Fiber optic cables are seen as a premium way of cabled-based communication systems; (spoiler alert) ahead we will see that it is justifiably true as well!
Optic fiber cable tech and speed are exceptional compared to ordinary copper cables. To prevent signal degeneration, glass or plastic pipes are used, which are then insulated by several layers of glass or plastic.
Moreover, optical fiber cabling is a versatile and reliable communication method with multiple applications in tech-based industries. They are commonly used in broadband services and telecommunications. At home, they are used in lighting for interior decor.
Are you planning to shift from regular cables to fiber optic cables? Don’t know where to get started? Well, we have got your back! In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about fiber optic cables, their connector types, prices, uses, and much more!
So, let’s get cracking!
Fiber cable is one of the fastest networking cables available today. In short, it is even quicker than Lightning McQueen!
Jokes apart, compared to copper cables, whose speed is 300Mbps, fiber optic cables offer up to 100 Gbps. Why?
The most straightforward answer is that fiber optic cables use light to transfer data, while copper wires use electrical data transmission mode.
And we know from high school physics that free electrons have a highly random movement behavior – causing loss in energy and thereby connection signal. Fiber cables, on the other hand, use light signals, and hence have lesser erratic behavior, making for a higher and faster bandwidth.
Additionally, fiber cables are relatively more durable and are less likely to cause any interference. This means both uploading and downloading speeds are significantly improved, and what usually takes minutes and hours will only take a few seconds with fiber internet.
To satisfy the curious engineer inside you, now let’s discuss the technology behind fiber cables and how it works.
The fiber is made up of a core and cladding; light enters at one end and travels through various refractive indexes. The cladding has a low refractive index, allowing light to bounce off. It is emitted to the target after reaching the end by dispersing at around 60°.
Fiber optic cables come in two main types, each with unique features. Ahead, we will discuss the both these types of fiber optic cables, their characteristics, and (of course) their prevalent applications.
Single-mode fiber optic cables have a very narrow core diameter of around 9µm, made from a single glass fiber strand. This helps the cable carry light signals over greater distances without weakening or degeneration.
There are typically two types of single-mode fiber cables: OS1 and OS2.
- The OS1 is mainly designed for indoor uses – where data has to travel in a shorter distance. It is common in cable TV transmission systems and college campus data networks.
- On the other hand, OS2 cables are more suitable for outdoor use and where the signal has to travel greater distances – OS2 cables have a maximum range of 125 miles. They have a high level of reliability; therefore, they are used as backhaul networks.
One kind of single-mode optical fiber intended to be bend-insensitive is the G657A1 fiber cable. It may, therefore, be bent around corners without significantly degrading the light signal. The O-E-S-C-L band (1260-1625 nm), the wavelength range most frequently utilized for data transfer and telecommunications, is another area in which G657A1 fiber is well-suited for utilization.
Applications for G657A1 fiber cable are numerous and include:
- Data centers
- Long-haul networks
- Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment
- Submarine cables
For applications requiring high bandwidth and low latency and routing the cable through confined places or around sharp corners, the G657A1 fiber cable is an excellent option.
Multimode fiber optic cables have a much wider internal core measuring about 62.5µm. They are typically intended to send data over much shorter distances. They can be further divided into five different types, which include:
- OM1 – most affordable, has max bandwidth, weakest.
- OM2 – can maintain quality over 260ft.
- OM3 – can maintain quality over 1000ft.
- OM4 – which has a lightening-fast speed of 10Gbps for a connection length up to 1,300ft.
- OM5 – can increase its support for 400 Gigabits per second bandwidth.
Each cable is assigned different colors to make them easily distinguishable; for example,
- OM1 has orange/gray outer jackets,
- OM2 is orange only,
- OM3 fiber cable is cyan blue,
- OM4 comes enclosed in its purple jacket, and
- OM5, the crème-de-la-crème of fiber optic cables, has a lime green color.
A fiber optic connector is a coupling device to connect fiber cables in order to allow the light to pass through the cable without any interruption.
