4 Key Steps to Choose the Right Fiber Optic Cable

how to choose fiber optic cable

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There are different types of fiber optic cables on the market. They vary in size, shape, color, structure and material. So, how to choose the right fiber optic cable? This article will provide some tips for choosing the right fiber optic cable.

What is a Fiber Optic Cable?
Fiber optic cables transmit data in pulses of light through flexible, optically pure glass. The optical cable consists of five parts: core, cladding, coating, strength member and outer sheath. The fiber core is made of high-purity silicon dioxide (SiO2) with small amounts of dopants and transmits light pulses generated by lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The cladding is a thin layer of glass (with a different refractive index than the core) that surrounds and protects the fiber core and reflects light back into the core so that the optical signal travels along the length of the fiber. The coating is designed to absorb shock, prevent excessive flex and reinforce the core. The strength member is designed to protect the fiber core from excessive pulling and crushing, especially during installation, and the outer jacket protects the fiber from shock, moisture and other external influences.

How to Select the Right Fiber Optic Cable?
1. Optical Cable Type
First of all, we should choose single-mode (SM) or multi-mode (MM) optical cables according to network applications and specifications. Typically, SM fiber is used for long-distance and outdoor applications, and MM multimode cable is used for short-distance and indoor applications.

multimode fiber-single-mode fiber

2. Fiber Cores Counts
After selecting the fiber type, we need to calculate how many fibers are needed for network construction. This largely depends on the size of the FTTX (fiber to the x) and ODN (optical distribution network) and the type of fiber optic cable used. The backbone fiber optic cable from the data center to the distribution box can have 24 cores to 288 cores. The cores count of the distribution fiber optic cable will be less than that of the backbone fiber optic cable. The FTTH drop optical cable is generally 1 core or 2 cores.

3. Deployment environment
We also need to consider the structure and material of the fiber optic cable according to where it will be deployed.

fiber optic cable

  • Outdoor
    When it is necessary to use direct-buried optical cable outdoors, the loose tube stranded armored optical cable is the best choice. The cable provides crush protection for both the optical fiber and the cable itself. When in an overhead environment, a fiber optic cable that can support its own weight is a better choice. Self-supporting cables have strength members such as extra steel wire or FRP or Kevlar to provide tensile properties. The most common self-supporting cables are figure-8 cables and ADSS cables.
  • Indoor
    The flame retardant, low smoke, zero-halogen (LSZH) characteristics of optical cables should be the first thing we should pay attention to when using optical cables indoors. In general, we can confirm it from the flame retardant grade and sheath material of low-smoke and zero-halogen optical cables. In the pipeline environment, flame-retardant (FR), low-smoke zero-halogen (LSZH) is the most suitable choice of optical fiber cable. In exposed indoor environments, it is necessary to use flame-retardant, low-smoke, zero-halogen (LSZH) optical cables. Tight-buffered fibers offer good mechanical properties such as small bend diameter, flexibility, and easy stripping for indoor applications.
  • Building
    When laying cables vertically or horizontally in buildings, it is recommended to choose tight-buffered cables, distribution cables or branch cables.

4. Connector
Connectors play a key role in building a secure fiber optic network. The main types of connectors include ST, FC, SC, LC and MTP. ST connectors are the most popular connectors in telecommunication networks. It’s spring-loaded, which means it can be easily attached and detached. FC connector has a threaded body and is mainly used in high vibration environments, polarized fibers and SM fibers. The SC is a snap-on connector that locks with a simple push-and-pull action. It is mainly used in SM fiber, duplex networks, CATV, media converters and FTTX. LC is a standard ceramic ferrule connector, which is half the size of SC connector. LC connector is mainly used in SM optical fiber, data centers, LAN, FTTH, CATV, etc. MTP/MPO connectors provide a high-performance multi-core connector, which is used in data centers.

LC SC FC ST MTRJ-connectors

Summary
All in all, these are the most important factors we need to consider when choosing a suitable fiber optic cable. Through these 4 key points, Bonelinks believe you can choose the right fiber optic cable.

Echo Huang

Echo Huang is an expert wordsmith and marketing professional at Bonelinks with more than 8 years of experience in high technology businesses – fiber optics, IoT, and telecommunication. She is very glad to share industry knowledge and communicate with others.

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