Fiber optic patch cords are widely used in applications such as telecom and datacom. With numerous businesses and enterprises reaping huge benefits, fiber optic patch cords represent the most plentiful and ubiquitous bandwidth feeders. As these multi-gigabit networks increase, the quest for capacity and speed further drives the deployment of fiber optic patch cords. How do we make a practical choice in the face of various types of fiber patch cables on the market? It is helpful to have a basic understanding of fiber patch cables.
What is a Fiber Optic Patch Cord?
Fiber optic patch cords refer to fiber optic cables with connectors at both ends and a thick protective layer. It is mainly used in applications such as optical fiber communication systems, optical fiber access networks, optical fiber data transmission networks, and local area networks. It can be used in a cable TV network, communication networks, computer optical fiber networks, and optical test equipment.
The fiber patch cord is the cable used to connect network devices. In simple terms, it’s a small cable that connects two devices and brings them together through their various ports, allowing them to exchange data.
It mainly consists of two parts Optical Cable and Connector Kit (Housing and Ferrule)
The optical fiber cable and the cable are the same, the difference is located in the fiber patch cord without the network shielding layer, and the center is the optical fiber glass core. The glass envelope surrounds the core, followed by a thin plastic jacket on the outside.
The main components of conventional indoor optical cables are Optical Fiber, Kevlar, and Cable Sheath.
Optical fiber is divided into three layers: central high refractive index glass core (core diameter typically 9, 50, or 62.5um). The middle is a low refractive index silica glass cladding (generally 125um in diameter), and the outermost is a reinforced resin coating.
Single Mode (SM) Fiber or Multimode (MM) Fiber
Single-mode fiber (SM): Single-mode fiber only supports one mode of a light signal. It is usually used to transfer high-speed data with low attenuation over a long distance. Single-mode fiber can often be divided into two types: OS1 and OS2.
Multimode fiber (MM): Multimode fiber allows multiple modes of light to travel through the fiber core, and it is more suitable for short-distance transmission within the building or office. Multimode fiber can be classified into OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, and OM5. You can choose the correct one according to your need.
The biggest difference between single-mode and multi-mode fiber is the core diameter. The core length of the single-mode fiber core is about 9 µm, and the core length of the multi-mode fiber core is about 50 µm or 62.5 µm. The fiber core of OM1 is 62.5 µm, and the fiber core of OM2, OM3, OM4, and OM5 is 50 µm, which can also be distinguished by jacket color.
Kevlar Yarn is a heat-resistant para-aramid synthetic fiber with a molecular structure of many inter-chain bonds that make Kevlar incredibly strong. Kevlar Yarn Spools Color Sample Kit. Versatile, resilient, and five times more potent than steel on an equal weight basis, Kevlar fiber helps provide strength and protection in diverse applications such as military apparel, firefighter turnout gear, and cut- & heat-resistant gloves.
Cable Color for SM and MM Fiber Optic Cable
Single-mode Fiber (OS1 & OS2): Single-mode fiber adopts 9/125 µm bulk single-mode fiber optic cable with single-mode fiber optic connectors at both ends. The jacket color of single-mode fiber optic cable is usually yellow.
Multi-mode (OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, OM5)
OM1: Usually, the orange jacket, according to industry color-coding standards, can support 10Gb Ethernet lengths up to 33 meters (110 ft). This type usually uses LED light sources.
OM2: Able to carry 10Gb Ethernet up to 82 meters (270 ft) on an LED light source. It can be found in orange jackets.
OM3: Supports 10Gb Ethernet up to 300m in length. OM3 cables are designed to optimize laser transmission, rather than LED lights, to help support 10Gb, 40Gb, and 100Gb Ethernet up to 75m. The OM3 cable features an aqua-green jacket.
OM4: Sharing the same aqua jacket as OM3, OM4 also supports laser transmission beyond 150 meters and can carry 10Gb Ethernet to distances up to 550 meters. OM4 can still transmit 100Gb up to 100 meters for higher bandwidth applications. Some versions of OM4 cables have a magenta jacket. OM4 fiber is often referred to as “laser-optimized.”
