Photo of fiber optic cable panel box like those installed and supported by Fearing's Audio Video Security in Madison WI.

Don’t Be Disrupted: Why Fiber Optic Cabling is a Must

Doug Fearing Audio/Video Design Build, General, Home or Residential, Video

There is a disruptor in the technology marketplace and the change will affect everyone. In corporate buildings and homes, copper-based wire has been the cabling of choice for decades. But, copper cabling is finally being bypassed by a better technology that has been in use for a while but is now coming into prominence for very good reason. Fiber optic cabling is the way to meet structured cabling needs for businesses and homeowners now and in the future. Why?

The fiber cabling itself has become more affordable and more durable, but it used to be trumped by copper mostly due to costs. The shift is happening now not only because of costs but because of consumer and business demand for faster and much larger amounts of data and the future needs for such.

As technology advances, the old systems and networks for streaming video signals will not work. The signals we deal with today and the way video, network, control signals are moving in the future require a lot of bandwidth. The copper cabling in our homes and businesses simply will not be able to transmit them.  

The difference is in new 4K and 8K ultra high definition content. Copper based twisted pair cables of yesterday can handle up to 10G bandwidth and are unable support native 4K60 or 8K. 8K has a 48G signal and, even with compression technology that works for 4K to move on copper, it cannot be compressed down to be transmitted by a 10G cable. 8K content exists — sports, TV shows and movies are natively filmed in 8K and will in the future be streamed to homes via fiber-based internet service providers.

You may wonder if this content is here to stay — is this really the future, or just a fad? A few years ago the conversation in the AV industry was all about 3D technology. Well it didn’t catch on. Even 4K UHD hasn’t been hugely popular, but 8K will be different because so much content out there is already available in 8K. This holiday season, 8K displays and projectors are in production for consumer models. The technology already exists for people to actually interact with 8K content in their homes and businesses.

What makes fiber optic cabling better?

According to Hyperline, one of Fearing’s vendors for the fiber cables, fiber cabling has 5 distinct capabilities:

  1. Higher Bandwidth: Fiber moves more data at higher speeds than copper cable. In fact, optic signals move through fiber at 70% of the speed of light.
  2. Greater Distance: Attenuation is lower with fiber optic than with copper cable, which means there is less signal loss, and data can travel farther.
  3. Higher Security: Optic signals cannot be hacked like electrical ones can be, so data transmission is more secure.
  4. No Electric Power: Fiber optic cable is not subject to electromagnetic interference (EMI), which means the signals maintain higher quality because they are not prone to interference and degradation due to EMI.
  5. Lighter Weight: Fiber optic cables are lighter than copper and easier to handle. They provide higher density at lower diameters, which means more cabling can fit in a tray, and there is more room for air to flow, which makes cooling more efficient.

Fiber lasts. It is immune to lightning, power surges, corrosion. For reasons of reliability and stability, it is being employed in government and health care operations. It is the best cabling mechanism we can use to create a truly reliable networked infrastructure.

What technologies use fiber optics?

There are many technologies in both residential and commercial environments: security & access control systems, between equipment racks, home theater video distribution, building to building network distribution and network switches to access points.

In the corporate environment, advances in connective technologies makes an upgrade to fiber cabling nearly inevitable at this point. The changing prominence of the data center to most business functions makes reliable and fast access to data a high priority for business executives everywhere — or at least it should be.

Straightforward networks on traditional copper systems have given way to advanced systems like “cloud platforms, hybrid environments, software-defined networks, data lakes, edge processing and other advanced architectures that require high performance from end to end,” according to Hyperline Cabling Systems.

Fiber optic cabling in your home makes you ready for 8K video and future technologies, allows you to leverage the full power of your ISP connection, will handle increased connected devices, and increases the value of your home. Your home theater experience will never be the same!

Whether for residential or commercial projects, your design and installation contractor will be a key partner, and their expertise in emerging technology is a the differentiator that will allow your network to evolve as technology continues to advance.

Contact the experts at Fearing’s today to learn more about how fiber cabling can enhance your business or home.