How to Choose the Right Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable has become a standard component in a majority of cable infrastructures. This is because it can transport signals across large distances quickly and is immune to electromagnetic interference and radiofrequency interference. How to choose the right fiber optic cable? Here are some factors to consider before you buy optical cable.

1) The first is the type of fiber mode required. There are two options which are single-mode and multimode. Single-mode fiber optic cable is primarily used for extreme bandwidth applications as well as when data must be passed over extremely long distances. Multimode fiber allows each signal to travel in multiple pathways simultaneously. There are several different types of multimode fiber optic cables which offer different levels of bandwidth capacity.

2) The second is how much fiber optic cable is needed. In most cases, it is purchased by reel. The length of cable on each reel can vary from one manufacturer to the next and can exceed 16,000 feet per reel.

3) The third is the fiber cable jackets. The most common jackets available include indoor only, outdoor only, indoor/outdoor, and tactical. Some manufacturers offer customizable colors, while others use a standardized jacket color.

4) The internal construction of the fiber optic cable is important to consider as well. Apart from the plastic optical fiber, there are four basic types of internal construction of common glass optical fiber; however each type can vary based upon customer specifications.

  • The first type is referred to as distribution or tight pack. All of the fibers are under a single jacket.
  • The second is a breakout or fanout design. Each buffered fiber has its own individual jacket under a larger, overall jacket. This makes it tougher and more durable.
  • Another popular internal construction is known as zip cord or assembly. This technique uses one or two buffered fibers in individual jackets. As a general rule, single fiber cable is only recommended for patching. There are also some special ones such as figure 8 fiber optic cable.
  • The final option is loose tube. It utilizes non-buffered fibers through a tube filled with a water repellent gel compound.

5) The final factor to consider is the level of flame resistance. Most fiber optic cable has three different grades to choose from. They are general, high, and special. The level of flame resistance is normally determined by testing flame propagation and smoke density values.

While there are a variety of additional factors which need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, the five primary factors remain unchanged. They include the types of fiber mode, fiber cable jackets, internal construction, and level of flame resistance. By focusing on these five factors, it ensures that businesses can quickly identify the right fiber optic cable for their needs.

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