Applications for Outside Plant Fiber Optic Cables

Inside plant refers to the cabling running inside a building. Similarly, outside plant is the cabling running outdoors. Outside plant cables are thicker because of more durable insulation jackets. As for fiber optic communication, there are many types of outside plant fiber optic cables. Some have extra protections to prevent corrosion and other elemental interference. Outside plant fiber optics are widely used in telephone networks, CATV, metropolitan networks, utilities and so on. If you want to choose the right outside plant fiber optic cable, its applicable environment is an important factor for consideration. This post will introduce some common outside plant fiber optic cables and typical outdoor application environments.

Several Types of Outside Plant Fiber Optic Cables

Outdoor Breakout Cable

Outdoor breakout cable is perfect for rugged applications and installations that require increased performance. It is usually made of several bundled simplex cables wrapped in a common cable jacket. The fungus, water and UV protections and temperature durability are beneficial to its outside applications. Its design of individual fiber reinforcement enables the quick termination to connectors and omits the use of patch panels or boxes. With much less termination work, outdoor breakout cable is more cost-effective when small fiber counts and short distances are required.

outside plant cable -breakout-outdoor-cable

Outdoor Loose Tube Cable

Outdoor loose tube cable has the gel-filled design protecting the cable from moisture environment. The gel within the loose-tube construction stops the penetration of water and keeps it away from the fiber. Also, it keeps water from freezing near the fiber at low temperatures which reduces the chance of stress fractures. Fibers are bundled inside a small plastic tube that can protect fibers from outside stresses. Outdoor loose tube cable is often used in conduits, strung overhead or buried directly into the ground.

outdoor-loose-tube-cable

Outdoor Ribbon Cable

Outdoor ribbon fiber optic cable has high fiber counts and small cable diameter. It contains the most fibers in the smallest cable. These fibers are laid out in rows as ribbons, and ribbons are laid on top of each other. Likewise, it also has gel-filled protection to block outside water. Ribbon cable makes installation much faster and easier since mass fusion splicers can join a ribbon at once.

outdoor-ribbon-cable

Outdoor Armored Cable

Outdoor armored cable is a direct buried type that prevents itself from animal bite. The metal armoring between two jackets effectively prohibits rodent penetration. Outdoor armored cable can be divided into light armored and heavy armored types. The former has the protective plastic jacket with the same durability and longevity of a stainless steel cable with a lighter weight. The latter is wrapped in a wire circle to be applied for underwater regions that near shores and shoals.

outdoor-armored-cable

Outside Cable Plant Applications

Outside cable plant deployment can be implemented in many environments. Above-ground, underground, buried and underwater are the typical applications.

Above-ground Cable Plant

Above-ground cable plant can be exposed to extreme temperatures, and to humidity that varies with the seasons and with daily temperature changes. Cables under such circumstances should be durable to adapt to extreme weathers and water penetration.

Underground Cable Plant

Underground cable plant usually applies cables in underground structures including the utility holes, controlled environmental vaults, ducts and so on. The condition in utility holes and ducts sometimes can be corrosive because of man-made chemicals. Cables with corrosion-proof materials are perfect for this environment.

Buried Cable Plant

Buried cable plant applies cables directly into the soil. Cables can also be exposed to the same corrosive environment as underground plant. But animal bite is an additional problem. Cables for this application should be very tough to endure both chemical corrosion and animal attack.

Underwater Cable Plant

Underwater cable plant are located beneath the surface of water. The water can range from relatively pure to brackish, or to badly contaminated with industrial effluent. Cables for underwater plant are extremely rugged, with fibers in the middle of the cable inside stainless steel tubes and the outside coated with many layers of steel strength members and conductors for powering repeaters.

Conclusion

Unlike indoor cables, outside plant fiber optic cables must be wrapped in different layers to withstand the severe installation conditions. Choosing the right kind of outdoor cable can save you a great deal for long-term maintenance. And your project application is an important aspect that will affect the selection of fiber optic cables.

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Have You Chosen the Right Cable Jackets?

