Top Fiber Questions: Do I Need to Switch my MPOs?

Got questions about MPOs? We’ve got answers! Continuing our series on the Top Fiber Questions, CommScope’s Ken Hall tells us that less isn’t always more.

The Top Fiber Questions blog series is dedicated to answering the most frequently asked questions in the industry. From now until the end of the year, we hope to provide great answers. Most importantly, we’d love for you to ask your fiber questions in the comments section below. MPO 360x203


I have heard about 8-fiber connectivity. I use 12-fiber MPOs (multi-fiber push). Do I need to switch?


There is a saying about how “less is more,” but as it relates to this question, the opposite is true.

The short answer is no. You do not need to switch. If managed well, a 12-fiber MPO infrastructure with more fibers per connector provides 50 percent more usable fibers per connector in the same footprint. This is valuable as evolving standards continue to use duplex fibers as connectivity options through at least 100Gbps.

CLICK TO TWEET: Got questions about MPOs? We've got answers!

The main reason for introduction of 8-fiber MPO connectors was to provide application support of parallel signals using eight of the available 12 fiber positions of the industry standard 12-fiber MPO connector. This application typically occurs in a QSFP (Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable) transceiver. Examples of this transceiver would be the 40GBase-SR4 or 100GBase-SR4, where four pairs of fiber deliver 10G or 25G each to achieve a channel of 40Gbps or 100Gbps. Many of the initial uses of this, for example, were for higher density connections on a switch directly to top of rack switches or to break-out to four server ports. From an infrastructure perspective, the 8-fiber MPO connector is best suited for parallel-only applications between ports where it is a 1:1 connection. One 8-fiber connector equals one parallel port.

There are other multi-fiber connector options, such as the 12-fiber MPOs or the 24-fiber MPO, which continues to gain popularity in the market. Both are industry standard. The higher fiber count MPOs provide much more architectural flexibility and trunk efficiency compared to the 8-fiber application. For example, by combining two 12-fiber MPOs or using a single 24-fiber MPO for trunk cables, you are able to support multiple duplex, multiple parallel, or combinations of each without the need to re-cable. That flexibility enables you to cost effectively migrate applications as your network or business model evolves.

CommScope provides ultra-low loss versions of each MPO variation – 8-, 12- and 24-fiber. For guidance regarding the best values and applications for each, please refer to the “Choosing the right MPO for your data center” Application Guide.