MTP vs. MPO: What's the difference?

 May 2, 2017   |    Black Box

MPO stands for multi-fiber push-on connector. It is a connector for multi-fiber ribbon cable that generally contains 6, 8, 12 or 24 fibers. It is defined by IEC-61754-7 and TIA-604-5-D, also known as FOCIS 5. The MPO connector, combined with lightweight ribbon cable, represents a huge technological advancement over traditional multi-fiber cables. It’s lighter, more compact, easier to install and less expensive.

A single MPO connector replaces up to 12 or 24 fiber strands in a single connector. This very high density means lower space requirements and reduced costs for your installation. Traditional, tight-buffered multi-fiber cable needs to have each fiber individually terminated by a skilled technician. But MPO fiber optic cable, which carries multiple fibers, comes pre-terminated. Just plug it in and you’re ready to go.

MPO connectors feature an intuitive push-pull latching sleeve mechanism with an audible click upon connection and are easy to use. The MPO connector is similar to the MT-RJ connector. The MPO’s ferrule surface of 2.45 x 6.40 mm is slightly bigger than the MT-RJ’s, and the latching mechanism works with a sliding sleeve latch rather than a push-in latch.

The MPO connector can be either male or female. You can tell the male connector by the two alignment pins protruding from the end of the ferrule. MPO female connectors will have holes in the ferrule to accept the alignment pins from the male connector. The MPO ferrule is generally flat for multimode applications and angled for single-mode applications.

MPO connectors are also commonly called MTP® connectors, which is a registered trademark of US Conec. The MTP connector is an MPO connector engineered with particular enhancements to improve optical and mechanical performance. Significant MTP enhancements include an elliptical pin shape, a floating ferrule design, a removable housing and more. Details can be found at USConec.com. MPO and MTP connectors are compatible.

MTP connectorMTP Connector, 24 strand

A 12-strand MPO connector features 12 fibers in a straight line, 1–12, left to right.

A 24-strand connector features two rows of fiber 1–12 and 13–24 with the white dot also indicating pin 1.

Each connector has a key on one side of the connector body. When the key sits on top, it is referred to as key up. When the key sits on the bottom, it's called key down. 

When planning your system, keep in mind that you need to use all 12-strand cable or all 24-strand. You can't mix and match.

For more information on planning your system, see our post: The ABCs of MPO Pinning Methods.