The advent and continuous growth of information technology has put more emphasis on the speed at which data can be relayed from one point to another. Although data transfer can still occur wirelessly, the fastest and more reliable way of transmitting data is by way of wire connection.
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Both fiber optic and coaxial cables are used for purposes of transmitting data between different ends. The terminals are varied, including ‘computers, servers, telephones, network hubs, and televisions’. This paper seeks to discuss the two types of wires used for data transmission, and in particular analyze the advantages and disadvantages that each type has over the other.
This type of cable consists of optical fibers that are covered with plastic layers. The cables are often insulated with an outer covering to protect them from any kind of damages within the environments that they are laid in (White, 2013).
Advantages of fibre optic cables
Fibre optics transmits data at significant speeds and amounts. This is because the cables employ light to transmit the data from different terminal ends. The large capacity that is inherent in the fibre optic cables results from the fact that the cables contain various silica ‘cores’, which have several proliferations. The cables become more popular for transmitting data due to the numerous proliferations.
The fibre optic cables occur in two different varieties, the single and multi-mode ranges. These are also referred to as simplex and duplex fiber optic cables. While the single mode can only offer one propagation path that allows data to be transmitted through, the multi-mode variety offers more than one such path. The duplex fibre optic cables have an added advantage because they have the ability to convey data in two directions.
Because of the high quality of data that is relayed through fiber optic cables, they are best preferred for all-encompassing professional networks (White, 2013). Most academic institutions like universities will find it appropriate to use fiber optics for their data and overall internet needs. Business campuses also prefer using this type of cables than the coaxial cables.
The performance and general quality of fibre optic cables is less varied over distance. This means end user signals for fiber optic cable users will remain less affected in terms of quality irrespective of the distance separating the data source and the terminal point.
Fibre optic cables have a strong and generally high quality performance that is less susceptible to noise sources within their surrounding environment. The immunity to EMI and RFI forms of interferences makes the cable good for use, especially in surroundings where such interferences are common.
Fiber optic cables are relatively expensive, compared to the coaxial cables. Additionally, they are comparatively novel with a sophisticated design. These characteristics make them less suitable for use within residential and consumer locations.
There are safety concerns emanating from exposure to infrared rays. This can even damage the eyes, especially in instances where the power levels are found to be high. There is high risk of being exposed to infrared rays during fibre inspection under lenses. The small glass fragments that make up the fibre optics are also dangerous if they accidentally get under the skin. This can occur mainly when cutting the fiber.
Fiber optic cables are susceptible to microscopic flaws that mainly occur during the manufacturing process. The overall handling of the cables, the cabling process, as well as installation imposes some level of stress to the cables, which eventually leads to strength degradation. Such unavoidable stress activities will obviously lower the performance quality of the cables (Shelly, 2008).
Coaxial cables are made up of two different types of wire, where the central part comprises of a solid wire and the outer part comprises of braided or foil material conductor. An insulating material that runs through the cable separates both conductors from coming into contact (Shelly, 2008).
Advantages of coaxial cables
This cable type is highly resilient and of good quality. The design of the cable comprises of four layers: ‘the copper core, a dielectric insulator, woven copper guard, and an outer plastic sheath’. This allows the cables to transmit data faster, without being interfered with by the outside environmental factors. A wide variety of networks used for communication purposes make this type of a cable the most preferable.
Coaxial cables are relatively less costly and of a simple design. This makes the cable easy to install because they can easily be twisted. As such, most residential installation, as well as medium-capacity data transfer prefers using this type of cable.
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Coaxial cables are prone to signal leakage owing to the imperfections of the cable’s shielding. Users often experience weak signals often interfered with because of this characteristic of the cable (Shelly, 2008).
Although coaxial cables enjoy high-frequency capacity, this gradually reduces as the length of the cable is increased (White, 2013). This means if the source of data is far from the end user terminals, the quality of transmission will be poor and the end-users will have poor quality signals.
The performance of coaxial cables reduces with noise interference. The cables are prone to induced interference, EMI/RFI. Different noise generators, including fluorescent lights, power cables, computers, and industrial equipment, among other noise generators lower the quality of performance for this cable type. Additionally, cable frequency equalization worsens the problem related to noise interference.
The transformer effect lowers down the quality and performance of coaxial cables. The cable’s ‘inner and outer conductor material’ makes it suitable for winding transformers, both ‘primary and secondary’. The transformer effect results into leakages that reduce the signal quality at the terminal point (Shelly, 2008).
Fibre optic and coaxial cables have become more useful in the contemporary world because of the advent and subsequent growth of the information technology. The cables are used mainly for the transmission of data from different terminal points, including computers and televisions. The fiber optic cable has more advantages than the coaxial cable because of the high frequency of data transfer that it supports.
The cables are also immune to noise interferences that affect the quality of coaxial cables. More importantly, the aspect of distance is of little effect to data relayed over fiber optic cables, as is the case with coaxial cables. However, coaxial cables are less costly compared to fibre optics and are most preferred by small-scale users especially within residential locations. They are also easy to connect as they have minimal instances of breaking or being destroyed, as is the case with fiber optic cables.
Shelly, G. B. (2008). Discovering computers 2009: Complete. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
White, C. M. (2013). Data communications and computer networks: a business user’s approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Technology