There are various differences between Fiber Optic Ethernet and copper wire Ethernet – commonly called EoC (Ethernet over copper) or simply Ethernet – which can affect cost, data speed and scalability. There are advantages to each, however the importance of those advantages depends heavily on the needs of your business.
Fiber Optic Ethernet
Fiber Optic Ethernet uses light pulses to transmit data over lines composed of plastic or thin glass strands. This system transfers large amounts of data at high speeds over long distances. Often perceived as more expensive than Ethernet, for networks that require data transfer over long distances or multi-floor installations that is not the case. Basic systems are able to transfer data at a speed of 10 Gbps over a distance of 1.8 miles. Because Fiber Optic Ethernet does not require as many hubs as Ethernet over copper, which has a range of only 328 feet, it may make more sense for this type of application.
Ethernet Over Copper
What most people think of as simply, Ethernet, this describes a network that transmits data over traditional bonded copper cables. These are no longer traditional telephone lines as technology has improved to keep up with today’s data and speed demands. As a matter of fact, quite a few copper Ethernet networks are newer than Fiber Optic Ethernet networks. Ethernet over copper offers easier connections as most computer terminals accept Cat-5 and Cat-6 connectors but need an adapter to accept Fiber Optic Ethernet connections.
For today’s new construction, Fiber Optic Internet makes more sense. Differences in the cost of running the cables are often negligible and, because fiber optic lines need fewer hubs and can generally connect all of the computer terminals in a multi-floor building direct to the main telecom hub, the cost of additional equipment is much lower and fiber networks are easily upgradable as future growth demands. Increases in speed and data capability are determined by hardware upgrades, new cabling is seldom necessary.
For those seeking to increase the capacity of an existing copper network, consideration must be paid to the requirements of the upgraded network. If there is simply a need for more data, then upgrading the existing copper network, most often achieved by running additional copper cables, may make more sense. However, if this is not likely to be the last time an upgrade will become necessary, or if the upgrade involves the connection of terminals over long distances or between separate buildings, then Fiber Optic Ethernet may be the more viable solution.
The differences between Fiber Optic Ethernet and traditional Ethernet over copper extend far beyond a simple discussion of data speed. Distance from the central hub, connectivity issues, scalability, and the necessary system capabilities are also factors to consider. Weigh both short and long term business needs before deciding which is best for you.