How to Choose Between PLC & FBT Fiber Optic Splitters?

In FTTx and PON architectures, fiber optic splitter is an important component to share the optic network with multiple users. The basic principle of fiber optic splitter is to split one optic light beam into several parts at a certain ratio. According to different manufacture technologies, fiber optic splitters can be divided into PLC splitter and FBT splitter. You may wonder the differences of the two splitter types when making a choice between them. This article aims at helping you to understand their distinctions and make better decisions.

fiber optic splitters

Basics of PLC & FBT Splitters
What Is PLC Splitter?

PLC refers to planar lightwave circuit. As a micro-optical device, PLC splitter uses an optical chip to split the input signal into various outputs. At the edge of the chip, there is a light circuit in ribbon form mounted on a carrier and fibers. PLC splitter typically adopts silica glass as the material of lightwave circuit and accepts different types of polished finishes. The substrate, waveguide and lid are three basic layers of the PLC splitter. For different applications, PLC splitters can be further categorized into different types including bare PLC splitters, blockless PLC splitters, ABS PLC splitters, LGX box PLC splitters, mini plug-in type PLC splitters, tray type PLC splitters and 1U rack mount PLC splitters.


What Is FBT Splitter?

FBT, or fused biconic taper uses the traditional technology to fuse several fibers together closely. Fibers are aligned by heating for a specific location and length. Fusion process will not stop until the parameters of the fibers reach the required standards. Since fused fibers are very fragile, they are protected by a glass tube made of epoxy and silica powder. Then a stainless steel tube covers the inner glass tube and is sealed by silicon. FBT splitter with ABS box is also widely used for different applications.


Differences Between PLC & FBT Splitters

PLC and FBT splitters may look similar to each other, yet they still have many differences when it comes to actual applications. Here will compare them from several aspects.

Splitting Ratio

Splitting ratio is decided by the inputs and outputs of a splitter. A PLC splitter is available with the splitting ratio of 1:64, which means one light beam can be separated into 64 splits at a time. However, FBT splitter is typically used for networks requiring the splitter configuration of less than 4 splits. When its splitting ratio is larger than 1:8, more errors will occur and cause higher failure rate. Thus, FBT splitter is more restricted to the number of splits in one coupling.

Wavelength Range

PLC splitter has a wider operating wavelength ranging from 1260 nm to 1620 nm, thus it can be applied to most of the applications in FTTx and PON networks. On the contrary, FBT splitter has a limitation only to be used for 850nm, 1310nm and 1550nm wavelengths. This leads to the unavailability of FBT splitter on other wavelengths.

Temperature Dependent Loss

Temperature dependent loss (TDL) of the splitter is affected by the manufacturing process and the sensitivity of device. Once the working temperature of splitter is out of range, insertion loss will increase and influence the performance of splitter. PLC splitter is able to work at the temperature of -40 to 85 Celsius degrees while FBT splitter can only work at -5 to 75 Celsius degrees.


Owing to the complicated manufacturing technology of PLC splitter, its cost is generally higher than the FBT type. If your application is simple and short of funds, FBT splitter is definitely a cost-effective solution.


In this article, some differences between PLC and FBT splitters are introduced to help you choose the most suitable one for your network. Overall, PLC splitter has better performance and less limitations, but FBT splitter is less expensive to save more for the budgets. If you are still uncertain which one to choose, please consult a professional for help.

Do You Know About Fiber Optic Splitter?

In today’s optical network topologies, the advent of fiber optic splitter is significant in helping users maximum the performance of optical network circuits. Fiber optic splitter, or sometimes called as beam splitter, is a passive optical component that can split an incident light beam into two or more light beams, and vice versa. The device contains multiple input and output ends. Whenever the light transmission in a network needs to be divided, fiber optic splitter can be implemented for the convenience of network interconnections.


How Does Fiber Optic Splitter Work?

As for the working principle of fiber optic splitter, it can be generally described in the following way. When the light signal transmits in a single-mode fiber, the light energy can not entirely concentrated in the fiber core. A small amount of energy will be spread through the cladding of fiber. That is to say, if two fibers are close enough to each other, the transmitting light in an optical fiber can enter into another optical fiber. Therefore, the reallocation technique of optical signal can be achieved in multiple fibers. And this is how fiber optic splitter comes into being.

