Optical fiber cable has gained much momentum in communication networks, and there emerges a dazzling array of vendors competing to manufacture and supply fiber optic cables. When selecting optical fiber, you’d better start with a reliable vendor and then consider the selection criteria. Here’s a guide to clarify some of the confusions about choosing fiber optic cable.
Check Manufacturer Qualification
The major optical cable manufacturers should be granted ISO9001 quality system certification, ISO4001 international environment system certification, the ROHS, the relevant national and international institutions certification such as the Ministry of Information Industry, UL certification and etc.
Fiber Mode: Single Mode or Multimode
Single mode fiber is often used for long distances while multimode optical fiber is commonly used for short range. Moreover, the system cost and installation cost change with different fiber modes.
Optical Cable Jackets: OFNR, OFNP, or LSZH
The standard jacket type of optical cable is OFNR, which stands for “Optical Fiber Non-conductive Riser”. Besides, optical fibers are also available with OFNP, or plenum jackets, which are suitable for use in plenum environments such as drop-ceilings or raised floors. Another jacket option is LSZH. Short for “Low Smoke Zero Halogen”, it is made from special compounds which give off very little smoke and no toxic when put on fire. So always refer to the local fire code authority to clarify the installation requirement before choosing the jacket type.
Optical Fiber Internal Construction: Tight Pack or Breakout or Assembly or Loose Tube
Tight pack cables are also known as distribution style cables, features that all buffered fibers under a single jacket with strength members for Enclosure to Enclosure and Conduit under Grade installations. Breakout fiber cable or fan out cable is applicable for Device to Device applications with tough and durable advantages. Assembly or zip cord construction is often used for making optic patch cables and short breakout runs. While loose tube construction is a Telco standard used in the telecommunications industry.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
The choice greatly depends on your application. The major difference between indoor and outdoor fiber cable is water blocking feature. Outdoor cables are designed to protect the fibers from years of exposure to moisture. However, nowadays there have been cables with both dry water-blocked outdoor feature and indoor designs. For example, in a campus environment, you can get cables with two jackets: an outer PE jacket that withstands moisture and an inner PVC jacket that is UL-rated for fire retardancy.
Both indoor and outdoor fiber cable have a vast option of fiber count ranging from 4-144 fibers. If your fiber demand exceeds this range, you can custom the fiber count for indoor or outdoor optical cable. Unless you are making fiber patch cords or hooking up a simple link with two fibers, it is highly recommended to get some spare fibers.