Evaluation of Different Cable Termination Solutions

for FTTH Deployment in China
Mr. Hongwei Yang, Mr. Yu Wu
J iangsu Posts & Telecommunications Planning and Designing Institute Co., Ltd (J SPTPD).
Nanjing, J iangsu Province, P.R. China
+86-25-5286-8681 · yhw@jsptpd.com; +86-25-5286-8797 · wuyu@jsptpd.com

The massive deployment of FTTH in China has made the
termination of optical cable at the subscriber end a tough task
with high failure rates in the performance of the ODN. In this
paper we study the cable termination solutions which have been
used in FTTH deployment in China, and introduce the
development of cable termination technologies for the subscriber
end in China. Finally we propose solutions for cable termination
at the subscriber end for the massive FTTH deployment in
Keywords: FTTH; massive deployment; cable termination at
the subscriber end; fusion splicing; mechanic splicing; pre-
1. Introduction
In 12
5-year-plan, China plans to construct a next generation
information infrastructure, deploy next generation wireless
networks, next generation Internet, digital broadcasting and
television systems & satellite communication. Governments will
advocate city-wide broadband wireless coverage, urban FTTH
and speed up broadband deployment in rural communities to
improve broadband access penetration and access bandwidth.
China Telecom officially initiated the “Broadband China
OptiNet City” project on 16
February 2012 to open the prelude
of massive FTTH deployment. This project’s objective is to
realize fiber coverage for all families, municipal & commercial
subscribers in the urban of South China by the end of 12
plan.i.e. 100 million households shall be covered by FTTH; This
will put China Telecom in the list of top carriers for FTTH
deployment. Besides China Telecom, other carriers in China are
also starting to deploy FTTH. As the key section of FTTH, ODN
(Optical Distribution Network) has become the focus of carriers
with regard to ODN cost and quality.
With elements in ODN getting more and more mature, cable
termination at the subscriber end has replaced splitters as the 1

component in the total cost of ODN due to termination’s huge
quantity and high failure rates at the subscriber end, drawing
much attention. The industry continues exploring how to achieve
reliable, efficient & economic termination solutions.
2. Analysis of Different Cable
Termination Solutions at The Subscriber
In the early stage of deploying ODN in FTTH, the bow-type
cable or other types of cables were used as drop cable, and the
on-site termination was preferred. The termination solutions are
listed below:
Solution 1: The drop cable is terminated with field assembly
(FA) in 86x86 wall outlet (see Figure 1).

Fi gure 1. Sol uti on 1
Solution 2: The drop cable is terminated with field installable
connector (FIC) (see Figure 2).

Fi gure 2. Sol uti on 2
Solution 3: The drop cable is terminated with fiber socket by
mechanic splicer in 86x86 wall outlet (see Figure 3).

Fi gure 3. Sol uti on 3
Solution 4: The drop cable is terminated with pigtail by mechanic
splicer in 86x86 wall outlet (see Figure 4).

Fi gure 4. Sol uti on 4
Solution 5: The drop cable is fusion spliced with fiber socket in
86x86 wall outlet (see Figure 5).
Drop Cable
Drop Cable
Drop Cable
Fiber Socket
Drop Cable
Mechanic Splicer
839 International Wire & Cable Symposium Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference

Fi gure 5. Sol uti on 5
Solution 6: The drop cable is fusion spliced with pigtail in 86x86
wall outlet (see Figure 6).

