Organizations, involved in provision of services, currently have a specific objective of constructing a broadband that allows conveyance of a range of services that enhance revenue collection through well spoken words, better displayed videos and mobile information services. These advantages enable service providers to attract and ensure loyalty of their customers in cases, where there is a situation such as fixed amount of income, while the business has reached its highest level of performance (Kuo, 2001). Service providers usually depend on the efficiency of the access network in achieving the success of their opeartions. There are a range of techniques used to achieve the right structure of a network; by constructing total fibre architecture, by making use of the available investments of the reserves of copper infrastructure.

There has been the observation that telecommunication forms an important component of social, political and economic matters worldwide. There have also been technical improvements in the sector of communication resulting into the possibility of carrying a range of services by the network. The result is that the number of services provided to the final consumer of goods and services is almost difficult to estimate (Kuo, 2001). There are advantages associated with both fibre optics and copper in the service sector. However, there are also advantages and disadvantages concerning, their use for the provision of services.

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The success of a service provider basically depends on the architecture of the access network that is under use in the provision of services. The technique, developed by a service provider in constructing a service network, is variable from one place to another. The paper tries to explain whether the development of fibre optics is likely to result in total replacement of copper as an input during the design of a service process. This has been accomplished by comparing the advantages of copper wire and those of fibre optics, so that a weight is given regarding the most preferable one (Kuo, 2001). The paper will explain the advantages and the disadvantages of using copper and fibre optics in the service sector.

Background of the study

Fibre optic is considered one of the milestones in the technological world of service delivery. It is a technology that has gone through a series of stages with difficulties associated with initial attempts in producing cables of fibre optics. This is because of the frequency, with which attenuation occured in fibres during the start of the improvement of the invention. There was lack of purity in the glass used in fibre optics at that time, thus, resultig into the inability of the cables to mainatin the content of information over long distances. The rate, at which light pulses degraded, is estimated to be about 1000 dB/km before they could reach the other side of the cable.

The use of fibre optic cables is applicable in fast internet access and connecting telephone cables, so that a number of advantages can be attained with only a few difficulties. The mode of transfer of data, when fibre optics are used, is in form of light waves. This system is constructed using glass or fibres of plastic being the core of the cable, while the outer region is surrounded by a cladding that allows deflection of light towards the inner parts of the cable (Goff & Hansen, 2002). They also contain buffer layer that ensures prevention of the fibres from dampness and damage. However, fibre optics have been associated with a number of disadvantages, which are only achieveable using copper. As a result, despite its advantages, it has not been able to eliminate the use of copper completely in the service provision (Kuo, 2001). The writing tries to explain some of these disadvantages of fibre optics, while explaining the merits of copper.

The process of making fibre optic cores has, however, been improved by Cornings’s refinement and patent of 1960’s by the ability to make the technologies using glass to ensure the level of attenuation is reduced to about 20 dB/kpm. This has resulted into the attractiveness of fibre optice. Its advantage over copper is that it runs over a number of miles.

Problem Statement

There have been a number of controversies, regarding the suitability of either fibre optics or copper cable in transmission of services due to differences in their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, manufacturers of copper cables have been able to mainatin the same level with networks by making sure their systems are as competent as other sophisticated products such as fibre optics or electronic devices that assist in transmitting signals from the cables. However, the attempts of copper manufacturers have not been succesful in making products that can be installed in order to achieve maximum accomlishment of their purposes. There have been reports of complaints, regarding improperly installed copper cables, resulting into lack of provision of the rated performance. However, contractors have explained that most of the installations have passed the tests of authorizaton. Despite the insignificance of top performance, the possibility of getting all the installations of copper cables correctly done needs maximum attention. There is a possibility of incorrectness of installations as a result of electromagnetic interference from devices such as motors or flourescent light ballasts.

In addition, fibre use is also associated with problems due to its difficulty in installation. It has been observed to be one of the easiest cables to pull with least possibility of getting damaged (Kuo, 2001). It is one of the optic cable devices that is likely to remain difficult to terminate. These devices also require the inclusion of adhesives to ensure they are reliable and less costly to produce. In fact, almost all installations require the use of stripping fibres, inclusion of adhesives as well as making the ends polished (Goff & Hansen, 2002). The problem has been the technique that can be used to ensure that the best characteristics of copper cables and fiber optics are combined so that optimum conditions such as reliable bandwidth and high reliability are obtained. There is also a need to develop an upgraded bandwidth in the future, so that people who need to use these services such as the use in connecting desktops can use the service with optimum characteristics.

The purpose of this study is to provide a detailed analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of copper as well as fibre optic cables and the way, in which their strong points can be integrated to develop a more effective system, which enables optimum characteristics to be achieved. If these advantages are understood properly, there is the likelihood that more detailed, effective, measurable and consistent service can be obtained (Kuo, 2001).

