Fiber optics is the field of applied science and engineering focused on the design and application of optical fibers. Fiber-optic technology began to develop in the mid-1800s and its use is widespread today. In 1854, John Tyndall demonstrated that light could be conducted through a curved stream of water; this proved that a light signal can be bent. In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell invented the Photophone, which transmitted a voice signal through a light beam. It is a fairly simple technology that centers on the guiding of light by refraction.

Today, over 80% of long-distance communication occurs through fiber-optic cables. These cables are made of bundles of optic fibers. Each fiber has three parts: the core, cladding, and buffer coating. The core is the thin glass center of the fiber; this is where light travels. The cladding is the outer optical material surrounding the core; it reflects light back into the core. The plastic coating that protects the fiber from damage/ moisture is called the buffer coating.

Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from Point A to Point B by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light in a fiber-optic cable travels through the core by bouncing off the cladding, a principle called total internal reflection. Cladding does not absorb light from the core, so the light can travel long-distances.

Fiber-optic cables are the cables of choice for sending long-distance signals because the signal travels through glass unscathed by attenuation or electromagnetic interference. For every 5 km of copper wire, repeaters are needed to keep the signal strong. Copper wire is also susceptible to power outages and interference.Not every network runs on fiber-optic cables, however. Media converters make it possible to connect different types of cable to one another, such as copper cables to fiber-optic cabling. This is a cheap alternative to changing the entire structure of the network when it would be beneficial to extend the network. A media converter is a networking device that works on the network’s physical layer. It receives data signals from the copper wires and converts them into signals the fiber-optic cables identify. This small device can be installed almost anywhere in a network.