Wi-Fi is like love. Always in the air and ready to connect you with the fascinating digital world. But have you ever wondered what keeps it in the air? Well, just like any relationship has a foundation of understanding, a wireless network has fiber cabling underneath that helps people connect to the internet whenever they want to. The other most popular cable type is the Ethernet cable. They are used everywhere, from IP camera technologies to LED lighting. These cables are quite cheap compared to fiber cables, but when one wants to have a huge and powerful network cable, fiber cables become necessary.

Both cables have their advantages and disadvantages, specialties, and limitations. Through this blog, we will talk about fiber optic cable vs. Ethernet cable and try to understand both in detail:

History of Fiber & Ethernet Cables

Fiber Optic Cables:

Fiber optic technology made its debut in 1969 when NASA employed it for television cameras during the moon landing. Since then, it has evolved into a reliable and high-speed data transmission method.

Ethernet Cables:


cable was developed by Xerox in 1970 and became famous in the 1980s as an industry standard. Since then, Ethernet has witnessed revolutionary progress in terms of reliability and speed.

The debate about fiber vs. Ethernet has its promoters. But let’s look at both to see which best suits your needs.

Ethernet Cables: The Evolution

When it was introduced, Ethernet was extremely slow. It had a speed of around 10Mbps over 100 meters. After that, when it formed an alliance with 802 IEE and became an industry standard, the speeds reached up to 10MBPS. Currently, as you all know, it has a speed of 10 Gigabit. Some experts criticize the speed ratings of Ethernet for falling short of their real-world utility. Also, there isn’t a specific formula that you can apply for calculating the performance of Ethernet cables. It depends on factors like collisions and line interferences, which need applications for resending messages.


People increasingly use Ethernet cables, long Ethernet cables, and regular Ethernet cables because they are cheaper. Therefore, the market for Ethernet cables continues to evolve, and electrical engineers conduct R&D and develop new cables from time to time. CAT5E, CAT6, CAT6A, and CAT7 are common Ethernet cables.

Fiber Optic Cables – The Evolution

There are two major categories of Fiber Optic Technology. One, single, and two, multi. Single-mode cables make use of laser light for sending signals to remote places. They can reach a distance 50 times more than multimode. However, they are more expensive as compared to the latter. Diodes, on the other hand, transmit signals over multimode cables. These cables usually cover short distances with up to 10 Gigabits/s over 600 m or 2000 feet.

The best and most effective single fiber links have the potential to reach a capacity of 100 GBs. So, when it comes to transmitting data over long distances, Fiber cables are the ultimate choice. The only concern here is their costs. Hence, manufacturers must offer an economical way to use them.

Now that we have learned about both  cables and their evolution let's understand some basic differences between them.

Understanding the Basic Difference between Optical Fiber Cables and Ethernet Cables

When it comes to long-distance electricity transmission, fiber cables are unparalleled. However, they do have some trade-offs. They can be brittle and prone to breakage and are generally more expensive than Ethernet cables. On the other hand, Ethernet cables are known for their speed, but they are not designed for long-distance use and can be susceptible to interference if unshielded.

Which one do you choose out of the two? Well, it depends on your requirements. You need fiber cables to connect an ISP to a street cabinet. This is because they consist of glass, and it is possible to transmit a huge amount of data with fiber cabling. However, if you install a connection proximate to your residence, you can choose an Ethernet cord.

Electromagnetic Interferences

Ever heard “Buzz,” “Hummmmm,” and “Crackle” sounds when you connect with your devices? Those are nothing but electromagnetic interferences. Now let us see how these interferences bother both cables. CAT5 Ethernet cables, when unshielded, create interference in several devices, including microwaves, Bluetooth, RF, and transformers. The best way to overcome such interference issues is to choose shielded Ethernet cables of higher grades, including CAT5E, 6, and 7. To obtain better results, you can also pair shielded cables and connectors.

Fortunately, electrical interference has not been much of a problem with fiber optic cables. However, there are times when light pulses interfere with each other and are not monochromatic. This is when interference seeps in. To help the cables get over such issues, manufacturers keep improving the quality of cables with every new release.

The Speed Difference

You would think that my Wi-Fi connection is faster than anything else, it must be fiber optic. You are not wrong. However, terabytes per second are not a bigger concern when sharing a signal from the bedroom to the living room.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

To learn more about how fiber optic and Ethernet cables differ from each other, let’s understand by knowing their pros and cons outlined in the table below:


Fiber Optic Cables

Ethernet Cables

Data Transmission Speed

Exceptional speed, capable of terabytes/second

Slower than fiber, typically Gigabit

Distance Capability

Ideal for long-distance transmissions

Suitable for short to medium distances

Immunity to Electromagnetic Interference

Resistant to EMI and RFI

Susceptible to EMI and RFI

Signal Security

Difficult to tap, highly secure

More susceptible to eavesdropping

Installation and Maintenance

Delicate and requires skilled installation

Robust and easy to install


Higher initial investment, lower operating costs

Lower upfront cost, higher operating costs

Is Fiber Technology Better than Ethernet?

Fiber optic technology is generally better than Ethernet for high-speed data transmission.

