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What are PC, UPC and APC connectors?

PC, UPC and APC are acronyms for Physical Contact, Ultra Physical Contact, and Angled Physical Contact and they refer to the way the connector ferrule (the tiny ceramic structure that holds the fiber) is polished.

In simple words, they are end-face configurations that are present in numerous connector types.

As the names suggest, all the polishing styles are different. Each different ferrule end face results in different performances regarding the connector's losses.

PC connectors end faces are polished with a slight curvature. That convex shape locates the fibers at the highest point of the surface, which reduces air gaps between them. Typical return loss in these connectors in single mode applications is -40 dB.

An extended polishing is given to these connectors end faces, which results in a better surface finish. The curvature makes them look dome-shaped. Their optical return loss is about -50 dB or higher. UPC connectors are generally used in Ethernet network equipment such as serial devices, media converters, and fiber switches. They are also implemented in telephony and data systems.

Its ferrule is polished with an 8-degree angle that end-face brings the fibers tighter and reflects light at an angle into the cladding instead of reflecting it directly to the light sources, which causes its Optical Return Loss to be -60dB or higher, being the better performance connector. APC connectors handle multi-play systems which are why they are mostly employed in Radio Frequency (RF) applications, like CATV or Distribution Antenna Systems. They are also used in optical passive applications, such as PON networks architectures or passive optical LANs.


Insertion Loss 

Typical insertion loss in PC, UPC and APC connectors should be less than 0.3dB. Insertion loss can also be caused by a tiny particle of dust trapped between the connector end-faces. 

A single dry debris particle could even damage the fibers and ferrules.

An important thing to keep in mind is that APC and UPC connectors cannot be mated together because doing so will cause poor performance or may damage the connectors.

Choosing the Right Connector 

Choosing the right connector for a network depends on the network design and function. UPC connectors are generally used in Ethernet network equipment such as serial devices, media converters, and fiber switches. They are also implemented in telephony and data systems.

APC connectors handle multi-play systems which are why they are mostly employed in Radio Frequency (RF) applications, like CATV or Distribution Antenna Systems. They are also used in optical passive applications, such as PON networks architectures or passive optical LANs.

Choose the right connector depending on your particular need, however it is recommended that high application systems should use APC connectors, but with fewer systems it is acceptable to use UPC connectors.

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