Fiber Optic Networks have many features, ready to fulfill every customer’s needs for bandwidth, stability, reliability and most important cost-effective network architecture. There are many manufacturers that are offering their products on the market. Fortunately, most of their products are compatible between them, meaning we can mix and match different products from different manufacturers. However choosing the correct equipment for a specific network design is not a simple task. We must be really good prepared and we must know the properties of every single component of the fiber optic network in order to achieve a stable network architecture with possibility for future upgrades.
One of the key aspects to focus on when designing and deploying a fiber optic network is the connection between the main transmission components, the optical transceiver and the optical fiber cable. The fiber optic transceiver is a type of self-contained, hot swappable component that has the capability to convert electrical input into optical signal and vice versa, and with the help of lasers transmit these optical signals (optical light) down the optical cable. They are a key component for the fiber optic network and its performance. They are inserted in devices like servers, storages, switches and routers in a dedicated port on the device itself. There are many Form-Factors of transceivers with various properties, however the most commonly used are SFP+, QSFP and QSFP28 transceivers. The SFP+ transceivers are Small Form-Factor transceivers capable for speeds up to 16 GB/s and up to 80 kilometers, depending on the fiber type. The QSFP and QSFP28 transceivers are Quad Small Form-Factor transceivers capable for speeds up to 40 GB/s and 100 GB/s. QSFP has a range of up to 40 kilometers and QSFP28 has a range of up to 10 kilometers on Single-mode fibers.
When it comes to fiber optic cables, or fiber optic patch cords, they are composed of a fiber optic cable with a fiber optic connector ending on each end. According to the application they would be used for, they can be divided in several categories:
Multi-mode or Single-mode
Simplex or Duplex
According their connectors
When buying an optical cable we must know the distance they would be used for because this is the deciding factor when choosing Multi-mode of Single-mode fibers. Multi-mode fibers can come in four different modes, OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4 and each of these four modes have different reach capabilities. However Multi-mode fibers are used for short reach because of their bigger core which transmits wider wavelength. Single-mode fibers are used for long reach distances because they transmit a narrower optical light via their smaller, around 9 micrometers, core. Simplex and duplex option explains the number of fiber cores consisted in a fiber optic cable. As the name suggests, simplex consists of one fiber core, while duplex consists of two fiber optic cores. According to their connectors there are many different types of cables. The most common used are cables with duplex LC connectors and the MPO/MTP trunk and breakout fiber optic cable solution. There are also cables with SC, ST, FC, E2000 and other connectors.
When choosing the correct patch cords it’s important to know the compatibility with the transceivers. Their compatibility could be found in their datasheets. When choosing cables with appropriate connectors we should keep in mind that the MPO/MTP connector solutions are the future of optical networking because they can support speeds up to 100 GB/s and they provide a solid ground for future network upgrades. Today for 40 GB/s a 12-fiber MPO/MTP connector is used because only 8 fibers are needed for successful connection, four used for transmitting, four used for receiving and four are left unused. For 100 GB/s solutions the use of 24-fiber MPO/MTP connectors is a must. These MPO/MTP connectors provide a seamless upgrade to 40 GB/s and 100 GB/s solutions. The MPO/MTP connectors are generally used with various QSFP type of transceivers, especially with QSFP28 because QSFP28 transceivers support bandwidth bigger than 40 GB/s, up to 100 GB/s.
The LC connector stands for Lucent Connector because it was firstly designed by Lucent Technologies. This connector has a body build similar to RJ jack style. These connectors are generally used in telecom rooms and network closets of a given organization. They are most commonly used for reach up to 10 kilometers on Single-mode fibers and with SFP+ transceivers.
Today many leading IT managers are searching for a cost-effective solution while not thinking about the future. Even though it’s more expensive to purchase, the MPO/MTP solution provides a seamless upgrade to new technologies and greater money savings on a long run. Also because of the way they are functioning they consume less space and make the whole maintenance process less complex.