The use and demand for optical fiber has grown tremendously and optical-fiber applications are numerous. Telecommunication applications are widespread, ranging from global networks to desktop computers. These involve the transmission of voice, data, or video over distances of less than a meter to hundreds of kilometers, using one of a few standard fiber designs in one of several cable designs.
Carriers use optical fiber to carry plain old telephone service (POTS) across their nationwide networks. Local exchange carriers (LECs) use fiber to carry this same service between central office switches at local levels, and sometimes as far as the neighborhood or individual home (fiber to the home [FTTH]).
Optical fiber is also used extensively for transmission of data. Multinational firms need secure, reliable systems to transfer data and financial information between buildings to the desktop terminals or computers and to transfer data around the world. Cable television companies also use fiber for delivery of digital video and data services. The high bandwidth provided by fiber makes it the perfect choice for transmitting broadband signals, such as high-definition television (HDTV) telecasts.
Intelligent transportation systems, such as smart highways with intelligent traffic lights, automated tollbooths, and changeable message signs, also use fiber-optic-based telemetry systems.
Another important application for optical fiber is the biomedical industry. Fiber-optic systems are used in most modern telemedicine devices for transmission of digital diagnostic images. Other applications for optical fiber include space, military, automotive, and the industrial sector.