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 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.