Fiber Optics in Wireless - Primus Electronics Corporation

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Fiber Optics in Wireless - Primus Electronics Corporation

4180 E Sand Ridge Rd. | Morris, IL 60450

800.435.1636 tel | 800.767.7605 fax

sales@primuselectronics.com

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Fiber Optics in Wireless

October, 2012

By Gordon Nelson

Primus

This year has seen several wireless carriers launching new build projects across the

country. Companies such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-­‐Mobile are all upgrading

their networks in the rush to 4G, and the majority of these upgrades are being

done using fiber optic cable.

Fiber is beginning to replace traditional coax as a means to transmit data up the

tower to remote radio heads and antennas. As a result, it is becoming increasingly

important to understand the various types of fiber, fiber connectors, and

jacketing, of which there are many. We will go over the most common fiber options that are applicable

to today’s wireless builds.

Single Mode vs. Multi-­‐mode

In general terms, fiber optic cable transmits light over a strand (fiber) of transparent glass, and can be

either Single Mode or Multi-­‐mode. Single mode fiber transmits a single ray of light and is generally used

for long distant communication runs. Some common characteristics are:

-­‐ A core diameter between 8 and 10.5 microns

-­‐ Higher data capacity than multi-­‐mode

-­‐ A yellow colored outer jacket

-­‐ Used in outside plant application

-­‐ Used for long distance applications, generally greater than one mile

Multi-­‐mode fiber transmits multiple rays of light and is generally used over shorter distances. There are

more varieties of multi-­‐mode fiber than single mode fiber, but the most common characteristics of

multi-­‐mode fiber are:

-­‐ A core diameter of 50 microns or 65 microns

-­‐ An orange or aqua colored outer jacket

-­‐ Used in short run applications, generally under 1 mile

Most of today’s carrier network upgrades involving fiber is being done with multi-­‐mode fiber.

Fiber Optic Connectors

At the termination point of each fiber, a connector is used to interface the fiber with the equipment it is

transmitting data to. There are many different fiber connectors, but the most common connector types

in the wireless application today are LC or SC connectors. These two connectors have a similar

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4180 E Sand Ridge Rd. | Morris, IL 60450

800.435.1636 tel | 800.767.7605 fax

sales@primuselectronics.com

www.primuselectronics.com

appearance with a square head that is pushed onto the exposed fiber and mechanically held to the

connection point using a retaining tab (much like a phone or Ethernet connector).

LC and SC connectors can also be either simplex or duplex connectors. A simplex connector is a single

connector for a single fiber, by itself. A duplex connector holds a pair of fibers, each in their own

housing, but mated side by side.

Jacketing

Much like coax, fiber can be jacketed in several ways based on its intended use. The three most common

jacketing types are:

OFNR (Optical Fiber, Non-­‐conductive Riser): Referred to as “Riser rated,” this jacket is engineered to

prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor in a building. OFNR jacketed fiber is most common in

indoor applications such as data centers, shelters, and indoor DAS systems.

OFNP: (Optical Fiber, Non-­‐conductive Plenum): Referred to as “Plenum,” this jacket is engineered to be

fire-­‐resistant and low smoke. OFNP jacketed fiber is most common in indoor applications such as data

centers and shelters where nearby air-­‐circulation systems are in use.

INDOOR/OUTDOOR: Indoor/Outdoor rated jacketing contains a combination of armoring, water

resistance, and fire-­‐resistance that

enables it to hold up to the elements

in various environments.

Indoor/Outdoor jacketed fiber is the

most common type used on outdoor

cell sites.

As the use of fiber on the cell site

becomes more prevalent, it will be

important to stay informed of all the

various characteristics and

components in play. The team at

Primus is always available to answer

your questions and fulfill your fiber

needs!

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