Classification of Fiber Optic Splitter

At present, there are two types of fiber optic splitters. One is known as PLC (planar lightwave circuit) splitter, and another one is known as FBT (fused biconical taper) splitter.

1) PLC splitter divides the incoming signal into multiple outputs by using an optic splitter chip. One optic splitter chip is able to achieve at most 64 ends. PLC splitter is usually used for larger applications. The losses of PLC splitter are not sensitive to the wavelength, which satisfies the need for multiple wavelengths transmission. PLC splitter’s configuration is compact and its size is small, thus the installation space can be greatly saved.

2) FBT splitter is fused with a heat source similar to a one-to-one fusion splice. Fibers are stretched under a heating zone to form a double cone. The cost of FBT splitter is lower due to the commonly used materials, and the splitting ratio is adjustable. But the losses are sensitive to wavelengths. Device should be chosen according to wavelengths. And it is unable to offer the uniform spectroscopy.


1) Passive monitoring application of fiber optic splitter is used for the maintenance of long-haul network, cable TV ATM circuit or local area/metro area network. The splitter taps into a small percentage of optical traffic. Majority of the signal arrives its destination, but a small percentage is directed to a local access port. The application can be done by manual operation for troubleshooting purposes or by connecting the splitter to a network monitoring system for ongoing maintenance and performance assessment.

2) Fiber optic splitter can also be used for FTTx/PON application. This enables to reduce the physical fiber usage or the basic quantity of required fibers. A single fiber can be split into many branches to support multiple end users. The strain on the fiber backbone can be greatly decreased through the application.


To sum up, fiber optic splitter provides a solution for improving the efficiency of optical infrastructures. PLC splitter and FBT splitter are varied in different aspects, hence choosing the right type of splitter for your network is also important. FS.COM provides all the above fiber optic splitters. Please visit FS.COM for more information.

Related Article: 10GBASE-T Cabling Vs. 10G SFP+ Cabling in 2017

An Introduction of Fiber Optic Splitter

The fiber optic splitter, known as fiber coupler, is a special fiber optic device with one or more input fibers to distributing optical signals into two or more output fibers at a certain ratio. It is one of the most important passive devices in the optical fiber link, especially applicable to a passive optical network (EPON, GPON, BPON, FTTx, etc.), to connect the MDF (Main Distribution Frame) and the terminal equipment and to achieve the branching of the optical signal. This paper will make an introduction of fiber optic splitter from its features and common types.


The fiber optic splitter comes in a wide range of styles and sizes to split or combine light with minimal loss. All splitters are manufactured in a very simple proprietary process that produces reliable, low-cost devices. Their fiber lengths and/or with terminations of any type are optional. Most splitters are available in 900µm loose tube and 250µm bare fiber. 1×2 and 2×2 couplers come standard with a protective metal sleeve to cover the split. Higher output counts are built with a box to protect the splitting components.

The fiber optic splitter comes in singlemode and multimode fiber modes. Typical connectors installed on the fiber optic splitters are FC or SC type, but many couplers are also compliant with LC, LC/APC, SC, SC/APC, FC, FC/APC, and ST. Because the splitter is a passive device, it is immune to EMI (Electromagnetic Interference), consumes no electrical power and does not add noise to system design. Its passive design is bi-directional and operationally independent of wavelength, constrained only by the physical properties of the PMMA (Poly (Methyl Merthiolate)) fiber core.

Common Types

According to the technology used to fabricate splitters, there are two common types optical splitters: FBT splitter and PLC splitter. Each type has both advantages and disadvantages when deploying them in a passive optical network.

FBT (Fused Biconic Tapered)

FBT splitters are fused with a heat source similar to one-to-one fusion splice. The fibers are aligned in a group to create a specific location and length. Heat is applied to the aligned fibers while the fibers are monitored for polarization-dependent loss (PDL), split ration and insertion loss (IL). Once the desired parameters have been met on all fibers, the fusion process stops.

