Understanding Fiber Optic Cables

Understanding Fiber Optic Cables – Part 1

A fiber optic cable is a network cable that contains strands of glass fibers inside an insulated casing, designed for long distance, high-performance data networking and telecommunications. Compared to wired cables, fiber optic cables provide higher bandwidth and can transmit data over longer distances. They basically support much of the world's internet, cable television, and telephone systems.

Fiber optic cables come in two types; Single Mode and Multimode. Let’s dive into detail on their functional differences and applications.

Single Mode Cable

Single Mode optic cable has a small diametral core that allows only one mode of light to propagate. The small core and single light-wave virtually eliminate any distortion that could result from overlapping light pulses, providing the least signal attenuation. Because of this, the number of light reflections created as the light passes through the core decreases, lowering attenuation (loss), creating the ability for the signal to travel further and enabling the highest transmission speeds of any fiber cable type. 

Types of Single Mode Fiber Cables

Single mode cables come in 2 categories, OS1 and OS2.

In a nutshell, OS1 fiber is a tight buffered cable designed for use in indoor applications (such as campuses or data centers) where the maximum distance is 10 km. OS2 fiber is a loose tube cable designed for use in outdoor cases (like street, underground and burial) where the maximum distance is up to 200 km. Both OS1 and OS2 fiber optic cable allow a distance of gigabit to 10G Ethernet. Besides, OS2 fiber can support 40G and 100G Ethernet.


Single Mode cables are best suited for long distance, high bandwidth signal transmissions by Telcos, Cable TV companies, Colleges and Universities as well as Data Centers.

Multimode Cable

A multimode optic cable has a large diametral core that allows multiple modes of light to propagate. Because of this, the number of light reflections created as the light passes through the core increases, creating the ability for more data to pass through at a given time. Because of the high dispersion and attenuation rate with this type of fiber, the quality of the signal is reduced over long distances.

Types of Multimode Fiber Cables

Multimode cables are classified into 5 categories, based on functional differences.

OM1 - typically comes with an orange jacket and have a core size of 62.5 µm. It can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths of up to 33 meters. It is most commonly used for 100 Megabit Ethernet applications. This type commonly uses a LED light source.

OM2 - Like OM1, OM2 fiber also comes with an orange jacket and uses a LED light source but with a smaller core size of 50 µm. It supports up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths up to 82 meters but is more commonly used for 1 Gigabit Ethernet applications.

OM3 - OM3 fiber comes with an aqua color jacket. Like the OM2, its core size is 50 µm, but the cable is optimized for laser-based equipment. OM3 supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths up to 300 meters. Besides, OM3 is able to support 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet up to 100 meters, however, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is most commonly used.

OM4 - OM4 fiber is completely backwards compatible with OM3 fiber and shares the same distinctive aqua jacket. OM4 was developed specifically for VSCEL laser transmission and allows 10 Gbit/s link distances of up to 550m compared to 300M with OM3. And it’s able to run 40/100GB up to 150 meters utilizing a MPO connector.

OM5 - OM5 fiber, also known as WBMMF (wideband multimode fiber), is the newest type of multimode fiber, and it is backwards compatible with OM4. It has the same core size as OM2, OM3, and OM4. The color of OM5 fiber jacket was chosen as lime green. It is designed and specified to support at least four WDM channels at a minimum speed of 28Gbps per channel through the 850-953 nm window.

Multimode fiber cable types


Multimode cables are typically used for short distance, data and audio/video applications in LANs.

Single Mode or Multimode?

It is all dependent on the applications. For backbone, high-speed interconnections between systems or even large companies over a long distance, single mode fiber cables work best. These cables can be quite pricey.

Multimode cables on the other hand are more preferred as a cost-effective choice for enterprise and data center interconnections, up to 600 metres. They are often used for backbone applications in buildings.

However, that doesn’t mean one can substitute a single mode fiber with multimode cable. It all depends on applications that you need, transmission distance to be covered as well as the overall budget allowed.

Do visit our store to explore our wide catalogue of Single Mode and Multimode fiber optic cables by trusted vendors, for your high-speed interconnections and transmission needs!

What are Data Center-Class Switches?

Before making the decision to purchase switches for your data center, first be sure what your network needs and where. Network switches fall into four basic categories: those that fit into the classic three-tier enterprise network model, and newer data center-class switches currently used mainly by large enterprises and cloud providers that rely heavily on virtualization. These newer switches have density and performance characteristics that can be deployed throughout the data center or to anchor a two-tier (leaf-spine) or one-tier flat mesh or fabric architecture.

