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November, 2016


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FOA Newsletter - Features

In This Issue - (INDEX)

Click on "RETURN TO INDEX " after each section to return you to this INDEX so you can find things easier.


What's Going On?
Why is Fixed Broadband Declining?
What's Happening With Google Fiber?
Lessons To Be Learned
AT&T Expands Fiber Base
What's Going On - Reflections
Training Done Right
Triple Play Fibre Optics - SA
RWM - California
Interested In A Career In Fiber Optics?
A New Way To View Fiber Optic Connectors
Locating Underground Utilities
Database of Gigabit Broadband
Cabling To The Desktop Is Obsolete
Wideband Multimode Fiber - Lime Green?


OLANs - Optical LANs
OTDRs - more info
OSP Civil Works  
More to read in Worth Reading and Q&A


New @ FOA  
Fiber U - free online self-study courses
Publications: FOA Textbooks, NECA/FOA 301 Installation, eBooks
More "Quickstart Guides" - OTDRs
 videos: New FOA YouTube Videos
Online Reference Guide: Many new pages 
Tech Topics: More online information
Certification: New FOA OSP Certification
FOA Schools: New schools and programs
Events: Webinars, Conferences and Shows of Interest To Fiber Techs  
Webinars: Online seminars on useful topics 
Q&A: What you are asking the FOA?
Product News - New stuff
Worth Reading: News from around the world
Download This - Good applications material online

DIG SAFE - Call 811 before you dig!


JobsCurrent openings for Cable Techs, Fiber Splicers, etc.
Also see FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
The FOA Jobs Web Page has been updated and a new page added on Using your FOA Training/Certification to Find the Right Job in Fiber Optics

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the qualifications for the workers in the field in this YouTube video.

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Renew your FOA certification online - plus get a discount on the new FOA books and an extra month free. Details here.

The Archives: Past Issues.
Use these links to read past issues or use FOA's Google Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
1/16, 2/16, 3/16,  4/16, 5/166/167-8/16, 9/16, 10/16, 11/16,      
1/15, 2/15, 3/15, 4/15, 5/15, 6/15, 7/15, 8/15, 9/15 , 10/1511/15 , 12/15
1/14, 2/14, 3/14, 4/14, 5/14, 6/14, 7/14, 8/14, 9/14, 10/14, 11/14, 12/14 
1/132/13, 3/13, 4/13, 5/13, 6/13, 7/13, 8/13, 9/13, 10/13, 11/1312/13 
1/12 , 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12   
1/11 ,  2/11,  3/11,  4/11,  6/11, 7/11, 8/11,  9/11, 10/11, 11/11,  12/11,  
1/10 ,  2/10, 3/10,  4/10,   05/10,  07/10, 08/10,  09/10,  10/10, 11/10 
1/09 ,  2/09,  3/09, 04/09,  05/09,  07/09, 08/09, 09/09, 10/09, 11/09,  12/09
1/08 , 2/08, 3/08, 4/08, 5/08,  6/08, 7/08, 8/08, 09/0810/08, 11/08,  12/08 
12/07 , 11/07, 10/07, 09/07, 08/07, 07/07, 06/07, 05/07, 04/07, 03/07, 2/07, 1/07
12/06 , 11/06, 10/06, 09/06, 8/06, 7/06, 6/06, 5/06, 4/06, 3/06, 2/06, 1/06,
12/05 ,11/05, 10/05, 09/05, 08/05, 07/05, 6/05, 5/05, 4/05, 2/05, 01/05,
12/04 , 10/04, 9/04, 8/04, 7/04, 6/04, 5/04, 4/04, 3/04, 1/04,
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

CFOT®  and Fiber U® - The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA, as is the FOA logo.

FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics?
Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks

The fiber book is available in Spanish and French

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.
Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos on videos

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Like Crossword Puzzles? Here's Some On Fiber Optics

EP crossword

You can have fun and study fiber optics at the same time! Here are 4 crossword puzzles

Crossword puzzle on  "Optoelectronics and Splicing."
Crossword on "Light and Fiber".
Crossword puzzle on "Cables".
Crossword puzzle on "Connectors & Splices."

What's Going On?

There were several news stories this month that require some attention and analysis. One was the news that Google Fiber is "pausing" their expansion after they acquired an ISP called Webpass that does a lot of wireless. The second has not gotten as much attention but may be even more important - fixed broadband expansion growth in the US has slowed, in fact it is declining. Both these stories deserve some analysis. Let's start with the second one.

Why Is Fixed Broadband Declining?

Market research company Point Topic reported that US fixed broadband subscribers declined by 200,000 (~0.2%) in the first half of 2016, more than they lost in all of 2015. That's a very small percentage but in the meantime broadband subscribers around the world grew by over 3% in the same period.

Point Topic's analysis was that the main cause was a 4% decline in copper-based broadband connections, offset by FTTH growth. AT&T saw their DSL lines decline by 7.7%, Century link declined by 1.6% and Verizon by 27.2%. Verizon lost DSL subscribers when they sold off their landline business to Frontier Communications and a troubled transition caused more subscriber losses for Frontier.

Pew Research Center surveys indicate that fixed home broadband coverage in the US fell from 70 percent in 2013 to 67 percent of adult population in 2015. In the same period 13 percent of the American population were using smartphones only to access broadband, up from 8 percent in 2013. At the same time, 15 percent of American adults have become “cord cutters” by cancelling their paid cable or satellite TV services.

We're not surprised at these numbers, based on personal experience. We have both AT&T Uverse DSL and Viasat satellite Internet (plus AT&T LTE cell service for our mobile phones) and the satellite is always faster and less congested. AT&T also seems to be pushing subscribers to other services like DirectTV for TV since they bought them. But look at the promotion for AT&T Wireless we saw last week when we went to a store to pick up a new iPhone 7:

What AT&T thinks of DSL
What does AT&T think of DSL now? This gives us a hint!

What AT&T is promoting is a cellular wireless modem service  that connects your phones to the phone system and computers to the Internet over their 4G LTE cellular wireless network.Based on personal experience, AT&T's LTE is significantly faster than their Uverse DSL.

Of course you can't watch YouTube or movies very much over this connection because of the cost of the data usage but AT&T offers DishTV for TV.  Charges for data (hidden deep in the fine print at the bottom of the page on the AT&T website) are two plans, $40/mo for 25GB Wireless Home Internet Plan, $80/mo for 50GB Wireless Home Internet Plan. Overage Charges: $10 per GB for additional data. A 2 hour movie on Netflix at 4Mb/s would more than use up the basic $40 monthly service and if you were paying for it on overage charges, it would cost about $36 for that 2 hour movie. This service is not for users who have gone OTT (Over The Top - TV over the Internet)!

Since Verizon has divested a significant number of landline subscribers to focus on wireless, is AT&T headed in the same direction? If they admit DSL is inadequate, are they willing to invest in FTTH? Do they really think that Internet on mobile devices will be dominant and they can provide services demanded by users - including OTT - over cellular wireless? That seems like a big gamble.

What's Happening With Google Fiber?

Last month, Google Fiber announced that they were making changes, putting potential cities on pause while continuing work in cities where they were doing installations today. In the blog, they say " the plan enhances our focus on new technology and deployment methods" perhaps a reference to their recent acquisition of Webpass, an ISP with limited presence (~20,000 customers in 5 major cities) along the East and West coasts (the 5 cities on the map below.) They also laid off 9% of the Google Fiber employees.

This announcement prompted articles speculating on its meaning from sources as diverse as the NY Times and Washington Post to Vanity Fair and plenty of tech sources. Many articles focused on the problems Google Fiber encountered with competitors after seeing none in Kansas City. These included the "Pole Wars" fought in the courts over access to utility poles owned by competitors. More articles focused on the rash of complaints about their contractors digging up other utilities or other installation missteps. Strangely enough, some articles complaining about construction problems indicated confusion of both citizens and government officials over who subcontractors actually worked for.

AT&T's Eric Boyer - Senior Vice President for Wired and Wireless Products and Services even posted a sarcastic comment on an AT&T blog: "Does the Unfulfilled Promise of an Internet Provider Leave You Searching for Another Option? If so, don’t be surprised. Making you search is what they do best." "What some of our competitors are just starting to realize (one after 6 years and only 8 metros) is that this endeavor is challenging." (Also see "Meanwhile, AT&T..." below)

Webpass Service Areas
Webpass is only in five US cities.

Here is the paragraph from the Google Fiber blog that has left many people wondering what's up: "Of course, at Google Fiber we’re particularly excited about Webpass’ application of point-to-point wireless deployment methodology. As we’ve said, our strategy going forward will be a hybrid approach with wireless playing an integral part. Webpass has proven that point-to-point wireless is a reliable way to connect more people to high-speed Internet in a densely populated environment, by setting up wireless transmission links between buildings. Residents simply plug their device or router into the data jack Webpass installs in their unit, and they’re good to go, browsing with speeds reaching up to a Gig."

Using wireless to connect subscribers solves one big problem with FTTH, the need to install drop cables to the subscriber or subscriber's building for multi-dwelling units (MDUs.) Those drop cables require care in installation (an employee of a telco in New Zealand once asked us "Why do all the cable routes go through the customer's flower beds?) and are costly, so replacing drop cables with wireless is a potential advantage.

But it's not necessarily as big an advantage as you might think. You save the cost of installing a drop cable and the cost of the ONT, but you replace it with the cost of a wireless receiver/router and maybe antenna at the subscriber's location. On the other end of the wireless link you have to have a wireless transmitter, equivalent to the WiFi access point. That wireless access point has to have a place to be mounted, it needs to be connected to a fiber backbone and - a big issue - it needs power and a backup battery. And a monthly power bill.

So converting from FTTH to wireless drops, you lose a cable and an ONT but replace it with an access point that still needs a location to be mounted, a fiber connection and 24/7 backup power. I think we can assume that the wireless access point can be shared among a number of users, but there are tradeoffs The big loss is the PON - remember it's a PASSIVE optical network where the head end or central office needs power and the subscriber provides the power on their end but its entirely passive in between. Is that a valid tradeoff for saving a drop cable to the subscriber?

