Driven by high-speed data rate requirements, fiber optic deployment is growing. As fiber optics grow, managing optical transmission networks becomes more difficult. Factors should be considered such as flexibility, future viability, cost of deployment and management, etc, being widely used. Choosing the right optical distribution frame is key to successful cable management.
An optical distribution frame or ODF, is used to allow interconnection of cables and equipments in communications installations. It can accommodate splices between cables, fiber terminations, adapters and connectors.
It is also a mechanical protection for all this parts of the network, against dust, moisture and other hazards from the environment depending on the chosen ODF.
Types of ODF’s
ODFs can be divided in three types:
Wall mount: It is normally a small box that can be installed in a wall to distribute small counts of fibers. Used in a building to terminate the operator fibers and distribute to the floors boxes. It can be upgraded to accommodate more fibers in a relatively easy way.
Floor mount: This type of ODF has a closed structure that makes it difficult to easily update the fiber count.
Rack mount: The Rack mount ODF has a modular structure. It can be instaled in the Rack and it can be upgraded just by adding more Rack mount structures. This flexibility is very important to a future proof installation. Normally it as a 19” standard dimension that allows it to be used in a standard telecom Rack.
Features to Look for in an Optical Distribution Frame
Choosing the right ODF is not only about the type. Some features must be considered:
– Fiber count
Considering the right number of fibers that will be in the optical distribution frame as well as the future needs to expand it can determine the type of ODF to be chosen.
The constant increase of fibers needed and the density of this fibers in a optical distribution frame can make the management of these fibers very difficult. It’s very important that the technician as access to all the connectors, adapters, splice holders and every component inside the ODF. This is critical to the ease of installation and quick and safe maintenance.
As mentioned in the introduction, the Rack mount ODF is very flexible as it allows to increase new modules, receive several types of connectors (if the front panel as LC duplex holes it can receive LC duplex, SC and MTRJ), and most of the models, can be changed on the front panel if other type of connector is needed. Some manufacturers use modular front panels that allow in the same optical distribution frame, several types of connectors. It’s possible to increase the fiber count in a wall mount ODF, however it’s not possible to change the connectors.
ODF’s hold fiber optic connectors, splices and fibers with only the buffer protection. All this parts are very sensitive to mechanical contacts and environmental interferences. The fiber connections inside the optical distribution frame are responsible for the stability of the entire fiber network. Adjusting the ODF to the environment where it will be installed is a must. You should choose the right type of protection to the fibers, connectors and splices having this in consideration.