Fiber Optic Network Glossary

Welcome to FluxLight's glossary of fiber optic network terminology. The terms below represent some of the most common industry standards and products used in fiber optic networks. If you require help determining which transceivers, cables, media converters or adaptors are best suited for your optical networking needs, please give FluxLight a call at 888-874-7574 and one of our fiber optic network specialists will gladly assist you.

1000Base 1000Base is a term used to describe various technologies for transmitting data across a network at a rate of one gigabit (GbE or 1 GigE) per second. Transceivers and cables used for 1000Base Ethernet have been commonplace and cost effective since about 2000.
100Base 100Base a term used to describe various technologies for transmitting data across a network at a rate of 100 Mbit/s. 100Base Ethernet was introduced in 1995 and remained the fastest version of Ethernet for about five years, before it was surpassed by 1000Base gigabit Ethernet standards.
10GBase 10GBase, or 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbeE), is the term used to describe various technologies for transmitting data across a network at a rate of 10 gigabits per second. Unlike the previous Ethernet standards, 10GBase Ethernet defines only full duplex point-to-point links, which are typically connected by network switches. Half duplex operation and hubs do not exist in 10GBase.
10G SFP 10G SFP refers to a transceiver or cable of the SFP (Small Form Factor Pluggable) form factor that operates at a data rate of around 10 gigabits per second. The 10G SFP is a popular form factor among transceivers, due to its moderately high data transmission rate and hot swappable capabilities.
40GBase 40GBase or 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE) is the term used to describe various technologies for transmitting data across a network at a rate of 40 gigabits per second.
Active Optical Cables Active Optical Cables (AOCs) are specialized cables which make use of electrical-to-optical conversion circuits (SFP+ transceivers) on each end of the cable. This conversion circuitry improves the speed, distance, and performance of the cables without sacrificing compatibility with standard interfaces. AOCs are lighter, smaller, more resistant to EMI, and consume less power than traditional copper cables.
Base Rate The base rate is the data transmission speed of an optical transceiver. Base rate is typically measured in Gigabits per second (Gbps) of data transferred over Ethernet.
Chassis Racks A chassis rack is a structure that is used to house or physically assemble multiple network devices (e.g., routers, switches, fan units, wire/fiber management panels, media converter chassis).
Digital Optical Monitoring Digital Optical Monitoring (DOM) is an industry standard that allows for real-time monitoring of transceiver operating parameters, such as: optical transmission power, optical receiving power, operating temperature, current and voltage.
DAC Cables
(Direct Attached Copper)
Direct Attach Copper (DAC) cables use a passive twin-ax cable assembly with SFP+ transceiver housings built onto each end. These cables are typically available in lengths from 1 meter to 10 meters. DAC cables utilize little power, are low cost but do have bulkier (larger diameter) cables than fiber optic alternatives.
Ethernet Ethernet is the most popular and widely used Local Area Network (LAN) technology. An Ethernet network typically makes use of coaxial or twisted pair cables to transmit network traffic. The Ethernet standard is also used in wireless networking. The most common type of Ethernet systems are 10BASE-T, which transmit data at speeds up to 10 Mbps.
Fiber Connectors Fiber connectors are used to connect two or more pieces of fiber optic equipment. See also: Fiber jumpers.
Fiber Jumpers Fiber jumpers, also known as fiber patch cords, are lengths of fiber optic cable that are fitted with connectors on each end. These connectors can either be identical and used to connect two devices of the same form factor, or they can be different and used for connecting devices of varying form factors. Fiber jumpers are available in singlemode and various multimode options.
Fiber Optic Adapter A fiber optic adapter is a device that is used to interlock fiber-optic connectors. Adapters contain an interconnect sleeve, also known as a split sleeve, that holds two connector end-faces together at the proper alignment. The adapter’s sleeve can be composed of steel, ceramic, phosphor bronze or polymer materials.
Fiber Optic Cable Fiber optic cable is the medium and technology used for the transmission of data over glass or plastic cables in the form of light pulses. Fiber optic cable is capable of carrying significantly more information over longer distances than traditional copper wire and is much less prone to electromagnetic interference.
Form Factor Form factor is the general term used when describing the size, configuration, and or physical dimensions of a piece of electronic hardware, such as a fiber optic transceiver. Fiber optic transceivers come in a variety of form factors including: SFP, SFP+, GBIC, XENPAK, X2 and XFP.
