How Does the Fiber Optic Color Code System Work

How Does the Fiber Optic Color Code System Work: Fiber Optic

Fiber optic color coding is an important part of cable management. The Fiber Optic Association promotes a standardized color coding system as a way for engineers to work with and identify fiber optic cables and other components. 

The most important aspect of the fiber optic color code system is it helps to keep track of which fibers are carrying data signals and which are carrying voice signals. Let’s take a close look at how fiber optic color code systems work.

Why is fiber optic color coding important? 

Fiber color codes are used to help you identify fiber cables (including patch cables, premises cables, and outdoor cables), fiber connectors, and individual fibers. There are multiple benefits of using a fiber optic color coding system in both indoor and outdoor applications, including:

Ease of installation

When fiber optic cables are correctly color-coded, it is much easier for installers to identify which cable goes where. This can save a lot of time and resources during the installation process, ultimately making for a more cost-effective project.

Ease of maintenance

Once fiber optic cables are installed, they can be very difficult to access. This makes it important to have a color code system in place so that fiber technicians can easily identify which fiber needs to be repaired or replaced.

Simplified splicing

When fiber optic cables are color coded, it is much easier to select the strands to be spliced together. A splice tray may carry up to 72 fibers, meaning it would be chaos without a color tracking system. Put simply, tracking the different colors of the fibers, means engineers can ensure continuity throughout a cable run. 

Fewer human errors

One of the biggest benefits of fiber optic color coding is that it can help to reduce human errors. This is because fiber technicians will be able to quickly and easily identify which fiber goes where, thus minimizing the risk of mistakes. Without color coding, it’s relatively easy for an engineer to mix up a 50/125 with a 62.5/125 multimode fiber. And of course, multi-fiber cables typically contain tens if not hundreds of individual strands. 

Port separation

In some cases, fiber optic cables must be separated into different ports. Color coding can help to make this process much simpler and more efficient.

How are fiber optic cables typically color coded?

The EIA/TIA-598 fiber optic cable color code is the most commonly used method for color-coding fiber optic cables. This standard was developed by the Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). 

EIA/TIA-598 is the standard fiber color code used in the United States, and the most recognized system worldwide. The method uses a combination of two different colors to identify each fiber. For example, the first fiber in a cable may be blue and the second fiber may be orange. 

Which parts of the fiber optic cable are colored?

fiber optic cable color coding

The fiber optic color code system is used to color the different parts of the fiber optic cable. These parts include:

  • The outer cable jacket of the fiber optic cable
  • The inner fiber core
  • The fiber optic connector

What are the 12 colors of fiber?

fiber optic cable jacket colors

There are some color code standards to adhere to: 

Cable jacket colors

These are used to determine the fiber classifications, fiber numbers,  and sizes of cables used in premises distribution cables, premises interconnect cables, interconnect cords, or premises breakout cables. In non-military applications, you can expect the following color coding for these types of fiber: 

  • Multimode 50/125 (OM2) – Orange 
  • Multimode 50/125 (OM3, OM4) – Aqua 
  • Multimode 50/125 (OM5) – Lime Green 
  • Multimode (OM1) – Orange 
  • Multimode (100/140) – Orange 
  • Single mode (OS1, OS1a, OS2) – Yellow 
  • Polarization maintaining single-mode – Blue 

Note: the fiber color code varies for military applications: 

  • Multimode 50/125 (OM2) – Orange 
  • Multimode 50/125 (OM3, OM4) – undefined 
  • Multimode 50/125 (OM5) – undefined 
  • Multimode (OM1) – Slate 
  • Multimode (100/140) – Green
  • Single mode (OS1, OS1a, OS2) – Yellow 
  • Polarization maintaining single-mode – undefined 

Connector color codes 

Initially, orange, black or gray colors were used for multimode and yellow for single mode fiber. But since metallic connectors have been used, different colors have been introduced to identify the connector body for the following fiber types: 

  • 62.5/125 – Beige 
  • 50/125 – Black 
  • 50/125 Aqua
  • OM5 – Lime 
  • Singlemode – Blue 
  • Singlemode APC – Green 

Note: the same colors are also used for the strain relief/mating adaptor. 

Fiber color codes 

Within a loose tube cable, fibers are color-coded to help you identify individual fibers rather than in pairs. You can expect them to follow this pattern. 

  • 1= Blue 
  • 2 = Orange 
  • 3 = Green 
  • 4 = Brown 
  • 5 = Slate 
  • 6 = White 
  • 7 = Red
  • 8 = Black 
  • 9 = Yellow 
  • 10 = Violet 
  • 11 = Rose 
  • 12 = Aqua 

Following this sequence, buffer tubes will continue from 13 to 24 repeating the same colors above but with a black stripe. The black cable will have a yellow stripe. From tubes 25 to 36, an orange stripe is used, and from 37 to 48 a green stripe is used. 

How do you remember fiber optic color code? 

Struggling to remember which color goes where? There are a few different ways that you can remember fiber color code:

  • Use a mnemonic device – for example, “Blue is for business, orange is for outside plant, green is for gigabit Ethernet, brown is for building to building.”
  • Write the fiber color code down in a specific order so that you can easily refer to it.
  • Create a fiber color code chart that you can hang up in your workspace.

Contact The Network Installers 

Do you need assistance with a fiber optic cabling installation project? Or perhaps you’re already using a fiber network but your cabling isn’t correctly color-coded, meaning maintenance is a headache. 
In either case, The Network Installers can provide you with highly qualified and experienced engineers to implement an effective fiber optic cable color code system. Get in touch with our team of experts today for a FREE, no-obligation quote.

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The Network Installers is a low voltage electrical contractor that provides data cabling, network installation, fiberoptic installation, and WIFI installation. We've been serving commercial customers since 2008 with exceptional quality, consistency, and professionalism.


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