How are optical fibers used in telephone systems?

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Optical fibers are long, silica-based fibers that are used to conduct light along themselves.  These fibers represent the new standard in the communications industry.  They are able to transmit communications, either voice or data, much faster, due to increased speed and wider band width.  Optical fibers do this by conducting light, which is much faster than electrical signals traveling through wire.  Otical fibers also do not have to worry about interference with other sources of electromagnetic waves, such as power lines or electrical appliances.  The connection of optical fibers is critical, however, in insuring the transmission of the light goes on uninterrupted.  This is done by a careful splicing and treatment of the fibers by heat, so as to insure a smooth transition from one fiber to the next.  Optical fibers are also used as light sources in extremely small situations, such as exploratory surgery.