A new type of connector technology combines the benefits of fusion splicing with the simplicity of a field-installable connector to expand our options for field-termination: the splice-on connector. Technicians are embracing the splice-on connector for outside plant environments, data center installations and multi-dwelling unit (MDU) networks.
A splice-on connector uses a fusion splicer to permanently join a fiber stub inside the connector with a fiber cable. The splice is protected within the boot of the connector, replacing the need for traditional pigtails because the splice is contained within the connector. The connector can be directly terminated using the patch panel’s existing cable management features.
As splice-on connectors become more popular, here are six reasons why you may want to consider them for your network.
As mentioned above, a typical fusion splicer requires a technician to splice on a pigtail, which then requires a splice tray to hold the protection sleeve. With a splice-on connector, the pigtail is eliminated because the fiber stub inside the connector is permanently joined with a fiber cable. The splice is protected within the connector boot.
Because a traditional pigtail isn’t necessary, there are no long lengths of fiber cable attached to the connector. There is no need for slack management of fiber strands in tight spaces and high-density environments, such as data center racks and outdoor enclosures. Connector assemblies enclose and protect the splice, eliminating the need for an external splice holder, tray or other accessory.
Splice-on connectors have better insertion loss and return loss performance as compared to a mechanical splice. Because it uses a fusion splicer, a splice-on connector creates a continuous connection in the glass by “welding” cores together. This results in better performance at the splice, and is then combined with a factory-terminated connector end-face. The result is more robust performance as compared to a mechanical splice, which simply aligns two fiber stubs as precisely as possible with index matching gel.
By combining fusion splicing with a field-installable connector, a splice-on connector gives installers greater flexibility. In the field, technicians can attach a connector to a cable via fusion as an alternative to standard mechanical splicing. With splice-on connectors, you can run drop cables to an end-user, cut the length you need, attach the splice-on connector and plug it in – no shorts or excess slack.
After a five- to 10-minute arc calibration to set up the fusion splicer, there is very little (if any) installation time difference between the two options; both splicing methods require a prepared fiber end. This allows you to complete durable, high-performance connections in the same amount of time it takes to complete a mechanical splice.
Published by Telcordia Technologies (now Ericsson), Generic Requirements (GRs) are high-quality, vendor-neutral technical specifications for new and existing technologies or services. They provide an unbiased view of proposed generic criteria for telecommunications equipment, systems or services, evaluating telecommunications equipment for safety, performance, reliability and impact on telecommunications facility environments. GRs assist with product design, network planning and equipment purchasing in harsh environments.
Most splice-on connectors carry GR ratings – generally meaning that they can be used in outdoor environments. Their permanent, robust connections hold up well in outdoor enclosures. They can remain stable through a wide range of temperatures and other harsh conditions. Typically, mechanical splices must be used indoors, and only carry TIA ratings.
As automated tools, most fusion splicers can notify the technician when a successful splice has been achieved. This removes much of the “craft sensitivity” or installer skill that is required for mechanical splicing, making it easy for novices and experts alike to use splice-on connectors.
Fusion-splicing tooling costs have stood in the way of broad adoption of fusion splicing. In recent years, however, the industry has experienced significant decreases in splicer prices, coupled with the proliferation of low-cost rental options. This has accelerated the popularity of fusion splicing and allows more installers to take advantage of splice-on connectors for deployments.
Whether you are considering splice-on connectors or other available options, Belden can help assist you in your decision-making process. Schedule a call to speak to a Belden expert today!
Belden’s FiberExpress FX Fusion Splice-On Connector is a cost-effective option for installers that want to reap the benefits of fusion splicing without the additional storage hardware required by pigtails.
If you’re dealing with small numbers of indoor connections, where loss budgets may not be a major concern, mechanical-splice connectors can still play an important role – Belden has technology solutions for these situations as well.
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Matthew is the Global Product Line Manager for Copper/Fiber Connectivity within the Enterprise Platform. An avid hockey fan originally from the Toronto area, he endures a painful existence cheering on the Maple Leafs year after year. Matthew holds a BSc in physics from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Miami University (Ohio)