Data Center Cabling Solutions
The 5 Most Common Causes of dB Loss in Fiber Optic Cabling

The 5 Most Common Causes of dB Loss in Fiber Optic Cabling

  • Jan 13, 2020
  • dB loss, loss budgets, cable fire

High dB loss in fiber optic cabling infrastructures can lead to downtime… and nobody wants that! The following are some of the most common factors resulting in dB loss:

A Contaminated End Face

Fiber is glass. And just like with glass windows, the performance of fiber cabling is severely reduced when that glass is dirty.

Most of the fiber is covered so it will not get contaminated. However, the end faces are the one place where the fiber is exposed and susceptible to contamination.

To avoid problems with data transmission, make sure you follow the rule: “inspect, clean, and inspect.” You should employ this method on your fiber before installation. This will also prevent you from passing contamination when the connection is made.

Exceeding the Bend Radius

While it is true that fiber optic glass can bend, bending it too much will cause optical loss and could potentially render the cable obsolete. This type of damage occurs most commonly during installation.

A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 10 times the diameter of the outer jacket. So, for a jumper with a 2mm jacket, the maximum bend radius would be 20mm. When in doubt, contact your supplier for exact measurements.

A Pinched Jumper

Many installers use zip ties to keep cables organized in their environment. This is a great idea for many types of cable, but not for fiber.

While cable management is important to help maintain an organized environment, Velcro is a better option for fiber. The zip ties could pinch the fiber, which could lead to high dB loss or even loss of transmission all together.

Cracked Fiber

Polishing the end face for fiber is crucially important, not only to avoid contamination, but also to ensure that the ferrules do not protrude too much. If they do, the fiber can crack and/or splinter when mated with another fiber or into a transceiver.

The best way to avoid this issue is to ensure that your manufacturer has a repeatable process that can guarantee the quality of their cables.

Ferrule Misalignment 

Data transmits through the core of fiber optic cabling. When fiber optic cables are mated in a patch panel, the cores need to line up perfectly to ensure optimal data transmission. 

As you are probably aware, in a fiber optic cable, the ferrule is the protruding portion of a fiber connector.  When the ferrule is not aligned correctly, you will experience dB loss. 

Furthermore, cheaper components will lead to mismatched cores and dB loss will be inevitable. Similar to cracked fiber, the best way to avoid this issue is to source high-quality fiber cabling. Just like Benjamin Franklin once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

 

Do you have questions or concerns about dB loss affecting your fiber cables?

The performance of your fiber optic cables can affect your network in many ways. That’s why it’s important to avoid dB loss.

If you have questions about your cabling infrastructure, want to know more about how to ensure high performance, or are looking to explore new solutions, please reach out to one of our experts. We have a tremendous amount of field experience and experience designing solutions.

We're always eager to help!


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