Pre-terminated cable, "to do" or "not to do"! that is the question?

When installing fibre optic cable there are a number of choices that need to be made.

One of these decisions is whether to use field terminated fibre cable or a pre-terminated cable.



Either of these choices will work and sometimes the decision is a difficult one to make.

Let's look at some of the things that we may base our decisions on

- Difference between the cost of field terminated and fibre optic pre-terminated cable

- Skills and equipment needed for installation

- Skills and equipment needed for testing

Comparing fibre terminated in the field to fibre optic pre-terminated cable.

Some operators may not be set up with the equipment required to complete a field terminated fibre.

A fusion splicer is typically used to fuse a pigtail onto the ends of the cable.

F7 Fusion Splicer

This is a more complicated process as it does require some skill to perform.

This means training and maintenance, therefore, more time and money. 

In comparison, a fibre optic pre-terminated cable only needs to be installed and plugged in - which is a much easier way of doing things. 

If there is no fusion splicing available for the installation the fibre optic pre-terminated cable may be the only option available.

As a pre-terminated cable is made in the factory it comes with all the connectors terminated, polished and tested for loss.

This assists in eliminating any potential wastage and time spent testing doing field terminations.

Advantages of pre-terminated cable

- Pre-terminated cable results will be consistent and of high quality.

- Better end-to-end attenuation

- Time and cost-saving as they are available for immediate installation and use.

- Labour saving as the need for termination and testing have been removed

- Reduction in waste

- Reduction in products required to complete a termination eg tools, etc

There are some disadvantages of pre-terminated cabling as well

- The biggest being the cost.

  A pre-terminated cable will set you back more than a field install.

  This is really only the case if you have all the products required to do a field install.

- You will need to know the exactlength required!

  If you order it too short you will need to replace it with the correct length of fibre required. This can be a costly mistake to make.

  If you order it too long you have to deal with the excess storage issues.

- You can damage the connectors in the pull. If this happens then you will need to replace the damaged connectors.

Skills and equipment needed for field installation.

Pigtail splicing is the most common technique used to terminate an optical fibre. This is achieved by fusing the fibre to a factory-made pigtail. 

A pigtail is a fibre with a polished connector on the end with a bare fibre on the other.


When splicing pigtails, the installer will need a fusion splicer, a tool kit, splice trays and hardware, and splice protectors such as heat shrinks.

If the installer already has all the equipment needed to use this method, they will be more likely to do it this way as they would only have to worry about purchasing consumables.

The other option is to hire the equipment to achieve the same result.

Skills and equipment needed for testing

When testing, the installer will need an OTDR and or a light source and power meter.

OTDRLight Source and Power Meter

                OTDR                                            Light Source        Power Meter

Typically, test results will be required after any installation.  For every installation, you need to test for continuity and polarity, end-to-end insertion loss and then resolve any issues if you have problems. Having the right tools for the job can again be quite costly to purchase and may be rented instead if required.


As far as alternatives go a fibre optic pre-terminated cable has to be one of the easiest choices to make.

The best way to make this decision is to weigh up what your strengths and weaknesses may be.

If you are set up for field installations then this is the path you should travel.

If you are not you now have an alternative available - pre-terminated cable.

With test results of each termination provided as standard, no further work is required from the installer to complete the task.

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