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.
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|
|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.
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|
|50/125 laser optimized||Aqua||Aqua|
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.