Widgets Magazine

Fiber, why are you so expensive?

Friends, I am in a mood this morning. It may be the lack of sleep for the last few days, or the fact that football is just around the corner. Whatever the reason, hold onto your hats.
Fiber. Everybody loves it. Except for the techs terminating it for the first time. The rest of us love it. It’s a great new technology. I use “new” in the colloquial term as it has really been around for about 40 years or so. You send information down a shaft of light. Great! That is really impressive. At first it was telecommunications. A friend of my father’s worked for one of the Bells during the 1970s and talked to him about it quite a bit. This guy went to school on and off for years as they developed and refined the termination procedures, best practices, and use cases. However, it was the phone companies (and secret government organizations, let’s be honest) who first utilized it.
Then some magic happened in the realm of consumer electronics audio; the CD. The CD was not just a smaller form factor of vinyl, it was the digitization of audio. 1’s and 0’s. Now, audio was a digital representation of an analog format. Since it was 1’s and 0’s it could be put into a computer, or sent down this new fangled glass and light thing called fiber.
From CD to DVD to streaming, audio and video have been digitized for the last 30 years. (I’m not saying you can’t put analog signals on fiber because you can, just making a march forward.) Now we are in the age of a higher definition than our typical 480i signals. Everyone from AMX to Crestron have a way of sending this HD signal over fiber. That’s awesome. The catch is, you REALLY have to want to do it. Meaning… it’s a bit on the expensive side for us in the cheap seats.
There are certainly use cases for fiber from government work to large infrastructures where you have to send signals a long distance. However, we are not to a point yet when it is either equally cost effective or cheaper to put in fiber than it is to run copper. And that is a shame. I live and work in the education market, and even then in the low rent district of community college. We have a yearly budget less than what some universities spend on replacement lamps yearly. I long for the day when fiber is at least equal to the cost of copper because of the ease of termination and the robustness of the cables themselves. Will we get there? I really don’t think so.
Fiber is where it is because of it’s robustness and technical advantages over copper. There is also the matter of the transmitters and receivers. These are higher, in most cases, than the copper counterparts. I guess the point of this blog is to see what you think. Will we get to the point where fiber is equal to copper in terms of price? If we do, then it really be a question of which is the best infrastructure for the job.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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