OM5: The latest iteration of the MM cable, OM5 packs some muscle that can carry high bandwidth for short to medium distances. OM5 differs from other products because it can achieve high bandwidth over short distances using fewer cables. Traditionally, 400Gb Ethernet was implemented using 16 transmit and receive cables, but with OM5 cables, you can achieve this with just four send and receive cables. It always wears a lime-green jacket.
Jacket Material (PVC, LSZH, OFNP)
There are different jackets for fiber optic patch cords, including PVC, LSZH, OFNP, etc. fiber optic patch cords covered with PVC sheaths are widely used in wiring systems. LSZH fiber optic patch cords are more rigid due to containing flame-retardant materials. This type of fiber optic patch cord has low smoke and low toxicity. OFNP fiber optic patch cords are the cable with the highest fire rating. PVC fiber optic patch cords are recommended for indoor use; LSZH cables are more suitable for public applications, and OFNP cables are used for installation in ducts and plenums.
Fiber Count: Simplex and Duplex
Simplex: Simplex has only one fiber optic cable and one fiber optic connector at each end. It only allows data to be transmitted in one direction, which is irreversible. Simplex is typically used inside buildings for Ethernet switches or other devices.
Duplex: Duplex has two strands of fiber optic cable and two fiber optic connectors at each end for sending and receiving data. Duplex is often used to connect high-speed network equipment, such as server systems and fiber optic switches.
Connector on the Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Fiber optic patch cords can be divided into FC, ST, SC, LC, MU, E2000, MTRJ, SMA, MPO/MTP, etc., according to the connector classification. The following is a detailed introduction to commonly used fiber optic patch cords:
- FC Connector: FC Connectors are one of the single-mode network’s most common connection devices. The external reinforcement method is a metal sleeve, and the fastening way is a turnbuckle. It is standard on the ODF side (the most common on the distribution frame). FC connectors are generally used in telecommunications networks. The advantage is that it is reliable and dustproof. The downside is that it takes a little longer to install.
- SC connector: SC connectors stand for square or user connectors with 2.5mm ferrule. It is widely used because of its low cost and easy installation. SC is commonly used in PON (Passive Optical Networks) and converters. Its shell is rectangular, and its fastening method is plug-in. Unlike ST/FC, it doesn’t require rotation.
- LC connector: LC connectors are usually connected to SFP optical modules. This connector is similar to but smaller than an SC connector. The pin and sleeve size is 1.25mm, half of ordinary SC and FC. The fastening method is a socket latch. Its advantage is that it has good performance and can increase the density of optical fiber connectors in the optical fiber distribution frame to a certain extent.
- ST connector: ST connectors are the most common connection devices in multimode networks and the most common connector type in Base10 fiber optic connections. They are commonly used in fiber distribution frames. The shell is round, the fastening method is a turnbuckle, the core wire is exposed, and it needs to be inserted first and then rotated half a circle to fix the bayonet.
- MPO/MTP connector: MPO/MTP connectors are very popular now. Its multi-fiber connection function is widely used in 12-24 fibers high-density network cabling and commonly used in fiber optic line environments requiring high-density wiring integration. Its advantage is that it uses a simple push-pull locking structure, which is easy to install and remove, saves time and cost, and maximizes service life.
- MU Connector (Miniature Unit): MU Connector looks like a miniature SC with a 1.25mm ferrule. It also has the same push-pull motion, but it can fit two channels in the same footprint of a single SC. It is often used in high-speed data communications, voice networks, telecommunications, and DWDM(wavelength division multiplexing).
- MTRJ Connector (Mechanical Transfer Register Jack): MTRJ Connector was considered the FTTD (Fiber To The Desk) connector for some time, which has two fibers and is just as small as an RJ45 connector. And it uses a 2.45×4.4mm ferrule. The MTRJ connector is suitable for telecommunications and data network systems indoor applications.
- SMA Connector: SMA connector for fiber optic has two types: SMA905 and SMA906, they can be used with ceramic ferrule or stainless-steel ferrule types. The SMA-905 is a non-contact connector commonly used in medical, industrial, and military applications. The stepped ferrule design allows alignment sleeves when two SMA906 are mated together, so the connection has low insertion loss. The SMA 905 doesn’t have an alignment sleeve, so the insertion loss of the SMA905 is higher than the SMA906 type.
