MTP (MPO) Fibre Networking
MPO is a generic name for a multi-fibre connector. The term MPO stands for “multi-fibre push on”. The MPO connector has a ferrule mounted on a spring so there is a contact force when mated to a 2nd MPO connector. MPO connectors that meet the international standards for MPO connectors have the same size footprint as a traditional SC connector.
The majority of MPO connectors have 12 fibres which are aligned along the centre of a rectangular ferrule. They mate together in the same way as traditional LC, SC and ST connectors except that MPO connectors require a male connector to be connected to a female connector.
A male connector has guide pins and a female one has holes for the pins. MPO connectors also have a key (similar to single fibre connectors) and this only allows connection one way.
At the time of writing, one brand of MPO connector has become dominant – the MTP® connector is used across many major multinational structured cabling brands. The MTP range of MPO connectors has 8, 12, 16, 24, 48 and 72 fibre connectors. All these connectors are the footprint of an SC connector yet hold up to 72 fibres, thereby enabling high density connectivity.
The MTP Connector – a specific brand of MPO Connector – read more
Most manufacturers use a similar construction of fibre cable calles – Micro cable or Microcore cable. This is a dry loose tube cable cable with 250um buffered fibres, aramid yarn strength member and a single outer sheath.
This cable construction gives about 65% reduction in space when compared to traditional tight buffered or loose tube cables and similar reduction in weight.
The cable also has a smaller bend radius and these 3 factors make this cable the best option for high density fibre applications, mainly because more cabling can be installed per cabinet / cable tray.
There are 5 basic components of a typical MPO type fibre network
MPO – LC cassette modules. Typically 12 fibre or 24 fibre. These MPO cassettes offer LC port presentation at the rack front and rear MPO ports for trunk cabl connections. These MPO cassettes enable a high concentration of LC ports per 1U rack space and are are easier to install than a similar fibre density using traditional fibre.
MPO to MPO trunk cables. Typically 12 fibre or 24 fibre. Combined with MPO to LC cassettes these form the core part of most MPO based fibre networks.
MPO Cassette Housing Panels. Typically from 1U to 4U. 1U panels are ideal for top-of-rack connectivity where as 2U to 4U panels are ideal from distribution areas.
MPO Adapter / Coupler Modules. These enable a MPO port presentation within racks for either trunk extensions or patch MPO cables directly to equipment for higher data rate applications.
MPO Patch cords and Breakout Cables. These enable 40G and 100g connectivity.
The benefits can be split into 3 different types: installation, financial / ROI, improved networking capability. Some of the main ones are highlighted below.
MPO based solutions are modular. Extra fibre capacity or network expansion can be added on demand.
Installation of MPO networks is faster
Installation of MPO networks is less disruptive and cleaner.
Upgrading to higher data rates is possible
Change can be carried out at a convenient times
MPO Components freed up through changes can be re-used and easily moved
Higher port density is possible
Different types of ports can be housed in the same 1U space. Mixing singlemode with multimode or MPO ports with LC ports or even CAT6 or CAT6a ports
The main difference to take into account when designing a network using a modular MTP solution over a traditional fibre solution is that the number of mated connector pairs in any fibre channel will increase. This increase in mated pairs increases the losses in the channel and these need to be understood in order to maintain the required performance.
MTP Fibre Channels
What distances can OM3 and OM4 run over using MTP solutions?
How can rack space be minimised?
What are the options to create longer fibre channels? See our section on typical fibre channel, follow this link:
How do I use MTP to reduce rack space requirement for cabling?
One of the main reasons for choosing an MTP solution is to increase the in-rack connectivity. This can be done in several ways: –
1. Use MTP-LC harnesses which connect directly to equipment from 1U MTP Panels (up to 576 fibres in 1U)
2. Use Zero U (side mounted) MTP Adaptor Plates
3. Use MTP direct equipment connections. Switch manufacturers, such as CISCO and Brocade, are now producing equipment with MTP connectivity.
How is the solution modular?
The starting point can be a 12 fibre link between 2 cassettes and 1 x 12 fibre trunk cable. This will give LC – LC (or SC- SC) connectivity for 12 fibre connections.
Cassettes are housed in either 1U sliding panels (each with the ability to hold 3 cassettes) or 3U fixed panels holding (1 to 14 cassettes).
