Fiber Optic Cable Types: A Complete Guide

Fiber optic cables used by internet providers like Fiber are a popular option for high-speed data transmission due to their ability to transmit large amounts of data over long distances with minimal signal loss. However, not all fiber optic cables are created equal. That’s why we must understand the different types available and their specific applications. 

These cables use light to transmit data, making them faster and more efficient than traditional copper cables. They also have the advantage of transmitting data over longer distances without signal loss, making them a reliable choice for long-haul communications. In this complete guide, we’ll explore the various fiber optic cable types, their unique features, and their uses.

Types of Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cables are an essential part of data transmission, but there are different types of fiber optic cables. To learn about the cable type used in your connection, you can contact windstream customer service.

That’s because each type has its own unique set of characteristics and applications. Let’s explore the different types available.

  1. Single-Mode Fiber Optic Cable

Single-mode fiber optic cable is a popular choice for long-distance, high-speed data transmission. It’s designed to carry one signal down the line, making it ideal for video conferencing, satellite communications, and other long-distance applications. 

It’s also highly energy efficient and can transmit data across miles with minimal signal loss. Single-mode fiber optic cable is less susceptible to interference than multimode cables and therefore offers excellent security for sensitive transmissions over long distances.

  1. Multimode Fiber Optic Cable

Multimode fiber optic cables can handle multiple optical signals sent through the same cable at once, making them ideal for high-bandwidth applications. They are most commonly used in local area networks that don’t cover long distances, such as connections between computers and switches. 

Multimode fiber optic cables are also well-suited to video streaming and other real-time multimedia applications due to their ability to transmit multiple signals quickly. Additionally, they offer improved flexibility over single-mode fibers due to their lower attenuation rates and allow for longer runs with less signal degradation. Checkout Windstream bundle deals.

  1. Loose Tube Fiber Optic Cable

Loose tube fiber optic cable is designed for outdoor applications. It’s great for protecting fibers from the environment due to its robust jacket and buffer tubes, which contain two to twelve fibers each. Buffer tubes are filled with a gel that creates flexibility and added protection against moisture or dust particles. 

Moreover, loose tube fiber optic cable can support up to 24 single-mode fibers in one bundle, making it suited for short-haul patching or private network installations. Since it can be deployed quickly, it is an attractive option for many installers of fiber optic networks. 

Another benefit of loose tube fiber optic cable is its capacity to minimize signal loss during data transmission over long distances thanks to the buffers that protect each individual strand of fiber optics. This ability makes it suitable for long-haul data transfers such as 4G/LTE backhauls with minimal signal attenuation.

  1. Tight-Buffered Fiber Optic Cable

Tight-buffered fiber optic cable is a single-fiber cable design suitable for short indoor installations. It consists of a tight buffer coating with an extra protective layer around it. This makes it highly resistant to abrasion and handling damage, whereas the common loose tube design does not offer this protection. 

Tight-buffered cables are ideal for equipment patch cords and backbone cables between buildings since they can sustain bending from 90 degrees in either direction without compromising performance. 

Another major advantage of tight-buffered fiber optic cable is that strand separation is easier compared to other types, as the individual strands of optical fibers can be moved or routed independently due to their buffering properties. 

This means that installation flexibility increases without damaging the fibers or increasing signal interference or attenuation over long distances. This makes them a cost-effective solution for applications requiring regular maintenance and adjustments in the field.

  1. Armored Fiber Optic Cable

Armored fiber optic cables are designed for challenging environments where mechanical protection makes the difference between a reliable connection and data loss. This type of cable contains an outer metal sheath that provides additional protection against external stresses such as crushing, bending, or stepping on the cables. Find some spectrum packages to get your desire accordingly. 

Armored fiber optic cables are perfect for applications where there is a high probability of physical damage, such as underground deployments or aerial placements. They can also be used in extreme environmental conditions such as temperature fluctuations and even direct exposure to sunlight. 

These types of cable come in different grades depending on the level of protection needed – with some able to sustain heavy loads and pressure up to 500N/cm (which is around 4 tons/meter) while others are more suited for lighter-duty scenarios. 

As armored fiber optic cables offer superior protection, they tend to cost more than other types. They also require an experienced technician with specialized tools during installation due to their heavy jackets that add significant weight and complexity compared to standard indoor or outdoor fibers.

  1. Ribbon Fiber Optic Cable

Ribbon fiber optic cables are ideal for high port density applications that require multiple fibers in a single cable. Typically made from twelve to 120-fiber ribbons, these cables contain several color-coded fibers combined into individual subunits. This makes them easier to handle and install than loose tube or tight buffered fiber optic cables, allowing for large amounts of fiber to be joined quickly and efficiently in the field. 

Additionally, a ribbon of 12 fibers is about 12% thinner than any other basic design of the optical cable, making it an attractive option from a weight-saving perspective as well. They also contain multiple small core fibers that can be easily separated into different directions once installed. This makes them perfect for use in patch panels when servicing data center equipment racks at high volumes in confined spaces. 

Moreover, the flexibility of ribbon fiber optic cable opens up the possibility to create custom lengths with no need for splicing onsite. This also reduces air pockets that lead to signal loss during installation or maintenance work due to its higher fill factor compared to standard cables.

  1. Breakout Fiber Optic Cable

Breakout fiber optic cables consist of multiple tight-buffered fibers bundled together, with each fiber individually reinforced with aramid yarn. These cables have a rugged design that allows for easy termination and splicing, making them ideal for use in patch panels and distribution frames. Breakout fiber optic cables are commonly used in data centers and LAN environments.

  1. Distribution Fiber Optic Cable

Distribution fiber optic cables are designed for applications where high fiber counts are required. These cables consist of multiple tight-buffered fibers bundled together and housed in a single jacket. Distribution fiber optic cables are commonly used in enterprise networks, data centers, and telecommunications.

  1. Plenum Fiber Optic Cable

Plenum fiber optic cables are designed for use in plenum spaces, which are spaces that are used to circulate air in a building’s HVAC system. These cables have a special jacket material that is fire-resistant and low-smoke, making them ideal for use in areas with strict fire codes. Plenum fiber optic cables are commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings.

  1. Non-Plenum Fiber Optic Cable

Non-plenum fiber optic cables do not have the same fire-resistant jacket as plenum cables and are not suitable for use in plenum spaces. These cables are often less expensive than plenum cables and are commonly used in residential and small business applications.

  1. Hybrid Fiber Optic Cable

Hybrid fiber optic cables combine different types of fibers, such as single-mode and multimode fibers, in a single cable. These cables are ideal for use in applications where multiple types of fibers are required, such as data centers and telecommunications.

Final Thoughts

Fiber optic cables are a critical component of modern telecommunications and data transmission systems. Understanding the different types of fiber optic cables available and their specific applications is essential for choosing the right cable for your needs. From single-mode and multimode fibers to plenum and non-plenum cables, there is a wide range of options available to meet your specific requirements.