Selection of Outdoor Fiber Cable Types Complete Guide

Posted on Sep 1, 2022 by

The complexity of the network drives the increase of bandwidth and the upgrade of the cabling system, and the types of indoor and outdoor fiber cables is becoming more and more important. If you're designing your outdoor fiber cable, you have to understand your business needs before making an informed cabling type. In this article, we will sort out some considerations in outdoor cabling design to help you better realize outdoor fiber cable deployment.


The Evolution of Outdoor Fiber Cable Types

Since the 1970s, innovations in manufacturing processes, materials, and network architectures have led to greater deployment capabilities for outdoor fiber cables, which are widely used on indoor/outdoor multi-mode and single-mode fibers, such as loose-tube and micro-loose-tube cables.

By the 1970s, loose-tube fiber configurations were popular. It encapsulated all internal components in a protective tube and separated the fiber from the installation stress. So far, loose-tube fiber cables are still widely used now.

In the 1990s, ribbon cables were derived. This type of cable can accommodate multiple optical fibers. Through fusion splicing technology, ribbon cables increased the network bandwidth, and improved the project turnover efficiency with high cost-effectiveness.

In the early 2000s, Europe first developed a micro-loose tube optical cable that is the latest type of outdoor fiber cable that can be installed in a pipe environment with a smaller diameter, further reducing the installation cost of the optical fiber.

Outdoor Fiber Cable Types


Considerations for Outdoor Fiber Cable Design

Optical fibers commonly used in outdoor environments include loose tubes, micro-cables, and ribbon cables. So, what considerations need to be paid attention to in the deployment of outdoor fiber cables to get better protection and application?

Minimal Loss and Latency

In outdoor fiber optic applications, customers focus on low loss and latency. Data corruption or loss is dangerous for data-conscious industries, like the financial industry. The network latency will cause customers to obtain data more slowly than other competing companies, seriously affecting business efficiency. The loose tube type is a good choice for preventing signal loss because it protects fiber optic data transmission with minimal optical loss. Additionally, ribbon cables have a greater advantage in terms of latency due to their inherited design, and can also be considered when designing for outdoor fiber.

Flexibility and Scalability

With the current explosion in demand for intensive network services, high-density cables becomes more common. Future scalability should be taken into consideration when designing outdoor fiber cables to facilitate network upgrades. So there is the flexibility to group and use spare fibers as needed and add additional fibers in the future without reworking for future upgrades.

Generally, if your network bandwidth requires less than 144 fibers, the loose tube cables may be the best choice. If your network requires 288 fibers or more, consider ribbon cables. Micro-tube cables, on the other hand, can be used as a bridging option. You can start with lower fiber counts (from 12 to 288 fibers), then a properly designed system will allow you to have minimal installation costs in the future to expand.

Installation Convenience

The installation speed of outdoor fiber cables is also a point worth considering. Whether the fiber optic cable access and splicing method save time can also have a major impact on the deployment of the entire network. The increase in the number of fibers also leads to an increase in fusion time. Deployment with loose-tube cables enables fiber stripping without the additional tools, which can save up to 70% of fiber cabling installation time. In contrast, ribbon cables can splice or connect optical fibers on a large scale with an installation speed faster than other cables, reducing installation labor costs and emergency recovery time.

Emergency Recovery Performance

Outdoor fiber cables often have some problems. For example, buried cables may encounter some equipment cuts, and overhead cables may be damaged by natural disasters. Once there is an unexpected network outage, you need to recover network service as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to your business or customers. When the number of fibers reaches 144, the loose tube cable takes about 10 hours to complete the splicing, while the 144-fiber ribbon cable takes only 1.6 hours. However, loose-tube fibers can identify and splice the most critical fibers based on traffic priorities more precisely than ribbon cables.

Availability Limitations

The last thing to be aware of is fiber availability limitations. Micro loose tube cables are designed for micro pipes and cannot be fitted with armored casings. High-performance cables are not necessarily suitable for all cables, as other mismatches will occur. When you choose the available cable types for your outdoor fiber cables, you must fully understand the cable manufacturer's products and select the one that suits your cabling design.


How to Choose the Outdoor Fiber Cable?

Outdoor fiber cables are mainly faced with harsh environments, requiring a high degree of flexibility and abrasion resistance, as well as UV resistance. Generally, cables with armored cable protection layers are preferred to increase the wear resistance and corrosion resistance of outdoor fiber cables.

FS FTTA patch cords are high-reliability outdoor single-mode fiber cables designed for outdoor harsh environments such as heavy industry. Composed of Corning fiber optic cables and LC UPC duplex connectors, this cable offers excellent crush resistance and the high flexibility of armored tubing. In addition, FS also offers 4/8-fiber OM2 pre-terminated indoor/outdoor fiber cable assemblies, and pre-terminated indoor/outdoor cable assemblies designed to support today's data needs while meeting the evolving network requirements of tomorrow.

Products Description

Outdoor Fiber Cable

  • Support Horizontal and Vertical Cabling for All Common LTE/4G/5G Radio Systems

  • Plug-and-play Installation

  • Helical Steel Armored Branch Cable for Anti-rodent Protection and Bird-proof

  • Armored LSZH Fiber To The Antenna (FTTA) Patch Cable for Outdoor Applications


Outdoor Fiber Cable

  • Feature a UV Stabilized and Moisture Resistant Outer Jacket

  • Available from 4-8 Fibers with Variable Length

  • Custom Cable with Pre-terminated Connectors, Breakout Types and Pulling Eye

  • Used for Outdoor Conduits and Corridor Cabling (No Long-term Humid Environment)

  • Black UV-resistant LSZH outer jacket and tight-buffered construction



Outdoor fiber optic cable types are divided into loose tube, ribbon, and micro loose tube, providing options for overall network connectivity. You can use these three types of cables for low-loss, scalable, high-performance fiber deployments based on your business's strategic needs. At the same time, these considerations for designing outdoor fiber optic cables can also help you build a better flexible network to adapt to future development.

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