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 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 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.


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.


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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What is Ribbon Fiber Optic Cable

Ribbon fiber optic cable is a typical fiber optic cable. Unlike beam optical cable, ribbon fiber optic cable is arranged into a strip. Ribbon fiber optic cable is a convenient solution for space and weight problems. The cable ribbons are actually coated optical fibers placed side by side, encapsulated in Mylar tape, similar to a miniature version of wire ribbons used in computer wiring. A single ribbon many contain 4, 8 or 12 optical fibers. There ribbons can be stacked up to 22 high.

Because the ribbon contains only coated optical fibers, this type of cable takes up much less space than individually buffered optical fibers. As a result, ribbon cables are denser than any other cable design. They are ideal for applications where limited space is available, such as in an existing conduit that have very little room left for an additional cable.

Fiber optic ribbon cable comes in two basic arrangements: Loose tube ribbon cable, fiber ribbons are stacked on top of one another inside a loose-buffered tube. This type of arrangement can hold several hundred fibers in close quaters. The buffer, strength members, and cable jacket carry any strain while the fiber ribbons move freely inside the buffer tube. Jacket ribbon cable looks like a regular tight-buffered cable, but it is enlongated to contain a fiber ribbon. This type of cable typically features a small amount of strength member and a ripcord to tear through the jacket.

Ribbon cables is commonly used in urban construction of circle trank cable network, the large capacity and multi-core features facilitate the jumper box crossing task in the local optical area network. Ribbon cables is rarely used in inter-provincial long distance fiber optic trunk cable.

Ribbon fiber provides definite size and weight saving, which required the connector, strippers, cleavers, and fusion splicers to be tailored to the ribbon fiber. Below is the simple steps of ribbon fusion splicing:
Ribbon fusion splicer is also called mass fusion splicers, it can splice the entire cable ribbons at on time. Ribbon splicers looks similar to single fiber splicers and work in much the same way, except the ribbons are treated as one assembly, stripped, cleaved and spliced by special tools while held in a special holder. The holder is inserted in a special stripper that uses heat to make stripping easier. After stripping, the holder is placed in a special cleaver that will cleave all 12 fibers at once. Then the fixure with all the cleaved fibers is placed in the splicing machine. When the second ribbon is prepared, the unit is set for automated splicing.

FiberStore, as one of the main fibre optic cable manufacturers provides a compact, efficient, and versatile solution to applications requiring maximum connectivity in a minimum amount of space. Our ribbon cable assemblies provide up to 72 fiber connections in a single point, reducing the physical space and labor requirement, while providing the same bandwidth capacity of a multi-fiber cable with individual fiber/connector terminations per fiber. The advantage of ultilizing ribbon fiber cables resides in the ability to achieve a much higher density in patch panel, cable routing/ducting, and device connection environments, without compromising the quality or quantity of the connection.