And building a wireless network still requires a fiber backbone. All the problems Google Fiber has had with gaining access to poles owned by competitors like AT&T in Austin, Nashville and Louisville are still an issue. And the problems they have had with contractors digging up utilities and breaking water mains with directional boring will still exist when underground installations are required.

There Are Some Lessons Here

Look at AT&T and Verizon. These companies have been involved with designing, installing and operating communications systems for more than a century - more than 100 years! In that time, they've made plenty of mistakes but they've learned what works and what doesn't. Often the hard way, of course, like trying to save their copper cable plants by hoping that every new iteration of DSL would be the one that worked - 21 iterations to date by the way, from ISDN to g.Fast.

But Verizon became the first US telco to commit to FTTH (they called it FTTP - fiber to the premises), convinced by the Telcordia Bernstein Report in 2004 that FTTH was the solution. One industry website, Pipeline, at the time summarized it thusly: "A recent joint report from Telcordia and Sanford Bernstein concludes that every carrier must move toward fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP), not just to enable new applications, but for basic network survival. This joint Bernstein-Telcordia study has determined that for ILEC deployments, xDSL may not be sufficient moving forward and carriers must eventually move toward FTTP to remain competitive."

Verizon and AT&T have gone different routes. Verizon committed to FTTH almost immediately while AT&T decided to slog along with an aging copper plant by using DSL. (Clarification - in 2005 a struggling AT&T was acquired by one of its original operating companies spun off at Divestiture, Southwestern Bell, so just exactly what company we're talking about is confusing.) You can see in the photo above what AT&T thinks about DSL today!

When Verizon committed to their FiOS FTTH program, they were open about the costs, expecting to spend >$20billion on capital expenditures (CAPEX) for FiOS over 5 years while saving ~$5billion in maintenance and repair of their aging copper lines (OPEX.) We understand the savings were much bigger and they decided a few years later to replace copper with fiber whenever a problem arose because of the OPEX savings.

But Verizon, with their long experience in building telecom networks did not jump into FTTH blindly. In 2005, they contacted The Fiber Optic Association for help in training and recruiting the people - employees and contractors - who would be building FiOS, starting here in Southern California. We worked with their technical staff and human resources people to develop a program for training techs and support personnel. Then we hosted joint workforce development "FTTH Summits" in the most active areas,
Southern California and New England, to introduce FTTH to our schools and certified members and invite interested potential employees and contractors to come learn about the next big thing in fiber optics.

FOA has always been willing to work with big projects like this to help recruit a competent, certified workforce capable of designing, building and operating major networks. Last summer, for example, FOA hosted a workforce development conference for Kentucky Wired, the 3100 mile state-backed public-private fiber optic backbone created to connect all 120 counties of Kentucky on a high speed fiber network. Today, FOA and the Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges are graduating FOA CFOTs to work on this giant project.

Verizon, with the wisdom from a century of experience and planning, thousands of experienced technical employees and knowing the need for
recruiting and training additional personnel before beginning the building of a new technology network, had few problems when they started installing FTTH. In fact, they concentrated on reducing costs in installation, leading to developments like the prefab cables used for drop cables that  reduced installation costs by almost 2/3.

AT&T meanwhile used its skilled personnel trying to make DSL work over aging copper, trying to save the cost of installing fiber. Now it finds itself with an aging infrastructure that they say themselves is obsolete. Perhaps if they had spent the same amount of money upgrading their infrastructure that they spent on techs trying to make DSL work and lawyers fighting competition or lobbying, they would not be seeing so many customers being lost to alternative technologies. But the fact is, competition is good. Now AT&T has responded to the Google Fiber challenge as you can see below.

Meanwhile, AT&T Expands Fiber Base

AT&T fiber locations

AT&T is expanding their AT&T Fiber locations, just as Google fiber retracts. As an incumbent provider with an extensive existing network, AT&T has distinct advantages over upstarts like Google fiber, who must overbuild markets at great expense and time.

AT&T claims they now have an addressable AT&T Fiber audience of 3 million locations, of which over 500K are apartments and condo units, or MDUs. AT&T Fiber locations now reach 44 markets across the U.S. and eventually plans to reach 67 markets/metro areas nationwide, covering 12.5 million locations by mid-2019.

The question is, was this simply responding to the Google Fiber competition? Will it continue while Google Fiber pulls back?

What's Going On?

Quite frankly, it all just leaves us more confused than ever.

If Google Fiber was originally intended to disrupt the ISP market and get incumbents to upgrade services, they have been more successful than they could have imagined. Thank you, Google Fiber, for doing all that. You should consider Google Fiber to be a great success on that basis alone!

But the focus on all these installation problems, especially in the newer cities, has made many fiber techs in the US disappointed and angry because it reflects poorly on the real professionals in our business. The poor quality of work done by these subcontractors is not indicative of the first class work done by these professionals who have invested heavily in training - and certification - many are FOA CFOTs - and have a long resume' of successful installations. Fiber optic pros are not "Uber drivers." You cannot recruit someone and send them out to build fiber networks without training.

All the bad news is also not good for FTTH or broadband. If people are reading what we read, they will be left with the impression that if you want FTTH you will have to endure construction disruption while you wait forever to get connected.

And AT&T, you both impress us and depress us. Your depth of talent and experience, not to mention financial resources, allows you to built FTTH networks at almost ten times faster than novices when you decide to do it. But you also spend $millions on lawyers with litigation trying to stop anyone who might be trying to compete with you, be they companies trying to move into in your territory or municipalities tired of waiting for you to upgrade your networks. Yes, America has more than 70% of the world's lawyers - more than 900,000 of them - that's about 5 times as many lawyers as skilled fiber techs - but is it necessary to use them all the time to stifle the spread of broadband networks and the economic benefits it brings?  That's a bit too much like Uber too.
All that money spent on legal fees and lobbying could be spent on network upgrades like FTTH and leave you light years ahead of any competition.

Training Done Right

Last month in the October FOA Newsletter we featured the amazing high tech training facility at the JATC in San Leandro, CA. This month we're going to show two veteran FOA schools that focus on training for OSP techs, RWM in Carson, California and Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions in South Africa. Both have been FOA schools for a long time, have highly experienced instructors and facilities designed to give the students realistic training in OSP installation.

Continued below.

There's more below....

Training Done Right

Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions OSP In South Africa

FOA Master Instructor Joe Botha and his instructors at Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions all have three decades experience in the fiber optic industry. They teach CFOT, CFOS/O (OSP),CFOS/D (Design), CFOA/H (FTTH) and CFOS/FC (Fibre Characterization) courses in South Africa. Joe, you might recognize, is the author of the new FOA book FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide which he wrote for his Outside Plant Civil Works course. This is what we would call OSP construction, including trenching and placing poles, placing cables underground and aerial, using most every technique you will see in the field. Joe has access to a large area to hold classes and the equipment needed to train students realistically.

Here are some photos of his classes.

Figure 8 fiber optic cable
Figure-8-ing fiber optic cable

Blowing fiber optic cabel

Blowing fiber optic cable into underground ducts

Installing ADSS cable

Students take turns installing ADSS cable

DCP testing

Performing a DCP (Dynamic Cone Penetrometer) test on soil strength in a filled trench

OTDR testing splices
In the lab, using OTDRs to test splices

Splicing pigtails
Splicing pigtails for a patch panel

FOA would like to see more schools teach a OSP construction course, but few schools have access to the facilities necessary. Joe's
book written for this course FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide is a book that every tech needs to have on their bookshelf for reference, especially if they never get to take a course like this.

RWM Fiber Optics In Los Angeles Area

Karen and Jim Hayes recently visited RWM Fiber Optics in Carson, CA, another long time FOA school owned by Paul Bonagura. We met with his head fiber instructor, James McConnell who showed us around. While RWM does not have the acres of space that Triple Play does, they have recreated the OSP in a industrial building near Los Angeles.

RWM Classroom
Here's the RWM fiber classroom. Note the messenger wire running across the room from corner to corner with a splice closure and fittings for storing service loops. Also note the boards on the wall for simulation of premises installations.

RWM splicing station
This is a RWM splicing station where students will prepare the OSP cable on the giant spool, splice it and test it.
That big spool of OSP cable was donated to the school by Taihan Fiberoptics America Inc. FOA often gets contacted by manufacturers like Taihan and we help them connect to our schools who highly appreciate donations like this!

RWM splicing lab
A class in the splicing lab

Splice closure
Each student builds out a splice closure and get graded on it. This student did very well.

Handhole simulator
James points out the fiber optic handhole simulation used in the lab for teaching. RWM also has numerous structures inside the building to simulate working on entrance facilities and premises cabling.

RWM OSP training
Out in the parking lot, they have poles with messenger cables that students use to install aerial cables.

It's schools like these that produce skilled fiber optic techs, CFOT certified, that are ready to install fiber optics properly.

Interested In A Career In Fiber Optics?

Careers in fiber optics

FOA has created a new YouTube video to introduce students to careers in fiber optics. It was made for showing to high school and junior high students interested in tech careers but anyone interested in a possible career in this field will find it interesting. If you have kids in school or know teachers, let them know about this too. Watch the FOA Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the
FOA Careers In Fiber Optics web page at

A New Way To View Fiber Optic Connectors

Microscopes are used for inspecting connectors for two primary purposes, checking polished ferrules during termination to ensure proper end finish and checking connectors in the field to determine if they are clean. To date, one type of microscope has been used for both operations, but a new tool from a long time industry expert may change some minds. To inspect polish quality, you need high magnification, typically 100 to 400X, with most users preferring the higher magnification. But if you inspect for dirt at that magnification, you can only see the ferrule end, ignoring the rest of the connector which can be filthy and you will never see it.

