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Making Sense of Outdoor Cabling

[fa icon="calendar"] August 16, 2019 / by C Enterprises

C Enterprises

Blue shining fiber optic


Cable assemblies installed in outdoor and indoor/outdoor environments must be properly selected to insure a durable, long-lasting connection.  Learn below how to select a cable structure and jacket for protecting your fiber optic installation:

Where do I start?

Optical fibers require an appropriate cable structure and jacket to avoid damage due to the rigors of installation and the demands of the selected application.  This is especially critical when the cabling will be subject to an outdoor environment.


Cable Jacket

The first line of protection for optical fibers is the cable jacket.  Indoor/Outdoor applications involves manufacturing a jacket material constructed with the appropriate combination of moisture, mechanical, flame, chemical and UV protection for the outdoor environment, but with a proper flame rating for the indoor environment.  Below are the key factors to take into account:


Cable Flame Rating Options

NEC Code Code Description Application
OFNP Optical Fiber Non-conductive Plenum Plenum
OFCP Optical Fiber Conductive Plenum Hybrid or Armored Plenum
OFNR Optical Fiber Non-conductive Riser Riser
OFCR Optical Fiber Conductive Riser Hybrid or Armored Riser


Flame Rating Environments

Plenum: A building space used for air distribution, such as a drop ceiling or raised floor.  Cable jacket must be flame-resistant and low-smoke.

Office ceiling with white fluorescent fixture near window


Riser: Ducts, floor shafts, or openings running vertically between one or more floors.  The cable jacket is non-conductive and resistant to oxidation.  Plenum rated jackets may be used in a riser space.



General Purpose:  An area that is not Riser or Plenum on the same floor or space.  Both Riser and Plenum rated jackets may be used in a General Purpose space.


Outside Plant (OSP): Cable jacket material designed to withstand the rigors of an outdoor environment, but without the flame rating needed to enter a building environment more than 50 feet.


Cable Structure

Another key factor is selecting a proper cable is: application.  Below are some common applications which have a specialized cable structure:


Common Indoor/Outdoor Cable Applications

parker-gibbons-kfwPJieZVwI-unsplashCampus/Building Backbone:  In order to simplify fiber networks by eliminating splice points and additional fiber terminations, indoor/outdoor rated cables reduce points of failure and associated down time for a wide range of institutions including hospitals and educational facilities.



Apartment building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU):  Providing Fiber to the Home (FTTH) in a building with multiple dwellings presents challenges that are addressed by specially designed indoor/outdoor cable assemblies.  MDU Assemblies employ a bend-insensitive fiber, along with a robust indoor/outdoor cable jacket, for optimal flexibility and performance in a wide range of building deployments.


dreamstime_xxl_81062976-pngSmall Cell and Antennas Cables:  A variety of specialized cables are offered to address Wireless and DAS installations.  Appropriate Indoor/Outdoor and OSP cables withstand the wide temperature range, UV radiation, and factors unique to the antenna environment.  Explore our Wireless Solutions Center for more details.



Common OSP Cable Applications


Aerial Cables: Deployments above ground on poles or towers, which removes the need for underground digging.  Some designs are self-supported, while others employ a "messenger" wire to help support the cable's weight between poles.  The UV-resistant properties of the cable jacket are key for long term protection in such an environment.




Image of construction workers digging on a roadDirect Burial:  In installations with no duct structure, cabling can be buried in a trench or by using a vibration plow.  A rugged, armored cable is ideal of such situations.  Direct Burial cables often include corrugated steel tape, which provides an extra layer of fiber protection with excellent water-blocking capabilities. 



suburbs-2211335_1920Drop Cables:  These cables provide the final link between a distribution point and the end user for FTTx applications, such as Fiber to the Home (FTTH).  For such applications a drop cable will generally contain 1-12 fibers and employ dielectric strength members to provide a high crush resistance.




A properly selected Indoor/Outdoor or OSP cable assembly can reduce the cost and complexity of an installation, without sacrificing connection reliability.


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Written by C Enterprises

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