What is fiber optic: a guide to fiber optic technology

28 October 2023

Over the years, communication technology has experienced a true boom, evolving from simple sound signals to complex high-bandwidth fiber optic connections.

Fiber optics, being at the heart of this revolution, play a key role in shaping the modern world. Their ability to transmit huge amounts of data at the speed of light makes them the foundation of contemporary telecommunication networks, which in turn connect people and businesses across the globe. It is thanks to fiber optics that the use of various online services, such as video on demand, internet messengers, or online gaming, which are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of bandwidth, is possible.

In the upcoming sections, we will dive deeper into the world of fiber optic technology, discovering how fiber optics are changing the communication landscape.

Part 1: What is a Fiber Optic?

Definition and Description of the Fiber Optic Structure

Fiber optic is a special type of cable that uses light to transmit data at tremendous speeds. In cross-section, a fiber optic is composed of several layers, but the two most important are the core and the cladding. The core, usually made of very pure glass or plastic, is the element through which light travels. The cladding, also made from glass or plastic material but with a lower refractive index, surrounds the core, providing the right conditions for the occurrence of total internal reflection. This ensures that light remains within the core and travels through the fiber optic, even if the cable is bent.

Fiber Optic Structure
Fiber Optic Structure

It is worth noting that light in a fiber optic does not travel in a straight line but bounces off the walls of the core, maintaining its speed and energy. It is the phenomenon of total internal reflection that makes fiber optics so efficient in transmitting data over long distances with minimal signal attenuation.

Fiber optics can be categorized into two main types: single-mode and multimode fibers. They differ primarily in core diameter. Single-mode fibers have a narrow core through which only one light beam passes, allowing data to be transmitted over much greater distances. In contrast, multimode fibers have a wider core that can carry multiple light beams, but are efficient over shorter distances.

History of Fiber Optic Technology Development

The beginnings of fiber optic technology date back to the 1950s, although the idea of using light to transmit information was known as early as the 1840s when Daniel Colladon and Jacques Babinet first demonstrated directing light through reflection.

The first practical application of fiber optics in telecommunications took place in the 1970s when scientists developed methods for producing ultra-pure glass, which was a breakthrough in minimizing signal attenuation. By 1977, the world’s first telecommunications fiber optic was laid, spanning 9 km, and connected two telephone exchanges in Turin, Italy.

In the 1980s, with the development of fiber optic manufacturing technology and the devices to operate them, fiber optics began to gain popularity as a data transmission medium in telecommunication systems. Over time, more applications were found for fiber optics, which found their place beyond telecommunications, covering areas such as medicine, industry, and scientific research.

In the following decades, progress in the field of fiber optic technology gained momentum. This was largely due to continuous research and experimentation, which led to the improvement of the quality of materials used for fiber optics production, as well as to the development of new techniques for connecting and testing fiber optic cables.

Nowadays, fiber optic technology plays a key role in the global communication infrastructure, enabling fast, reliable, and secure data transmission worldwide. In the current era of digitization, fiber optics have become an integral part of the information society, which is undoubtedly confirmed by anyone who has had the opportunity to experience the benefits of high-speed fiber optic internet.

Part 2: How Does Fiber Optic Work?

The Principle of Fiber Optics Based on the Phenomenon of Total Internal Reflection

The basis of fiber optics is the phenomenon of total internal reflection. But what exactly does that mean? When light passes from a medium with a higher refractive index to one with a lower refractive index at a certain angle, instead of passing through the boundary of both media, it is completely reflected back into the originating medium. In the case of fiber optics, the core serves as the medium with the higher refractive index, and the cladding as the medium with the lower refractive index.

What does this mean in practice? When light hits the core-cladding boundary at an angle greater than the critical angle, it is reflected back into the core and continues its journey along the fiber optic. Thanks to this phenomenon, light can travel through a fiber optic over significant distances, reflecting between the core and cladding walls, without substantial energy loss.

Fiber Optic Cross Section / source: Wikipedia
Fiber Optic Cross Section / source: Wikipedia

Discussion of the Data Transmission Process Using Light

The process of data transmission using light in fiber optics is as fascinating as it is simple in its concept. The data to be transmitted are first converted into a light signal using a transmitting device, such as a laser or a light-emitting diode (LED). Each bit of data is represented as a light pulse, where “1” can be represented by a light pulse, and “0” by the absence of a pulse.

Once the light signal is generated, it travels through the core of the fiber optic, reaching the receiving device at the other end. The receiving device, equipped with a photodetector, converts these light pulses back into data that can then be interpreted by a computer system.

It is also worth noting that fiber optics are capable of transmitting data at immense speeds, which can reach up to hundreds of terabits per second. Moreover, compared to traditional copper cables, fiber optics are much more resistant to electromagnetic interference, making them the ideal solution in environments where high bandwidth and reliability are crucial.

