Color Codes for Indoor Fiber Optic Cables

The color codes of indoor fiber optic cables are not only for aesthetics in the premises fiber cabling systems. Actually, they are used as a reference for users to easily identify what type of fiber is used in the systems. Thus, to understand the color codes is very necessary to people who need to interact with the fiber optic cables.

Overview

Cables with colored jackets are typically used only in intra-building applications. The color codes that are used to help identify which type of fiber cable it is and the level of fire resistance are specified by TIA-598C. It is necessary to note that the cable color codes specified in EIA/TIA 568 (standard for premises cabling) are the same as TIA-598C.

However, you should be know that outdoor cables are not included in this standard. Because most cables deployed outside incorporate additives in the jacket material to withstand the damaging effects of solar radiation and other harsh environments, these outside cable products typically contain black carbon material to provide the requisite level of protection. Of course, color-compatible materials designed to resist solar radiation are also available for outdoor applications, and other methods for color-coding black jackets are possible (i.e., colored striping). But the use of such materials and methods were beyond the scope of TIA-598C standard. This tutorial mainly aims at color codes for indoor fiber optic cables.

Understanding Color Codes for Indoor Cable

Each individual fiber within a fiber optic cable should be uniquely identifiable in terms of its color, unit, group, and/or position. Thus, unless otherwise specified, fibers, units, and groups within indoor distribution cable should be color coded in accordance with the table 1:

Position # Base color/tracer per TIA/EIA Abbreviation/print legend
1 Blue 1 or BL or 1-BL
2 Orange 2 or OR or 2-OR
3 Green 3 or GR or 3-GR
4 Brown 4 or BR or 4-BR
5 Slate 5 or SL or 5-SL
6 White 6 or WH or 6-WH
7 Red 7 or RD or 7-RD
8 Black 8 or BK or 8-BK
9 Yellow 9 or YL or 9-YL
10 Violet 10 or VI or 10-VI
11 Rose 11 or RS or 11-RS
12 Aqua 12 or AQ or 12-AQ
13 Blue with Black Tracer 13 or D/BL or 13-D/BL2)
14 Orange with Black Tracer 14 or D/OR or 14-D/OR
15 Green with Black Tracer 15 or D/GR or 15-D/GR
16 Brown with Black Tracer 16 or D/BR or 16-D/BR
17 Slate with Black Tracer 17 or D/SL or 17-D/SL
18 White with Black Tracer 18 or D/WH or 18-D/WH
19 Red with Black Tracer 19 or D/RD or 19-D/RD
20 Black with Black Tracer 20 or D/BK or 20-D/BK
21 Yellow with Black Tracer 21 or D/YL or 21-D/YL
22 Violet with Black Tracer 22 or D/VI or 22-D/VI
23 Rose with Black Tracer 23 or D/RS or 23-D/RS
24 Aqua with Black Tracer 24 or D/AQ or 24-D/AQ
25 Blue with Double Black Tracer3) 25 or DD/BL or 25-DD/BL2)
26 Orange with Double Black Tracer 26 or DD/OR or 26-DD/OR
27 Green with Double Black Tracer 27 or DD/GRF or 27-DD/GR
28 Brown with Double Black Tracer 28 or DD/BR or 28-DD/BR
29 Slate with Double Black Tracer 29 or DD/SL or 29-DD/SL
30 White with Double Black Tracer 30 or DD/WH or 30-DD/WH
31 Red with Double Black Tracer 31 or DD/RD or 31-DD/RD
32 Black with Double White Tracer1) 32 or DD/BK or 32-DD/BK
33 Yellow with Double Black Tracer 33 or DD/YL or 33-DD/YL
34 Violet with Double Black Tracer 34 or DD/VI or 34-DD/VI
35 Rose with Double Black Tracer 35 or DD/RS or 35-DD/RS
36 Aqua with Double Black Tracer 36 or DD/AQ or 36-DD/AQ
37-48 Note 4 Note 4
1) Other discernable tracer colors may be used as agreed to by the manufacturer and the user.
2) “D/” denotes a dashed mark or tracer per 3.6. That is, D/BL is Dash/Blue, meaning Blue with a tracer. “DD/” denotes a double-dash mark or tracer. That is, DD/BL is Double Dash/Blue, meaning Blue with a double tracer.
3) Positions 25 through 36 shall allow, as an alternative to double-dash tracers, a single red stripe except for red which is striped yellow.
4) For positions 37 through 48, use the same 12 base colors but allow a single green stripe, except for green which shall use an orange stripe. As an alternative, a triple black dash/tracer mark may be used, except for black, which shall use a triple white dash/tracer mark.

