What Are Fiber Optic Cables and Pigtails?

NADDOD Adam Connectivity Solutions Consultant Jan 6, 2023

A fiber optic cable is an optical fiber connector that connects to an optical module. It is the end device of an optical fiber. It is used to connect a device to an optical fiber wiring link and is generally used to connect an optical terminal machine to a terminal box.

A pigtail consists of an optical fiber connector and optical cable. Different from a fiber optic cable, a pigtail is an optical fiber connector on one end and a fiber core on the other end. It is used to connect optical transceivers or optical fiber devices.

1. Type of Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables are divided into single-mode fiber optic cables and multi-mode fiber optic cables in data transmission equipment. Single-mode fiber optic cables are generally yellow, connectors and protective sleeves are blue, wavelength is 1310nm/1550nm, transmission distance is 10km/40km, and transmission distance is long. Multi-mode fiber cable: Usually orange or aqua blue, with beige or black connectors and protective sleeves. Wavelength is 850nm, transmission distance is 500m, and transmission distance is short.

Fiber optic cables can be classified into the following types based on the connector type:
(1) LC type fiber optic cable: square connector, made of easy to operate modular jack (RJ) latch mechanism, is the connector connecting to the SFP optical module, often used in routers.

(2) SC fiber optic cable: Rectangular connector that is fastened with a latch latch. SC fiber cable is used to connect GBIC optical modules and is usually used on routers and switches.

(3) ST type fiber optic cable: round head connector, fastened by turnbuckle, commonly used on the optical fiber distribution frame.


(4) FC type fiber optic cable: circular fiber connector, external metal material, also turnbuckle fastening, generally used in the ODF side.

(5) MPO type fiber optic cable: It is composed of two high-precision plastic molded connectors and optical cables. It adopts miniaturized design, and the connection is stable and reliable with high density.

(6) MTP type fiber optic cable: The fiber cable with a large number of cores and small volume is applied to high-density integrated fiber line environment.

2. Type of the Pigtails

Like fiber cables, pigtails are divided into single-mode pigtails and multi-mode pigtails according to fiber types. Single-mode pigtails have yellow outer sheath, wavelength of 1310nm/1550nm, transmission distance of 10km/40km, and are used for long-distance connection. The outer sheath of the multi-mode pigtail is water blue. The wavelength is 850nm and the transmission distance is 500m. It is used for short-distance connections.

The pigtail fiber can be divided into the following types based on the connector type:
(1) FC pigtail connector: also known as circular threaded joint, made of metal material, good durability, often used in distribution frame.

(2) SC pigtail connector: It is made of engineering plastic and is cheap. The shell is rectangular, and the pins on the butt face are mostly grinded by PC or APC, and fixed by inserting and pulling pin latch, which is easy to operate and not easy to oxidized.

(3) LC pigtail connector: The size of the pin and sleeve of LC pigtail connector is half of the above two connectors, which improves the space utilization rate of optical distribution frame. It is made of modular jack (RJ) latch principle which is easy to operate.

(4) ST pigtail connectors: Different from SC pigtail connectors, the core of ST pigtail connectors is exposed while the core of SC pigtail connectors is inside the connector. ST pigtail connectors are usually used in 10Mbps Ethernet systems, and SC pigtail connectors are used in 10Mbps Ethernet systems.

3. Use of Fiber Optic Cables

(1) The connection between the optical distribution frame or optical fiber information socket and the switch;
(2) Connections between switches;
(3) Connection between switch and desktop computer;
(4) Connection between optical fiber information socket and desktop computer;
(5) Management, inter-device and workspace subsystems.

4. Application of pigtails

(1) Optical fiber communication system;
(2) Optical fiber access network;
(3) Optical fiber data transmission equipment;
(4) Optical fiber CATV;
(5) Local area network;
(6) Test equipment;
(7) Optical fiber sensor;
(8) Serial port server;
(10) Telecommunication network and pre-terminal installation.

5. Precautions for Using Fiber Optic Cables and Pigtails

When using fiber optic cables and pigtails, avoid winding, which can effectively reduce optical signal attenuation during transmission.
The transceiver and transceiver wavelengths of the optical modules connected by fiber optic cables and pigtails must be the same. Generally, multi-mode fiber optic cables or pigtails are paired with short-wave optical modules, and single-mode fiber optic cables or pigtails are paired with long-wave optical modules to ensure data transmission accuracy.

Keep the connectors of fiber optic cables and pigtails clean. Wrap the connectors with protective sleeves after use to avoid oil stains and dust. If stains are found, use cotton swabs to clean them with alcohol.
Pigtails are thinner than fiber optic cables and are not high temperature resistant. Pigtails cannot be used at high temperatures exceeding 100 ° C.