Ed Forrest, the "guru of cleaning" has come up with a very useful tool. Ed is well known for his website on cleaning and his books (go to and has now added a product for inspecting connectors for cleanliness. Instead of a standard microscope, the RMS-1 Fiber Optic Inspector uses a zoom microscope attached to a PC with unique 3D-printed adapters to hold connectors. You get a wide angle view that can show you how clean the connector is really. The biggest advantage is its ability to see the whole MPO connector or into the shell of large multi-fiber connectors like the MIL-38999.

SC microscope
Looking inside a SC connector with the RMS-1

MPO microscope
You have probably never seen a MPO connector in this way before

More views of SC, LC and MPO connectors

This product is different than other microscopes in many ways. It attaches to a PC or Netbook. The 3D printed adapters take some getting used to, but the results are reallu useful. Ed is still in the development phase, so there is no website yet. Here is his email if you want more information:

Locating Underground Utilities - An Overview of Methods

Locating underground utilities

In searching for articles on underground utility location regarding the problems caused by contractors digging up cables and breaking water pipes, we found this interesting summary of methods of location. It includes electromagnetic, acoustic and radar methods, plus one we did not expect - dowsing. Dowsing is a technique for searching for underground water, minerals, or anything invisible, by a person carrying an indicator, traditionally a forked stick, now often paired bent wires, pointing downward toward whatever they are searching for supposedly in response to unseen influences.

We suggest more modern technical methods of searching for buried utilities, but whatever you do, use the resources available before you start digging!
Read the FOA Tech Topic. There is a toll-free "call before you dig" number in the USA: 811. See for more information or go to National Fiber Optic Protection Summit by the "811" group. The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines
But if anyone really has experience with dowsing, tell us about it!

New Viavi Database Illustrates More Than 500 Operational or Planned Deployments Of Gigabit Broadband Globally

Gigabit monitor

Communications service providers worldwide are accelerating efforts to deliver gigabit internet -- network speed that is 159 times faster than the global average of 6.3 Mbps. The Gigabit Monitor, a visual database referencing current and planned gigabit deployments around the world, from Viavi Solutions (the test equipement company formerly known as JDSU). The Gigabit Monitor paints a picture of mobile, cable and telecom service providers all racing to deliver lightning-fast internet connectivity to meet end users' demands. The database, developed completely from public information, is available at:

Below are some of the key insights from the Gigabit Monitor:
  • State of gigabit: There are now at least 350 live gigabit deployments globally, with a further 164 announced or under construction, across wireline and wireless technologies including GPON, DOCSIS 3.1,, LTE-A, 5G and 802.11ac.
  • Contrasts by region: North America has the largest share of announced gigabit deployments, with 61 percent. Europe is second with 24 percent. Asia, Australasia, Middle East, Africa and South America share the remaining 15 percent of deployments.
  • Deployments accelerate: The pace of gigabit deployments has accelerated sharply. Over 70 percent of the live gigabit deployments tracked have been launched since the start of 2015.
  • Fiber dominates: 85 percent of currently known gigabit deployments are based on optical fiber connectivity. 11 percent are based on Hybrid-fiber coax (HFC), a broadband technology that combines optical fiber and coaxial cable, commonly employed by cable providers.
  • Wireless gigabit is already here: Nearly 3 percent of known gigabit deployments are based on LTE-A, a modified version of LTE which is gigabit-capable.
  • 5G is coming fast: 37 wireless carriers have announced plans for 5G networks. Five of them plan to have 5G networks built as early as 2017.

Quote Of The Month, With Further Proof That Structured Cabling To The Desktop Is Obsolete

"At Salesforce, we support a mobile community. In fact, the idea of a dedicated seat does not apply to much of the workforce." Shalaya Shipman, Sr. Manager, Operations for Real Estate & Workplace Svcs., Salesforce.

Salesforce is now one of the largest software companies in the world and one of the biggest high tech companies in San Francisco - and that's saying something! They are building new building in the city and this came from a website on real estate where it was discussing building space utilization. Here is more from the article:

"When it comes to tracking other functions of the business; occupancy, projects, lease administration and associated costs, Wave Analytics Cloud (a Salesforce cloud-based program) serves as our visual reporting tool. Its ability to aggregate complex datasets without compromising speed-to-delivery reporting is a game changer. Wave promotes ongoing business awareness and the sophistication to track operational efficiencies across the portfolio. And the best part is, it's mobile! Now, members of our organization are empowered to analyze trends and behaviors in real time, with the ability to drill in and out of insights.

Wave also inspires us to reimagine workplace utilization metrics. At Salesforce, we support a mobile community. In fact, the idea of a dedicated seat does not apply to much of the workforce. Prior to Wave, we anticipated vacancy based on building headcount and seats available, but we were still missing a critical metric – building utilization. Our Strategy team began to examine employee badge data. Combined with employee and seat location information, we are now pushing millions of rows of data into Wave and have the ability to track activity by region, city, building and team. It’s a fascinating tool that has changed the way we approach challenges and opportunities. We are able to make smarter decisions based on real data."

Read the whole article here.

Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF) Has A New Name - OM5 - And Maybe A Color

We have discussed wideband multimode fiber in the FOA newsletter several times in the last two years, This is a modified OM4 fiber that has been modified to allow wavelength division multiplexing with VCSELs in the range of 850 to 950nm. This provides an alternative to parallel optics for multimode fiber, replacing 12 or 24 fibers with only 2 fibers. Recently the ISO/IEC standards committees agreed to call it OM5 fiber. Next up is the discussion of whether it gets a special color instead of using aqua like OM3 and OM4 fiber. The current proposal is to use "lime green" - that should make it stand out in cable trays!

Are you ready for a high performance cable in lime green?

Lime green


Dig Once

The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. It helps that the current Administration is trying to convince cities of the advantages of installing ducts or conduits when they dig up a street so they don't have to do it again. Here are some links for more information.

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:
From the Council of State governments:
From the city of San Francisco:
An article about Dakota County, MN:

And the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative:

Useful Online Resources

We often have contacts give us online links for useful information which we like to share with our readers. Here are two:

Want To Learn More About DIY FTTH?

SW Southern Fiberworx is a DIY FTTH Project in Georgia

It seems like every week FOA gets another call from a town, real estate developer or utility wanting to start a FTTH project for their area. FOA has created several videos and a a web page on this topic to help anyone get started.

FTTH Case Studies: Do-It-Yourself FTTH

FOA has a series of videos on do it yourself (DIY) FTTH. The first three videos are online now:

FOA Lecture 45 Do It Yourself FTTH (Fiber to the Home)  What's involved in building a FTTH network of your own.

FOA Lecture 46 Do It Yourself FTTH (Southern Fiberworx)   (FOA Newsletter November 2015) How one company, Southern Fiberworx in Cordele, GA did it themselves.

FOA Lecture 46 Do It Yourself FTTH (Southern Fiberworx)   (FOA Newsletter November 2015)

Another Source Of Articles On Fiber

FOA President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been writing a column in Electrical Contractor Magazine for more than 15 years now. Electrical contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered some toics they are interested in including installation processes, network design, fiber applications and in the last year, a lengthy series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to and you can see all of them.

Keep Up With Google Fiber News

Google is moving ahead in Austin and starting in the SE building Google Fiber networks. They just announced projects in San Diego and Irvine, CA and Louisville, KY.  Here is where to keep track of what is happening with Google Fiber - the Google Fiber Facebook page!

Fiber Optic Education For Students At Any Age 

We hear about fiber optics all the time - it's in the news whenever we hear articles about high tech, the Internet and communications, and many communities are getting "fiber to the home." But few people really understand fiber optics or how it works. FOA is focused on educating the workforce that installs and operates these fiber optic networks but we're always getting inquiries from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers who want to introduce fiber optics to younger students in K-12 grades or technical schools.

We start with the FOA Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA Careers In Fiber Optics web page at These are for students who think they might be interested in careers in fiber optics and want to know more about what fiber techs do.

Teachers for fiber optics
Using red laser light (a VFL here but a laser pointer works also) to show how fiber guides light.

FOA has begun developing a series of YouTube videos intended for teaching students in elementary, middle and high schools about fiber optics. The first FOA video is titled "Fiber Optics For Teachers." With this video, we show teachers how fiber works and carries signals and then explains simple experiments to demonstrate how fiber optics works in the classroom using some plastic fiber and a laser pointer. Since many teachers do not know where to get the fiber, the FOA offers to send them a sample for use in demonstrations in their classroom (USA only right now.)

At the end of the video, teachers are given directions on how to request samples of the plastic fiber from the FOA.

This video joins the "Fiber Optics Live" series How Light Travels In A FiberFiber Attenuation and Connector Loss that show how fiber works using simple experiments that can be duplicated in any classroom. More videos will be coming soon.

If you have kids or know some teachers who would be interested, please send them to the introductory video Fiber Optics For Teachers  and we'll be glad to help them get started with some entertaining programs for their classrooms.

Resources For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools

Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their classes. Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.


If you have kids in school or know teachers who are interested, send them to the FOA page Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.

Should Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?

As all FOA individual members know, they join the FOA by becoming certified, mostly taking their CFOTs but some CPCTs,  either by attending a FOA approved school or joining directly based on field experience (our "work to cert" program.) Over the years, we've been contacted by manufacturers, contractors, consultants, and other types of organizations who ask about becoming members.

We don't certify companies or organizations, we told them, so we were not sure what we could offer as a benefit of membership. But then, companies asked about using our educational programs to train employees, how they could get listed on the FOA website as service providers or if they could get a quantity discount on membership or certification for all the FOA members working for them. That began to sound like a benefit for being an FOA corporate member. And providing a list of useful suppliers to the market could be a benefit to the industry as a whole.

So FOA has quietly been letting companies and other organizations join the FOA to take advantage of those benefits so we now have several hundred corporate members. We've put then into a database and listed them on the FOA website in map and list form. Here's the map.

FOA Corporate members

The online
map and list can be used to find suppliers and service providers.