- E2000 connector: E2000 connectors are increasingly used in the communication field because of their excellent performance. They are one of the few fiber optic connectors featuring a spring-loaded shutter that fully protects the ferrule from dust and scratches. The shutter closes automatically when the connector is disengaged, locking out impurities that could later lead to network failure and locking in potentially harmful laser beams.
A Small Tip: Both ends of the fiber optic patch cords can have the same or different fiber optic connectors. For example, there are LC to LC fiber optic patch cords, SC to SC fiber optic patch cords, and LC to FC cables. Whether you use fiber optic patch cords with two different fiber optic connectors or the same connector depends on your equipment. For example, if the ports of the devices are the same, you need to choose fiber optic patch cords with the same connectors.
Ferrules are designed and polished into different shapes to minimize back reflections. This is especially important in single-mode applications. Typical back reflection levels are -30dB, -40dB, -50dB, and -60 dB. Details are as follows:
PC (Physical Contact):
Typical back reflection <-40dB for single-mode and multi-mode applications.
UPC (Ultra Physical Contact):
Typical back reflection <-50dB for single-mode applications.
APC (Angled Physical Contact):
Typical back reflection <-60dB for single-mode applications.
The inner diameter of the single-mode ferrule is divided into 125, 125.5, and 126; the tolerance is plus or minus 1um. The inner diameter of the multimode ferrule is divided into 126, 127, and 128, and the tolerance is plus or minus 3um.
Types of the Common Fiber Optic Patch Cords
ST to ST Patch Cord
ST Patch Cord feature OFNR (riser-rated) jacket and ST-type connectors. Ceramic ferrules provide precise alignment; Stringent functional testing ensures optimal cable performance; Used to connect patch panels and network devices that utilize ST style connectors and require 9/125 Singlemode cabling; Connectors utilize a PC polish; OFNR (Riser rated) jacket complies with stringent building codes.
FC to FC Patch Cord
FC Patch Cord is a multi-mode or single-mode fiber optic cable with connectors on both ends for rapidly and conveniently conjoined to CATV, optical switches, or other telecommunications equipment. Its thick security layer facilitates the connection of optical transmitters, receivers, and terminal boxes.
LC to LC Patch Cord
LC Patch Cords are essential to data center and network deployments, providing the necessary connections between fiber optic devices. LC cable assemblies provide an easy solution for installing and maintaining fiber optic cables in high-density applications. Using LC patch cords is easy to change or rearrange your wiring without reconfiguring the entire system. The two ends of the LC fiber optic patch cords are identical in appearance, and the direction of the fiber optic cable can only distinguish it.
SC to SC Patch Cord
SC Patch Cords are used to connect networking devices for signal routing. SC is short for Standard Connector or Subscriber Connector, one of the most popular fiber optic cable connectors used in network industries. SC patch cables can be used for connecting devices in Datacom and telecom; in GPON, EPON, GBIC, and MADI applications.
SC to LC Patch Cord
SC to LC Patch Cord: Standard Cable (SC) to Low Profile Cable (LPC) is a conversion from a larger type of connector to a smaller type, connecting a device with a small connector (SC) to a device with a larger size connector (LC ). It can connect any device with a single-mode fiber optic connector to a multi-mode connection. SC connectors are generally suitable for the transmitting end of the line, while LC connectors are suitable for the receiving end. As the name implies, LC connectors have a smaller profile than SC and are typically used in high-density applications such as data centers and telecom.
SC to FC Patch Cord
SC to FC Patch Cord is the cable with the connector on one end and a connector on the other. The connectors are designed for fiber optic cables. These cables provide the connection between transceivers and fiber optic equipment. They consist of a thin plastic sheath over a single glass or plastic fiber core. The connector at the end of each cable usually has a molded boot and thumbscrew for protection. They can also connect two transceivers. These cables are compatible with single-mode and multi-mode specifications by having an SC connector and an FC at one end. The connectors (SC, ST, LC) are on the other end.
