Understanding Fiber Optics

History of Telecommunications:
Early communications were with the use of smoke signals and drums and it wasn’t until 1839 before experimental electrical telegraphy was developed. In 1964 usable fiber optic methods were developed for use within the telecommunications network.

Understanding Fiber Optics:
An optical fiber is a flexible transparent fiber made of high quality extruded glass or plastic slightly thicker than a human hair. It can function as a “waveguide” or “light pipe” to transmit light between two ends of fiber, which permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than other forms of communication. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signal levels travel along them with less loss and are also immune to electromagnetic interference. Joining lengths of optical fiber is more complex than joining electrical wire or cable because the ends of the optics must be carefully cleaved and then spliced together either mechanically or fused with heat.
Optical fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunication and computer networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications, because light propagates through the fiber with little loss compared to electrical cables. This allows long distances to be spanned with few repeaters. For short distance application, such as a network in an office building, fiber-optic cabling can save space in cable ducts. This is because a single fiber can carry much more data than electrical cables such as standard cat5 Ethernet cabling, which typically runs at 100 Mb/s or 1 Gb/s speeds.
Fiber is also immune to electrical interference; there is no cross-talk between signals in different cables, and no pickup of environmental noise. Non-armored fiber cables do not conduct electricity, which makes fiber a good solution for protecting communications equipment in high voltage environments, such as power generation facilities, or metal communication structures prone to lightning strikes. They can also be used in environments where explosive fumes are present, without danger of ignition. Wiretapping (in this case, fiber tapping) is more difficult compared to electrical connections, and there are concentric dual core fibers that are said to be tap-proof.
Today’s security concerns have also helped fiber optics. It is being more widely used for video surveillance cameras and alarms. The military and government agencies are budgeting billions of dollars for installing new fiber networks in many facilities with geographically diverse cable runs to prevent terrorist attacks from disrupting communications. Upgrades to links between facilities are also in the works.

What are the advantages of fiber optics?
The advantages of optical fiber communication with respect to copper wire systems area as follows:
1. Broad Bandwidth
Broadband communication is very much possible over fiber optics which means that audio signal, video signals, microwave signal, text and data from computers can be modulated over light carrier wave and demodulated by optical receiver at the other end. It is possible to transmit around 3,000,000 full-duplex voice circuits or 90,000 TV channels over one optical fiber.
2. Immunity to Electromagnetic Interference
Optical fiber cables carry the information over light waves which travel in the fibers due to the properties of the fiber materials, similar to the light traveling in free space. The light waves (one form of electromagnetic radiation) are unaffected by other electromagnetic radiation nearby. The optical fiber is electrically non-conductive, so it does not act as an antenna to pick up electromagnetic signals which may be present nearby. So the information traveling inside the optical fiber cables is immune to electromagnetic interference e.g. radio transmitters, power cables adjacent to the fiber cables, or even electromagnetic pulses generated by nuclear devices.
3. Low attenuation loss over long distances
There are various optical windows in the optical fiber cable at which the attenuation loss is found to be comparatively low and so transmitter and receiver devices are developed and used in these low attenuation region. Due to low attenuation of 0.2dB/km in optical fiber cables, it is possible to achieve long distance communication efficiently over information capacity rate of 1 Tb/s.
4 Electrical Insulator
Optical fibers are made and drawn from silica glass which is nonconductor of electricity and so there are no ground loops and leakage of any type of current. Optical fibers are thus laid down along with high voltage cables on the electricity poles due to its electrical insulator behavior.

Fiber Optics Growth:
The move to fiber is part of an overall expansion of fixed broadband access network deployments. The number of broadband subscribers is growing on all DSL, cable, and fiber-optic platforms. However, there is a marked shift in consumer adoption from DSL to fiber-optic as companies such as Farmers & Merchants continue to extend the reach of their fiber-optic infrastructure.

Why your company may need fiber optic services?
Well hopefully your company has moved on from using smoke signals or drums to communicate to the outside world. In today’s work place good communication to the outside world, from receiving vendor information, to communication with your suppliers or even remote office locations makes it necessary for fast, efficient and stable network and phone services and is vital for the success of your daily business operations. Whether you have a fully staffed IT department and are simply wanting to lease “dark fiber” from us to interconnect your locations, or you have limited personnel on staff and need assistance connecting your network to the outside world and really unsure of what you need, we have solutions to work specifically for you.

Who is Farmers & Merchants Mutual Telephone?
We are an Iowa-based, independent telephone company that has been in business 75+ years locally in Wayland, Iowa. In 2006, we overhauled our out-dated telephone plant with FTTH within our local exchange and surrounding areas to provide state-of-the-art services to our current customers. Since undergoing that project, we have slowly begun extending our service areas to include customers frustrated with poor service, low bandwidths, and limited support they have previously received from other service providers. When you call our office you talk to a live attendant in Wayland, who knows who you are and where you’re calling from, that can collect the information necessary to get your problem resolved quickly.