What is fiber optic pigtail?

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1. What is fiber optic pigtail?

Fiber pigtail is a cable with a connector at one end and no connector at the other end. It usually appears in the fiber optic terminal box and is connected to other fiber optic cable cores by fusion splicing, which can simplify the installation and maintenance of the cable system.

Fiber Optic Pigtail


2. How do fiber pigtails work?

One end with a fiber optic connector is used to connect equipment, and the fiber optic cable core’s stub is spliced with other fiber optic cable core stubs to achieve minimum insertion loss.
Cut patch cord from the middle, then it forms two pigtails. Pigtails have a variety of different connectors, common pigtails are usually installed in the ODF unit.

  • Characteristics of fiber pigtail
  • Insertion loss≤0.2dB
  • Return loss: PC/UPC>35dB; APC>60dB
  • Working temperature: -40~+55℃
  • Diameter: 0.9mm, 2.0mm, 3.0mm

3. what is a pigtail connector?

The connectors of fiber pigtails mainly include five types: LC, SC, FC, ST and MTRJ. The following table lists the applications, models, shapes and descriptions of these five types of connectors.

Types Common applications Connector model Description
LC Generally used in optical transmission modules LC/UPC  Lucent connector
SC Most used on routers and switches SC/UPC Subscriber connector
FC Most used on patch panels FC/UPC Ferrule connector
ST Generally used in fiber optic transceivers ST/UPC Straight tip connector
MTRJ Particularly suitable for fiber-to-the-desk applications MTRJ Mechanical Transfer Registered Jack

Note: Fiber pigtails have female and male fiber optic connectors. Female fiber optic connectors can be connected in fiber distribution boxes and fiber adapter panels, and male fiber optic connectors can be directly inserted into optical modules.


4. What are the types of fiber optic pigtails?

There are many types of optical fiber pigtails. As shown in the above table, they can be divided into LC, SC, FC, ST and MTRJ optical fiber pigtails according to the type of optical fiber connectors, but there are other different classifications. The details are as follows.

4.1 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by the application environment

In order to cope with the extremely harsh application environment, people have designed and developed armored fiber pigtails and waterproof fiber pigtails.

Armored fiber pigtail: The outer sheath of the armored fiber pigtail is made of stainless steel tube, which is strong and durable. It provides additional protection for the fiber, and at the same time improves the reliability of the network, and can effectively avoid rodent bites, construction operations, and other unnecessary damage, etc.

Waterproof fiber optic pigtails: Waterproof fiber optic pigtails with a strong outer jacket and waterproof sealed header connectors are ideal for harsh environments such as communication towers, cable TV, and the military. It has low insertion loss, high return loss, good interchangeability and repeatable push-pull performance, and is very convenient to use.

4.2 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by fiber type

Pigtails are generally divided into single-mode pigtails and multi-mode pigtails. The single-mode pigtail has a wavelength of 1310nm and 1550nm, and the transmission distance is 10km and 40km respectively; the multi-mode pigtail has a wavelength of 850nm and a transmission distance of 500m, which is used for short-distance interconnection.

Single-mode fiber pigtail: The core diameter of the single-mode fiber pigtail is 9/125 μm, and the color of the outer sheath is usually yellow. One end of it is usually connected to optical modules, optical fiber adapters and other equipment, and the other end is spliced with optical fibers.

Multimode fiber pigtail: The core diameter of the multimode fiber pigtail is 62.5/125μm or 50/125μm, which is the same as the single-mode fiber pigtail structure. According to the ISO/IEC 11801 standard, multimode fiber pigtails can also be divided into OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4 fiber pigtails. The outer sheath color of OM1 and OM2 multimode fiber pigtails is usually orange, and the outer sheath color of OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber pigtails are generally aquae.

4.3 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by the number of fiber cores

According to the number of fiber cores, fiber pigtails can be divided into 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24 or 48 core pigtails. Regardless of the number of fiber cores of fiber pigtails, they all use the structure of “N*1 fibers + N*1 connectors”. For example, single fiber pigtails consist of one fiber and one optical fiber connector, and the duplex fiber pigtail consists of two optical fibers and two optical fiber connectors.

4.4 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by the type of grinding and polishing of the connector

In the label indicating the pigtail connector, we often see “FC/PC”, “SC/PC”, etc., the meanings are as follows:

The front part of “/” indicates the connector type of the pigtail, such as “SC”, “LC”, “FC”, etc.
The part after “/”indicates the cross-section process of the optical fiber connector, that is, the grinding method, such as PC, UPC and APC, etc.
“PC” is most widely used in telecom operators’ equipment, and its connector section is flat. The attenuation of “UPC” is smaller than that of “PC”.


4.5 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by the composition

Bundle fiber pigtail: It consists of Corning tight-buffer fiber, aramid fiber reinforcement, and a flame-retardant PVC outer jacket.