GBIC GBIC is an acronym for Gigabit Interface Converter. A GBIC is a type of transceiver that converts digital electric currents into optical signals and vice versa. GBICs are typically used in fiber optic and Ethernet systems to support high-speed networking. A GBIC transceiver operates at a transfer rate of at least one gigabit per second. GBIC modules are easily configurable and make for a simple and economical upgrade for various types of communication networks.
Media Converter A media converter is a piece of networking equipment that is used to connect two different media types. For example, connecting twisted pair cabling and fiber optic cabling. Media converters can support various data communication protocols like, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, etc. Multiple cabling types are also supported like: twisted pair, coaxial, single-mode and multi-mode fiber optics.
Multimode Fiber Multimode fiber is a type of fiber optic cable that is most commonly used for high data transmission rates over short distances. It is so called because the relatively large core diameter, most commonly 50 or 62.5 microns, allows multiple modes of light to enter the fiber.
Multi-Source Agreement A multi-source agreement (MSA) is an agreement between multiple manufacturers to make products which are compatible across vendors, acting as de facto standards, and establishing a competitive market for interoperable products.
OC-3 OC-3 is one of the defined transmission rates of the SONET transport hierarchy and operates at 155.52 Mbit/s. Outside of North America, SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) is used and is slightly different than SONET. The SDH equivalent of OC-3 is STM-1.
OC-12 OC-12 SONET interfaces operate at 622.08 Mbit/s. Internet service providers typically use OC-12 for small regional and local connections in their wide area network (WAN). The SDH equivalent of OC-12 is STM-4.
OC-48 OC-48 rated fiber optic networking equipment supports a transmission speed of 2,488.32 Mbit/s. OC-48 is commonly used for the backbone of many regional internet service providers. The SDH equivalent of OC-48 is STM-16.
Optical Transceiver An optical transceiver is an electronic device that converts between electrical and optical signals in two directions: 1) transmitted data in the form electrical pulses are converted into optical pulses for transmission over fiber optical cable and, 2) received data in the form of optical pulses from a fiber optic cable are converted into electronic pulses.
Patch Cord A patch cord is a relatively short length of fiber optic cable used to connect two optical devices. The connectors on the ends of optical patch cords may be identical at each end or may be different. Popular connectors for optical patch cords include: LC, SC and ST.
QSFP QSFP (Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable) is an optical transceiver standard that supports four channels of data and is hot-pluggable. QSFP transceivers have largely been replaced by QSFP+ transceivers.
QSFP+ QSFP+ (Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable) is an enhanced version of the original QSFP four channel transceiver. QSFP+ modules use 4 parallel 10Gbps circuits for a total data rate of 40Gbps. QSFP+ modules in the future may support 4 X 25Gbps channels for up to 100Gbps total.
SFP SFP (Small Form-Factor Pluggable) is an optical transceiver standard that supports 10Base/100Base/1000Base and 1G/2G/4Gbps Fibre Channel data transmission rates, and is hot pluggable. SFP transceivers connect network devices to Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) fiber optic cables through an integrated dual-LC optical connector.
SFP+ SFP+ (Small Form-Factor Pluggable Plus) is an enhanced version of the original transceiver. SFP+ transceivers are capable of data rates up to 10 Gigabits per second over Ethernet (10GbE) and up to 8Gbps Fibre Channel. SFP+ modules are the same physical size as SFP modules. Some equipment allows either SFP or SFP+ modules to be equipped in the same slot. Like SFPs, SFP+ modules use a dual-LC connector.
Singlemode Fiber Singlemode fiber is a type of fiber optic cable that is commonly used for high-speed data transmission rates over long distances. With a typical core diameter of 8-10 microns, this type of fiber allows on a single mode of light from a source to be coupled into the fiber for transmission. This property eliminates the primary reach limitation of multimode fiber (fibers with larger cores allowing multiple modes of light), that is, intermodal dispersion.
Transceiver A transceiver is a device that is capable of both sending and receiving signals. Fiber optic transceivers are specialized devices that receive optical signals from the fiber and convert them to electrical signals and, in the other direction, convert electrical signals into optical signals and transmit over fiber optic cable.
XFP XFP (10 Gigabit Small Form Factor Pluggable) is a standard for optical transceivers used in high-speed networks and telecommunication links. XFP transceivers are hot swappable and designed for 10G network applications. XFP modules use a dual-LC optical connector.