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Fiber Optic Cable Decisions

Which is the best fiber optic cable for your networking needs?  Single-Mode or Multi-Mode? 62.5 microns or 50 microns?  A gigabit or 10 gigabit data transfer rate?  Whether you are installing a new network or upgrading an existing network, Falcon Technologies can help you answer these questions.  Fiber optic cables operate on an inverse scale: the narrower the channel, the further the signal can be transmitted without distortion.  Single-mode cables carry signals greater distances with higher bandwidth and less data attenuation, while multi-mode cables have a greater capacity to gather light, and they utilize less expensive LEDs or VCSELs as their source. Multi-mode fiber optic cables have become the standard in most local-area networks, particularly popular has been the fiber with a core diameter of 62.5 microns.  However, many networks are now utilizing fiber with a core diameter of 50 microns, which is fast becoming the new standard.  Advances in fiber optics, such as numerical aperture (angle of light acceptance of fiber), improved core alignment and connector polishing, and the increased power output of LEDs have made this possible.  Furthermore, the major organizations establishing standards for fiber optics, such as IEEE, INCITS, InfiniBand, OIF, TIA, IEC and ITU-T, have accepted the use of laser-optimized, high bandwidth 50 micron fiber cables. The 50 micron fibers provide high reliability along with greater bandwidth, allowing both gigabit and 10 gigabit data transmission rates at a more affordable cost than was previously possible.  The 62.5 micron fibers are also capable of gigabit and 10 gigabit data transmission rates but are limited to distances of 33 meters.  The 50 micron fibers not only allow better reliability and lower attenuation rates due to their narrower core, but they also transmit signals over distances of 150, 300 and 550 meters, depending on which product you choose.  As fiber optics continue to evolve, these distances will become even greater. A very important consideration before choosing 50 micron fiber over 62.5 micron fiber is the circumstance of the installation.  For new installations, 50 micron fiber will out perform 62.5 micron fiber in bandwidth, data transmission rates, distance, and reliability, while also allowing for future upgrades.  For existing networks that are being upgraded or replaced, mixing the two different fibers is not recommended when using LEDs.  It is possible, but the mixed fibers create data attenuation where they are joined.  Imagine trying to fill a 2 liter bottle with water from a bucket with no funnel; there will be a loss of water.  When fibers are mated using LEDs, uniformity in fiber size is very important.  However, when using lasers as the transmission source, coupling the different fibers does not result in significant data attenuation. As you can see, the attributes of one type of fiber optic cable over another, as well as the installation circumstances, vary greatly.  Falcon Technologies can guide you in your next fiber optic cable decision, helping you determine the best cable for the network you are installing, upgrading or replacing.  Our custom lab can even deliver tested/certified pre-terminated fiber optic cables to you in any size, length and/or configuration to simplify installation and avoid functionality issues that can be associated with field terminations.
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