Communications is the most important application of fiber optics. Optical fibers serve as low-cost, flexible “pipes” that carry signals in environments ranging from climate-controlled office buildings to the ocean bottom. They span distances ranging from a few meters inside an automobile to nearly 10,000 kilometers across the Pacific ocean. They carry signals at speeds up to trillions of bits per second and form the backbone of the global telecommunications network.
To understand these uses of optical fibers, you need to understand the basic concepts behind modern communications. This chapter explains how communications systems function, the types of signals they transmit, the types of services they offer, and how the communications industry works. This chapter also shows you how fiber optics fit in with other communications equipment in the global network.
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