Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables, Advantages, and Tips for Selection


There has been a surge in fiber optics in recent years owing to the different benefits they offer. Designed for scalability and performance, the fiber optic cables are replacing traditional copper cables in many data centers across the globe. These fiber optic cables are developed such that they help overcome all the limitations of copper cables. Fiber optic cables are better than copper cables. Owing to their increasing use, today, these cables are available in different specifications and are named according to their characteristics. They are distinguished into two categories – field terminated fiber optic assemblies and pre-terminated fiber optic assemblies based on their method of termination. Of these, the pre-terminated fiber optic assemblies have gained huge popularity and acceptance in recent years. They are a suitable choice for data centers with pre-defined routes and where deployment times may be of paramount importance. This white paper analyzes the rising importance of these cable assemblies in data center environments and more.
 

Field Terminated Fiber Optic Assemblies and Pre-terminated Fiber Optic Assemblies

Field terminated fiber optic assemblies and pre-terminated fiber optic assemblies are produced in the same way; the only difference lies in their termination. The following pointers will help you understand them better.
  • Field Terminated Fiber Optic Assemblies: In these assemblies, cable termination is usually conducted after the installation. During the termination, cables are pulled between two points, the connectors are attached, and then connected to the patch panel. The connectors are attached to individual fiber strands before connecting to the panel. This process demands various tools, time, and efforts.
  • Pre-terminated Fiber Optic Assemblies: The cable assemblies are pre-terminated by the manufacturer before shipping to customers, which immensely saves time.
 

Advantages of Pre- terminated Fiber Optic Cables

Pre-terminated fiber optic cables are the best choice for quick deployment in data centers and most industrial networks. The following advantages of pre-terminated fiber optic cables make them quite popular.
  • Low Total Cost of Ownership: As the cables are pre-terminated, so no expensive consumables, connectors, or equipment are required during installation. The cables help eliminate rework, transmission testing, and so on. Thus, these cables help reduce your total cost of ownership. Many studies suggest that these cables help reduce the overall installation time by at least 50%. 
  • Short Turnaround Times: Quick turn manufacturing differentiates these cables from field terminated fiber optic cables. Experienced manufacturers can deliver these cables to you within 2-4 working days, once you share your requirements.
  • Quick Deployments: With these pre-terminated fiber optic cables, one can cut deployment time by at least 70% to 80%. As these cables come in plug-and-play designs they can be easily deployed.
  • High Performance: Many mission-critical applications demand the highest level of accuracy, and pre-terminated fiber optic cables ensure the same. Often, field terminations are known to compromise the overall cable quality. Inefficient face polishing, poor air quality, and poor testing and cleaning are a few common causes of field terminated cable inefficiencies. Against this, pre-terminated cable assemblies are manufactured in highly controlled environments, and are subjected to a series of inspections before shipping to the potential customer. Many manufacturers also provide certification to specific return loss/insertion loss thresholds. Often test reports are also provided with these assemblies to ensure their excellent performance.
  • Minimizes Downtimes: Data center managers can easily minimize their downtimes using these fiber optic cables. These cables feature a plug-and-play design, and make a great choice for disaster recovery situations. They can be used to make temporary data communication setups, and are often used by business owners to minimize their business downtimes. The fiber optic cables can be easily disassembled once the situation eases. The components from the cable can be reused for other applications.
  • Reduces Carbon Footprint: Pre-terminated fiber optic cables enable a quick clean-up after installation. As these cables are pre-terminated there are no leftover materials after installation. These pre-terminated solutions enable business owners to meet material reuse, green design, and waste reduction goals, as well as reduce their carbon footprint.
 

Tips to Choose Pre-terminated Fiber Cables for Your Requirements

Like field terminated fiber optic cable assemblies, choosing pre-terminated assemblies can be challenging due to the choices offered. The pointers offered here will help you make the right decision.
  • Cable Construction:

