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Fun Facts About Fibre Optics
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Our fast and reliable fibre broadband is made possible by the use of fibre optic cables, which means higher Internet speeds and better reliability for you.

But what do you really know about fibre optics? Where did they come from? What can they do?

Here are some fun facts about the transparent strands that form the backbone of our fast Internet.

1. fibre optics have been around for a long time.

Even though fibre optic technology is enjoying a boom in popularity right now, it’s actually not new.

It all started with the Romans learning how to draw glass into fibre around 27BC, but it was only in the late 19th century that the technology to transmit light through glass fibres was discovered.

It wasn’t long before images could also successfully be transferred through fibre optics around the 1950s, soon followed by data in 1965 by German physicist Manfred Borner.

Technology has progressed in leaps and bounds since then and today fibre optics are used in a variety of industries.

2. fibre optic cables transmit data in light form.

Digital data is binary in nature, which means that it is expressed as ones and zeroes. When transmitted through fibre optic cables in light form, a pulse of light signifies one, and no light is equivalent to a zero.

Through this method, the computer at the other end of the fibre optic cable can ‘read’ the message and extract the data being transmitted.

3. The tat-8 fibre optic cable spurred a communication breakthrough.

Laid in 1988 by a consortium of telcos, TAT-8 was the first-ever transatlantic fibre optic cable and was able to carry 40,000 simultaneous calls between the US, Great Britain and France.

Its increased capacity greatly enhanced connectivity between America and Europe and it was considered game-changing for its time.

It also played an indirect but crucial role in the creation of the Internet by giving Tim Berners-Lee high-speed access to the National Science Foundation Network. Ten months later, the World Wide Web was born.

4. The term ‘fibre optics’ was coined by narinder singh kapany.

Touted as the ‘Father of Fibre Optics’, Narinder Singh Kapany and British physicist Harold Hopkins were responsible for their pioneer research on transmission through fibres.

In 1953, they succeeded in producing a successful image transmission of unprecedented quality through bundled optical fibres.

Out of over 100 scientific papers and four books that Kapany wrote, his most significant contribution is an article he wrote for Scientific American in 1960, in which the term ‘fibre optics’ appears for the first time.

5. broken fibre optic cables are repaired by submarine cable-fixing ships.

Transatlantic submarine fibre optic cables are often damaged by boats, sharks (yes, sharks do try to eat the cables), earthquakes and more. When this happens, special ships are deployed to repair them with the help of skilled personnel and giant robots.

Even though cable faults are said to happen about twice a week, connectivity is usually not affected because there are multiple connections between countries, so Internet traffic can be re-routed while the ships do their work.

6. fibre optic cables are sustainable.

Fibre optic cables are made from silicon dioxide – also known as silica – which is the second most abundant element on Earth after oxygen, making them more sustainable to produce.

Since it has a high tolerance for heat, fibre optic cables also don’t wear out as quickly as conventional copper cables and are energy efficient as strong signals can be sent further on less power.

7. fibre optic cables transmit data at super fast speeds!

Speed is always a highlight of fibre broadband, and for good reason. The fastest recorded speed for fibre optic cable is 15.5 Terabits of data per second over a distance of 7,000 kilometres.

This is equivalent to 10.3 million 1.5Mbps DSL connections! Household fibre broadband isn’t quite that fast yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Light doesn’t actually travel faster than electricity. The data is simply transmitted faster because of the increased capacity of fibre optic cables, meaning more data can be sent or received in the same amount of time.

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