What Is the Difference Between Optical Fiber and Copper Cable?

Views: 398 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: Origin: Site

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


As a light transmission tool, optical fiber is usually made of glass or plastic, and copper wire is made of copper core (such as oxygen-free copper, pure copper, miscellaneous copper, bronze, etc.).

copper cables

Transmission signal

Optical fiber adopts photoelectric conversion technology to transmit optical signals, which has the advantage of being free from electromagnetic interference. Traditional copper wires transmit electrical signals, which attenuate quickly and are susceptible to interference when used for long-distance transmission.

Transmission distance

It can be seen from the above that the transmission distance of copper wire is limited, generally not exceeding 100m. The longest transmission distance of optical fiber can reach 100km. For example, the transmission distance of single-mode optical fiber can usually reach 10~20km, far exceeding the transmission distance of copper wire, which is very suitable for long-distance transmission applications.

Transfer speed

Theoretically, optical fiber does not travel as fast as copper wire. The propagation speed of the optical fiber is about 2*10 (8th power) m/s, and the propagation speed of the copper wire is about 2.3*10 (8th power) m/s. So why does fiber optic travel slower than copper wire? This is because when the optical fiber transmits signals, according to the principle of total reflection, the actual transmission distance of the optical fiber is much longer than the length of the optical fiber.

Transmission rate

When the transmission distance is the same, the attenuation and loss of the optical fiber are small, and the maximum transmission rate can reach 100Gbps, while the copper wire is susceptible to external interference, the loss is large, the attenuation is also large, and the maximum transmission rate is only 40Gbps. In general, the transmission rate of optical fiber is much higher than that of copper wire.

fiber optic cables

Maintenance management

The operation of making crystal head of copper wire and port connection of equipment is very simple, while the operation of cutting and welding of optical fiber and equipment connection has high requirements and complicated operation.


Due to the relatively complicated manufacturing process of optical fiber, the price of optical fiber is higher than that of copper wire. Nowadays, with the continuous improvement and innovation of optical fiber technology, the price of optical fiber has dropped. Compared with copper wire, optical fiber has excellent durability and long life cycle, and it is not easy to be damaged after installation, so its maintenance cost is much lower than that of copper wire in the later stage, and optical fiber can save wiring space, while copper wire needs to occupy more to implement network cabling, which brings additional costs. Overall, the total cost of fiber optics is actually much lower than copper wire.

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