Table 1. Individual Fiber, Unit, and Group Identification

For indoor cable jacket color coding, as mentioned above, the TIA-598C is the main standard that set out to distinguish among indoor fibers and corresponding jacket colors. It identifies the jacket color to be used for cables containing only one fiber type. But when for premises distribution cable, premises interconnect cable or interconnect cord, or premises breakout cable, the color outer jacket as well as the a printed legend on the outside jacket are used to identify the classification and fiber sizes of the fiber. See the table 2 below:

Fiber Type Jacket Color1)
Non-military Applications3) Military Applications Suggested Print Nomenclature
Multimode (62.5/125)(TIA-492AAAA) (OM1) Orange Slate 62.5/125
Multimode (50/125) (TIA-492AAAB) (OM2) Orange Orange 50/125
Multimode (50/125) (850 nm Laser-optimized) (TIA-492AAAC) (OM3, OM4) Aqua Undefined 850 LO 50 /125
Multimode (100/140) Orange Green 100/140
Single-mode (TIA-492C000 / TIA-492E000) (OS1, OS2) Yellow Yellow SM/NZDS, SM
Polarization Maintaining Single-mode Blue Undefined Undefined2)
1) Natural jackets with colored tracers may be used instead of solid-color jackets.

2) Because of the limited number of applications for these fibers, print nomenclature are to be agreed upon between manufacturer and end user.

3) Other colors may be used providing that the print on the outer jacket identifies fiber classifications.

Table 2. Preferred Coding Scheme for Indoor Cable Jackets

In fact, jacket colors other than those specified in the above table may be used for indoor cable. Table 3 in the following identifies the recommended color centroids for PVC jackets for all colors, including those other than the preferred colors in the table above.

Color
1 Blue (BL) blue
2 Orange (OR) orange
3 Green (GR) green
4 Brown (BR) brown
5 Slate (SL) slate
6 White (WH) white
7 Red (RD) red
8 Black (BK) black
9 Yellow (YL) yellow
10 Violet (VI) violet
11 Rose (RS) rose
12 Aqua (AQ) aqua

Table 3. Fiber Optic Indoor Cable Jacket Colors

In addition to fiber and outer jacket color codes, the connector color codes are also necessary to understand as pre-terminated cabling are also very commonly used in today’s premises cabling. The colored connector bodies and colored strain relief boots are specified as the table 4:

Fiber type Connector Body Strain Relief/Mating Adapter
62.5/125 Beige Beige
50/125 Black Black
50/125 laser optimized Aqua Aqua
Singlemode Blue Blue
Singlemode APC Green Green

Table 4. Fiber Optic Connector Color Codes

Don’t Judge a Cable Just by Its Color

Though the standards have specified the color codes of indoor fiber optic cables, it dosen’t means that the color codes are always workable. As time goes by, fiber optic cabling is more commonly used in many applications. Different jacket colors are required for some customers that are used to denote different services or devices. In this case, the color is not a reliable method to identify a cable. Thus, though it is very important to know the color codes of cables, the more reliable method is to look at the specifications of the cable that are printed on the outer coating of the cabling. The nomenclature of Table 2 is preferred for the various fiber types.

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