Installation costs, the need for special testing equipment and susceptibility to damage are notable disadvantages of using fiber optics. Although fiber optics offers superior throughput speeds for data transmission, its disadvantages often make it unfeasible to implement.
The biggest disadvantage of fiber optics is its cost. In order to replace an existing network and install fiber optics, all networking equipment and cabling must be removed. For many organizations, this represents another significant capital expense after a very large investment in infrastructure and labor has already been made. Network technology – routers, switches and receivers, for example – are more expensive, as is the cost of fiber optic cable itself.
Further, fiber optic cable is much more delicate than regular patch cable. Because it’s made of glass, it crushes when rolled over by chair casters, for instance. Also, fiber optic cable is very unforgiving when stretched and, unlike regular patch cable, causes a great deal of network noise and downtime if not replaced promptly. Even cable in good condition can fuse if just a bit too much light passes through an imperfection in the glass. Called fiber fuse, this cable failure can destroy over a mile of cable at a rate of several yards a second. In addition, technology planners must budget for repairs from wildlife damage, as animals shred exterior and underground trunk lines for nesting materials and food or use it to sharpen claws and teeth.