Fiber optic cabling for beginners

Everyone knows that a structured cable system is the foundation of any business network that provides connectivity between servers, computers, and other network devices and allows the transmission of both voice and data worldwide. When it comes to data cabling, various media are available to transport this data and transfer it from point A to point B. Traditionally, a twisted pair of copper cables has become and still is currently used as the most common form of structured data cabling, that transmits data through copper wires. As technology continues to advance and the demand for faster, more advanced networking methods grows, fiber optic cabling is fast becoming the next generation standard in data cabling.

The benefits of fiber optic cabling include:

or Longer distances – Signals passed through fiber optic cable can go up to 50 times longer than those using copper attenuation due to low attenuation (signal loss) without requiring a signal repeater to maintain the signal integrity over long distances, as copper wire cables do.

or Prevention of intrusion – With copper wire cable systems, it is possible to remotely detect a signal transmitted over the cable that may present unwanted loopholes. This is not a problem with fiber optic cable since its dielectric nature makes remote detection impossible and accessing the fiber itself would require a physical intervention that would be easily averted by a well-placed monitoring system.

or Installation improvements – Length lengths, smaller diameter and lighter weight of fiber optic cable make installation and upgrades easier and cheaper than with copper cables.

o Higher bandwidth and data transfer speed – With wider bandwidth, more data can be transferred at much faster speed. This enables shorter download times and increased network efficiency.

or EMI immunity – Fiber optic cables can be installed in areas of high electromagnetic interference (EMI), as the absence of metallic wires makes the cable completely immune to EMI.

Depending on your specific data cabling requirements, there are two different types of fiber optic cable available to meet your needs:

or Multi-Mode fiber – Multi-mode fiber has a large core diameter where light can be transmitted through multiple paths en route to its destination. This provides multi-mode fiber high transmission capacity, but only retains the reliability over short distances generally less than 8 miles, limited by modal spread.

or Single-mode fiber – Fiber in one mode has a much smaller core diameter than multi mode, which only allows light to be emitted for a path. Single mode is used for long distance transmission, which exceeds the limits of multi-mode and is not limited by modal spread.

Different environments also require different types of cable systems to ensure that the fiber remains in good condition. Depending on where you install the cable, there are two basic types of fiber cable systems that can be used:

or Inside the plant – Internal fiberglass cable systems are designed for use in a building where they generally do not have contact with environmental variables. In a typical fiber within the plant cable system, individually coated fibers are positioned around a dielectric strength member core and then surrounded by a subunit sheath. Aramid yarn (Kevlar) surrounds the individual subunits within the cable, which increases the tensile strength. Some inside fiber-optic cabling systems also have an outer strength element designed to provide protection for the entire cable. For installation inside the plant, fiber-belt cable systems are often used. Ribbon cables have a flat ribbon-like configuration that allows installers to save space on the pipeline when installing multiple cables in a particular cable.

or Outside plant – When installing fiber optic cable either outside or underground, an external fiber optic cable system is used. Exterior fiberglass cable systems are composed of individual gel-filled subunit buffer tubes located around a central core strength member. In each subunit buffer tube, buffer-coated fibers are placed around a strength member. A binder containing a water-blocking compound closes all subunit buffer tubes which are then closed by an outer strength member usually composed of aramid yarn. Corrugated steel is used to provide physical protection and acts as an outer strength member located between an inner MDPE jacket and an outer HDPE jacket.

So now that you have a general understanding of the different types of fiber optic cable, you can decide which specific devices are appropriate for your specific installation. For example, you might say you have a fiber optic system installed that needs to be run for more than 375 feet through a warehouse. This length is too long for a copper wire cable system to carry data, but multi-mode fiber can handle it easily. An indoor system installation would be suitable for this situation as the cable is run indoors without environmental variables to worry about. To interface your new fiber optic system with an existing Ethernet system, you will need either a dedicated switch or media converter or a switch with GBIC (gigabit interface converter) modules. This converts electrical signals into optical signals and vice versa, allowing seamless flow of data through both cable media. Next, it is important to decide what protection method to use for fiber optic cable. The two options available are: passing the fiber through an inner cord to house and protect the fiber, or using reinforced fiber that has built-in protection. Both are good methods of protection.

Before Installation Installation: What you need to know

– Installing fiber through inner cord, or are armored fibers a better way to go?

– How far does the fiber cable run; multi-mode or single-mode?

– What method of converting the two cable systems will be used so that they can communicate?

– Is this an indoor installation, outdoor installation or both?

With any investment, it is important to know that you are getting the best value for your money. Low system costs combined with a longer life than copper cabling make fiber optic cabling the best value when it comes to structured cabling. Fiber optic cabling offers a structured cable system designed to accommodate future applications and technological advances, making fiber optic cabling the “future cabling”. If you are planning to install a data cable system that you want to last as long as possible and have unmatched performance, fiber optic cabling is the way to go. California has seen a rapid rise in companies opting for fiber optic cabling rather than copper wire cabling. This has proven to be especially true in San Diego fiber optic cabling installations. For more information on the rise of fiber optic cabling in San Diego, there are several resources available online.