    It is a primary consideration to make when it comes to choosing pre-terminated fiber cable assemblies for your application. The following are a few popular types of cable construction.
    • Indoor Plenum: This cable type is appropriate for installations indoors, and is used directly. Most indoor plenum installations require no inner duct or conduit. Indoor plenum cable stand produces low smoke compared to other cable types.
    • Outdoor: These cables are rated for outdoor applications, and are filled with a gel that has a water blocking capacity. Outdoor cables cannot be buried directly in the ground. This cable is ideal for underground installations in conduit. When installed underground, it is connected to a guy wire overhead. It may be secured to the outdoor structure or a building. The downside of this cable is that it is suited for a 50-feet run when used indoors as it doesn’t meet fire-code regulations.
    • Indoor/Outdoor: These cables are ideal for conduits underground. They can be used even in conditions where the possibility of water infiltration exists. One of the key advantages of using these cables is that they do not have any type of indoor installation restriction like a regular outdoor cable. The cable is not suited for plenum spaces, and possesses a PVC sheath that is wrapped all over. The cables are not recommended for aerial installations.  
    • Interlock Armor Indoor Plenum: This cable possesses all the capabilities of an indoor plenum cable, and also has armor. The armor protects the cable from getting cut accidentally.  
    • Interlock Armor Indoor/Outdoor Plenum: This cable type combines the best of indoor plenum as well as indoor/outdoor cables. It features an armor that makes it an ideal choice for direct burying in the ground.
    • Outdoor Aerial with Messenger: As the name suggests, these cables possess a steel messenger, which can be used across buildings and poles. Like regular outdoor cables, these cables also feature water-blocking gel, which limits their use indoors to only 50 meters.
  • Types of Fiber:

    The pre-terminated fiber optic cables can be availed with various fiber types. The following are a few popular ones.
    • 62.5/125 µm Cable: This cable has been quite popular since the 1980s. It is one of the most popular multimode fiber types used. It possesses shorter distance limitations when compared to other multimode fibers. This cable has the lowest capacity of data transmission. This is why this cable type is now getting obsolete. The cable is known as OM1 cable.
    • 50/125 µm Cable or OM2 Cable: These cables are suited for high-speed applications. They are ideal for those who want to upgrade to 10 GB speeds. OM2 cables can help run 1 GB Ethernet up to 220 meters. The OM2 cable is usually distinguished by its orange jacket.
    • 50/125 µm Laser-optimized Cable or OM3 Cable: These cables are ideal for those who wish to upgrade to 10 GB speeds now or in the near future. OM3 cables are the most popular choice for data centers and are distinguished by their aqua colored jackets. These cables can be used to run 1 GB Ethernet up to 550 meters. However, mode-conditioning patch cords are recommended over 300 meters. Additionally, these cables also support 40 GB Ethernet up to 100 meters, and 100 GB Ethernet up to 100 meters.
    • 50/125 µm Laser-optimized Cable or OM4 Cable: The cable is quite a popular choice for most modern-day data centers as they can run at 100 GB to 150 meter and beyond. Like OM3, these cables also have an aqua-colored jacket.
Note: If you are currently using OM1 cable in your office, campus, or building, you must continue using the same. However, OM1 are being replaced by OM2 cables in many applications. It is recommended to avoid mating OM1 and OM2 cables because that may lead to high losses. If you are replacing OM1 with OM2, you must replace it completely.
  • Cable Connector Types:

    There are different types of cable connectors available; however not all may be suited for your application. Most pre-terminated fiber optic cable suppliers allow people to choose from the following connector types:
    • SC: It is one of the most popular types of connectors used today. These connectors feature a simple design and are quite inexpensive, too. SC connectors use a locking tab in place of a latch to secure a cable. The design of these cables makes them an ideal choice for applications where fiber optic cables are used more frequently than others. In short, they are an integral part of datacom and telecom applications.
    • LC: These connectors are considered as a replacement for SC connectors. LC connectors are push-pull connectors that use a latch for locking. The LC connectors feature a small ferrule and is also known as small form factor connector. LC connectors are quite popular in datacoms, as well as high-density patch applications where there is little room to support a fiber optic connection.  
    • ST: This design has lost its popularity over the years. It has a locking mechanism similar to BNC coax connectors, and is being less favored over SC and LC.
You may be required to choose these connectors for two ends. You can choose one or different connectors at both ends.
  • Number of Strands:

    A cable may comprise several strands, which are wound around a wire at the center and around the core.  2-strand (duplex), 4-strand, 6-strand, 8-strand, 12-strand, and 24-strand are popular configurations available.
 

Conclusion

Pre-terminated cables act as a plug-and-play solution where they are used to connect servers, switches, and patch panels in data centers. Although advantages of pre-terminated cables are well-known, it is equally important to pair them with quality fiber optic devices to achieve optimum results. The devices must be sourced from trusted manufacturers and suppliers like VERSITRON. The company provides fiber optic devices such as media converters, network switches, and MicroModems, which are widely used to build robust and performance-driven networks across the globe. These devices are provided in custom specifications to meet application requirements.