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Outdoor-Rated Single Mode / Multimode Fiber Cables & Plenum Fiber Wiring
Outdoor-Rated Fiber Optic Cables and Plenum Fiber Optic Cables, safe for installation inside plenum spaces indoors remain essential for broadband internet
by Vikas Dayal • July 17, 2022
Outdoor-Rated Fiber Optic Cables and Plenum Fiber Optic Cables, safe for installation inside plenum spaces indoors, fulfill two important niches in the data fiber industry: These types of fiber cables remain essential components in broadband networks in the United States and all over the world. Business and residential internet services, streaming television, and even cellular telephone signals often travel through one or both types of specialty fiber wiring at some point along their journey.
Outdoor-rated fiber optic cables are shielded for durability. Just like any other fiber cable, they work by transmitting data through their fiber core and may be single mode, meaning they contain only a single strand of glass fiber, or multimode, meaning their core is made up of several strands. To learn more about the differences between single mode and multimode fiber optic wiring, see our previous post Fiber Optic Cable Types and Configurations.
Manufactured to be waterproof and UV-resistant, outdoor-rated fiber optic cabling can be installed in locations exposed to the weather and other elements. Their rugged construction will protect the inner wire and delicate fiber core allowing for optimum performance even in harsh outdoor conditions including seasonal high and low temperatures and various types of precipitation. Shielded direct burial fiber optic cables can even be installed underground without the need to run a protective conduit. So even while outdoor-rated fiber optic cables represent a significantly higher initial investment, they pay for themselves in longevity and dependable operation year-round.
Plenum-rated fiber optic cables must also be specially manufactured to withstand more extreme conditions than a typical wire. However, in the case of plenum fiber cables, the conditions in question arise from installation in spaces within walls, under floors and above drop ceilings. Plenum spaces, defined as the non-habitable and mostly-inaccessible spaces inside buildings, are usually out of sight and out of mind. However, these rarely-thought-about areas, which also include ventilation shafts, duct work and crawlspaces could not be more important in terms of safety. In any structure, from a small private home to a large, public building, both air quality and fire safety depend on the care taken during both construction of the plenum space and any installations within it.
Because plenum spaces are often not climate controlled, plenum wiring of any kind must perform optimally and safely in a broad temperature range. Plenum-rated fiber optic cables have dense, fire-retardant jackets that won’t give off potentially hazardous smoke or fumes when temperatures rise. Because server rooms are also considered plenum spaces, and densely populated panels and switches can give off a significant amount of heat, the most safety-conscious choice for the fiber wiring under these conditions are plenum fiber optic cables.
Choosing the right fiber optic cable depends largely on the speed and bandwidth needed for the data transmission required which will largely dictate the choice between single mode or multimode fiber. Once this fiber core choice is made, any special considerations about the installation location such as the ones above should be factored in. After that, the determining factor will often be cost of the wire. While plenum-rated fiber optic cables only represent a modest additional cost, outdoor-rated fiber cables and fiber cables for direct burial will multiply the price many times over. Still, no conscientious owner or contractor would choose to cut costs by purchasing cheaper cables, unsuitable or unsafe for the type of installation.
Our outdoor-rated fiber optic cables are available in both single mode OS2 and multimode OM3s with standard LC-to-LC connectors. You can choose from 10, 15, 20 and 30-meter cords right from our website. Find Plenum OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber cables in one, three and five-meter lengths as well as longer 10, 15 and 25-meter options. As with all types of cable we sell, we’re also happy to accommodate longer lengths and any custom cable order you need, including orders for bulk cable. Simply contact our customer service department.