The MPO and MTP Connectors For Plug-n-Play Systems

Today’s Data Centers are critical to the IT infrastructure of most large enterprises. Thanks to their quick-connect design, Plug-n-Play (PnP) fiber systems are becoming the prevalent choice for modern Data Centers. With Plug-n-Play, installation is fast and easy, and network downtime is minimized during expansions, scheduled maintenance, and emergency restoration procedures. The mainstays of modern PnP Systems are the relatively new multi-fiber connectors that allow for the interconnecting of several fibers at a time in a very dense footprint.

MPO stands for “Multi-Fiber Push On” and was originally designed by NTT. The design is based on the MT (mechanical transfer) ferrule. It is defined by the Telecommunications Industry Association’s (TIA) Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability (FOCIS 5) document, the TIA 604-5B Standard, and internationally by the IEC-61754-7 standard. The MTP connector is the “latest-generation MPO” connector with flaws fixed and features added to improve reliability and performance. Some improvements include lower insertion loss, the possibility of restoring the tip by polishing it, and the use of interferometers for better quality control(2). The MTP’s superior performance allows for optical insertion losses of 0.5dB or less. Figure 1 shows superior mechanical test performance results, another of the clear advantages of the MTP connector.


Both connectors are intermateable, meaning it is possible to connect an MTP to an MPO and vice-versa. Each connector will support some fibers, the most common being 12, while some versions are available with 24 fibers or even more. However, one should consider whether the space savings and easy connection convenience provided by connectors terminating more than 12 fibers will potentially impact reliability. Servicing a single fiber that may have been damaged will require the disconnecting of all other fiber channels linked through that connector. MTP and MPO connectors have guide pins to ensure proper fiber alignment and minimize optical insertion loss. These pins are present on the “male” connectors only. However, MTP connectors can be easily converted from “male” to “female” by removing the pins and, conversely, “female” to “male” by adding the pins.

Fiberstore has announced the release of a full suite of MPO MTP products designed to support the next generation of high-density fiber networks in data centers. The new product group includes MPO/MTP patch cables, trunk assemblies, fan-out assemblies, and related distribution hardware.

Fiberstore series rack-mounted patch panel is designed to manage and house easy-plug MTP/MPO to LC fiber cassette modules, for connecting plug-and-play pre-terminated high-density MTP / MPO Fiber cabling system. This solution contributes to greater network availability that is especially suitable for SAN, LAN, and Data Center applications. Each easy-plug MPO MTP cassette is accommodated with 12/24-fiber MTP / MPO-based fiber assemblies, and pre-loaded with LC adapters in different fiber modes for your choices.

FS High Fiber Count Plug-and-Play Trunks provide the backbone cabling for the TrueNet Plug-and-Play system. These high-count fiber trunk cables come pre-terminated with high-density MTP/MPO connectors on both ends and provide an easy and efficient way to pull large numbers of fibers at one time to help in the rapid deployment of the TrueNet Plug-and-Play system either in the data center or Local Area Network (LAN). Each fiber trunk cable has custom breakouts designed to work with ADC TrueNet Plug-and-Play connectivity. The FS High Fiber Count Trunks can simply be plugged into any plug-and-play cassette in the optical distribution frame or fiber enclosure which eliminates the need for on-site fiber termination and preparation.

Data Centers host expensive equipment and process very sensitive information for networks that must be always available. This level of reliability imposes stringent requirements on a Data Center’s infrastructure. A Data Center manager must be able to quickly perform adds, moves, and changes, as well as restorations in case of an outage. A very good analogy is a racecar making a pit stop and being serviced as quickly as possible.  In a data center hosting mission-critical applications, every second also counts. Therefore, the ability to quickly connect new equipment or service existing equipment is crucial. To accomplish this “quick-connect” capability, the fiber optics industry formulated a new de facto fiber standard, sometimes referred to as “Plug-n-Play” (PnP), based on an existing philosophy already adopted by many vendors in the computer industry. PnP systems are based on trunk cables, cassettes, harnesses, etc, which are comprised of pre-connectorized fiber optics elements.

Another solution for achieving quick connection is the use of multi-fiber connectors. By connecting several fibers at once, the installer or administrator saves a considerable amount of time. Since the time to connect a 12-fiber MTP connector is the same as to connect a single fiber connector (also called a discrete connector) one can make the same number of connections in roughly 1/12th the time. A common data center can easily reach 1,000 fiber terminations or more. Consequently, the time savings can be significant. Because PnP systems also allow for pre-engineered solutions, it is possible to determine cable lengths during the planning phase and, therefore, order only what is needed. This not only helps save money on fiber infrastructure but also helps to alleviate cable congestion under the raised floor. Since one of the main issues data center administrators have to face is cooling increasingly dense computing infrastructure, the use of a pre-engineered PnP system also helps to optimize cold air distribution. As previously mentioned, the building blocks of a PnP system are cable trunks, harnesses, PnP modules (often called cassettes), patch cords (also called jumpers), and accessories such as patch panels and enclosures. Multi-fiber connectors are present in virtually all these elements, and, along with small form factor connectors such as the LC, allow for reducing the “real estate footprint” in the data center. A solution using MTP and small form factor connectors can be almost twice as dense as a solution using previous-generation optical connectors. Therefore, more floor space is left available for mission-critical equipment such as switches, routers, servers, and storage.