As the demand for increased network speed is rising across the globe, fiber optic network has gained worldwide acceptance in high-bandwidth applications (especially in mission-critical applications like surveillance camera systems) owing to its high-speed data transmission with low attenuation, especially in long-distance deployments. But as the number of connected devices increases, the distribution and management of fiber cables become more and more difficult. They can easily get tangled if not well-maintained and they are more susceptible to oxidation due to long-term exposure to the outside world. To address this problem, the fiber termination box (FTB) was created to protect the fragile fiber terminals and provide a simple and clear way to manage the incoming and outgoing cables.
What is the Fiber Termination Box?
Fiber termination box (FTB), also known as optical terminal box (OTB), generally refers to a distribution box specially designed for fiber cable management (fiber patch cables/pigtails) in FTTH applications. It offers a cost-effective method to handle large quantities of fiber cables in an orderly manner with lower costs and higher flexibility. It’s universally acknowledged that fiber optic cables are more susceptible to physical damages caused by bending, folding or pinching than copper cables, and thereby extra protection is required. The FTB integrates termination, splicing, storage and management of fiber optic cables all in one unit. It is designed to be easily installed, maintained and managed. Featuring a compact design for wall or rack mounting, it provides a space-saving solution to facilitate fiber optic installation in situations where large-sized terminal hubs seem infeasible.
The number of fiber cores in the FTB varies from different manufacturers ranging from 2 to 96 ports based on real-life applications. An ordinary termination box is composed of three parts: housing, internal components and fiber connector protection element. The internal is encapsulated in an IP-rated housing made of sturdy and impact-resistant materials against damages caused during placing or operating. It should be dust-proof, watertight and has a strong resistance to corrosive elements for long-term outdoor deployments. And the housing must be easy to open and install with a lock to prevent potential tapping. In addition, the internal components include the following parts: a supporting frame (the main body of the internal structure), a fixed fiber tray and fixtures. The fiber tray is used for mounting LC/ST-type fiber adapters to remain the fibers in an organized manner. Depending on different requirements, sometimes the splice tray is located within the termination box to accommodate fused fibers. The fixtures are used to fix the optical cables or fiber pigtails for better organization. Lastly, the fiber connector is normally shielded by a heat-shrinkable tube or clip for better protection.
Different Types of FTBs
1. Wall-mounted and Rack-mounted
According to different designs, the FTBs can be divided into wall-mounted and rack-mounted boxes. The former is normally sealed hanging on the wall, while the latter has a front door and rear door with a slide rail attached directly to the server’s rack. The wall-mounted FTB is designed for direct connection (procedures like splicing, fusion, terminating will be done before installation) while the rack-mounted enclosures are for cross-connect or interconnect architecture. The former is more suitable for applications in building entrance terminals, teleconferencing and computer applications, etc., while the latter is highly recommended for building interfaces between the external plant cable and transmission device with enough space for fusion, distribution, termination, management, etc. Moreover, the wall-mounted FTBs can also be further sub-categorized into indoor and outdoor boxes, while the rack-mounted ones are for indoor deployments only.
2. Indoor and Outdoor
According to their applications in different settings, the FTBs can also be categorized into indoor and outdoor termination boxes. Their major difference would be the materials used in manufacture for different in-field purposes because the materials used in one unit must be compatible with those used in other elements as well as the cable/pigtail sheaths. For outdoor deployments, its physical and chemical properties must be stable with great resistance to dust and water. The melting temperature of the materials should be no less than 120°C (the softening temperature ≥90°C), and it should be able to operate over a wide temperature range of at least -25°C-45°C to survive the significant temperature fluctuations. Moreover, the outer casing is normally well-sealed to protect the inner components from damages with great impact resistance. On the other hand, the indoor FTB is the transition point between upstream and horizontal cables, usually used as a storage location for fiber termination and distribution in a rather controlled setting, so no special requirements are demanded for the materials.
How to Use the FTB? A Step-by-Step Tutorial
The simplest way with pre-terminated cables: For installation, you’ll only need the FTB, pre-terminated cables and some cable ties. Remove the plug from the entry slot, run the fiber cables through the hole, arrange them in an orderly manner around the curvature and fix them with the internal fixtures. If necessary, use a wire saddle, a spiral sleeve or some cable ties to gather the cables. Plug the connector into the adapter or coupler on the fiber tray and then take another pre-terminated cable and connect it to the other end of the adapter.
A more comprehensive instruction-how to use splice tray and patch plate
1. First, prepare the required tools: the FTB, fiber optic cables and other accessories (scissors, a measuring tape, an insulating tape, a screwdriver, a fusion splicer, some buffer/protective tubes, cable ties and protective sleeves).
2.Mark the cable at a pre-determined length (say 150 cm) and stripe the cable sheath. Cut off the white cable and mark the remaining cable at 17 cm. Stripe the protective sheath and splice the cable into multiple pigtails. After striping the coating, insert the fibers into a protective tube and wrap up the fiber terminal with the insulating tape to fix the tube (feeder cable).
3.Pass the feeder cable through the cable gland. Place the protective tube or sleeve around the cable into the metallic saddle, secure the saddle with the screwdriver and tighten the cable gland around the feeder cable to ensure water-tightness. Fix the cable on the fiber tray with the fixtures (use cable ties if necessary) and arrange the pigtails around the curvature.
4.Install the fiber adapters/couplers on the fiber tray (some are pre-installed), and if needed, install the splitter (with multiple patch cords) as well. Number the patch cords and plug the patch cords into the adapters one by one. Splice and fuse the patch cord terminals with the pigtails and arrange them in the splice tray. Remember to use a protective tube to cover the fusion parts and cover the splice tray when finished.
5.Take a protective sleeve and wrap it around the pre-terminated cable. If you don’t have such cables, you can terminate the cable with a fast field connector. Remove the plug from the entry slot, insert the cable into the FTB and re-install the plug. Fix the cable with 2 cable ties (one on the side and the other on the outside) if necessary. Arrange the pre-terminated cable in the fiber tray and connect the terminal to the other end of the adapter.
6.Lastly, remember to fasten all the screws, close the box and lock it. If the box doesn’t come with a mounting bracket, use pole bands to secure the FTB to a fixture.
Note: The FTB from Fastcabling also supports power management. You can run a low-voltage power cord into the box, which will not generate strong interference affecting the performance of fiber optic cables, and fix it in the pre-installed power terminal blocks to connect two separate power cords together for power transmission. On contrary to the powered fiber cable which integrates fibers and the power cord into one cable (fire hazards and power failures are possible when it overheats), this powerful FTB offers a safe solution to run the power cord in parallel to the fiber cable with great flexibility and reliability.
The FTB can be used for distribution and termination of various fiber systems and is particularly suitable for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) applications, greatly reducing the pressure on cable management and maintenance. A pair of FTBs often work together (used indoors and outdoors) to set up the data link between the control room and the edge device in a more organized manner. It is widely used in telecommunications, network applications, data and image transmission systems and mission-critical projects like surveillance camera systems. Here is a brief instruction on how to set up an IP camera with the FTB from Fastcabling: 1) set up the data and power connection between the FTBs on both sides; 2) connect the router with the media converter; 3) use a pre-terminated fiber cable to connect the converter and the FTB; 4) run a power cord into the FTB to inject the power into the connected power cable; 5) connect another FTB (front-end) with a PoE media converter to convert the optical signal into the electrical signal; 6) use another power cord to connect the converter and the FTB to power the converter; 7) lastly, connect the converter with the edge IP device.