Which Fiber Optic Cable To Use?

Different applications call for different types of fiber optic cables. So before installing your cables, you first have to determine the correct type of cable to use.

There are some questions that you need to ask when choosing which fiber optic cable to use.

What fiber mode is required?

There are two different types of fiber modes: multi-mode and single mode. To choose between these two, you have to consider the distance that the data signals have to travel and the necessary bandwidth. For long haul applications and in cases where extreme bandwidth is required, it is best to use a single mode cable. For limited distances and limited bandwidth, multi-mode cables are preferred. Multi-mode cables also come in different types depending on their specific distances and capacity. There are industry standard 62.5/125um multi-mode, 50/125um multi-mode for moderately high bandwidth requirements, and 50/125um laser enhanced multimode for applications where up to 10 gigabytes is required.

What fiber count is needed?

Fiber counts start with one fiber all the way up to 144 fibers. They are usually in even numbers since fiber comes in transmit and receive pairs. The usual choices are 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132, and 144. Keep in mind, however, that it is always better to opt for a bit more fiber than you require; since you can only decide once, you may want to put in some allowance in case you will require more bandwidth in the future.

What kind of fiber cable jacket do you need?

You also need to choose the appropriate fiber cable jacket for your intended application. Fiber cable jackets come in different types, such as Indoor only, Outdoor only, Indoor and outdoor, Tactical, Plenum, and Riser.

What kind of internal product construction is required?

You should also match the construction of the fiber optic cable you will use to the intended application. The most common types of fiber optic cables are:

Distribution or TightPack – This refers to a group of buffered fibers under a single jacket.
Breakout or Fan out – This refers to a group of buffered fibers with individual jackets enclosed in another overall jacket with a central strength member. These are tougher and more durable, and are thus more highly recommended for handling greater amounts of traffic. These, however, are also heavier and more expensive.
Zipcord or Assembly – This refers to one or two buffered fibers with individual jackets that are attached to each other.
Loose Tube – This is a Telco standard construction and makes use of non-buffered jackets surrounded by a water-repellent gel.

Environmental issues should also be considered. If necessary, you may choose cables that come in:

Water-blocked construction
Armored construction
Aerial construction
Tactical construction

Answering these questions can help you choose the correct type of fiber optic cable to use.