STL's new 160-micron fiber responds to emerging network, duct capacity needs

Oct. 30, 2023
The new fiber exceeds the capacity of traditional fibers and can help service providers pack more fibers in ducts.
STL debuted its new 160-micron optical fiber during the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2023 trade show.

The company claims that cable made its 160-micron fiber, which was conceptualized and developed the new fiber at its Centre of Excellence in Maharashtra, India, can hold three times more capacity than traditional 250-micron fiber. STL 

After STL unveiled the 160-micron Fiber during the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2023 trade show, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Railways, spliced two strands of optical fiber--a highly calibrated process of connecting the cores of two hair-thin optical fibers.

This new cable initially targets India, which has become one of the world’s fastest-growing digital economies. In particular, the new fiber’s size will help service providers increase the amount of fiber they can carry in ducts. Currently, laying fiber ducts account for over 60% of deploying fiber. Network builders worldwide are continually looking at ways to reduce fiber size to pack more and more capacity in the available duct space.

By packing more capacity in limited duct space with a reduced diameter cable of 6.4mm (~32% reduction compared to 250-micron fiber), STL's 160-micron fiber addresses the emerging needs for bandwidth capacity and the green quotient.

STL’s innovation could have a significant effect on India's broadband landscape. In a large-scale project like Bharatnet, where India needs to deploy over 20 million km of fiber cable by 2025, using 160-micron fiber instead of the standard 250-micron fiber can reduce the deployment time by over 15%. This enables the use of ducts with a smaller diameter, thereby reducing the plastic footprint in the ground by over 30%.

Incremental reduction in fiber size is an incredibly challenging feat that optical experts worldwide have continued to try to solve. However, various challenges exist in reducing fiber size below 250-micron, including enhanced sensitivity towards micro-bending and increased complexity in the fiber drawing process.

"Through highly calibrated process and material engineering, we have achieved a breakthrough in manufacturing processes and glass compositions to realize micro bend insensitivity,” said Dr Badri Gomatam, Group CTO of STL.

This product meets telecom-grade optical performance standards and complies with the ITU G.657A2 standard. This announcement comes after a series of innovations by STL's R&D experts, including a multicore fiber with 4X capacity and 180-micron fiber.

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