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Coaxial/Fibre Optic Cable: All You Need To Know

Computers and other digital devices transmit information from one device to another in signals and with a transmission media. We are all so used to information travelling in various ways.

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An example is when we speak on our telephones or a wire that carries the sound from our voice into the wall of the socket where another cable takes the information to the local telephone for exchange.

A coaxial cable is a cable that is made from pure copper that is surrounded by insulation material with aluminium covering used to transmit telephone, television and data signals while fibre optic cable is used to deliver same types of signals but on its case, it carries a much wider band of frequencies.

It is made up of thin and pliable tubes of glass and plastic. Let’s go-ahead to talk more about both cables in detail.

What is a fibre-optic cable?

A fibre optic cable is made up of thin strands of glass or plastic that is known as optical fibres; one of this cable can have up to two or more strands.

Each of this strand is less than a tenth as thick as a human hair and it can carry something like 25,00 phone calls, so it’s capable of carrying several million calls.

The structural component comprises of glass or ultra-pure fused silica that is surrounded by a cladding of dense glass or plastic. The cladding is coated with a buffer either tight or loose just to protect it from moisture.

The entire cable is then encased by an outer covering made by a substance like plastic, fibrous plastic or Teflon.

How fibre-optic works?

As light travels down through a fibre optic cable, it bounces repeatedly off the walls. The core of the fibre and the cladding bend the incoming light at a certain angle with their refractive index.

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When a light signal is sent through the cable, they reflect off the core and cladding in a series of bounces, which a process called total internal reflection.

What does a fibre-optic Cable look like?

fiber-optic-cablesTypes of fibre-optic cables

We have two types of fibre optics which are single-mode fibre and multimode fibre.

fiber-optic-cable-types

Single-mode Fibre

This type of optic fibre has a very thin core of about 5-10 microns in diameter. It is generally used in telecommunications and it operates at 1310nm or 1550nm in wavelength. It is considered in a long-distance application.

Multimode Fibre

Its core is about 10 times of the single-mode fibre. Its wavelength is about 850nm to 1300nm.

When compared to the single-mode fibre, it has a limited transmission distance by model dispersion because of its large core and it supports more than one light mode which is from OM1 to OM5.

It is mainly used in short-distance transmission within buildings (such as a computer network).

Applications of Fiber Optic Cable

Computer Networking – It makes it possible for users to send and receive information and files within seconds, which incredibly saves time and enhanced efficiency.

Cable Television – With its high and great bandwidth and speed, the optical fibre cables are high solutions for high definition televisions. It is also a cost-effective choice when compared to the same quantity of copper wire.

Lighting and Decoration – They could be used for decorations for streets, offices, house and almost anywhere because they are easy, economical and an attractive solution.

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Telephone – With the help of optical fibre, users can receive and transmit their information at the same time. This has effectively improved the time it takes for communication in real-time.

Internet – Fibre optics cable, which is less bulky and flexible when carrying data. They also help to transmit a large amount of data at a very high speed. So it’s extensively used in internet cables.

Space and Military Applications – It provides an ideal solution for data transmission in these areas since they deal with data security and confidentiality.

Medicine – Fibre-optics are widely applied to biomedical research and microscopy. It has been included as part of a surgical method. In this way, the number and sizes of incisions could be possibly reduced.

ProsCons
Speed – it is very fast in terms of transmission.Cost — Optical fibre is expensive as it has to be manufactured precisely and a laser light source costs a lot.
It carries higher bandwidthFragility — Glass fibre is much more fragile and easily broken than a cable.
It uses noise rather than electricity; the sound is not an issue, though external light could create interference.Installation and maintenance – all the joints have to be perfectly polished, sealed and aligned light-tight because a cracked or rough centre of the optical fibre can diffuse the light and then stop the signal from flowing.

What is Coaxial Cable?

A coaxial cable mostly called coax cable is a popular electrical cable that transmits radio frequency signals from one point to another.

