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Things to Know About Aerial Fiber Cable Mechanics

Louise Simon
By Louise Simon
contributor

April 8, 2022


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  • Nowadays, a lot of aerial cable products are available in the market. They are primarily used for power transmissions below 1000 volts or in telecommunication systems. If you have decided to choose aerial cable, you have two options for installation. You can install fiber into an aerial microduct or aerial drop tube. You can also choose to deploy a pre-fibered self-supporting cable. 

    Usually, the first approach to installing aerial cables requires two phases of installation. But using self-supporting cables will mean the installation process can be completed within a single phase. People often assume that self-supporting aerial cables have a low installation cost. However, it’s not that simple, and the cost of installation depends on other factors. Dig deeper to know more about the two types of aerial cable mechanics.

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    Fiber In-Duct Aerial Cable Installation

    If you are planning fiber in-duct aerial cable installation, you have two options:

    Blown Fiber

    Installation costs are quite high as the microduct needs to be deployed before blowing the fiber. The extra time and cost of the compressor and blowing head make the option unattractive. Besides, the process of blowing fiber is too extensive and time-consuming. It is only applicable to long fiber routes or when planners want to install a fiber raceway.

    After deploying the fibers, they need to be spliced by an expert optical engineer. It is once again a lengthy process, but blown fiber has some benefits. Using blown fiber ensures that fibers can be easily replaced in the future without too much disruption. You can blow fibers up to two miles and even further in some cases.

    Pushable Fiber

    The first stage involves microduct being lashed to utility poles. In the second stage, the fiber is either pushed or pulled instead of being blown by air. The installation speed for STL pushable fiber is around 20 to 50 feet per minute when done manually. A battery-powered pushing machine can cover around 100 feet every minute. 

    A connector onto the pushable cable is often pre-terminated in FTTH installations. It ensures that the fibers don’t have to be spliced at the two ends of the drop cable. But a pushable fiber cable can only be used in short metropolitan area networks or last drops. Pushable fiber cable is not applicable for routes exceeding 1,000 feet.

    Pre-fibered Self Supporting Aerial Cable

    You also get two options when you choose pre-fibered self-supporting cable.

    Loose-Tube

    These cables are larger than the fiber in-duct ones. Even though they can be pre-terminated, you will need bulky connectors to unwield them. The cost of a loose tube cable depends on the number of fiber tubes. The loose tube cables can be rectangular or oval. When the cables are round, they are often made using empty filler tubes.

    The process of installation is quite similar to microduct. But deploying loose tube cables requires less time as only one truck roll is needed. The loose tube cables are suitable for long deployments. They are ideal for building long metropolitan area trunk lines or backbone networks. 

    Tight-Buffered

    The design and construction resemble loose tube cables. But the fiber sets usually contain 12 fibers each and cannot move freely. The price of tight-buffered cables is a little less than loose-tube cables, as manufacturing tight-buffered cables are less expensive. The installation cost is also similar to loose-tube cables, and the process can be completed within one phase. But unfortunately, tight-buffered cables are not suitable for over 1 km. 

    Final Thoughts

    Every type of installation for aerial cables is different. Understand the advantages of an installation approach and determine if it’s suitable for your part of the network. You also need to determine whether installation time and cost are ideal for a high-quality deployment.  

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