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The Continued Bright Future of Fiber

Fiber’s current and future potential is still being discovered, according to the largest company that makes it, providing future-proof connectivity for generations and longevity that is still being defined. Low-loss optical was first put into operation more than fifty years ago and continues to be improved for applications including carrier networks delivering broadband, data center operations, enterprises, and OEM applications integrating fiber down to the chip level. 

“Only 19% of the citizens in the U.S. are connected to a fiber network today,” said Mike O’Day, Chief Technology Officer for Corning Optical Communications. “We’re super excited to see the current wave of public investments in broadband networks, such as the $42.25 billion dollar BEAD program. Making internet for all will be a tremendous undertaking in the U.S.”  

While some uninformed skeptics have suggested fiber has a limited lifetime and must be replaced every few decades, there’s no real-world evidence to suggest otherwise. “We don’t actually know how long it can last because some of the first fibers that have been put in the ground in the ‘70s and ‘80s are still in operation today. We have a customer of ours that shared that this point, they are running modern, coherent transmission systems today over a portion of their Metro and long-haul network with fiber that was installed prior to 1986.”  

If properly installed and maintained properly, O’Day says Corning hasn’t found any sort of expiration date for fiber longevity as its conducted aging testing in their own labs, with the only issues affecting it if the cable was installed under stress or if there’s water that seeps into the cable.  

Another area where fiber delivers multi-generational appeal as a telecommunications medium is in its vast untapped ability for data traffic. “A single core, single mode fiber, which is what traditionally has deployed in the long-haul Metro and access networks, we see [it] being capable of at least 250 terabits per second,” said O’Day “There are other exceed that, if we talked about multicore fibers or other technologies that are being worked on and interesting, maybe for some niche or some unique applications, submarine [cable] for instance.”  

To learn more about Corning’s fiber vision from O’Day, tune in to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.