Fiber-optic cables employ light for data transmission and reception, allowing data to be well transmitted and, therefore, very fast.

They handle more bandwidth and, thus, transmit more data faster. Interference issues and signal degradation over long distances with fiber are usually lower.

Ethernet, using copper cables, can be a victim of electric interference. Compared with fiber optics, Ethernet is speed—and distance-constrained.

However, Ethernet is more affordable and easier to install. For most everyday uses, Ethernet will suffice, but fiber is better for high-performance needs.

Ethernet cables

Fiber Optic Products Offered by SF Cable

Below are the lists of fiber optic products offered by SF Cable:

OM1 Multimode Duplex: OM1 Multimode Duplex is one of the varieties of networking cables that are only required to carry high-speed data over a very small distance. This cable would be suitable for the LANs and the data center. Daisy chain LC-LC, LC-SC, LC-ST, MTRJ, ST-ST, SC-ST, or SC-SC: combinations of connectors are available here.

OM4 Multimode Duplex: Filters on OM4 Multimode Duplex networking cables perform much better bandwidth for high-speed networks and can work at high-distance data transmission compared to OM1. C/UPC-LC/UPC (Aqua), LC/UPC-LC/UPC (Erika Violet), LC/UPC- SC/UPC(Aqua), LC/UPC- SC/UPC (Erika Violet), SC/UPC- SC/UPC(Erika Violet), SC/UPC- SC/UPC (Aqua), MTP: lots of different options are available for the above connector combinations.

Singlemode: Fiber used for Singlemode kind of long-distance type of communication. They're of relatively high bandwidth and low signal attenuation. Others include FC/UPC-FC/UPCSimplex, FC/UPC-SC/UPCSimplex, LC/APC-LC/APCDuplex, and LC/APC-L: pieces of long-distance type of communication fiber.

OM3 Multimode Duplex: OM3 Multimode Duplex networking cables is optimized for transmitting data at very high speed and is, therefore, a must-use. Fiber is mostly used in data centers and enterprise networks. All these types of fiber cables go to the connectors. Also, LC-LC, SC-LC, SC-SC, SC-ST, and ST-LC.

Visit the website for other valuable information on our range of fiber optic products.

Future Trends in Networking Cables

More Bandwidth: Fiber optics is sure to lead just because it can provide more bandwidth that will be required to support the new data demand increase from 5G, IoT, and AI technologies. These networking cables will also reduce the degradation of signals in both local and long-haul networking.

Category 8 Ethernet Cables: For data centers and high-speed networks, Cat 8 cables are rated to operate at frequencies up to 2 GHz with speeds reaching 40 Gbps. They are designed with better shield construction to minimize alien crosstalk and electromagnetic interference, preserving signal integrity in dense wiring environments.

Evolution of Power over Ethernet: Power over Ethernet standards will evolve to allow for higher power loads on the cables. This will allow for higher-power applications like cameras, sensors, and wireless access points. PoE power reduces the need for separate power supplies, thus making the installation of networks simpler and more cost-effective.

Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial (HFC): Development of advanced cable materials to withstand cables that can last even when experiencing rough conditions, for example, extreme temperatures and physical stress conditions. Development of advanced materials and techniques to improve shieldability to reduce electromagnetic interference; for that case, signal transmission is cleaned up, and becomes more efficient.

Flexible and Modular Cabling Systems: Modular types of cabling systems can be easily upgraded and reconfigured to reduce downtime during installation and lower installation costs. Cables are made flexible for routing through complex environments since the network infrastructures have been designed to support a high-density level.

Optical Wireless Integration: Optical wireless communication technologies like Li-Fi will converge with conventional fiber optics to send high-speed data transfer via light waves using wireless tech. Hybrid set-ups of wireless and optical technologies will further enhance the flexibility and reach of that type of network in several environments.


Which cable is faster: fiber optic or Ethernet?

Fiber optic cables operate much quicker, in the terabytes per second range, while Ethernet cables normally operate a lot slower, generally in the Gigabits range.

Are fiber-optic cables more secure than Ethernet cables?

Yes, fiber optic cables are more secure because they are hard to penetrate, so it is very unlikely that one can eavesdrop on them, unlike Ethernet cables.

What are the cost considerations when choosing between fiber optic and Ethernet cables?

In this regard, fiber optic cables need more first-time investment and lower operating costs in the long run, while an Ethernet cable requires low first-time investment but may have higher operating expenses.

Which cable is suitable for long-distance transmissions?

Generally, fiber optic cables are preferable to Ethernet cables for long-distance applications covering rare lengths since they have a very low signal loss; on the other hand, Ethernet cables work very well within short to medium distances.

In the end, it is your specific requirements that will determine whether you require fiber optic and Ethernet cables. Fiber optic cables are a good option in case a long-distance, high-speed application is in question and for increased security, yet they come with a higher initial cost. Ethernet cables are generally cost-effective for short distances but may not possess fiber optics' speed and security attributes. That is why it is very important to understand such differences while designing a sound and efficient network infrastructure. If this still hasn't clarified the point, or you need particular help with your cable selection, feel free to mail to us at