The Transition from Copper to Fiber Optics in Telecommunications

After more than one hundred years of copper cables being used in telecommunications, BT has announced that no new copper cables will be installed in favor of optic fiber systems. This transition signifies a significant step towards embracing a more efficient and future-ready infrastructure.

Fiber optics offer several advantages over copper cables. Copper has been widely used due to its high conductivity and malleability. However, fiber optic cables, which utilize light, provide larger bandwidths, allow for multiple data channels down a single cable without interference, and can even be used bi-directionally simultaneously. Additionally, fiber optic cables are smaller and lighter, allowing for more efficient installation. They also do not interfere with other nearby cables, making them ideal for high-density installations.

BT’s announcement to move away from copper cables comes as no surprise. Back in 2017, BT mentioned how their older Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) would be replaced with a digital system. This means that calls will no longer be transmitted as analog signals down copper lines but instead as data streams. The modernization of the OpenReach network, capable of providing customers with bandwidths of up to 1Gbps, supports this transition.

Fiber optic systems are future-proof due to their inherent capabilities. While limitations may arise from the equipment used to send and decode pulses of light, fiber optic cables themselves have the potential to handle vast amounts of data. Researchers have already demonstrated the ability to send the equivalent of global internet traffic through a single fiber optic cable. With the possibility of having thousands of individual channels using a single optic cable, fiber optics can accommodate increasing bandwidth demands.

As we enter a new era of digital communication, the adoption of fiber optic technology is crucial. It not only meets current demands but also ensures readiness for future challenges. The retirement of copper cables in favor of fiber optics signifies a shift towards a more efficient and reliable telecommunications infrastructure.