The above are the types of standard fiber optic patch cords. Of course, fiber optic patch cords are constantly evolving to keep up with ever-increasing bandwidth demands. Some specially designed fiber optic patch cords have emerged to meet different application requirements.
Particular Types of Fiber Patch Cords
1. MTP/MPO Fiber Optic Patch Cords
MPO/MTP Fiber Patch Cords mainly includes three styles: MPO/MTP Trunk Cable, MPO/MTP Breakout Patch Cable, and MPO/MTP Ribbon (Fan-out) Cable.
MPO/MTP Trunk (Harness) Cable
MPO/MTP Trunk Cable is a multi-fiber cable assembled with MPO/MTP connector at either end. It is widely used in the data center, central office, and other high-density applications at both single-mode and multi-mode wavelengths. MTP/MPO fiber optic patch cords are commonly used in fiber optic line environments requiring high-density wiring integration. Its advantage is that it adopts a simple push-pull locking structure, which is convenient for installation and disassembly, saves time and cost, and maximizes service life.
MTP/MPO Breakout Patch Cords
MPO Breakout Patch Cords are designed for high-density connections between 40GBASE-SR4 network devices. It is directly cross-connected from structured cabling to active transceivers through the MPO interface. Multimode OM1 62.5/125, OM2 50/125, OM3 50/125, OM4 50/125, and Singlemode OS1 9/125 options are available in 8, 12, 24, and 48 fibers…. fanout cables. It is manufactured under rigorous testing procedures to ensure optimum performance. Its applications are the connection of trunk lines, switching between trunk lines and distribution lines, highly integrated equipment and devices, and high-density cable wiring systems.
MTP/MPO Ribbon (Fan-out) Patch Cords
MTP/MPO Ribbon Patch Cords are ideal for making connections within rack-mounted or wall-mounted fiber enclosures that utilize single fiber connectors. These fan-outs are available in 6, 8, 12, and 24 fiber counts, with the option of .9mm or 0.25mm jacket diameters.
2. Armored Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Armored Fiber Optic Patch Cords retain all the characteristics of ordinary fiber optic patch cords. The main difference between armored fiber optic patch cords and ordinary fiber optic patch cords is that armored fiber optic patch cords are designed with stainless steel armored tubes inside the sheath and outside the fiber, as shown in Figure 4. This design makes the armored fiber optic patch cord strong enough to be rat-proof and resists being stepped on by adults. Strong as it is, the armored fiber optic patch cords are as flexible as standard fiber optic patch cords and can be bent randomly.
3. Waterproof Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Waterproof Fiber Optic Patch Cords for CPRI applications are widely used in 4G, 5G, WIMAX base stations, Long Term Evolution (LTE), and remote radio units to FTTA connections. HOLIGHT‘s waterproof patch cord with IP-67-rated compact RRH/RRU Helix cover connectors that have fast coupling. These patch cords are always sealed with rugged fiber terminal junction boxes that meet the requirements of antennas on wireless towers.
The development of distributed antenna systems (DAS), ODVA, FullAXS LC, Optitap, Mini, and PDLC connectors have become the standard interface for the new generation wireless base station linked to the FTTA equipment that set up the outdoor environments.
4. Mode Conditioning Fiber Optic Patch Cords
These special fiber optic patch cords are duplex multimode patch cables with a small length of single-mode fiber at the start of the transmission length. It is designed to solve the technical issue of using single-mode equipment on the existing multimode cable plant. Mode conditioning fiber optic patch cords aim to drive the distance of the installed fiber plant beyond its original intended applications and improve data signal quality.
5. Multi-Core Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Pre-terminated Multi-Core Fiber Optic Patch Cords are becoming more popular for fiber installation projects. It is an efficient and economical solution rather than on-site termination or splicing. Just lay the cable and do patching. It features 4 to 144 cores; 0.9mm, 2.0mm, and 3.0mm fan out available; Easy to use, easy to install and maintain; Environmentally stable. It has a wide range of applications: Premise installations; Optical access networks; Data processing networks; FTTH, LAN, CATV, and Test equipment.
