Copper vs. Fiber Optic Cables

When assessing which type of network cable you want to install, which type should you go with?

Copper has been used in electrical wiring since the invention of the electromagnet and the telegraph  in the 1820s.

Copper wire is used in power generation, power transmission, power distribution, telecommunications , electronics circuitry, and countless types of electrical equipment.

Copper has the advantage of being less expensive to connect network devices and the fact that it already exists in many places.

1. Fiber optic transmission is faster.

Fiber optic versus copper wire transmission can be boiled down to the speed of photons versus the speed of electrons. While fiber optic cables don’t travel at the speed of light, they come very close—only about 31 percent slower.


2. Fiber optic transmission results in less attenuation.

When traveling over a long distance, fiber optic cables experience less signal loss than copper cabling. This is called low attenuation. Copper cables can only transmit information up to 9,328 ft due to power loss, whereas fiber cables can travel between 984.2 ft to 24.8 miles.


3. Fiber optic cables are impervious to electromagnetic interference (EMI).

Copper wires, if not properly installed, will produce electromagnetic currents that can interfere with other wires and wreak havoc on a network. Fiber optic cables, unlike copper cables, do not conduct electricity.


4. Light cannot catch on fire.

An added benefit of fiber optic cables is that they are not a fire hazard. This can also be attributed to the same reason that the cables do not produce EMI—there is no electric current traveling through the core.


5. Fiber optic cables do not break as easily.

This means that you will not have to worry about replacing them as frequently as copper wires. Even though the fiber is made of glass, copper wires are more prone to damage than fiber optic cables are.