What is the most time consuming work in building a fiber network
Two works are usually the largest line items in an fiber optic network installation budget: pulling the fiber optic cables and terminating or splicing the cables.
When pulling the fiber cables, you must observe the minimum bending radius of the cable, prepare the cable ends with a pulling eye kit, and filling the conduit with lubricant to minimize the damage risk to the cables.
That is not all, terminating the fiber optic cables can be a daunting task if you are installing a large fiber network. The time required to terminate different fiber cables can vary widely. Hence, the choice of fiber cables is a critical decision in reducing your cost.
Loose tube gel-filled versus tight buffered fiber optic cable
The choice of the cable type is one of the biggest cost drivers in cable termination. There are two fiber optical switch basic cable types used in system installations:
1. Loose tube gel-filled cable
2. Tight buffered fiber optic breakout cables
Loose tube fiber cables
Traditionally, loose tube fiber optic cable has been used for outdoor long-haul links. Due to the fragile bare fibers and gel filling, which must be cleaned prior to termination, loose tube gel-filled cable is the most difficult to splice and terminate and also has the highest termination material costs.
Loose tube fiber cable type must normally be terminated or spliced close to the cable entryway of a building to switch to indoor-style cable, as it is generally incompatible with indoor fire (flammability) codes.
Tight buffered fiber optic breakout cables
Tight buffered cables require less care to avoid damaging fibers when stripping back the cable. Each fiber is protected with its own 900 µm diameter buffer structure, which is nearly four times the diameter and six times the thickness of the 250 µm coating.
This construction feature contributes to the excellent moisture and temperature performance of the tight-buffered indoor/outdoor cables and also permits their direct termination with connectors.
Tight buffered breakout fiber optic cable, has individual subcables within a primary outer cable sheath. This cable is the cable of choice for direct connectorization, as each fiber has its own aramid strength member for connector tie-off.
The connectorized subcables may be directly connected to equipment without fear of fiber damage or connector/fiber interface damage in most situations. Fiber optic breakout cable is by far the least expensive and easiest cable type to terminate and requires the least experience on the part of the installer.
Price comparison between two type of fiber cables
Cable prices are typically lower for breakout cables than for loose tube cables when fiber counts are fairly low. Loose tube gel-filled cables are lower in price for higher fiber counts. However, higher splicing and termination costs of loose-tube gel-filled cables over moderate-to-short lengths can far exceed the additional cost of tight-buffered cables.