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How to identify fiber optic cables by color codes

How to identify fiber optic cables by color codes

Peter Lo Curzio Oct 6, 2021

Have you ever wondered how the installers can identify every single fiber in a cable with hundreds of fibers? Well, this would be impossible without a standardized system.

Color code system keeps it simple

Since fibers are tiny (about 250 µm in diameter), number marking, or other printed markings is not practical. Therefore, the most straightforward method is to color every fiber or tube with fibers individually. The human eye can distinguish between millions of different colors, but when trying to sort individual colors quickly, it is normally not possible to handle more than 12. All common color code systems for fiber optic cables are therefore based on 12 different colors.

12 colors standardize identification of fibers

Unfortunately, there is no widely adopted world standard that identifies a fiber number or tube with a corresponding color. There are international and national standards as well as customer specific standards. The most common color code standards for cable designs are:

  • TIA/EIA-598 (Bellcore)
  • S12
  • DIN-0888
  • FIN2012
  • Standard Type E

All of the above standards are characterized by using 12 different colors to identify fibers that are grouped together in a common bundle such as a tube, ribbon, yarn wrapped bundle or other types of bundles. If more than 12 fibers or tubes are to be separated, the color sequence is normally repeated, but with ring marks or lines on the colored fibers and tubes. Some systems such as the Standard Type E use only a few tube colors and the tube is identified by its position in the cable. 

Guide with color code systems for fiber optic cables

Read more about the common color code systems for fiber optic cables in our practical guide, “Color Codes and Counting Directions for Fiber Optic Cables” including all the charts you need. Please find guide for download below!

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