Friday, January 25, 2013

Pre-terminated fiber optic cable made just for you

So you're thinking of installing fiber, but not sure what's involved. In this article, we will take a look at common examples of fiber optic cable installation. From there, we can figure out what cable construction type you need and decided if a pre-terminated fiber option is best for you.

Before deciding the type of fiber optic cable you need, where are you installing it? Is it from your residence to a far away workshop on your property? Is it from a telecom closet and you need to go 10 floors up? Do you need to run it outdoors and vertically for a solar power tower?

For over 10 years, we've assembled thousands of pre-terminated fiber cables for aerial installations, underground, vertical, building to building and mining and more. There are many different cable construction types to select from that will suit your particular application. Let's go over a couple.

We'll start off with a very common installation: running fiber from a residence to another building on your property. Most of these types of installations don't have a need for high speed data transmission. People seem to want the convenience of the internet at a workstation available and nowadays having the internet in your workshop is as important as having an air compression wrench in your shop, both sure make life easier.

In order to get that cable where you need it to go your probably going to directly bury this cable. If that's the case you'll need a single armored burial cable.

There are other cables that are outdoor rated and by the information on their spec sheet it appears that they can be buried and people have done that to save a buck for a temporary solution. If your looking to provide a proper direct burial solution non-armored cables are not warrantied from the manufacture so you have to have that armor, plus it helps keeping those darn gophers from chewing through the cable.

Don't forget to research what the best Trench Method is for your location.

Now that you got your cable type selected how many strands are you going to need? Do you need multimode or singlemode? We'll get into that but let's talk about a couple more installation areas.

Wireless communications have been around for a while but with the advances in their electronics many new systems are now using fiber optics over the traditional coax cable system. Even old systems are being redone with fiber, especially in the broadcasting industry.

These types of installations have many vertical runs and are outdoors. We're going to want a tight buffered cable non-armored. A loose tube cable has the possibility of the glass inside sliding and the gel causing an issue in the long term. The gel in outdoor cables also has the chance of freezing, this will damage the glass. A non-armored also avoids electrical current from a possible lightning strike damaging your electronics on each end.

Here's a look at a popular cable from our YouTube Channel for these types of installations.

This cable is also very flexible and light, the weight for a thousand feet of 6 strand cable is only 19 pounds making it an excellent choice as you continue to carry it up that tower.

Now what about if your on a large commercial property and you need to get a signal to a nearby building? Trenching might not be an option due to a parking lot or maybe the property owner won't give you a go ahead for a trenching project. You'll have to consider a figure 8 cable, fiber with a messenger wire attached.

You'll also need to consider additional hardware to properly secure the messenger wire to your building.

Building to building fiber optic installations are common, if your installation requires numerous poles you might want to consider hiring a outside plant designer to specify the pole types and span lengths. You'd be surprised how much math and science is involved in that kind of installation according to my OSP reference design manual.

What about an indoor only fiber cable run? You can use an indoor/outdoor rated, same cable we demonstrated for your wireless tower run. Another nice thing about the indoor/outdoor rating on that cable is you won't have any issues violating the National Electric Code in case you do have to change your indoor run to also partially run outdoors.

If you do decide on installing an indoor/outdoor rated cable and you know for sure that your entire run is indoors, verify if you need a riser or plenum rated cable. Then you might want to consider a interlocking armored cable.

The interlocking armored design helps to prevent an accidental cut of your fiber cable and possible long term damage from your continuous living, breathing and moving facility. 

I've given you some examples of cable construction types for different types of installations. Now what about multimode or singlemode, what's best for you? That's a long story and we could go way down the rabbit hole on this one but I'll do my best to keep this simple for you, let's start with a good explanation from our friends at the fiber optic association.

Now you'll need 2 strands of fiber for a send an receive signal and what kind of signal are you looking for? 62.5 multimode will provide you with a 1 Gigabit Ethernet signal at around 750 feet and thus being a great fit for most facilities due to copper Cat5e reaching only 328 feet. If you have a run further then that you can get 100 mbps up to 2 kilometers on 62.5 multimode.

What if you have to get a 1G signal further than 750 feet or you need to supply a 10 Gigabit Ethernet signal? You may want to consider a 50 micron multimode cable but keep an eye out for the O-M number ratings. Just because you have a 50 micron cable it might not do what you need. For example a Corning OM3 50 micron cable will do 1G at around 1000 meters and 10G at around 300 meters, not long enough? Then consider a OM4 rated 50 micron cable, 1G at around 1100 meters and 10G at around 550 meters.

Singlemode fiber is awesome for getting your signal to go for miles and miles but the electronics are costly and is more commonly installed by utility and service provider companies that are working on a ethernet passive optical network. If you do have a need for a pre-terminated singlemode cable, no problem but your multimode cable is a much more commonly installed pre-terminated cable.   

I'm assuming by now you've selected your cable and are trying to figure out what type of connectors you need. If your installing a media converter to convert your fiber to a RJ45 then into your switch you'll need either a SC or ST connector, those are notorious for availability on media converters.

If your plugging directly into a switch your probably going to want a LC connector. Many switches have a SFP module that the LC connector get's plugged into. Please, reconsider plugging directly into your switch! You should be installing your pre-terminated fiber optic assembly into a wall or rack mount enclosure then use a fiber patch cord from that box to your switch. This small investment will protect your pre-made fiber connector cable end for the long haul. The cost to replace a damaged fiber jumper is much better than a whole new custom assembly or having a contractor come to your location to terminate a strand of fiber.

Here's an example of a small wall mountable enclosure.

So you should have a good feel for what type of cable construction is best for you, what mode you'll use and what connector type you'll be using. Right now your probably thinking about terminating fiber yourself instead of having it pre-terminated, let's figure out if that's a good option for you.

Fiber termination involves not only a learning curve but also a heavy investment into the proper tooling and test equipment to make a proper fiber connection at the location. The most costly part of field termination kit is going to be your cleaver. Some only cleave multimode and some do both multi and singlemode. Because of the demand of 10G networks over the past couple of years, singlemode has crept into the premise local area network so I always recommend a cleaver that will handle both.

Let's check out a cleaver that does it all, even ribbon fiber. The AFL CT-30.

I love tools and I could always use another but how often would all the knowledge and know how of fiber optic termination would you use? If you need a fiber optic cable solution once in a while then perhaps an investment of tools and test equipment is not a good idea. If your a contractor and your considering making the investment to expand your offering then I could see this being a good fit but what if you want to write up some orders and get a proven track record of sales before you make your around two thousand dollar investment? Pre-Terminated fiber is an excellent choice.

Discount Low Voltage has been providing custom fiber optic cable solutions for over 10 years. All we need is for you to tell us what type of cable construction type, mode type, connector type and length. All pre-terminated assemblies include one pulling eye so protecting those connectors when pulled through conduit is no issue and pulling eye on opposite end is also an option for you.

Test results for your custom cable is also included to assure you and your customer that you have a pull, plug and play cable. This is a great choice for your fiber cable once in a while need and for the contractor who wants a proven sales track record.

After ordering your pre-terminated fiber cable you still have work to do. Time to install that cable! Let me refer you to a previous post on pulling fiber optic cable. You'll find some great tips to help make your installation as easy as possible.

If and when you decide to make an investment into a field fiber optic termination tool kit we have a few different options for you.

When your ready, we got you covered. If you have any questions regarding Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cable contact us at 888-797-3697 or you can also comment below! Thanks!

"By Mercy Salinas"