5 Common Fiber Optic Cable Problems

A fiber optic cable on a white background.
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What You'll Need
Fiber optic cable
Fiber optic tracer
What You'll Need
Fiber optic cable
Fiber optic tracer

Though it has the ability to improve the performance of a range of different types of equipment, this doesn’t mean that a fiber optic cable won’t encounter any problems. Read on to learn what issues to look out for so you will be better equipped to prevent and even rectify them should they arise.

External Damage

A thorough visual inspection of the fiber optic cable will be sufficient to highlight any prominent defects that have affected the casing or the conductors. It doesn’t take a significant amount of damage to affect the ability of the cable to work properly. It is prudent to replace the cable if any issues become apparent from the inspection, such as splits or scratches.

Too Long

A fiber optic cable that has excess length after a connection has been made will be at risk of bending, twisting, or winding around itself. These actions can result in permanent damage to the fibers and components within the cable. Cables are available in a range of different lengths and you should ensure that you get the correct one with the use of a measuring tape. Position all the equipment that you intend to connect with the cable. Measure the distance between them to get an idea of the approximate length. There are some varieties that contain a rod to prevent it from being bent. These can be used to prevent a recurrence of the same problem.


The components within a fiber optic cable are delicate and can be damaged if stretched across a distance that it cannot comfortably accommodate. Avoid the risk of the fibers within the cable becoming damaged by moving the items closer together or obtaining a cable of a more appropriate length. Stretching can also occur from pulling at the jacket of the cable rather than using the grips at the connectors designed to be used to fit and remove them. Always use the grips to remove the connector from the socket that holds it.


Performance problems can occur in the event that the connectors of the fiber optic cable are not fitted properly. Check each of the connectors to determine whether this is the case and rectify it by inserting them properly. If the problem continues, replace the cable with a version that makes use of spring-loaded connectors that fit securely without slipping out of place.


If the fibers within the cable are broken or damaged in some way, it will not be immediately evident by simply looking at it. In order to check this, a fiber optic tracer can be utilized to highlight any faults within the cable. This implement resembles a miniature flashlight that uses an LED and can be fitted to the cable connector for the purpose of checking continuity. If the fibers are all intact and working correctly, the light that is shone at one end of the cable should be visible at the other end of the cable.