Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) Pros and Cons

April 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In our previous blog posts, we’ve explored many of the advantages of fiber optic cables. From faster speeds, greater bandwidth, immunity to EMI/RFI and better performance in harsh environments, fiber has a lot of advantages over traditional copper cabling. We’ve also compared multimode fiber vs. single-mode fiber. But what about plastic optical fiber (POF)? Here, we’ll explore the good and the bad of POF and how it can work for you.

 

Plastic Optical Fiber is a large core, step-index optical fiber that can deliver data rates of up to 1 Gbps. POF is an ideal choice for networks with infrastructure runs of up to 80 meters connecting to switches and/or wall plates. Because it’s made of plastic, POF is more durable and is easily installed in minutes with fewer tools and less training.  It is also priced more competitively, which makes it a more attractive option for desktop LAN connections and low-speed short links.

 

POF will support the higher bandwidth demands projected for the average user in the coming years. It is also well-suited for developing new applications that require higher bandwidth, including IPTV and Triple Play services. It can be used in businesses, homes, student housing, apartments and condos. As a matter of fact, the IEEE recently specified the 802.3bv standard for plastic optical fiber. This standard will allow POF to provide Gigabit Ethernet support for applications such as automotive, industrial and home networks.

 

With a typical diameter of 1 mm, POF is about 100 times larger than glass optical fiber, which could be a downfall, but the large size allows it to easily couple a large amount of light from sources and connectors that don’t have to have high precision. This makes termination simple and cuts connector costs by an average of 10-20% compared to glass fibers.

 

POF is ideal for short-range communication networks and plays an important role in military communication networks. It is also safer than glass optical fiber because it uses a harmless green or red light that is easy visible to the eye. Though plastic optical fibers can’t withstand the extreme high-temperatures that glass optical fiber can, they do provide added durability and flexibility for use in data communications, industrial environments and military applications.

 

The list of cons is short: slower data-rates, shorter distances.  

 

POF has a lengthy list of pros. Here’s an overview:

 

·       Lower cost

·       Easier to install

·       Less infrastructure support required

·       50% less power than copper

·       80% less carbon dioxide than copper

·       High-performance data transfer

·       Resists EMI/RFI and crosstalk interference

·       Lightweight and durable

·       Waterproof, moisture-proof and magnetic-free

·       LEED-certified

·       Future 802.3bv standard (1Gbps speeds)

 

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