Ribbon fiber pigtail: The ribbon fiber pigtail is the same as the bundle fiber pigtail, both of which are multi-core pigtails. The ribbon fiber pigtail contains 12 core fibers, one end is used for fusion splicing, and the other end is equipped with a connector.

Bundle pigtails and ribbon pigtails, these two types of pigtails are branch-able pigtails, which are less used for civilian use. Bundle pigtails are mostly used in industrial projects, and ribbon pigtails are mostly used in large-scale communication projects such as telecommunications and mobile.

4.6 Fiber optic pigtails are classified by the sheath material

Optical fiber pigtails are also the same as conventional optical fiber patch cords. They are divided into three types: PVC, LSZH and OFNP optical fiber pigtails due to different materials. PVC optical fiber pigtail is the most common type on the market, with average fire resistance and relatively low price; LSZH optical fiber pigtail has better flame retardant performance and is more expensive; OFNP optical fiber pigtail has the best flame retardant performance and the most expensive price, ideal for data center applications.


Fiber pigtails provide interconnection and cross-connection applications in the network connection of access equipment and are widely used in the following scenarios:

  • fiber optic communication systems
  • fiber optic access network
  • fiber optic data transmission
  • fiber CATV
  • local area network (LAN)
  • test equipment
  • fiber optic sensor
  • serial server
  • telecommunications network


6. Precautions for the use of fiber optic pigtail

  • The pigtail should avoid looping as much as possible during use, which can reduce the attenuation of optical signals during transmission.
  • The optical module connected by the pigtail must match the pigtail. The short-wave optical module must be connected to a multi-mode pigtail, and the long-wave optical module must be connected to a single-mode jumper, so as to ensure the accuracy of data transmission.
  • The connector of the pigtail should be kept clean, and the connector should be protected with a protective cover after use to prevent oil, dust and mechanical damage.
  • Before use, the pigtail ceramic ferrule and the end face of the ferrule must be wiped clean with alcohol dipped in absorbent cotton.
  • When the pigtail is damaged due to man-made or other factors, the damaged patch cord should be replaced in time.

7. How is the fiber pigtail spliced with the fiber?

what is a pigtail connection? The optical fiber fusion splicing technology mainly uses a fiber fusion machine to connect the optical fiber to the optical fiber or the optical fiber to the optical fiber pigtail, and fuse the bare fiber and the optical fiber pigtail in the optical cable together into a whole, while a separate fiber head of the fiber pigtail is connected to the fiber optic transceiver to connect the optical fiber and the twisted pair to the information socket.

The main tools used in the optical fiber fusion process are optical terminal box, optical fiber transceiver, optical fiber pigtail, coupler, special wire stripper, optical fiber cutting knife, etc.

  • Mechanical splicing: Strip the laying optical fiber and pigtail fiber, cut it, clean it, and insert it into the splice matching disc to align, tangent and lock.
  • Fusion splicing: Use auxiliary tools to strip the laying optical fiber and pigtail fiber, cut it, clean it, and then use an optical fiber fusion splicer under the protection of a fusion splicer to “melt” into one.

8. Fiber patch cords VS Fiber optic pigtails

As connecting devices for optical network transmission, optical fiber patch cords and optical fiber pigtails have many similarities, which often make us confused. So what are the similarities and differences between fiber patch cords and fiber pigtails?


8.1 Similarities between fiber patch cords and fiber optic pigtail

Fiber patch cords and fiber pigtails are divided into single and multi-mode. The working wavelength of multi-mode is 850nm, which is mostly used for short-distance transmission;

The color of the fiber patch cord and fiber pigtail is also the same. The color of single-mode fiber and pigtail is yellow, and the color of multi-mode fiber and pigtail is orange;

There are simplex and duplex. Simplex has only one connector, duplex has two connectors;

Fiber patch cords and fiber pigtails have SC, LC, FC, ST, MPO and other connectors;

8.2 The difference between fiber patch cords and fiber optic pigtail

The fiber patch cord is connected by a fiber optic cable to two connectors. The length of the fiber jumper is fixed. The fiber pigtail has a connector at one end and the fiber core is broken at the other end.

Optical fiber jumpers are generally used in the interconnection between network equipment, and optical fiber pigtails are fusion splices. Pigtails are generally used in protected areas or where fusion splicing is required. Fiber pigtails are usually used in connection with optical fiber distribution frames, splice boxes and optical fiber distribution boxes.

All in all, the biggest difference between the fiber pigtail and the fiber patch cord is the difference in appearance. The fiber patch cord has connectors on both sides, while the fiber pigtail has only one connector and the other end is bare fiber. Simply put, the fiber patch cord can be used as a fiber pigtail by dividing it into two.

9. Summary

The above is a detailed intro to fiber pigtails. The application of fiber pigtails can be seen everywhere, but the most common application is the combination of other optical components. It is widely used in telecom equipment rooms and data centers and can meet the connection requirements of Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and high-speed fiber channel networks. Please contact us if you need fiber pigtails.

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