You may hear network administrators say something like, "A switch is just a switch no matter who makes it." In some ways, it's true; in other ways, not so much.

All switches have basic functionality that includes maintaining a media access control (MAC) address-to-port table, which is used to intelligently forward frames out the right ports to the intended destinations. All switches also use standards-based protocols to segment traffic using the concept of virtual local area networks, 802.1q trunks and 802.3ad port aggregation. They also prevent network loops using one of the many variants of the 802.1d spanning-tree protocol.

But if you look beneath the surface, you find different types of switches have unique characteristics that, when used properly, better optimize the network as a whole. The easiest way to look at these differences is to break them up into the following traditional three-tier enterprise-network design:

Core switches

Distribution switches

Access switches

Three-Tiered Network Model

Note the three-tiered architecture's pyramid design. Core switches interconnect with other core switches and down to the distribution tier. The distribution tier sits in between the core and the access tier. The access tier connects the entire structure to end devices like computers, printers and servers.

Tasks and workloads can be distinct for switches in different tiers. While all switches share universal functions like MAC tables, spanning-tree and trunking, they also have exclusive capabilities performed only within that network tier.

Core switches

The core switch is the easiest to understand. Core switches are all about speed. If designed properly, the only tasks a core switch should perform are routing at Layer 3 (the network layer) and switching at Layer 2 (the data link layer that moves data across the physical links of a network).

Core switches are high-throughput, high-performance packet and frame movers. Packets and frames are simply moved from one core switch to another core switch, and eventually down to the next tier of switches -- the distribution tier.

Distribution switches

The distribution tier addresses a new set of unique switching needs, and is the workhorse of any enterprise network.

First and foremost, distribution switches are used to connect the core and access tiers together on the network. If data needs to be moved from one distribution block to another, the switch pushes that data up to the core switches, which know the optimal path to the destination distribution tier switch.

Secondly, distribution switches also interconnect all network access tier switches. Because there are so many interconnections in a network, distribution switches have higher port density than core switches, which have far fewer interconnections to other switches.

Finally and most importantly, distribution switches enforce all forms of network policies. Access lists are configured and implemented in the distribution tier to permit or deny traffic from one network to another. Quality of service policies are also found here to prioritize packets and put them into pre-defined queues for optimal transport of time-sensitive information. In addition to port density, distribution tier switches must have enough CPU speed and memory to perform all tasks at or near wire speed.

Access switches

At the bottom of the classic three-tier switch design is the access tier.

Access tier switches are the only ones that directly interact with end-user devices. Because an access switch connects the majority of devices to the network, the access tier typically has the highest port density of all switch types.

Despite the high port-count, however, access switches usually provide the lowest throughput-per-port of all switches. For example, most modern access switches provide a 10/100/1000 Mbps copper Ethernet connection to end devices. By contrast, core and distribution tier switches commonly use between 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps fiber-optic ports.

So in terms of CPU and raw throughput, access switches are on the low end of the scale. But these switches offer many features that cater specifically to end-devices that the upper tiers do not require. For example, access switches commonly support Power over Ethernet, which can power many endpoint devices, including wireless access points and security cameras.

Additionally, access switches are better able to interact with endpoints from a security perspective. Things like port-security, 802.1X authentication and other security mechanisms are built directly onto access switch software.

Changes in data center design affects switches

The three-tiered design connects devices and layers across an enterprise infrastructure with high scalability. Up until a few years ago, only access switches were used to connect servers to the rest of the network using the same 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports that desktop computers or networked printers use. Over time, however, changes in data-center server architecture -- paced by developments such as storage area networks (SANs) and the continued growth of virtualization -- ushered in a new breed of high-performance switches that we will refer to as data center-class switches.

These switches provide the physical port capacity and port throughput required to handle both north-south and east-west traffic flows. They allow for connectivity using both standard LAN Ethernet protocol and SAN protocols, such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet and legacy Fibre Channel. Data center-class switches have more extensive high availability and fault tolerance systems built into the hardware and software for better uptime for mission-critical applications. And they provide significantly higher deployment flexibility with both top-of-rack and end-of-row configuration compatibility. Finally, all components of a distributed data center-class switch can be managed from a single management interface for ease of use.

This article was published by Andrew Froehlich (West Gate Network). Article title. What are data center-class switches?Retrieved from HERE

Giganet Category 6 UTP

Network Cabling: Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) is a ubiquitous type of copper cabling used in telephone wiring and local area networks (LANs). There are five types of UTP cables -- identified with the prefix CAT, as in category -- each supporting a different amount of bandwidth.

