How Does Fiber-Optic Internet Work?


The topic of this article, how fiber-optic internet works, made it a challenge to balance the details while using simple explanations. Since this piece is a deep dive into the technical nuances behind fiber-optics, I interviewed a subject-matter expert to ensure I got the details right.

Client: | Published: March 25, 2021

A screenshot preview of my How Does Fiber Work? article


Here’s a look at some of the great quotes I got from my expert interviewee, plus an easy-to-understand explanation of what attenuation means:

“Fiber-optic cable carries light very well over relatively long distances with low attenuation and distortion of the light signal,” says Frank Cornett, a retired electrical engineer for Intel.

What is attenuation?
In terms of your internet connection, attenuation means the strength of the signal sent to your computer gets weaker over time. That change makes the signal harder for your computer to process overall. With fiber, the signal stays stronger so you get faster internet and better streaming. Zoom.

That light signal uses binary to communicate with your computer. “…The presence of light might indicate a binary one and the absence of light would indicate a binary zero,” says Frank. Pretty cool.

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