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Purpose of the study

The major focus of the study is to determine the advangates and disadvantages of copper and fibre technology in the communication industry. By knowing these merits and demerits, it is possible to come up with a better approach that ensures the demerits of one is achived by the merit of the other technique of data conveyance. This is because, by coincident the demerits of one form of data transmission are the exact merits of the other. The study also involves a research that is carried out to determine the advantages and disadvantages that some organizations face, while using one type of data conveyance process. The results of the study are analysed to determine the most frequent problems and the most superior properties so that the problems are investigated and solved. The article also tries to recommed some of the approaches that need to be followed, so that the optimum conditions are obtained.

Research questions

In order to achieve the objectives of the study, it was necessary to develop some questions, which act as a guide to development of solutions to the problems for the study. Some of the questions that this study tries to answer include: what are the advantages and disadvantages of copper and fibre optics ? What are the ways, in which these advantages can be integrated so that optimum conditions are achieved, when they are being installed ? What are the difficulties faced when installing these systems of communication in terms of financial obligation and labor ? These questions acted as a guide to development of the strategies for conducting the research and development of research questions. They also acted as guide to developing the right recommendations that were to be applied in advising various companies and organizations involved in the use of copper cables and fiber optics on the manner, in which they need to tackle problems they were encountering.

Literature Review

It has been found that almost all electronic devices function in specific domains of the digital world. This is the process, where digital signals are used in the circuit of a specific device. There are a number of mediums that enable digital signals to be operational. This requires that communication is accomplished in a binary manner of a particular type such as 1’s or 0’s. In conditions involving operation of digital signaling over a fibre optic, 1 indicates a light source pulsing on, while 0 indicates a light source pulsing off. If the digital system is operating over a copper link, the pulse generated would be electrical rather than light. There are devices that allow information to be transferred into and out of copper-based and optical based networks. It is nececsary to be able to convert a network from copper-based network to fibre based network because each process is accompanied by its pros and cons (Kuo, 2001). A number of such pros and cons have resulted into the use of certain system to achieve the intended purpose. This paper explains some of those advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and disadvantages of fibre optic systems

There are advantages associated with fibre optics systems. However, it also has a number of disdvantages. In spite of existence of disadvantages, it is generally agreed that the develpment of fibre optics is one of the greatest achievements in the communication history. Therefore, it has a number of advantages . For instance, the existence of a number of pleasing characteristics and advantages that cannot be attained by electrical devices. One of these is better performance, inability to cause electrical noise, the existence of security of the signal and better electrical exclusion as well as better safety working conditions. Fibre optic cables are mainly associated with the advantage of being able to perform extremely well. Generally, the system is able to perform well in terms of high frequency and less maintence practices, the level of exactness of service, performed by the optic links, and the ultimate gains as a result of using the cables. This is better than copper cables due to the lightness of the cables as well as low frequency of operation and low qulity of service delivered, when the two types of networks are compared (Kuo, 2001). Optical fibres are also associated with low chances of losing silica, which allows the accomplishment of communication over long distances at a faster speed.

The other advantage is that it is never affected by electrical signals. These fibres can be installed near electrical wires but still retain high signal quality. The only requirement that needs to be cared about is the components of the fibre optic cables, which are likely to be affected by long time exposure to electrical influx. The other advantage that has been observed with the use of fibre optics is the level of security. This is because the possibility of tapping fibre optic cables is not possible. This provides advantage over other methods of electrical connections such as copper cables that are easily affected by electrical fluxes and they are easy to tap . Furthermore, fibre optics are associated with reduced sizes as well as weight, ability to be protected by the environment and to be economical to the environment (Goff & Hansen, 2002). Optic cables are usually designed in much smaller sizes compared with copper cables. Their diameters are usually smaller, so that it is possible to install them in the field. Their weights are also much lower. For instance, copper cable that can achieve a similar purpose needs to have a length of about 70 metres and being in 1000 pairs despite the possibility of achieving similar purpose by use of optic cable of a diameter of 3 millimeters. Fibre optics also have the capacity to carry a large number of conversations compared with copper wires. For instance, the copper wires are able to carry 24 messages over a distance of 4.6 kilometres, while one fibre cable is able to carry over 30,000 signals over a distance of 90 kilometres prior to the inclusion of a regenerator.

In addition, the use of fibre optics is friendly to the environment as its use does not result in conditions that pollute the environment. This is because there is no production of byproducts that may destroy the environment, while it is being used (Kuo, 2001). Other advantages, associated with fibre optics, are the inability of crosstalk and electrical noises, the existence of safe and unaffected signals and incapability to tap.

