Fiber-Optic vs Satellite Communication

Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting data by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. These days, the majority of data communication involves a fiber-optic connection. However, other methods of transmitting data exist, including satellites.

Flat-Earthers use the prominence of fiber-optic communication as “proof” of the nonexistence of satellites. Such a line of thinking is a fallacy of hasty generalization. Using the same “logic,” we can “prove” trains don’t exist just by showing the existence of cars.

The advantage of fiber optics is their lower latency. A data sent from an end will reach the other end in a very short time. Low latency is essential in real-time communications or online gaming. Another advantage is its high capacity. A strand of fiber-optic theoretically can have a bandwidth up to 1000000 Gbps, far above one that of a copper wire of comparable size and far above the total bandwidth capacity of a single satellite. And a significant fiber-optic connection between two countries has hundreds or even thousands of strands of fiber optics.

Compared to satellites, the main disadvantage of fiber-optics is its point-to-point characteristic. To reach a location, the service provider must make a physical connection. On the other hand, a single satellite already covers a wide area covering multiple countries. All it is necessary to have a link is to install a transceiver in the specific location.

In a remote location occupied by only a small population, a fiber-optic connection can be uneconomical. In such cases, a satellite connection can be much cheaper.