Hardware Requirements to Set Up a Fiber-Optic Network

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Hardware Requirements to Set Up a Fiber-Optic Network
Fibre-Optic Cables (fibre optic computer cables image by Andrew Brown from Fotolia.com)

A fibre-optic network uses light signals through an optical fibre for the transmission of data from point A to point B. The transmitted light signal converts into a modulated electromagnetic carrier wave that carries vital information. Fibre-optic communication has revolutionised technology and made possible the transfer of data at speeds faster than those before. Optical fibres have numerous advantages over copper-wire-based networks and are the backbone of core networks. Fibre-optic networks are used by telecommunications companies for the transmission of cable television signals, Internet communication and telephone signals.

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Fibre-Optic Transmitter

A fibre-optic transmitter is an integral component of the fibre-optic network. Laser diodes (those that produce coherent light or waves of light that are in sync with one other) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs---those that produce incoherent light or light waves not aligned with one other) are commonly used fibre-optic transmitters. Fibre-optic transmitters are reliable, efficient and compact and are programmed to operate within an optimal wavelength range. The main purpose of an optical transmitter is the conversion of electrical signals into light signals to pass through an optical fibre. A fibre-optic transmitter is comprised of an optical source, a source drive circuit and an interface circuit.

Fibre-Optic Receiver

A fibre-optic receiver is used to convert an optical signal into an electric signal. The receiver acts upon the signal flowing through an optical fibre and switches it back to its original state (audio, video or data) at the receiving end. The key component of the fibre-optic receiver is the photodetector, which is typically a semiconductor photodiode.

Fibre-Optic Cables

An optical cable can be thought of as a "light-guide." It directs signals of light from a fibre-optic transmitter to be read by an optical receiver. Fibre-optic cables are widely used in the telecommunications world for their high bandwidth capacity, speed of transmission, supporting distance, greater resistance and ease of maintenance. Fibre-optic cables are either single mode or multimode. A single-mode cable is comprised of a single strand of transmitting glass that allows a single ray of light to flow through it. Multimode fibre optic transmission cables have larger diameters than single-mode cables and are capable of supporting the flow of simultaneous light signals. Multimode fibres are used to cover small to medium length distances while single-mode fibres are used for longer distance communication (longer than 3,000 feet).

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