Optical networks require signal being splitted somewhere in design to serve for multiple customers. Splitter technology has made a huge step forward in the past few years by introducing PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitter. It has proven itself as a higher reliable type of device compared to the traditional FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitter. While being similar in size and outer appearance, both types of splitters provide data and video access for business and private customers. However, internally the technologies behind these types vary, thus giving service providers a possibility to choose a more appropriate solution.
FBT splitter is made out of materials that are easily available, for example steel, fiber, hot dorm and others. All of these materials are low-price, which determines the low cost of the device itself. The technology of the device manufacturing is relatively simple, which has the impact on its price as well. In scenario where multiple splits are needed, the size of the device may become an issue. It is important to keep in mind that splitters are being deployed in the fields either in cabinets or in strand mountings, so the size of device plays a critical role. FBT splitters only support three wavelengths (850/1310/1550 nm) which makes these devices unable to operate on other wavelengths. Inability of adjusting wavelengths makes FBT splitters less customizable for different purposes. Moreover, the devices are to a high extent temperature sensitive, providing a stable working range of -5 to 75 C. In certain areas, such as Scandinavian countries this temperature restrictions may be crucial. The signal processed by FBT splitters cannot be splitted evenly due to lack of management of the signals
PLC splitter manufacturing technology is more complex. It uses semiconductor technology (lithography, etching, developer technology) production, hence it is more difficult to manufacture. Therefore, the price of the device is higher. However, there is a number of advantages the device possesses. The size of the device is compact, compared to FBT splitters, making it suitable for density applications. PLC splitter operates at wider temperature range (-40 to 85 C), allowing its deploying in the areas of extreme climate. The split ratio goes up to 64, providing a high reliability. Furthermore, the signal can be split equally due to technology implemented. A range of wavelengths (1260 – 1650 nm) is provided, so the wavelengths are adjustable. Critical points of the device that might fail are input and output, so the general risk of failure is low.