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Air-Blown Fiber vs. Conventional Cabling Infrastructures


Air-Blown Fiber Graphic

One of the most innovative network infrastructure solutions of the past decade has been Air-Blown Fiber Cabling.  Our partners over at Sumitomo Electric  manufacture an Air-Blown Fiber Cabling solution.  Many out there are probably wondering “What’s the real difference between Air-Blown Fiber Cabling and Conventional Cabling?”.  Well we have your answer today folks!

Sumitomo Electric has a great pdf answering this very question.  Here are some of the findings from the pdf:

Scalability & Network MACs

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Keeps exact pace of emerging technology
    • Blow out fiber and reuse anywhere in your network
    • At speeds of up to 150 feet per minute, install any fiber type anytime and anywhere for easy and quick upgrades in a matter of minutes or hours
  • Conventional Cabling

    • Requires installation of additional cable, often taking weeks or months to plan and install
    • Once dark fiber is laid, it is not reusable… wasting investment dollars
    • Upgrades reported to take up to “12 times longer and 10 times the cost” of the air-blown fiber solution

Capacity Control & Allocation

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Minimizes the use of conduit space and provides virtually unlimited pathway, fiber, and bandwidth capacity
    • Tube cables provide simple demarcation of network components, destinations, and ownership
  • Conventional Cabling

    • Consumes conduit space, limiting network expansion, fiber count, and potential capacity
    • Difficult to define and allocate capacity ownership for current and future applications

Planning & Budgeting

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Eliminates forecasting future technology requirements
    • Saves 70-90% of time and labor costs
    • Fast and easy installation reduces planning time, increases responsiveness with quick project turnarounds, and controls recurring costs for positive ROI
  • Conventional Cabling

    • Requires guessing future network growth and other unpredictable variables
    • Extensive project planning slows turnaround, especially for emergencies and network restoration. High installation costs increase recurring costs, inhibiting ROI

Work Environments & Operations

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Blowing fiber results in no work site disruption and reduces or eliminates network downtime
    • Air-blown fiber can be “blown” easily anywhere at any time, including restricted access areas
  • Conventional Cabling

    • Pulling of cables requires construction work and installation crews disrupting the work environment and network operations
    • Difficulties, disruption, and additional expense when installing in restricted access or hazardous areas

Network Integrity

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Continuous point-to-point, splice-free connectivity between and within buildings reduces attenuation for better transmission and signal integrity
  • Conventional Cabling

    • Necessitates splicing and connection at various points between and within buildings, adding further labor costs, increasing attenuation, and points of failure

Time & Labor Savings

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • 3,000 feet of fiber can be blown in 30 minutes with only 2 installers
  • Conventional Cabling

    • It typically takes one-8 hour day with a minimum of 4 skilled installers to pull 3,000 feet of fiber optic cable


Here’s the entire PDF from Sumitomo Electric. 

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