contact button

A Novice’s Guide to How Fiber Optic Network Cables Work

September 2, 2020
By Russ Fordyce
Director of Marketing

Understanding the basic principles, designs, and vocabulary for fiber optic network cables

At Infinera, we know a lot about optical transport networks and how to build equipment and software to generate high-performance optical transmission, but there is always another side to the equation that needs consideration: the physical fiber optic cable itself.

A fiber optic cable includes an optical fiber that is a very thin piece of glass, less than the diameter of a human hair, and that single strand of fiber is capable of carrying vast amounts of data from one location to another. Recently Infinera and Corning demonstrated delivering an 800 gigabits per second (800G) single wavelength with Infinera’s sixth-generation Infinite Capacity Engine (ICE6) technology across 800 kilometers of Corning’s TXF® optical fiber. This was later extended to 1000 kilometers, which is the longest 800G transmission distance reported to date.

Corning invented the low-loss fiber in 1970, and that innovation now serves as the foundation for all our voice, video, and data networks, with more than 5 billion kilometers of optical fiber having been laid around the globe.

And while many think that glass may be easily broken, per inch, fiber optic cables are stronger than steel, more durable than copper, and, unlike other network cables, they work in a very wide range of environmental conditions like lightning strikes.

But as we push data rates ever higher, even the best fiber optic cables cause issues that potentially affect the reliability and quality of the laser transmission. Take a few minutes to learn more about how fiber optic cables work and what factors impact fiber optic cable performance.