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The Secret of Successful Fiber Optic Cable Management
By: Colin Yao

Why is proper fiber optic cable management so critical?

Service providers have deployed more and more fiber optic cables for their high bandwidth, low costs, greater reliability and flexibility. But just deploying is not enough; a successful fiber network also requires a solid infrastructure based on a professional fiber optic cable management system.

Fiber optic cable management affects a network’s reliability, performance, cost and maintenance. It provides the ability to reconfigure network, restore service and implement new services quickly.

Four goals to achieve with professional fiber optic cable management:

1. Protect fiber optic cable from microbends and macrobends loss

Microbends are small deformities in the optical fiber and macrobends are larger bends of the fiber cable. Fiber bends beyond the specified minimum bending radius can cause signal loss or even break the fiber, causing service disruption. As a rule of thumb, the minimum bending radius should be bigger than ten times the outer diameter of the fiber cable. Telcordia recommends a minimum 38mm bending radius for 3mm fiber optic patch cords. Fiber optic cable management system should provide bend radius protection at all points where a fiber optic cable makes a bend. This helps ensure the network’s long-term reliability; thus reduces the network operation cost by reducing network down time.

2. Well defined fiber optic cable management routing paths

The leading cause of fiber optic cable minimum bend radius violation is improper routing of fibers by fiber installation technicians. In a proper fiber cable management system, routing paths are clearly defined and easy to follow; such that the technician has no other option but to route the cables properly. Well defined routing paths reduce the training time required for technicians and increase the uniformity of work done. It also makes accessing individual fibers easier, quicker and safer.

3. Easy access to installed optical fibers

Allowing easy access to installed fibers is critical in maintaining proper bend radius protection. The system should be designed to ensure that individual fibers can be installed or removed without inducing a macrobend on an adjacent fiber. Accessibility is critical during network reconfiguration.

4. Physical protection of installed optical fibers

Well defined fiber optic cable management system physically protects the fibers from accidental damage by technicians and equipment throughout the network.

Fiber optic cable management system procurement

When making the decision on purchasing your fiber optic cable management systems, the goal is getting the most cost-effective system that provides the best cable management, flexibility, and growth capabilities. Going with the cheapest approaches for fiber optic cable management can cost more money in the long run. A strong fiber cable management system will enable you to extract the maximum value from your installed optical fiber networks.

Specifying Fiber Cable Management Systems: Cost and Value

As a means of keeping operational costs down, service providers around the world are increasingly turning to systems integrators to install their networks. This practice allows the service provider's technicians to focus on operations and maintenance, rather than network installation. There is, however, an inherent risk in this practice. As the purchasing decision for the fiber cable management system moves from the service provider's engineering group to the systems integration prime contractor, the cable management features of the distribution system are generally not specified.

What can happen, then, is the equipment installed may lack key features and functionalities. In light of the importance of proper cable management within the ODF, the service provider needs to specify the basic requirements for the cable management system.

There are several industry-standard specifications that can assist service providers in writing specifications for their cable management systems. Two of these specifications are:

> Telcordia Generic Requirements for Fiber Distribution Frames GR-449-CORE, Issue 2, July 2003.

> Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) Generic Equipment Requirements, TR-NWT-000063.



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Posted by ROOT Technologies


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