Despite the numerous advantages of fibre optics, there are a number of disadvantages, associated with it as well. One of the disadvantages of fibre optics is that it is new invention in technological field and a number of components or parts are still in the developing stage. There has also been concern over design and the structure of optical conditions. It is also estimated to be more expensive to install compared with copper due to the unfarmiliarity of the technology making it more expensive. Furthermore, it is expensive to obtain fibre optic transmitters and receivers in comparison with electrical devices. There have also been instances of flooding of fibre market with models that can be used in similar applications (Goff & Hansen, 2002). Generally, there is a variation of fibre optic design and specification from country to country and from manufacturer to manufacturer. The other limitation is the inability to standardize the fibre optic industry. As a result, people do not easily accept fibre optic cables. This has also made some parts of the electrical industry to maintain the use of electrical systems. This is because of the reluctance to switch to the use of fibre optics (Kuo, 2001). However, it has been found that the use of fibre optics has more advantages than the disadvantages associated with it. Furthermore, when constructing the fibre cable additional features have to be included to ensure effective delievery of the system.

There may be the inclusion of fans and blowers to ensure an effective cooling process that is the decisive factor in determining the performance of the fibre cable. As a result, a continuous maintenance program has too be put in place resulting in increased overall cost of installing the fibre optics cables. Other disadvantages of fibre optics include continous electrical conversions during the process of communication, lack of universally accepted specifications regarding the techniques to be used in optical based communication and the nature of optical fibres being too delicate and requiring highly trained workers to be able to handle them safely.

Advantages and disadvantages of copper cables

In spite of the advantages of fibre optics, there are certain characteristics of copper cables that cannot be achieved by the use of fibre optic cables. This has resulted into lack of complete elimination of copper cables in provision of communication services in the technology of communication. One of the advantages of copper cables is that it does not require termination equipment at the ends of the cables, making it less expensive to use, while offering communication services. In addition, there are no electrical conversions that take place during the process of communication. The other advantage is that the techniques of installing copper cables are simple and universally known by many countries and the techniques of providing copper cable services are done in similar manner in all the counties of the world. In addition, the cost of copper cables is not as high as those of fibre optic cables, making them easy to buy and use as communication facilites. The other merit of the use of copper cables is that it is not a new technology, compared with the use of fibre optic cables, and a number of components can be obtained from many parts of the world (Goff & Hansen, 2002). The design for copper components have also remained constant, ensuring that people remain conversant with them and usually they are easy to buy compared with fibre optic cables.

The other advantage is that copper cables are usually the same in design and standardized during manufactrure and many people in the communication industry are usually comfortable with the use of copper cables.


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However, a number of disadvantages are associated with copper and this has made the use of fibre optic cables more preferable than copper cables. In fact, it is argued that the future use of fibre optic cables is likely to eliminate the use of copper cables completely. In addition, a number of companies in the semiconductor industry do not want to use copper as a result of its many disadvantages. Automotive users are not willing to use it because of its likelihood of being corroded and being generally unreliable. One of the disadvantages of copper cables is that it costs more than fibre optic cables. Its storage is expensive as it is not required to be exposed to oxygen and it is bulky compared with fibre optic cables making it expensive to transport (Goff & Hansen, 2002).

In addition, copper cables are susceptible to corrosion in the form of oxidation and its shorter life expectancy compared with fibre optic cables. Therefore, when storing copper cables, considerations such as storage in places far away from oxidation have to be considered.

Furthermore, copper wires are more susceptible to shock compared with fibre optic cables. For instance, copper can be affected by electrical interference that results in poor quality signal compared with fibre optic cables. It is also more dangerous compared with the use of fibre optic cable.

The other disadvantage is that copper cables are not regarded by the semiconductor industry due to their poor quality of bonding strength. A number of workers in the semiconductor industry have always complained that copper is not a good material for the purpose of bonding and it is less reliable and ineffeicient. Many people in the semiconductor industry also believe that copper is not a good material for complicated wiring operations.

Summary of literature review and recommendations

The literature review above shows that both the use of copper cables and fibre optic cables in the semiconductor industries are accompanied by a number of advantages and disadvantages. However, it is clear that the use of fibre optic cables has more advantages compared with the use of copper cables. However, it is not possible to have a system of cables that is completely effective in the semiconductor industry. This requires that in order to acheive the objectives that people intend to accomplish with the use of these technologies, there is a need to determine the system of cables that fit the purpose. The literature review also indicates that copper cables have more disadvantages compared with its advantages and shows that it is losing popularity in the semiconductor indudtsry compared with the use of fiber optic cables (Goff & Hansen, 2002).

