An Overview of Fiber Optic Cables in AV Systems

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Audio and video technologies (AV) have evolved over the years, and now they are an integral part of our digital communication. As these technologies continue to evolve, the AV are being are designed to carry audio, video, and control signals of high resolution and speed. Sometimes Cat5 or Cat6 cables fail to meet these requirements. This is where fiber optic cables can work. These cables offer a combination of glass and light or say optical impulses, which AV professionals can best utilize to their benefits. Would you like to know how these fiber optic cables are set to change the future of AV? This post discusses the same and more.

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Benefits of Choosing Fiber Optic Cables for AV Applications

Fiber optic cabling is a common choice for many growing enterprises. These cables may demand a huge upfront investment, but they offer high returns in the long run. Keeping aside this long term cost advantage, these cables provide several benefits, which AV professionals find attractive. This section focuses on these benefits and offers you reasons to consider them for your future installations.

  • High Resolution Signals: A fiber optic cable can carry a high resolution audio, video, and control signals over a single fiber for more than 30 kilometers, with no operational disturbances like electromagnetic interference, signal degradation, or signal loss, and so on. When compared with copper cables, these cables have very less signal loss between 0.2 to 3.5 dB/km. This low loss nature makes them a perfect choice to send 2560x1600 video signals.
  • Ideal for Tactical Environments and Mission-critical Applications:Signal loss or degradation has been one of the concerns for tactical environments like military facilities and mission-critical applications like first responder communication systems, railway/aircraft operating and control systems. Any delay in signal transmission may lead to huge losses. Thus, fiber optic cables have become the cabling of choice for such environments. These cables also support future expansions, which makes them even more beneficial.
  • Easy Installation:Fiber optic cables are easy to install. They require little space in cable trays and conduits. Compact size of the cable makes them an ideal choice for applications where thicker cables cannot exist. If you are set to compare fiber optic cabling with coaxial cables in terms of sizing, you would require only half of fiber optic cabling for data transfer. Termination has been one of the key concerns for coaxial cables, which can be easily taken care in fiber optic cables using readily available termination kits. You can build high quality splices in few minutes by striping, inserting, and cleaving wires in fiber optic connectors. If you want to save time, you can also use pre-terminated cables.
  • Ideal for Sensitive Environments:The use of AV systems in sensitive and hazardous environments is not new. They were usually connected using copper cables, which are prone to damage in such environments. The copper cables carry electrical signals, which are known to produce sparks in such environments. However, fiber optic cables carry fiber optic pulses, which are not known to radiate any type of electrical signals, thus, there are no chances of accidents.

What Are the Types of Fiber Optic Cables Used in Fiber Optic AV systems?

The following are a few important types of fiber optic cabling used in AV systems.

  • Simplex Fiber Optic Cables: These cables feature a single fiber and is most commonly used for one-way communications. Made of plastic or glass, the fiber with a core diameter of 8 to 10 microns, is surrounded by a single outer jacket. The simplex fiber optic networks may feature simplex single mode or multimode fiber optic cables. Single mode simplex fiber optic cable is generally used for applications which may require long data travel in one direction. Against this, simplex multimode fibers feature large diameter core, allowing multiple modes of transmission. Simplex multimode fiber optic cable feature fiber of with a core diameter of 50 or 62.5 microns. A large amount of data can be transferred through simplex multimode fiber optic cables, but the quality of signal reduces over a long distance. This is why simplex multimode fiber optic cables are used for short-distance transmission.
  • Duplex Fiber Optic Cables:These cables comprise two simplex fiber cables that are bound together. Each simplex fiber is buffered and surrounded by a jacket and aramid strength members. The duplex fiber cables are used for duplex communication between devices requiring bi-directional data transfer. The data is transmitted in both directions, where one fiber transmits in one direction and other fiber in other direction. The transmission mode can be half duplex and full duplex. Many fiber optic switches and servers, workstations, and fiber modems use these types of cables. Duplex fiber optic cable is available as multimode and single-mode duplex fiber optic cable.

How Are Fiber Optic Cables Used in AV Systems

Fiber optic cables can be used in multiple ways. The following are some common application examples.

  • Multi-level Applications:In multi-level facilities, an equipment room serves as the central point for all communications. A splice enclosure or patch panel in the equipment room helps reconfigure the network of different floors. However, these patch panels can be eliminated and direct cabling can be done between the equipment room and the floor. This helps reduce optical losses.
  • Multi-building Applications: You may be already familiar with university campuses or corporate campuses, where the network runs between buildings. Such networks are complex and utilize several equipment that helps ensure connectivity between different buildings or floors within a building. Various types of fiber optic cabling are used in such campuses to establish the connection between AV systems.

Conclusion

Fiber optic cables are increasingly used in AV because they assure safe and error-free communication over a long distance. Choosing the right cable type depends on various factors such as topology, system design, fibers required, and many more. So, you need to make a broad consideration before choosing them.

Many network engineers are focusing on hybrid networks using both copper and fiber optic cables for cost benefits. For a layman, these networks may seem simple, but they require several devices such as fiber optic media converters, fiber optic switches, extenders and fiber optic connectors, which support both these technologies. Hence, along with cables, extra must be taken while choosing these devices, too. After all, digital communication is the present and future of your business.

Rich Tull

Rich Tull
R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron, a leading technology company specializing in data communication and networking solutions. With expertise in Guiding network switches and media converters, R.W. Tull has played a pivotal role in driving Versitron's success. His deep understanding of these technologies has enabled the company to provide innovative and reliable solutions to clients. As a visionary leader, He ensures that Versitron remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering cutting-edge networking solutions that enhance data communication efficiency.
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