While you may not realize it, fiber optic cables have become the backbone of today’s society. This type of cable has been used to connect cities and countries since the beginning of the internet. The first submarine fiber optic cable connected France and Britain to the United States in 1988, with hundreds more currently connecting the world across the ocean floor. Today, the global fiber optics market is estimated to grow to $9.1 billion by 2025.
Fiber optic cables send data using light. There are many thin strands of glass inside each cable in which photons travel down, varying from just a few to several hundred. These strands are less than a tenth as thick as a human hair. If you’re talking about telephone calls, each strand can carry somewhere around 25,000, leading entire fiber-optic cables to carry several million.
Data transfer speeds through fiber optic cables are able to reach extremely fast speeds. Since light moves so fast (186,000 miles per second), this directly translates into data transfer speeds. This enables up to one Gigabit per second transfer speeds on fiber-optic networks. This is almost 100 times faster than the average broadband speed in the United States of 11.7 Megabits per second. When these are properly installed, a lot of possibilities are unlocked. For instance, you set it up to transmit 15.5 terabits of data per second, 1,000 times what the average capacity is.
This technology is growing day in and out, despite some not even knowing. Around 25% of the Internet in the US is provided by fiber optics, with 280 million kilometers (over 170 million miles) in demand globally as of 2018. Using fiber optics directly for consumer use has grown as well, with Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber growing in popularity and reaching speeds of 500 Megabits per second and 1 Gigabit per second respectively.