Determination of the Useful Life of Fiber Optic Aerial Cable

May 2023

The first aerial fiber optic cables such as Optical Ground Wire (OPGW), All-Dielectric Self Supporting (ADSS) and Helically Applied Fiber Optic cables were installed by power utilities more than 35 years ago. The underground fiber optic cables used by telecom carriers, Internet providers and some utilities are even older.  Aerial cables installed on high voltage transmission lines (115 kV and above) by utilities are frequently prone to deterioration owing to both environmental factors (e.g., wind, ice…) and residual effects from power lines (e.g. electric field, corona…). Some of these cables, such as OPGW, are designed primarily for lightning protection while also serving as a high-speed communications channel.  In the case of ADSS cables, although every effort is made to minimize their exposure to electric field, this is not always possible, and these cables must experience electric field and corona discharge from the power conductors.

As fiber optic infrastructure age and service provider utilities must plan for their upgrade, the need for tests and evaluation methods to establish physical health of the fiber infrastructure emerge. Development of predictive tools and repeatable tests will allow utilities to characterize the performance of their cables in general and fiber optic units in particular and establish end of life criteria. PSCCC-F0 study group intends to rely on end user, test laboratories and manufacturer community within its membership to develop the aforementioned evaluation methods.  In addition, the group will research novel technologies to utilize aerial fiber optic cables as distributed sensors to provide temperature and strain profiles.  In essence, fiber strands within the cable are used to monitor cable’s own performance as well as its environment.

Active Committees/Task Forces of Interest
To learn more & get involved, please check out the PSCCC Website.

PSCCC-F0 Fiber Optics Subcommittee will be discussing the breakdown structure of this work and its scope in subcommittee meetings. These meetings are held four times a year independent of JTCM. There are two, longer, face-to-face meetings in March/April and September/October of each year, supplemented by two virtual half-day meetings in June and December of the same year.
Technical Reports & Applicable Papers or Presentations