The need for speed - how fiber optic networks increase productivity

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​While traditional copper wire communication networks transmit electrical currents, or electrons, fiber optic cables transmit pulses of light. Light photons offer the highest capacity of any network connection available—the bandwidth of a fiber optic network can be up to 1,000 times greater than a copper cable network. Light photons in fiber optic cables travel at approximately 70% the speed of light, whereas electrons in copper wire travel at 1% the speed of light. That’s a big difference.

What does this mean for day-to-day use? A single strand of fiber optic cable can support up to 2 million simultaneous high-definition video streams. When considering capacity for telephone calls, a local area network using traditional copper lines can carry 3,000 telephone calls at once, while a similar system using fiber optics can carry over 31,000, a ten-fold difference.

With fiber optics also comes the ability to multitask with ease—the symmetric connection of fiber optics allows users to both upload and download at the same time, with equal lightning speed. This means faster and larger file uploads and downloads, and enhanced access to cloud services. Traditional copper networks provide asymmetric connection—uploads and downloads occur at different rates, resulting in lower productivity.

Due to a nearly unlimited bandwidth capacity, fiber optic networks can grow and adapt to future communication needs—as the future brings more fiber installations, we can expect to see vast improvements in computing power, operational capacity and workplace efficiency.


1) Corning. Science of Glass: How it Works. (Retrieved June 2019)

2) ABC Science. Why is Fiber Optic Technology Faster Than Copper? (Retrieved June 2019)

We live in a world reliant on speed. More and more, demand is growing for instant uploads, instant downloads, instant communication—and fiber optics answers the call.

The speed of data transfer depends largely on the capacity, or bandwidth, of a network to transmit signals. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be sent over a network from one point to another at a given time, measured in units of bits per second, such as Megabits per second (Mbps) or Gigabits per second (Gbps). As the bandwidth of an internet connection increases, so does the volume of data it can handle.