FBT Splitter vs PLC Splitter: What is the Difference?

FBT vs PLC splitter

Fiber optic technology is transforming the way we communicate by enabling high-speed and reliable data transmission. However, when it comes to splitting fiber optic signals, there are two popular options, FBT splitters and PLC splitters. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitters and PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitters to help you choose the right one for your fiber optic network.

What is PLC Splitter?

A PLC splitter (planar lightwave circuit splitter) is a small optical device that divides incoming signals into multiple outputs using an optical chip. It uses silica glass for its lightwave circuit and comes in types like bare, blockless, and ABS PLC splitters, suited for various applications.

PLC splitter pros cons

What is FBT Splitter?

An FBT splitter (fused biconic taper) fuses fibers together, offering cost-effective splitting. It comes with customizable split ratios but has limitations in operating wavelengths and can experience insertion loss variations.

PLC splitter pros cons

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Splitting Ratio

FBT splitters are typically available in 1×2 or 2×2 configurations, which means that they can split an incoming signal into two output signals. However, FBT splitters can also be cascaded to achieve higher splitting ratios. For example, two 2×2 FBT splitters can be cascaded to create a 1×4 splitter, which can split an incoming signal into four output signals.

PLC splitters are available in a wide range of port counts, including 1×2, 1×4, 1×8, 1×16, 1×32 and 1×64. This means that they can achieve a wider range of splitting ratios than FBT splitters. For example, a 1×4 PLC splitter can split an incoming signal into four output signals, while a 1×16 PLC splitter can split an incoming signal into sixteen output signals.

PLC splitters have an advantage in terms of port count and the ability to achieve a wider range of splitting ratios than FBT splitters.

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Operating Wavelengths

FBT splitters work well in the 850 nm, 1310 nm, and 1550 nm wavelength ranges. PLC splitters, on the other hand, operate in a wider range of wavelengths, typically from 1260 nm to 1620 nm, making them suitable for use in WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) systems.
Operating Wavelength
FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Asymmetrical Attenuation per Branch
FBT splitters use a fusion splicing process to join two optical fibers into a single point and then stretch the fused region to create a taper that splits the incoming optical signal. The split ratio of FBT splitters is determined by the length and width of the taper and can be adjusted to provide a specific ratio of optical power to each output branch. As a result, FBT splitters typically have low asymmetrical attenuation per branch, which makes them suitable for use in applications that require precise power distribution.

PLC splitters, on the other hand, are made using a planar lightwave circuit technology that integrates multiple optical waveguides onto a single substrate. The split ratio of PLC splitters is determined by the waveguide design and the direction of light propagation. PLC splitters are commonly used in high-density fiber optic networks and can be mass-produced with consistent performance, making them cost-effective. However, compared to FBT splitters, PLC splitters may have higher asymmetrical attenuation per branch, which can lead to unequal power distribution to the output branches.

FBT splitters have lower asymmetrical attenuation per branch compared to PLC splitters, which makes them suitable for applications that require precise power distribution, while PLC splitters are more cost-effective and commonly used in high-density fiber optic networks.

Asymmetric Attenuation Per Branch

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Temperature Dependent Loss

FBT splitters typically have a higher TDL than PLC splitters. The TDL of FBT splitters can be as high as 0.5 dB/°C, while the TDL of PLC splitters is typically around 0.2 dB/°C. This means that the insertion loss of an FBT splitter can increase more with temperature changes than a PLC splitter.

However, it’s important to note that both FBT and PLC splitters can be designed with low TDL, depending on the specific application requirements.

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Failure Rate

Generally, PLC splitters have a lower failure rate compared to FBT splitters. This is because PLC splitters are fabricated using a more precise and reliable process, resulting in a more uniform and stable performance. FBT splitters, on the other hand, are made by fusing and tapering optical fibers, which can be more susceptible to inconsistencies and defects. However, the actual failure rate can depend on various factors such as the quality of the components used, installation, and environmental conditions.

Failure Rate

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Package Size

FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitters are larger in package size compared to PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitters. This is because FBT splitters are typically made by fusing and tapering two or more fibers together, which requires more physical space. In contrast, PLC splitters are made using lithography and etching techniques on a small piece of silica or silicon substrate, allowing them to be made in a compact package size.

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Scalability

When it comes to scalability, PLC splitters are the clear winner. They can be easily integrated into a larger optical communication system and can be used to split signals into many outputs, making them ideal for large-scale applications. FBT splitters, on the other hand, are limited in their scalability, as they can only divide the signals into a limited number of outputs.

FBT Splitters VS PLC Splitters: Cost

In general, FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitters are less expensive than PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitters, especially for smaller splitter ratios. However, for larger ratios (e.g. 1×32), the cost difference between FBT and PLC splitters becomes smaller, and in some cases, PLC splitters may even be less expensive. Additionally, the total cost of a splitter can also depend on other factors, such as the specific application and the required performance specifications.

FBT Splitters vs PLC Splitters: How to Choose?

When faced with the decision between FBT splitters and PLC splitters, no definitive choice exists. Your selection depends on various factors:

  • Splitting Ratio: In system applications, the splitting ratio refers to the output power of the splitter’s output port, related to the transmitted light’s wavelength. FBT splitters are well-suited for optical networks with minimal splitting channels, like 1×2 or 1×4 configurations. For larger splits such as 1×16, 1×32, and 1×48, PLC splitters offer distinct advantages.
  • Insertion Loss: This measures the optical loss in decibels (dB) for each output relative to the input. Generally, lower insertion loss values indicate better splitter performance. PLC splitters excel in this area due to their precisely manufactured planar lightwave circuit. Designed waveguide structures minimize signal loss, resulting in superior performance compared to FBT splitters.
  • Return Loss: Also known as reflection loss, it signifies the power loss in returned or reflected optical signals due to discontinuities in the optical fiber or transmission line. In most cases, greater return loss is preferable.
  • Isolation: Isolation denotes an optical path’s splitter capability to separate optical signals from other paths.

Additionally, parameters such as uniformity, directivity, polarization-dependent loss (PDL), and cost impact splitter performance.

As splitter technology advances, PLC splitters emerge as more advanced and reliable compared to traditional FBT splitters. PLC splitters’ relatively compact size makes them suitable for high-density applications, while FBT splitters are more budget-friendly. The choice hinges on your specific needs and application context.


FBT splitters and PLC splitters are two prominent splitter types utilized in the telecommunications sector. While they share the ability to distribute signals across multiple channels, they substantially differ in terms of bandwidth, size, insertion loss, temperature sensitivity, reliability, and cost. The decision between these splitters hinges on factors such as application, required bandwidth, available space, and budget.

For those considering the deployment or enhancement of their network using these technologies, buying them from a trustworthy optic fiber splitter supplier is crucial. With more than 10 years of expertise in fiber optic communication, Bonelinks presents dependable products, expert network solutions, and dedicated technical support.

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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