Choose the right fiber optic patch cable in 5 steps

Fiber optic patch cable for stable network

The right fiber optic patch cable is essential for a stable network. But how do you choose the right patch cable? What should you pay attention to? Which fiber optic patch cable is suitable for your application? Intronics tells you what you need to know to find the right cable.

Find the right cable in 5 steps:
  1. When do I use fiber optic patch cables?
  2. Which fiber optic patch cable do I choose?
  3. Which quality attributes do I need to pay attention to?
  4. How is a fiber patch cable constructed?
  5. Which fibers and connectors are used in fiber optic patch cables?

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1. When do I use fiber optic patch cables?

Fiber optic patch cables are used to connect active equipment to each other. Fiber optic patch cables are usually used to patch into 19" cabinets. In some cases you will find fiber patch cables also in cable ducts to bridge greater distances.

Fiber patch cables are also used as a connection to fixed cabling. Fixed cabling (also known as installation cabling) can be cabling inside a building or outside cabling in e.g. a Fiber to the Home network.

2. Which fiber optic patch cable should I choose?

Below you will find an overview of the different types of fiber optic patch cables. You can easily find out what the differences are and which cable is used where.

Duplex patch cables - The most commonly used fiber optic patch cable - Receiving and sending data via two fibers

Duplex patch cables are the most commonly used fiber patch cables. Duplex patch cables consist of two cables that are connected to each other. Duplex patch cables are also called zip cords, patch cords or jumpers. With duplex patch cables, one fiber is used for sending and the other for receiving. This makes two-way communication possible for applications such as internet and data communication.
Most of the cables below are modern variants of duplex patch cables with a certain improvement. This applies to the uniboot (HD), short boot, ruggedized and armored patch cables.

Simplex patch cables - Send and receive data over one fiber

Duplex patch cables consist of two cables with a connector on both sides. Simplex patch cables consist of one cable with a connector on both sides. You can halve the use of cables/fibers with simplex patch cables. This is only possible with special fiber-optic modules that enable two-way communication over one fiber.

These cables are often used in FTTH/telecom applications to minimize the number of fibers used. Simplex patch cables are only available in single mode.

Save time and space with Polarity Twist patch cables

Equipment can be connected in different ways. Sometimes it’s necessary to change the polarity when installing or modifying cabling. Polarity Twist cables can change the polarity within seconds and save 60% on cabling volume compared to regular patch cables.
This makes Polarity Twist cables the best solution for high density applications and the reduction on cable volume makes cable management easier.  
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Short boot patch cables - When there is little room for the connector

Short boot patch cables are ideal if there is limited space for the connector. For example when housing is compact or when there is little space between the panel and the door of a 19" cabinet. Short boot patch cables are similar to duplex patch cables, but are distinguished by a shorter boot/tule.

Ruggedized patch cables - Better mechanical protection

Ruggedized patch cables can be used for lengths of 10 meters or more. Standard patch cables are intended for short distances within a 19" cabinet. Ruggedized patch cables have an extra sheath for better mechanical protection. They are also called Flatoval fiber cables because of the shape of the extra sheath.

Armored patch cables - The best mechanical protection

If your patch cables are exposed to extreme conditions, choose armored patch cables. These are patch cables with a metal protective layer which makes the cables even more robust and better protected. These types of patch cables are often used in industrial and offshore applications.

IP67 patch cables

For outdoor use, you can use patch cables with an IP67 connector to achieve IP67 water and dust resistance. These cables are often used to connect antennas in a mobile transmitter mast with ground wiring to provide access to wireless applications such as wifi or mobile internet.

MTP|MPO patch cables

If you want to connect at high speeds (from 40G), the MTP/MPO patch cable is an excellent choice. This cable and connector contains 12 or more fibers and by combining the bandwidth of several fibers, high speeds are achieved. These cables are often used in situations where the bandwidth is high and the distance relatively short, usually up to 100 meters. Think of data centers and server rooms.

3. Which quality attributes do I need to pay attention to


Different degrees of quality have been established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Grade A to Grade C. Grade A assures you of the best quality fibers and connectors. For professional applications where reliability is paramount, we recommend Grade A.

Test report

In addition, we advise you to opt for fiber optic cables that are equipped with an individual test report. This means that each fiber in the cable has been tested for how much light is attenuated.

This attenuation has a direct influence on the speed and reliability of your network. By opting for fiber optic patch cables with an individual test report, you are assured of a cable that has been tested and you know the attenuation values in your network. 

Quality control in the production process

However fiber type and an individual test report do not tell the whole story. The production process and its quality control are of great importance. An incorrectly polished connector can reduce the optical performance of your connector within a short period of time after installation. This is not visible in the test report because it is measured immediately after production. It can also occur with Grade A parts in case of errors in the production process.

If you choose a reputable brand, the chance of errors in your network is minimal.

ACT is a renowned brand and has built up a reputation over the years by delivering consistent quality. At ACT we are proud of this and we will do everything we can to continue to deliver high consistent quality. With ACT cables, you can be sure of this and you will notice it through a reliable network.

4. How is a fiber patch cable constructed?

A fiber patch cable is composed of the following elements:
  • The fiber
  • Primary and secondary coating: strengthens the fiber and makes it suitable for installation.
  • Kevlar: the fiber is protected against tensile stress by the kevlar/aramid around the secondary coating.
  • The outer jacket m (also called jacket): strengthens the construction and protects the cable against external influences.
The most important characteristic of Kevlar is that it is very strong. Kevlar is used in bulletproof vests and high end speaker systems. Ideal for the protection of the fiber. 

5. Which fibers and connectors are used in patch cables?

Fiber optic patch cables are available with different types of fibers and connectors.

Multimode fiber for short distances

Multimode fibers are used for short distances and have a LED or VCSEL as light source. These fibers are limited in length and speed. Several generations of multimode fibers are available, from OM1 to OM5. Which variant you can use best depends on the application and whether you are going to expand an existing network. You will find more information in the table below.

Singlemode fiber for long distances

Singlemode fibers are used for longer distances and have almost infinite bandwidth. The light source of a single-mode fiber is a laser, which makes it more powerful and accurate, but also more expensive than a LED or VCSEL. In recent years, however, the price difference has been steadily decreasing, as a result of which single mode is increasingly being used for short distances as well.

See below an overview of different types of fiber:

Our professionals are ready to help

Our professionals are ready to help you. Please let us know if you need additional information or assistance in choosing a suitable solution. Please contact us for more information:

For more information, please contact us: +32 (0)14/220 334