For starters, there are over 100 fiber connectors in the market! But don’t worry, we got you covered and will narrow the list down to 5 of the most popular connectors in the market.
SC is a snap-on square connector with a simple push-pull motion that was introduced in the mid-1980s. It includes a ferrule that is 2.5mm wide. SC Connectors have excellent performance and a super budget-friendly cost, making them one of the most popular fiber optic connectors today.
Lucent Connector is ideal for use in datacoms and high-density applications. Its ferrule is half the size of the SC connector and has much better efficiency.
The Ferrule connector has a complex mechanism but is suitable for precision instruments like OTDRs. What makes it unique from other connectors is its ferrule. It is made of ceramic and uses a circular screw-style fitting for the core. Speaking of, the core of FC connector can either be composed of stainless steel or nickel plating.
An alignment key is used to insert the FC fiber optic connector’s end face, and a fiber collet is used to screw it into the adapter/jack.
As for its drawback, the FC connectors have a slower connection, that too at a comparatively higher price, than SC and LC connectors.
MPO stands for multi-fiber push-on connector; and as the name suggests, it supports multiple fibers of up to 12, 24, and 36 strands. The MPO connectors are widely used in fiber cabling systems that specifically require space-saving.
MPO fiber optic connectors offer significantly faster deployment times and lower overall costs when compared to standard LC or SC connectors despite the higher overall cost of cabling. The “per-fiber” pricing demonstrates this.
The Multi-fiber Termination Push-on connector is an improved version of the MPO with improved accuracy and performance. It is slightly higher in cost but worth it.
Above, we have discussed some readily available and widely used connectors. If you are interested in knowing more, here’s a list of connectors you can search for:
- CS Connector
- MDC Connector
- E2000 Connector
- MU Connector
- MT-RJ Connector
- SN Connector
- DIN Connector
- D4 Connector
- SMA Connector
Fiber Optic Splicing
What if you must lengthen your fiber optic cable or mistakenly break it? If you do not have a connector, the fiber optic splicing method is there to rescue you. This involves the joining of two fiber optic cables together.
There are three main methods of splicing, which we will discuss in detail:
It uses a small splice of about 6 cm long and 1cm wide that permanently joins two fiber optic cables using an index-matching fluid. Moreover, They are available for both single-mode or multimode fibers.
Although this method is a little expensive, it will bring long-lasting results. A fusion splicer machine precisely aligns the cables and welds the fiber optic cables’ two glass ends by giving them heat.
It’s vital to remember that slicing can be used to combine various fiber cable types, such as joining 48 fiber cables to six or eight fiber cables that are going to multiple locations.
A fiber optic pigtail is a pre-made fiber cable whose one end is attatched to a fiber connector and the other end is terminated. Hence, the connector side can be attached to a patch panel or equipment, and the other can be welded with optical fiber cables. They are commonly used in fiber distribution boxes and terminal boxes.
Various types of fiber pigtails are available in the market. To make it easier to understand, we have divided them into further types and subtypes. See the table below.
|By Fiber Type||Pigtail Connector Type||By Fiber Count||By Environment|
|Single Mode||LC fiber optic pigtails||6 Fibers||Armored Pigtail|
|Multi-Mode||SC fiber optic pigtails||12 Fibers||Waterproof Pigtail|
|ST fiber optic pigtails|
Fiber Optic Cables Patch Cords
Fiber pigtails and patch cords are both fiber optic cables, but they have different terminations and applications. These are specifically known for “patch cords” because they have connectors attached on both sides. They are available in different types and lengths as well.
The SC to SC patch cord is a fiber optic cable terminated with SC connectors on both ends. They are relatively inexpensive, simple to use, and durable. They connect networking devices such as switches, routers, and servers. Since the server PCs in a data centers need to be interconnected for data management, SC to SC Patch Cord are found abundantly in these networking and data centers.
These are a type of patch cords whose one end is attached to a SC connector and the other end is linked with a LC connector.
