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FSO vs Fiber Optic | Difference between FSO and Fiber Optic

This page compares FSO vs Fiber Optic and mentions difference between FSO and Fiber Optic.

FSO (Free Space Optics)

It is a wireless technology which transmits data via laser beams. It uses light waves to transmit data between buildings which have clear LOS (line of sight).

The difference between OFC and FSO is that OFC (Optical Fiber Communication) sends data via light through "fiber" where as FSO (Free Space Optic) communication sends data via light through "air".

FSO Block Diagram

Following points summarize working of FSO system as per block diagram.
• Information or data traffic is converted into pulses of invisible light which represent binary 1's and 0's.
• Transmitter transmits light pulses into the air. It uses LED or Laser Diode (LD).
• Receiver at the other end collects the light using lenses and/or mirrors. It uses photo-detector.
• Received signal is processed and converted back into transmitted information.

Fiber optic communication

The fiber optic communication systems are used for long distance telephone communication across large seas and now-a-days even for transmitting internet data from one part of the world to the other part.

fiber optic communication tutorial

Unlike FSO, fiber optic communication uses optical fiber cable. The system consists of coder, light source transmitter, cable, light detector and decoder. For very long distance communication, repeater units are incorporated in the chain to avoid complete attenuation of the optical signal. The latest development is EDFA which does not convert the signal into electrical form and does the amplification directly in the optical form itself.

Difference between FSO and Fiber Optic

Following table compares FSO vs Fiber Optic and mentions difference between FSO and Fiber Optic.


Specifications FSO Fiber Optic
• Transmitting medium Air Fiber cable
• Permit No permission required for transmission of laser beams. Requires permission for digging to lay fiber optic cables.
• Installation Easy and fast Difficult and time consuming
• Maintenance time Short Large
• Cost Moderate High
• Mobility Possible including reconfigurability Not possible
• Security Moderate High
• Transmission speed Varies depending on usage 100 Mbps to 100 Gbps
• Applications Between buildings, last mile solution (short distance) Point to Point (long distance)
• Advantages Price/Performance Not susceptible to EMI, Difficult to intercept and hence it is more secure.
• Disadvantages Can be intercepted and hence it is less secure. Difficult to terminate

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