The map, like our map of schools, lets you find the FOA corporate members close to you.  The table form lists them by category: Installer/Contractor, Component Manufacturer, Installation Equip. Manufacturer, Transmission Equipment, Services/Consulting, Distribution and Users of Fiber Optic Networks. You can sort the tables to find members meeting your needs, e.g. by location, certifications offered, etc. Click on any column heading to sort that column; click twice to sort in reverse order.

How Does An Organization Become An FOA Corporate Member?

Simple, just fill in the online application form. When your application is accepted, you will be asked to pay the membership fee -  $100US first year, $50US/year or $100US/3years to renew. You will then be listed on the online  map and list, have access to exclusive FOA educational materials for your employees and get discounts on certifications and renewals. 

Safety On The Job

bucket truck job  Pipeline explosion

Safety is the most important part of any job. Installers need to understand the safety issues to be safe. An excellent guide to analyzing job hazards is from OSHA, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Here is a link to their guide for job hazard analysis.

FOA also has lots of information on safety: FOA Guide, YouTube video and a Safety Poster

"Worth Reading" Is Now OnPin

Join FOA on Pinterest. We have been posting links to pages "Worth Reading" on a special FOA Pinterest page. You can join and keep up to date with the news on our industry which we put there.

Recent posts cover utilities using new generation telecom, India's plan for 100 smart cities, Cincinnati Bell bets on fiber, various opinions on the US battle over net neutrality, etc.


Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free

FOA OTDR Simulator
You may already know that the FOA has a free OTDR Simulator you can download from our website (go here for directions) that allows you to practice using an OTDR on your PC, seeing the effects of changing setup parameters and analyzing dozens of real world traces. But here are two more tools that can be good for practice.

Including more hints from FOA Master Instructor Terry O'Malley like tests on what the end of a fiber trace looks like with broken and cleaved fibers.
Frequently Asked Questions On OTDRS And Hints On Their Use  

"Fiberizer" APP Reads, Analyzes OTDR Traces
Fiberizer is a iPhone/iPad APP that reads industry-standard ".sor" format files and allows trace analysis on your iPhone or iPad. An android version is in the works too. Read more about Fiberizer. And here are more directions on its use.


Events of Interest

FOA posts these events not on our LinkedIn groups

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has three LinkedIn Groups

FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)  


FOA LogoWhat's Happening @ FOA

FOA Standards:

FOA now offers free standards for datalinks and testing the installed fiber optic cable plant, patchcords and cable, optical power from transmitters or at receivers and OTDR testing.
Look for the "1 PageStandard" web page and in the FOA Online Reference Guide.

View the  FOA YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

NECA 301
Standards cover components and systems and how to test them, but rarely get into installation issues. The FOA NECA 301 standard which covers installation of optical fiber systems has been revised for the second time, adding considerable new materials. This standard is derived from FOA educational material put in standards form and approved by ANSI as an American National Standard. It's specifically written to be used in contracts to define "installation in a neat and workmanlike manner." The standard is available from NECA.   FOA members can go here for instructions on how to download your free copy.


Fiber U

Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs

FOA's "Fiber U" free online self-study programs help you learn about fiber optics, study for FOA certifications or use them to help create "blended learning" classes. There are two new free online self-study programs on Fiber U. Fiber Optic Network Design is for those interested in learning more about how to design fiber optic networks or studying for the CFOS/D certification. FTTx is for those wanting to know more about fiber to the "x" - curb, home, wireless, etc. - or studying for the CFOS/H certification.
Got to Fiber U for more information.

Fiber U Online Self-Study Programs Offer Option Of Certificate of Completion

FOA has been offering quite a few free online self-study programs on Fiber U, our online learning site. We are always getting questions about getting a certificate for completing the course online, so we have setup an option to take a test online and get a certificate of completion for these online courses.

Fiber U certificate

While it's not FOA certification, FOA will recognize a
Fiber U Certificate of Completion as background experience to qualify for applying for FOA certifications. We also intend to expand the program to more specialized topics as preparation for FOA specialist certifications.

If you have associates that want to get started in fiber, have them take this course online to get started. Go to  Fiber U and get started.

Lennie & Uncle Ted Guides - Perfect For Getting Started

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides have moved  to the FOA website. Lennie is the place where many if not most fiber techs begin their education. FOA has just updated the two guides to ensure they stay relevant - more than 20 years after they were first written.

Lennie goes all the way back to 1993 when he was created as the mascot of the original "Fiber U" conference - the same Fiber U that is now the FOA's web-based training site. Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics was created as a beginner's introduction to fiber optics. Over 60,000 printed version of Lennie's Guide were given away and it became one of the first commercial web pages in 1994. Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling was written a few years later to introduce techs to "Cat 5" - UTP wiring - that had only recently been standardized in TIA-568.

Lennie and Ted's Guides are used in the current Fiber U online self-study programs and are still the best place to start learning about fiber optics.

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online at the links here, can be downloaded as printable PDFs and are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.

Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling

Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling   are now available free to iPad users who can download them from the Apple iTunes store. Of course they are still available online or for download.

You can also find these free guides on the FOA website - go here for all the links: Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling  

FOA Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Now Available in French and Spanish

FOA Text in French FOA text in Spanish FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book    FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book    FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design And FOA's Outside Plant Fiber Optic Construction Guide

FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design  FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

Read More about the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design  and More information on the FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide


FOA iPad Apps

FOA LossCalc
FOA Loss Calculator AppFOA LossCalc estimates the optical loss of a fiber optic link. This will save time for the installer of a fiber optic link needing to know whether test results are reasonable and/or make a "pass/fail" determination. It can also help the designer of a link to determine if communications equipment will operate over this link.
By choosing the type of link (singlemode or multimode) and specifying the length of the fiber and numbers of connections and splices, it will calculate the end to end loss of the link. The app has default specifications for singlemode and multimode links or the user may create custom setups with specifications appropriate for any application.

Self -Study in Fiber Optics
FOA iPad AppOur first app is a self-study version of the FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics. The FOA APP builds on the FOA basic fiber optic textbook to create an interactive learning environment that builds on the iBook electronic version of the book to add a guide to use for self-study and real-time testing that provides feedback on what you have learned and correct answers to questions answered incorrectly.
The FOA APP is priced at only $9.99, same as the iBook, so the self-study program is free. Download it from the Apple APP Store with your iPad or iTunes.



The FOA has many videos on videos, including two Lecture Series (Fiber Optics and Premises Cabling), Hands-On lectures on both and some other informational and instructional videos. For all the videos, go to the FOA Channel "thefoainc" or use the direct links below.

View a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on YouTube.

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the qualifications for the workers in the field.

Fiber Optics - Live!  A series of videos that use lab demonstrations to show how optical fiber works. 
Fiber Optics LIVE!

Cabling Project Management - what's involved in a copper/fiber/wireless project -advice for the customer and the contractor

Hazards Of Counterfeit Cable

You may have read the stories we have written about the counterfeit "Cat 5" cable made from copper-clad aluminum rather than pure copper. Recently we tried an unscientific burn test on the cable compared to a known good UL tested cable and posted a video on YouTube. You can see the results below.

Counterfeit cable flame test

Counterfeit Cable     Real UL-rated cable

The difference is obvious and the danger is real. Watch the video on YouTube: Premises Cabling Lecture 11: Counterfeit Cat 5 Cabling

View a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on YouTube.

View all the FOA Channel  on YouTube.  


FOA Guide

What's New  in the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide?

We are continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information. Go to the FOA Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look for New.

Learn More About OTDRs - Download a Free OTDR Simulator
More and more installers are being asked for OTDR testing but using these instruments is not easy. They are hard to set up properly and complicated to interpret the traces. Using the autotest function can lead to disastrous results! The FOA has a good tutorial on OTDRs on our Online Reference Guide and we added a free download of an OTDR simulator to the OTDR section so you can learn how to use an OTDR on your PC.

More New Info:

Links to manufacturers and distributors of fiber optic lighting products.

The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide has become very popular - perhaps the most popular technical website ever, typically with over 360,000 users downloading about 1.75 million pages in 2011! We continue updating materials regularly, keeping it as up to date as possible.

Find What You Want Using "Google Custom Search
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.


New Schools
The FOA welcomes the newest additions to our listing of FOA-Approved Training Organizations:

Owensboro Community and Technical College, Owensboro, KY, USA. School # 358

Ashalnd Community & Technical College, Ashland, KY, School # 359

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

Find An FOA-Approved Training Organization

Most inquiries we get regarding finding a FOA-Approved training organization want to know two things: what school is closest to me or what school offers the certifications I need. The FOA has about 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide so finding the right one can be difficult! We've been looking at ways to make it easier, and we think we've got a good solution. In fact we have two solutions.

First we have added a sortable table of all the FOA-Approved schools.

You can also use our FOA Google Map to find FOA-Approved schools.


What Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do They Need?
FOA certifications are based on our KSAs - the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that techs need to succeed. Read the FOA KSAs for fiber and cabling techs.

School News


We always enjoy feedback, especially when it shows how great some FOA instructors are. These came from students of Tom Rauch, an instructor at BDI Datalynk:

"I took your fiber optics certification courses this past March. I just wanted to let you know that in two weeks I start working as a fiber optic technician with ___ up in ___. You mentioned on the first day of the course that there is always one guy in class who had rubbed his last two nickels together to be there and, in that instance, I was that guy. Now I'm going to be able to provide for my family like never before and I owe it to the certification that I received from you and BDI Datalynk. I just wanted to thank you again."

"Thanks to our tremendously knowledgeable and patient instructor Thomas Rauch, who was not only generous in sharing his wealth of information, but he did so with ease, humor and in a way that invited curiosity and participation. He was encouraging and proud of our accomplishments and helped us learn from our mistakes in a way that did not break our confidence, rather it pushed us to better results the next go around. The hands on labs were just AWESOME!" Just thought you should know what a class act you have representing you in his travels..... but then again you probably already knew that! : )

In almost 19 years at Verizon and having held numerous positions, I have gone through many training sessions. I cannot remember ever having been actually looking forward to coming back to class quickly after lunch, to get back to the hands on activities, and walking away with the sense of empowerment that the information presented was not only relevant but dead on point accurate! I will be signing up for the Outside Plant class on March! I can't say enough good things about Tom and his impact! Feel free to quote me, I can only imagine that he will open so many doors and change so many lives in the years to come, with his style of teaching! Great experience, awesome job!