This technology has been in existence since the early 20th century; it is mainly used to connect satellites antenna facilities.

It is composed of a conductor mainly copper, which is placed in the centre that is surrounded by an insulating sheath. This sheath is also encased within an outer conductor of a metallic broad. Coaxial cable is an alternative to an ethernet cable.

What does a Coaxial Cable look like?

coaxial look

Coaxial cables are round and distant thick because of their interior insulation layer. Its size makes it look very different from Ethernet cable or twisted pair cable.

How do Coaxial Cables work?

Coax cables work by carrying data in its centre conductor while its surrounding layers of shielding stops any signal loss and then helps to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI).

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It is a popular choice because the shield in the design allows the centre conductor to transmit data quickly while still being protected from damage.

coax cable works

It is built up of four different layers, which are:

  • Surrounding copper wire, which is a dielectric plastic insulator.
  • It has a centre conductor (usually a copper wire), which allows data and video to travel through
  • The external layer is made of plastic to prevent the internal layers from damage.
  • It also has a braided mesh that is made out of copper, it helps as a shield to prevent electromagnetic interference.

The first layer provides a distance between the core conductor and the outer layer, as well as some insulation. The next layers, which are referred to as the shield, keep the electrical impulses and radio transmission out. The image below shows the different layers of the coax cable.

Types of Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable shave two major types, the ones with an impedance of 75 Ohms and the other with an impedance of 50 Ohm. The ones with 75 Ohms are mostly used for video, while the 50s are used for data and wireless communications.

RF Coaxial Cable

These cables are used to carry radio frequency signals. they are the standard input cable on TVs and they feature a single pin which is plugged into the RF (radio frequency) input on a device.

RG-6

RG6a

These have a larger conductor reason why they provide a better signal quality. They are designed to have thicker dielectric insulation and are made with a different kind of interference shielding, which allows them to handle signals more effectively.

RG-59

RG59

In the domestic settings, this is a common cable, it is similar to the RG-6. it houses a thinner centre conductor which makes it a good choice for short-run and low-frequency transmissions.

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RG-11

RG11

This is the thicker version of all the coaxial cable, which makes it difficult to work with. However, it offers a lower strength level than the RG-6 or the RG-59; This means that it can carry data for longer distances.

Applications of Coaxial Cable

The application of coaxial cables differs. It’s based on the type of cable.

  • RG-11 is used for high definition (HD) television
  • RG-6 is mainly used for internet connectivity; it can run a long distance without loss of a signal, and it’s also a better fit for digital video signals.
  • RG-59 is the best type of cable for CCVT systems even though the RG-6 can also be used.
ProsCons
Cost- It is quite affordable compared to optical fibreFor it to travel for a longer distance, a repeater i necessary for each kilometre it travels when the communication devices are put at a longer distance.
Frequency – It has a better frequency characteristic compared to twisted pair cables and not to an optical fibre.
Concerning signalling, coax cable supports both digital and analogue signals.
Interference – It is less prone to interference due to the construction of the cable.

Comparison Chart

BASISOPTICAL FIBRECOAXIAL CABLE
BasicIn optical fibre transmission of the signals are in a light form.While coaxial cable, the transmission of the signals is in electrical form.
EfficiencyHighLow
Losses in cableDispersion, bending, absorption and attenuation.Resistive, radiated and dielectric loss.
Composition of the cablePlastics and Glass Metal foil,Plastic and metal wire (Normally copper).
Bending effectCan affect signal transmission.Bending of the wire does not affect the signal transmission.
CostHighly expensiveLess expensive
External magnetic fieldDoesn’t affect the cableAffects the cable
Installation of the cableDifficultEasy
The weight of the cableLighterHeavier comparatively
Bandwidth providedVery highModerately high
Data transmission rate2 Gbps44.736 Mbps
Noise immunityHighIntermediate
The diameter of the cableSmallerLarger

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Gideon Akeni
Observe and Conquer

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