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What is the Difference between Fiber Optic and Copper Wire as a Transmission Medium?

The choice of transmission medium for data centers is always a controversial topic, especially in dedicated facilities. It requires consideration of both technical and operational issues. Some people think they should choose copper wire, while others think they should choose fiber optic. So, what is the difference between copper wire and fiber? Which one should be chosen?



Fiber Optic & Copper Wire

What is the difference between fiber optic and copper wire?


Optical fiber and copper wire are two common data center transmission media, both have anti-interference and good confidentiality. The difference between the two is mainly reflected in the following four aspects.


1. Transmission distance

Generally speaking, the transmission distance of copper wire does not exceed 100m, while the maximum transmission distance of optical fiber can reach 100km (single-mode fiber), far exceeding the transmission distance of copper wire.


2、Transmission rate

The current maximum transmission rate of copper wire up to 40Gbps (such as Class VIII network cable, DAC passive copper wire), while the maximum transmission rate of optical fiber up to 100Gbps (such as OM4 fiber patch cable), far beyond the copper wire.


3. Maintenance management

Copper wire crystal head production and equipment port connection and other operations are very simple, while fiber optic shear fusion, equipment connection and other operations, more demanding, more complex operation.


4. Price cost

In the case of the same length of optical fiber and copper wire, the price of optical fiber is generally 5 to 6 times the price of copper wire. And the price of fiber optic splicing equipment (such as fiber optic couplers, etc.) is also much higher than the price of copper wire, so the price cost of optical fiber is much higher than the price cost of copper wire.


Characteristics of optical fiber and copper wire:


Understanding the performance of optical fiber and copper conductor is the best way to make a better choice. So, what characteristics do optical fiber and copper wire have?


1. Copper wire characteristics

In addition to the above-mentioned good anti-interference, confidentiality, easy installation / maintenance / management, copper wire has good flexibility and emergency power capacity. Even if the power is exhausted, it can continue to supply power to the equipment.


2. Fiber optic characteristics

In addition to the above-mentioned high bandwidth and long transmission distance, fiber optic also has low attenuation, good reliability, durability and safety. Because optical fiber is an insulator, it is not affected by electromagnetic interference and crosstalk, and can be laid next to industrial equipment.


Usually, you can choose fiber when you need very large bandwidth and long-distance transmission (such as industrial Ethernet cabling). In the case of short distance and low transmission rate (such as within a building or corporate office), it is more appropriate to choose copper wire, but of course you can also choose to mix and match according to the actual situation of the user.

We hope the information can help you. Zms Cable offers reliable and economical cables with technical assistance for your installation. If you have any questions, please contact us.