Expanded Beam Connectors on the rise

More and more data that has to be transmitted also means an ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. Here, fiber optic cables offer a technical alternative to copper cables, but the complicated handling has made many users hesitate until now. The 3M Expanded Beam Optical (EBO) connector concept now brings decisive progress.

The digitalization of all areas of life is advancing: Smart Home, Smart Health, Smart Factory are just some of the buzzwords of this trend. More and more data has to be processed, and with it the demands on bandwidth in the data networks are growing.

The copper cable is reaching its limits, and that is the case not only with the DSL connection at home. Fiber optic cables are already widely used in data centers. Building cabling, networks in hospitals and medical offices, and the infrastructure of research institutions are also increasingly being implemented using optical fiber. With 5G, fiber optics are also finding their way onto antenna masts and into the backbone of industrial production.

Complex handling

A decisive factor that has delayed the use of fiber optics in many areas to date has been the demanding installation of the cabling. Each plugging process was accompanied by time-consuming inspection and cleaning. If the appropriate specifications were not followed, transmission problems, instabilities or even damage to the connection system could occur. This meant that costly troubleshooting and repairs were imminent.

The cause for this is the sensitive technology. Even the smallest particles, such as dust grains or pollen, can inhibit the light beam to such an extent that data transmission suffers or becomes impossible. Error-free, reliable installation is therefore only possible with trained specialists.

Decisive progress thanks to innovative expanded beam concept

This is where 3M EBO Latch Connector comes in. The completely new expanded beam concept for fiber optic connectors is based on an expansion of the light beam so that interference from particles is significantly reduced. The reason for this is obvious: with an expanded beam, the area occupied by the dirt particles is significantly smaller.

With these improvements, 3M EBO shows its strengths in the decisive quality criteria of a fiber optic connector system. On the one hand, it causes a significantly lower insertion loss (IL), on the other hand it shows a high return loss (RL).

Flexible plug-in technology

The redesigned optics allow the connector concept to be used for both singlemode and multimode fiber optics. For single-mode applications, the insertion loss is 55 dB, according to the manufacturer. These values are maintained over several hundred plugging cycles, a fact that is rapidly gaining importance given the shorter life cycles of network infrastructure.

In its standard version, the ferrule accommodates 12 single-mode or multimode fibers. However, the system is scalable and allows up to 144 fibers to be connected.

Potential for new applications through Expanded Beam Optical

Currently, for example, complex backplane cabling is the focus of applications. But the increase in IoT applications with correspondingly powerful networks, for example in building cabling, is also a driver for the use of the EBO technology. Further applications are already emerging, because the EBO technology shows its strengths particularly in harsh environments.

Compared to other connector concepts, it is less sensitive to dust and also to vibrations. For example, it is particularly suitable for the use of 5G and edge computing in industrial production. Fiber optics are the only way to achieve the high bandwidths and low latencies in the backbone that are needed for Industry 4.0 in the long term.

The 5G networks themselves are also worth mentioning; FTTA (Fiber to the Antenna) is needed here. Robust networks with ever higher bandwidths are also in demand in mobile applications, for example in railroads and aircraft, where considerable vibrations occur during operation. Rosenberger OSI develops suitable connector systems for such applications together with customers according to their individual requirements.


Fiber optic networks are entering more and more areas. But until now, setup and operation have been complex and expensive, as plugging operation required great care and extensive procedures, meaning only specially trained personnel could be used for it.

3M's robust and easier-to-use EBO technology opens up entirely new applications for high-bandwidth fiber optics. Faster installation, lower costs and fewer bottlenecks in the supply of suitable skilled workers mean that nothing stands in the way of the advance of this technology.