March, 2009

In This Issue

US Broadband Stimulus Plan Opportunities

Updated AFOT, CFOS Certifications

FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide Keeps Expanding- and adds Premises Cabling, FTTH and "Google Custom Search"

Tech Topics: New Listings of International Standards.  See Tech Topics Below.

Q&A: Power delivery over fiber? OTDR Tricks. What's the accuracy of OTDR length measurements?

Product News:  New PPS connector. Sales and used equipment buy/sell. See "Product News" Below

Worth Reading: Market reports.  JDSU Webinar series on fiber testing. Fiber optic sensors on the web.  See "Worth Reading" below
FTTH: FTTH Council updates on world FTTH penetration. 
Looking For Jobs Instructors needed. See "Jobs" Below
This Month's "Tech Puzzler"
FOA Home Page
NEW: Sign up for the FOA eMail Newsletter

The Archives: Previous Issues:
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12/03, 11/03 10/03 9/03, 8/03, 7/03, 6/03, 3/03, 10/02 , 8/02, 5/02
Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

Looking For a FOA-Certified Fiber Optic Installer? Use the FOA Installer Database  Free! Almost 1000 CFOT's listed. 
CFOT's register online to create your listing.

Contact the FOA

You can now renew your FOA certification online - and get an extra month free. Details here.

It's now CFOT®  
® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) is now a registered trademark. With over 25,000 fiber optic techs holding CFOTs and the CFOT being recognized worldwide as the foremost certification in fiber optics, the FOA realized the value of the CFOT required trademark protection. Now it's official!

US Stimulus Package: Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)
Promises To Be Good For Fiber Optics

The U.S. Congress has appropriated $7.2 billion to establish a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program for awards to eligible entities to develop and expand broadband services to rural and underserved areas and improve access to broadband by public safety agencies. The program is managed by NTIA ($4.7B) and RUS ($2.5B).
We suspect that many of our newsletter readers may be directly interesting in participating in the program, so we want to ensure you know the details.
Information on the program is on the NTIA website:
The docket number is GN-0929.  Comments are due by March 25th. 

Here is an interesting Q&A from the first public meeting:
 So namely will there be or do  you see direction or preference given to   fiber-based deployments versus copper-based  deployments versus wireless deployments?
 MR. VILLANO:  There's no priority in the  statute for that, and that's what we'll be seeking  public comments on at the field hearings and here in D.C.
 MODERATOR:  I would say if you look a  the statute, it also says the fastest speeds  possible, most forward-looking.  There's a lot of  that in there and also in the conference report. What we're looking for is bottom line the best bang  for the buck, but I think if we're planning about  the future, we need to think about the future, and  we need to have forward-looking future-looking programs, expandable.  To me, and having not seen  what the public comment is and we invite your  public comment on this very question, but if we're  going to spend public dollars, it should be on something that can be an investment for the future.

We would interpret this to say fiber is going to be a big part of BTOP!

The FOA has made public comments on the BTOP, as reproduced below:

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. (FOA,) the non-profit professional society of fiber optics, ( is interested in making its organization available to assist the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP.)

Fiber optic technology is the ultimate enabler of broadband; the backbone of telephone systems, CATV networks, even connecting wireless towers. Fiber enables the highest possible speeds in data centers with the lowest power consumption. In rural networks, fiber’s long distance capacity generally negates the need for expensive, power-consuming repeaters to reach the most remote sites. And fiber’s cost is now so low that it’s economically viable to reach all the way to the home, providing a future-proof upgradeable link directly to the home.

What is the FOA? The FOA was founded in 1995 by a coalition of educators, manufacturers, and others involved in fiber optic technology to promote the usage of fiber optics through education, technician certification, standards and other types of appropriate programs. Since then, we have certified over 25,000 fiber optic technicians through 200+ FOA-Approved training organizations.

Those 25,000+ techs are critical in the expansion of broadband coverage in the US and around the world. They are involved in manufacturing fiber optic components and installing fiber optic infrastructure of an extremely diverse nature, for telephone and CATV networks, private networks for educational, commercial, financial and manufacturing facilities and government/military systems around the world.

The FOA works with organizations wanting to educate their workforce and certify their knowledge and skills in fiber optics. In addition, we have created and extensive free Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide on fiber optics available to anyone wanting to learn about fiber optics. (see

How does the FOA think they can asisst BTOP?

Educating Techs and The Public About Fiber Optics
The FOA technical website with it’s Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide ( can help everyone understand fiber optic technology and how it is used to support broadband through fiber to the home (FTTH) and fiber to the curb (FTTC), as well as supporting wireless backhaul.

