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Understanding Basic Terms in Indoor Fiber Optic Cable Installation

Jun 7, 2008
Fiber optic cables are exposed to electrical, mechanical, chemical and environmental elements, so proper installation is critical for the long-term stability and survival of fiber cables.

Cable installation must also meet the NEC(National Electric Code) and local building codes. NEC indicates that fiber optic cables can be placed in the same raceway, cable tray or enclosure with CATV, telephone, communication circuits and Class 2 and 3 remote control signaling circuits.

Note that you should never put the fiber optic cable in the same enclosure that houses electrical terminations.

What are conduits?

Conduit is a tube or trough for protecting electrical or communication wires and cables. It may be a solid or flexible tube in which cables are run. They house and protect the fiber optic cables as well as any other type of data or communication transmission line.

Underground conduits are also called ducts and consist of one or more conduits spaced closely together. They are often buried directly in the ground in concrete casing. Duct lines terminate in underground vaults called manholes. Conduits are made of fiber, PVC, PE and other materials.

Above ground conduits are made of metal or nonmetal materials. They can be used in exposed or concealed locations aboveground.

Characteristics of a good conduit installation

1. Good mechanical properties to withstand the forces imposed by cable installations
2. Observes fiber optic cables minimum bending radius
3. No sharp edges or bends touches the fiber optic cables throughout the route
4. Meets current and future expansion requirements

What are cable trays?

A cable tray is an assembly of units made of metal or other noncombustible materials that form a continuous, rigid support for fiber cables. Cable trays are used throughout the industry and they greatly simplify the installation of fiber optic cables.

Cable trays come in several different types including ladder type, trough type, channel type and solid-bottom type.

Ladder type cable tray is a metal structure consisting of two longitudinal side rails connected by individual transverse members. The transverse members provide the support for fiber cables.

Trough type cable tray is also a metal structure. It consists of a ventilated bottom and has closely spaced supports within integral or separate longitudinal side rails.

Channel type cable tray consists of a one-piece ventilated or solid-bottom channel section.

Solid-bottom type cable tray is a metal structure that has no openings in the bottom. Integral or separate longitudinal side rails provide the support for the fiber cables.

What are pull boxes?

Pull boxes are used to break up long conduit lengths for easier and lower tension cable pulls.

Pull boxes are usually placed near conduit bends and in long straight runs. You should use at least one pull box after every second 90 bend and in long conduit spans.

When pulling cable out of pull boxes, ensure that the cable's minimum bend radius is always observed. Cable pulled through a corner pull box should first be pulled into a loop since the sharp corner of the pull box can easily damage the cable and the fibers.
About the Author
Colin Yao is an expert on fiber optic communication technologies and products. Learn more about aerial fiber cable , optic cable aerial , aerial fiber optic cable on Fiber Optics For Sale Co.
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