|[POF] Has Plastic Optical Fiber's Time Finally Arrived?|
Author Stephen Hardy | Lightwave | November 27, 2017
Telefonica's trial of plastic optical fiber in home networks may signal a resurgence of interest in the technology among broadband services providers.
Manufacturers of plastic optical fiber and related technologies have long touted the medium as an alternative not only to copper but glass for wired communications applications. Yet, despite some success in aircraft, automotive, and industrial applications, plastic optical fiber hasn't made much of a dent with service providers. Telefónica, however, recently announced the successful completion of gigabit home network trials with the technology. The confluence of factors that led to these trials may signal that network operators may finally see a role for plastic in their networks.
Almost as good as glass
Plastic optical fiber (or "POF," as many of its backers call it) aims to address many of the same applications as glass fiber, albeit via a different material. Step-index fiber made from polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is the most commonly discussed approach for communications applications, although there has been work on graded-index fibers based on other polymers as well. (POF also has been touted for lighting and signage requirements, as well as for use inside consumer devices and in sensing applications.)