Inside plant refers to the cabling running inside a building. Similarly, outside plant is the cabling
running outdoors. Outside plant cables are thicker because of more durable insulation jackets. As for
fiber optic communication, there are many types of outside plant fiber optic cables. Some have extra
protections to prevent corrosion and other elemental interference. Outside plant fiber optics are
widely used in telephone networks, CATV, metropolitan networks, utilities and so on. If you want to
choose the right outside plant fiber optic cable, its applicable environment is an important factor
for consideration. This post will introduce some common outside plant fiber optic cables and typical
outdoor application environments.
Several Types of Outside Plant Fiber Optic Cables
Outdoor Breakout Cable
Outdoor breakout cable is perfect for rugged applications and installations that require increased
performance. It is usually made of several bundled simplex cables wrapped in a common cable jacket.
The fungus, water and UV protections and temperature durability are beneficial to its outside
applications. Its design of individual fiber reinforcement enables the quick termination to connectors
and omits the use of patch panels or boxes. With much less termination work, outdoor breakout cable is
more cost-effective when small fiber counts and short distances are required.
Outdoor Loose Tube Cable
Outdoor loose tube cable has the gel-filled design protecting the cable from moisture environment. The
gel within the loose-tube construction stops the penetration of water and keeps it away from the
fiber. Also, it keeps water from freezing near the fiber at low temperatures which reduces the chance
of stress fractures. Fibers are bundled inside a small plastic tube that can protect fibers from
outside stresses. Outdoor loose tube cable is often used in conduits, strung overhead or buried
directly into the ground.
Outdoor Ribbon Cable
Outdoor ribbon fiber optic cable has high fiber counts and small cable diameter. It contains the most
fibers in the smallest cable. These fibers are laid out in rows as ribbons, and ribbons are laid on
top of each other. Likewise, it also has gel-filled protection to block outside water. Ribbon cable
makes installation much faster and easier since mass fusion splicers can join a ribbon at once.
Outdoor Armored Cable
Outdoor armored cable is a direct buried type that prevents itself from animal bite. The metal
armoring between two jackets effectively prohibits rodent penetration. Outdoor armored cable can be
divided into light armored and heavy armored types. The former has the protective plastic jacket with
the same durability and longevity of a stainless steel cable with a lighter weight. The latter is
wrapped in a wire circle to be applied for underwater regions that near shores and shoals.
Outside Cable Plant Applications
Outside cable plant deployment can be implemented in many environments. Above-ground, underground,
buried and underwater are the typical applications.
Above-ground Cable Plant
Above-ground cable plant can be exposed to extreme temperatures, and to humidity that varies with the
seasons and with daily temperature changes. Cables under such circumstances should be durable to adapt
to extreme weathers and water penetration.
Underground Cable Plant
Underground cable plant usually applies cables in underground structures including the utility holes,
controlled environmental vaults, ducts and so on. The condition in utility holes and ducts sometimes
can be corrosive because of man-made chemicals. Cables with corrosion-proof materials are perfect for
Buried Cable Plant
Buried cable plant applies cables directly into the soil. Cables can also be exposed to the same
corrosive environment as underground plant. But animal bite is an additional problem. Cables for this
application should be very tough to endure both chemical corrosion and animal attack.
Underwater Cable Plant
Underwater cable plant are located beneath the surface of water. The water can range from relatively
pure to brackish, or to badly contaminated with industrial effluent. Cables for underwater plant are
extremely rugged, with fibers in the middle of the cable inside stainless steel tubes and the outside
coated with many layers of steel strength members and conductors for powering repeaters.
Unlike indoor cables, outside plant fiber optic cables must be wrapped in different layers to
withstand the severe installation conditions. Choosing the right kind of outdoor cable can save you a
great deal for long-term maintenance. And your project application is an important aspect that will
affect the selection of fiber optic cables.