Fibre optic cables consist of glass threads, each capable of transmitting digital data modulated into light waves. They effectively send information coded in a beam of light through a glass or plastic pipe. A key advantage of fibre optic cables over metal conductor cables is their superior performance in terms of bandwidth and therefore data carrying performance. Optical fibre cables are generally lighter and less susceptible to electromagnetic interference, however optical fibre tends to be more fragile than cables with a metal conductor.
Applications for fibre optic cables range from carrying telephone calls (up to several million calls per cable) to high speed data transfer for vast computer networks.
The type of optical fibre is dictated by the application,the distance which the signals are required to travel, and the speed of transmission. The cable construction is then chosen according to the installation’s environmental requirements which can range from indoors within a dry wall in a public area requiring low smoke zero halogen (LSZH) materials, to outdoor trackside by a railway network.