Fibre firm bends light round corners

A new type of fibre-optic cable that can bend round tight corners without leaking light could give broadband speeds an enormous boost.

Fibre firm bends light round corners

New York-based Corning Incorporated has developed the new fibre, which it claims is “over 100 times more bendable than standard fibres.” Although the company won’t reveal exact details of how the fibre is constructed, Corning’s head of marketing communications, Monica Ott, claims “it’s a way of controlling the refractive index profile, or the light trapping ability. We use nanoscale structures inside the fibre, instead of changing the material composition of the glass.”

Ott claims the fibre is as rugged as copper cabling, offering huge advantages for rolling out fibre-to-the-home. “When you think about how it needs to be rolled out in buildings… it’s stapled, it’s pulled round tight corners. It allows you to just handle it differently without protecting the fibre so much,” she says.

“With typical fibre if you’re bending it or stretching it, you might need a thicker cable. [With this new breakthrough] you can have much smaller cable.”

The company says these performance improvements will allow telecoms companies to offer high-speed broadband, voice and HDTV to almost every house and business in the country. But with the likes of BT ruling out such a move on cost grounds and Corning admitting the new fibre will be a “premium product”, is it financially viable? “We believe this is going to enable faster, less costly rollout of fibre to the home,” says Ott, who claims the new fibre will require smaller equipment in exchanges, less labour and fewer materials during the rollout process.

The company plans to launch the fibre and associated equipment at the US Fibre To The Home show this September.

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