As fibre deployment has become mainstream, splicing has naturally crossed from the outside plant (OSP) world into the enterprise and even the data centre environment. Fusion splicing involves the use of localized heat to melt together or fuse the ends of two optical fibres. The preparation process involves removing the protective coating from each fibre, precise cleaving, and inspection of the fibre end-faces. Fusion splicing has been around for several decades, and it’s a trusted method for permanently fusing together the ends of two optical fibres to realize a specific length or to repair a broken fibre link. However, due to the high costs of fusion splicers, it has not been actively used by many people. But these years some improvements in optical technology have been changing this status. Besides, the continued demand for increased bandwidth also spread the application of fusion splicing.
New Price of Fusion Splicers
Fusion splicers costs have been one of the biggest obstacles to a broad adoption of fusion splicing. In recent years, significant decreases in splicer prices has accelerated the popularity of fusion splicing. Today’s fusion splicers range in cost from $7,000 to $40,000. The highest-priced units are designed for specialty optical fibres, such as polarization-maintaining fibres used in the production of high-end non-electrical sensors. The lower-end fusion splicers, in the $7,000 to $10,000 range, are primarily single-fibre fixed V-groove type devices. The popular core alignment splicers range between $17,000 and $19,000, well below the $30,000 price of 20 years ago. The prices have dropped dramatically due to more efficient manufacturing, and volume is up because fibre is no longer a voodoo science and more people are working in that arena. Recently, more and more fibre being deployed closer to the customer premise with higher splice-loss budgets, which results in a greater participation of customers who are purchasing lower-end splicers to accomplish their jobs.
More Cost-effective Cable Solutions
The first and primary use of splicing in the telecommunications industry is to link fibres together in underground or aerial outside-plant fibre installations. It used to be very common to do fusion splicing at the building entrance to transition from outdoor-rated to indoor-rated cable, because the NEC (National Electrical Code) specifies that outdoor-rated cable can only come 50 feet into a building due to its flame rating. The advent of plenum-rated indoor/outdoor cable has driven that transition splicing to a minimum. But that’s not to say that fusion splicing in the premise isn’t going on.
Longer distances in the outside plant could mean that sticking with standard outdoor-rated cable and fusion splicing at the building entrance could be the more economical choice. If it’s a short run between building A and B, it makes sense to use newer indoor/outdoor cable and come right into the crossconnect. However, because indoor/outdoor cables are generally more expensive, if it’s a longer run with lower fibre counts between buildings, it could ultimately be cheaper to buy outdoor-rated cable and fusion splice to transition to indoor-rated cable, even with the additional cost of splice materials and housing.
As fibre to the home (FTTH) applications continue to grow around the globe, it is another situation that may call for fusion splicing. If you want to achieve longer distance in a FTTH application, you have to either fusion splice or do an interconnect. However, an interconnect can introduce 0.75dB of loss while the fusion splice is typically less than 0.02dB. Therefore, the easiest way to minimize the amount of loss on a FTTH circuit is to bring the individual fibres from each workstation back to the closet and then splice to a higher-fibre-count cable. This approach also enables centralizing electronics for more efficient port utilisation. In FTTH applications, fusion splicing is now being used to install connectors for customer drop cables using new splice-on connector technology and drop cable fusion splicer.
A Popular Option for Data Centres
A significant increase in the number of applications supported by data centres has resulted in more cables and connections than ever, making available space a foremost concern. As a result, higher-density solutions like MTP/MPO connectors and multi-fibre cables that take up less pathway space than running individual duplex cables become more popular.
Since few manufacturers offer field-installable MTP/MPO connectors, many data centre managers are selecting either multi-fibre trunk cables with MTP/MPOs factory-terminated on each end, or fusion splicing to pre-terminated MTP/MPO or multi-fibre LC pigtails. When you select trunk cables with connectors on each end, data centre managers often specify lengths a little bit longer because they can’t always predict exact distances between equipment and they don’t want to be short. However, they then have to deal with excess slack. When there are thousands of connections, that slack can create a lot of congestion and limit proper air flow and cooling. One alternative is to purchase a multi-fibre pigtail and then splice to a multi-fibre cable.
Inside the data centre and in the enterprise LAN, 12-fibre MPO connectors provide a convenient method to support higher 40G and 100G bandwidth. Instead of fusing one fibre at a time, another type of fusion splicing which is called ribbon/mass fusion splicing is used. Ribbon/mass fusion splicing can fuse up to all 12 fibres in one ribbon at once, which offers the opportunity to significantly reduce termination labor by up to 75% with only a modest increase in tooling cost. Many of today’s cables with high fibre count involve subunits of 12 fibres each that can be quickly ribbonized. Splicing those fibres individually is very time consuming, however, ribbon/mass fusion splicers splice entire ribbons simultaneously. Ribbon/mass fusion splicer technology has been around for decades and now is available in handheld models.
Fusion splicing provides permanent low-loss connections that are performed quickly and easily, which are definite advantages over competing technologies. In addition, current fusion splicers are designed to provide enhanced features and high-quality performance, and be very affordable at the same time. FS provides various types and uses of fusion splicers with high quality and low price. For more information, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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