Guide To Fibre Network Solutions

Discover more about fibre optic networking solutions

What is a fibre optic network?

A fibre optic network is a data network built on data transmission via optical transceivers that use fibre optic cables rather than copper network cabling. Fibre optic cables transmit information in light pulses along a glass fibre, with a fibre optic cable containing various amounts of glass fibres from just one in a simplex cable to several hundred in a multi core bulk fibre.

The central glass fibre of the fibre optic network cable is called the core and is surrounded by another glass layer called the cladding. Protecting the cladding is a buffer tube with the jacket layer providing the final protective layer for the cable. Transmitted data is converted from an electrical current to light particles that pulse through the fibre cable. The core and cladding have a different refractive index that bends the light into a series of zig-zag bounces. The end result is more data being able to be transmitted faster and further than copper network cabling. And, as the data is carried as pulses of light there is less noise and little risk of electromagnetic interference. Fibre optic networks are now achieving transmission rates of 10, 40 & 100GBPS.

There are different fibre optic network cable types, what’s the difference between Single Mode fibre and Multi Mode fibre?

There are two primary fibre optic network cable types – Single Mode and Multi Mode fibre.

  • Single Mode Fibre – Single Mode fibre cable is used to transmit data over longer distances because of the smaller diameter of the glass core used, which lessens the risk of attenuation. The smaller diameter focuses the light into a single beam and concentrates it into a more direct route, offering a much higher bandwidth than Multi Mode fibre. Single Mode fibre transmission uses a laser beam to provide the light source.
  • Multi Mode Fibre – Multi Mode fibre cable is used to transmit data over shorter distances as it uses a larger core that allows the light signal to bounce and reflect more along the way. The larger core also enables multiple light pulses to be sent through the cable at the same time resulting in greater data transmission. As a result, the risks of signal loss, reduction or interference are greater. LED is typically the light source used to create the light pulse in Multi Mode fibre installations.

What is an MPO fibre optic network cable and what other fibre connectors are there?

An MPO terminated fibre optic network cable is a multi-fibre cable that uses a single multi fibre connector. MPO stands for Multi-fibre Push On and is used with ribbon fibre cables with four to 24 fibres. The MPO connectors for Single Mode fibre have angled ends to reduce back-reflection whilst Multi Mode MPO connectors are typically flat ended.

MPO fibre optic cables are typically used in high density, high bandwidth applications and used to connect into 40G or 100G transceivers. MTP connectors are also MPO connectors but offer improved specifications. MPO / MTP fibre optic cables reduce the need for multiple simplex connectors making handling easier and more cost effective. Their design also makes them more space efficient than traditional fibre optic cabling systems. MPO / MTP connectors can be used in link cables for improved scalability or in fan-out cables to other types of fibre connectors, such as in the MTP Masterline pre-terminated cables from HUBER+SUHNER. There are many different types of fibre connectors depending on the industry and application. Primarily, in the Data Centre / IT related industry, the most popular are LC or SC connectors. LC (Lucent Connector) is used in high-density connections, with SFP, SFP+ and XFP transceivers. SC (Subscriber Connector) is used in the datacom and telecom industry with GPON, EPON, GBIC and MADI.

Fibre Optic Solutions

Why is the use of a fibre optic network cable tester important during fibre optic cable installation?

A fibre optic network cable tester is a vital piece of equipment that should be used during the fibre optic cable installation process. As fibre optic network cables are made from glass they can be damaged if handled incorrectly, if this damage is not detected it can affect the performance of the network.

Performing a cable test can help increase the system’s longevity, minimise downtime, lower the need for maintenance and simplify network installation and reconfiguration. Also, it’s important to clean the connectors before installing the fibre optic cable. As fibre optic networks utilise light to transmit data any foreign particles on the connectors will affect the performance. There are several types of fibre optic cable tester that can be used these include: Visual Fault Locators (VFL) which detect breaks in a fibre cable, a fibre optic cable tester consisting of a power meter and light source or an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) for advanced testing and certification.

For more on fibre optic cable testing refer to our guide on cable testing.

Why managing fibre patch cables in fibre patch panels is important.

Fibre patch panels provide the important interconnects linking systems across the network and ensuring that fibre patch cables are correctly manged helps make network management easier. Fibre patch cables need to be handled carefully to reduce the risk of damage to the glass core, this means it’s important to observe the specified bend radius of the cable. In high-density patching applications the use of fibre patch cables with longer connecting levers and single jackets, such as the HUBER+SUHNER LC-XD Uniboot, improves cable management by reducing cable congestion and improving traceability, whilst the longer lever makes handling the connector easier during installation or removal.

Fibre tray management within an Optical Distribution Frame (ODF)

Incoming fibre optic cables to a building are usually fusion-spliced using a fusion fibre splicer, such as the Fujikura 90S+, into fibre trays. Each fibre tray contains the individual connections that form the basis of the fibre optic network. Centralised fibre tray management is handle within an Optical Distribution Frame or ODF and enables simplified management of patch cords and trays that provide the cross-connects to different zones within the data centre or facility.

EDP Europe distributes fibre trays from HUBER+SUHNER that are designed for installation into their Optical Distribution Frame which offer high-density fibre optic management. Their ODFs offer a small footprint depth of just 300mm and are available in two widths of 900mm or 1500mm. Their modular design helps manage between 1,920 to 3,840 fibres without taking up large amounts of expensive floor space.

What other optical frames and cable management systems are there?

Optical Distribution Frames aren’t the only optical solutions available from EDP Europe. We also offers an advanced cable management system for managing fibre optic connections in racks:

  • HUBER+SUHNER IANOSIANOS is a fibre optic management system that facilitates fast, flexible and future-proofed connectivity within Data Centres and Enterprise IT environments. Its modular design utilises modules designed for specific purposes to be housed within the same chassis to provide 72 LC duplex/MTP per 1RU and gives superior cable management and port identification.

More on Fibre Optic Solutions for Data Centres and IT Comms Rooms

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