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What is a Fiber-Optic Module?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox

A fiber-optic module is a component that is used to connect a fiber-optic cable to an electronic device. There are a number of different parts of a fiber-optic module, and different modules are designed with different specifications. The parts of the module are attached to a board which can be installed as a single unit in an electronic device.

The basic parts of a fiber-optic module include a transceiver, a place for the fiber-optic cable to connect to the module, and a place for the module to connect to the electronic device in which it is being installed. A basic input/output system (BIOS), which is a small computer chip, is standard in a fiber-optic module. The BIOS allows the module to identify its components and transmit information back and forth between the module and the electronic device.

A fiber-optic module connects fiber optic cables to an electronic device.
A fiber-optic module connects fiber optic cables to an electronic device.

The components of the fiber-optic module are located on a board, and in most electronics designed for personal use, this board is relatively small and easily installed by a computer engineer. More sophisticated electronics with many fiber-optic connections may require larger and more complex fiber-optic modules that allow them to connect to many different fiber-optic cables at once. Some modules also come with activity lights, that show the system owner when the module is active and what it is doing. This can be a useful tool for monitoring the performance of a fiber-optic module.

Different types of fiber-optic modules attach to electronic devices in different ways. The module can be plugged into the board or soldered onto a board’s optical line. The connection between the fiber-optic module and the fiber-optic cable can also come in a number of different shapes, depending on the specifications of the plug on the end of the cable.

Though there are a number of different companies that design modules, the design is basically the same from one module to the next. In order to make sure that the devices can connect with a variety of electronics and fiber-optic cables, many modules have a multi-source agreement. This means that the mechanical, physical and thermal components of the module do not affect the way that optical information enters and exits the module.

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Discussion Comments

@Grinderry: While there might not be fiber optics in the actual cellular device, fiber optics play an important role in cellular technology. Almost every cell tower and wireless internet company uses fiber optics in their network infrastructure and design in order to increase the amount of data that can be transferred throughout the world.

Are there fiber optic modules in cell phones? If so how small would they be? and Are they able to be replaced and swapped out like a battery? This would make for an interesting discussion with my class.

Fiber optic cabling systems are now prevalent throughout the entire globe. From Africa to Australia, most parts of the world are connected through some sort of medium and fiber optic cabling is almost always present in some form. It might not be as flexible with standards and exact tolerances as Cat5 or Cat6 Ethernet cabling, but its becoming more and more a standard in the transfer of information over the internet, and the main reason is because of its speed which can be a lot faster than the standard Cat5 / Cat6 speeds.
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    • A fiber-optic module connects fiber optic cables to an electronic device.
      By: Witold Krasowski
      A fiber-optic module connects fiber optic cables to an electronic device.