Training and Recruiting Certified Fiber Optic Technicians (CFOTs ® )
The aggressive timescale of the NTIA/RUS broadband initiative will require many trained fiber optic technicians which the FOA and its network of approved schools can assist in providing.
Those in need of trained techs can contact the FOA who can broadcast job opportunities via our email and online newsletters to a large audience of our CFOTs ®.
Those having personnel needing training can use the FOA-Approved Schools ( knowing that their techs will receive top-quality, up-to-date training and a worldwide-accepted certification.

Keeping The Industry Informed
The FOA will continuously monitor the BTOP program and cover its activities in our online and email newsletters to inform our readers. If the NTIA and RUS have lists of press contacts, adding us to your list at would be appreciated.

As we say in our comments, we will try to keep you informed.

Coming to OFC in San Diego Next Week?
Visit the FOA in Booth 2134

Jim + Karen Hayes and Bill Graham will be at the Show, so if you are coming, please drop by. We’re in a larger booth with IGI.
OFC is the worldwide technical show for fiber optics, generally a good place to see what’s new in fiber optic components and applications but technically aimed at researchers and manufacturers. The exhibits are open Tuesday-Thursday, March 24-26 at the San Diego Convention Center. More information is at

Updated AFOT Certifications
The FOA has updated the AFOT certification. Until now AFOT has only been available through schools to make it available to CFOTs with at least one year of continuous work in the fiber optic field. CFOTs can now apply for the AFOT if they have the required experience and can take the test online with a proctor.
A big advantage for those studying for AFOT will be the use of the AFOT
Study Guide for the exam FOA Online Reference Guide.
Interested in the AFOT certification, start studying now!

Sign of The Times
Lightwave Magazine, the first magazine started to cover the fiber optic communications market exclusively, has ceased printing a paper edition and will only be available online. Founded in 1984 by Howard Rausch, a veteran newsman, Lightwave became THE source of industry information for those of us pioneering the new technology of fiber optics. Lightwave is worth reading for the industry news

FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Is Continually Expanding
And Adds "AFOT Study Guide"

The FOA has updated the AFOT certification. Until now AFOT has only been available through schools to make it available to CFOTs with at least one year of continuous work in the fiber optic field. CFOTs can now apply for the AFOT if they have the required experience and can take the test online with a proctor.
A big advantage for those studying for AFOT will be the use of the AFOT
Study Guide for the exam FOA Online Reference Guide.
Interested in the AFOT certification, start studying now!

The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide is now available for use. It's not complete - we expect it to never be "complete" but always expanding!  We want you to contribute and give us feedback on how we can make it better!

Wanted: Links To Technical Materials
Next, we're soliciting links from fiber optic manufacturers and other organizations that have created technical materials that would be of interest to our readers. If you have technical websites you want to share, go here for our guidelines for submission.

FOA Adds "Google Custom Search  to Tech Topics and Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide

custom searchThere's so much information on the FOA 
Tech Topics and Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide that even a well-organized Table of Contents isn't enough and when the material is always changing, an index is impossible to maintain. So the FOA is using the latest technology in search, Google Custom Search, which will allow you to search just the FOA Tech Topics and Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide for any topic you want to find more about. Try it!  

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Good Question! Tech Questions Worth Repeating

: Can you direct me towards an expert in using fiber optics to trasmit

A: Fiber optics for power transmission has been used for several decades. There are several applications for it:

1)Transmitting optical power for use as a heating source, e.g. laser surgery, laser machining, optical fuzes for explosive devices, etc. Those methods are widely used and generally require large fibers and special high temperature connectors. Contact any large core glass fiber manufacturer.

2) Transmitting optical power and converting it to electrical power at the receiving end using PV detectors. This has been around for a long time too, but is not very efficient, limited to low power. It's often been used on sensors or remote data links.

Here is a link with links to several authors on this subject:
An article on the subject:
And a company mentioned:
Nortel in Canada was recently granted a US patent on this:

Another OTDR Trick

Terry O’Malley, ex-AT&T trainer and OTDR expert passes along another OTDR trick, related to the question below which ran last month.

Finding faults can be difficult since the fiber length is different from the cable length, due to the excess fiber in the cable (helix factor), the exact wavelength of the OTDR and on an unknown cable, the index of refraction of the fiber, all essential to measuring the length, may be unknown.

“Without knowing the index of refraction, my absolute distance would be bogus. I knew I could take reading from the other end. I recorded my distance readings to the fault from one end and went to the other end. Recorded the distance reading to the fault.

The line gang techs verified the cable length with sheath (that’s OSP for jacket) marking footage; it came up pretty close.

