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Why Use Corning ALTOS® Gel-Free Cables Instead of Gel-Filled?



altos all-dielectric fiber optic cable

When it comes to running fiber optic network cables outdoors, there are extra environmental considerations to keep in mind. Factors like moisture and temperature fluctuations can cause cables to take on water, fill with condensation, and repeatedly expand and contract, which in turn can lead to attenuation and a decrease in fiber reliability.

In order to combat the negative effects that outdoor environments can have on optical fibers, a new type of fiber optic cable was developed for outside use. Known as outside-plant, this cable features a design that centers on loose buffer tubes - which allow the delicate glass fibers to move freely – and a gel filling compound that floods the cable and buffer tubes to keep moisture out (not surprisingly, outside-plant cable is also referred to as “loose tube” and “gel-filled”).

Standard gel-filled outside-plant cables effectively protect optical fibers against moisture and condensation, but the mere fact that they're full of gel can make them tedious and inconvenient to work with. That's where Corning ALTOS® Gel-Free All-Dielectric Cables come in. These dielectric yarn-filled outdoor fiber optic cables are compact, lightweight, and offer excellent protection… without the gel! Read on to learn why ALTOS® gel-free cables can benefit your outside-plant fiber optic installation.


They save time and eliminate the mess.

Throughout the telecom industry, gel-filled outdoor plant fiber optic cables are not-so-affectionately known by many installers as “icky-pick,” and for very good reason: they can be, well… icky. That protective flooding gel has a way of sliming up just about anything it comes in contact with, and it’s not easy to wash off. While it can be annoying enough to have gel-coated fingers, clothes and tools, there's something worse still: sticky fibers.

Because they're covered in gel, the optical fibers in loose tube cables require extremely thorough cleaning before they can be successfully spliced or terminated. Unfortunately, prying icky-pick off delicate glass fibers can cost you a lot of time and frustration. On the other hand, Corning ALTOS® All-Dielectric fiber optic cables are gel-free; with their water-swellable insulating yarns, they offer all the temperature and moisture protection that icky-pick cables do - but none of the mess!


They're less likely to spread fire.

The protective gel found in most traditional loose-tube fiber optic cables isn't just messy – it can be extremely flammable as well. While Corning ALTOS® Gel-Free All-Dielectric cables don't have a flammability rating (outside-plant cables don't require flame testing), they are far less combustible than icky-pick filled cables, making them an exceptionally good choice for locations that experience a high incidence of lightning strikes.


No grounding needed.

All loose tube outdoor plant cables are built around a central strength member - made of either steel or a dielectric material - which provides the cable with support and stability, and prevents the optical fibers from over-bending. Because metal conducts electricity, any fiber optic cable containing a steel strength member needs to be properly grounded during installation.

Corning ALTOS® Gel-Free cables save you the work and expense of grounding: not only are they built around dielectric strength members (which don't require grounding), they have extra electrical resistance built-in in the form of the all-dielectric tapes and yarns that replace regular “icky-pick” gel. The result? Corning ALTOS® offers you the ultimate in mess-free, convenient, and electrically safe outdoor-plant fiber optic cabling.


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