Module 3: Fiber Optics Cabling

CMPS 161: Networking and Security


All computer networks have to relay information by some means. For a long time, the only option was to use cables, and that is indeed the topic of this module. Tremendous progress has been made starting with copper-based wires to fiber optic cables that use light as carrier of information. These developments have made it possible to transfer very high quality movies over the internet, something that was unthinkable 20 years ago. We will look at all the different varieties of cabling, including their advantages and disadvantages.

Module Objectives

  • Describe the advantages of glass fiber over copper conductors
  • Describe the differences in how light travels in single- and multimode fiber
  • Describe the components of a fiber-optic system
  • Describe the issues of optical networking, including fiber-to-the-business and fiber to-the-home
  • Describe the new networking developments associated with optical Ethernet
  • Understand the safety issues when working with fiber optics

Learning Resources

  • Module 3 Readings: Chapter 3
  • Module 3 Slides: Chapter 3

Learning Activities

  • Module 3 Quiz: Chapter 3
  • Module 3 Assignment: See below


There is a connection between the types of cabling and the Ethernet standards. For example, 100BASE-TX (a version of fast Ethernet) runs over two wire pairs inside a category 5 cable (or up). There are a lot of these combinations so it is easy to lose track. For this assignment, it is your task to create one table with types of cable (including UTP and fiber optic) and a second table with Ethernet standards. Finally, you should cross-reference the tables so that it is clear what Ethernet runs over what cable and vice versa.

You should also include other relevant information, such as maximum distance, maximum bandwidth, and a brief description. You should come up with all the specific fields that you think are useful (use the book, Google, and Wikipedia for inspiration). You should not use more than one or two pages in total.

Another way of looking at this exercise is that you want to make a ‘cheat sheet’ for a network administrator (perhaps you in the future!) such that they can quickly decide on their physical networking needs.

For Further Study

It is highly recommended to work through the exercises at the end of the chapter.

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