However, most installations use 24 fibre cassettes are used as standard. Each of these takes one 24 fibre trunk cable with 2 MTP connectors on each end. If each 24 fibre link (two 24 fibre cassettes and one 24 fibre trunk) is called a unit then units can be added 1 at a time as the requirement grows.
Thereby giving a modular approach in 24 LC-LC connection steps. To minimise costs within a network, each unit can be chosen from either the M300 or M310 product series to ensure that the higher performance / lower loss M310 products are only used where necessary.
MTP adaptor plates can be added in exactly the same way. The 1U and the 3U housing for LGX cassettes can also be used to house the adaptor plates thereby enabling the minimum of rack space to be used.
What Installation skills are required?
The same principles apply whether you are installing a 24 fibre link either between 2 buildings, connecting an office floor to a comms room or creating hundreds of channels in a data centre.
There are 4 main principles to adhere to: –
1. Ensure that the link being created (distance and number of connector matings) meets the required standard.
2. Ensure that the polarity is managed across the link and in line with the network design
3. Ensure physical forces on the cables and connectors are managed by using strain relief on the cables to limit the tension in the cabling and maintain bend radii in both the cabling and patching accordng to the allowed specifications.
4. Follow the fibre connection procedures that you should use when connecting any type of fibre connectors together.
The MTP Connector
Used by all the leading high density fibre manufacturers the MTP® Connector is at the heart of the Complete Connect solution. The 12 fibre connector has been designed to provide enhanced “overlife” performance and is key to maintaining a robust network. Read more
We believe the market leading MPO connector in terms of performance and durability is the MTP® connector produced by USConec – which is why our range is standardised on this product and is also probably why the connector is used by many other brands including Corning, Systimax by Commscope, TYCO Amp Net Connect / ADC Krone, Panduit, Siemon and many others.
Do I need expensive tools to install HDFO?
Simple answer NO.
1. LC cleaning tool (no different than any traditional cleaning tool for LC connectors)
2. MTP cleaning tool (approved by USConec)
3. Appropriate light source and power meter with MTP adptors.
4. Appropriate reference patch leads.
5. Visual scope.
6. Light Source and Power Meter.
Is an OTDR required? In our view this is not essential as a test completed with a Light Source and Power Meter will establish the performance of the links.
Are any field terminations required?
The simple answer is NO.
All products are pre-terminated to enable an equipment to equipment link to be established without any on-site fibre terminations.
Flexibility is maintained by using MTP® adaptors to enable 2 trunk cables (or a trunk and a ruggedised fan-out) to be simply plugged together. LC or SC Cassettes are simply plugged into trunk cables using MTP® adaptors mounted in the rear of each cassette.
When is it sensible to use an MTP solution?
I don’t work much in data centres, are the products worth using in other situations?
The simple answer is YES. The products are becoming increasing used in standard office and commercial buildings (risers) as well as campus environments. The main reason for this uptake is that when a cost/benefit analysis is completed against using traditionally field terminated product sets, the pre-terminated MTP solutions start to come out on top.
Main benefits from pre-terminated include
- the improved quality and consistency of the final links
The quality of field terminated fibre is always variable where as the pre-terminated MPO trunk cables, cassettes and fan-outs are constructed under controlled factory conditions and so give consistency high performance
- the reduced time on site to complete the installation
Installation costs rise as time on site increases. It takes longer to set up a site termination and produce a high quality connection than to complete the same connection in a factory. It is easy to see that completing 48 fibre terminations (using any of the many types of field termination) in a site environment will take longer than in a properly equipped factory.
Access to site is becoming more restricted
Reducing on-site installation time is usually of benefit to the end-user. With pre-terminated fibre the time on site is dramatically reduced.
- the reduction in skill required by installers
Fibre termination skills vary between individuals (in both factory and field situations). The site can have an impact on the ease of termination and hence the quality. People need to be properly trained and equipped to terminate fibre on site. This generally means that there is a shortage of available labour (with the right equipment in the right place) at the right time.
- the reduction in cost of fibre termination and test equipment
Fibre termination tools / fusion splicers / connectors / test equipment / termination consumables – these all cost money and are constantly needing to be replenished. these tools are not being used all the time and are often in the wrong place at the wrong time requiring multiple kits to be purchased.
- increased speed of installation
With our UK manufacturing and stock holding a large quanitity of fibre links can be delivered within days. Therefore, a fibre installation that could have previously taken weeks to complete can be done so in a greatly reduced timespan