharp bends in them because the photons would literally not make it around the bend if it is too tight.

    Because of this the cable has to be carefully laid. You can't just string it anywhere.

    This is true for today's high-bandwidth glass fibers, but is it necessarily the case? I'm not talking about multi-kilometer signal paths.


  • by TheZorch ( 925979 ) <thezorch @ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday November 13, 2005 @07:32AM (#14019609) Homepage
    I will be thuroughly impressed if fiber can be brought from the pole into the home. A analog/digital converter would allow uses to keep using existing phones on an all fiber phone network, but a whole range of new products could be used for digital Internet access. DSL doesn't work via fiber optics, so an all fiber phone system could usher in a whole new type of Internet service via the telecoms and at speeds that exceed what DSL can offer right now. Regular modems would still work but much more efficiently than before since fiber isn't volunerable to EM interference like lightning from thunderstorms, high-tension powerlines, peak cellphone usage (yes this does effect copper landlines), raido signals (try going online via an unfiltered phone line if you live near an airport), and sun spots.

    Fiber lines are harder to illegal tap. There is a device that can connect to a standard copper pbone cable without piercing the outer insulation. By turning a set of dials you can listen in on all of the phone conversations going on through that cable. Such a device wouldn't work on a fiber line because it exploits certain laws governing electromagentism and how electricity travels through wires. In order to illegally tap a fiber line you'd have to cut it, that would disrupt service for a while, and its would instantly be noticable.
  • Fiber to the home (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:13AM (#14019686)
    I gotta say I work for a Telco that is now installing "Fiber to the Home" and it is great. The ease of use and setup is fantastic. We are just in the process of rolling out this service and provisioning an new customer is very easy and it is great to work with a device 40 miles away and have no lag, after doing the same kind of work with Cable Modems and Dialup over the years this has be the way to go.

    We support 802.11 wireless (it sucks, The technology isn't reliable and most people don't understand how to use it!), Cable modems, Dialup, fixed point wireless (this sucks worse, slow and almost unusable), and now "Fiber to the home" of all of them the fiber seems to be the best. We are even considering replacing some cable lines with fiber in existing builds where we have had problems with the cable or we have higher bandwidth demands.

    I know the cost is more but maintenance is much lower and that is what kills you in the long run, going out and splicing a rodent chew. Fiber just doesn't have the same problems.

    Just my opinion, but I use it now, in the real world and it isn't speculation at this point.

  • by Hymer ( 856453 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:41AM (#14019733)
    10x more expensive ?? Why are they then using single mode fiber where multi mode would be enough (single mode is more expensive than multi mode) ?
    I do not really buy the 10x more expensive argument... glass (even flawless) is cheaper pr. kg than copper... and btw. you can multiplex a signal on a copper wire too...
    Where I live the most expensive part of laying anything in the ground is the digging.
    There is one factor that in fact makes fiber cheaper than copper: glass is corrosion-free and will last forever.
  • Do the math (Score:3, Interesting)

    by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @08:58AM (#14019778)
    If you put in 62/125 micron fiber in 1985, you'd still be using it.

    But if you installed Cat3, then you yanked it and went to TSB Cat 5. Now they're goading us into Cat 6, and extended variants.

    It's true that 20 years ago, one used bizarre jigs to terminate fiber, but those days are long gone. Optical TDR test equipment had dropped like a rock, and you can get unbelievably cool handheld and laptop-based diagnostic equipment these days for fiber.

    And the cost to do fiber has dropped amazingly, too.

    Fiber has always had a cutting edge-like price tag because the equipment was usually the fastest, like the first gigabit Ethernet, fiber channel SANs, and so on. But there's practical reason: you simply can jam far more data into a fiber pipe than a copper one, and this'll always be the case. The real limits of fiber simply have not been found yet, what with DWDM, multiple lambdas, and so on.

    And no, I don't work for Corning. I'm an engineer that's designed a lot of MANs and WANs.
  • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Sunday November 13, 2005 @03:04PM (#14021246) Homepage Journal
    Come on, USA! At least in the cities, there is no reason to be so far behind with regards to residential access!

    The US is a few years behind, I'd say about 5 right now, in fibre uptake. This mainly was due to the phone companies not wanting to install fibre networks and then be told they would have to lease them out at cost to competitors. This would severly reduce the return on investment they could then make. With a few recent rulings from the FCC, the phone companies have been ramping up fibre installation. My local phone company, Verizon, is installing fibre in the area right now. We don't have access to it yet, but it is coming. The cable company raised speeds when DSL became available in the area. Current cost for fibre in areas that can get it are 15/2Mbps for $50. Give it a few years, and it will be faster and cheaper.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2005 @10:06PM (#14023340)
    You don't need to do any splicing at all to tap a fiber, you just need to bend a fiber beyond its critical radius and it starts leaking light. Put the right kind of lense at the right point and blammo, you've tapped the fiber with no service interruption. I work for a security company and we do this exact demo at trade shows using a video signal. It's funny how many jaws hit the floor. The tap coupler we use was taken off a broken fusion splicer bought off ebay... so this stuff is available.

    We do it with a bare fiber, but the orange or yellow jacket you typically see on fiber is not especially opaque. Get your receiver sensitive enough and you don't even need to strip the jacket off.

  • by microwave_EE ( 768395 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @12:52AM (#14023972)
    Regarding the network limitations for wireless:

    I've seen that there has been some recent work done to implement room-sized pico-cells using a ~65GHz carrier. At that band, there should (if the FCC allows) be plenty of room for everybody within the cell to have a fat channel. That is, instead of sharing 54Mbps, you could be sharing 1 or 2Gbps, again depending on what the FCC has allocated (which I don't have handy).

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito