Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

Simple ribbonizing tool

Technological advancements have made building a fiber network faster and more efficient. One of those advancements is the reintroduction of ribbon fiber. Ribbon fiber, unlike most advancements, isn’t anything new. It has been around for over 25 years, but due to the demand to build a FTTH network more rapidly and more reliably, ribbon fiber has made significant changes to adapt to the times. In the early years fiber was not round, it wasn’t consistent in diameter, and the core wasn’t positioned in the center of the fiber like it is today. The adoption of the industry-wide GR 652 spec led to improvements not only in the geometry of the fiber, but also the composition. GR 652, along with improvements in termination equipment, have had a tremendous impact on the development of ribbon fiber.

One such advancement is the use of v-groove splicing machines which has reduced the loss in ribbon splicing to an accepted loss budget level. Another advancement is the ability to remove the matrix covering ribbon fibers. In the past, the material used to bond and protect fibers in a ribbon were very difficult to remove, but today a new peelable material is used that can easily be removed from fibers. Because of these advancements, modern ribbon fiber has essentially become a flat loose buffer tube. Ribbon and loose tube share the same fundamental characteristics, but when it comes to accessibility of individual fibers and ease of splicing, ribbon definitely has the advantage. When splicing a loose buffer tube a tech can only splice one fiber at a time, but with a ribbon fiber the entire ribbon, complete with 12 bonded individual fibers, is spliced simultaneously. To illustrate this point, take a look at the table that illustrates the time it would take to splice a 288 cabinet using ribbon fiber compared to using a loose buffer tube.

Loose Buffer Tube Ribbon
1 12 (one ribbon)
3 minutes per buffer tube 12 minutes per ribbon
3×12 = 36 minutes for one complete tube. 36 x24 buffer tubes = 864 minutes 12 (12 fibers per ribbon) x 24 ribbons = 288 minutes

The moral of the story is that we need to change our way of thinking when it comes to splicing fiber cables. Instead of prepping one fiber at a time, techs can now ribbonize all the fibers together into one ribbon. Clearfield’s disposable ribbonizing tool efficiently organizes and prepares loose tube fibers to facilitate mass fusion splicing. To see ribbonizing in action take a look at this video to get a better idea of how easy it can be. When directly comparing these two options, splicing a ribbon fiber is three times faster than splicing a loose buffer tube. When time equates to money, ribbon cables is the way to go. Techs that are comfortable with splicing loose tube fiber cable can continue using the features they like with the only difference affecting the last 8 inches of cable. The numerous similarities between the two splicing methods means that there is a short learning curve and the technical know-how of splicing individual loose buffer tube remains relevant when ribbonizing. Clearfield realized this time saving feature when designing our Clearview® Black (CVB) cassette and made the decision to utilize a ribbon only concept. The CVB, just like ribbon fiber, cuts down on time and materials. A single CVB is only half the space of a Clearview Blue Cassette. The first product to feature these benefits is our 288 fiber above or below grade FDH called the Makwa™. The Clearview Black Cassette and Ribbon Fiber cable splicing have paired together to foster a new way of thinking.