Slim or Standard loose tube cables: What is best for your fiber optic installation?

Slim or Standard loose tube cables: What is best for your fiber optic installation?

Fiber optic installations have come a long way in the last 50 years. The need to adapt to constantly-changing communication environments has created new ways in which fiber-based connections and loose tube cables are designed and manufactured depending on the needs of a specific outdoor installation.

FTTX networks are unique. They are different from one another, depending on the final destination in which data will be transmitted and the outside environments it will be carried on.

FTTA, FTTB, FTTC, FTTH, FTTN, FTTO; are among the main types of Fiber to the X environments, and they require specific solutions for each one.

Cables for outdoor environments

Armored, Flat Drop, All-Dielectric, or ADSS are some of the loose tube fiber optic cable options available for outdoor environments. Customization is present when defining a high or low number of optical fibers, as well as the material for their loose tubes and outer jackets; but they all share their same core features: they need to hold fibers efficiently while also being environmentally resistant to outdoor conditions.

A fiber optic cable that can be manageable and resistant to the condition in which it will be installed and later managed is vital to ensure a successful installation as well as future fiber access.

WAVEOPTICS® offers standard and slim cable designs among its catalog of fiber optic cables to suit most types of outdoor installations, changing their diameter and weight, and with it, their overall maneuverability. 

With this in mind, which of these options can better suit your FTTX network?

Different cables, for different applications

Loose tubes fiber optic cables come in a lot of different shapes, sizes, and are built on different types of materials to accommodate the needs and space in which they are deployed to transmit data effectively.

Cable’s construction depends on demanding environmental conditions. Varying from state to state and from country to country, geographical zones, different weather conditions, soil, or climate changes.

This is also true for the specific type of installation and infrastructure in which the cables lay on: aerial installed in telephone poles, high-tension electrical towers, through ducts, or directly buried underground; cables need to accommodate these conditions to be easily accessible.

Read more: How electricity affects ADSS cables? The tracking effect and corona discharge.

Trying to find the perfect balance between cable resistance and maneuverability can be difficult, but all types of cables share the same basic construction: optical fibers enclosed in loose tubes, strength members, and external jackets for environmental protection. Dielectric or metallic components can also be added for extra ruggedness, and water blocking materials for water protection, including protecting tapes, aramid yarn, or gel.

WAVEOPTICS®’ slim and standard designs

Slim and standard cables are not so different from one another, their biggest differences are in their weight and overall cable diameter, depending on the cable. 

WAVEOPTICS®’ standard cable designs have the same common construction across their specific cable families and meet or exceed the Telcordia GR-20, IEC 60794, and ANSI/ICEA S-87-640 outside plant fiber optic cable standards. These are more rugged designs, have an outer jacket thickness of around 1.6mm (0.06in), and a PP (polypropylene) or PBT (polybutylene) loose tube diameter of 2.5mm (0.1in).

Slim cables have smaller loose tubes, with 1.9mm (0.07in) diameters, and are around 30% lighter when comparing their total reel weight against standard cables, allowing them to be more manageable for installators.  

For example, when comparing a single-armored single-jacket loose tube armored cable to their slim counterpart, we can see that their basic construction is pretty similar, but their loose tube and outer jacket dimensions are different.


What is best for your network?

Standard cables, as their name suggests, are the standard types of cables that are widely used in most installations. These are especially useful in harsh environments, and when directly buried underground for their extra loose tube ruggedness, offering great fiber protection.

They are also useful for high-density fiber deployments, for example, single-jacket ADSS slim cables can be configurable up to 288 fibers, opposite to the up to 432 fibers available in their standard versions, being useful when needing high fiber counts for passive data transmission.

For installations with a reduced space, we generally recommend using cables with slim designs due to their reduced weight, and balance in both cable handling and environmental resistance. These can accommodate most outdoor installations and are available in most of WAVEOPTICS®’ loose tube fiber optic cables. 

Slim cables have a lower cost, making them ideal for installations that look to reduce overall cable deployment costs into their budgets.

Protecting your network

Whether you’re delivering signals to a 5G antennae network, or an IPTV service on an FTTH deployment, it’s important to consider how the construction of the cables you will use and the cable’s design itself can affect your installation under outdoor conditions in the coming years, no matter if it’s on an aerial or underground environment. 

Thinking forward will protect your investment while also ensuring a reliable network for you and your company in the future.

Installation of fiber optic cables for the SRNL.
Photo via: Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), Bruce Boulineau, changes made to original, recovered from:

How can we help you?

FONCS is a master distributor of fiber optic solutions for the telecommunications industry. Through our main brands, we manufacture fiber optic cables, connectivity products, aerial installation hardware, splice closures, demarcation boxes, and more.

Do you have a question? Feel free to contact our experts.

WAVEOPTICS® designs and manufactures fiber optic cables for a wide variety of applications. 

With more than 10 years of experience and over 18 production lines in its ISO-9001 certified plant, it provides high-quality outdoor and indoor/outdoor fiber optic cables through talented personnel and specialized technology, complying with IEC, Telcordia, and ICEA standards.

Check the full line of WAVEOPTICS® products available for your installation HERE and see how our solutions can help you enable your projects.

FONCS. Your network, our goal.

References via:

Whitehurst, D. (2018). Outside Fiber Optic Cable Design | Loose Tube, Ribbon Fiber, and Micro Loose Tube Cables. Corning. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from: