Which network cable type is virtually immune to signal interference?

Posted on: April 01,2022

Network cables are of various types, and the characteristics of a network depend greatly on the type of its network cable. There are many types of network cables, such as twisted-pair cables, coaxial cables, and fiber optic cables. However, any signal interference to a network impairs the network’s normal operation. It’s a common problem in networks. Due to signal interference, a network may suffer from various problems, such as higher latency, slower speed, frequent disconnects, inability to connect to the network, etc. However, among various network cable types, fiber optic cables are usually immune to signal interference. These network cables have some special characteristics, which have made this cable type highly suitable for networks that can stay free from signal interference.

 

Fiber optic cable

Fiber optic cables are also called optical fiber cables. Although it’s an assembly like an electrical cable, it contains optical fibers (one or more) for carrying light. The elements of the optical fiber have coatings with plastic layers. A protective tube contains these elements, and these tubes are suitable for where the cables are used. Different applications need different types of cables. Some examples of these applications are long-distance communication, setting a fast data connection in a building’s different parts.

 

Figure 1: Fiber optic cable

 

Fiber optic cables’ characteristics, making them virtually immune to signal interference

Fiber optic network cables have special characteristics which are very helpful in preventing signal interference. Some of the major characteristics of fiber optic cables are immunity to signal interference, non-conductive nature, eliminating the spark hazard, great bandwidth, security of information and data, staying unaffected from other cables, etc. Let’s check all the major characteristics of fiber optic cables.

Preventing signal interference

Signal interference is one type of electromagnetic interference. It’s a property of electromagnetism for which electrical current is produced along magnetic fields during their movement across conductors, and for this, the current flow gets modified. The interference occurs with coaxial cables. However, fiber optic cables stay free from interference because the signal transmission doesn’t happen due to current; it happens due to light. So, fiber optic cables are good for installation in locations where signal interference can affect signal transmission. For data or information transmission between computers, fiber optics are very good.

 

Figure 2: Signal interference

Non-Conductive Nature

Fiber optic cables often have non-conductive nature because these cables don’t contain metals. These cables are very suitable for indoor installation. Also, installing these cables is economical. But outdoor installations are expensive because these cables have high strength to sustain environmental hazards like lighting. However, by installing protective devices around these cables, it’s possible to avoid surges and ground loops.

A common problem with metal network cables is that these cables are great conductors of electricity. These network cables can cause signal transmission problems with subtle power variations. The metal network cables are manufactured assuming that there’s a uniform potential in the ground. However, in reality, the voltage potential in the ground differs when network cables of different potentials go between one or different buildings.

Eliminating the spark hazard

The presence of an electrical point means that there’s a possibility for sparks. In such a situation, signal transmission becomes difficult. A small electrical spark can cause a huge explosion. However, fiber optic network cables don’t carry current, so these can’t produce even the slightest spark. It’s a major advantage for use in explosive environments like oil refineries, chemical plants, etc., as it enhances the installation and operating safety.

Great Bandwidth

A fiber optic cable usually has a high capacity for high-speed data transmission over long distances. This type of network cable doesn’t have unlimited bandwidth, but the bandwidth is quite high compared to that of a coaxial network cable. A coaxial network cable usually covers a few MHz per km as bandwidth, and it’s a very small value compared to the bandwidth parameter (400 MHz per km) of a fiber optic cable. However, these values vary from cable to cable.

Security of information and data

There’s no external magnetic field with a fiber optic cable because the electromagnetic field stays within the fiber. If the fiber is present, it’s not possible to tap the signal transfer. Interception of the signal transfer isn’t possible, so fiber optic network cables are a safe way to transmit sensitive data and ensure data protection. On the other hand, a metal network cable contains magnetic fields, so it’s very easy to leak data by tapping into the signal transfer. It’s possible to minimize this problem if you shield the wire, but only shielding doesn’t bring a complete solution.

Staying unaffected by other cables

Network cables with the increased capability of communication transmission are very rigid and thick; these characteristics toughen up the cable installation process in buildings. So, for such a type of installation, special ducts need to be created. Comparatively, fiber optic network cables are very simple for installation because the wires are small and flexible. The installation of these network cables can be done along electric cables, and the cables won’t get affected by electromagnetic noise from any other wire.

There are ventilation ducts in all buildings. It’s quite easy to install the network cables through the ducts. Also, as fiber optic network cables are small, these cables require less fire-retardant materials and less space. The cables are lightweight; that’s why these are highly suitable for portable installations.

 

Signal interference in any network is a huge disturbance; nobody expects this phenomenon. Signal interference creates several complexities in signal transmission. That’s why selecting the suitable network cable type is important for ensuring an interference-free network. Fiber optic cables are great for staying unaffected by signal interference. The characteristics of fiber optic cables have given this cable type a special superiority over other cable types like twisted-pair cables, coaxial cables, etc. We hope this article has been helpful for you to understand the special characteristics of fiber optic cables for staying free from signal interference.