The More You Know: Fiber Terms 101

February 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM


They say knowledge is power, so we are here to empower you! The fiber terms 9/125, 50/125 and 62.5/125 might look like algebra to you, but here we’ll explain what they mean, how to read them and we even have a diagram and video to help enhance your educational experience.


The most common fiber cable sizes are 9/125, 50/125 and 62.5/125. These numbers refer to the diameter, in microns, of the core and cladding of a fiber optic cable. The leading numbers (9, 50 and 62.5) refer to the diameter of the fiber cable's core in microns. The trailing number (125) is the diameter (in microns) of the outside of the fiber cable's cladding. The cladding is a special coating that keeps the light from escaping the glass core of the cable. For quick reference, 9/125 is a single-mode fiber cable, 50/125 and 62.5/125 are multimode fiber cables.


Here is a diagram of the fiber core and cladding so you can see exactly what we’re talking about:



Click on the image below to watch our video that further explains the different fiber types.


5G – A New Frontier

February 2, 2017 at 8:00 AM


A new frontier of wireless technology is under exploration. Though we are still in the initial phases of defining everything the fifth generation (5G) wireless network will offer, we do have a glimpse into what technological wonders await. Like the generations that came before it, 5G is shaping up to be an exciting new frontier in wireless communication. Here is a look at what is in store.


Of course 5G is slated to be faster than 4G, but instead of faster peak connection speeds, the goal of 5G is a higher capacity of 20 Gbps speeds and 1 millisecond (ms) latency which would allow more users per area unit and higher consumption of unlimited data. This would make it possible for more people to stream high-definition media on mobile devices for long periods of time without a Wi-Fi connection. 5G will use OFDM encoding, which is similar to the LTE coding used by 4G but with more flexibility and lower latency. 5G may also integrate Wi-Fi as part of a cellular network, or use LTE Unlicensed which transmits LTE-encoded data over Wi-Fi frequencies.


Rather than huge towers covering long distances, 5G networks are likely to consist of small cells, some as small as home routers. This is partly because of the characteristics of the frequencies 5G will use, but mostly it is to allow for greater network expansion capacity. Using numerous smaller cells means that 5G will also have to be much more intuitive than previous generations in order to juggle all of the cells and keep up as they change size and shape. These small cells may also have more autonomy and be able to choose how and where to route data, which can significantly lower latency. Even with smaller cells, it is expected that 5G will still be able to increase capacity by four times over 4G networks by utilizing advanced antenna technologies and wider bandwidths.


The first steps for 5G will mostly like be home internet applications but with a much wider availability than closely related millimeter-wave fixed wireless IPs. For some providers, 5G may replace DSL to allow the company to offer a package deal that includes 5G home internet, satellite TV, wireless phone and home phone together.


Driverless cars may be another application that could greatly benefit from 5G. For now, driverless cars are self-contained, but in the future there are plans for them to communicate with other cars and smart roads to improve traffic and safety. In order for cars to successfully communicate with one another and road sensors while driving, there need to be instant data exchanges with minimal latency. The 1 ms latency rate of 5G could be critical to data exchanges and safety in these driverless car scenarios.


Unlike 4G networks, 5G will allow the use of small, inexpensive, low-power devices. This will open up options for IoT devices by allowing many more devices and entire cities to connect to the Internet. The low latency and high-powered speeds of 5G will also allow for phones to transform into virtual and augmented reality devices. The small cell design of the network will also help in-building coverage by allowing every home router to become a mini cell tower.


Before you start making plans to upgrade, take a deep breath, there aren’t any 5G devices on the market yet. And while your 4G devices won’t work on the 5G network, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi aren’t going away; they will be key factors in the 5G strategy and will actually perform better with the advances that will come with 5G. Wireless carriers are starting to work on the technology and there will be some pre-5G debuts taking place in 2017, but these won’t have all of the capabilities of a true 5G network. Plans for 5G are all still in the development process and the network is estimated to roll-out between 2018 and 2020.  No matter when it officially comes to market, 5G will certainly be an exciting new frontier for wireless communication.


The Benefits of LSZH Cables and Where They are Used

January 26, 2017 at 8:00 AM


Since the discovery of fire, humans have been taking steps to protect themselves from fire’s harmful effects. Cables in communication applications are not exempt from catching fire and can produce harmful smoke and gas, so preventative measures have been taken to make sure that cables are safe too – hence, the development of LSZH cables.


