Optical fiber has changed the way various industries work, with the biggest impact being in long-distance communications and transmissions. There are various types, usually coming down to performance-related specifics and a few physical differences in jacketing and connectors. You will also find equipment that is relevant infrastructure, supporting the functions of the cables.
Among these things are patch cables. These are flexible tools that fulfill a few key roles when you lay out the networks or other systems that run on the cables. However, sometimes it can be a little difficult to figure out where to use a fiber patch cable. What areas require or might rely on the use of optical fiber patches?
Where Are Fiber Optics Used?
First, let’s poke around and find what sorts of industries where optical fibers might see use. The most likely places where you’re going to see fiber optics are in networking systems. Internet connections that use fiber optics grant greater speed and reliability, opening up better and faster access to consumers, businesses, and even industrial locations. However, this is not the only place.
Originally, fiber optic cables were used for long-distance communications functions. The reduced need for infrastructure as support, along with the reliability and resistance to interference, has made them invaluable for international telecommunications.
Other areas where it sees use include medical imaging, various fields of engineering, building inspections, and even some military applications. In other words, you’ll find them in a lot of places where their speed and reliability of transmission comes in handy.
What Do Patch Cables Do?
An OTS patch cable is something meant to connect two devices into a network, typically two different types of device. For instance, you might use a patch cable to link a desktop and a smartphone. Fiber patch cords are used to connect components with the appropriate connectors, usually acting as a replacement for older copper variants. This is made possible by adopting the same RJ45 connectors that you’ll usually see in most copper patch cables.
Different Types of Fiber Patches
There are multiple types of fiber patch cables, covering a number of potential situations. You’ll see them as simplex or duplex, some are single while others as multimode, and connectors can vary too. STST, SCSC, and STSC are the three most likely, basically indicating what types of ports these patch cables can be plugged into. In other words, there is a great deal of flexibility and getting the right one is important.
Single-mode and multimode are both used in various contexts. Single-mode patches are typically seen in anything that requires high-capacity data and voice transmission. In other words, you’ll get them in things like telephone transmissions and gigabit networking over long distances. In terms of physical design, both ends will have connectors and 9/125 micron fibers.
For multimode, the uses are often more computer and data focused. These will get deployed in things like local networks, wide area networking infrastructure, and more. There are subtle nuances that make them more useful for data-related functions. They are also given polished ceramic connectors, giving better durability and precision of transfer. The ends also come in more types, including MT-RJ, MU, and E2000.
The cables are usually marked by color for ease of identification. Black, gray, and orange are multimode. Single cables get yellow. These days, you might also see connectors that are beige for multimode cables, while blue is used for single ones.
ST Connector Cables
Cables that use ST connectors on both ends are designed to provide unlimited bandwidth, along with consistently delivering this over longer distances than copper cords. They are faster, more robust, and more effective than the more typical twisted-pair cables. These are used in anything that requires such speed and performance. These include things like patch panels, switches and routers, network hubs, and media converters.
Barring rare circumstances, a fiber patch cable can be used without much issue. They are built to be compatible with the standard optical fiber connectors and equipment out there. The best products will use ceramics as material for connectors. This material allows for greater reliability, but it also has two other advantages. The first is a lower loss and degradation of signal, while the second is immunity from interference caused by electrical current or electromagnetic fields.
There are also variations of these cables that are used in industrial contexts. The primary differences are connectors and jacketing.
These differences are related not to performance, but to the ability of the cable to withstand harsh conditions they might encounter on the factory floor. The connectors used are more stable, with more precautions built in to prevent accidental removal. The jacketing will vary, with some designed to withstand increased vibration on the floor or temperature extremes.
Fiber patch cables are a useful part of the infrastructure enabled by optical fiber technology. These allow for greater flexibility and connections, adding functions and devices that can make use of high-speed transmission. Understanding where these can see use can help you better see when you might need these for your projects