Wires play an important role in transmitting electrical energy and signals between different locations. There are different types of wires that vary from one another depending on their characteristics and other physical aspects. This paper seeks to discuss the differences between fibre optic cables and coaxial cables, elaborating on the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
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Fiber Optic Cable
A fiber optic cable consists of either a plastic or a glass core, which conveys light enclosed within a glass cladding. Light is guided through the fibre owing to the lower refractive index of the material as it also reflects the escaping light to the core (Higuera, 1998).
Advantages of fiber optic cables
Fibre optic cables have limited signal loss for every unit distance covered. In this regard, this type of cables can cover long distances and have limited effect on the quality of transmission. With high internet speeds being a factor for consideration in the contemporary world, fiber optic cable is more reliable because of its maintenance of the signal.
Fibre optic cables have very high capacity, which means they can convey high data rates at any given time. Because of the cable’s technology that uses light, the cable is also able to transmit at high speeds. This makes it more reliable and efficient over other cable types.
Fiber optic cables are also immune to external interference, which improves further on their reliability. Vibrations and other noises have little effect on the performance of the cable (Higuera, 1998).
These cables are expensive compared to other types of cables. The materials used in the manufacture of fibre optic cables are costly and only made-to-measure. This is particularly typical of any new technologies (Higuera, 1998).
The general vulnerability of fibre optic cables to strain and temperatures affects the performance quality of this type of cables. This affects the output signals because of the inherent errors (Higuera, 1998).
Coaxial cables comprise of a core wire, as well as an interwoven foil material that covers the inner wire (Reynders, Mackay & Wright, 2005). An insulating material that covers the central lying wire separates these conducting materials. Another insulator covers the outer foil.
Advantages of coaxial cables
This cable is cheaper than the fibre optic cable and, thus, it is highly affordable. Most mid-size offices and residential areas are able to acquire this cable for their internet needs.
Coaxial cables can be used for different purposes. This increases their overall usefulness. Among the numerous uses of this type of cable include transmitting voice, data, as well as video signals. The cables are also easy to install around buildings (Reynders, Mackay & Wright, 2005).
Disadvantages of Coaxial Cables
Coaxial cables are damaged easily. This affects the convenience aspect, while also adding costs in terms of repairs and new acquisitions. Installing thick coaxial cable is an expensive exercise, particularly where it is required to be pulled in between existing cable conduits. Coaxial cables work with connectors, which can be costly to acquire (Reynders, Mackay & Wright, 2005).
Fibre optic and coaxial cables are used in performing the same roles, especially in transmitting data and signals. Their use has mainly increased with the advent of the internet. Fiber optic cables can carry large capacity of data at very high rates. They are also least affected by external interferences, such as noise or vibration.
Coaxial cables, on the other hand, are less expensive and can easily be worked with during installation. However, fiber optic cables are expensive to acquire and vulnerable to stress interference. Coaxial cables on their part are susceptible to damages and their thicker versions are difficult to install.
Higuera, J. M. L. (1998). Optical sensors. Cantabria: Ed. Universidad de Cantabria.
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Reynders, D, Mackay, S. & Wright, E. (2005). Practical industrial data communications: Best practice techniques. Burlington, MA: IDC Technologies.