Low-Smoke Zero-Halogen (LSZH) refers to the material in the cable’s outer jacket. Most commercially available cable assemblies have an outer jacket made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is a durable, flexible plastic that is perfect for most applications, but one of the biggest downfalls of PVC is the way it burns. Once PVC has caught fire, it typically burns freely for a long time and releases toxic gas in the process.  On the other hand, LSZH cable jacketing is made of thermoplastic or thermoset compounds that emit limited smoke, no halogen and won’t produce dangerous gas when exposed to high sources of heat.


In a building fire, there is a danger of standard PVC cables burning behind the walls or in ceilings for a long period of time and that fire spreading from room to room or floor to floor and creating toxic gasses. Though in most building fires, occupants are able to evacuate and escape these gasses, but sometimes getting out of the building isn’t an option.


LSZH cable jackets are becoming increasingly popular in applications where people are in close proximity to cable assemblies and cannot easily get ventilation in the event of a fire, such as military, aerospace, railroad and maritime applications. Cost effective LSZH jackets are typically used, and sometimes required, in poorly ventilated areas such as onboard aircraft, military vehicles, submarines and ships. They are also used extensively in railway systems, wherever high voltage or track signal wires are run through underground tunnels. This reduces the chance of toxic gasses accumulating in these areas if the cables caught on fire.


In the event of a fire, an LSZH cable jacket can be instrumental in protecting people from fire, smoke and dangerous gas emitted from the burning cables. L-com offers a wide-range of LSZH cable assemblies thatare designed for use in areas where toxic smoke could damage sensitive equipment and enclosed areas where air quality is a concern.  For more information, check out our LSZH cable assembly product guide.


Hot off the Presses – L-com’s 2017 Product Guide is Here!

January 19, 2017 at 8:00 AM


L-com’s wired and wireless product guide has long been regarded as a valuable resource used by technicians and engineers. Our guide’s detailed tutorials and tips also make it an excellent educational tool for schools and universities to train students.


The big reveal is here and we’re ready to share our 2017 Wired & Wireless Product Guide full of thousands of products including many new and best-selling items. This year’s guide is packed with tips, tutorials, full-color product images and more.


Here are some of the items we’re debuting this year:



Getting your copy of our 2017 Wired & Wireless Product Guide is easy, simply fill out our online product guide request form and we will mail it to you right away. You can also view this year’s catalog as a flip book or download pages from the product guide as PDFs.


FirstNet to the Rescue

January 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM


In today’s world, safety is a primary concern for many people. We go to great lengths to make sure that our families, homes and neighborhoods are safe and we depend on first responders to ensure public safety.  We assume that emergency personnel will have access to reliable wireless communication needed to contain and control an emergency situation. But what if the police, fire department or EMTs aren’t able to communicate with one another?


First responders depend on more than 10,000 separate, incompatible radio networks to communicate during emergency situations. This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for responders from different jurisdictions or agencies to communicate and work together because they’re not on one network.  This also makes it increasingly dangerous for emergency workers going into a situation blindly. To remedy this, the FirstNet organization was created with the mission of building, operating and maintaining a Wi-Fi network to provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications.


Created in 2012, the FirstNet organization is the only independent government authority with a directive to provide specialized communication services for public safety. The FirstNet network is the first high-speed, nationwide, wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. With this network, all emergency workers are able to use one interoperable LTE network devoted solely to keeping them connected. Steps are also being taken to ensure that emergency responders are able to remain in communication in rural areas where wireless signals can be weak or non-existent. FirstNet uses the 700 MHz spectrum available nationwide and aims to solve interoperability challenges and ensure uninterrupted communication to enhance the safety of communities and first responders.


In addition to the wireless network, FirstNet is creating devices and applications to deliver high-speed data, location information, images, and video that can save lives. It allows emergency personnel to remain in communication during large events when crowds of people can create dangerous situations and congest public networks. It also provides reliable communication during natural disasters when communication lines may be down and emergency services are needed most.


With the FirstNet organization continuously working on the development and improvement of wireless communication for public safety, we can all feel a little safer. For more information on FirstNet and how it is using wireless networks to improve public safety, visit


© L-com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. L-com, Inc., 50 High Street, West Mill, Third Floor, Suite 30, North Andover, MA 01845