Can Optic Fiber Communication be a threat to Satellite Communication?

By Telecom Tech Outlook | Tuesday, September 10, 2019

fiber communicationThere is a noticeable competition going on between two evolving communication technologies, i.e., Satellite Communications and Optic Fiber Communication. Will Optic Fiber Communication be successful in dominating Satellite Communication?

FREMONT, CA: Satellite communication and optic fiber communication, the two leading innovative technologies are all set to transform the world of telecommunications. They both possess their pros and cons, which befit them in specific categories. These both technologies are complementary to one another. They differ in the characteristics and features; thus, their usage varies. 

Optic fiber communication does the job of transmitting data by sending light pulses (using laser) through an optic fiber. Characteristics like low signal loss and significant data rate of the transmission system of optic fiber communication leverage signals traveling long distances with data rates exceeding several Gbps without any requirement of the amplifier of the repeater. Besides, it uses wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) to enable a single fiber to carry up to 10 different signals of multi-Gbps transmissions. Optic Fiber communication provides significantly high bandwidth, electromagnetic interference immunization, non-existent delays, and interception immunization external means. 

For data decoding, unique hardware embedded with light sensors is required for every terminal of the optic fiber cable. However, this technology is very costly because of its expensive manufacturing and measures for connecting two ends. 

The technological advancements in optic fiber communication have reduced the requirement for satellite communications. For example, transmission between point-to-point communications or fixed locations needs large bandwidths, which are made through optic fiber rather than satellite communication. Optic fiber communication is also utilized in transmitting telephone signals, LAN (Gigabit LAN), cable television signals, and internet communication.

Satellite Communication makes use of artificial satellites placed in Earth's orbits for transferring data between a transmitter and a receiver at various locations on Earth. Satellite system provides the users the privilege of bypassing typical carrier offices and displaying information to several sites. Both private and government organizations are currently using more than 2000 satellites for communication purposes.

Communication Satellites are line-of-sight (LOS) microwave systems with a repeater. These satellites, also called geostationary satellites, rotate around our planet. The antenna size limitations also constrict the focusing capability, which leverages a single satellite transmitter coverage. This makes it suitable for TV and radio services because of the flow of signals from a single point to various points in one direction. Unfortunately, the big stretch between the satellite and the earth cause delays, which leads to poor two-way communication like mobile conversations. However, low earth orbit satellites are suitable for two-way communications due to the requirement of less power to reach those satellites.

Comparison of Satellite Communication with Optic Fiber Communication

1. Bandwidth: Fiber optics have higher bandwidth with zero electromagnetic interference. Satellite communication is vulnerable to interventions because of its lesser bandwidth.

2. Broadcasting: Numerous ground stations can receive the information transmitted by satellites at the same time because of its inherent design for broadcasting. In contrast, broadcasting through optic fibers consumes more bandwidth.

3. Reliability: The communication through satellites is less reliable as compared to communication through optic fibers as the optic fiber cables are less prone to errors.

4Terrain: The requirement of satellite communication is usually felt in poorly connected areas, rough terrains, and places where laying the wires is not feasible. In comparison, optic fibers are best suitable for urban areas where there is good infrastructure, and the communication lines can be laid conveniently.

5. Data Rate and Delay: There are high data rates in fiber optics with less propagation delays. On the other hand, the data rates in satellite communication are much lesser. The vast distance between the earth and the satellites invite disturbances in the communication and delays in transfer.

6. Mobility: The designing of fiber optics is immobile; hence, they can be used within fixed locations. However, satellite communication promotes mobile communications.

7. Cost: The price of fiber optic cable is based on the distance between the number of points and the connections. On the other hand, the price of satellites is independent from the stretch between the stations, i.e., the cost will be similar for 5km and 5000km. The recurring costs of satellites are higher than the optic fibers.

Based on the above comparison, it is difficult to say which technology is better than the other. However, one thing is for sure that these two technologies are going to transform the current generation completely.