The Similarities and Differences Between MTP and MPO Fiber Optic Cable

Recently it has become common practice in the custom cable field to use the acronyms “MTP” and “MPO” interchangeably when referring to certain kinds of fiber optic cable. While this conflation is understandable, it is also technically inaccurate. This is a classic “all ham is meat, but not all meat is ham” scenario: all MTP connectors are MPO connectors, however not all MPO connectors are MTP connectors. This article will examine the similarities and differences between the two types of fiber optic cables, as well as potential applications for the different types of connector interfaces.

“MPO” is a frequently used acronym that stands for “Multi-fiber Push On/Pull-off” and refers to the family of optical fiber connectors that are used to connect or cross-connect equipment and cables with minimum attenuation and reflection. There are currently over 100 different brands and styles of MPO cable on the market, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and best-fit applications. There are grading systems in place for measuring both insertion loss (A-D) and return loss (1-5), but other evaluatory aspects include cost, reliability, and the ability to withstand the particular environmental and circumstantial wear and tear that they are subjected to.

“MTP” stands for “Multi-fiber Termination Push-On” and refers to a specific kind of MPO fiber optic cable trademarked by US Conec. MTP connectors are fully compatible and compliant with all MPO connector standards, regulations, and requirements; however, they also have a number of other features that most generic MPO connectors do not possess. MTP connectors, for example, have a removable housing that allows users to rework, re-polish, and scan the ferrule, as well as change the gender, even after assembly or in the field.

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