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How To Achieve The Lowest Cost Possible When Installing A Fiber Optic Network?

Apr 13, 2008
The purpose of this article is to show you the available options for termination a fiber optic cable installation project. I will compare the pros and cons of different termination approaches.

Fiber optic cable termination can be divided into two major groups: factory termination and field termination.

Field technicians face important trade-offs in deciding which approach to choose. For tighter loss budget, the best approach is factory terminated cables since it is much easier to achieve loss loss and high quality connector terminations in a controlled factory environment. On the other hand, field terminations provide far more flexibility in meeting system requirements.

Pros of factory termination

1. The factory has to guarantee the quality. Fiber optic manufacturers have highly trained technicians and high quality equipment for the job. Factory technicians usually are expert on fiber connector polishing and they produce thousands of fiber optic patch cords and fiber pigtails on a daily basis.

2. Factory termination provides the lowest cost. Since factories produce mass quantity of fiber patch cords, they have reduced the cost to the lowest possible point. This is the most economic choice.

Cons of factory termination

Factory termination doesn't provide as much flexibility as field termination. You have to write down the list of fiber lengths and quantities and you have to make sure that you have enough spare length of cable for each termination.

Pros of field termination

1. Field termination provides the best flexibility in meeting system requirements. You can just pull the fiber cables and terminate them later.

2. You can do on-the-spot repairs wherever there is a defective fiber link. This is the biggest advantage of doing the termination yourself.

Cons of field termination

1. High cost. You need some polishing tools and supplies. Field termination quality are OK for multimode applications, but for single mode applications, you'd better leave that to factory termination.

2. The field termination technician must be highly skilled. He would have to practice a lot offline before doing the real work. A bad termination can cost you both time and money.

OK. You must already have a pretty clear idea on the choices for fiber cable installation now. Let's examine in more details on the available options for each category.

Factory termination choices:

1. Factory pre-terminated cables

For this type of job, you provide a list of cable types, lengths and quantities to the factory. The factory will deliver each pre-terminated cable on a reel. You just need to pull these cables through duct carefully with a cable netting to protect the connectors.

2. Factory pre-terminated pigtails and splicing (fusion splicing or mechanical splicing)

This is a intermediate approach. You order cable segments with factory-mounted connectors on one end only. You need to order some fiber pigtails (fiber cables with only one connector mounted) and then splice the pigtail to the unterminated end of the cable. This is a quick and easy approach. However, it requires that you already have the fusion splicers (which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars). Or you would have to choose the less reliable mechanical splicing.

Field Termination Choices:

1. Field installation of epoxy and polish connectors

Lots of experience technicians still prefer this way since it provides the best flexibility and the lowest possible cost. Epoxy and polish connectors are the same as used by factories. You pull the fiber first, and then terminate the fiber on the site. This involves fiber optic epoxy, high temperature curing oven, scribe tools, polishing films and fiber optic inspection microscopes. This approach needs you already have a termination kit that includes these items.

2. Field installation of quick termination connectors

Quick termination connectors are a god bless for emergency repairs. This type of connector functions like a fiber optic pigtail. It is pre-polished in the factory. It has a fiber stub in the connector body. You just need to cleave your fiber, insert it into the connector body, and lock it per the connector manufacturer's instruction. However, it doesn't provide as much long term reliability as the epoxy and polish connectors. Also, quick termination connectors are much more expensive then standard epoxy and polish connectors.
About the Author
Colin Yao is an expert on fiber optic technologies and products. Learn even more about Corning fiber optic pigtails , Corning fiber pigtails and SC pigtail on Fiber Optics For Sale Co. web site.
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