43 innovations

Plastic optical fibres

Homes and businesses across Europe may soon receive ultra high-speedbroadband over cheap and easy-to-install plastic optical fibres.

Theconsortium developing the technology hopes to provide 80% of Europeanhomes with broadband up to 50 times faster than today's ADSL within 15years.

Glassoptical fibres form the backbone of high-speed data networks, but thebranches into homes and businesses are old-fashioned copperconnections. Replacing the metal with optical fibre is just tooexpensive, placing a bottleneck on broadband speeds over the last fewhundred meters to a user's computer.

Because the 1 millimeter-thick plastic fibres are tough, flexible,and immune to electrical interference, they can be threaded alongsideexisting electrical wiring, instead of needing dedicated shieldedconduits like copper.

Andunlike fragile glass fibres, which require technicians to install them,the plastic fibres can be connected by nearly anyone, in many casessimply by sliding the cut end of a fibre into a device.

Source: technology.newscientist.comAdded: 30 January 2008