6. Uniboot Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Uniboot Fiber Optic Patch Cords are terminated with specially designed LC uniboot connectors, integrating two optical fibers in one cable to provide additional advantages in high-density cabling environments. It reduces the number of cables by up to 50% compared to standard LC cables and is best suited where space is limited, which is its main advantage.
Uniboot Fiber Optic Patch Cords can be divided into Standard, Switchable, and Push-Pull Tab Types.
Standard LC Uniboot Fiber Optic Patch Cords
This is the earliest Uniboot fiber optic patch cord style, designed to switch the polarity of the fiber by simply manipulating the connector by switching the A and B positions in the connector for each fiber. Rotate the connectors 180°to swap positions. And provide OM3, OM4, OM5, 0S1 / OS2 (ITU-T G.652D or G.657A1) or ITU-T G.657A2 fiber type; Available in LSZH, Plenum and Riser rated fiber diameters of 2.4mm or 3mm; Features enhanced or low-loss advanced optical performance; Cost-effective; Protects correct network polarity.
Switchable Uniboot Fiber Optic Patch Cords
There is a Uniboot fiber optic patch cord type called Switchable uniboot fiber optic patch cords, which is designed to switch the polarity of the fiber by simply manipulating the connector without special tools. The Switchable LC Uniboot fiber patch cord is more flexible than the Standard Uniboot fiber patch cord. It not only absorbs the advantages of the Standard Uniboot fiber patch cord but also innovatively sets the two plugs of the fiber optic connector into a mutually interchangeable design to avoid fiber Problems such as the need to re-cable when the jumper performs polarity conversion. This design avoids potential problems caused by re-terminating the connector due to more efficient cable management.
- Pull Push Tab LC Uniboot Connector
Low-profile housing design, it’s easy access to connectors in high-density environments.
7. ODC Fiber Optic Patch Cords
ODC Fiber Optic Patch Cords are used outdoors, suitable for different environments and larger temperature ranges, usually for FTTA. ODC connectors are next-generation for wireless base station applications, including WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, CDMA200, Wi-MAX, and GSM. ODC offers the highest reliability and operational safety. The rugged design provides the highest mechanical and thermal robustness, keeping the cable functional even under shock, strong vibration, or accidental misuse.
8. Automatic SC/APC Shutter Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Automatic Shutter SC/APC Fiber Optic Patch Cords are ideal for internal fiber optic networks with sophisticated dust and laser protection mechanisms. It is easy to plug and unplug. When the connector is plugged into or pulled out of the adapter, the shading plates on the connector and the adapter can be opened and closed automatically to avoid dust or other pollution and eliminate potential safety hazards caused by laser contact.
9. FTTA Patch Cords (GYFJH)
FTTA Patch Cord (GYFJH) is a standard size for Duplex LC Connectors, widely used in FTTA, Base stations, and outdoor waterproof conditions. We supply FTTA (Fiber to the Antenna), DLC (Dual LC Connector), and SM GYFJH 2G.657A patch cords for TD-SCDMA, WCDMA, CDMA2000, WiMAX, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G Base Station BBU-RRU outdoor. These products are suitable for CPRI application. In an FTTA configuration, a baseband unit (BBU) situated near the bottom of the tower is connected via a fiber optic feeder. It runs to a remote radio head (RRH) positioned near the antennas at the top of the building. The RRH converts the digital signals to analog, and the short span between the RRH and the antenna is still completed using traditional coax cabling.
10. LX.5 Fiber Optic Patch Cords
LX.5 Fiber Optic Patch Cords are The industry’s most reliable miniature fiber optic connectors. Easily double capacity with LX.5. The LX.5 doubles the density of fiber termination equipment by allowing two fibers instead of one to fit into a standard SC adapter footprint. LX.5 was developed with carrier-grade reliability to ensure network integrity. Available in simplex or duplex configurations, the LX.5 maintains single circuit access and integrates safety shutters on the connector and adapter body to protect against dust, dirt, and ferrule end-face treatment damage. The connector also features a latch mechanism that effectively releases the connector from the adapter. Its user-friendly and intuitive design prevents cables from getting caught on the back of the connector.
