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Why can't optical fiber replace network cables currently?

Views:18     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-08-11      Origin:Site

In the cabling industry, the contest between optical fiber and copper cables has lasted for more than ten years. Nowadays, with the continuous emergence of new services such as cloud computing and 5G, the scale of data centers continues to expand, and their architecture and cabling are becoming more and more complex. The demand for optical fiber in backbone equipment is increasing due to its light weight and decreasing cost. The proportion of optical fiber in large data centers is more than 70%, far higher than that of copper cables. Does it mean that copper cables will be completely replaced by optical fiber? Actually not.

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Why are copper cables still an integral part of a data center?

Although, driven by the demand for higher bandwidth of data centers, optical fiber occupies a larger share in the deployment of data centers, especially in the backbone application networks, due to its advantages such as higher transmission rate and greater bandwidth, etc. But copper cables will still be an integral part of the data center, and in special environments such as voice transmission and power supply, copper cables are irreplaceable.

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1、Application Comparison

Although, driven by the demand for higher bandwidth of data centers, optical fiber occupies a larger share in the deployment of data centers, especially in the backbone application networks, due to its advantages such as higher transmission rate and greater bandwidth, etc. But copper cables will still be an integral part of the data center, and in special environments such as voice transmission and power supply, copper cables are irreplaceable.

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2、Unique Advantages of Copper Cables

For integrated horizontal cabling within 100 meters, optical fiber is inferior to copper cables in terms of maintenance, cost, cabling, etc. The core in optical fiber is a special type of glass fiber. which is more fragile compared with the copper in copper cables. In terms of cabling and post-maintenance, optical fiber will be easily broken if you don't pay more attention to it, which will increase its cost. As for the current market situation, although the price of optical fiber has declined, it is still higher than that of copper cables in general. Therefore, compared with optical fiber, the cabling and maintenance of copper cables is more convenient and the cost is lower.

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Optical fiber cannot replace copper cables in terms of voice signal transmission and wireless access, POE system and other power supply applications.

First, copper cables, unlike optical fiber, can support voice signals by transmitting data via electrical impulses. Therefore, copper cables can be applied to voice transmission, while optical fiber cannot.

Second, the glass fiber used in optical fiber cannot conduct electricity, while the copper in copper cables can make it. Therefore, copper cables can supply power while conducting data connection, which are widely used in wireless access, POE system, LED-based power system and so on.

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In addition, modular plug end link (MPTL) has been approved as an option to connect devices in TIA-568.2-D, which will promote the growth of the applications of RJ45 copper cables, especially  in monitoring systems that use IP cameras. Meanwhile, 28AWG patch cord is added to the appendix to this Specification and smaller copper cables will facilitate air circulation and space utilization, allowing them to be developed for high density applications.


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