Alternatives to UTP cable include coaxial cable and fiber optic cable. There are benefits and tradeoffs to each type of cabling, but broadly speaking, most enterprises favor UTP cable due to its low cost and ease of installation. 

How UTP cables work: Twisted pair design

Inside a UTP cable is up to four twisted pairs of copper wires, enclosed in a protective plastic cover, with the greater number of pairs corresponding to more bandwidth. The two individual wires in a single pair are twisted around each other, and then the pairs are twisted around each other, as well. This is done to reduce crosstalk and electromagnetic interference, each of which can degrade network performance. Each signal on a twisted pair requires both wires.

Twisted pairs are color-coded to make it easy to identify each pair; One wire in a pair is identified by one of five colors: blue, orange, green, brown or slate (gray). This wire is paired with a wire from a different color group: white, red, black, yellow or violet. Typically, one wire in a pair is solid-colored, and the second is striped with the color of its mate -- e.g., a solid blue wire would be paired with a white-and-blue striped wire -- so they can be easily identified and matched.

Different uses, such as analog, digital and Ethernet, require different pair multiples.

The twisted-pair design was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1881.

Types of UTP cables

The five categories of UTP cable are defined by the TIA/EIA 568 standard:

CAT3: Rarely used today, CAT3 is usually deployed in phone lines. It supports 10 Mbps for up to 100 meters.

CAT4: Typically used in token ring networks, CAT4 supports 16 Mbps for up to 100 meters.

CAT5: Used in Ethernet-based LANs, CAT5 contains two twisted pairs. It supports 100 Mbps for up to 100 meters.

CAT5e: Used in Ethernet-based LANs, CAT5e contains four twisted pairs. It supports 1 Gbps for 100 meters.

CAT6: Used in Ethernet-based LANs and data center networks, CAT6 contains four tightly wound twisted pairs. It supports 1 Gbps for up to 100 meters and 10 Gbps for up to 50 meters.

The most common connector used with UTP cable is an RJ-45.

Shielded vs. Unshielded Twisted Pair cables

The unshielded in UTP refers to the lack of metallic shielding around the copper wires. By its very nature, the twisted-pair design helps minimize electronic interference by providing balanced signal transmission, making a physical shield unnecessary. In addition, different twist rates -- that is, varying the amount of twists between different pairs -- can also be used to reduce crosstalk. Because these protections come from how the wires are physically laid out, bending or stretching a UTP cable too much can damage the pairs and make interference more likely to occur.

In a shielded twisted pair (STP), the wires are enclosed in a shield that functions as a grounding mechanism. This is done to provide greater protection from electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference; however, STP cable is more expensive and difficult to install, compared with UTP.

This article was last published in May 2017, by Margret Rouse. Article title. Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Retrieved from HERE

Ubiquiti IsoStation

Ubiquiti IsoStation – Get Maximum Gain out of the Smallest Footprint

In the WISP quest to connect people and things, the unlicensed RF environment is getting crowded every moment and WISPs have to deal with interference every time. Even worse, there isn't enough space any more for co-location especially with the traditional antenna design. As solution providers, we understand this problem; Not only so, but also intentional about solving it. We bring you, the Ubiquiti IsoStation M5 and 5AC, with interchangeable PrismAP Horn Antennas.

Ubiquiti IsoStation

Ubiquiti IsoStation M5 and 5AC, with Interchangeable PrismAP Horn Antennas.

Here's why...

It gives you improved noise immunity with the tailored antenna radiation patterns that spatially filters both in-band and out-of-band spurious RF emissions. This feature is especially important in an increasingly congested RF urban environment.

Ubiquiti IsoStation

Improved Noise Immunity

Its modular design gives you options to interchange the antenna, to improve beam‑shaping for specific deployment needs. By default, the IsoStation 5AC includes the symmetrical horn antenna with 45° beamwidth which is interchangeable with either the 30°, 60°, or 90° antenna.

IsoStation 5AC

Interchangeable PrismAP Horn Antennas

Horn antennas offer breakthrough scalability options for wireless systems, increasing co-location performance without sacrificing gain, thus allowing for a higher density of sectors compared to traditional sector technology. This makes them ideal for cluster sector installations with high co-location requirements.

Ubiquiti IsoStation

Increase Co-location Performance Without Sacrificing Gain

Your network gets extended radio performance enabling you to reach and serve a greater number of customers by providing high throughput using AC wireless technology.

Ubiquiti IsoStation

Extended Radio Performance

So, there you have it! Problem solved! Do take advantage of our deals and get the best prices for the Ubiquiti Isostation M5 and 5AC, and Ubiquiti PrismAP Horn Antennas.

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