Splice-On Connectors: Their Advantages and What to Consider

Splice-on connectors are devices used to align, attach, and achieve continuity between optical fibers. They join two optical fibers where a connect/disconnect capability is required and also terminate fiber-optic connections. Within a fiber optic network, connectors are typically used at both the transmitter and receiver and also at patch panels to allow for rapid network configuration changes. Splice-on connectors are ideal for central office, fiber hub/pedestal, and data center applications offering real-time flexibility for quick moves, adds, changes, repairs, and restoration with minimal downtime. 

Although there are many manufacturers offering connectors, not all connectors are created equally. High quality connector companies carefully control component geometry, materials, and manufacturing processes and test their connectors to the relevant industry standards. Important factors to consider in choosing connectors include:

  • One of the most important functions of a connector is to provide a smooth, stable, and properly-aligned connection with minimal insertion loss (IL) and back reflection (RL). The construction of a connector is key in minimizing loss values. Important construction elements in a quality connector include the design, manufacturing, and polishing processes. A well-controlled polishing process is critical for consistent end face geometry.
  • Another important function of a connector is that it provides a stable connection across an intended temperature range in both indoor and outdoor plants. Within these environments, the connectors must pass rigorous mechanical tests (e.g., vibration, twist, and flex). The ability to meet this need is dependent on the design of the connector and how well the company that built it controls its materials.
  • It is important that connectors meet Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standards (FOCIS). FOCIS ensures that each manufacturer’s connector can work with another manufacturer’s connector of the same type. 

Termination Solutions

There are a variety of termination solutions available on the market. These solutions include factory-terminated, factory-terminated pigtails, and field-terminated connectors. Within field-terminated connectors, there are three options: field-polished connectors, mechanical splice connectors, and splice-on connectors (SOCs). 

Engineers and experts often recommend SOCs as one of the best termination solutions available. Instead of a mechanical splice, field technicians complete a fusion splice. The advantages of SOCs encompass important considerations when choosing a connector:

  • factory-terminated ferrule
  • factory fiber stub is fusion spliced to field fiber
  • meets industry standards and requirements (e.g., FOCIS)
  • the splicer automatically inspects the cleaved fiber before the splice and provides the loss value of the splice when finished

Fusion splicing is the best method to produce the lowest possible insertion loss when joining two fibers. This process joins two fiber ends together, utilizing an electric arc between two electrodes. The resulting fusion splice is permanent and dependable. Sumitomo Electric Lightwave (SEL) has compiled over 40 years of field data that proves the reliability of fusion splicing.

There are several important elements to consider when choosing a splice-on connector:

  • connector length
  • a high-performance cable attachment
  • terminations without measurements
  • SOC should allow for the proper use of the cleaver
  • designed to preserve the ferrule endface through the installation process

SEL’s Lynx CustomFit™ Splice-On Connectors come in an array of connector, polish, and fiber types as well as diameters to allow field technicians to make customized, on-site field terminations and cable builds at exact lengths. SEL also offers corresponding tools, kits, and accessories that make splicer selection, cleaning, and installation simple and efficient.