Top 10 Tips: How to Ensure Your Fiber Serves You Well

Selecting fiber for your project is not always as easy as you would hope it would be. With so many variations available, picking the correct ones can seem to be an overwhelming task. You also are focusing on making sure your selection is going to be reliable for as long as possible for as long as you need them.

We’ve got 10 tips to ensure your fiber serves you well into the foreseeable future; but first let’s quickly look at all of the varieties of types, connectors, jackets, and polishes.

This is the standardized scheme, but you can’t always judge a fiber by its colors. Fibers are available in, literally, a rainbow of custom colors so conventions are sometimes pitched out the window in favor of aesthetic.

The different multimode standards evolved to accommodate higher bandwidths at longer distances.

Fiber Designation Core size (um) 1Gb 10Gb 40Gb 100Gb
Multimode OM1 62.5/125 275m 33m
Multimode OM2 50/125 550m 82m
Multimode OM3 50/125 550m 300m 100m 100m
Multimode OM4 50/125 550m 400m 150m 150m
Multimode OM5 50/125 550m 400m 150m 150m
Singlemode 9/125 long haul (hundreds of km)

If you are using multimode short reach (SX, SR, eSR, etc.) transceivers, you need to use multimode fiber that is appropriate for your distance and bandwidth. However, transceivers designed for singlemode fiber can sometimes be utilized over existing multimode infrastructure if the fiber is OM3 or higher or if a Mode Conditioning Patch cable is used. A Mode Conditioning Patch cable makes sure that the laser from a singlemode transceiver is appropriately offset from the center of the multimode fiber.

Getting Yourself Connected

Here are a few connector types you are most likely to come across. (Each of these can be used for multimode and single mode connections and come in different contact/polishing styles.)

Getting a Plan Together

Now let’s get to those top 10 tips to select the right fiber for your needs!

10: Picking Your Path
Did you know that there are different jacket types for fiber that are tailored to specific paths?

  • PVC: Regular old rack to rack runs can usually be made using PVC jackets.
  • Riser: If you’re doing a vertical transit, like one between floors of a building, you’ll want a fiber that’s clad in a jacket with stricter reactions to heat and flame. That’s where Riser rated jumpers come in.
  • Plenum: When going from room to room, and making use of air flow spaces, plenum spaces as they are called, you need even tighter limits on how much smoke and fumes are produced in the event of fire exposure.
  • Low Smoke Zero Halogen: In installations where these characteristics are most important, LSZH is free of halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine) has the lowest smoke and least toxic of the common jacket tyles when burned, making it a must for an enclosed or sensitive space. It’s also environmentally friendly. All cabling done in the London Underground transit system are LSZH.

 9: Made to Measure
When measuring out your fiber span requirements, there’s a Goldilocks range of slack that you want.  Too much and you have confusing coils of fiber. Too little and routing can be a challenge.  Between one and two meters of slack at each end of your span is manageable and convenient. Rather than buying “off the rack”, it’s often better to get cables in the lengths appropriate to your plan.

8: Zip Ties and Fiber are Enemies
Keeping runs tidy is a huge advantage, but there’s a right way and many wrong ways to secure your fiber.  Zip ties and telco lacing can put pressure onto fiber that doesn’t always show up as a problem initially. Over time, the fiber can give more and more until finally, probably at 3am on a Saturday morning, that path will start taking errors.  As someone who’s had to roll out and address this sort of thing, let me tell you, Velcro won’t do you wrong.

7: Bend Radius
All Fiber jumpers have a safe bend radius.  You can get bend insensitive fiber that has a tighter radius or you go with standard jumpers that are more vulnerable to bend attenuation.  Either can be used safely if you make sure to respect the properties of your selected fiber.

6: Handle Them With Care
Let’s not forget that your data is traveling over threads of glass.  While it’s amazingly sturdy for what it is, don’t take installation shortcuts that involve yanking and tugging on your runs.  Time spent running a damaged fiber is completely wasted, so be conscientious and do it right.

5: Conduit or Trough With Downspouts
While not always possible, using fiber conduit that’s fitted with downspouts can not only protect your fiber, but insure that the fiber drops don’t incur a potentially bend radius violation where they transition to your equipment.

4: Keep Your Materials Organized
When called upon to do a fast fiber run, it’s easy to pass up using the right jumper in favor of the one you have easy access to.  If you are able to keep a fiber library of spares related to your installed runs stocked at each site, that’s great!  But whatever your sparing situation for jumpers, keeping them organized and stored correctly is going to pay off.

3: Don’t Run With a Bad Crowd
These are best practices and sometimes reality has us make compromises.  You should be cautious about running fiber with other types of runs like Cat6 or power because they can lay across your fiber and, over time, lead to problem. You can safely pull a lot harder on an ethernet cable than you can a fiber jumper… unless your fiber is wrapped around it.

2: Labeling
Clearly labeling your fiber runs at both ends allows you to avoid tracing fibers.  Trying to trace a fiber that is intermingling with many others runs the risk of a connection being impacted during the process. Being able to quickly identify the fiber’s endpoints and designations make a world of difference.

Even fresh out of the bag, some jumpers have contamination on the end faces. And the longer they’ve been in your inventory, the more likely that contamination is. The most common problems in fiber and optics trace back to dirt, oil, and other contamination.  Taking the time to inspect and clean each fiber will make sure your fiber is ready for service and, even more importantly, not going to transfer a stubborn stain from the fiber to the transceiver.

Following these tips will get you fiber interconnections that work at startup and keep working for years. Integra Optics know transceivers, but we also are jumper experts and can help you get the right fiber in your hands and in your network, setup time to talk to us today!