Field or Pre-terminated Fiber Optic Cable: Which is the best?
Field Terminated and Pre-terminated Fiber Optic Cable assemblies are two of the options available. With the ever-increasing growth in optical fiber cables, connectors, and deployment strategy options, IT managers are finding it difficult to choose the best method of termination for their network. They need to ensure rapid deployment, high performance, reduced cost, and scalability for growth. While there are several types of connector types available, only two types of termination are available to choose from.
In Fiber Optic cabling assembly, termination is referred to as the addition of fiber optic connectors to each fiber. It is a fiber connection to a wall outlet or equipment that allows connecting the cable to other devices or cables. The purpose of termination is to enable the cross-connection of the fiber cable and distribution of the signal. Proper termination prevents signal loss and protects the fiber from damage due to dust, making the network smoother and efficient.
When choosing fiber optic cable, IT managers also have to choose between pre-terminated and field terminated fiber cable assemblies along with the types of connectors, fiber, and jacket.
Here is a comparison between Field-terminated vs. Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cable to decide which is better among the two.
Field Terminated Fiber Optic Cable Assemblies defined
Field termination is referred to the process of termination of the fiber cable in the field or after the cable is installed. During the field termination, the fiber cables need to be pulled between two points, and the connector is attached. This connector is then connected to the patch panel. Before attaching to the panel, connectors are attached to each strand. With this type of termination, the technician can run the cable of the desired length and then clip it to apply the termination in the field using the right equipment.
For terminating a cable, several procedures are required to be performed, including stripping the cable, preparing epoxy, applying connectors, polishing, and testing.
- Length Precisions and Flexibility: As the termination is done at the time of installation, the cables can be cut according to the requirements, providing flexibility and precision and avoiding any wastage.
- Easy Cable Pulling: With field terminated fiber cable, bulk cables can be pulled easily from each end.
- High Labor Cost: Installation of field terminated fiber cable involves high cost, as the termination requires expertise, quality equipment, and several steps. Tools and consumables like epoxy, cable installation, testing tools, and polishing products are required to terminate the cable on site.
- Quality Termination Issue: The quality of the termination depends on the skill and experience of the technician. If the quality fails, reworking will be required, which further increases the cost involved in the installation.
Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cable Assemblies Defined
Factory terminated or Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables are the fiber optic cables terminated with connectors while manufacturing. Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables involve the same procedure as field terminated cables, but the termination process is performed at the manufacturer’s facility. These cables are mainly used for fiber patch cables, pre-terminated enclosures, and cassettes, as these cables provide high consistency, performance, and end-to-end attenuation in the network.
Moreover, these cables also reduce the cumbersome processes involved in installations, requiring lesser time and expertise to install in the network.
- Higher Performance: The Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables manufactured in the industry processes provide superior performance. Quality connectors with high precision termination provide lower insertion loss and better attenuation in the network.
- Saves Time and Cost: As these cables are ready to install, no termination preparation is required, which means that installation doesn’t need a termination tool kit, skillset, and specialized testers. All this helps reduce the installation cost. Moreover, the installation time is also reduced as these cables don’t require termination at the field level.
- Precise measurements required: To use Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables, the exact measurement of the length is required. To avoid extra cable lengths, the technician needs to calculate exact measurements and plan accordingly to avoid extra cabling.
- Difficult to Install in some situations: A factory terminated fiber optic cable may not run easily through the cable tracks. Although the cables are available with pulling-eye, bulky connectors may clasp in the cable paths.
When to use Field Terminated vs. Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables
Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables are of higher quality and provide better performance compared to field terminated fiber optic cables. However, cable track and sizing limitations limit the application of these cables. The best application for pre-terminated cables is in a smaller data transmission area.
Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cables can be best suited for using shorter cables with pre-determined lengths. For applications where the exact length can be measured easily, the termination process on the field can be avoided to ease the installation.
For applications where the fiber optic cables are run over a very long distance or through tracks that cannot be easily measured, field terminated fiber cables can be the best fit. Field terminated cables provide usage flexibility to the technicians. While a measuring cable can be used to find the length of the cable required in the network, it cannot always be reliable due to the complexity of the environment.
A hybrid type of fiber optic cable can also be a great option as it has one pre-terminated end and one end available for field termination. This way, at least one end of the cable can get a perfectly terminated end while benefiting from the flexibility provided by the field terminated cables. The free end or end without a connector can be used for installing in various applications.
When installing a fiber optic cable in a network, the choice of termination type will determine the cost and time it will take for installing the cable to get the optimum signal quality while translating from light to electrical signals and back. From the comparison between Field-terminated vs. Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cable, it can be concluded that both the types of termination have own pros and cons, so choose the type that perfectly suits your requirements.