Fi gure 6. Sol uti on 6
With the higher price of FIC in the early stage, mechanic splicer
or pigtail were used to save cost. But with FIC price reduction,
solution 1&2 have gradually substituted solution 3&4 and
dominated the field termination (connection).
Cable termination at the subscriber end has become the point
with the highest failure rates during the operation of current
network. The table below (see Table 1) shows the statistics of
FTTH malfunction reported by China Telecom in a developed
province in December 2010.
Tabl e 1. Stati sti cs of FTTH mal functi on
Item Cause Frequency Share
1 Power down at central office 329 7.6%
Feeder or distribution cable
179 4.1%
3 Splitter failure 93 2.2%
4 Drop cable failure 425 9.8%
5 Pigtail or connector failure 193 4.5%
6 Project cutover 153 3.5%
Termination failure at
subscriber end
2180 50.4%
8 ONU failure 473 10.9%
9 Power down at user terminal 54 1.2%
10 Others 251 5.8%
11 Total 4330 100%
The cable termination problem at the subscriber end takes more
than half of total malfunctions. In another developed province,
the cable termination problem takes high ratio in total
malfunctions in the major cities from December 2011 to J anuary
2012 such as 43.8% in Foshan 41.4% in Guangzhou, 35.7% in
Zhongshan, 31.7% in Yangjiang, 30.4% in Shanwei,. Average is
The major field mechanic termination technologies used are
listed below:
2.1 Pre-stubbed Field Instal lable Connector (FIC)
With this technology, a small piece of fiber is pre-stubbed in the
ferrule, the fiber in drop cable is connected with pre-stubbed
fiber through index matching material. Index matching material
is used to fill in between the two fiber ends to minimize Fresnel
reflection. The index matching material can be liquid or gel with
similar index as the fiber core. For high quality index matching
material, its optical absorption rate is less than 0.0005%, which
results in 0.001dB loss. In a pre-stubbed FIC, a fiber is
embedded in the front section of ferrule, and its end face is
precisely polished and tested. In the field, the fiber is exposed
from the drop cable, stripped and cleaved; Then it is connected
with embedded fiber through an internal alignment mechanism
(see Figure 7).
Figure 7. Confi guration of pre-stubbed FIC
With its easy handling advantage, pre-stubbed FIC was highly
accepted by the customers in FTTH deployment after its
development and introduction. The performance of pre-stubbed
FIC depends on the quality of index matching material. In the
early stage of its adoption, the quality and reliability of index
matching materials from some suppliers were not good enough
due to a poor manufacturing process and/or the index matching
liquid/gel either volatilized or deteriorated over time, resulting in
increased loss. In some cases, the index matching materials
deteriorated due to contamination during installation at site. It
remains a concern for carriers to deploy FTTH in China.
2.2 Direct Cleaved Field Instal lable Connector
It’s not like pre-stubbed FIC, there is no fiber embedded in
ferrule when direct cleaved FIC is manufactured in the factory
(see Figure 8). Instead the fiber will be inserted into ferrule in
the field after it’s cleaved. For most of direct cleaved FIC, the
end faces are not polished and tested in the field, they are
directly connected with other connectors.
Fi gure 8. Confi gurati on of di rect cl eaved FIC
It is a low cost solution and easy to handle, and it is also free
from problems induced by the poor quality index matching
materials such as dry-out, deterioration, and contamination. It got
some application in China when commercially available. But our
study found it did not fully comply with the industry standard of
(Polished in factory)
Embedded fiber
V groove
Drop cable
Index matching gel

Drop cable
Direct pass cavity
Drop Cable
Drop Cable
Fusion Splicing
840 International Wire & Cable Symposium Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference
China, for instance, its return loss (RL) is 8~40 dB ( 40dB is
required in Chinese industry standard). Additionally the fiber is
slightly movable in ferrule. When we secure the cable, it will
change the fiber position in both radial & longitudinal directions.
At the same time, unstable optical power coupling were observed
during push-pull. Especially the optical parameters deteriorated
over time due to the deposition of moisture or dust on the end
2.3 Mechanic Splicer
Due to the high cost of pre-stubbed FIC and poor performance of
direct cleaved FIC, some carriers tried mechanic splicer to
connect drop cables to pigtails. The index matching material is
also used in a mechanic splicer to minimize Fresnel reflection.
The mechanic splicer is composed of V groove with index
matching material and fixing parts. Although it’s a low cost
solution with better flexibility, it is still not trust-worthy with its
Index Matching Material Dependent feature as well as the
insufficient protection to fiber, that is commonly encountered
issue in this application.
2.4 Fusion Splicing
Fusion splicing is based on the mechanism that two fibers will
partially melt and join with each other under arc induced by high
voltage in a fusion splicer. No extra material is needed. It’s a
solution with low loss and high reliability. When a fusion
splicing is made, a point with low strength & flexibility at
splicing point is created, requiring additional protection.
Typically a heat shrink tube is used.
Although fusion splicing can achieve low loss and high
reliability, the Capex is high, operation is complex and time-
consuming. Besides, the legacy fusion splicer (see Figure 9) is
big, it takes much time to get the splicer ready and usually local
power supply is needed. It is quite inconvenient for FTTH
deployment with its highly distributed construction sites. In
legacy fusion splicing, the splice protection is required to protect
the fiber joint, but in the early stage of FTTH deployment in
China, because the splice protection was not designed well,
reliability was not high and finally it didn’t become the
mainstream solution.