Have you noticed that patch cables are all wrapped in various jackets? These cable jackets are important to serve as the protection for inner cable parts. Different kinds of jackets can influence the applications as well. Knowing the differences in cable jackets will help you make better decisions when choosing cables. Lots of materials can be made as cable jackets to cope with different situations. This article will mainly introduce some common types and analyze their distinctions.

cable-jacket

PVC

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common jacket type widely used for general patch cables. The low cost and easy manufacture contribute to its popularity around the world. You can find PVC jackets almost everywhere when patch cables are used. PVC material is highly moisture-resistant so that can be perfectly applied to humid environment. But it also has some defects that will limit the service lifespan. For example, PVC material often becomes fragile under direct sunlight and its flexibility is restricted when greater bending is required.

LSZH

LSZH (low smoke zero halogen) is the material that gives off low toxic and corrosive gas under fire. It greatly ensures the high visibility and low respiratory damage when cables come across open fire or short circuit fault. LSZH cable jacket is typically applied to areas where smoke factor is considered to be the most important, such as aircraft, rail cars, ships, buildings and so on.

OFNP

OFNP (optical fiber nonconductive plenum) is specified by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), which has no electrically conductive component inside optical cables. This type of cable jacket can effectively prevent fire and emit low smoke. OFNP cable is the highest fire rating fiber cable and has no replacement. Places including ducts, plenums, and other building airflow areas are suitable for installation.

PUR

PUR (polyurethane) cable jacket is the thermoplastic material that is usually used in harsh environment. It provides both mechanical resistance and chemical resistance. Thus, PUR cable can be installed for industrial applications where strong protective coating is demanded. Also, its flexibility makes itself a good material for retractile patch cables in continuously flexing applications. But it is more expensive than the common cable jackets.

PTFE

PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) sheath is a synthetic fluoropolymer material suitable for extreme environment. It is very durable under both high and low temperatures and can not be affected by most oils, fuels and fluids. This kind of cable jacket is widely used in military, aerospace, coaxial, and appliance wiring applications.

Rubber

Rubber jacket is a good option for portable power applications in outdoor or wet environment. It has better performance than plastic materials in flexibility, high temperature resistance and durability. Other applications like mining submersible pumps, control circuits, motor and associated machinery, construction equipment, etc. are also available.

Silicone

Silicone is the synthetic rubber with greater flexibility and stronger resistance against extreme temperatures and chemicals. Of course, it does not operate as high temperatures as PTFE. But with the extremely supple characteristic, silicone cable sheath is perfect for applications where lots of wire bending are required. And when it encounters fire, only a small amount of smoke will be produced which is also environmental-friendly.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you may get a general idea about the current cable jacket types and where they should be used. And certainly, if you want to find the most suitable jacket for your project, knowing this information is not far enough. But I hope this article can let you understand the importance of choosing a right cable jacket in your future applications.

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Choose the Right Patch Cable for Your Transceiver Module

To a large extent, a fluent data transmission relies on the seamless transition between patch cables and fiber optic transceivers. As high bandwidth gradually dominates the market, patch cables and transceivers become much more essential to data transmission, especially for data transmission between the switches and equipment. But when you try to find the right patch cable for your transceiver, you may feel dazzling about the great variety of products. Don’t worry, this article will help you find the quickest way to choose the suitable product. But first, let’s have a look at the basic knowledge about patch cables and transceiver modules.

Overview of Patch Cables and Transceiver Modules

A patch cable or patch cord is an electrical or optical cable used to connect one electronic or optical device to another for signal routing. It is composed of an electrical or optic cable terminated with connectors on the ends. Optical patch cables are now widely used in data centers for data transmission. They have different fiber connectors including LC, SC, ST, FC, MTRJ, E2000, MU, MPO/MTP, etc. As for fiber types, there are also single-mode patch cables and multimode patch cables. Single-mode patch cables can further be classified into OS1 and OS2. While the multimode can be further divided into OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4.

fiber-vs.-copper

Transceiver is a self-contained component that can both transmit and receive. It is often inserted in devices such as switches, routers or network interface cards which provide one or more transceiver module slot. Many transceivers types, such as SFP, X2, XENPAK, XFP, SFP+, QSFP+, CFP, etc. are used for various applications. The transceiver accepts digital signals from the Ethernet device and converts them to optical signals for transmission over the fiber.

