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Ribbon Fibre Optic Cable

Ribbon FibreAbout Ribbon Fibre Cable

In general the Ribbon Fibre in Australia is used for carrier networks such as the NBN.


  1. Savings:  A ribbon cable allows 12 fibres to be spliced together at 1 time, thus reducing labour time and saving money.
  2. A ribbon cable allows for more fibre to be placed in a smaller cable   diameter.
  3. Restoration time is much quicker with a ribbon cable, should a cable cut   occur.


Time Savings and Cost Advantages

Ribbon Fibre structure

For cables over 144 fibres, a 65% time savings can be recognised by doing ribbon splicing versus single fibre splicing.

It typically takes 20-30 minutes to splice 12 individual fibres compared to 7-10 minutes to splice a 12 fibre ribbon..  These numbers assume the cable and fibres have been prepped and ready for splicing.  This is a 65% reduction .

In general terms, a ribbon cable is slightly higher in price versus a loose tube cable, depending on the number of fibres.  The savings from mass fusion splicing more than makes up for the incremental cable cost.

Make Up

Ribbon Fibre Diagram

The ribbon cable contains the same types of fibre as a Loose Tube cable
A ribbon fibre cable is typically constructed with the same type of fibre(s) used in a loose tube cable.

The fibres in a ribbon cable are the same colours as fibre used in a Loose Tube cable. A single ribbon contains all 12 standard colours of fibre as used in a Loose Tube cable.

Each ribbon has its own unique print identification.  The words Blue, Orange, Green, Brown ( etc ) are printed on each individual ribbon.


Ribbon cables can be installed in aerial, duct, and direct buried applications
Ribbon fibre cables are suitable for aerial lashed, duct, or direct buried applications.

Ribbon cables are available in gel-filled tubes and dry tubes.
Manufactures produce both gel-filled and dry tube ribbon cables.

Ribbon fibres can be spliced to a loose tube cable. It is a common practice to take 12 loose fibres and build a ribbon for mass fusion splicing. It is also common practice to remove the over coating from a ribbon and splice single fibres together.

The term used for the coating that holds the 12 fibres into a rectangular shape in a ribbon cable is Matrix or Acrylic The over coating is used to describe the clear coating that holds the 12 fibres into a flat rectangular shape.

The matrix coating easily removed so you can get to the individual fibres. Ribbon matrix over coating is easily removed at the end of the ribbon or in the middle of a ribbon. Normally ribbon matrix over coating peels away easily and cleanly, leaving no residue on the fibres.

Individual fibres from a ribbon, is spliced using single fibre splice machines in some cases
The matrix can easily be removed to allow single fibre splicing.

In a ribbon, the fibres are touching each other.
In standard ribbons, the 12 fibres are lying beside each other with no space between the fibres. The thin, clear over coating holds the fibres together in a rectangular shape.

12 fibres in a ribbon are most common, but in cables containing 288-432 fibres, a 24 fibre ribbon is typically used.  In this process, two 12 fibre ribbons are joined together with an overcoat and can easily be split apart by hand.  There is also an emerging trend in the industry to place 4, 6, and 8 fibre ribbons inside of drop cables.


Ribbon cable is compatible with most splice closures, cabinets, & pedestals used in the outside plant. However it is recommend you contact your preferred closure, cabinet, or pedestal manufacturer, but ribbon cables are compatible with most hardware used with loose tube splicing & routings. Bare ribbons can be routed and stored inside of a closure / cabinet / pedestal.

Bare ribbons are typically routed and stored inside of closures, cabinets, and pedestals.  The tube surrounding the ribbon should be removed and not routed in the closures, cabinets, or pedestal.  Contact your hardware manufacturer for details and procedures.

Ribbon in Central Tube, UniRibbon, Ribbon in Loose Tube, and Stranded Ribbon.
A cable where the ribbons are stacked together and placed inside a single central tube is called ” Ribbon in Central Tube or UniRibbon ” and is the most popular type of ribbon cable used in the USA.  If ribbons are stacked together and placed inside of a series of small plastic tubes & these tubes are stranded around a central member, this is called ”  Ribbon in Loose Tube or Stranded Ribbon.”

Indoor Customer (enterprise ACMA)

Ribbons fibre cables can be used for indoor applications.
In some overseas applications riser ribbon is a popular choice for use in multi-dwelling units (apartments, condo’s, high rise, campus, etc.) and can be purchased with factory installed connectors. Just like any single or multimode fibre cable.

Loss on ribbon fibre

The normal / accepted splice loss when using 12 fibre mass fusion splicers with a ribbon cable is 0.05 dB.
Since OD alignment is used with mass fusion splice machines, splice losses are slightly higher than core/alignment single fusion splice machines; however, an average splice loss of 0.05 dB is easily obtained.

Manufacturers of ribbon fibre fusion splicers.
There are several manufacturers of mass fusion splicers, for example: Fujikura/AFL, Sumitomo and OFS.  

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