Maximizing Pathway Efficiency In Your Network

In outside-plant environments, whether they are multi-building campuses or longer-haul communications networks, the initial installation and later re-configurations of fiber-optic systems present opportunities to either save or spend significant amounts of money. The efficient utilization of the pathways plays a central role in this economic equation.

Here is a scenario: Network traffic is increasing and you need to increase bandwidth. But, you have little to no room left in your existing 1.5” or 2” duct. Should you replace the duct? Add duct and cable? Or, is there a better way?  Digging to replace or install a duct can range anywhere from $15 to $42 per foot. The conduit itself is at least $1 per foot. Other accessories and labor can also add to this cost. Let’s use a 2,500 foot pathway installation as an example:

  • $25 per foot installation X 2500’ = $62,500
  • $1.15 per foot for duct X 2500’ = $2,875
    • $62,500 + $2,875 = $65,375 This does NOT include digging up and disposal of old duct, additional accessories, labor or new cables!!

Now that you know the general value of your pathway, you’ll need to determine the best solution for your network. Keep duct and replace cable with a higher fiber count, or replace/add duct AND cable. What’s the most logical choice?  In most cases, you will find that the cost to replace a duct AND install new duct and cable may be too costly for your budget….not to mention the substantial time investment to install duct and pull cable. Considering the costs, it makes sense now to take a look at the cable being used in the duct, and ensuring that the cable itself is fully maximized.

Introducing Pliable Ribbon Technology. This type of ribbon has separations between groups of fibers that allow a ribbon to be flexible and roll onto itself. This technology is the answer to wasted space in central tube cables.  Pliable ribbon technology allows for packing densities within cables similar to that of loose single fibers.  However, where loose single fiber cables require substantial time/labor investment during the termination phase (especially with high fiber count applications), the pliable ribbon based cables allow for rapid termination.  The pliable ribbon easily transforms to flat ribbon for splicing operations. So, splicing is not an issue since pliable ribbon can be spliced to other pliable ribbons, OR it can be spliced to flat ribbons.  It can even be quickly separated to individual fibers for single fiber splicing where desired.

Many central tube cables containing pliable ribbon technology are on the market today. The below is an illustration of an 864F standard flat ribbon central tube cable compared to an 864F pliable ribbon cable. What is the best choice?

Cables with pliable ribbon not only find a way to better utilize empty space, but also allow the cable design’s overall outer diameter and weight to reduce.

In review:

  • Ducts are costly! Save money and only replace or add ducts when absolutely necessary
  • Cables using pliable ribbon technology will help keep ducts in use for many, many years to come
  • Pliable ribbon works seamlessly with conventional flat ribbon if splicing is required
  • Pliable ribbon technology prepares your business for the future while keeping costs at bay.


About the Author

Loren Rapp is the Product Manager of Sumitomo Electric Lightwave’s fiber optic cabling solutions line. She joined the company three years ago in the Customer Service organization. Loren was instrumental in launching Sumitomo Electric Lightwave’s high fiber count solution including its industry-leading high fiber count cable portfolio.