IBEW and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) in a partnership with the FOA has published a new textbook for training IBEW apprentices and journeymen in fiber optics. The new textbook uses the material from the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics with new material and photos from other NJATC training partners.

NJATC FOA Textbook

FOA is pleased to have been able to assist the NJATC in the development of this new text. FOA has been a NJATC training partner for many years, including offering instructor training at more than 16 of the NJATC's summer National Training Institutes. A majority of IBEW NECA contractors do fiber optics and low voltage, especially for applications that combine electrical and communications cabling like smart grid, alternative energy, traffic controls, data centers, etc.

Quote from one of our certified instructors: I want to thank you and your organization for all the resources you provide for the students and the opportunity to offer the certification to the students. The fact that you published the book yourself to get the cost down and the unlimited free resources on your website shows a commitment to the public that is second to none. I let it be known to the students that the FOA is the best in the industry at supplying knowledge and resources related to the communication industry. I look forward to passing on the information that you provide for the industry.

Great Video About An FOA School And Their Training 
BDI Datalynk trains at the Unversity of Central Florida. UCF created this incredible video on the BDI Datalynk program.  It shows the power of what they offer on campuses around the US.
Watch the video here:
For more information, contact Bob Ballard, CFOS/I, BDI DataLynk, LLC, A Vietnam Veteran-Owned Company, Ph: 512-785-9024 



Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Real Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

Polishing Films
  Are there different grades (micron) polishing films/papers for multimode and single mode fiber cables in ODF termination ? If yes, What are the grades polishing papers for multimode 50/125 um and 62.5/125 um fibers.
A: The polishing of MM and SM fiber is indeed different. Both start with an “air polish” with 12micron alumina polishing film to remove the protruding fiber. Then the polishing continues on a soft polishing pad (3mm 80 durometer rubber).
MM uses a 3micron alumina polishing film polished dry then a final 0.3micron alumina film polish. See
SM is usually done with a wet polish using as special polishing slurry and diamond polishing film. The diamond film will polish both the ferrule and the fiber to get the best end finish. See
There are even more pages of information on the FOA Guide at

Armored Indoor Cable?
Can I get an indoor armored 8 core fiber optic cable?
A: Most cable manufacturers make indoor armored cable using corrugated wrap armor to protect cables from crushing loads from other cables especially in under floor installations.

MPO Connector Loss
: Is there a current standard, for maximum allowable loss, for MPO fiber connectors? If so… what is the standard # from EIA/TIA? (Was it amended in 568B, since they were introduced?) Would it be similar to standard connectors @ 0.75dB Max allowable loss?
A: The MPO is covered under the TIA 568 standard. All fiber optic connectors are the same - 0.75dB.
There are discussions being held at TIA and ISO/IEC on using a different method of specification, statistical in nature, that says X% would be less than YdB in several stages from 0.1-0.2 to over 1dB, but it’s led to some headed discussions.
MPOs for MM are probably no less than 0.5dB and SM are near the 0.75dB mark. At least the SM ones are APC (usual 8 degrees, but still a flat polish).
I’ve recently learned that MPOs are polished for fiber protrusion to try to get fiber contact, but the evenness along the line of fibers is harder to control.

image from SUMIX showing protruding fibers in MPO connector

More Than “Single” Mode?
We're now using SM fibre so it looks like we don't need mandrels in the Ref Lead at the Light Source.  The info I have is that we need to make a couple of air coils 35mm to 50mm in diameter.  Why? 
A: When you launch from a pigtial laser source through a connector into a reference cable, you do have several modes being propogated. It usually takes 100m or so for the second or third order modes to attenuate. So the coil causes them to be attenuated by the stress enough to no longer be significant - it’s a mode filter just like MM. If you do not do this, you will measure higher loss in the fiber and at connections near the source. Since most SM has traditionally been long distance, the effect was small or ignorable, but with short links, it can be significant.
Followup Q: But how do we explain multiple modes in Single Mode fibre?
A: When you get the core of the fiber down to ~5-6 times the wavelength of the light, it no longer acts like geometric optics (like MM fiber). Some of the light can travel outside the core (see the note on “waveguide dispersion”here At launch, significant amounts of power are at higher angles creating short lived modes that are highly attenuated.

Replacing OM1 MM Fiber
We are an automation system integrator in South Africa. We have a client that has multimode 62.5/125 fibre optic plant wide. None of the runs between components are longer than 2km. We intend to upgrade the technology from a proprietary communication protocol to a standard ethernet protocol at 100 MHZ. The fibre to copper convertors we will be using are using 1300nm light source and have a Fibre Optic Link Budget of 12.8dB for 62.5/125 um and 9.8dB for 50/125 um. The client has been advised to replace the multimode 62.5/125 with multimode 50/125 cabling and we need to know if this is really a requirement.
A: Do you know how old the fiber is? It should be what we called FDDI grade 62.5/125 fiber with a loss of ~1dB/km and a bandwidth of  500MHz-km at 1300nm. A 2km link should have a loss of 2dB for the fiber and ~0.5dB/connection - well under the power budget of the link. 100Mb/s Ethernet variants were designed for 2km or more on this fiber. There is no reason to upgrade at this time, 50/125 fiber would not be needed until Gigabit Ethernet was desired.

Bi-Directional OTDR Testing
Should the testing be done with the same piece of equipment from both ends then merge the results or does that not matter - can you use traces from two OTDRs as long as the test equipment is compatible and settings are adjusted properly.
A: Yes, you should use the same test set from each end but this way - take a trace, disconnect the OTDR from the launch cable and go to the far end of the receive cable and connect it there to take the second trace. The usual way people do bi-directional tests is to disconnect the launch cable and take it to the far end and shoot back up, often not using a receive cable at all, figuring they get the far end connector on the second test. But when you disconnect the launch cable (and/or the receive cable) you lose the connection you want to test in the other direction! As for using the same OTDR, every OTDR is different and the results you get may be significantly different, esp. if they are not calibrated recently - and few OTDRs are ever calibrated.

Passive OLANs in Hotels And Resorts
Are passive OLANs a good choice for hotels or resorts?
A: Passive Optical LANs are enterprise networks based on fiber to the home (FTTH) technology not Ethernet over structured cabling. The FTTH network is usually using GPON standard equipment over one singlemode fiber with passive optical splitters that provides basic Level 1 and 2 network functionality. This is not Ethernet but carries Ethernet over the GPON protocols at 2.5G downstream and 1.25G upstream.
Passive OLANs offer several advantages over conventional Ethernet switches and structured cabling, including much less cost  (~50% capital expense and ~20% operating expense), much lower space requirements (see the link to the library photos below and note the two racks of equipment that support 4000 drops), longer distance requirements (to 20km), easy expansion (these are systems designed for hundreds of thousands of users) and easy management (when you have hundreds of thousands of users, that’s important.)
For hotels, convention centers and similar facilities, the ease of upgrading to a passive OLAN is a big advantage - one fiber goes from the computer room to a splitter where it can serve 32 switches of 4 ports each. That’s right, one fiber can support 128 users! It can support anything that a network can - wireless access points, security cameras, secure entry systems, VoIP phones or POTS phones - anything that will run over a conventional network.

Calibrating An OLTS
I have a question about the OLTS - do you have to recalibrate it every day ?
A: Any optical loss test set needs to be calibrated for “0dB” whenever anything changes - the launch cable - source output - or even every few tests to ensure the connector is clean and undamaged - plus they wear out. See 5 different Ways To Test Fiber Optic Cables.

Insertion Loss
I have not been able to find a good definition of “optical insertion loss” or “insertion loss” or “optical loss.”
A: Insertion loss was the term originally used for the loss of a connector tested by a manufacturer. They would set up a source and length of fiber connected to a meter, measure power, insert a pair of connectors and measure the loss. Since it was an inserted connection, it became known as insertion loss.
Over time, the term insertion loss became more widely used to contrast with the loss measured by the OTDR, an indirect measurement using backscatter that may not agree with the loss with a light source and power meter.
Insertion loss, therefore migrated to meaning a loss measured of a cable or cable plant inserted between the launch and receive cables attached to a light source and power meter for double ended testing used with installed cable plants. For patch cord testing, you do not use a receive cable attached to the power meter but connect it directly to the cable under test, making the test just include the one connection to the launch cable.
Two other terms often mixed up are attenuation and loss, which are essentially the same, except when discussing a fiber. In fibers, attenuation is often used instead of attenuation coefficient. Attenuation is the absolute loss i dB while attenuation coefficient is the characteristic attenuation of a fiber expressed in dB/km.
Here is probably the best explanations:

Old Fiber
We are looking at a company’s fiber network which has been laid at various points in time over numerous years.  In this process, we are trying to identify the changes that were made to either/both the glass fiber and the cladding.  Are there different generations of what was industry standard in creating the fiber?  For example, are you able to identify the difference in a fiber that was laid in 1980 versus one laid today?  Was the cladding the same size/thickness etc. in 1980 as it is today or has this been modified/improved upon over the years?  In all, we are trying to find what modifications have been over the years and how this may improve the life of the network and its capabilities. 
A: This is a common problem today. Many network operators are evaluating their fiber networks for upgrades, hampered by the fact that few are properly documented. Below is a timeline that should answer your questions. What many network owners are doing now is testing their cable plants - a process called Fiber Characterization.  There are contractors who do this service.
Fiber Tech Timeline
1976 - First field trials, US and UK, using multimode fiber at 850nm
1980 - First long distance networks still using multimode fiber at 850nm, planning to upgrade with wavelength-division multiplexing at 1310nm
1984 - singlemode fiber becomes feasible, telecom drops multimode fiber, all future installations are singlemode - this first SM fiber with a 9 micron core and 125 micron cladding is still available today but with better specifications. Really early fiber may not have good environmental protection and degrades over time. Early speeds were 145-405Mb/s, up to 810Mb/s by the end of the decade.
1990 - around this time, modern fiber begins - better performance and environmental protection. Fibers for wavelength-division multiplexing in the 1500nm range appear allowing multiple signals on a single fiber and fiber amplifiers allow long spans.
1995-2000 - massive build-out of fiber backbone leads to glut of fiber - WSJ ~2001 says 93% of all fiber is dark. Speeds grew from 1.2-10Gb/s over the 90s decade
2000-date - massive Internet growth and mobile device growth eats up glut of fiber and demands many times more. Dense wavelength-division multiplexing becomes the norm. Speeds began at 1.2/2.5Gb/s, upped to 10, 40 and are now at 100Gb/s.
So most fiber installed after 1990 has the possibility of being used at 10Gb/s, after 2000, it’s probably OK for 40Gb, and since 2010, you are probably OK for 100G and maybe more.  To verify performance, you test each fiber for connector condition, loss, spectral attenuation, chromatic dispersion and polarization mode dispersion. There are test sets that will do
Fiber Characterization in basically one step.

