While Wi-Fi network connectivity has forever changed how many of us access the internet, countless devices and systems still rely on hardwired connections for the transportation of data signals across varying distances. While Ethernet cables have long served as the cable of choice for various devices, fiber optic cables have increasingly permeated the market, offering high performance for fair pricing. As both options perform the same role of transferring data between areas and systems, it can be advantageous to understand their differences so that you may procure the best solution for your particular needs.
Ethernet cables are similar to most conventional copper wire assemblies, featuring a set of wires that are encapsulated within protective sheathing. The most basic option is the CAT 5 Ethernet cable, which has long served many applications. However, the current standard is the CAT 5e cable which is able to support data transfer speeds upward of 1,000 Mbps. As CAT 5e cables can be procured for very cheap, they are often the most economical option if performance is not the highest concern and you simply just need a solution for a hardwired connection.
Unlike Ethernet cables and their wiring, fiber optic cables feature one or more optical fibers which serve to transfer data in the form of light. Optical fiber cables generally feature a central core and cladding latter, ensuring total internal reflection to prevent signal quality loss. As fiber optic lines can often be fairly sensitive to physical stress and trauma, they can be designed with ample protection to safely be implemented in a variety of environments. With the ability to transfer data through light and through the design of fiber optic cables, such technology can often transfer upwards of 10 Gbps over 2000 feet, that of which far surpasses Ethernet.
When comparing the two options, the fiber optic cable is clearly the winner when it comes down to performance, accuracy, and reliability. Despite this, these increased capabilities come at a higher price as fiber optic technology continues to be more expensive than their counterparts. As there are different types of fiber optic and Ethernet cables, each of which vary in their performance and price, one may always strike a balance that is best for their individual needs.
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