Fi gure 9. Legacy spl i cer & tool ki t
3. Evolution of Cable Termination
Technology at The Subscriber End
Since there are more or less weak points for the solutions
mentioned above, the more solutions with rational price and
reliable performance are under exploration for massive FTTH
3.1 Pre-Terminated Soluti on
In China construction of ODN is on big scale. In most cases,
ODN is simultaneously deployed together with construction of
new communities. At the subscriber end, the environment is
quite similar, only several lengths are required for drop cable.
It’s not a must to do termination in the field, instead the
termination can be done in the factory; one or both ends of the
drop cable are terminated with connectors required (such as
SC/FC/LC), and the cable length, fiber count and cable type can
be tailored based on the application. Usually bow-type cable with
single fiber is used in China.
The pre-terminated cable is ready for plug & play, it simplifies
installation and maintenance, and it also cancels the fiber
splicing or mechanic splice in the field, so it improves yield and
reliability a lot. It can be quickly installed with less space
required, plus both training time for the installer and installation
cost are reduced.
In real practice, the pre-terminated drop cable can be produced in
the factory with specified lengths. The large scale and well-
controlled production in the factory achieves high efficiency, low
cost and high reliability. So when issues in manufacturing were
solved, this solution was quickly and widely adopted.
There is some limitation about pre-termination solution. With
FTTH extending to rural areas, because homes are scattered, the
drop cable length required is different case by case, and it is
difficult to realize standard production in the factory. Even in the
urban environment, to make installation easy, usually only end of
drop cable is pre-terminated, and the other end still needs to be
terminated in the field.
3.2 Quick Fusion Splicing Solution
Pre-termination solution improves the reliability of ODN, but
termination in the field is still needed. Fusion splicing
technology is trusted for its reliability. The disadvantage is
weight of legacy fusion splicer and its complex operation. To
change the situation, some manufacturers developed new
compact & quick splicers. New splicers integrate features like
fiber thermal stripping, cleaning, cleaving, splicing & tubing.
Compared with legacy splicers, the new splicers are smaller and
easy to handle. They can be put on the ground, or fixed around a
wrist or on a pole. In general, new splicers can be used in all
installation sites. They use battery as power supply and
continuous working time is more than 24 hours with a weight
less than 2kg. All processes are included in one piece of
equipment, and this shortens operation time (see Figure 10).