Several Aspects to Consider
Transmission Media

Two kinds of transmission media can be found in the network. They are optic fiber cable and copper cable. Therefore, transceivers also have two types based on transmission media — copper based transceivers and fiber optic based transceivers. Copper based transceivers like 100BASE-T SFP, 1000BASE-T SFP are the commonly used types. They have a RJ45 interface to connect with the copper cables. Generally, cat 5, cat 6 and cat 7 cables attached with RJ45 connectors are typically linked to the copper based transceivers.

Compared with copper based transceivers, fiber optic transceivers support higher data rates for over 100 Gbps. The supported fiber patch cables are more complicated for selection. Usually single-mode and multimode fiber patch cables are used. But according to different transmission rates and transmission distance, further choices should be made.

Transmission Rate and Distance

It is known that data rate decreases as the transmission distance increases in fiber optic cables. Multimode fiber optic cables are often used for short distances due to the high cost of single-mode optical cables. But single-mode patch cables have better performance for different data rates in both long and short distances. Thus, if your transceiver supports high data rate over long distance, single-mode should be a better choice, and vice versa.

Transceiver Interface

Interfaces are also important to the selection of patch cables that match with transceivers. Optical transceivers usually use one port for transmitting and one port for receiving. Cables with duplex SC or LC connectors are typically employed to connect with this type of fiber optic transceivers. However, for BiDi transceivers only one port is used for both transmitting and receiving. Thus, simplex patch cables are used with BiDi transceivers.

Other high data rate transceivers like 40G/100GBASE QSFP+ often use MTP/MPO interfaces. They should be connected to the network with multi-fiber patch cords attached with MTP/MPO connectors. If these ports are used for 40 G to 10 G or 100 G to 10 G connections, fanout patch cables should be used.

transceiver-and-patch-cords

Conclusion

Knowing the transmission media, transmission data rate and distance, transceiver interfaces can give you a general direction of which type of patch cables should be chosen. Only matched patch cables and transceiver modules can provide better performance.

Applications of Special-Purpose Fiber Patch Cables

Fiber patch cable is an indispensable part for fiber optic communication. Signals are depending on this device to finish data transmission. Standard fiber patch cables are the most common patch cables in the market. However, there are some specific applications that need special treatment. Therefore, a range of special-purpose fiber patch cables have emerged as required. This article will recommend several unique but useful fiber patch cables. Maybe one of them will suit your needs.

HD TAB Fiber Patch Cable

As the name suggests, HD TAB fiber patch cable has a special push-pull tab which provides great convenience for high-density installations. Technicians can have easier finger access to installing or releasing the cables without using any additional tools. In today’s market, HD TAB fiber patch cables are usually terminated with LC or MTP/MPO connectors. If you are seeking for a high-density and space-saving solution, HD TAB fiber patch cable is highly recommended.

HD-TAB-fiber-patch-cable

The uniboot LC fiber patch cable bundles two fibers in a single patch cord which saves much space for cabling. The changing of its LC uniboot connector polarity is easy ,which skips the using of tools. Uniboot LC fiber patch cable is available in different fiber types of single-mode, OM3 and OM4. The purpose of this cable is to deliver maximum connectivity performance in a minimal footprint. If you want to achieve an easier cable management, this is definitely a good choice.

In addition, there is an upgraded version of uniboot LC fiber patch cable – HD uniboot LC fiber patch cable. You can’t miss this one if you are looking for the extreme space saving solution. It is basically the combination of uniboot LC fiber patch cable and HD TAB fiber patch cable. Likewise, two optical fibers are wrapped together in a single strand. The difference is that its connector is attached with a push-pull tab which is more flexible for releasing the connector. It can be applied to data centers and high-density environments.

uniboot-LC-fiber-patch-cable

Keyed LC Fiber Patch Cable

In terms of data security, keyed LC fiber patch cable or secured LC fiber patch cable is the perfect solution. It is designed to prevent unauthorized and inadvertent changes in highly sensitive applications. Keyed LC fiber patch cable is identified by the connector color. Each color of a set of keyed LC connectivity products represents a unique keying pattern that only allows matched color mating. Multiple keyed LC connectivity products are included in this family. The picture below gives an example of the simplex keyed LC connectivity.