Furthermore, modern fiber optic systems utilize advanced modulation and multiplexing techniques, such as Wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), which allow for the transmission of multiple data streams simultaneously, each on a different light wavelength, significantly increasing the total bandwidth of the system.

Thanks to their unparalleled properties, fiber optics are not only the future of data transmission, but they are already an integral part of telecommunications infrastructure around the world, enabling the implementation of the most demanding projects and solutions in the field of communications and information technology.

Part 3: Types of Fiber Optics

Classification of Fiber Optics into Single-mode and Multimode

Fiber optics are mainly divided into two categories: single-mode (SMF, Single Mode Fiber) and multimode (MMF, Multimode Fiber). The differences between them lie in their construction, which directly affects their ability to transmit data.

Single-mode fiber optics:
Single-mode fibers are characterized by a narrow core of about 9-10 micrometers in diameter, which allows for the transmission of a single light beam (mode) at a time. This minimizes dispersion and interference phenomena, allowing for data transmission over very long distances with minimal signal attenuation.

Multimode fiber optics:
In contrast, multimode fiber optics have a wider core, with a diameter ranging from 50 to 62.5 micrometers. This allows for the simultaneous transmission of multiple light beams (modes), however, modal dispersion can cause signal blurring over longer distances.

Optical fibers
Optical fibers

Characteristics and applications of both types of fiber optics

Single-mode fiber optics:
Thanks to the ability to transmit data over long distances without significant attenuation, single-mode fibers are mainly used in telecommunications networks that connect cities and countries. They are also used in backbone networks and in some campus and corporate network solutions, where high throughput and a large range are required.

Multimode fiber optics:
Due to lower costs and ease of installation, multimode fibers are often used in local area networks, within buildings, and on campus areas. They are ideal for applications where distances are relatively short and cost is a deciding factor.

Understanding FTTX networks

The term FTTX encompasses various types of fiber optic infrastructure, which differ depending on how close the final fiber optic reaches the user’s point. Examples include:

  • FTTH (Fiber To The Home) – fiber reaches directly to the user’s home.
  • FTTB (Fiber To The Building) – fiber reaches the building, and from there other media such as copper cables deliver services to users.
  • FTTC (Fiber To The Curb) – fiber reaches the curb or an outdoor box near the building, and from there other media deliver services to users.

FTTX networks combine the advantages of fiber optic technology with installation costs. For example, FTTH networks offer the highest bandwidth, as the fiber reaches directly to the user, but the installation cost is also the highest. On the other hand, FTTC and FTTB may offer lower installation costs, but with less bandwidth.

Broadband FTTX telecommunications systems enable the delivery of modern telecommunication services such as high-speed Internet, HDTV, and VoIP telephony, directly to users’ homes or offices. At Geckonet, we are developing an FTTH network, providing local communities access to state-of-the-art communication technology.

Part 4: Applications of Fiber Optics

Fiber Optics in Telecommunications

Fiber optics form the backbone of modern telecommunications systems. Their ability to transmit huge amounts of data over long distances with minimal attenuation and resistance to electromagnetic interference makes them indispensable in building broadband networks. Thanks to fiber optics, it is possible to provide high-speed internet services, digital television, and VoIP telephony in both urban and rural areas. Fiber optics not only enable communication between continents through submarine cables but also form the core of backbone, metropolitan, and access networks that connect smaller towns and regions.

Other Applications: Medicine, Industry, Scientific Research

Fiber optics are one of the most important tools in the modern world, enabling development not only in the field of telecommunications but also in medicine, industry, and science. Their flexibility and ability to transmit data at high speeds and over long distances open the door to new possibilities and innovations that will shape the future in the coming years.

In medicine, fiber optics are widely used, enabling diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that would be impossible or much more difficult without this technology. Examples include endoscopy, where fiber optics allow doctors to view internal body structures, and laser therapies, during which fiber optics transmit laser light for therapeutic purposes.

In the industry, fiber optics are used for a range of applications such as control and monitoring of processes, data transmission in environments susceptible to electromagnetic disturbances, and sensing – for example, fiber optics can serve as sensors for temperature, pressure, or deformation.

Scientific Research:
When it comes to scientific research, fiber optics are indispensable in many fields, from astronomy to physics to biochemistry. They enable the transmission of data from experiments with high speed and accuracy, which is crucial for obtaining reliable results. For instance, in physics, fiber optics are used to transmit signals from particle detectors, and in biochemistry, for conducting fluorescence spectroscopy.

