ICEA set to reissue OSP fiber cable standard

The Insulated Cable Engineers Association (ICEA) has completed the third revision of Standard 640 on outside plant (OSP) cable and is poised to publish it as a U.S. National Standard. This revision contains performance requirements for 1625-nm transmission and a new low-temperature requirement of -50°C. It will join three other standards as the predominant North American optical-fiber cable specifications.

Standardization of optical fiber and cables during the maturation of fiber optics was perhaps easier in North America than elsewhere in the world. Because of the predominance of the Bell System, the United States was not faced with harmonizing many disparate standards. Soon after the breakup of the Bell System in 1984, Bellcore (now Telcordia) was formed and issued two seminal optical-fiber cable specifications: GR-20 for outdoor cable and GR-409 for indoor (premises) cable.

Bellcore GRs were private documents written and owned by them. Work soon began on open industry-agreed standards. The Electronic Industries Association (EIA, now the purview of TIA) undertook fiber standardization while both the EIA and ICEA wrote cable standards. The first optical-fiber cable standard was ICEA Standard 596 on indoor cable, followed by Standard 640 on outdoor cable.

Today, there are four documents in the long list of ICEA optical-fiber cable standards. In the last year, three standards have been adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association (S-640 is pending); now the U.S. has a set of four unified ANSI standards for optical-fiber cable:

• ICEA S-83-596-2001, adopted as TIA-472C000-B, Standard for Optical Fiber Premises Distribution Cable

• ICEA S-87-640-2005, to be adopted as TIA-472D000-A, Standard for Optical Fiber Outside Plant Communications Cable

• ICEA S-104-696-2001, adopted as TIA-472E000, Standard for Indoor-Outdoor Optical Fiber Cable

• ICEA S-110-717-2003, adopted as TIA-472F000, Standard for Optical Fiber Drop Cable

Mike Kinard ( is a consultant in the communications cable industry and has contributed to optical-fiber standardization in the U.S. and internationally.

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