Patch cords from SC to LC are frequently utilized in many different networking applications, such as
- Linking switches, routers, and additional networking equipment
- Data centers’ patch panels
- Establishing connections between fiber optic devices in telecom networks
- Connecting fiber optic devices in commercial and industrial environments
iii. LC to LC
Now we believe you have become an expert enough to figure out this patch code. LC connectors on both ends? Absolutely yes!
Due to their ease of use and space-saving nature, LC connectors are widely used in telecommunications, LANs, and premises distributions.
A fiber optic patch panel acts as an interface that connects multiple optical fiber cables. And for your conveninience, both both wall and rack mountable options for patch panels are available. It is a metal panel that organizes adapter panels and fiber splicing trays. It also provides space for excess fiber storage.
Furthermore, it facilitates connecting multiple devices in different orders so everything can be managed in one place. The array of ports prevents wear and tear, further reducing repair costs.
Ethernet cables are used for data communication in local and wide area networks. They use fiber optic technology to transmit data signals. You might already be familiar with these, as ethernet cables are typically used for wired internet connections within homes and offices.
Fiber optic ethernet cables are quicker than traditional copper cables and they allow light signals to travel over longer distances without losing signal strength. How surprising it is that fiber optic cables have connected the entire continents through their extensive network deep under the oceans.
Even the sharks are confused!
What does it look like? A telephone cable has 4 wires, while a fiber optic ethernet cable has 8. Fiber optic ethernet cables can transmit data up to 100 Gbps over distances of up to 10 kilometers.
Installing a network of fiber optic cables might cost you a fortune, but we promise you won’t need to sell half of your property. Their cost might vary from country to country, so it is better to visit local sellers to get the best rate possible.
The average installation cost for a linear foot of cable is $1 to $6. For instance, the cost of a mile of 12-strand single-mode fiber cable ranges from $8,500 to $10,000. However, internet fiber cabling costs around $10 to $15 per foot. In addition, the conduit will cost you $2 to $4.
Fiber optic HDMI cables use glass strands to transfer data in the form of light. Universities commonly use them to transfer presentation slides and audio to multimedia in the class. They are perfect for displaying 4K and 5K videos. These cables are small and can transfer data at speeds of up to 18Gbps.
Fiber optic HDMI cables in the current market comprise 4 fiber cores plus 7 copper wires. In addition, they can transfer data at even 1000 ft and are ideal for billboard LEDs and stadium screens.
This Japanese company was founded in 1919 and is the world’s largest fiber optic company. They generate an annual revenue of $31.62 billion. They manufacture fiber optic cables and provide services to multiple telecommunication companies and industries.
It is an American organization founded in 1976. The company specializes in cables, including coaxial, hardline, automotive, and fiber optic cables. CommScope has steadily increased its revenue since its founding, and in 2021, it brought in $8.59 billion.
In 1902, Belden Incorporated was established and it has been ruling in the telecom sector for more than a 100 years. The company is among the top producers of high-speed electrical cables and is based in Missouri, USA.
The fiber optic company produces various cable types. They consist of:
- Ethernet cables: Belden’s Ethernet cables are dependable internet providers because they give businesses access to high-speed internet even in inclement weather.
- Fiber cables: This company creates cables with loose tube designs installed indoors and outdoors.
- Electronic wires and cables: Belden creates these cables to facilitate efficient communication between the plant management team, other staff members, and the administration office of an organization.
Fiber optic cables have revolutionized the transfer and sharing of data across multiple mediums. It might sound hard to believe, but we boomers remember that just a couple decades ago, downloading an mp3 song of mere 3mbs took several hours! While today, it doesn’t even take a single minute to binge stream tv shows in ultra-HD 4K quality.
The versatility and reliability of optical fiber cabling make it a cornerstone in various industries, from broadband services and telecommunications to home lighting for interior decor.
We hope this guide has cleared up all your confusion regarding fiber optic cables. Did you like this article? Did we miss anything? Mention in the comments below!