I used the simple proportion method to determine the “true distance to fault”:

OTDR distance from one end to fault__    =  True distance to fault        
Sum of OTDR distances from both ends      Total cable distance from jacket markings

Suppose the OTDR measures the distance to a fault as 4,000 m in one direction and 6,000m from the other end. The total OTDR distance is 10,000m
If the sheath distance is 9,900 m, the fault should be found at :

 4000      =  True distance to fault        
10,000                9,900

So the true distance to the fault is 3,960 m from one end of the cable or 5,940 m from the other end corresponding to the cable jacket markings.

Do this from both ends and it negates the errors from index of refraction, wavelength, and helix factor (the ratio of excess fiber in the cable.)


If I test a FO link from both sides, am I suppose to get the EXACT distance reading?
A Contractor is busy installing some FO systems.  The OTDR result from one side show 14,5189 km and on the same fibre from the other side his machine gives a result of 14,5577 km...  to me this is about 39 meters difference. I try and understand this.

A: Let's look at the numbers: The difference in readings is 14518.9 to 14557.7 or 38.8 meters. That's a difference of 0.27 percent. The resolution of the instrument is 0.1 m or 0.006 percent of the reading.

How does the OTDR measure distance of a length of fiber? It sends out a pulse and looks for the returned reflected pulse from the far end. It measures this round-trip time and divides it in half for the one-way time. It then multiplies that time by the speed of light in the fiber, defined by the effective index of refraction, something around 1.4675 (Corning SMF28, a typical fiber.)

The OTDR measurement depends on an accurate time measurement by the OTDR, knowing the speed of light in the fiber precisely and the techniques used to get and process that information.

What's the "accuracy" or "measurement uncertainty" of the instrument? Referring to the JDSU book on testing, typical OTDR accuracy is expressed as:

+/-time base error x distance +/- 1m +/-sampling resolution +/-index uncertainties.

The time base error can be 0.01 to 0.001%
The uncertainty of the index of refraction is about 0.1% to 0.01%

For this example
+/- 0.001% x 14518 m  = 14.5 m or 0.01% = 145 m
+/- 1m
+/-sampling resolution =? probably a few meters?
+/-index uncertainties. = 145 or 1450 m
Adding these up, we have a measurement uncertainty of at least 14.5+145+1=~160 m or as much as 145+1450+1=~1600 m

And that's applicable for repeatedly measuring the same fiber. From two directions, there may be differences on how the measurement markers are placed if done manually.

So the uncertainty of a 14,518.9 length measurement (+/-160 to 1600 m) is much larger than the 39 meter difference the instrument gave for bidirectional measurements.

The answer to your question, therefore, is the difference in the OTDR length measurements is due to the error inherent in making the measurement with an OTDR.

We're surprised the results were so close!

Everyone testing fiber optics should understand that every measurement has some uncertainty - whether you are measuring loss, length, wavelength, power, etc. Knowing that uncertainty is very important to interpreting the measurement. It's worthwhile to read and understand the issue of measurement accuracy covered in this page of the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Worth Reading:

From” : Decent Quarter In A Bad Year For Broadband Hardware Market
“The combination of the current economic climate, a shift in subscribers' preferences for mobile broadband connections, slower subscriber growth in the mature markets of North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), and the wholesale substitution of DSL technologies by PON beginning in 2010 will continue to put downward pressure on a market that has seen solid growth for nearly a decade. Deep fiber deployments (FTTN, FTTC) will help drive VDSL port growth, but it won't be enough to stop the overall downward trend," said Jeff Heynen, Directing Analyst, Broadband and Video, Infonetics Research.

Fiber-based systems grew 71% in 2008
Despite the economic slowdown, distribution of fiber-to-the-home network architecture increased 71% in 2008 compared with the previous year as growth surged in China, according to Dittberner Associates, a U.S. market-research firm. Dittberner said Japan remained the global leader in building FTTH networks as its market grew by more than 700,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter to reach almost 14.5 million home and business connections.

Good Technical Website

American Polywater ( has one of the best technical website for cable installers. Here is a rundown on some new material on their site.

Cable Installation using "Push" or "Push/Pull"
Polywater's new Pull-Planner™ 3000 Software allows a "pushing force" variable in pulling tension calculations.  Read a White Paper that quantifies the push contribution and compares calculation results to field experience. --

Pulling Cable Through Water?
Read a Product Spotlight on Polywater® + Silicone™, Polywater's new generation underground lubricant.  Continued reduction of friction when pulling through water is only one of the unique features of this lubricant. --

Check out their website, especially “Videos,” “Engineer’s Corner” and  “Calculators.”

