March, 2004

Previous Issues: January, 2004, December, 2003, November, 2003 October 2003 September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, March 15, 2003, October, 2002 , August, 2002, May, 2002

Notes From OFC 2004
February went by much too fast for us, as your editor was travelling over half the month, including visiting the OSA/IEEE Optical Fiber Communications Show (OFC) in Los Angeles in late February. OFC had lots of exhibitors - maybe more exhibitor personnel than actual visitors when we were there. About half the exhibitors, and certainly the majority of passive component vendors, were from the Far East.
For those of us in fiber optics for a long time, OFC is a chance to catch up with old friends and see how the tecchnology is developing, or in the case of multimode fiber, making a revival and having the same problems it had with bandwidth 20 years ago.
Here are some highlights from the show:
1310 VCSELs
Picolight showed production transceivers using the devices, Infineon had prototypes and Honeywell said they are in reliability testing. We've been anticipating these devices for thier lower cost, perhaps enought to drive many links to SM fiber with its practically infiinte bandwidth. However, Picolight pointed out another big - BIG - advantage: the narrower spectral width of the VCSEL, much narrower than Fabry-Perot devices and even DFBs, allows longer links in long distance networks because it suffers less chromatic dispersion. These devices have some really big potential.
Tools & Test Equipment
Test equipment seems to be getting more and more integrated, with more functions and capability. Circadiant showed a network tester for up to 10G Ethernet that was not much larger than a mini OTDR. All the tester companies had OTDRs with modules to allow adaptation to test for performance issues you probably didn't know existed. AFS (Noyes) had new fiber cleaning packs for connectors and alignment sleeves that uses an optical cleaning fluid that is non-hazardous and shippable, a big improvement over isopropyl alcohol. Even LOCTITE, the adhesive people, showed up to pitch their anaerobic adhesives for fiber optics, including some packages of smaller amounts, more in line with the miniscule amounts you use in termination.
Otherwise, the hall was filled with companies showing lasers, couplers, DWDM parts and systems, and dozens - maybe hundreds - of gadgets that you probably never knew existed or what they might be used for. That's OFC, the top of the tech heap in fiber optics.
10 Gigabit Ethernet On FDDI Fiber
The IEEE is working on several new versions of 10G Ethernet , including one to work over legacy multimode fiber, the so-called "FDDI" fiber with 160 MHz-km bandwidth at 850 nm and 500 MHz-km at 1300 nm. The idea is to have a version that will run over the most common fiber in networks today, albeit at shorter distances. Work continues on copper versions too, with a 15 meter link running on shielded 4-pair cable approved, intended for use between devices in a data center. A structured cabling version running on a high bandwidth UTP cable with 625 MHz bandwidth is also in process, that effectively kills off today's Cat 6. Since 10GbE will have to have a new, very different UTP cable, fiber may be a more viable alternative for many users.
Fiber Costs Vs Copper Costs
Is fiber to the home viable? The TIA Fiber Optic LAN Sections (FOLS) has developed a cost model that helps users understand the real cost issues. It's done by FOA board member Eric Pearson and is quite detailed. Take a look at and note the dates of some of their web conferences on fiber LANs.
Train The Trainer Programs
The next FOA TTT program will be in Cincinnati this June. A full week of training is planned - 3 days of basic fiber optics and 2 days on teaching it. Attendees who complete the program successfully get their Instructor Certification (CFOS/I).
Look for an update at and details on signing up for it.

New Tech Topics

Plastic Optical Fibers (POF)

Wavelength-Division Multiplexing

Fiber Amplifiers

Eric Pearson's Newsletters - with some tests on connectors.

New sections of "Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics" covers loss testing of fiber optic cables and OTDRs.

Interested In Advanced Certification?

If you think you might, download and print yourself a FOA Logbook to keep track of your experience and traning. It will help you qualify for the CFOS certifications.

Your Name, CFOT - It pays to advertise!

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

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

Remember To Renew Your Certification !

Remember to renew your FOA certification. All current CFOTs have a ID Card with their certification data and we keep a database of current CFOTs to answer inquiries regarding your qualifications if needed. If you forgot to renew, use the online application form or the FOA online store to renew NOW!

Want To Get FOA Email?
We have been asked if we could send the FOA newsletter by email or post it on the website. We are looking into that and will definitely get one started soon. When you renew your certification, you will be asked if you are interested in email newsletters and if so, you will be asked to give your email address for us to use in a mailing list. If you want to get started now, send an email to with the subject "eMail List"
Note that The FOA never releases its mailing lists for any use! Your data is always safe with us.

To Contact The FOA:
The Fiber Optic Association
1119 S Mission Road, # 355
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Office Hours 10AM-5 PM Pacific Time
Telephone: 760-451-3655
Fax: 781-207-2421

Officers and
Board of Directors
Jim Hayes, President, Treasurer
Elias Awad, Clerk, Director of Education
Eric Pearson, Director of Certification
Tom Collins, Gateway Comm. College
Van Ewert, AESA
Bill Graham
Karen Hayes
FOA Staff:
Jim Hayes, newsletter, website editor
Karen Hayes, Administration

The FOA is managed under contract by:
1119 S Mission Road, # 355
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Telephone: 760-451-3655
Fax: 781-207-2421
FOA Board of Advisors
Elias Awad, Clerk, Director of Education
Tony Beam
Dave Chaney
F. Douglas Elliot, Past President
William H. Graham
Jim Hayes, President, Treasurer
John Highhouse, Past President
Danny S. Lyall
Eric Y. Loytty
Bob Mason
Eric Pearson
Paul Rosenberg, Past President
Dan Silver
Richard James Smith
Dominick Tamone
Tom Collins
Van Ewert

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