Earlier this week Siemens gave a demonstration of a new type of plastic optical fibre which supports data rates of up to 1Gbit/s:
Sebastian Randel, the Siemens project manager, said the team sent an IPTV signal at 1008Mbit/s over a 100m connection in the lab, without errors or any flickering on the TV screen.
The company claims this is a big breakthrough for plastic (or polymer) optical fibre - POF - a technology which proponents want to supplant glass fibres and copper wires in demanding environments such as factory and home automation.
POF's advantages include flexibility, robustness and ease of connection, all of which make it easier and therefore cheaper to handle - it can even be installed by us cack-handed end users. In particular, the optical core is much thicker than in glass fibre, so it is more tolerant of misaligned connectors, and it can be cut satisfactorily with a metal cutter, whereas glass needs a diamond cutter.
Its main disadvantage is that it has a much higher transmission loss than glass, so current POF technology tops out at 100Mbit/s - the speed of Fast Ethernet.