Difference between Optical Fiber and Ethernet Cable


Optical fiber cables and Ethernet cables are two popular types of cables used in computer networks for data transmission. The fundamental difference between optical fiber and ethernet cables is that optical fiber cables transmit data by using light signals, while ethernet cables transmit data by using electric signals.

In this article, we will learn the important differences between optical fiber and ethernet cables. But before going to discuss the differences, let us first discuss the basics of optical fiber cable and ethernet cable individually.

What is an Optical Fiber Cable?

Optical fiber is a modern medium for data communication which transmits data by using light signals. Optical fiber cables are extensively being used in modern computer networks due to their high-speed data transmission capability.

Optical fiber cables are highly immune to electromagnetic interference. Therefore, they are widely used for long distance communication. Optical fiber cables are made of very thin glass or plastic strands through which light signals can travel.

Optical fiber cables cannot be tapped in between to extract data; therefore, they are more secure as compared to any other type of transmission medium. The other important advantages of optical fiber cables include high energy efficiency, higher bandwidth support, etc.

Optical fiber cables are extensively used in a variety of applications like computer networking, telecommunication, internet connectivity, cable TV, and many more.

What is an Ethernet Cable?

Ethernet cable is a type of communication medium used in computer networks for data communication. Ethernet cable is made of copper wire and transmits data using electric signals.

Ethernet cable is a most common type of networking cable used. It is commonly used for local area networks (LANs) in homes and offices, and also to provide internet connectivity to computers. The connector used with Ethernet cables is called RJ-45 connector whose appearance is similar to a standard telephone connector.

Ethernet cables have several advantages like low cost, high speed, high reliability, etc. Although, there are some limitations of ethernet cables like data distortion over long distances, easy to influence by electromagnetic interference.

After getting insights into the basics of optical fiber cables and ethernet cables, let us now study their major differences.

Difference between Optical Fiber Cables and Ethernet Cable

The following table highlights all the major differences between optical fiber and Ethernet cables:

S.No.

Ethernet Cable

Optical Fiber Cable

1.

Ethernet cables use electric signals as the data transmission medium.

Optical fiber cables use light signals as the data transmission medium.

2.

Ethernet cables transmit data at relatively lower speeds.

Optical fiber cables transmit data at much higher speeds.

3.

Ethernet cables are highly susceptible to electromagnetic and radio interferences.

Optical fiber cables are immune to electromagnetic and radio interferences.

4.

Ethernet cables are less secure, they can be taped easily to extract data.

Optical fibers cables offer high degree of security, as they are quite difficult to tap and extract data.

5.

Ethernet cables are made of copper wires.

Optical fiber cables are made of glass or plastic strands.

6.

Ethernet cables are comparatively less expensive.

Optical fiber cables are more costly than ethernet cables.

7.

Ethernet cables are heavier in weight, and hence relatively difficult to handle.

Optical fiber cables are lighter in weight, and therefore easier to install and handle.

8.

Ethernet cables support comparatively narrower bandwidth.

Optical fiber cables support broader bandwidth.

9.

Ethernet cables are easy to repair and maintain.

The repairing and maintenance of optical fiber cables is complex.

10.

Ethernet cables are less fragile, hence do not get damaged easily.

Optical fiber cables are fragile, hence can get damaged easily.

11.

Ethernet cables are easy to install.

The installation of optical fiber cables requires specialized accessories.

12.

Ethernet cables are less energy efficient.

Optical fiber cables are more energy efficient.

13.

Ethernet cables are better suited for local area networks (LANs) in homes and offices.

Optical fiber cables are suitable for high-speed long distance data communication.

14.

Ethernet cables are compatible with almost all computing devices.

Optical fiber cables being newer technology is not compatible with a wide range of computing devices.

15.

Ethernet cables are commonly used for computer networking, internet connections, local area networks, etc.

Optical fiber is being used in a variety of applications, including data transmission, internet connections, control systems, medical instruments, etc.

Conclusion

Both Ethernet and optical fiber cables are commonly used in data transmission and communication. However, they are completely different from each other in terms of transmission medium, speed, cost, construction, etc. as described in the above table.

From the above comparison, the most significant difference between optical fiber cable and ethernet cable is that the optical fiber cable transmits data using light signals, whereas the ethernet cable transmits data using electric signals.

Updated on: 16-May-2023

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