Fiber Cable Connectors
A Guide to Fiber Cable Connectors
IT pros who work in the world of cables should have a thorough understanding of fiber cable connectors. Like any craft, IT and data center professionals need to have a strong foundation of fundamental knowledge. The fundamentals are vitally important in the world of cables.
We wanted to offer up some easy to use resources in the area of fiber optic cable connectors.
Fiber cable connector resources will you find here:
1. Overview of popular fiber cable connector types
- MTP® (MPO-style)
2. Background information on each fiber cable connector
3. Handy diagrams for all of these fiber connector styles
4. Easy access to the our cable connector guide
5. A quick, easy to understand video overview of connector types.
Fiber Optic Cable Connectors: An Overview
The MTP® (MPO-style) Fiber Cable Connector
- MPO stands for “multi-fiber push on.”
- Developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in the early 90’s.
- MTP® is an MPO-style connector that is manufactured by USCONEC.
- The MPO connector can accept up to 72 fibers in a single ferrule, but the industry standard is 12 fibers.
Did you know?
CABLExpress was the first-to-market with a 24 fiber MTP solution that tested to a maximum of .35dB loss (matching the highest standard of the 12 fiber MTP). We plan to continue investing in and advancing this platform.
The difference between MTP and MPO fiber cable connectors:
The MTP® design and performance have made advancements over the standard MPO connector. A myth you often hear is that these are 2 completely different fiber cable connector styles. Not true. In fact, both of these connector types are in the same footprint.
MPO / MTP Connectors and The future of the data center:
IEEE 802.3ba is the standard for implementing 40/100G Ethernet. It dictates that the MPO footprint should be the standard for multi-mode transmission. This is a radical new transmission type called “parallel transmission.”
This means the MPO and/or MTP connector will likely be the future of optical transmission in the data center for the next few generations.
The LC Connector Fiber Cable Connector
LC stands for Lucent Connector after the company who created it.
With its push-pull mating feature, the LC connector looks like a mini SC connector.
Due to its small form factor, the LC connector is becoming the predominant fiber cable connector, especially in high density network applications.
Standard LC connectors are equipped with detachable side release clips. This makes it easier for quick polarity changes in the field.
- SC stands for subscriber connector
- It was developed by NTT.
- SC has a 2.5 mm ferrule.
- Typically comes in a duplex format.
- SC generally will have two connectors and two fibers to send and receive transmission.
Notice the big design change from previous connectors: it’s now square instead of round, and the push-pull coupling mechanism allows for quick insertion and removal. This greatly reduces the chance for end-face damage.
The MT-RJ (Mechanical Transfer Registered Jack) was developed by Amp and Corning, but based on specifications from NTT.
About the MT-RJ:
Two fibers are included in one connector that looks a lot like an RJ45. That’s where the last part of the name came from. Alignment pins are used to mate the connectors. MT-RJ’s come in two versions, with mating pins (male) and without (female).
Though small, allowing for greater density, the MT-RJ has not taken off like the LC due to poor performance characteristics across the board.
The ST Connector
- ST stands for Straight Tip.
- It has a 2.5mm ferrule in a simplex format.
- Developed by AT&T shortly after the FC was developed by NTT.
Essentially this was AT&T’s answer to this new smaller form factor connector. The design is very similar but the ST has a quick locking mechanism that significantly speeds up installation time. The locking mechanism has a key which does not allow the ferrule to rotate when installed. This is very similar to a BNC connector that you may be familiar with.
- FC stands for Ferrule Connector.
- It has a 2.5mm ferrule in a simplex format.
- The FC connector was developed by NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone).
This screw-on type connector has the advantage of being pull-proof and wiggle-proof when it’s being installed. Because of this, the FC connector works very well for high vibration environments. It is still widely used today in testing equipment and other similar areas where a fixed connection is critical.
The down side of the screw-on connector is that it takes a long time (comparably) to install or remove this type of assembly. There is also a key on the connector that must be aligned properly before it can be installed.
The ESCON Connector
- ESCON stands for Enterprise System Connection.
- It has 2.5mm ferrules in a duplex format.
- The ESCON connector was developed by IBM in the early 90’s and brought into the data center for use in IBM mainframes, replacing copper bus and tag cables.
- They were also used for peripheral hardware such as storage devices and tape drives.
The ESCON connector is very sturdy and robust but also has a large footprint. This was okay at the time, as there were not a lot of connections needed. This connector is an icon as it was the first fiber cable connector widely used in data center architecture.
Fiber Cable Connector Video
Here is a brief video overview of some popular fiber cable connector types.
Cable Connector Guide
If you’d like more information on different fiber connectors, we have a complete cable connector guide. When you go to the page, you will find a special section for fiber connectors on the top left.