Fiber Optic Networks: The Connectivity Today’s World Needs

The needs of today’s society require solutions that are up to the demands. Furukawa Electric argues that fiber optic cabling emerges as a solution to the new context.

Today, we are immersed in a world in which digital is the protagonist of reality. The needs of people linked to connectivity require immediate solutions and a guarantee of service and quality. However, many times it is unknown what makes instant connection possible or is not given the necessary importance. For a long time, the cabling that is part of the telecommunications infrastructure was mainly composed of copper cables, but with the emergence of new demands and technologies, these are no longer sufficient to meet the demand. In this new scenario, fiber optics comes into play.

Metal or copper networks are already at their performance capacity limit, since they need specific means for each type of service implemented. Another of its limitations is related to the transmission distance that, at high rates, restricts its maximum length. This triggers a need for active equipment on the external network that increases operation and maintenance costs. Currently, everything goes through data connectivity so optical technologies are omnipresent in computer and telecommunications networks.

Fiber optics have been widely implemented in Europe. According to data from  the FTTH Market Panorama in Europe report, published this year, in September 2022, there were 219 million households in 39 European countries who had access to an FTTH (fiber optic to the home) network, 10.4% more than the same period of the previous year (198.4 million). The global coverage rate stands at 62%, five points more than the previous year and fiber optic penetration is led by Iceland (76.8%), closely followed by Spain (73.5%) and Portugal with 71.1%.

However, there is still some way to go, as there are 89 million households in Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy that are not yet connected to a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or to-building (FTTB) network. These  account for 55% of pending deployments across the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom.

This boom in fiber optics is due to its significant advantages. One of them, and the one that most affects users is the increase in their speed and bandwidth, given the popularity of hybrid work and the rise of social networks. In Internet service over fiber optics, the data connection is carried by cables filled with thin glass fibers, where they travel as patterned light pulses and are hundreds of times faster than traditional networks.

The cables, being protected by a transparent and flexible sheath, are extremely secure and, as they do not contain an electromagnetic field, the transmitted data cannot be intercepted, slowed down or mixed with other signals.

Due to the constant technological evolutions that occur in short periods of time, networks are needed to support the growing needs of band: they are called future-proof. In this sense, an essential element for the future are the  latest generation NG-PON Passive Optical Networks. They are point-multipoint networks and are composed of passive optical splitters that allow a single fiber to serve several end users. This configuration reduces the amount of fibers and equipment in the plant compared to point-to-point architectures. This technology is recognized as the future of connectivity thanks to its features such as electromagnetic immunity, less infrastructure, low losses and low latency.

No doubt new waves of innovation and evolution are yet to come. Furukawa Electric argues that the key to being aligned with change is to have robust infrastructure networks for better connectivity. In this sense, it is important to know that a network installed with fiber optics will not need to be replaced by a more modern one for many years.