Fiber Optics vs Satellites

Fiber optic communications and satellite communications are complementary to each other. Their properties are very different from one another and consequently their usage varies.

Fiber optic and satellite communication

Comparison between satellite communication and optical fiber communication can be done based upon the following areas −


Satellite communication is best suited for rough terrains, poorly connected areas and places where it is difficult to lay wires.

On the other hand, fibers are suited for urban areas with good infrastructures, where it is convenient to lay communication lines.


Fiber optic promises extremely higher bandwidth with negligible electromagnetic interference. Satellites have lesser bandwidth and are prone to interferences.

Data Rate and Delay

The data rates in fiber optics are high with minimal propagation delays.

Data rates in satellite communications are much lower. The large distance from the earth to the satellites introduces inadvertent delays in transfer.


Satellites are inherently designed for broadcasting. Messages sent by a satellite can be received by thousands of ground stations simultaneously.

Broadcasting by fiber optic cables consumes a lot of bandwidth.


Fiber optics is immobile by design and their usage is limited within fixed locations.

Satellite communication facilitates mobile communications.


Communication using fiber optics is more reliable than satellites and is less prone to errors.


Cost of fiber cable depends upon distance between the links and number of points. The cost of satellites is independent of distance between the stations, i.e. the cost will be same for 5km and 5000km. Satellites have higher recurring costs than fibers.

Areas of Usage

Minimal delays in communications make fiber optics suitable for real time communications. They are used for fixed, point – to – point locations requiring high bandwidth. They are also used in landlines, Gigabit LANs, cable TV networks, Internet communications etc.

Satellites are apt for broadcasting. So, they are used for TV and radio services. They are also suitable for communication in terrains where it is not feasible to lay communication lines.

Updated on: 03-Aug-2019

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