Fiber optic splice
Fiber optic splice

Part 5: Advantages and Disadvantages of Fiber Optic Technology

Fiber optic technology offers a range of benefits that can significantly outweigh its limitations, especially in the context of telecommunications, medicine, industry, and scientific research. At Geckonet, we are fully aware that these benefits translate into offering local communities fast, reliable, and secure telecommunication services, which are essential in today’s world.

Benefits of Using Fiber Optics

Higher Bandwidth:
Fiber optics offer significantly higher bandwidth compared to traditional copper cables. Multiplexing techniques, such as Wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), allow the transmission of multiple data streams simultaneously, which greatly increases the total bandwidth of the system.

Reduced Signal Attenuation:
Thanks to the phenomenon of total internal reflection, fiber optics are characterized by significantly less signal attenuation over long distances, which allows for data transmission over much greater distances without the need for signal regeneration.

Resistance to Electromagnetic Interference:
Fiber optics are resistant to electromagnetic interference, making them an ideal solution in industrial environments, where strong electromagnetic fields may be present.

Security and Privacy:
Data transmission using light is secure, as it does not emit electromagnetic radiation, which makes eavesdropping difficult. Additionally, any attempt at physical access to the fiber optic cable is easy to detect, which increases the security of the transmission.

Better Signal Quality:
Fiber optics provide better signal quality and fewer transmission errors compared to copper cables, which is especially important in applications requiring high reliability.

Challenges and Limitations of Fiber Optic Technology

Installation Cost:
The cost of installing a fiber optic network can be higher compared to traditional cable networks, especially in areas where excavation is required or when the fiber optic infrastructure is being installed from scratch.

Difficulty of Repair:
Repairing fiber optic damage is more difficult than repairing copper cable. Repairing a broken fiber optic cable requires specialized equipment and trained technicians.

Equipment Cost:
The equipment necessary for handling fiber optic transmission, such as optical transmitters, receivers, and multiplexing devices, can be expensive, which in turn increases the overall cost of implementing and maintaining a fiber optic network.

Part 6: Fiber Optics in Geckonet’s Offer

With the development of local communities and providing them with access to modern communication technologies in mind, at Geckonet we offer a wide range of services based on fiber optic technology. Our services include fast fiber optic internet, high-definition television, and VoIP telephony, all delivered within our extensive FTTH (Fiber To The Home) network.

We offer our customers various internet packages that provide access to high-speed fiber optic internet with speeds up to 1 Gbit/s, perfect for streaming multimedia, online gaming, and working from home. For businesses, we offer dedicated solutions that enable reliable communication and real-time collaboration, which is crucial for maintaining competitiveness in the market.

How to take advantage of Geckonet’s offer – the process of connecting fiber optics to your home or business

To take advantage of our offer, we encourage you to submit an inquiry through our website or by phone contact. Then our team will assess the availability of fiber optic services at your location and notify you about the next steps. How does the order process work?

  1. Submitting an Inquiry: Submit an inquiry on our website or call us to learn more about the availability of fiber optic services in your area.
  2. Verification of Availability: Our team will check the availability of fiber optic services at your location and contact you to present the available options.
  3. Scheduling the Installation: We schedule a visit of our technician, who will come to you to install the necessary equipment and connect you to our fiber optic network.
  4. Installation and Configuration: Our technician will install and configure everything needed for you to enjoy fast fiber optic internet and other services offered by Geckonet.

We are pleased to be a part of your communication experience by offering you modern fiber optic services. Our team is here to make sure that the process runs smoothly from start to finish, and you can enjoy all the benefits that fiber optic technology has to offer.


In a world where access to information is key, fiber optic technology forms the cornerstone of modern communication. Whether you’re a high-definition movie buff or just enjoy surfing the internet, fiber optics is the best choice for your internet connection.

  1. Unmatched Speed and Quality: Fiber optics provide access to super-fast internet, which is perfect for those who watch a lot of high-resolution video content or play online games. A single fiber optic cable can deliver not just fast internet to your home but also 4K television, reliable telephony, and many other multimedia services.
  2. Versatility: Fiber optics is not just about fast internet access. The bandwidth of a laid fiber optic cable will increase over the years with the exchange of transceiver devices. In the near future, fiber optics will give us access to new forms of entertainment and communication.
  3. Reliability: Fiber optics are less susceptible to interference caused by atmospheric conditions or electromagnetic interferences, which means they can be relied upon when the internet is most needed.
  4. Investing in the Future: Today’s fiber optic networks are designed with the future in mind, with the potential to support even more advanced technologies that may emerge in the coming years.
  5. Improving Experiences: With higher speeds and better quality connections, users can enjoy better experiences, whether it comes to streaming movies, gaming, or just browsing websites.

Introducing fiber optics to your home or business is a step forward in achieving better network experiences. Geckonet is here to help you realize your dream of broadband internet, offering solid, reliable, and future-proof fiber optic solutions that meet your communication needs now and in the future.