Q: Why is it better using armored fiber optic cables versus running cables in innerduct?
A: Prior to the introduction of interlock armored indoor fiber optic cable, the standard method of installation required the installation of innerduct first. Innerduct is a plastic tube, rated for the environment in which it is installed (such as plenum or riser) that is pulled into place to act as a pathway for the fiber optic cable. Usually orange or yellow in color, the innerduct protected the fiber optic cable inside and also allowed for easy identification of where the fiber optic cables are. Innerduct, however, added substantial cost to a project. The price of the innerduct itself was often more per foot than the price of the fiber optic cable inside. The process of installing innerduct also doubled the labor necessary to do the project. The installer would have to pull the innerduct into place, then utilize the pull string in the innerduct to pull the fiber optic cable in. And, since the innerduct is the pathway for the fiber, it is larger, takes up more space and can be more challenging to install than the fiber itself. Another downside to using innerduct is that it offered a convenient pathway for any contractors who want to run a cable to and from the same locations. So, contractor A installs the innerduct and the fiber optic cable (at their expense). Contractor B comes along and "borrows" the innerduct pathway to use as their own, at a tremendous labor savings. Also, Contractor B damaged the fiber while pulling in their cable alongside it.
So, interlock armored fiber optic cable (which are color coded orange, yellow and aqua) are one unit that consists of the inner fiber optic cable, the aluminum interlock armor and an outer jacket. Hitachi Indoor Armored Fiber Optic Cables The outer jacket aids in installation and also permits the printing of required information about the cable.
Interlock armored fiber optic cables are robust, have a built-in natural bend radius, and are much smaller and more cost effective than fiber/innerduct options.