Differences Between optical FBT Splitter and optical PLC Splitter

Help you distinguish between FBT and PLC optical splitter

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Optical splitters play a pivotal role in passive optical networks by dividing an input optical signal into multiple output signals.

The functionality of these devices is crucial for distributing the network’s bandwidth across various users and applications.

Predominantly, there are two types of optical splitters:

  • PLC (Planar Lightwave Circuit) splitter
  • FBT (Fused Biconical Taper) splitter

Principle of Operation of Optical Splitters

When an optical signal transmits through a single-mode fiber, not all of the light energy confine to the core.

There’s also a small fraction propagates close to the cladding.

When two fiber cores are brought sufficiently close to each other, the optical signal from one fiber can couple into the other.

This coupling effect allows for the redistribution of the optical signal, which is the foundational principle behind optical splitters.

fbt splitter vs plc splitter

Overview of PLC Optical Splitters

PLC optical splitters are fabricated using semiconductor manufacturing techniques, providing an effective solution for applications requiring larger splitting configurations.

They are constructed by creating a waveguide on a quartz substrate through photolithographic methods to route a specified percentage of light, typically yielding equal split ratios.

Standard PLC splitter configurations include 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, 1:32, 1:64, and come in various form factors such as bare fiber, micro steel tube, ABS box, splitter with connector, pallet, rack mount, LGX, and micro plug-in types.

Overview of FBT Optical Splitters

FBT optical splitters are using traditional manufacturing technology, which involves the binding and fusing of two or more fibers, then elongating them using a taper machine.

Given the fragile nature of the tapered fibers, they are typically encased in a protective glass tube made of epoxy resin and silicon dioxide. Further reinforcing by a stainless steel tube, and sealed with silicone.

As technology has advanced, the cost-effectiveness of FBT splitters has improved significantly.

fbt splitter

PLC vs. FBT Optical Splitters: Key Differences

The differences between PLC and FBT optical splitters extend beyond their manufacturing processes:

Operating Wavelength

  • PLC splitters operate across a broad wavelength range from 1260nm to 1650nm, accommodating a variety of application environments.
  • FBT splitters are limited to specific wavelengths such as 1310nm, 1490nm, and 1550nm, restricting their operational flexibility.

Splitting Ratio

  • PLC splitters offer high reliability and are available in fixed standard ratios such as 1:2, 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, 1:32, and 1:64.
  • FBT splitters provide variable and customizable splitting ratios, including non-standard splits like 1:3, 1:7, and 1:11.

Spectral Uniformity

  • PLC splitters deliver uniform splitting ratios, essential for balancing signal strength across outputs.
  • FBT splitters, often constructed from multiple 1×2 stages, might exhibit less uniformity, particularly at higher split ratios, potentially impacting transmission distance.

Failure Rate

The Failure Rate between FBT splitter and plc splitter
The Failure Rate between FBT splitter and plc splitter
  • FBT splitters may exhibit a higher failure rate with increased split ratios due to the complexity of multiple 1×2 connections.
  • PLC splitters are more reliable with a lower failure rate, making them preferable for larger split configurations.


  • The intricate manufacturing process and chip technology make PLC splitters more expensive.
  • FBT splitters, utilizing simpler technology and less expensive materials, are generally more cost-effective.

Conclusion and Selection Guidance

In summary, PLC and FBT optical splitters differ in various aspects, including the manufacturing process, operating wavelength, uniformity of output, failure rate, and cost.

FeaturePLC Optical SplitterFBT Optical Splitter
Operating Wavelength1260nm to 1650nmLimited to specific wavelengths such as 1310nm, 1490nm, 1550nm
Split Ratio FlexibilityFixed ratios: 1×2, 1×4, 1×8, 1×16, 1×32, 1×64Customizable ratios: e.g., 1×3, 1×7, 1×11
UniformityHigh uniformity in signal distributionVaries; less uniform with higher split ratios
Failure RateLower failure rate, especially at higher split ratiosHigher failure rate when multiple 1×2 units are used in larger splits
CostHigher due to complex manufacturing and chip costsGenerally lower due to simpler technology and material costs

Despite their similarities in appearance and size, these differences are significant and should guide the selection process.

With the advent of the gigabit era and the rising prominence of FTTR (Fiber to the Room), the demand for reliable and uniform PLC splitters is expected to grow.

For those in need of quality fiber optic splitter products, Fibconet offers a wide range of solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of modern optical networks.

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