Fiber optic cables form the core of various cable infrastructures. In our daily life, we often notice that there are different types of fiber optic cables, which are different in size, shape and color from the outside. In addition, there are more differences inside, from cable structure to materials. Are you looking to buy fiber optic cables? If so, you need to choose the right one. This blog will introduce the basics of fiber optic cable and tell you how to choose the right fiber cable for you in 2022.
What are fiber-optic cables?
The optical cable is generally the first equipment that telecom operators, network installers, integrators or local authorities have at their disposal to start a fiber optic deployment site. A fiber optic cable is a network wire made of pieces of glass inside an insulated casing. They provide a modern solution to the demand for faster data transmission over longer distances by reflecting quick communication signals through the thin shards.
The three basic elements of a fiber optic cable are the core, the cladding and the coating.
Core: This is the light transmission area of the fiber, either glass or plastic. The larger the core, the more light is transmitted into the fiber.
Cladding: The function of the cladding is to provide a lower refractive index at the core interface in order to cause reflection within the core so that light waves are transmitted through the fiber.
Coating: Coatings are usually multiple layers of plastics applied to preserve fiber strength, absorb shock, and provide extra fiber protection. These buffer coatings are available from 250 microns to 900 microns.
Advantages of Fiber Optic Cable
1) Faster Speed: In data networking, no current technology is better than fiber. The fiber optic network is significantly faster than even the highest-speed copper-based network connection since it transmits data at 2/3 the speed of light (slightly slower than that in the vacuum due to refractive index). And it's fairly easy to get 10 Gibagit with fiber, while most copper cables like the Cat5 cables (10/100 Mbps) can only support Fast Ethernet. Some copper cables can transfer data at gigabit speeds, but they have vastly lower bandwidth than fiber cables.
2) Increased Reliability & Security: The fiber optic cable is less susceptible to environmental factors than other network cables. It is immune to temperature fluctuations, moisture, shocks and vibrations, lightning surges, etc. Since the fiber optic cable does not carry electrical currents, it cannot be affected by electromagnetic interference during data transmission. In addition, the fiber cable has a higher level of security. The signal traveling through the cable is trapped in the individual strand and can only be accessed from the end of the cable, so any attempts to tap the information will be immediately acknowledged.
Do you need singlemode or multimode fiber optic cable?
The following are the two types of fiber optic cables based on fibers:
Multimode and Single mode
One of the first things to determine when choosing fiber optic cables is the "mode" of fiber that you need. The mode of a fiber cable describes how light beams travel on the inside of the fiber cable itself. This is important because the two modes are not compatible with each other - you can't replace one with the other.
There is really not much variety with single mode patch cords, but there is for multimode. There are varieties described as OM1, OM2 and OM3. Basically, these varieties have different capabilities around speed, bandwidth, and distance, and the right type to use will depend mostly upon the hardware that is being used with them, and any other fiber that the patch cords will be connecting to.
Do you need simplex, duplex, or more?
Simplex vs. Duplex
Simplex Fiber Optic Cable is fiber optic cable that has a single optical fiber running through it. This fiber is tight buffered and surrounded with aramid yarn for strength and protection. Both of these are then covered with a PVC outer jacket. The outer jacket is most commonly 1.6mm, 2mm or 3mm in diameter. Simplex fiber optic cable is very often used to make cable assemblies (patch cables or jumpers) that may be used to connect equipment or for testing a fiber optic link.
Duplex Fiber Optic Cable is a type of fiber optic cabling that contains two optical fibers inside. Both fibers are tight buffered and surrounded by aramid yarn for protection and strength. The tight buffered fibers and the aramid yarn are covered with a PVC outer jacket. The outer jacket most commonly looks like a zipcord, similar to the electric cord on a lamp or small appliance. It can also simply be round. Duplex cable is commonly used to make fiber optic assemblies or patch cables and it is used in situations where the devices transmit and receive data.
Simplex vs. duplex is just the difference between one fiber or two; Between one connector at each end of a cable, or two connectors at each end. That's all there is. Duplex patch cords are the most common type because the way most fiber electronics work is that they need two fibers to communicate. One is used to transmit data signals and the other receives them. However, in some cases, only one fiber is required, so simple patch cords may be necessary for certain applications. If you are not sure, you can always be safe by ordering duplex patch cords and using only one of the two fibers.
Types of Fiber Optic Cables for Application
The cables are distinguished as indoor and outdoor cables based on the application or use. While the name is obvious, some applications require the use of indoor and outdoor cables at the same time. How to choose fiber optic cables for indoor and outdoor applications? The following tips aim to simplify the selection of fiber optic cables.
Indoor Cables: These cables are designed for indoor use and are usually convenient and easy to use. Indoor cables are most commonly used in homes, offices and retail stores. These cables are not designed for harsh environments, but are fire-resistant. Indoor fiber optic cables feature a tight buffered, one-fiber construction. The fiber is contained in a 3mm jacket. When two such fibers are joined using a thin web, it is called a zip cord. This zip cord is used for backplane, patch cord, as well as desktop applications. The indoor cables used for power distribution include several fibers that are tightly bundled in a jacket. The bundled fibers are lined with Kevlar strength members and fiberglass reinforced to increase their strength. The addition of these strong members also helps prevent kinking.
Outdoor Cables: As the name suggests, these cables are designed for outdoor use. The cables are designed to better protect them from moisture and other environmental elements. Ribbon fiber optic cables, loose tube fiber optic cables, aerial fiber optic cables, and armored fiber optic cables are a few popular types of cables in this category based on their construction. Based on their application, underground fiber cables, direct buried fiber cables, aerial fiber cables and underwater fiber cables are some of the most popular cables types in this category.
What kind of jacket do you need?
Don't forget to check the jacket material when choosing fiber optic cables. Like most other cables, fiber optic cables are covered with a layer of nonconductive material. Known as a jacket, it shields the underlying fibers so that they are protected from damage as well as signal or data loss.
Some of the most common jacket materials for fiber optic cables include the following:
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Low-smoke zero halogen (LSZH)
What connectors do you need?
There are many types of connectors for fiber cable. The most common connectors for our customers are:
The connector plays a key role in establishing a secure fiber network. Numerous types of connectors, such as ST, SC,FC and LC, have been developed to offer easier fiber termination. The ST connector is the most popular fiber connector in multi-mode networks. It is spring-loaded, which means it can be easily connected and removed. The SC connector is a snap-in connector that latches with a simple push-pull motion. It is designed mainly for single-mode and duplex networks, often used in optical network applications such as cable TV, media converters and FTTX. The LC connector is a standard ceramic ferrule connector that can be easily terminated with any adhesive, nearly half the size of the SC connector. It is mainly used for single-mode systems and high-density network applications such as data centers, local networks, FTTH, CATV, etc.
Now we have the basic knowledge to choose a fiber cable from its optical fiber and application environment. Here is a more intuitive summary that you can check when choosing a fiber-optic cable. Did we miss anything? Or do you have other ideas for optical cable selection? Write us a comment in the email!