JDSU Webinar series
JDSU has announced the See the Light webinar series, a four-part program designed for anyone involved in the installation, maintenance, and repair of fiber optic systems. It begins with fiber inspection and cleaning and then covers the basics of fiber testing. The webinar series then continues with the more advanced optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) and fiber local area network (LAN) testing challenges. More information on the series.

Interested In Fiber Optic Sensors?

Besides it's uses in communications, medicine and lighting, fiber is used for sensors. It began long ago with fiber optic gyros and chemical or acoustic sensors but has expanded to many more physical measurements. Now there's a website devoted to the topic. If you are involved with sensors or just want to know more about what they can do, check out this website.

IGI, a major market research and technology reporting company (the "Active Optical Cables" below)  is offering a a free one year subscription to one of our fiber optics newsletters to FOA members.  All they have to do is to send IGI an e-mail stating which newsletter they would like to get. See for a listing of IGI Newsletters.

FOA Tech Topics - 
The new FOA reference website is now online. Check out the current Table of Contents. 

Coming soon to a network near you  - 40 and 100 gigabit/sec Ethernet!
The IEEE is already working on specs for
40 and 100 gigabit/sec Ethernet and have approved a number of new PMDs (that's standards-speak for Physical Medium Dependent - i.e. cabling). A summary of the proposals is on the updated list of network specs at
FOA Technical Bulletins
How do you design and manufacture fiber optic systems? Choose and install one to serve your communications needs? Troubleshoot problems? The FOA Fiber Optic Technical Bulletins will provide step-by-step guidelines to help you. All are PDF files you can download, print and use.

Testing Update
Are there really 5 different ways to test optical fiber cabling after installation? Why so many? How do the measurements - and more importantly the measurement results - differ? What are the advanteages and disadvantages of each method?
Why are there 4 ways (maybe 5) to test fiber optic cables?
Do OTDRs and OLTS tests give the same results?
New Tech Topics
Industry standards updated to include international standards
Updated link specs for fiber optic networks - now includes 10G Ethernet.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on General Topics and Testing

  • Product News

    New Trick on Prepolished/Splice Connectors
    Want lowest loss and back reflection? Use PPS connectors but fusion splice them onto the fiber. The hardware is a bit more expensive, but the results are probably worth it. It doesn’t require a special splicer, as the AFL holders fit most splicers.

    Sale on fiber optic test equipment

    Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

    Have you read the FOA Tech Topics on Cleaning?

    More links on cleaning:

  • Westover 
  • AFL

    ITW Chemtronics

    Cleantex Alco Pads



    FTTH Notes:

    Where is Verizon offfering FiOS service? See this map.
    Want To Learn More About FTTx?
    The FOA has created a special FTTx resources section of our website with a FTTx links page with lots of links to news, market reports, technical articles and vendor technical and product information. Here is a great place to start learning more about FTTx.
    FOA's CFxT FTTx Certification Program Explained
    Read the Broadband Properties article about the FOA FTTx certification program. Read the article about FOA President Jim Hayes being honored for his work promoting FTTH.


    What Is The FOA?

    Hear FOA President Jim Hayes tell the FOA Story in a 2-part interview by Sound & Video Contractor Contributing Editor Bennett Liles. It tells about the FOA history, goals and achievements.
    Part 1:  
    Part 2

     Digging Safely

    The old story (not a joke!) about the most likely fiber optic communications system failure being caused by "backhoe fade" reminds us that digging safely is vitally important. The risk is not just interrupting communications, but the life-threatening risk of digging up high voltage or gas lines.

    There is a website called "Common Ground Alliance" that focuses directly on this issue. Here is how they describe themselves:

    Damage Prevention is a Shared Responsibility
    The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a member-driven association dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage prevention practices.    In recent years, the association has established itself as the leading organization in an effort to reduce damages to all underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders.

    Of special interest is their "Best Practices" Manual, available for downloading. If you do OSP installs, please get yourself a copy and read it.

    There is a new toll-free "call before you dig" number: 811

    See for more information

    National Fiber Optic Protection Summit: By the "811" group. March, 2008 in Vegas.


    Download This!
    There are tons of technical application notes and videos on the web, and occasionally we recommend some you should download. The JDSU fiber testing guide is really worthwhile, as are the ADC FTTx book and Westover video on fiber inspection and cleaning, linked below.

