does cold weather affect fiber optic cable

Does cold weather affect fiber optic cable?

In this post, we’ll explain how cold weather affects fiber optic cables and provide some ideas on how to avoid cold weather from affecting fiber optic cables. 

When the temperature dips below freezing, water freezes, and ice develops around the fiber, causing it to distort and bend. This subsequently weakens the signal flowing through the fiber, limiting bandwidth and even terminating data transmission entirely.

Keep reading to learn more!

What are Fiber Optic Cables?

fiber optic cables

Fiber optic cables are used in high-performance, long-distance data networking.

It’s also widely utilized in telecommunications services, including the internet, television, and cellphones.

Fiber optic internet connections are more popular globally because they provide various benefits over regular copper lines.

One reason for its appeal is that fiber-optic cables can send data quicker than copper connections and across great distances without interruption.

They are also far more dependable than copper cables since the transmission cannot be disturbed by electromagnetic interference, etc.

However, inclement weather might degrade the quality of your signal.

How Cold Weather Affects Fiber Optic Cable

cold weather fiber optic cable

Does cold weather affect fiber optic cable?

Fiber-optic cables have a protective coating made of PE or PVC that can withstand very high temperatures, such as those seen in the Middle East. 

However, when it comes to cold weather and sub-freezing conditions, you must exercise extreme caution since it may cause damage to your wires.

Below-freezing temperatures and hostile environments may wreak havoc on fiber optic connections, interrupting messages. 

Here’s what cold weather does to fiber cables:  

Water Might Get Into the Fiber Cables

Cold temperatures affect fiber optic cables when water enters the ducts transporting the wires and freezes.

The accumulation of ice around the wires poses a risk that the cables may get kinked, degrading the quality of the data sent via the fiber optic lines.

Signals may be delayed or damaged in certain cases, but they may not be able to flow through at all in others.

Any organization that depends on fiber connection for day-to-day operations might suffer greatly from a loss of connectivity.

It May Result in the Freezing of Cables

fiber optic cable freeze

Can fiber optic cable freeze?

For as long as cables have been put in ducts, freezing has occurred, although fiber optic cable is more susceptible to freezing than copper cables.

Many studies have been done on it, and it looks like fiber optic cables are damaged by freezing temperatures anytime water gets into the ducts that house the wires and subsequently freezes.

It Has the Potential to Bend Fiber Optic Cables

The ice accumulates around fiber optic cables and often bends them, affecting the signals delivered via them.

If water gets into your wires’ casing and freezes, your internet’s overall performance will suffer.

The signals may not be able to flow through the fiber optic cables at all, depending on how severe the bending is. 

It has the potential to cause sudden outages in fiber optic networks. 

Any firm that depends on fiber for day-to-day operations may find a loss of connection problematic.

As the ice melts, signal strength typically recovers to normal.

It Enters By Infiltration And Condensation

condensation in cables

Consider an inner duct to be a hose that is put out along the road with infrequent access points.

Water infiltrates these access points and runs downhill, potentially resulting in hundreds of gallons of water in the system. 

No freezing will occur if the inner duct is submerged below the frost line.

At exposed bridge crossings, for example, fiber optic cable ducts are at risk of developing ice.

When field technicians accessed an inner duct, water flowed out for several minutes in several situations.

Condensation May Occur Within Ducts and Cables

Condensation is another likely cause, particularly at exposed bridge crossings where temperature variations between the outside and inside inner duct are common.

Condensation may occur within inner ducts and conduits, much as on a cold glass.

Does Weather Affect Fiber Optic Internet?

weather effect on fiber optic

The weather may affect your fiber optic internet connection in various ways, including slower speeds and complete outages.

Most of us have had to cope with weather-related power outages. 

It’s never enjoyable to lose electricity due to a lightning strike or to lose water due to a flood.

Having your fiber optic internet go down may be a major issue, particularly if you work from home, so let’s look at how the weather might influence your fiber optic internet.

How Rain Affects Fiber Optic Internet 

Rain fading is a phenomenon that might interfere with your fiber optic internet connections.

