What is Fiber Optic Cable?

March 13, 2024 | Customer Support

A fiber optic cable is a type of telecommunication cable that uses light to transmit data. Light travels through thin strands of glass that are size of a human hair, delivering internet at blazing-fast speeds.

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What is Fiber Optic Cable Made Of?

Fiber Optic Cable is made of a cable jacket, strengthening fibers, coating, and cladding which encases the fiber core.

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Fiber Optic Cable Jacket

The fiber optic cable jacket is a coating that protects the cable from any potential damage. Most fiber cable jackets are made with Polyethylene (PE) or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). These materials are incredibly valuable for their overall heat and weather resistant properties.

Strengthening fibers

Underneath the jacket are strengthening fibers. These are usually made of thin plastic strands that surround the inner cable and help protect it against damage, especially during the construction process.

Inner Coating

Another coating layer like the cable jacket wraps around the innermost cables. This provides another layer of heat resistance and protection that surrounds the most delicate and important components.


Cladding is a material usually made of glass or plastic that surrounds the optical fiber core and helps to keep the light from escaping. It does this by having a lower index of refraction compared to the fiber core and it reflects the light back into the core.


Light travels through the optic core transmitting data at incredibly fast speeds. The light is kept confined to the core thanks to the surrounding cladding.

Even though the innermost components of fiber cable are made of thin glass  strands it’s actually quite sturdy. Glass fibers are extremely flexible and are physically quite strong.

How Does Fiber Optic Cable Work?

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Fiber optic cable uses light to transmit data at incredibly high speeds. Quick bursts of light can travel miles in a fraction of a second.

But how does light transmit data? Well, think of it like Morse Code.

In Morse Code, you can hold entire conversations using only two types of signals, called dots and dashes. A quick tap of sound is a dot, and a longer transmission is called a dash. With combinations of dots and dashes, you can craft individual letters, sentences, and then entire messages.

A computer interprets information in a similar way. Instead of dots and dashes, it uses the numbers 0 and 1. This is called binary code and it’s the foundation of how computers work.

So how does fiber cable fit into this?

First, an optical signal sends light traveling through the cable at blazing-fast speeds.

When it reaches its destination, it hits a photoelectronic sensor. This sensor converts the light signal into an electric signal that your computer understands.

Every time the light hits the sensor, it produces a 1, and whenever it’s not hitting the sensor, it produces a 0. These 1s and 0s are called bits.

Fiber internet can flash hundreds of millions of times each second, sending massive amounts data in the form of bits to your device.

For reference, 1 single megabit contains 1 million bits. So, if you have a 300 megabit per second plan with Tachus, that means your signal is interpreting 300 million 1s and 0s (bits) each second!

Computers interpret these massive combinations of bits and translate them into video games, web pages, movies, and everything else we do online.

Single vs. Multimode Fiber

There are two main types of fiber optic cable used in production: single mode and multimode fiber

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But exactly are modes and what does that mean for fiber?

When a light signal is sent into a fiber optic cable, it disperses and spreads as it travels. Light bounces along the inside of the cable as it moves towards its destination. Because of this, each burst of light ends up traveling a different path as it bounces towards the end of the cable. The different paths that the light signal travels along are called modes.

Multimode fiber means that the signal has the capacity to travel along multiple paths on the way to its destination. Since light bounces and takes different paths in multimode fiber, the signal can start to weaken the farther along it goes. This is called modal dispersion and is why multimode fiber is used for shorter distances, like in an office building. Multimode fiber is also much less expensive than single mode as well. Which makes it a cost-effective choice for use over short distances.

Single mode fiber only allows one path for the light signal to travel on. Light does not bounce along the walls of single mode fiber. This is because the diameter of the core is much smaller than multimode. With such a small diameter, there is no modal dispersion as the light has nowhere to go except straight ahead. Single mode fiber can keep consistently high speeds across much longer distances. However, it’s generally more expensive to produce single mode fiber.

Single mode fiber is the type of cable we use at Tachus to provide blazing-fast internet speeds!

Types of Fiber Optic Cable

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Multi Mode Fiber Cable

OM1 Fiber

OM1 fiber optical cable was first introduced in 1989 by Corning Optical Fiber. OM stands for optical multimode, and it set the original standard for multimode fiber. These cables used light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to transmit their signal.

Core Diameter:  62.5 µm

Max Speed: 100 Mbps

Max Distance: 33 meters

Color: Orange

Light: LED

OM2 Fiber

OM2 fiber was released in 1998, providing improvements to speed, bandwidth, and signal distance.

Core Diameter: 50 µm

Max Speed: 10 Gbps

Max Distance: 82 meters

Color: Orange

Light: LED

OM3 Fiber

Released in 2002, OM3 fiber saw the implementation of laser optics to transmit signals.

This technology is called Laser Optical Multimode Fiber (LOMMF).

The lasers used in OM3 fiber cables are called vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL) and can achieve significantly faster speeds compared to LEDs. With these optical improvements, OM3 was able to provide speeds of 10 Gbps at 300 meters, and speeds of 40 to 100 Gbps at 100meters.

Diameter: 50 µm

Max Speed: 100 Gbps

Max Distance: 100 meters

Color: Aqua

Light: VCSEL

OM4 Fiber

OM4 fiber was released in 2009, bringing significant advancements for laser-optic fiber. OM4 was very convenient for fiber techs to use since it’s backwards compatible. Meaning the OM4 and OM3 could be integrated seamlessly.

Diameter: 50 µm

Max Speed: 400 Gbps

Max Distance: 150 meters

Color: Aqua

Light: VCSEL

OM5 Fiber

OM5 Fiber was released in 2014 and brought with it a new technology called Wide Band Multimode Fiber (WBMMF). This technology can carry four light waves simultaneously, greatly increasing output while simultaneously reducing fiber count.

Diameter: 50 µm

Max Speed: 400 Gbps

Max Distance: 150 meters

Color: Lime Green

Light: VCSEL

Single Mode Fiber Cable

OS1 Fiber

OS1 fiber released in 2002 and was primarily used for large-scale indoor connectivity, like on a college campus. Since OS1 is a single mode fiber cable, it can carry data significantly further than multimode.

Diameter: 8 to 10 µm

Max Speed: 10 Gbps

Max Distance: 10 kilometers

Color: Yellow

Light: Laser

OS2 Fiber

OS2 fiber was introduced in 2006 and is designed to carry data long distances and withstand the outdoors. OS2 fiber is capable of transmitting signals up to 200 kilometers, which makes it the most effective choice for building a large-scale network.

Diameter: 8 to 10 µm

Max Speed: 10 Gbps

Max Distance: 200 kilometers

Color: Yellow

Light: Laser

Fiber-Fast Speeds with Tachus

Fiber optic cable can achieve the fastest internet in the world. In the past two decades, the development of fiber cable has revolutionized internet accessibility.

With each iteration advancing speeds, reliability, and access, the future of fiber is brighter than the lights that power it!

Now you can experience the power of fiber internet directly to your front door!

With Tachus Fiber Internet, you’ll enjoy 100% fiber-fast internet that’s 100% frustration-free.

No taxes, no fees, no BS. Just blazing-fast speeds delivered right to your home.

Check your address to see if Tachus can serve your home today!