Thin strands of glass or plastic that efficiently carry light signals over long distances without amplification and is not affected by RF interference. Replacing traditional copper everywhere because they carry so much more information. One drawback to fiber optic cabling is that it takes a long time to repair if it is cut.

Part of the reason that fiber takes so long to repair is the fact that the glass strand often is insulated with Teflon(tm). Whilst providing very good electrical, chemical and mechanical insulation, this also lets the fiber slide inside the insulation. So when Mr. Backhoe goes to work on the cable, the fiber might snap more than a mile away from the spot where Mr. Backhoe is.
This then requires the entire length of cable to be excavated and/or replaced, a time-consuming work done by ... that's right: Mr. Backhoe!

Mr. Backhoe is familiar with the concept of job security.
A type of cable that transmits data as light through strands of glass instead of electricity through copper. Fiber-optic cable is a wonderful thing; it can transmit almost insane amounts of data per second, and it is completely impervious to surges, magnetic fields, lightning, and all the other EM nasties that can affect copper cable. Unfortunately it's not impervious to hicks bulldozing big holes in the ground for their swimming pools, but I doubt anything ever will be.

A few layer-1 protocols that are used over fiber include OC-3, OC-12, OC-48, 100base-FL, 100base-FX, and many, many more.

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