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MTP® and MPO Connectors: Introduction

The most widely adopted MPO Connector

MTP® Connectors and MPO Connectors

MPO is the industry acronym for “multi-fiber push on.” MPO connectors have more than one fibre in a single ferrule and snap into place by a mechanical mechanism. The MTP® Connector is one brand of MPO connector from US Conec®.

There are many other MPO connectors, both branded and non-branded and these all produce different performance results. Performance varies so much, as opposed to using single fibre connectors such as an LC connector where performance is relatively comparable between brands, due to the difficulties in mating two connectors with multiple fibres (such as a twelve fibre connector).
These difficulties arise due to the large contact area of the connectors. The physical contact between two MPO connectors is roughly

forty times 

that of LC connectors. If the contact surfaces are not well mated then insertion loss and return loss levels increase. To produce an MPO connector that will mate consistently requires a much higher level of precision in terms of components and manufacturing processes than with single ferrule connectors.
This is why many companies fail to produce consistently high performing MPO products.
When terminated correctly, the MTP® connector is largely regarded as the connector that gives the most consistent high level of performance of any MPO type connector.
MTP Female Connector and Cap

The Growth of Pre-Terminated Fibre

Traditionally, fibre networks have been installed by trained engineers who terminate fibre connectors onto multi-core fibre cables on-site and then connect these cables into patch panels held in 19″ racks. The termination method varies from fusion splicing pigtails, to hot and cold cure/epoxy and polish to mechanical splice connector. This traditional method has some pros and cons compared to using pre-terminated fibre: –


   Being able to measure trunk lengths at the point of cutting the cable.

   Testing immediately and re-terminating if an issue occurs.

   Making last minute changes to requirements.


   The requirement to set up a fibre termination area on-site.

   Slow speed of installation.

   The management of people 3rd party contractors in areas of tight security.

With the invention of consistently high performing MPO connectors a new type of installation method became possible which removed most of the drawbacks from the traditional method.
As already mentioned, terminating MPO connectors is much harder than LC connectors and so factory termination was required. This therefore led to the creation of complete pre-terminated fibre systems.
This new method also coincided with the move to cloud computing which had the effect of changing the physical location of routers, switches, storage and servers to dedicated large data centre environments which in turn suited the use of pre-terminated MPO connectors.
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Pre-Terminated Fibre Solutions

mtp 12 fibre male connector

MTP® Connector 12 fibre

The increase in cloud computing, big data and data traffic has caused a shift to the use of data centres, either owner managed or co-location. This shift has resulted in the centralisation of networking and driven an increase in bandwidth requirements. Both these require more fibre optic links. This volumetric increase in fibre and bandwidth coupled with the restrictions of working within a DC environment drove the growth of pre-terminated fibre optics because these type of networks can be split into two categories.
Pre-Terminated fibre solutions:
Generally LC single fibre connectors are directly connectorised onto multi-core cable (4 to 24 core) using a hot cure and machine polish in a factory environment. The cables also have pre-attached glands for connection to patch panels and the connectors are protected in either a pulling tube or in a protective sock.
This method gives very low losses and consistent performance as the ferrules are all machine polished on a multi-stage process and the there is no splices involved.
These pre-terminated trunk cables can then be taken to site, pulled into position and “fibre managed” into the patch panels or breakout boxes.
Large quantities of fibre can be installed in a short timescale in a “clean” manner. Errors (incorrect connection) or damage can occur during the connection to patch panels and this takes more time than using a multi-fibre connector solution.
(such as an MPO 12 fibre connector)
These solutions are based around a cassette/module to cassette module link via one or more trunk cables.
The cassettes/modules typically have LC front presentation for patching to equipment and rear MPO connections for connection to the trunk cables (backbone fibre).
The MPO trunks simply plug into the rear of the cassette modules (as you would plug in a patch cord) and the link is ready to connect to equipment. The MPO connector has a Key which means that it can only be plugged in one way. This ensures the polarity across the channel/link is maintained.

The Basics of a MPO Network

Most MPO networks use LC-MPO cassettes/modules and MPO trunk cables.
The cassettes have either 12 fibres (6 LC ports) or 24 fibres (12 LC ports) and the trunk cables have either 12 or 24 fibres (larger cable counts are available).
Installation is simple. The cassettes are mounted in panels and then connected via MPO trunk cables. Connecting these trunks to the cassettes is as simple as plugging in a patch cord.
There are no specialist skills required as there is no termination. As long as proper cleaning of connectors is carried out and cable bend radius are within the limits of the cable, a high performance network is guaranteed.
There are other products included in the MPO family which enable different types of network design but the principles of building the network are the same. These other products allow different data rates, trunk extensions and direct equipment connections.
mtp 24 fibre elite connector

MTP® Connector 24 fibre

Although the first MPO (multi-fibre push on) connectors were developed over 20 years ago, it has not been since the rapid increase in bandwidth requirements and subsequent common use of parallel optics (40G Ethernet, 100G Ethernet, Fibre Channel and InfiniBand) within data centre applications that MPO connectors have become the norm.
MPO has also become common within 10 Gbps Ethernet due to the speed of installation, reduced time within restricted data centre areas, cleanliness of installation and modular nature which enables networks to be expanded in line with demands.
The market leading MPO connector is the MTP® connector which is made in the US by a company called US Conec. Although there are many other types made,  often optical performance is not high enough for high data rates or complex networks.
Most MPO connectors in use today have 12 fibres, although 8 fibre connectors and 24 fibre connectors are used.
The MPO 12 fibre connector can support six 10Gb Ethernet channels of one 40Gb ethernet whereas the 24 fibre MPO connector are mostly used for 100G SR10 networking.
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.
The 2nd component of high density MPO solutions is the fibre cable construction. As opposed to the MTP connector, which has been widely adopted, there are a number of different cables available.
The main requirement of the cable is to give high optical performance when subjected to tight bends and also to be physically small and light so that high numbers of fibres can be cabled through relatively small spaces.
MTP trunk fibre cable 12 core
In general, MPO systems are modular and pre-terminated. The reason for this is because at the moment MPO connectors cannot be reliably terminated on-site and so factory termination is required which in turn makes it sensible to produce component products that can be plugged together in a modular fashion.
Most MTP solutions are compatible with each other. Trunks from one manufacturer can be successfully used with cassettes from another manufacturer (as long as polarity is maintained).
This website guide details all the products in the Complete Connect family and shows how it can be confidently installed in a variety of network topologies to ensure that the required performance is achieved and polarity across channels is maintained.


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