Because most fiber internet cabling is underground, moisture can get into the cables or their connectors if there is flooding. 

Reducing bandwidth or causing an electrical short-circuit can significantly interfere with signals or even completely block them.

How Temperatures Affect Fiber Optic Internet

temperature fiber optic

The temperature has minimal influence on your fiber optic Internet connection.

Copper and fiber optic cables are not affected by severe cold or heat, but the earth in which they are buried is. 

Extreme cold may cause the earth to heaven, tear, or rip cables. That will significantly slow down your Internet connection, and only your ISP will be able to solve it!

Simultaneously, severe heat might cause your equipment to overheat. 

These gadgets have more difficulty cooling themselves, and Internet speeds suffer when they overheat.

Keep this in mind if you don't use your air conditioner during the summer or keep your equipment in your garage.

How Wind Affects Fiber Optic Internet

Wind may create noticeable difficulties with your Internet connection, such as taking down a fiber optic cable or causing a line swing to cause a temporary loss of connectivity. 

This may happen on a gloomy or sunny day, with no rain or during a heavy downpour.

Keeping the line underground may assist in limiting some of the possible harm, but the line must eventually emerge above ground.

However, the wind does not affect your Internet connection.

How to Protect Fiber Optic Cables from Damage Caused by Cold Weather

protect fiber optic cables

Fortunately, you may take precautions while installing fiber optic lines to guarantee that your cables are not damaged and that your communication is not disrupted.

Install Fiber Optic Cables Below Frost Level

install cable below frost level

To begin, consider where they will be put while installing fiber cables.

Burying the fiber optic cables below the frost level may sometimes considerably decrease, if not eliminate, the ice problem. 

If you cannot put your cables below the frost line for any reason, antifreeze gels and other precautionary steps may assist keep water from freezing within the ducts.

These items have shown to be effective in safeguarding fiber optic cables from the weather.

In most cases, fiber optic freeze-ups occur three feet inside the headwall of a bridge. 

They are also an issue with abandoned pipelines if the pipes are exposed or supported by a cantilever while crossing streams or rivers.

Attaching Carrier Pipes to Railroad Bridges or Culverts

carrier pipes

Several enterprises have attempted to address this problem by building along railroad rights-of-way and connecting carrier pipes to the walls of any bridges or culverts encountered or by laying a carrier pipe on the bridge deck. 

This is significantly more cost-effective than burying the wire using boring directional equipment.

Although temperatures in the lower 48 states may reach -40°F (with a wind chill of more than -80°F) 

The temperature within the subterranean conduit will not go below roughly 25°F. Wind chills primarily impact exposed surfaces.

Therefore, fiber optic cable in a conduit will not suffer temperatures below the ambient outside temperature.

Use High-Quality Connectors

high quality connector

Using high-quality connectors to seal the cable’s ends is a more cost-effective solution to safeguard fiber optic cables against severe temperatures and ice formation.

Water will not be able to enter the conduit in the first place, causing damage due to freezing. 

A high-quality connection that is particularly built to endure extreme temperatures will guarantee that your fiber optic cabling is sealed, keeping the wires secure from ice formation.

Notes To Take

  • Cold temperatures affect fiber cables anytime water may get into the ducts carrying the wires and freeze.
  • The fiber optic cables’ ice bends them, affecting the signals they send.
  • Signals are slowed down and degraded, while in others, they can’t flow through fiber optic cables. Fiber optic networks may go down.
  • Freezing-cold weather may be mitigated by taking precautions, i.e., Fiber optic lines buried below the frost level to remove ice.
  • Many companies use antifreeze gels and other compounds to prevent water freezing in fiber optic cable ducts.

Final Verdict

Does cold weather affect fiber optic cable?

You must exercise extreme caution when it comes to cold weather and sub-freezing conditions since it may damage your wires.

Below-freezing temperatures and hostile environments may wreak havoc on fiber optic connections, interrupting signals.

Contact fiber-optic businesses in your region if you're encountering unexpected transmission troubles and signal outages. 

When it comes to fiber optic cables, you now know how the weather affects them and how to protect them. Fiber optic internet is super-fast.

Thanks for reading!