FBT splitters are well-known and are easy to produce, thus reducing cost of production. They can split unequal ratio, either symmetrical or non-symmetrical, according to the needs of real-time monitoring. Besides, FBT splitters can work on three different operating bands, such as 850 nm, 1310 nm and 1550 nm. Due to these benefits, these splitters are widely deployed in passive networks, especially for instances where the split configuration is smaller (1×2, 1×4, etc).

However, FBT splitters are limited in the number of quality splits that can be achieved in a single instance, so several must be spliced together when a larger split configuration is required. Besides, its poor uniformity can not ensure uniform spectroscopic and the insertion loss changes greatly with temperature variation.


PLC (Planar Light-wave Circuit )

PLC splitters use an optical splitter chip to divide the incoming signal into multiple outputs. The chip, either silica or quartz-based, is available in varying polished finishes. It is composed of three layers: a substrate, the waveguide and the lid. Waveguides are fabricated using lithography onto a silica glass substrate, which allows for routing specific percentages of light. The physical appearance of the splitter varies depending on final assembly.

PLC splitters have high quality performance but low failure rate, such as low insertion loss, low PDL, high return loss and excellent uniformity over a wide wavelength range from 1260 nm to 1620 nm. In addition, its compact configuration and small size occupy little space. Different from FBT splitters, PLC splitters split equal splitter rations for all branches. When larger split configurations are required, PLC splitter is a better solution.

However, FBT fabrication process is very complex, thus setting a high technical threshold in application. Besides, they are more expensive than FBT splitters in the smaller ratios.



The fiber optic splitter is a passive device that plays an increasingly significant role in many of optical networks. From FTTX systems to traditional optical networks, fiber splitters provide capabilities that help customers maximize the functionality of optical network circuits. Thus an educated decision regarding splitter selection determines the long-term success and financial viability of a network build.

Differences Between FBT Splitter and PLC Splitter

Nowadays, with the further popularization of the optical fiber communication, fiber optic splitter plays an increasing significant role in many of today’s optical network topologies. Although there are variations of splitter types, the two most commonly deployed splitters are FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitter and PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitter. So, when you deploy your network, what kind of splitter you should choose may be a problem for you. And in order to solve this problem, this paper will give you a detailed introduction of differences between FBT splitter and PLC splitter.

Definition of FBT Splitter and PLC Splitter

Before you get to know the features of them, first you should know what them are. Next, each splitter will be introduced.

FBT Splitter – FBT is a traditional technology that two fibers are typically twisted and fused together while the assembly is being elongated and tapered. The fused fibers are protected by a glass substrate and then protected by a stainless steel tube, typically 3mm diameter by 54mm long. FBT splitters are widely accepted and used in passive optical networks, especially for instances where the split configuration is not more than 1×4. The slight drawback of this technology is when larger split configurations such as 1×16, 1×32 and 1×64 are needed.

PLC splitter – A PLC splitter is a micro-optical component based on planar lightwave circuit technology and provides a low cost light distribution solution with small form factor and high reliability. It is manufactured using silica glass waveguide circuits that are aligned with a V-groove fiber array chip that uses ribbon fiber. Once everything is aligned and bonded, it is then packaged inside a miniature housing. PLC Splitter has high quality performance, such as low insertion loss, low PDL (Polarization Dependent Loss), high return loss and excellent uniformity over a wide wavelength range from 1260 nm to 1620 nm and have an operating temperature -40°C to +85°C.

Feature Comparison of FBT Splitter and PLC Splitter

In the past few years, splitter technology has made a huge step forward, especially the PLC splitter technology. This situation resulted in that PLC splitter has become a higher reliable type of device compared to the traditional FBT splitter. Although being similar in size and appearance, the internally technologies behind these types vary, thus giving service providers a possibility to choose a more appropriate solution.

Operating Wavelength – As is mentioned above, PLC splitter can provide a range of operating wavelength from 1260 nm to 1620 nm. But FBT splitters only support three wavelengths (850/1310/1550 nm) which makes these devices unable to operate on other wavelengths.

