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What Is a Fiber-Optic Cable Assembly?

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  • Written By: Geisha A. Legazpi
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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A fiber-optic cable assembly is a collection of parts that includes an optical cable with special connectors on each end. Fiber optics deals with the uses and properties of light, usually of specific wavelength. The optical cable has an inner core that is usually very thin, and is made by drawing molten glass thinly and allowed to solidify in steam, making the resulting cable slightly flexible enough to be rolled. It also has an outer jacket to protect the cable. The fiber optic cable may be used for high-speed data communications, special lighting requirements, and medical applications.

There are several types of fiber optic cable which differ by the nature of the light energy that they convey. Single-mode fiber usually carries one wavelength, while a multi-mode fiber carries several wavelengths at the same time. There are also different types of cable jacket material depending on the location and use of the fiber optic cable.

A fiber-optic cable assembly is used to interconnect high-speed data between common data interconnection equipment, such as hubs, routers, and servers. The low optical loss and good response associated with fiber optical cables make these a good choice for all ranges of data communication connectivity. These systems may use optical regenerators along the path where light energy levels have dropped to maintain an acceptable signal levels.

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Compared to its wired counterpart, the fiber-optic cable assembly is superior in many ways. Optical cables do not transfer part of their signal to a collocated or parallel-running cable because the opaque jacket completely blocks any transfer of light from one optical cable to the other. In the electrical equivalent, there is cross talk, which is the linking of magnetic fields caused by electrical signals between electrical signal cables.

The fiber-optic cable assembly is superior to its wireless counterpart as well. Wireless links are subject to radio interference and fading, while optical links are virtually free from interruption. Cables can be damaged by accident, however, a buried optical cable is mistakenly dug up and damaged by earth-moving equipment.

Wired cables are prone to damage due to electrical inductions by lightning. Even if lightning does not directly hit a wire, surges of currents and voltages may damage equipment within several kilometers of a direct lightning hit. Although protection devices are available for wired devices, there is always the possibility that the protection limit will be exceeded and damage may be inflicted. The electrically insulating nature of fiber optic cables makes protecting fiber optic cable components a lot simpler. Surge protection on the power system usually becomes the only concern for fiber optic systems, but the fiber-optic cable assembly itself will not cause problems related to electrostatic discharge.

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