Sunday, 07 August 2016 14:37

Fibre and copper’s long term co-existence and common development


Will fibre ever replace copper cable? While intuitively you might say yes, the answer is that both will be around for quite some time yet.

Telco site Networks Asia has republished a CommScope report on whether fibre will ever replace copper.

Unfortunately, the link to the Network Asia site is coming up on my Mac, on which I have Symantec’s security software, as being infected with "drive-by-downloads" as you can see at Symantec’s Safe Web report here.

It is very likely the drive-by-downloads in question will have no impact on my trusty and trusted Mac, but not wanting to take any chances (and not wanting you to take any chances either), I’m not going to link directly to the story.

No, I’m going to link to two sources, one is the Internet Archive’s saved copy of the story here, and the story’s original source at the CommScope Blog here.

The blog post’s author is Laura Chen, a vice-president of CommScope, which bills itself as a "leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks".

Chen explains how "the question of whether fibre will replace copper cable was first proposed to me more than a decade ago and certainly has become a popular topic in cabling industry", and asks a crucial question: "Has this been verified by actual market performance?"

Pointing towards "CommScope's observation in China, it is true that the application fields for fibre have significantly extended; however copper cable remains vital in several key applications".

Chen divides the cabling market into two major application fields — data centres and intelligent buildings  and points to a "growing trend of fibre in the data centre market".

She explains that the "normal proportion of fibre and copper cable implementation in the data centre is 40% and 60% respectively".

However, Chen notes that "Data centre requirements for bandwidth will increase together with its scale expansion, and finally result in higher demand for fibre. Moreover, the percentage of fibre in large data centre (no less than 10,000 square meters) reaches 70%, much higher than the percentage of copper cable."

The story is different for intelligent buildings, however, where Chen states that while "the percentage of fibre implementation is comparatively higher in vertical backbone networks, copper cabling still dominates the applications of voice transmission and in-building networks".

Why? More below, please read on. 

fibre and copper

Mostly because of "the high cost of fibre-to-the-desk (FttD) systems as well as fibre’s high requirements for application environment and routine maintenance".

"Therefore," explains Chen, "in the market of intelligent buildings, the percentage of fibre usage is only around 30%, while copper cabling occupies the remaining 70% market share."

So, what does CommScope believe?

As an "integrated solution provider for fibre and copper cable", it should come as no surprise to see Chen and CommScope having a view.

The company says it "believes that both fibre and copper cable are making progress with fibre developing relatively faster".

"Since fibre and copper cable both serve Ethernet connections," continues Chen, "their specific applications are determined by the development and evolvement of Ethernet interface.

"In terms of the data centre market, fibre indeed holds a larger share because of its advantages in transmission speed and bandwidth.

"However, when it comes to the intelligent buildings market, copper cable is facing new opportunities brought on by the fast landing of the Power over Ethernet (PoE) application.

"Since copper cable is capable of transmitting data as well as supplying electrical power, its predominant application is to horizontal network transmission and device end," Chen adds.

She continues, stating: "With the rapid development and upgrading of Ethernet technology, its surrounding standards and the segmentation of application, the future of copper cable is still promising through such applications as PoE technology, wireless access, digital camera, LED-based power system and sensor networks.

"All of these applications will extend the scope of copper cable usage. Although fibre is more popular in the data centre market, the advent of 25G and 40G copper cable standards demonstrate the continuous evolvement of copper cable technology, which still has a strong presence, particularly in the area of server end access.

"This explains why fibre may not necessarily unify the data centre cabling market and the future trend of the cabling industry will be the long term co-existence and common development of both."

You would have to think that there are lessons for Australia’s copper and fibre-based multi-technology-mix, too, with the long-term co-existence and common development of both technologies, along with HFC hybrid fibre coax technologies all dominating Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure.

In any case, CommScope’s Laura Chen has offered some interesting information, and now you know about it, too.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here


The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.



iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.


Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous




Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News