Fiber Optics


The success of the modern fiber optic service is attributed to centuries of discovery and development in technology. The concept of fiber optics first debuted in 1790 when French inventor Claude Chappe introduced the optical semaphore telegraph. Alexander Graham Bell patented a similar device, the photophone, but it never got off the ground. By 1920, Clarence W. Hansell patented the idea of using transparent rods to transmit images to televisions and facsimile devices. In 1954, Dutch scientist Abraham Van Heel contributed to the future of fiber optics by cladding fiber optic cables to prevent contamination and reduce cross talk between fibers. In 1964, Dr. Charles K. Kao identified the need to use purer forms of glass to reduce light loss and set the standard of 10-20 dB of light loss per kilometer. In 1970, Corning Glass researchers Robert Maurer, Donald Keck and Peter Schultz invented fiber optic wire that was capable of carrying information over long distances via light waves that could be decoded once the information arrived at its destination. In June 1972, these same Corning Glass researchers invented the multimode germanium fiber.

By 1973, John MacChesney developed a modified chemical vapor process that gave birth to the commercial development of fiber optic cable. Four years later, General Telephone and Electronics tested and deployed the world optic services. Areas of demand for fiber optic installers are telecommunications, cable television, Internet service providers, and wireless service providers. The ultimate goal is to transmit and receive data signals within the optical domain. Currently, most signal routing , processing and switching include conversion of electrical signals to optical signals and then back to electrical signals before they are received at their final destination. This process creates a bottleneck, and as a result, bandwidth suffers. With an optical only network, signal processing , routing and switching happen in the optical domain. The need to replace the electronics when data rates increase is eliminated.

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) is a technology that allows optical networks to transmit large amounts of data with varying wavelengths without data degradation or loss.  WDM allows Internet service providers, telecommunications companies, CATV providers and wireless communications providers to take advantage of the available bandwidth provided by fiber optic service. DWDM also opens the door for the advent of multi-terabit data transmission. Right now, creating terabit networks is an expensive endeavor. However, as components costs decrease, more fiber optic bandwidth will be available and providers will beg in their journey into the terabit network realm.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:

state employment level

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were one million wage and salary jobs available in the telecommunications industry in 2015. Approximately 92,000 between California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia out of these jobs were with wired telecommunications carriers, including small business phone services, and about 200,000 were with wireless communications providers. Fiber optic positions in these two sectors will continue to grow, especially for cabling technicians.

Fiber Optics Careers

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