11. SMA High Power Patch Cord
SMA High Power Patch Cord is the special fiber patch cord, and It uses the SMA connector; the ferrule of this connector is made of ceramic or metal. SMA fiber optic connectors are divided into two types in structure: SMA (with an aramid crimp ring) and HPSMA (without an aramid crimp ring). The ferrule end face of the HPSMA fiber optic connector is divided into grooved and non-grooved. Its boot can choose 2.0mm,3.0mm, or metal customized boot. SMA fiber patch cords which are high quality with both multimode fibers and single-mode have a metal ferrule design that is ideally suited for large core fibers ranging from Ø125 µm to Ø1100 µm. SMA Fiber Optic Patch Cord Suitable for cable OD:2.0mm, 3.0mm. They are armored or unarmored.
12. D80 High Power Patch Cord
The end face precision is grinding large core high power fiber, high precision D80 connector with air gap and sapphire protection. The implementation of 600W fiber laser power transmission efficiency can reach more than 90% and stability power. The connector can be used inside the ring protection process without the gluing process, further increasing the energy dissipation effect and service life of the fiber, meeting the laser welding, cutting, and other high-power transmission needs.
13. Drop Fiber Optic Patch Cord
FTTH drop cable patch cord, with a connector pre-terminated at each end to make a connection that allows rapidly and conveniently plugging the cable into the optical transmitter, receiver, PON boxes, and other telecommunication equipment during FTTH network constructions. It will decrease the loss of the optical distribution network and the installation time in FTTX projects. And used to achieve optical active connection, it can also be made into a single-head pigtail, and Flexible Splice, Quick connect, and other products combined applications. For FTTH project corridor boxes, drop cable distribution boxes, FTTH fiber boxes, and other installation forms.
Fiber Pigtail vs. Fiber Optic Patch Cords
As you already know, the fiber optic patch cord is a fiber optic cable with two fiber optic connectors at each end. But do you know what the fiber optic pigtail looks like? The fiber pigtail features the fiber optic connector on one end and the unterminated optic fiber cable on the other.
Uses of Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Fiber optic patch cords have many uses in almost every industry. Some of the benefits are:
- Fiber optic patch cords help connect network devices with serial connections and allow easy changes to network layouts without punch blocks or patch panels.
- Fiber optic patch cords connect computer systems, monitors, printers, and data storage devices to networks.
- They’re also valuable for connecting audio equipment like speakers, microphones, and mixers.
- Fiber optic patch cords are often helpful when replacing them and are more convenient or less expensive than repairing damaged connectors on equipment.
Precautions for the Use of Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Notes on the use of fiber optic patch cords: (including single-mode fiber optic patch cords and multimode fiber optic patch cords):
- Optical transceiver modules wavelength matching: Optical transceiver modules wavelength matching at both ends of the fiber optic patch cords. The most common differentiation technique is to compare the color of the fiber optic patch cords.
- Unless stated otherwise. Orange multimode fiber is used in the short-wave optical module. Yellow single-mode fiber is used in the long-wave module. This is a common misconception because it depends on the manufacturer’s configuration. This is done to ensure data transfer correctness.
- Since fiber optic patch cords are made of sensitive materials, they should not be bent or wrapped excessively during use. Pay attention to the protective cover, even if it is present. It is not only easy to destroy but will also enhance the amount of light transmitted. Attenuation is a term used to describe reducing the intensity of.
- Fiber optic patch cords protection: The optical fiber coupling will be damaged if it is not dust- and oil-proof after it has been connected.
Price of Fiber Optic Patch Cords
Fiber optic patch cords are cables that are quite affordable compared to other devices. The price range of patch cords depends upon the type of patch cord you want to purchase. HOLIGHT’s average cost of a patch cord is around 0.5 USD to 2 USD, depending upon the type of patch cord and quality demand.
Fiber optic patch cords have helped many achieve greater bandwidth and faster speeds, and the benefits are spreading to structures of all kinds. Through the above introduction to the types of fiber optic patch cords and their applications, you can understand more details about them. The parameters of standard fiber optic patch cords, such as cable mode and connector type, are essential. If your wiring environment has higher requirements, the special fiber optic patch cords will meet your needs. When you find it hard to decide, seeking help from HOLIGHT is always the best choice to avoid loss.