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Fiber Optic Connectors - The Complete Guide

The network cabling industry's fiber optic manufacturers over the last few decades have been on a constant mission to develop the better fiber connector. This means lower cost, lower dB losses, easier to terminate out in the field. There have been over 100 connectors developed over the years but a select few have stood the test of time and beat out their competition. Below we will talk about the most common.

A fiber optic connector terminates at the end of a fiber optic cable and is used when you need a means to connect and disconnect the fiber cable quickly. A fiber splice would be used in a more permanent application. The connectors provide a mechanical connection for the two fiber cables and align both cores precisely so the light can pass through with little loss. There are many different types of connectors but many share similar characteristics. Many connectors are spring loaded. This will push the fiber ends very close to each other so as to eliminate airspace between them, which would result in higher dB losses.

Components of a Fiber Optic Connector

There are generally five main components to a fiber connector: the ferrule, the body, the coupling structure, the boot and the dust cap.

Ferrule -the ferrule is the small round cylinder that actually makes contact with the glass and holds it in place. These are commonly made of ceramic today but also are made of metal and plastic.

Body -This sub assembly holds the ferrule in place. It then fits into the connector housing.

Housing -This holds all sub assembly parts in place and has the coupling that will connect to the customer's equipment. The securing mechanism is usually bayonet, snap-in or a screw on type.

Boot -This will cover the transition from the connector to the fiber optic cable. Provides stress relief.

Dust Cap -Just as it implies will protect the connector from accumulating dust.

Types of Fiber Optic Connectors

There are many types of connectors on the market. The major differences are the dimensions and the method of connection to equipment. Most companies will settle on one type of connector and keep that as a standard across the board. It makes sense because all equipment has to be ordered with that specific connector type and to have 2 or 3 different connector types can get messy. For typical network cabling projects today LC is fast becoming the shining star of fiber connectors. LC is a small form factor connector which means it requires a much smaller footprint in your IT closet. Thus you can fit many more LC connectors into you fiber panels then say ST or SC connectors.

ST Connector

ST connector

The ST connector (or Straight Tip) was the first popular connector type to be used as a standard for many organizations in their fiber network applications. It was first developed by AT&T. Often called the "round connector" it has a spring loaded twist bayonet mount with a 2.5mm round ferrule and a round body. The ST connector is fast being replaced with the smaller, denser SFF connectors.

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