Research Methodology

A research was conducted with the aim of identifying some of the problems thatproviders were experiencing, while using the two types of technologies, i.e. fibre optic cables and copper cables. This was accomplished by conducting interviews and survey in the companies that use these technologies. The other objectives of the reasearch were to determine the right technique that these companies can follow, so that they offer services at the highest level of profitability. The study also aimed to determine the best approach that ensures capital and time are not constraints in the long-term process of obtaining maximum utility of their operations. The study also intended to determine the radical changes that can be developed to ensure future operations in the network are successful at lowest costs, while meeting the needs of the customers. Futhermore, the study will try to determine whether the companies need to deploy more competent voice, video or content operations in a range of areas or they need to operate in specific areas of the market. The study also attempted to establish the felxibility, associated with the use of these techniques, the level of bandwidth characteristics in the future. The raw data from the study were then analysed and conclusion and recommendations, regarding the advantages of fibre optic cables and copper cables are made (Goff & Hansen, 2002).

Data collection methods

The techniques, used in data collection, include the use of interviews and surveys that were conducted on the employees of companies involved in the use of fibre optic cables and copper cables. The respondents had to fill questionnaires regarding the kinds of problems they faced while using copper cables and fibre optic cables. They were also asked to name some of the advantages they experienced while using these cables. During the study demographic characteristics of the respondents were determined in terms of age, sex and areas of operation. Respondents were issued with questionnaires, where 40% were females and 60% males. 60% of the respondents were aged 35 years and above, while the remaining 40% were below the age of 35 years. Respondents who came from urban setup made up 70% of the respondents, while those who came from rural areas constituted the remaining 30%.

In addition, face to face interviews were conducted with the managers of these firms to establish the problems they faced, while using either copper and fibre optic cables in the provision of network services. They were also asked to provide some of the advantages associated with the use of fibre optic cables as well as copper cables and the changes they would expect in future developments of these techniques. The following is s list of advantages that were reported to be associated with the use of copper and fibr optic cables.

Advantages of copper cables Advantages of fibre optic cables
Technology is a common knowledge to many people It has higher bandwidth frequency
No need to have end transmitters Free from crosstalk
The design is universally known Resistant to electrical noises
Low attenuation

Table 1. Advantages of copper cables and fibre optic cables

The following table is an illustration of the disadvantages associated with the use of copper cables and fibre optic cables.

Disadvantages of copper cables Disadvantages of fibre optic cables
Expensive to store Ever changing design of the technology
Susceptible to corrosion Fibre optics transmitters are more expensive than copper interfaces
Higher shock hazards There is a need to get enough training regarding the manner, in which the cables need to be handled
Unreliable bonding agent

Table 2. Disadvantages of copper and fibre optic cables

Data analysis

The results of the interviews indicated that a majority of the respondents strongly believed that fibre optic cables were more advantageous to use than copper cables. They also provided answers, which strengthened the validity of the advantages and disadvantages, given in the literature review. The respondents also strongly believed that the use of fibre optic cables has contributed to easier access to communication services than the use of copper cables. The workers also believed that the use of copper cables was tedious and their storage required a lot of space and effort compared with fibre optic cables. They expressed their attitude that they would like to work in areas involving the provision of access by means of fibre optics than copper cables.

Recommendations for the implementation of the findings of the study

The findings of the research indicate certain advantages of the use of fibre optic cables as well as the advantages of copper cables. This research recommends that the main advantages of these cables need to be utilised in order to achieve maximum utilization of the services they provide. For instance, the advantage of fibre optic cable of higher bandwidth frequency needs to be utilised by being used in situations, where such requirements are important. In addition, the disadvantage of one of the cables need to be addressed by incorporating the advantages of the other, so that optimum results of the performance of the two types of cables are achieved.

Limitations of the study

There are limitations associated with the research. One of the limitations is that the study relied on the answers, provided by the respondents, even if they were biased. The best results would have been achieved by the use of secondary materials such as journal and archives of information on fibre optics and copper cables. Therefore, the results of the study cannot be concluded to be completely reliable.

The study also involved only interviews and questionnaires, which did not include proof of these advantages and disadvantages. It would be better if the analysis involved the use of observations of the access systems to determine the exact effects of these advantages and disadvantages for proof of validity.


This paper shows that the use of fibre optic cables in provision of access services is accompanied with a number of advantages and disadvantages. It shows that certain considerations need to be made regarding the advantages that are likely to be achieved, when these systems of provision of access are being decided upon. However, the paper indicates that a number of advantages are likely to be achieved by people who use fibre optics as a method of accessing communication facilities compared with those who use copper cables. The paper also explains other advantages and disadvantages that are not usually known to service providers and consumers. It reminds them of the merits that they are likely to get from using these types of cables and guides them on the ways, in which they can achieve the best results.

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