Cable Color Codes

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Aqua or Slate: What’s Your Flavor?   The True Meaning of Fiber Cable Colors

Fiber optic cables come in a rainbow of playful colors that may appear sleek, and attractive to a novice observer.  But the intention is not decorative; it’s to provide information.

In fact, the color of a particular cable derives from a convention and classification scheme agreed on by engineers.  A color palette of 12 colors is regulated and adhered to in the industry.  The classification scheme is articulated in an engineering code – EIA/TIA-598, widely recognized in the industry.

There are exceptions. Per TIA-598-C, using different jacket colors than defined by the engineering code is permissible if the cable type is identified in the print legend, which means you should always check the print legend when in doubt.

How The Color Code Originated

While color codes have long been used to identify technology components, using a color code to distinguish cable types and/or on cable jackets or other cable components dates back to its use in copper phone cables.  It was helpful for those working on or installing phone cables to distinguish wire pairs in a bundle of what might be hundreds of pairs of wires.   That system formed the basis for the color classification schemes used in fiber optic cables.

What’s Regulated

Color codes differentiate outer cable jackets, the interior of a multi-fiber cable, buffers or tubes and cable connectors. Different colors are used in military and non-military applications.

Purpose of Color Coding

Color codes are an important aid in splicing fiber optic cables. They are also a helpful tool for anyone handling the cable, installing or working on it, as they identify the types of fibers and the construction of the cables and allow anyone handling them to quickly determine whether there are multiple cables or a single cable in a jacket.

Color System for Outer Cable Jackets                                                            


Color Codes for Other Cable Components

Connectors and cable interiors also adhere to fiber color codes.  There are different polish styles of fiber end-face and hence, the connectors of fiber jumpers and adapters are color-coded for identification purposes. The color palette of inner cables is also distinct from outer jackets and includes beige, gray and green color tones.

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