What is the Difference Between Fiber Optic and Copper Wire? - NADDOD Blog

What is the Difference Between Fiber Optic and Copper Wire?

NADDOD Adam Connectivity Solutions Consultant Jan 14, 2023

The choice of data center transmission media is always a controversial topic, especially in dedicated facilities (such as data centers), where technical and business issues need to be considered. Some people believe that copper wire should be chosen, while others believe that fiber optics should be chosen, each with their own arguments. How should copper wire and fiber optic be selected? In order to make users clear how to choose copper and fiber optic, this article will combine a variety of factors to provide you with detailed answers.

What is the Difference Between Fiber Optic and Copper Wire?

Optical fiber and copper wire are two common data center transmission media, both have anti-interference and good confidentiality, so what is the difference between optical fiber and copper wire? The difference between the two is mainly reflected in the following four aspects: 1.

  1. Transmission Distance
    Generally speaking, the transmission distance of copper wire does not exceed 100m, while the maximum transmission distance of optical fiber can reach 100km (single-mode fiber), far exceeding the transmission distance of copper wire.
  2. Transmission Rate
    The current maximum transmission rate of copper wire up to 40Gbps (such as Class VIII network cable, DAC passive copper cable), while the maximum transmission rate of optical fiber up to 100Gbps (such as OM4 fiber patch cord), far beyond the copper wire.
  3. Maintenance Managemen
    Copper wire crystal head production and equipment port connection and other operations are very simple, while the fiber optic shear fusion, equipment connection and other operations, more demanding, more complex operation.
  4. Price Cost
    In the case of the same length of optical fiber and copper wire, the price of optical fiber is generally 5 to 6 times the price of copper wire, and fiber optic splicing equipment (such as fiber optic couplers, etc.) is also much higher than the price of copper wire, so the price cost of optical fiber is much higher than the price cost of copper wire.

    Difference Between Fiber Optic and Copper Wire?

How to Choose Fiber Optic and Copper Wires - Features

Understanding the performance of optical fiber and copper wire to make a better choice, so what characteristics do optical fiber and copper wire have?

  1. Copper Wire Characteristics
    Copper wire in addition to the above-mentioned good anti-interference, confidentiality, easy installation / maintenance / management, it has good flexibility and emergency power capacity, even if the power is exhausted, you can continue to supply power to the equipment.
  2. Fiber Optic Characteristics
    In addition to the above-mentioned high bandwidth, long transmission distance, it also has low attenuation, good reliability, durability and security properties, and because the fiber is an insulator will not be affected by electromagnetic interference and crosstalk, can be laid next to industrial equipment.

How to Choose Optical Fiber and Copper Wire - Technical Aspects

From the technical point of view, the appropriate type of data center transmission media can be selected based on the following three factors.

  1. What is the Ability of the Medium to Transmit the Signal?
    It is also known as whether it can be protected from other signals. How is the performance of anti-interference? If the wiring environment is harsh or requires high interference immunity, choose optical fiber.
  2. Is it Necessary to Supply Power through Cable?
    From the above it is clear that copper wire can supply power, if it is necessary to supply power through the cable then choose copper wire.
  3. What about Portability or Mobility?
    If you need to change the mobile often, you can choose the fiber with bending sensitivity.

How to Select Fiber vs. Copper - Type of User

Are there any other factors to consider besides the above two points? The answer is “yes”. In addition to the two basic factors mentioned above, the choice is based on the type of user, such as system integrator, contractor and end-user, which are very different from each other.

System integrators: product familiarity and current templates.

Contractors: suitability, size and availability.

End-users: recent history (through project experience or marketing exposure).

It is very important for each user to consider key factors that do not allow for history or technology to be overlooked or avoided, as we must consider the type of user to select the appropriate fiber or copper for cabling.

Usually, fiber optic is the choice when very large bandwidth and long distance transmission is required (e.g. industrial Ethernet cabling), and copper is more appropriate for short distances and low transmission rates (e.g. within a building or corporate office), but of course you can choose to mix and match according to the user’s actual situation without any problem.