OA Backs \"OM3\" Nomenclature Convention For Fiber Optic Cabling Systems

Specifying fiber optic networks can be confusing to many users, but new industry nomenclature makes it simpler.

For Immediate Release

January 22, 2008

FOA Backs "OM3" Nomenclature Convention For Fiber Optic Cabling Systems

The FOA is encouraging the adoption of a new nomenclature for fiber optic cabling systems based on international standards in an effort to simplify the specification of fiber optic cabling systems and assure users that fiber offers equal if not more standardization than UTP copper. For years, users have specified a UTP cabling system by simply saying "Cat 5." Now they can specify an "OM3" fiber optic system consisting of laser -optimized 50/125 micron fiber with LC connectors.

The FOA is encouraging its 23,000+ CFOT certified fiber optic technicians, two hundred plus approved training schools and hundreds of certified instructors to adopt this naming convention to help create a "de facto" standard in the industry.

In reality, fiber has always been a much more "standardized" product than category -rated UTP cabling. "One optical fiber premises network type was a de facto standard for almost 20 years, in a period which copper went through up to 9 generations of technologies, including 6 generations of category -rated UTP," notes Jim Hayes, President of The Fiber Optic Association, Inc., the professional society of fiber optics. "From the mid -1980s to just recently, one multimode fiber, 62.5/125 micron, so -called "FDDI" fiber, named for the first all -fiber network developed in the 1980s, generally terminated with ST connectors, was used for most premises networks. The superior performance of this fiber cabling allowed it to be used unchanged for almost two decades while copper networks progressed from coax to UPT categories 3, 4, 5, 5e, 6 and 6A to keep up with rising network speeds."

With the advent of 1 to 10 gigabit networks and research currently being done on 40 to 100 gigabit networks, fiber manufacturers now offer laser -optimized 50/125 micron fibers with higher performance, graded according to intenational standards as "OM3" and "OM2" depending on information carrying capacity. Today, most users consider OM3 (laser optimized) fiber the ideal choice for today and the future, and many are using the new smaller LC connector to differentiate new networks from older types.
Fiber is recognized as the performance leader and users are becoming more aware of its cost -effectiveness. Rising copper costs, high -speed copper transceiver complexity and high power consumption make fiber look more attractive to many users. Adopting a standard name like "OM3" to describe the fiber cabling can help users understand that fiber is no more complicated than copper.

The choice of cable types in fiber optic cabling is a big advantage to users, unlike category -rated UTP which is only available in 4 -pair configurations. Since fiber cabling options allow optimal component choices to fit cables in limited spaces, an OM3 cable system can be configured with tens or hundreds of links in one small cable, comparable in size to one Cat 6A cable, saving cost, space and reducing combustibles and thereby fire risk. Even indoor/outdoor runs are easily done with simple fiber optic cable options.

Using the same naming convention, 62.5/125 fiber becomes an OM1 cable system and conventional 50/125 fiber becomes an OM2 cable system. Much of the use of these two types of cabling is in legacy systems, while OM3 is now the cabling system of choice.

The FOA believes that adopting this simple cabling nomenclature will help users understand the simplicity of fiber and is encouraging its adoption by our members, schools and instructors, as well as manufacturers and users.

Here is the "OM3 Cabling "spec for designers to use in documentation:
The fiber optic cable plant will be type OM3 cabling, using laser optimized (OM3) fiber in a cable with aqua colored jacket, terminated with LC type connectors and mating adapters all colored acqua. Individual fiber cable runs will be specified by number of fibers and cable type (riser, plenum, indoor -outdoor, etc.) required by the actual installation.

Note: Similar nomenclature can be used for other fiber optic cabling solutions, e.g. OM1/ST is FDDI grade 62.5/125 fiber with ST connectors. OM2/SC is 50/125 fiber with SC connectors.

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. is an nonprofit educational organization chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certification and standards. Over 170 FOA -Approved schools around the world have certified more than 22,000 fiber optic technicians. The FOA offers free online introductory fiber optic programs for everyone and training for instructors at FOA -Approved schools. For more information on the FOA, see the organization's website http://www.thefoa.org/, email info@thefoa.org or call 760 -451 -3655.

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