How Long Do Fiber Optic Cables Last?

The use of fiber optics expands across the world. Things are improving at a fast pace, and we now have access to the fastest broadband speeds the planet has ever seen due to fiber-optic technology.

Fiber optic cables are surprisingly delicate objects. They consist of very fine strands of glass and silica. They must be manufactured to high standards and with minimal defects to function properly. But just how long should a fiber optic cable last? Let’s take a look at the key factors.

Surface Flaws

If a silica piece is manufactured without any surface defects, it will last for a very long time. Unfortunately, any commercially produced fiber optic cable will be subject to small micro-cracks on the surface. These tiny floors work to reduce the longevity of the material. This is one of the most important factors limiting the potential lifespan of a fiber optic cable.

To mitigate these issues, fiber optic cable manufacturers will conduct proof testing on any cables they produce. This proof testing involves stretching the fibers out and breaking the larger defects that might be present and ensuring only minor deficiencies remain.

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Degradation

Nothing lasts forever. Over time, any product will suffer some form of degradation or aging. In the case of fiber optic cables, a proper manufacturing process enables manufacturers to produce fiber optic cables that contain fewer flaws. It will also ensure that any flaws that are present are as small as possible.

Manufacturers also use a special coating on the tables that acts as a protective layer. This layer is designed to be as durable as possible and is the main coating used on commercially produced fiber optic cables.

Physical Strains

The physical strain placed on a fiber optic cable will have a big impact on its lifespan. A cable that is subject to heavy stresses regularly will fail sooner than one that is kept in milder conditions. These physical stresses begin with the manufacture of the cable and continue throughout the installation process and eventual use as a live cable.

There are numerous things that manufacturers can do to reduce the impact of physical stress on their cables. Manufacturers tend to design their cables to withstand much more intense physical strains than they are actually expected to endure in the real world. This additional safety net ensures that cables have the best possible chance of survival out in the wild.

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Environmental Factors

Finally, the environment that the cable is in after it is laid will determine how long it lasts. If it is situated somewhere where it will be regularly disturbed or impacted by the weather, it’s lifespan will be significantly reduced. On the other hand, a fiber optic cable that is protected from the elements and has been laid properly should last for a reasonably long time.

The first major fiber optic cable networks were laid down in the 1980s. Over the last 40 years, these networks have withstood the stresses of aging. Provided that cables are installed correctly and kept protected from the elements, they should easily last for multiple decades. However, in practice, fiber optic networks are not always located in an ideal environment. A fiber optic cable’s actual lifespan should be at least ten years, but they will often last longer.

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