Fiber Optic Termination

BY: Christina Hansen


Proper fiber optic termination is extremely important when installing a fiber optic network. A network will be unreliable if this function is not performed correctly. Therefore, much attention is given to this area today, and more and more products are appearing on the market to make fiber optic termination easier and more accurate than ever.

What is Fiber Optic Termination?

Fiber optic termination is the connection of fiber or wire to a device, such as a wall outlet or equipment, which allows for connecting the cable to other cables or devices. The purpose of fiber optic termination is to enable fiber cross connection and light wave signal distribution. Proper fiber optic termination will protect the fibers from dirt or damage while in use and prevent excessive loss of light, thus, making a network run more smoothly and efficiently.

Preparing for Fiber Optic Termination

The preparation for fiber optic termination includes gathering the supplies you will need, stripping the outer jacket, cutting the Kevlar, and stripping the buffer or coating. For supplies, you’ll need safety glasses, a fiber disposal bin, connectors, fiber optic cable, epoxy and syringes (or Anaerobic adhesive), and polishing film. Tools used in fiber optic termination include fiber stripper, scribe, Aramid yarn scissors, adjustable cable jacket stripper, polishing puck, polishing glass plate, and a rubber pad to polish the PC connectors, especially for single mode termination.

You’ll also need testing equipment such as a power meter, FOtracer, reference test cables, a LED light source, and a microscope to view the connector.

Two Methods of Fiber Optic Termination

One type of fiber optic termination is the use of connectors that join two fibers to form a temporary joint. Splicing is the other type, and this involves connecting two bare fibers directly without any connectors.  Splicing is a permanent method of termination.

Fiber Optic Splicing Methods

Mechanical and fusion are the two different fiber optic splicing methods used today. Mechanical splicing aligns two fiber ends to a common centerline for the light to pass from one fiber to another. An adhesive cover or a snap-type cover is used to permanently fasten the splice.

Fiber optic cable mechanical splices are available for single mode or multimode fibers. They come in handy for permanent installations or quick repairs because they are small and very easy to use.

There are two steps involved in fusion splicing. These include the two fibers being precisely aligned and generating a small electric arc for melting the fibers and welding them together. The fiber optic cable fusion splicing has a low-loss connection, but the high precision splicer is bulky and expensive.

Buffer Tubing Protection

Once a cable enters a fiber closure, the jacket around the fiber cable is removed, and individual fibers are exposed. To prepare the fibers for splicing or termination, this process is needed. To prevent fiber cables from breaking, flexible buffer tubes are inserted into them.  This allows more resistance to crushing or other types of impact forces. The tensile strength is not so good because the fiber is not free to float, but the cable will be lighter and more flexible.

Always Follow Instructions in Fiber Optic Termination

The fiber optic termination process has become much easier today with an increased number of installers and readily-available termination products. But even if you are a professional installer, always follow fiber optic termination instructions closely. Be sure you have the exact instructions for the connector you are using because connectors are constructed differently.

There are many college classes as well as online classes that offer professional training in fiber optics termination. The basic skills you will learn in fiber optic termination include:

  • How to Prepare Cable for Termination
  • How to Strip the Fiber
  • How to Prepare the Epoxy (syringe kit)
  • How to Attach the Connector to the Fiber
  • How to Scribe and Polish
  • How to Inspect Your Connection
  • How to Test Your Connector

Fiber optic termination is so important that more than 80 types of connectors have been released from manufacturers.  There are different styles of connectors to fit with almost any type of fiber optic network plan. This is why so many companies and organizations are choosing fiber optics to build or re-design their networks today.