What are fiber optic connectors used for?
Connectors, also known as terminations, join cables together with safety connections, allowing pulses to pass through the cable without interruption. To suit different applications, there are many fiber optic connector types. Selecting the correct connector type for a particular application ensures ideal performance of the fiber optic cable and the equipment it connects to.
Most fiber optic connectors require effort to connect and disconnect, reducing the chances of accidentally pulling the cables apart during typical use or installation of other components. Connectors can also bring a cable into a converter or directly into the device serviced by the fiber optic cable.
What Is a Fiber Optic Connector?
An optical fiber connector is a flexible device that connects fiber cables requiring a quick connection and disconnection. Optical fibers terminate fiber-optic connections to fiber equipment or join two fiber connections without splicing. Hundreds of optical fiber connector types are available, but the key differentiator is defined by the mechanical coupling techniques and dimensions. Optical fiber connectors ensure stable connections, as they ensure the fiber ends are optically smooth and the end-to-end positions are properly aligned.
An optical fiber connector is also known as a fiber optic connector.
What Are Fiber Optic Connectors Used For?
Terminations have multiple uses, depending on the fiber optic cable connector types used. For instance, fiber optics have uses in the following areas:
- Internet and Local Area Networks (LANs)
Fiber optic cables allow for greater bandwidth compared to other cable options. Common uses for networking include fiber optics for delivering internet and LAN connectivity throughout a building. Fiber optic cable works especially well over distances greater than 90 meters and when carrying gigabit-speed connections. Both LAN and high-speed internet use multimode fiber optic cable.
Many companies today have fiber cable going to telecom closets that then transfer the signal to copper-based Cat5 cable and other cables. These cables carry the signal to computers and telephones. However, this practice of using media converters or telecom closets may disappear over time. Innovations in fiber optic technology, high costs for maintaining telecom closets and lowering prices for fiber optics may eventually make all fiber networks the norm.
- Community Antenna TV (CATV) and Other Telecommunications
Community antenna TV and other telecommunications companies often prefer fiber optic cable to deliver their signals due to the lower cost over long distances with less loss and higher bandwidth compared to older technologies. Additionally, each transmitter and receiver pair of fibers can carry more voice and video signals. Compared to wire delivery methods, fiber optics can go 100 times farther and more than 1,000 times faster. CATV may use single-mode fiber optic cabling for its higher bandwidth and lower loss.
- Digital Telephone Service
Telephony is another system that benefits from fiber optic cable use. Like CATV, many digital telephone applications use single-mode fiber cable. In fact, in the business world, telephony is one of the top uses for fiber optic cables.
- Public Utility Networks
Public utilities, such as electrical companies or municipal water treatment facilities, use fiber optics in several ways. They may have fiber optic connected closed-circuit TV (CCTV) security cameras and a network connecting various sites to provide real-time data on operations. Electrical companies, for instance, recognized the interference of their production and distribution equipment on traditional communications wires and made an early switch to fiber optics.
City emergency services also use fiber optics with CCTV, wireless technology and traffic cameras to integrate communications and information sharing among responders. Plus, fiber connectivity through in-city networks can offer higher bandwidth to accommodate large numbers of city workers on the system accessing information at once.
- Industrial Networking
As with electricity companies, electromagnetic interference also plays a role in the choice of communication products used in industrial businesses. Electrical noise from equipment can cause severe problems with unshielded wire cable. But it does not do the same for fiber optics. With many industrial facilities moving into smart operations with devices connected to each other and the internet over a network, reliable connectivity is vital.
For industrial applications, connectors must have firm attachments that cannot easily dislodge, even from constant vibrations caused by machinery operating nearby.
- Military Networks
Military operations need connectivity in some of the harshest environments on the planet. Battlefields, naval ships, military bases and planes all need to have means of connecting. Interference, movement and tapping into the communications lines pose threats for the military. Fiber optic cable resolves these issues. Plus, on vehicles and planes, it reduces the weight required for communications hardware.
- Security Systems
Security systems often need reliable data transmission lines that can deliver video and audio quickly. Fiber optic cabling for closed-circuit TV (CCTV) offers multiple advantages. First, the two-way direction of fiber optic cable allows an operator to control the camera angle when needed. The ability to control the camera ensures better viewing of suspicious targets, which improves security.
The high bandwidth of fiber optics permits multiple cameras to transfer signals over a single cable. Additionally, fiber optic cable can stretch out over long distances with minimal loss. Therefore, securing cities, airports, warehouses, factories and other larger facilities is possible thanks to fiber-optic connected CCTV. CCTV is not the only security system use for fiber optics, though. Some systems can use sensors and perimeter alarms connected through fiber cable for a comprehensive means of monitoring a property's security.
One of the least considered applications of fiber optics is the ability to transfer light over long distances rather than data signals. Therefore, lighting heat-sensitive locations, difficult to reach places or sites where standard electric wiring could be dangerous can use fiber optic lighting. Some common uses of this type of lighting include museum displays near delicate artifacts and in fountains or swimming pools. With multiple filters and the ability to automatically switch them, color-changing effects are possible.