The Thunderbolt 3 standard was released years ago, but usually, cables have been limited to only a few meters in length to prevent signals degrading over long distances of copper conductors.
However, long cables are still okay for carrying power and, in some cases, the use of USB capabilities ad reduced speeds.
One suitable alternative to copper cables is optical fiber cables, which are capable of transmitting a signal over great distances efficiently.
Previous Thunderbolt standards were met with optical cables at some point in their existence, but the Thunderbolt 3 standard rarely saw such technology.
The demand for optical Thunderbolt cables is significantly smaller than the one for copper Thunderbolt cables, mainly because most average users don’t require long cables for their devices.
Areca, a Taiwanese company, has released optical Thunderbolt 3 cables that are available in 30-, 20-, and 10-meter lengths. However, prices ranging from $559 to $799 won’t make regular users rush to purchase them. They are aimed for professional users who need to transfer data over increased distances. Also, these cables only carry Thunderbolt 3 data and don’t provide power to or from connected devices.
Corning is another major optical cable manufacturer, which was expected to start developing lightning Thunderbolt cables.
Some people reported that Corning cables are available for purchase from European vendors like MacConsult in lengths up to 50 meters. Corning’s base price is $400, significantly less than Areca’s, but it’s still out of the budget for most consumers.
Corning said that its optical Thunderbolt 3 cables were presented at various trade shows over the past few years, but the company isn’t fully ready to launch them, so they released this statement:
“Corning’s Thunderbolt 3 cables have not yet been launched publicly, although we have shown preliminary samples at industry events. We look forward to their launch, although a date has not been scheduled.”