Fi gure 10. Qui ck fusi on spl i cer & i ts components

841 International Wire & Cable Symposium Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference
With different clamps, the new splicers can be used to splice
bow-type cable, 0.9/2.0/3.0mm pigtail. Even in North China
where big temperature variances occurs across the year, this
method can still guarantee the reliability for cable termination at
the subscriber end, so it is used more frequently. But the price is
the factor to block its massive application. Take one medium size
city in China as example, there are around 500 technicians in
charge of installation and maintenance, if one technician is
equipped with one splicer, over hundreds of thousands splicers
are needed. This is a huge investment for carriers and not
3.3 Improved Mechanic Splicing Technology
Mechanic splicing doesn’t melt fiber ends vs. fusion splicing. It
is easy to handle and almost no extra operation space is needed,
making this a good solution for FTTH deployment and
maintenance and is warmly welcomed by technicians in the field.
Mechanic splicing solution providers have made some
modifications to improve performance.
3.3.1 Improved Pre-stubbed FIC. Currently the pre-stubbed
FIC has been improved, and the performance of index matching
liquid/gel has been improved significantly. For the index
matching gel from some suppliers, light transmittance is kept
over 97% @ 136*24 hours 0~80C temperature cycling test.
Both oil separation rate & volatile rate are controlled under 0.2%.
And the improvement is continued (One study from Corning®
reported that the thermal stability, volatility & contamination
resistance of their index matching gel had been improved
dramatically and the forecasted lifetime is 203 years @ 40C.).
At the same time, the more reliable V groove is used, and it is
tailored based on the application environment in China. All these
modifications reduce the failure in the field.
3.3.2 Improved Mechanic Splicer. The improved mechanic
splicer has been provided by the suppliers, it’s called pig-tail
mechanic splicer. The pig-tail is terminated with a mechanic
splicer in the factory. In the field, only the operation on bow-type
cable is needed such as removing jacket, prepare fiber end etc.
The cavity accommodating index matching material is located in
the middle section of V-groove where the fibers are spliced and it
is sealed very well, this structure prevents index matching
material from degradation (see Figure 11 & 12).

Figure 11. Improved pre-terminated mechanic spl icer

Fi gure 12. Confi gurati on of pi g-tai l mechani c spl i cer
4. Conclusions
In massive FTTH deployment, cable termination at the
subscriber end is the concern of design, construction, operation &
maintenance personnel. Failures have decreased dramatically
with effort and the reliability of ODN is improved.
But the application environment is complicated, especially for
China. There is not only one right termination technology,
instead it shall be a combination of multiple solutions. Pre-
termination technology, improved mechanic splicers and quick
field fusion splicing will be the major solutions for cable
termination at the subscriber end. When termination must be
done in the field, for business or quality-oriented customers,
splicing will be the right choice. For household, the improved
mechanic splicer will be the right solution. For example, in
J iangsu, one of the most developed provinces in China, pre-
termination, improved mechanic splicer, and fusion splicing take
40.24%, 54.09%, 5.67% shares, respectively. The latest data
indicate that the share of per-termination and splicing is
Currently fusion splicing still has some gap vs. mechanic splicing
on convenience & cost. At the same time, mechanic splicing
needs to improve reliability vs. fusion splicing. We forecast the
gap will be reduced and this is happening.
5. Acknowledgments
Special thanks to China Telecom & China Telecom J iangsu
Branch for providing opportunities to do field investigation.
Special thanks to Mr. Shijie Cai for his suggestions and help.
6. References
[1] Xuedong Qi, Min Shen, Qiaoping Zhou, Yi Zhou, “Drop
Cable Termination Solutions for FTTH”, Paper Collection
of Optical & Copper Cable Symposium 2011, China
Institute of Communications, P 9-10 (2011).
[2] Yunfa Liao, Bin Yu, Bingxiao Hu, Genliang Lv, “Analysis
of Fiber Mechanic Termination Technology”,
Telecommunication Technology, p.52 (J uly, 2010).
Sealed index matching gel
842 International Wire & Cable Symposium Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference
7. Pictures of Authors
Mr. Hongwei Yang, 34 years old, communication engineer &
registered consultant, deputy director of Network
Communication Planning and Designing Department of J SPTPD.
Mail address: No. 371, Zhaongshan South Road, Nanjing,
J iangsu Province, P.R.China.

Mr. Yu Wu, 29 years old, assistant communication engineer.
Mail address: No. 371, Zhongshan South Road, Nanjing, J iangsu
Province, P.R.China.

843 International Wire & Cable Symposium Proceedings of the 61st IWCS Conference