Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable Over Copper Cable – QSFPTEK

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable Over Copper Cable

Both fiber optic cable and copper cable are common transmission media in communication networks. This article will introduce fiber optic and copper cable, analyzing the differences between them and the advantages of optical cable over copper cable.

What Is Fiber Optic Cable?

Fiber optic cable, the transmission medium of communication networks, is designed to transmit optical signals. Fiber optic cable is mainly composed of optical fiber, cladding layer, buffer, jacket, and fiber optic connectors. The optical fiber is made of drawing glass or plastic, which is very thin as the human hair.

Fiber optic cable is known as the advantage of high bandwidth, long transmission distance, etc., and has been widely applied in optical communication. It is gradually becoming the mainstream communication transmission media and a strong competitor to copper cable.

Types of fiber optic cable

Fiber optic cable can be divided into multimode fiber (MMF) and single-mode fiber (SMF). Multimode fiber cable supports many propagation paths and transverse modes, while single-mode fiber cable allows only one single mode. 

Multimode fiber cable has a wider core diameter than single-mode cable. Since limited by model dispersion, multimode fiber is only suitable for short-distance transmissions, such as within a building and campus. Typical transmission speed and distance limits are 10Gbps up to 550 meters via OM4 optical cable on 10GBASE-SR, 40Gbps up to 150 meters via OM4 optical cable on 40GBASE-SR4, and 100Gbps up to 100 meters over OM4 optical cable on 100GBASE-SR4.

Because of the narrower model dispersion, single-mode fiber cable is better at retaining the fidelity of each light pulse, therefore, it is suitable for long-distance communication links of over 10km. And single-mode fiber cable is generally more expensive than multimode fiber cable.

What Is Copper Cable?

Copper cable is used for the electrical wiring, mainly consisted of two or more copper wires, which are twisted together to form a single assembly. It includes twisted pair cable and coaxial cable. 

Twisted pair cabling is popularly used in short-distance connections within 100 meters due to its lower cost than fiber optic cables. It includes unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables and shielded twisted cable (STP). The common UTP cables include Cat5e, 100 MHz enhanced pairs for running Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T), Cat6, running 250 MHz for improved 1000Base-T performance and Cat6a, 500 MHz enhanced paris for running 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GBASE-T). 

Difference between fiber optic cable and copper cable

The following table briefly summarizes the differences between copper cable and fiber optic cable.

Parameter Fiber Optic Cable Copper Cable
Transmitted Data Form Optical light Electric signals
Main material Copper Drawing glass or plastic
Speed Faster Slower
Bandwidth Higher Lower
Attenuation More Less
Transmission distance Longer Shorter
Weight and volume Lighter and thiner Heavier and thicker
Reliability More reliable Less reliable
Cost Higher Lower

Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable Over Copper Wire

Fiber optical cable is becoming a strong competitor to copper wire. There is a tendency that copper cables are gradually replace replaced by fiber optic cables in many applications. The main advantages of fiber optic cables over copper cables are concluded as follows.

Anti-electromagnetism interference (EMI) performance

Optical cabling has the best anti-electromagnetic interference performance, preventing electromagnetic leakage and not being affected by external electromagnetic interference. This is an ideal anti-electromagnetic interference cabling system for the case that the trunk line is in a weak current well with serious electromagnetic interference.

Wider bandwidth and higher speed

Theoretically, fiber optic cable can reach up to higher bandwidth of 3 billion MHz. Although there are losses for different bandwidths of light, the bandwidth in the lowest loss region can also reach up to 30000 GHz. Based on advanced coherent optical communication technology, 2000 optical carriers can be arranged within 30000 GHz for wavelength division multiplexing. At the same time, the optical fiber communication speed is fast. It can provide high-speed transmission data rates of 1G, 10G, 40G, 100G, or even higher.

Longer transmission distances

The transmission distance of optical cable is much longer than copper cable. It supports 10Gbps transmission links up to hundreds of kilometers, while the copper cable can only allow 100 meters at most.

Lighter weight and smaller volume

The fiber core of a single-mode fiber is about 8μm~10μm, as thin as human hair. The external diameter is only 125um. The diameter of an optical cable composed of 4~48 optical fibers is less than 13mm, which is much smaller than the diameter of 47mm of a standard coaxial cable. In addition, since the optical fiber is made of glass fiber, fiber optic cable is very light. A kilometer of bare optical fiber weighs only 27 grams.  For these reasons, fiber optic cable is very convenient for construction and maintenance. The laying method of optical cables is flexible, which can be directly buried, laid in pipelines, and also can be underwater and overhead.


Fiber optic cable has many advantages over copper wire in many aspects. Perhaps it is just a matter of time before fiber optic cables totally replace copper cables. QSFPTEK is a professional fiber optics manufacturer, any demand of fiber optic cables and fiber optic transceivers modules, welcome to consult us via

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