Fiber optics are high-capacity, high quality network cables made from glass fibers. The use of fiber optics in large-scale networks has greatly affected the economy. It's impossible to measure the degree of its economic effect because money continues to flow in a domino effect. By looking at the applications of fiber optics, you can understand some of the ways it has affected the economy, primarily through reliable wide-area telecommunications.
It's often mistakenly thought that fiber-optic cable's benefit is that it has more capacity than other cables, such as copper coaxial cable. While fiber does have more capacity, or bandwidth, its real impact is its capacity over very long distances. Extremely long runs of fiber can carry signals with very little degradation. So, fiber offers a highly reliable means of long-distance data transmission, of which metallic cables and even satellites are incapable. This benefit accounts for fiber's greatest economic impact.
Media and Advertising
The explosion of the internet paralleled the use of fiber-optics in wide-area networks. Prior to the widespread use of fiber optics, data transmission was impeded by signal loss, effectively limiting the amount of data transmitted. With this vanishing limitation, media outlets that may have pursued radio, television or print began opting for the internet. People followed, and so did advertisers.
With the stabilization of wide-area networks, made possible by fiber optics, consumers opted to shop online more often. E-commerce in retail is perhaps one of the greatest shifts in retail in decades. Online shopping doesn't eliminate driving, but it changes its nature and economics. Instead of consumers traveling to retailers, in what may be a haphazard manner, retailers dispatch shipments to consumers in an orderly manner.
Remote Work: Telecommuting
Telecommuting is the practice of working for or with an employer from a remote location using telecommunications. Fiber-optics makes this possible as a standard practice. It has become a viable economic option in all but the most remote areas. Perhaps one of the greatest effects of telecommuting is revitalizing real estate markets that have historically been tied to the availability of local employment. Whole markets which would have been considered far removed from employment centers became just as accessible as New York is to Los Angeles.