    FREE Corning Video
    Register for a free "At the Speed of Light" video. 
    Go to:
    JDSU Testing Book
    JDSU offers a free download of their Testing Guide from the Lightwave website. This is one great book which explains some basic fiber technology, but the real value is the last half which deals with OTDR testing. Not only does it give the usual info, but it covers important topics like measurement uncertainties and anomolies like ghosts and gainers.
    I was in the testing business for 20+ years at Fotec and think this book is one of the best fiber optic testing texts available. It's complete but comprehenisble! I used to believe that premises techs did not need OTDR training, but now OTDR manufacturers are pushing their use in premises networks. Unfortunately, the limitations of OTDRs in premises applications can cause extreme problems for those who are not aware of their limitations. So knowing hows OTDRs work is essential information to every tech. 
    Download yourself a copy and read it!
    Westover Application Notes And Cleaning Video
    Westover has several application notes on inspecting and cleaning fiber optic connectors. The video is a big file (50+MB) but a good tutorial.
    Download page:
    ADC's Book On FTTx
    ADC has an excellend book on FTTx. Here is a link to request a copy:

    Job Openings

    Instructors Needed (3/09)
    ATC needs 3 part- or full-time instructors at its downtown Los Angeles facility. Contact Alfred Hernandez at 323-810-3261 or

    Installers/Teachers - Carribean (2/09)
    A telecom operator in the Caribbean is urgently in need of 2-3 technicians for some contract work in the Caribbean. Looking for certified, experienced, and hardworking installers to workon several outside splicing work, cable pulling, and premise installations.
    Qualified persons should also be able to do hands on training for aspiring junior installers on job site. Bilingual (French and English) is a major plus.
    Folabi Trillion (US phone 610 295 0243)

     Do listings in the FOA Newsletter Work? Here's David Swales feedback:

    We did great!  We have over 15 interviews next week.

    David Swales, Jr.

    Also Check Recent Job Openings In Previous Issues of The FOA Newsletter


    Tech Puzzler
    What's a "FOCIS" document and why is it important?

    Answer below

    FOA Logo Merchandise
    FOA has arranged with EmbroidMe to provide FOA logo merchandies. Identify yourself as a FOA-certified tech or instructor. The lab coats are super impressive for either cabling techs and instructors. Check out the selection.

    FOA Certification Top Choice

    The FOA CFOT and CFOS programs continue to gain momentum in fiber optics. Over 25,000 CFOTs have been certified by over 200 schools. Since our founding in July, 1995, we have dedicated ourselves to promoting fiber optics and professionalism in fiber optics personnel, focusing on education and certification. We are continuing to add new schools and more CFOTs as users of fiber optics learn that a CFOT is the indication of a professional, well-trained fiber optic technician. Now with FTTH (fiber to the home) finally taking off, demand for CFOTs is rising and schools are responding by expanding programs rapidly.
    The FOA now has approved programs at 200+ organizations, welcoming new additions like the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Corning Cable Systems and AFL (and their new acquisition "The Light Brigade" for their installation training programs and NASA's Goldstone Tracking Station. The complete list of FOA-Approved schools is at


    Understanding FOA Certifications
    To answer questions on FOA certifications, we've created several new web pages:
    Overview of FOA certifications
    Training Requirements - What Schools Are Teaching
    Reading these will help you understand what each FOA certification covers and how to prepare for them.

    Your Name, CFOT - It pays to advertise!

    The FOA encourages CFOTs to use the logo on their business cards, letterhead, truck or van, etc. and provides logo files on this site for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

    Feel free to use the logo and designations to promote your achievements and professionalism!


    Remember To Renew Your Certification !

    Remember to renew your FOA certification. All current CFOTs have a ID Card with their certification data and we keep a database of current CFOTs to answer inquiries regarding your qualifications if needed. You must be a current FOA member and CFOT to participate in our online database of installers, contractors, technicians and consultants. If you forgot to renew, use the online application form to renew NOW!

    You can now renew your FOA certification online - and get an extra month free. Details here.



    To Contact The FOA:
    The Fiber Optic Association
    1119 S Mission Road, # 355
    Fallbrook, California 92028 USA
    Office Hours 10AM-5 PM Pacific Time, Monday to Friday
    Telephone: 760-451-3655
    Fax: 781-207-2421
    You can now renew your FOA certification online - and get an extra month free. Details here.

    Want to write for the FOA Newsletter? Send us articles, news, anything you think might be interesting to the rest of the membership!

    Return to The FOA Home Page

    (C)1999-2009, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

    Tech Puzzler:
    A FOCIS document is an TIA/EIA term for Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standard. It is a component standard written for manufacturers to follow to insure that their connector will be intermateable with other manufacturer's connectors of the same type. They are published with a document number format TIA-604-XX.. See here for more information.