Communication today has three main channels in which it is carried. The “land line” telephone, which carries speech and information down wires, mobile phones which use wireless radio waves, and a third, the fibre optic cable.
This carries information from point to point using optical (light based) technology.
Information is sent from source to the transmitter which converts the digital electrical signal into a light signal. The information is pasted onto light as a series of variations in brightness and pulse rate.
Boosts may be needed to the impulses if they have to travel over long distances and an optical generator along the journey will duplicate the message, and send a fresh copy along.
When the pulses of light get to their destination, the optical receiver translates it back into binary digital format.
The idea of sending light down a tiny filament of glass, thinner than a human hair, was pioneered for the medical profession, to enable, for instance, the inspection of the gastric system by just putting a pipe down the throat and having the subject for inspection illuminated.
Engineers in the 1960’s took the idea forward and developed the ability to transmit telephone conversations and data, once translated into a light signal, at a speed of around 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light.
The cable that carries the light, although thinner than a human hair, is capable of carrying thousands of phone calls at the same time.
The light pulses surf along the cable, which is covered by an outer skin of glass which keeps the light in the optic cable, even if it has to follow curves and corners.
Many of these optic cables can run within one outer jacket, carrying the potential for millions of phone calls.
Fibre optic cables can carry far more information than copper cables, and keep their resonance over much longer distances. These cables are now what enables the World Wide Web and internet to be globally available at a speed we nowadays have come to expect.
Given this speed and ease of access to global data, lives will continue to adapt to the availability of internet. Streaming films and sports entertainment, and even controlling devices in our homes remotely through high-speed broadband connection, along fibre optic cables.
The speed and power afforded high-speed broadband have allowed the ability of users of the internet being able to “rent” computer space that is vacant. This is known as “cloud computing” and bears no matter, the geographical or physical whereabouts of a computer, almost instantaneous connection allows for remote processing, use and storage of data.