Fusion Splicing Live Fibers
Is it safe to fusion splice a live fiber, or is there a chance that
the light from the arc will damage the detectors in the modules at the end (20km-rated SM for us).
A: I have never heard of this being a problem. The amount of light coupled into the fiber from the splicing would be very small compared to a properly coupled laser. When a cable is broken you might be splicing the fibers that are live without knowing which are live and not caring. On your newer splicers this is not a problem. On the older splicers with the LID system you would have to reduce the power to get a good splice which they would do by putting a bend in the Fiber.

Duplex Communications Over One Fiber
Is true duplex over a single fiber possible, or is more like a shared time-domain technique in a quasi-duplex mode? I would guess that true duplex would lead to interference problems.
A. Bidirectional links are widely used - that’s how FTTH PONs work. They use splitters to combine/split the signals and one wavelength downstream and another upstream. See Fiber Optic Datalinks and for FTTH FTTH Architectures.

Using Hybrid 2.5-1.25mm Connector Mating Adapters
Can I use the hybrid 2.5-1.25mm adapters for connecting SC connectors to LCs or MU connectors. It would make testing much more convenient.
A: We do not recommend them for most uses, especially testing, as they can be highly unreliable. Reserve them for emergencies and use hybrid patch cords instead.

Test MM Fiber @ 1300nm?
Q: What is your opinion about the need for testing at 1300 nm on OM3 and OM4 fiber especially now that bend insensitive multimode fiber is taking over?
It’s unnecessary and costly. It’s rooted in the FDDI/100M days 25 years ago when 1300 LEDs were used and is now obsolete. The only actual uses at 1300nm I know are the extremely rare systems using 1310 lasers which may be standards but simply don’t seem to ever be used. As you say, BI fiber makes the issue of finding stresses moot.

Fiber In Service Loops
We designing a rural utility system that will be expanded to FTTH (or FTTR - fiber to the ranch in this case). We're wondering how much excess fiber in service loops to add. One software package is asking for 12% but that seems excess.
I have typically seen 100 feet on straight through boxes (reserves), 35-50 feet on cut ends for splicing and anywhere from 15-25 feet at the premise depending on how much is required for the termination device, positioning, etc. When rough estimating we have typically used 10% over linear distance.

Maintenance of Fiber Networks
Can you guide me how to prepare Optical Fiber Cable Annual Maintenance Proposal?
A: Basically, the network needs to be installed properly, fully tested and everything carefully documented. Then no routine maintenance is required. Most problems with fiber optic networks occurs when techs are working with it, e.g. damaging cables or getting connectors dirty when testing, so leaving it alone is the best plan.
Electronic transmission equipment can be tested anytime to ensure proper data transmission, but that does not involve accessing the fiber.
We have several things which may be of help:
You Tube Video: FOA Lecture 39 Maintaining Fiber Optic Networks
Web page: Maintenance

I have 4 questions about OTDRs:
What is dynamic range I read many time but can’t understand yet, whether it is a range of losses can be measured by OTDR for example if an OTDR has 45 dB dynamic range, it can read the losses of point up to 45 dB or what it means.
I do not believe there is a standard definition of dynamic range, but it is generally accepted to be the highest loss of the longest cable where you can see the end of the cable. That usually means using the longest test pulse and most averaging  and assuming the end of the cable has a significant reflection.

What is dead zone is it fixed in meters mean an OTDR cannot measure up to initial 5, 10 or 20 meter
The dead zone is a function of the pulse width and speed of the OTDR amplifier. For most OTDRs it’s about 2-3 times the test pulse width.

What Type of settings needed before launching a test
See FOA Lecture 18: OTDR Setup or the section "Modifying OTDR Setup Parameters For Best Test Results” in OTDR testing. A: Basically you set up wavelength(s), test pulse width (long enough to reach end of cable but short enough for best resolution), index of refraction or group velocity (a function of the fiber type and wavelength) and the number of averages (enough to mitigate noise but not take too long)

Reading a test with 1310nm and 1550nm - why values different for a same length of fiber.
The attenuation of the fiber will be different at each wavelength and the index of refraction which is different at each wavelength causes a difference in length. The OTDR measures length by measuring time and then multiplying that by the speed of light in the fiber (which is the inverse of the index of refraction.)

The FOA page "Frequently Asked Questions About OTDRs" answers these questions and more.

Getting Old Cables Out Of Conduit
How do you get old cables out of a conduit when they are stuck?
Usually we are concerned about reducing friction when pulling cables through conduit, but sometimes you need to get them out. Here is a page from American Polywater the leading lubricant company with advice on the subject.

Manufacturing Guide?
Is there a guide published by FOA that provides insight as to the process of fiber optic manufacturing? It's my understanding that the guide stresses quality and controls to ensure performance and reduce product loss?
A: We do have a guide for manufacturers. It is mostly aimed at communications systems and components manufacture. Here is a link to download it.

How Long Does Termination Take?

FOA received a request from a consultant recently wondering if we had information on the termination times for fiber optic cables. After some looking in our archives, we realized we had a document online that compared times for various fiber optic termination processes. The paper was written after several FOA instructors did a comprehensive time and motion study on termination processes. The document is about 15 years old but still relevant.

You can read it here in the FOA Online Guide.

Testing Connectors (From A Patchcord Maker)
What are the chief defining standard(s) that specifies connector and assembly IL (insertion loss) and RL (return loss or reflectance) for both SM and MM fiber?
A: The description on our Guide is here:  
FOTP-34 covers connector testing as a qualification test for the type of connector - basically a "destructive" test for connector manufacturers.
Reflectance is described on that page and here also:
Testing an assembly like a patchcord is covered under FOTP-107

Basic Tests For Fiber Optic Cable Plants
Q: I
did some research and I noticed that there is a bunch of tests that can be done to fiber optics and I was wondering if there is a list of primary tests that can be done as a basic test.
A: Fiber optic testing does have a hierarchy of tests.
  • At the top of the list is "insertion loss" testing which uses a light source and power  meter to test the fibers in the same way that a communications system transmits over the fiber. It is a simple test and the equipment needed is inexpensive.
  • Techs will also use a microscope to inspect the fiber optic connectors for dirt and damage, a big issue for fiber.
  • The instrument called an "OTDR" takes a snapshot of the fiber using a technique like radar. Most outside plant cables are tested with an OTDR and the data ( the snapshots are called "traces") stored for future reference. OTDRs are more expensive and require more training to use properly.
Here is a link to a page on the FOA Guide site that explains the technical,details:
FOA also has information just for users of fiber optic networks, see

How to Clean POF (plastic optical fiber)
Q: I heard that plastic fibres such as PMMA can suffer damage from cleaning from an alcohol solution. Are there alternate cleaning solutions available for these types of fibres."
A: You can use a 10/90 mix of  isopropyl alcohol/water. Typically use with a lint free swab. (from out POF consultants)

Testing Bare Fibers With OTDR
We are starting to test some OPGW cables. We have an OTDR but we don’t find some reusable connectors. If we have to test an OPGW with 48 fibres, we can’t set up 48 SC connectors!
Are there some reusable connectors in the commerce?
A: I assume you mean you need to test with a bare fiber on the OPGW. For testing bare fiber, use a splice, not a connector. Have a long pigtail on the OTDR as a launch cable, long enough for the test pulse to settle, say 100-500m, then use a splice for a temporary connection. You can fusion splice the fibers then cut the splice out or use a removable splice like the Corning Camsplice (
If you use a mechanical splice, you need a high quality cleaver just like with fusion splicing and after several uses, you need to add more index matching gel or liquid - mineral oil works OK.
See the FOA page on Testing Bare Fiber.

Is A Flashlight Test Adequate?

Q: I contracted a firm to install an OM3 of 200 meters. On one  end I have an SFP 1000SX ,on the other a 1000SX converter from optical to UTP. We made pings but they never reached, and I didn’t see the laser at the extreme of the fiber. They promised me to send me the certification they supposely made ,though they assured me the fiber is ok, because  WITH A FLASHLIGHT THEY SENT WHITE LIGHT FROM ONE SIDE TO THE OTHER AND IT WAS VISIBLE. I saw the light too, and I thought the culprit was my switch or my SFP. I want to know: is this a good demonstration that the fiber is ok?
A: A visual continuity test is not adequate - your eye is not calibrated! The power of the lamp is unimportant as each eye’s sensitivity is different. And your eye probably cannot see the light from a 850nm VCSEL source - most people’s eyes are not sensitive at that infrared wavelength. The installer should have tested the link with a light source and power meter ( and given you the loss in dB. The connectors should also be inspected with a microscope to ensure proper polishing and cleanliness ( If the SFP output is -6dBm, what is the power at the receiver? 1000base-SX is supposed to work with 4.5dB loss (see The fiber loss should be ~0.6 dB, so you must have >4dB connector losses! That says bad installation! The 1000SX link should work over 200m if the fiber has been properly installed.

