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What Kind of Optical Fibers are Suitable for 5G Networks?

(Last Updated On: April 27, 2023)

Optical fibers are essential components in the deployment of 5G networks. They offer several advantages over traditional copper cabling, including higher data rates, longer transmission distances, and lower signal attenuation. However, not all optical fibers are created equal, and choosing the right type of fiber is crucial for ensuring that 5G networks operate at their full potential. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of optical fibers suitable for 5G networks and the factors that network operators should consider when choosing them.

First, let’s review the basics of optical fiber technology. Optical fibers consist of a core, a cladding, and a coating. The core is the central part of the fiber that carries the light signal, while the cladding is a layer of material that surrounds the core and helps to confine the light within it. The coating is an additional layer that provides protection and strength to the fiber.

The two main types of optical fibers are single-mode fiber (SMF) and multimode fiber (MMF). SMF has a smaller core diameter and only allows one mode of light to propagate, while MMF has a larger core diameter and allows multiple light modes to propagate. SMF is generally better for long-distance transmission, while MMF is better for short-distance transmission.

Now, let’s look at the different types of optical fibers suitable for 5G networks.

Standard Single-mode Fiber (SSMF)

2 Standard Single mode Fiber

SSMF is the most common type of optical fiber used in long-haul telecommunications networks. It has a small core diameter (typically 9 microns) and provides low signal attenuation and dispersion, which makes it ideal for high-speed data transmission over long distances. SSMF is compatible with a wide range of optical transceivers and performs excellently in 5G networks. However, it can be relatively expensive, and its deployment requires specialized installation techniques and equipment.

Non-zero Dispersion-shifted Fiber (NZDSF)

3 Non zero Dispersion shifted Fiber

NZDSF is a type of SMF that is optimized for high-speed transmission over long distances. It has a core diameter of 9 microns, like SSMF, but its dispersion profile is designed to reduce signal distortion caused by chromatic dispersion. Chromatic dispersion is a phenomenon that causes different wavelengths of light to travel at different speeds, leading to signal distortion and loss over long distances. NZDSF minimizes this effect, allowing for higher data rates over longer distances. NZDSF is an excellent choice for 5G networks that require high-speed data transmission over thousands of kilometers.

Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF)

4 Wideband Multimode Fiber

WBMMF is a relatively new type of optical fiber designed to support higher data rates over shorter distances. It has a large core diameter (typically 50 or 100 microns) and supports multiple modes of light propagation. WBMMF uses a new type of laser-optimized coating that minimizes modal dispersion, a type of distortion that occurs when multiple modes of light travel at different speeds. Modal dispersion limits the achievable data rates in MMF, but WBMMF can support data rates of up to 100 Gbps over distances of up to 150 meters. WBMMF is an excellent choice for 5G networks that require high-speed data transmission within buildings or small cell deployments.

Bend-insensitive Fiber (BIF)

5 Bend insensitive Fiber

BIF is a type of SMF or MMF that is designed to resist signal loss and distortion caused by bending or twisting of the fiber. Traditional optical fibers are sensitive to bending and twisting, which can cause signal attenuation and distortion. BIF uses a special coating and cladding design that allows it to maintain its optical properties even when bent or twisted. BIF is an excellent choice for 5G networks that require flexibility in their deployment, such as in small cell deployments, which may require the fiber to be routed around corners or obstacles. BIF can be either SMF or MMF, depending on the application.

Polarization-maintaining Fiber (PMF)

6 Polarization maintaining Fiber

PMF is a type of SMF designed to maintain the polarization of the light signal as it travels through the fiber. Polarization refers to the orientation of the light wave’s electric field, and maintaining polarization is important in certain applications, such as coherent detection in optical communications. PMF uses a specialized core design that maintains the polarization of the light signal, even when the fiber is subject to external stresses or temperature changes. PMF is an excellent choice for 5G networks that require high-performance optical communications, such as in remote radio head deployments.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Optical Fibers for 5G Networks

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Optical Fibers for 5G Networks

When choosing optical fibers for 5G networks, network operators should consider several factors, including the data rates, distance requirements, and network deployment flexibility. Here are some of the key factors to consider:

Data Rates: The data rates required by the 5G network will determine the most suitable fiber type. High-speed data transmission over long distances requires SMF, while high-speed data transmission over short distances can be achieved with MMF.

Distance Requirements: The distance the fiber needs to transmit the data will also influence the fiber choice. SSMF and NZDSF are suitable for long-distance transmission, while WBMMF is suitable for short-distance transmission.

Deployment Flexibility: The flexibility of the fiber is also an important consideration, particularly in small-cell deployments. BIF is a good choice for deployments that require the fiber to be bent or routed around obstacles.

Compatibility with Equipment: The optical transceivers used in the network must be compatible with the chosen fiber type. Network operators should consult with their equipment vendors to ensure that their fiber choice is compatible with their equipment.

Cost: The cost of fiber is another important consideration. SSMF is generally more expensive than MMF, and specialized fibers such as NZDSF and PMF can also be more expensive. Network operators should balance the fiber’s cost with their network’s performance requirements.


8 The development of new fiber technologies

In conclusion, optical fibers are critical components for 5G networks, and choosing the right fiber type is crucial for ensuring their success. As 5G networks continue to evolve and expand, network operators must leverage advanced fiber technologies to deliver high-speed, reliable, and low-latency data transmission to support emerging applications such as AR/VR, smart cities, and Industry 4.0.

The development of new fiber technologies such as multimode MIMO and few-mode fibers, as well as advancements in fiber manufacturing and testing, will continue to push the limits of what is possible with 5G networks. As such, network operators need to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in fiber technology and work closely with equipment vendors to design and deploy fiber infrastructure that can meet the increasing demands of 5G networks.

With the right choice of fiber and careful network planning, 5G networks have the potential to transform how we live, work, and communicate, enabling a new era of digital innovation and connectivity.

Please feel free to contact us at sales@holightoptic.com to get more information.

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