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Understanding Fiber Optic Cable Installation - Fiber Optics Tutorial Series 7

Apr 10, 2008
Fiber optic cable installation is a very special task that only trained professionals can do it quickly and correctly. This is determined by fiber's fragile structure and highly sensitive to microbending and macrobending loss.

However, most of the techniques of fiber optic cable installation has been borrowed from those used for copper cables. And currently the majority of fiber cable contractors come from the copper network background.

Fiber cables can be divided into two big groups: outdoor cables and indoor cables. Outdoor cables are laid along rights of way leased or owned by telecommunication carriers, and they are well marked after the cables are installed. The telecommunication carriers have their own team of cable installers and they seldom outsource the job to independent contractors.

Most independent fiber cable installation contractors install indoor cables most of the time. Indoor fiber cables are mostly used as the backbone for campus networks, enterprise LAN systems and etc.

And there is the submarine cable category. They are laid from ships built for that purpose. They are only used by the big global network backbone builders.

But actually there are many small divisions within each group. So let's examine them one by one.

1. Submarine cables. Submarine cables are laid from ships built for that purpose. They are buried in a trench dug on the sea floor at depths of less than 200 meters. In areas deeper than that, submarine cables are directly laid on the ocean floor.

2. Direct-buried fiber cables. Direct-buried cables are also called armored cables. They have aluminum foil wrapped around for mechanical protection from rodent bite and outside forces. They are laid in a deep trench dug with a cable plow and then covered with dirt.

3. For outdoor cables excluding direct-buried cables, cable ducts are needed. Cable ducts are plastic tubes which provides a path and protection for outdoor cables. They are buried in trenches and then covered with dirt. Cable ducts have a variety of sizes and flexibility, they can range from one inch up to a 6~10 inches. Some are flexible while the others are pretty rigid.

4. Cable ducts are buried first without any fiber cables inside. They can be routed directly between two endpoints or through a series of access points at manholes.

5. Outdoor cables are then pulled through the cable ducts with pulling rope. The pulling rope is attached to the strength member of the cable and then pulled from the destination point. You should never pull the fibers directly since that will break the fibers easily and result in a useless broken cable for you.

5. And then there are aerial cables. One type of aerial cable has a messenger line built-in which provides mechanical support and they can be hanged on poles without any lashing. This type of aerial cable is called figure 8 or self-supporting cable. Other types of aerial cables have to be lashed with a special lashing wire running around both the cable and the separate messenger wire.

6. Indoor cables can be installed within walls, through cable risers, or elsewhere in buildings. Note: only special under carpet fiber cable should be used for laying on the floor where people walk.

7. A special type of indoor cable is called plenum cable. They have special formulated out jacket material for fire rating. Only plenum cables can be used in air return spaces for the VAC system.

We've covered a lot about fiber cable installation in this short article. By warned - you should always browse some training material on fiber cable installation before try it yourself!
About the Author
Colin Yao is an expert on fiber optic technologies and products. Learn what are MTRJ Fiber , MTRJ SC and MTRJ ST on Fiber Optics For Sale Co. web site.
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