keyed-lc-connector-and-adapter

Originally, when bending an optical fiber by stress, there will be a bend loss. This sensitive nature of optical fiber causes low efficiency in optical transmission. But it is hard to deal with the problem as bend loss issue is difficult to locate. Fortunately, bend insensitive fiber patch cable is designed to solve this problem. In this kind of cable, a layer of glass is added around the core of the fiber which has a lower index of refraction that literally “reflects” the weakly guided modes back into the core. Many data centers and FTTH systems are deploying this cable to reach lower signal loss.

Conclusion

From this article, we can see that there still exists many other types of fiber patch cables. And special fiber optic cable solutions are always more effective to special applications. By the way, if you just want a standard optical cable, you may consider from the aspects of fiber type, connector type, connector polishing type, fiber count, cable jacket, etc. These options are fit for average circumstances when choosing the optical cables. Hope you choose the right one according to your requirements!

Overview of Fiber Optic Loopback

When testing the transmission equipment, fiber optic loopback device is often used as the testing tool. It is known as the routing of electronic signals, digital data streams, or flows of items back to their source without intentional processing or modification. Fiber optic loopback is widely used for various applications. In terms of telecommunication, loopback is a hardware or software method to feed a received signal or data back to the sender. It is very useful for solving physical connection problems. In this article, the author will especially emphasize the using of loopback in fiber optic communication. Hope it can provide some help for your application!

Types of Fiber Optic Loopback

So, what is exactly the fiber optic loopback? By diagnosing the problems of optical equipment, fiber optic loopback provides an easy way to test the performance of the optical network devices. Generally, fiber optic loopback cable and fiber optic loopback module are both fiber optic loopbacks. Fiber optic loopback cable is the traditional fiber optic loopback with a visible cable. It is equipped with two fiber optic connectors on each end of the cable. When sticking the connectors together, the cable will shape like a loop. As for fiber optic loopback module, the biggest difference is that it has a enclosure to protect the inside cable. And the looped space is reduced for an easier usage and economic package.

fiber-optic-loopback

You may find that loopback also has different types of optical connectors and fibers. Categorized by connectors, fiber optic loopback has SC, LC, MTRJ, E2000 types, etc. LC fiber optic loopback complies with the RJ-45 style interface. Having a low insertion loss, low back reflection and high precision alignment, LC fiber optic loopback is widely used all over the world. Another frequently used type is SC fiber optic loopback. Its connector is compliant to IEC, TIA/EIA, NTT and JIS specifications. Now it is the most popular loopback with low cost but high performance. In addition, to separate by fiber types, single-mode loopback (9/125) and multimode loopback (50/125, 62.5/125)  are deployed for the application.

Fiber Optic Loopback Testing

Typically, a loopback test is a test in which a signal is sent from a communication device and looped back to the device as a way to determine whether it is functioning well or as a way to troubleshoot a defective node in the network. As for fiber optic loopback testing, optical loopbacks are used to verify the operational reliability of the device. Using fiber optic loopback cable or fiber optic loopback module for data transmission, the signal emitted by the device is looped from the transmit (Tx) end of an active component back to the receive (Rx) end of the same component.

Application

When it comes to practical application, fiber optic loopback test is often employed for checking fiber optic transceivers. Since transceiver has two ports for receiving and transmitting the light signal, it is necessary to test the ports to see whether they are still under operation. Thus, fiber optic loopback test is the most convenient way for transceiver maintenance. The testing process is by routing the laser signal from the transmitter port back to the receiver port. Then the transmitted pattern is compared with the received pattern to make sure they are identical and have no error.

Conclusion

In a word, fiber optic loopback is basically a patch cord used for fiber optic loopback testing. Similar to other cables, it also has multiple classifications of fiber types, connector types for different needs. The deployment of fiber optic loopback components has greatly saved the trouble for device checking. There is no doubt that using fiber optic loopback is an effective method in fiber optic communication.

Related Article: Which Fiber Loopback Should I Use for My Transceiver?

Related Article:  What Is Loopback Cable And How to Use It?