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The advantages of an Active Optical Cable

by Stuart Berry April 25, 2019


Why use an Active Optical Cable (AOC) instead of a typical copper CAT 5/6 extender? Copper is great but it can draw more power than you have available and you can sometimes be limited with what lengths you can go to. You might need to convert the data from one format to another or compress the data to enable higher data transmissions, which can lead to greater error rates and latency. Active Optical Cable is made up of fibre optics. The benefit of this is that the reach can be far greater, and it is also a much smaller diameter cable and so doesn’t have the weight of copper. This can be ideal if you need to reduce the weight or you only have a small amount of room available for additional cables.

Security and outside interference is another thing to bear in mind. Fibre optics uses light for transmission which is not affected by EMI or RFI interferences from external sources. Copper, on the other hand, is affected by EMI and is susceptible to tapping. AOC is ideal for a lot of scenarios where external “noise”, such as in an MRI room, is a factor. Normally it would require a heavily shielded copper cable to block out the interference. This can be bulky and costly, whereas a standard fibre AOC can reduce the costs and size significantly while ensuring the reliability of the signal being transmitted.

Fibre cable, which is the backbone of the AOC, is not affected by surges. This can help protect your devices internally without the need for additional surge protection devices. You need to check which one you need to buy though, as some AOC’s use a hybrid cable which has copper wires. Also it allows devices to be powered through the AOC (our USB AOC’s have this but we also provide USB surge protection if you need it).

Bandwidth is the most important thing in today’s World. With 4K video in the here and now, and with 8K well on its way, copper is starting to lose out to fibre. High bit rate video over copper is relying more and more on compression technologies to allow for the bandwidth required. Fiber optics transmit the signal a 30% less speed than the speed of light itself; this is one aspect that copper will not beat!

HDBT is a fantastic solution when you can’t change the cables from copper to fiber but it will always be limited by the copper itself you also need the rest of the equipment to go with it. If you having a new install or just want to tidy up your living room, with an Active Optical Cable it’s simply plug and play. So in the home, for example, you would have an HDMI source in one room, an HDMI screen in another, one cable only, and just plug and play.

It just makes things so much easier..

For more details on our AOCs, please go to our information page.

Stuart Berry
Stuart Berry


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