Older Fiber?
I have some 62.5 mm and sm inside fiber plant over 20 years old.  When is a good time to upgrade?
A: When you need to or have to. If it's working OK, there is no need to upgrade!

"Connector Loss" or "Connection Loss"

Q: I have always counted the loss of a connector as .75 dB (568B-3) and 1.5 for a mated pair. Is that correct?
A: While the industry always says "connector" loss, it is actually "connection" loss. As we explain in the page on termination and splicing ( When we say "connector" loss, we really mean "connection" loss - the loss of a mated pair of connectors, expressed in "dB." Thus, testing connectors requires mating them to reference connectors which must be high quality connectors themselves to not adversely affect the measured loss when mated to an unknown connector. This is an important point often not fully explained.  In order to measure the loss of the connectors you must mate them to a similar, known good, connector. When a connector being tested is mated to several different connectors, it may have different losses, because those losses are dependent on the reference connector it is mated to."
The TIA spec of 0.75dB is for a mated pair of connectors. If you have been passing connectors tested @ 1.5dB may have some very bad connectors in your cabling!

Microscope Magnification (11/13)
I am doing a lot of fiber optic jumpers for control systems,  either single mode or multimode. I want to get a scope to inspect the ends after I clean them would you recommend a 200X,  400X handheld or one similar to a Noyes OFS 300 200C?
A: We prefer to use lower magnification and have a wider view so I can see more of the ferrule to determine its condition. You can see the fiber effectively at 100X but 200X may be better. 400X may be too much for most tasks like inspecting for cleanliness, but may be good if you are polishing SM for good reflectance. We've used the Westover units for years because they offer two different methods of illumination - direct and at an angle. If you are doing a lot of patchcords, I recommend a video microscope. I've used the Noyes unit that interfaces to a PC to create the FOA Microscope Inspection YouTube video here: and it works well.

Recycling Cabling
Who can I contact regarding recycling cable I am removing from a building?
A: Here are some people who say they recycle fiber optic cable or at least know how to do it:

Tech Hint: Did You Know You Have A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?
Yes! That old mobile phone has a camera which may be sensitive to infrared light - lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical fiber or from a transmitter.  Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I, Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication JATC sent us some photos showing how this works. See below or the video now on YouTube. Update: You should check out your old cell phones before you recycle them. We've found older models use sensors which are better at infrared than the newer ones which take better pictures. This is a good use for your old cell phones hiding in the drawer!

Fiber Cleaning
This is a topic we keep reminding everybody about, and here is why:
From a contrator in the Middle East: Here some samples of the connectors for SM fiber already installed in the system we were testing.
dirty connector   dirty connector
As you can see, the dirt is large compared to the size of the fiber (dark gray), and the core (not visible here) is only 9/125 of the overall diameter of the fiber!

Clean Every Connector - A Lesson We Learned From Creating Lessons
In creating the fiber characterization curriculum, we got inputs from many experienced techs about the testing requirements. Everyone we talked to made a big point about cleaning and inspecting connectors before testing. Dirty connectors are a major problem with errors in testing. We've also seen that many installers think that if a connector, especially new connectors, has a "dust cap" on the connector, it does not need cleaning. WRONG!

The common name for the plastic caps on connector ferrules is "dust cap" and a friend says they are called "dust caps" because they are full of dust. Those plastic caps are made by the millions, popped out of plastic molding machines into barrels and stored until put into plastic bags. Whenever you remove one of them, clean the connector before testing or connecting it.
More on connector cleaning is here and here

More on cleaningSee Product News below for links to vendors of fiber cleaning products.

What You Need To Know About Fiber Optic Cleaning And More
Ed Forrest, one of the industry experts on cleaning fiber optic connectors, retired about a year ago. We encouraged him to put down on paper what he knew about fiber cleaning and he took our advice. He's now created 4 books on cleaning topics that cover just about everything you need to know. And he added another volume that's also important - maintaining fusion splicers. We recommend these books highly.

How to Precision Clean All Fiber Optic Connections
Understanding Cross-Contamination Points on Fiber Optic Inspection & Test Equipment
Maintaining a Fiber Optic Fusion Splicer
Comparison Study of Precision Cleaning Methods for All Fiber Optic Connection

Whitepaper: The Significance to Optical Internconnect: Properly Cleaning a Fiber Optic Connection

Information on Ed's books is at

See news about Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube by ITW Chemtronics below.

Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube 

See news about Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube by ITW Chemtronics three fiber optic cleaning videos on YouTUbe covering Dry CleaningWet-Dry Method, FiberWash and Combination Cleaning. They are good explanations of cleaning processes - the Wet-Dry is especially interesting.

Measurement Uncertainty: 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 or Watching:

We are moving most of the articles in this section to the FOA's Pinterest Page "Worth Reading" - Go there for the latest links

Sign up at the FOA  Pinterest board Pinterest

FOA "Quickstart Guides"

In our continuing quest to help people understand how to test fiber optic cable plants and communications systems, we've created two more "QuickStart Guides to Fiber Optic Testing." They are simple, step-by-step guides on how to test fiber optic cable plants, patchcords or single cables using insertion loss or OTDR techniques and optical power from transceivers. It's as straightforward as it can get - what equipment do you need, what are the procedures for testing, options in implementing the test, measurement errors and documenting the results.
It can't get much simpler.
Send anybody you know who needs to know about fiber optic testing here to learn how it's done in a few minutes.

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords  

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR  

Measuring Optical Power In Communications Systems 

New Edition Of Eric Pearson's Fiber Optic "Cookbook"

EP book

Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies Inc. announced the availability of Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v.9. This recently updated training, field, and reference text is a comprehensive presentation of the information essential to successful fiber optic installation.  This text assists the installer in achieving the three elements of success: low power loss, high reliability, and low installation cost. This text is the ideal tool for three types: those who wish to become professional fiber optic installers; for instructors who want to use the most comprehensive training manual available; and for those who want to pass the Fiber Optic Association CFOT and CFOS/C/S/T certification examinations. Continuously developed and tested over the last 24 years during both fieldwork and training presentations, this text includes both the information essential to understand the reasons for the installation rules and detailed procedures for installation, inspection, certification, and testing of cables, connectors, and splices.

The new edition, #9, is available on

Like Crossword Puzzles? Here's Some On Fiber Optics

EP crossword

Do you like crossword puzzles? How about one on fiber optics - or maybe a half-dozen of them? FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies has created a series of crossword puzzles on fiber optics that are keyed to the FOA CFOT reference materials and his book Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v.9. You can have fun and study fiber optics at the same time!

This months crossword puzzle is on "Optoelectronics and Splicing" - Download the crossword puzzle on 
"Optoelectronics and Splicing."

If you missed the earlier puzzles, here they are:
Download the PDF file of the crossword on "Light and Fiber".
Download the PDF file of the crossword puzzle on "Cables".
Download the crossword on "Connectors & Splices."

Older Fiber, Do You Know How Good It Is?

There's millions of miles of long distance fiber installed around the world and most of it likely to see an upgrade of the systems operating on it, probably in the near future. Twenty years ago, most of it was probably running at ~1Gb/s, ten years ago it was probably 2.5 Gb/s, recently it was likely to be 10Gb/s but now many are being considered for 100Gb/s or beyond. Can the fiber support such speeds? Can it be "repaired" or "modified" to make it possible to use it at higher speeds? If you own that fiber, can you say what it is worth without knowing its future upgrade capability.

In order to know the potential for upgrades on your cable plant, you need to test it. This process involves a number of tests and is called "fiber characterization." Greg Stearns of TTP-US, an FOA Corporate Member, performs these tests and has written a short article on why you need to characterize fiber and how its done. Read about fiber characterization from someone who does it often and can explain it well.

Download the paper here (PDF, 80kB).

Demystifying Singlemode Fiber Types

Singlemode fiber has a lot of names and users are confused by the different names depending on the standards organization you refer to IEC, ITU or TIA designation. Most widely used are the ITU G65X designations but even there we find many designations. Shaun Trezise of M2FX has posted a simple explanation on the company blog that helps explain the different types and where they are used.  Read more on the M2FX blog 

There is a cross reference to the IEC, ITU and TIA designations on the FOA Guide.

EXFO Offers Super Posters And More


EXFO offers some super posters, guides and books. The FTTx and OTDR posters are really useful! Look at the whole selection here.

Getting Cables Out Of Conduit

Usually we are concerned about reducing friction when pulling cables through conduit, but sometimes you need to get them out. Here is a page from American Polywater the leading lubricant company with advice on the subject.

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

What Happens To Old Fibers?
In a recent web search, we found this article from Corning, reprinted from a IWCS presentation in 1995. It discusses extensive tests on a 1984 cable installed in the northern US to see how it had degraded in almost 10 years. It is interesting to see how the fiber survived OSP exposure. Read it here.

Australia's Standard Is Comprehensive Guide To Customer Cabling (Get your copy free)
In answering a recent technical questino, Trevor Conquest in Australia pointed to the Australian Standard  "Installation Requirements For Customer Cabling." When we checked, it is on the web and can be downloaded. It's a big book - 220 pages - full of details for fiber and copper installations. We recommend you download yourself a copy - go here.

AU Std

Demystify fiber inspection probe technical specifications - From EXFO
The intent of this application note is to promote a better understanding of video inspection probe specifications and features. Properly understanding the key specifications and features will greatly facilitate the decision process involved in acquiring such devices. Understanding the key aspects of fiber inspection probes will also help users understand how fiber inspection probes operate, thus enabling them to maximize the full potential of these devices. Read more.

Where In The US Do Contractors Need Licenses For Fiber Optics?

