Fiber optic “cable” refers to the complete assembly of fibers, other internal parts like buffer tubes, ripcords, stiffeners, strength members all included inside an outer protective covering called the jacket. Fiber optic cables come in lots of different types, depending on the number of fibers and how and where it will be installed. It is important to choose cable carefully as the choice will affect how easy the cable is to install, splice or terminate and what it will cost. Next, we will introduce 5 types of fiber optic cable in communication.
When it is necessary to run a large number of fibers through a building, distribution cable is often used. Distribution cable consists of multiple tight-buffered fibers bundled in a jacket with a strength member. Typically, these cables may also form subcables within a larger distribution cable.
Distribution cables usually end up at patch panels or communication closets, where they ar hooked into devices that communicate with separate offices or locations. These fibers are not meant to run outside of office walls or be handled beyond the intial installation, because they do not have individual jackets.
Distribution cables often carry up to 144 individual fibers, many of which may not be used immediately bu should be considered for future expansion.
Breakout cables are used to carry fibers that will have individual connectors attached, rather than being connected to a patch panel.
Breakout cables consist of two or more simplex cables bundled around a central strength member and covered with an outer jackets. Like distribution cable, breakout cables may be run through a bulding’s walls, but the individual simplex cords can then be broken out and handled individually.
As is the case with distribution cable, breakout cables may end up in communication closets, but in the case of breakout cables, users can manmually change connections. Breakout cables may also be used to connect directly to equipment.
Armored cable, addresses the special needs of outdoor cable that will be exposed to potential damage from equipment, rodents, and other especially harsh attacks.
Armored fiber cable consists of a cable surrounded by a steel or aluminum jacket which is then covered with a polyethylene jacket to protect it from moisture and abrasion. It may be run aerially, installed in ducts, or placed in underground enclosures with special protection from dirt and clay intrusion.
When a fiber optic cable must be suspended between two poles or other structures, the strenth members alone are not enough to support the weight of the cable. Installers must use a messenger cable, which incorporates a steel or dielectric line known as a messenger to take the weight of the cable. The cable carrying the fiber is attached to the messenger by a thin web an hangs below it.
Also called Figure 8 Fiber Optic cable for the appearance of its cross section, messenger cable greatly speeds up installation of aerial cable by eliminating the need to lash a cable to a pre-run messenger line.
In applications that will run near power lines, the dielectric messenger is ofen used to minimize the risk of energizing the cable through induced current, which is created when the electrical field from a high voltage alternating current line expands and contracts over a nearby conductor. If a conductive cable is close enough to the alternating current, the induced current may be srong enough to injure someone working near the cable.
It’s a good practice, in fact, to use dielectric strength members wherever tension considerations permit, as this will help avoid any potential conductivity problems in the cable.
Hybrid cable, as applied to fiber optics, combines multimode and single-mode fibers in one cable. Hybrid cable should not be confused with composite cable, although the terms have been used interchangeably in the past.
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