Smart Building

Fiber Optic Glass: Why We Don’t Manufacture Our Own

Jim Zimnicki

As fiber cable usage grows – thanks in part to its seemingly unlimited bandwidth potential – we’re sometimes asked the question: “Why doesn’t Belden draw its own fiber optic glass?” (In other words: Why don’t we manufacture the glass that goes inside of our fiber optic cable?)

It’s a good question – and one we thought we’d answer here for everyone.


When thinking about the reasons we don’t draw our own fiber optic glass, it’s similar to the reason we don’t mine or refine our own copper for twisted-pair cables. In both cases, there’s an entire manufacturing process that takes place before copper or glass materials make it into enterprise cable and connectivity products.


When we purchase copper rods from our supplier, we send them to our wire mill to draw them down into wire. There are entire industries dedicated to mining copper for use in products like cables, PCB boards and motors.


The same applies for the glass found in fiber optic cable. The glass must be pure and clear so it can transmit light for miles without losing information. To make this happen, certain materials are filtered out, glass rods are created and refined, and the glass is then heated and pulled to reduce the diameter into a thin optical fiber. There’s an entire manufacturing process dedicated to designing glass in different sizes for use in various applications (like fiber optic cable).


Instead of becoming experts in mining copper and drawing fiber optic glass, Belden chooses to focus its efforts on how to best use those component commodity products in the cable and connectivity solutions we design to support convergence, broadcast and AV applications, data centers and enterprise networks. We let the experts in mining copper and drawing fiber optic glass do what they do best while we spend time on what we do best: Helping you identify and create the right types of end-to-end cable and connectivity solutions for your specific situation, answering questions like …

  • “What kind of fiber cable should I use?”
  • “Is multimode or singlemode better for this application?”
  • “Do I need a low-water-peak cable?”
  • “Can you review this spec and provide a suitable product?”

No matter what type of situation or application you have on your hands, our experts know the applicable codes and industry standards, are certified and follow best practices, understand the types of materials and products that need to be used to achieve reliable performance, and how to find cable that will work in any type of environment. (Will the cables be picked up a lot? Bent or stepped on? Deployed and redeployed frequently? Used in harsh outdoor environments?) Our customers should think of us as a “one-stop shop” for cable and connectivity.


Bring us your questions, your challenges, your timelines and your budget constraints – and Belden can design a solution to match. In our mind, that’s the difference between a partner that adds value to fiber and copper cabling vs. a vendor that’s focused on selling products no matter whether they’re the right fit for an application. Because we manufacture our own cable and connectivity, we can develop ideal fiber solutions for your unique environment. No matter what challenge you face, Belden can find – or create – the right solution.


Have a question? Leave us a note below or contact us – we’re happy to help!