Ribbon Cable – the Cable Suitable for the Highest Fiber Packing Density

Ribbon Fiber Cable has recently emerged as a primary cable choice for deployment in campus, building, and data-center backbone applications, as they provide the highest fiber density relative to cable size, maximize utilization of pathway and spaces and facilitate ease of termination.

Figure 1: Ribbon Cable in Data Center Backbone

What is Ribbon Fiber Cable

Ribbon Fiber Cable is just another type of fiber optic cables. It looks like a ribbon so that we usually call it ribbon fiber cable. A ribbon fiber cable consists of a lot of bare fibers which are lined up side-by-side in parallel, color coded and is coated with a thin tape or film. The key feature of ribbon cable is its higher fiber density. This is very important for the upstream applications which require high fiber-count cables.

Ribbon cable offers robust performance equivalent to the stranded loose tube cable. It provides the maximum fiber density relative to cable diameter when compared to stranded loose tube designs. The cable design characteristically consists of 12 to 216 fibers organized inside a central tube.

Types of Ribbon Fiber Cable

We know that ribbon fiber cable consists of a lot of bare fibers which are lined up side-by-side in parallel. By the shape of it outside apperance, it can be divided to flat ribbon cable and round ribbon cable. The only difference between round ribbon cable and flat ribbon cable is the shape. The parallel bare fibers are lined in the same way in both the two types of ribbon cables.

Figure 5: Round Ribbon Cable flat  optic ribbon cable

By the type of fiber, the ribbon cables can be classified as singlemode and multimode. There are also flame-retardant and non-flam-retardant outjacket of them. A non-flame-retardant jacket material is typically used in outside plant applications. Specially formulated flame-retardant outer jackets are used for indoor applications.

Ribbon Optical Cable Termination

For many years, designers and installers have been reluctant to specify ribbon optical cable in the Local-Area-Network(LAN) and data center because 12-fiber ribbon field terminations were limited. With the introduction of innovations such as ribbon splitting tools, ribbon furcation kits and field-installable 12-fiber array connectors, 12-fiber ribbons are easily terminated with simplex and duplex connectors such as LC or SC connectors or with the MTP Connector. The MTP Connector is a 12-fiber push/pull optical connector with a foot-print similar to the SC simplex connector. These high-density connectors are used to significantly accelerate the network cabling process, minimize errors and reduce congestion in patch panels.

What’s more, in a ribbon cable, each wire in the cable is used to connect two corresponding connectors. It is very important, then, that the correct wire attach to each end. Manufactures have introduced a color coding system to simplify this process, and help prevent connecting the wrong connectors. The wire is colored differently so that they can be easily identified.

Advantages of Ribbon Fiber Cables

  • The first advantage of ribbon cable is maximizing utilization of pathway and spaces, especially in campus and data center backbones where space is a premium. Ribbon cables offer up to 45 percent space savings and three times the fiber tray capacity over traditional bulkier cable solutions while minimizing cable tray weight.
  • The second advantage of ribbon cable is saving money and time. A ribbon fiber cable allows 12 fibers to be spliced together at one time so that it reduces labor time and saving money. Moreover, restoration time is much quicker with a ribbon fiber cable when a cable cut occur.
  • Except the advantages above, ribbon fiber cable can be usually spliced to a loose tube cable. It is a common practice to take 12 loose fibers and build a ribbon for mass fusion splicing. It is also a common practice to remove the over coating from a ribbon and splice single fibers together.

Ribbon fiber cable is now being deployed in areas where stranded loose tube  have historically been used. The cable offers the highest fiber packing density to maximize pathway and space utilization in ducts and raceways as well as patch panels. Preterminated or field-terminated ribbon cable is now easily obtained using traditional simplex or duplex connectors as well as MTP Connectors.

Marketing: Fiberstore supplies ribbon fiber cables which can be widely used in Local Area Network (LAN) campus and building backbones as well as datacenter backbones. For more information about ribbon cables, please log in Fiberstore’s website.