Certified Outside Plant Fiber Optic Specialist, CFOS/O

OSP Installation

    “Outside plant” or “OSP” fiber optics includes any network built with outdoor fiber optic cabling. This cabling can be underground (pulled in conduit), direct-buried (trenching or plowing), aerial or underwater (submarine.) Applications include telecom, the Internet, CATV, security including CCTV, utility and Smart Grid management, and many more.

    All FOA certifications begin with KSAs, -what Knowledge, Skills and Abilities a tech must have to be competent in a technology. Here are the FOA KSAs for OSP. Any good fiber optic course will generally be about half classroom and half hands-on lab. Lectures will teach about the jargon, the systems and components and the labs will show students how those systems and components are used in the real world. It is important that the equipment used in labs be like that used in the field and kept up to date and in good operating condition.

    An OSP fiber optic course for FOA certification will include classroom materials based on the FOA textbook, The FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics or the Outside Plant section of the FOA Online Guide. The material in the FOA book and the Online Guide includes descriptions of typical OSP applications, components used to build networks, installation processes and testing. A full chapter in the book is devoted to designing networks, and while many students may never design a network, the information on this chapter will help them understand other parts of the processes. Much of this material will be familiar to instructors teaching a CFOT course, but considerable additional information has been added on specific OSP topics. FOA curriculum materials are available for the classroom part of the course.

    OSP specialist “hands-on” labs are different from typical CFOT or CPCT courses and should be tailored to the students’ interest. Cable preparation labs involve different cables, typically loose-tube and ribbon cables with both gel and dry water-blocking compounds. Students need to know how to safely open loose tube, armored and other cable types, exposing and preparing fibers for splicing and termination.

    For OSP certification, all applicants need to be familiar with splicing, mainly fusion splicing. OSP cables are mostly singlemode fiber cables due to the distances involved in OSP links, so termination generally involves fusion splicing factory-made pigtails onto the fibers or using prepolished/splice connectors. There are multimode OSP applications, however, such as campus links and security cameras, where direct termination may be needed. The instructor should work with the students to determine the importance of termination for the class exercises.

    Testing OSP cables, especially where cables are concatenated (joined) for longer links, generally requires both insertion loss testing with a light source and power meter or optical loss test set (OLTS) and an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) to verify splices. Extremely long cables may require chromatic dispersion (CD), polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and spectral attenuation (SA) testing.  Classroom sessions will cover all these tests but labs should concentrate on insertion loss and OTDR testing, leaving CD, PMD and SA for specialist testing courses.

FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics
The reference book for the CFOS/O certification is The FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics. Online, there is also an OSP section of the FOA Online Reference Guide.

Curriculum Topics

OSP installation requires knowledge and skills in the installation of fiber optic cabling underground, aerial and undersea. As a result, the breadth of knowledge and skills for this certification is greater than other other certifications.

It is appropriate to have a single course training for both CFOT and CFOS/O where the students receive both certifications.


Skills Learned in Hands-On Labs

To better understand the requirements for CFOS/O certification, see this page on training program requirements.

Application for Advanced and CFOS Certifications (pdf)


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