Operating Temperature – Commonly, FTB splitter is to a high extent temperature sensitive, providing a stable working range of -5 °C to 75 °C. While PLC splitter operates at wider temperature range (-40 °C to 85 °C), allowing its deploying in the areas of extreme climate.

Split Ratio – The split ratio of FBT splitter is 1:8 and it can be higher with higher failure rate. The split ratio of PLC splitter can go up to 64, which is equal to all branches, thus providing a high reliability.

Cost – FBT splitter is made out of materials that are easily available, for example steel, fiber, hot dorm and others. All of these materials are low-price, which determines the low cost of the device itself. PLC splitter manufacturing technology is more complex. It uses semiconductor technology (lithography, etching, developer technology) production, hence it is more difficult to manufacture. Therefore, the price of this device is higher.

FBT and PLC splitter feature comparison


In a word, Compared with FBT splitter, the capacity of PLC splitter is better, but costlier than the FBT splitter in the smaller ratios. You can choose it according to your requirements. Fiberstore offers both FBT splitter and PLC splitter with good quality and low price. Whether in FTTx systems or in traditional optic network, Fiberstore splitter can help you to maximize the functionality of optical network circuits.

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Fiber Optic Access Network Will Be The Main Force Of Internet Information Highway In The Future

As with the rapid development of social information, fiber optic technology and devices which are dedicated to provide transfer of a new business for WAN and fiber optic access network. Developments of MSTP and PON are the most representative. They are also the best solution to provide various new business in the MAN and fiber optic access network which are based on fiber optic transmission technology. As water to the fish, the developments of fiber optic access technology can not without the support and development of fiber optic access devices.

Due to the constantly updated fiber optic access technology and more and more manufacturers’ accession, nowadays the fiber optic access devices categories are more and more obvious, mainly divided into three categories:

  • Fiber optic connection elements, it is applied into telecommunications and computer network terminal connections, related product: Fiber optic patch cable, fiber optic connector and so on.
  • Fiber optic transceiver, it is utilized for computer network data transmission, related products: Fiber optic splitter, fiber patch panels and so on.
  • Fiber optic engineer devices and fiber optic testers, it is specially for large-scale project, related products: Fiber optic fusion splicer, fiber optic testers.

Next we will introduce these three fiber optic access devices with a representative products respectively, they are fiber patch cables, fiber optic splitter, fiber optic fusion splicer.

Fiber optic patch cable (shown as the figure)is fiber optic cable or fiber optical unit which without fiber optic connector, it is used in fiber distribution frames on various link roads. Fiber patch cables are also used in long distance local optical network, data transmission and private network, various testing and control system.

fiber patch cable

Fiber optic splitter (shown as the figure), someone calls it as fiber coupler, it belongs to optical passive components, it is used in the telecommunications networks, fiber cable television networks, subscriber loop system. Fiber optic splitters can be divided into standard coupler (double branch, unit 1 x 2, that is, the light signal into two power, for example, 1×2 fiber optic splitter, 1 x4 fiber optic splitter, 1 x 8 fiber optic splitter and so on), star/tree fiber splitters and wavelength division multiplexer (WDM, if the wavelength is a high-density separation and wavelength spacing is narrow, it belongs DWDM).

fiber optic splitter

Fiber optic fusion splicer(shown as the figure) is mainly used in telecommunication for fiber optic cables construction and maintenance, it is applied into telecommunication operators, engineering companies, private network, also used in the production of optical passive and active devices and fiber optical modules for fiber splicing.

Fiber optic fusion splicer

All above the fiber optic access devices highly improve the data transmission and processing capabilities of fiber optic access network, and at the same time they can bring two advantages:

First, it solved the long distance transmission problems of fiber line attachment,and made its coverage range more widely. In this way, then it can reduce the number of transit nodes through whole the coverage network, make the structure of the network easier.

Second, it satisfied people’s needs to various broadband business, and improve the quality of new business data. It solved the problem of traditional copper cable access network fundamentally and laid a good foundation for achieving the dream of FTTH. I believe that in the future, fiber optic access network will be the main force of internet information highway.