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Chapter 3 Fiber Optic Cables

3.1 Main Parts of Fiber Optic Cable:

3.1.1 Optical Fiber cable

An optical fiber cable is a cable containing one or more optical fibers. The optical fiber elements are
typically individually coated with plastic layers and contained in a protective tube suitable for the
environment where the cable will be deployed.

Fibers are assembled into either stranded or ribbon cables. Stranded cables are individual fibers
that are bundled together. Ribbon cable is constructed by grouping up to 12 fibers and coating
them with plastic to form a multi fiber ribbon. Stranded and ribbon fiber bundles can be
packaged together into either loose or tight buffering cable.

3.1.2 Buffer

In a fiber optic cable, a buffer is one type of component used to encapsulate one or more optical
fibers for the purpose of providing such functions as mechanical isolation, protection from
physical damage and fiber identification.

The buffer may take the form of a miniature conduit, contained within the cable and called a
"loose buffer", or "loose buffer tube". A loose buffer may contain more than one fiber, and
sometimes contains a lubricating gel. A "tight buffer" consists of a polymer coating in intimate
contact with the primary coating applied to the fiber during manufacture.

Buffer application methods include spraying, dipping, extrusion and electrostatic methods.
Materials used to create buffers can include fluoropolymers such as polyvinylidene
fluoride (Kynar),polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), or polyurethane.
3.1.3 Strength Members:

Strength members are basically steel rod when high strain is to be sustained, but for indoor
cables Kevlar rods are used. Kevlar rod is a special polymer of plastic that provides sufficient
strength to withstand strain in optical fibers used indoors or underground.

3.1.4 Jacket:

It is the outer most covering of an optical fiber, providing distinction among the number of
different fibers available along the same communication way ( say pipes ) and also provides
protection from moisture and strains.
3.2 Indoor cables:

Cables (L->R): Zipcord, Distribution, Loose Tube, Breakout

Simplex and zip cord: Simplex cables are one fibre, tight-buffered (coated with a 900
micron buffer over the primary buffer coating) with Kevlar (aramid yarn) strength
members and jacketed for indoor use. The jacket is usually 3mm (1/8 in.) diameter.
Zipcord is simply two of these joined with a thin web. It's used mostly for patch cord
and backplane applications, but zipcord can also be used for desktop connections.

Distribution cables: They contain several tight-buffered fibres bundled under the same
jacket with Kevlar strength members and sometimes fibreglass rod reinforcement to
stiffen the cable and prevent kinking. These cables are small in size, and used for
short, dry conduit runs, riser and plenum applications. The fibres are double buffered
and can be directly terminated, but because their fibres are not individually reinforced,
these cables need to be broken out with a "breakout box" or terminated inside a patch
panel or junction box.
Breakout cables: They are made of several simplex cables bundled together. This is a
strong, rugged design, but is larger and more expensive than the distribution cables. It
is suitable for conduit runs, riser and plenum applications. Because each fibre is
individually reinforced, this design allows for quick termination to connectors and
does not require patch panels or boxes. Breakout cable can be more economic where
Fibre count isn't too large and distances too long, because is requires so much less
labour to terminate.

Loose tube cables: These cables are composed of several fibres together inside a small
polymeric buffer tube or tubes, which are in turn wound around a central strength
member and jacketed, providing a small, high fibre count cable. This type of cable is
ideal for outside plant trunking applications, as it can be made with the loose tubes
filled with gel or water absorbent powder to prevent harm to the fibres from water. It
can be used in conduits, strung overhead or buried directly into the ground. Since the
fibres have only a thin buffer coating, they must be carefully handled and protected to
prevent damage.

Ribbon Cable: This cable offers the highest packing density, since all the fibres are
laid out in rows, typically of 12 fibres, and laid on top of each other. This way 144
fibres only has a cross section of about 1/4 inch or 6 mm! Some cable designs use a
"slotted core" with up to 6 of these 144 fibre ribbon assemblies for 864 fibres in one
cable! Since it's outside plant cable, it's gel-filled for water blocking.

Armoured Cable: Cable installed by direct burial in areas where rodents are a problem
usually have metal armouring between two jackets to prevent rodent penetration. This
means the cable is conductive, so it must be grounded properly.
Aerial cable: Aerial cables are for outside installation on poles. They can be lashed to
a messenger or another cable (common in CATV) or have metal or aramid strength
members to make them self supporting.
3.3 Outdoor cables: