Fiber Optic or Wireless – What is best

What Is Fiber Optics Network?

Fiber optic can be regarded as an internet connection technology which is made of optic cables containing thin glass or plastic strands which enable the transmission of digital information in form of light pulses over a long distance with no form of limitation or interference. In essence, this system converts data e.g. text, emails, images, etc. into light pulses which then moves through the cable, from the sender to the receiver. Upon reaching its destination, it is converted back to its original state.  As already mentioned, fiber optic cables are made up of strands of plastic or glass which are considered to be as thin as strands of human hair. These strands are what we refer to as “optical fibers”. Typically, optical fibers consist of a core which is surrounded by a transparent cladding material which has a low refraction index.

Pros of Fiber Optic Network System

  1. Unlimited bandwidth
  2. Long distance signal transmission
  3. Light weight
  4. Transmission security
  5. Better connectivity
  6. Low attenuation

Cons of Wireless Network System

  1. Fiber interface is costly
  2. Physical connection is required
  3. Fiber wires are delicate and are prone to damages which can cause a break in transmission


What Is A Wireless Network System?

As its name implies, a wireless network is “wireless”, i.e. transmission of data is done without the use of wires. This network is set up by utilizing frequency generated from radio signals to establish communication among computers or other devices and is often called WLAN. A wireless network first converts data into electromagnetic waves before broadcasting; and instead of utilizing telephone networks or cables for transmission, wireless network makes use of microwave signals. Wireless network is also called fixed wireless as it simply allows data to be transmitted from one fixed point to another.

Pros of Wireless Network System

  1. Increased mobility
  2. Wireless security and scalability
  3. Cost effectiveness
  4. Useful for difficult-to-wire areas

Cons of Wireless Network System

  1. Prone to security breach which can lead to data theft and unwanted intrusion
  2. Limited bandwidth
  3. Users have to stay closer to the network source


Fiber Optic vs Wireless

Having considered the basic idea behind fiber optic and wireless networking systems, a comparison of both systems shall now be attempted based on certain highlighted factors.

  1. Speed

Theoretically, it is often stated that wireless network has the ability to transmit data at a speed as fast as that of the optical fiber. However, what obtains in practice clearly reveals that data gets transmitted faster through a fiber optic cable than through a wireless network. The disparity in speed through these two networks becomes highly pronounced when wireless network gets congested. This congestion affects all the connected devices since they share one network and possess the same bandwidth.    It is however a different case for optical fiber as it has unlimited bandwidth and transmits messages faster than WLAN.

  1. Bandwidth

This is another factor that highlights the differences between fibre optic and wireless network. Bandwidth simply indicates the rate at which data can be transmitted from a website to your computer within a particular period of time (data rate of gigabits  per second). Fiber-optic cables have proven to be supporters of high-quality bandwidth. Fiber optic bandwidth is mostly deemed to be unlimited.

On the other hand, since a wireless system transmits its signal through free space and not a medium (such as optical fiber), its operation is largely limited by segments on frequency spectrum which are generally fixed and need licensing for each application. Although this is done with the aim of eradicating signal interference from devices within the same location and frequency, it imposes a sort of limitation on the bandwidth of a wireless system. This limit has a direct effect on the amount of data transferable at any period in time.

  1. Latency

Latency is also referred to as “ping time”. It connotes the duration within which a command is received and the time when the reply is sent. This is another feature which makes fiber optic more desirable than wireless network because as distance increases, fiber optic latency rate also increases. Thus, if the duration for a wireless network’s ping time is 5.4 microseconds, fiber optic rate will be pegged at 8.01 microseconds/mile. The reason for this faster ping time is not farfetched. Light is able to transmit data faster than radio microwave as it does not experience the different interferences which makes microwave signals bounce around before it reaches its destination.

  1.  Distance

The farther a user moves from a wireless broadcast station, the weaker the signal becomes. This simply means that signal on wireless network decreases with distance. On the other hand, signals on a fiber optic remains clear over a wider range of distance. Thus, user A at point A has the same frequency of signal as user B at point Z even if they are several miles apart.

  1. Infrastructure

Infrastructures for wireless networking are mostly installed in discrete places and line-of-sight (LOS) paths are clearly mapped out to ensure easy propagation of microwaves to them through the atmosphere. They are often found in simple locations and can be easily assessed for maintenance purposes. On the other hand, the infrastructures of fibre networking system are majorly distributed from one strategic location to another with fibre-optic cables installed in these specific locations.

  1. Reliability

As long as your device remains connected to fiber optic, fiber utilizes an unadulterated Ethernet connection to transmit to your Internet Service Provider. You do not need a “middleman” to establish a secure and stable connection. As a result of the direct connection and transmission, service becomes more stable and reliable on a fiber optic network as causes of intermediary equipment problems and particularly downtime have been eliminated. As a result, the signal of fiber optic internet connection remains consistent.

In conclusion, although wireless network has quite a number of advantages, fiber optic remains a better alternative in most situations as its pros far outweighs its cons.