We often get asked where in the US do contractors doing fiber optic installations need licenses. We found a good website for that information, the NECA -NEIS website. You might remember NECA-EIS, as they are the partner with the FOA in the NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard. NECA is the National Electrical Contractors Association and NEIS stands for National Electrical Installation Standards. They have a very easy to use map and table that gives you data on every state in the US, so mark these pages for future reference.

NECA/NEIS (See “State Regulations”) (all electrical licensing)
Low Voltage:

How Is Fiber Manufactured?

Manufacturing fiber at OFS

OFS invites you on a tour of their multimode fiber manufacturing facilities in this new 5-minute video. You will see their highly automated manufacturing operation in Sturbridge, Mass., including their patented MCVD preform fabrication process to fiber draw and final product testing. With a technological heritage dating back to AT&T and Bell Labs, OFS has been manufacturing high-quality multimode fiber since 1981.
Watch the video here.

Benchmarking Fusion Splicing And Selecting Singlemode Fiber
We've been asked many times "How long does it take to splice a cable?" It's not a simple answer as it varies with the number of fibers in the cable and the work setup, including whether one or two techs are working at a job site. FOA Master Instructor Joe Botha of Triple Play in South Africa did his own analysis based on decades of experience both splicing cables and teaching others how to do it properly. This is one of the best analyses we have seen because Joe includes prep times as well as splicing times and differentiates between one tech and two techs working together. He adds some other tips on fusion splicing too. This should be mandatory reading for every tech and given to every student! Here is Joe's splicing analysis. 

Joe also has an excellent writeup on how to choose singlemode fiber that helps understanding the different types of G.6xx fiber. Read it here.
And you will want to read Joe's report on splicing different types of SM fiber, including bend-insensitive (G.657) fiber. Read it here.

Free - Mike Holt's Explanation Of The US National Electrical Code (NEC) For Communications Cables
Mike Holt is the acknowledged expert of the US National Electrical Code (NEC). His books and seminars are highly praised for their ability to make a very complicated standard (that is in fact Code - law - in most areas of the US) easily understood. Part of the appeal is Mike's great drawings that make understanding so much easier. Mike makes Chapter 8 of his book available free. It covers communications cables, telephones, LANs, CATV and CCTV, for premises applications. Even if you live in a region or country where the NEC is not the law, you may find this interesting.
Download Mike's Chapter Here

Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube
ITW Chemtronics has three fiber optic cleaning videos on videos covering Dry CleaningWet-Dry Method, FiberWash and Combination Cleaning. They are good explanations of cleaning processes - the Wet-Dry is especially interesting.
Download yourself a copy and read it

Good Technical Website For Installers
American Polywater ( has one of the best technical website for cable installers. Check out their website, especially “Videos,” “Engineer’s Corner” and  “Calculators.”

Fiber Optic Safety Poster
We've had numerous requests to reprint our guidelines on safety when working with fiber optics, so we have created a "Safety Poster" for you to print and post in your classroom, worksite, etc. We suggest giving a copy to every student and installer.


FOA Tech Topics - 

A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?  (See the video on Corning on YouTube )
Yes! The camera in your old cell phone is sensitive to infrared light - lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical fiber or from a transmitter.  Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I, Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication JATC brought this to our attention.
IR Viewer 850 nm  IR Viewer 1300 nm

If you have an old cell phone, try it. Our experience is that older cell phone cameras have better sensitivity at IR wavelengths than newer phones, so you may want to toss that old flip phone into the toolbox.


Product News

YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking

Yokogawa OTDR

One OTDR manufacturer you don't hear as much about is YOKOGAWA (formerly ANDO) which is too bad - they make some of the best OTDRs, exemplified by this new model AQ7280. Need long range - how about 50dB. High resolution - 0.6m dead zone. Like touch screens, but for some functions want hard buttons, it's got that. Options for VFL, microscope, light source and power meter, etc. - it has that too.
But the unique aspect of the YOKOGAWA AQ7280 is it offers multitasking - you can let do a trace with long averages while you inspect connectors, make power readings, use the VFL or other functions.
More info on the YOKOGAWA AQ7280.

FOA thanks Yokogawa for a gift of an OTDR to use for R&D and teaching!

Recycling Communications Cable

FOA was contacted by a company that recycles electronics communications equipment and cabling. CommuniCom recycles cable/metals/e-waste for Telcos and CATVs. They also recycle Fiber Optic Cable and associated Materials (the fiber scrap). And, they reclaim OSP abandoned copper cables (abandoned from road moves or FTTx growth). This is a huge part of our business. They do the work (permitting/locates/labor) for free and we revenue share back with our clients (telcos).

Contact Steve Maginnis
803.371.5436 (cell)

Micro-Trenching, Cable Removal
Nano-Trench offers products for micro (or I guess they call it nano-) trenching and their website is very informative. They also have Kabel-X, a method of extracting copper cables from old conduit. Both websites are informative and interesting. Watch this video on the cable removal process!

Protecting Pedestals From Rodents
Pedestals and underground vaults can be damaged by rodents who come up through the base and damage cables. Uraseal "Drain N'Seal" foam deters mice from taking up residence in your pedestals. They have some good videos on using their product.

Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

Have you read the FOA pages on cleaning?


FTTH Notes:

Want To Learn More About FTTx? Try our free online self-study program at Fiber U.


 Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

There is a toll-free "call before you dig" number in the USA: 811

See for more information

National Fiber Optic Protection Summit by the "811" group.

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   


Employment/Job Listings

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

Fiber Optic Installation Banner

The FOA was chartered to "promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards." Our focus on creating a professional workforce to properly design, install, maintain and repair communications network infrastructure has led us to work with groups in many different areas of technology that use fiber optics, way beyond the basic telecom applications that most of us think of first. FOA has probably worked with most of the potential applications of fiber optics, but we're always learning about new ones!
In addition, we get lots of calls and emails from our members looking for information about where the jobs are and how to train for them. FOA has created three ways to help you find jobs, train for them and apply for them.

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?
FOA has created a 20 minute YouTube video that talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs are involved and the qualifications for the workers in the field. Besides telecom and the Internet, we cover wireless, cable TV, energy, LANs, security, etc. etc. etc. It's a quick way to get an overview of the fiber optic marketplace and we give you an idea of where the opportunities are today.

Watch the new FOA YouTube Video: Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

What Training Is Needed For The Jobs In Fiber Optics?
As you will learn from the video described above, the jobs in fiber optics are quite diverse. FOA has investigated these jobs to understand the needs of workers for those jobs and, when necessary, create curriculum and certifications to properly train workers. For example, the FOA FTTx certification was developed at the request of Verizon who needed specialized installers for their FiOS program. Now we are working with the industry on the OLAN (Optical LAN) program (see below).
We have summarized the jobs and required training in a new web page that has two uses - 1) If you have FOA certifications, what jobs are you specifically qualified for? - 2) If you are working in a specialized field or want to get a job in that area, what training and certifications will qualify you for those jobs?
What Training And Certifications Are Needed For Jobs In Fiber Optics? 

How To Find And Apply For Jobs In Fiber Optics
We get many questions from CFOTs, students at FOA-Approved schools and others contemplating getting into the fiber optic business regarding jobs in fiber optics - and how to find them - so we’ve created a new web page to share some information we've gathered about jobs in our industry. The information is designed to help you understand what jobs are available in fiber optics, how to find them and apply for them.
If you are looking for a job in fiber optics, here is the FOA's guide to jobs. 

We hope you find this useful. FOA tries to find new to increase the professionalism in our industry and helping qualified people find jobs is our highest priority - read the article below to see why! If you have feedback on how we can help you and our industry, contact us at

Join FOA on 
FOA on LinkedIn

A list of 10 ways to get your resume noticed, from Marketplace on NPR   

Electrical/Low Voltage Workers in Wisconsin
Casey Healey, Business Agent for IBEW Local 159 in McFarland,WI suggested a link to the Wisconsin Electrical Workers on the FOA jobs website. They have nine IBEW locals that cover the entire state of Wisconsin. All nine locals use this website in search of low voltage technicians that are certified in copper or fiber. After an individual fills out the employment opportunities form on the website a representative from that person's area would be in contact with them to discuss job opportunities within the IBEW as a low voltage apprentice, trainee or a technician. In Wisconsin they teach the 3 year NJATC Voice Data Video apprenticeship program. WI JATCs use the books that FOA has written for the NJATC in their curriculum

Voice/Data Technicians For Mpls/St. Paul, MN Metro Area (9/2016)

Work in the Voice/Data installation industry as a Low Voltage technician. Spend your day installing voice/data lines, terminating and testing connections, reading blueprints and see the reward of building a Voice and Data network! Receive medical, dental, life insurance benefits and enjoy a great work environment.

Interested technicians can respond with a resume to

Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer 

Broadband America Corp
1772 Stieger Lake Lane • Victoria, MN 55386

Job Openings  - NOTE: Job openings are posted immediately on FOA's Linked In and Facebook pages! (07/2016)

Splice Tech
Experienced fiber optic splice technician with a minimum of three years
experience. Must be familiar with indoor/outdoor fusion splice of fiber
optic cable. Knowledge of OTDR/Power Meters required. Must be willing to
work weekends and nights.
Location: San Jose
Open to US Citizens
Salary negotiable.

Send resume to  <>

 Do listings in the FOA Newsletter and LinkedIn groups Work? Here's feedback:

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

"Your newsletter generated a significant number of applicants and we have filled the position."



 FOA Logo Merchandise

New FOA Swag! Shirts, Caps, Stickers, Cups, etc.
FOA T Shirt
The FOA has created a store on offering lots of new logo merchandise. It has lots of versions of shirts and other merchandise with "FOA," "Fiber U," "Lennie Lightwave" designs and more so you should find something just for you! See FOA on Zazzle.

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 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!

Contact FOA at to get logos in file format for your use.


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.  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.

Time To Renew Your FOA Membership/CFOT?

To keep your FOA certifications and membership active, you need to renew every year (or two or three, longer times save you money.)
You can now renew with PayPal
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