Guide for How to Choose Fiber Optic Cable

June 22, 2021

In our daily life, we often notice there are different kinds of fiber optic cable, they are various in sizes, shapes, and color from outside. Moreover, there are more differences insides, from cable structure and materials.

But when comes to an actual fiber cable project, what kind of fiber optic cable should I choose from perspectives of both mechanical and optical performance? How to Choose The Right Fiber Optic Cable?

HOC (Hone Optical Communications) has 19+ years experiences of optical communication and ODN. Let’s find out!

Optical Fiber

Fiber is the core element of a fiber optic cable. It is used as the medium to transmit optical signal. So, to get the cable right, we need to figure out which optical fiber and how many fiber counts do we need.

Fiber Type

First, we should select single mode or multi-mode optical fiber according to the network application and specification.

Generally, multimode optical fiber is mainly used in indoor and short distance applications, and single-mode optical fiber is mainly used in outdoor and long-distance applications. HOC also discuss more details about multimode vs. single mode in this article.

Fiber Counts

After we have determined the optical fiber type, we need to figure out how many fibers are required for the network construction. This depends a lot on the FTTX and ODN (optical distribution network) scale and which part the fiber optical cable is used.

A backbone fiber optic cable from data center to distribution cabinet can have fiber counts from 24 cores to 288 cores. Fiber counts for distribution fiber optic cable is like backbone fiber optic cable but normally fewer. And the last mile FTTH drop cable is normally 1 core or 2 cores. This article of how optical fiber arrives your home will give you more info on where the optical cable is in the network.

Application Environment

In addition to the fiber types and number of fiber cores, the structure and outer sheath of optical cable should also be considered based on where the fiber optic cable is used.


When it’s an outdoor application and cable needed to directly buried, a loose tube stranded armored fiber optic cable is the best choice. This provides necessary crush protection for optical fiber and the cable itself.

When it’s an aerial construction, a fiber cable which can support its weight is a better one. A self-supporting fiber optic cable has strength member such as an extra steel wire or FRP messenger or aramid yarn to provide performance on tensile. The most common self-supporting fiber optic cable structures are figure 8 and ADSS.


Cable characteristics of flame retardant, low smoke, and halogen free (LSZH) should be the first thing we need to pay attention when cable is used indoors. Generally, we can check this from class of cable flame retardant and sheath material like LSZH.

In the pipelines or forced ventilation places, flame retardant but smoke-free or combustible non-toxic type (LSZH) are good solutions. In exposed indoor environment, an optical cable of flame retardant, non-toxic and smokeless type (Riser cable) is required.

A tight buffer fiber also provides good mechanical performance such as small bend diameter, soft and easy to strip for indoor application.


When laying cables vertically or horizontally in the building, it is advisable to select tight buffer fiber cable, distribution optical cables or branch optical cables that are commonly used in the building.


Now, we have the basic knowledge to select a fiber cable from its optical fiber and application environment. Here’ s a more intuitive summary you can check when you choose a fiber optic cable.

Did we miss anything? Or you have other ideas for optical cable selection? Write us comments of email!

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Tony Lau is technical manager and co-founder at HOC. He loves writing about content optical fiber communications, specializes in fiber optic cables, FTTH turnkey solutions, ADSS cable, and ODN networks.

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