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August/September, 2017


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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.


Helping in Texas and Florida
Remember When Fiber Was "Cool"
Fiber Costs, Complaints And Solutions
A Most Interesting Installation in Greenland
Fiber Connects New Atlanta Stadium
FOA Welcomes 3 New Schools
Is Cable The Current Big Development Focus?
New Maxcell Innerduct
Another Sign Copper's Fading
EasySplicer Introduces Upgrades, LC SOCs
"Pole Wars" Update


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

Membership & Certification  
CFOT Total


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

Like Crossword Puzzles? Try These.

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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CFOT Renewals
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.
1/17, 2/17, 3/17, 4/17, 5/17, 6/17, 7/17
1/16, 2/16, 3/16,  4/16, 5/166/167-8/16, 9/16, 10/16, 11/16, 12/16     
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

The FOA logo, CFOT® , Fiber U® - The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA.
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 FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

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

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Helping Storm-Ravaged Areas In Texas and Florida

pole damage
Utility pole damage in Texas The Atlantic

FOA is already hearing from these areas that have been devastated by the recent hurricanes. After such disasters, rebuilding the infrastructure is one of the most important - if behind the scenes - activities. Over the years, we've helped many areas recruit and train personnel for this important task.

One FOA school, EDS Tech in Houston, was flooded and much of their equipment survived but a lot of their supplies were damaged. They are trying to get back on their feet as soon as possible. The city of Houston is providing them with a trailer for a classroom. FOA is trying to help. We've sent them a shipment of books already.

Now we're asking manufacturers and distributors as well as other schools to help. If you can supply equipment or components like connectors, splices and cables, it will be greatly appreciated.

If you can help, contact EDS directly:

Marcus Williams
EDS Tech - FOA Approved School #351   
757 375-0819

Quite a few new questions from readers this month in Q&A

Remember When Fiber Was "Cool"?

Thirty years ago fiber optics made it's big time public debut. AT&T had been publicizing it for a decade already, starting with the first commercial applications connecting telephone exchanges with fiber optic cables installed in the coal tunnels of Chicago. AT&T was the source of a great PR photo that FOA still uses in many of its presentations - a photo that speaks for itself:

fiber copper comparison

But post-divestiture (1984), more companies started installing fiber, including MCI and Sprint. It was Sprint that really got the public interested in fiber with their "Pin Drop" TV ads. The premise of the series of ads was simple - the quality and clarity of telephone conversations carried over fiber was so good you could hear a "pin drop." There was a lot of truth to that, since copper cables or microwave radios were hardly quiet in those days and digital signals over optical fiber gained its advantages from digital transmission over low-loss optical fibers.

Fortunately, those ads have been saved and many are still on YouTube. Here is one of our favorites - an early one from 1986-7.

Sprint Pin Drop Commercial

View the commercial on YouTube. For more Sprint "Pin Drop" ads, search YouTube for "Sprint Pin Drop Commercial."

Fiber Costs, Complaints And Solutions

We've recently read a number of reports that deal with numbers - costs in particular - that are very interesting reading. We'll give you some interesting quotes and comments and leave it to you to read the entire article.

Telcos Move to Sharing Economy as Fiber Dream Grips Europe (Bloomberg)

The sharing economy is spreading to European telecommunications providers, which are collaborating to speed the delivery of ultra-fast broadband over fiber-optic cables. Carriers like Orange SA and Vodafone Group Plc have long partnered on mobile-phone masts and equipment to save money. They’re starting to take a similar approach with fiber as they prepare for the data demands of next-generation applications like virtual reality and self driving cars.

(Of course sharing cell towers in the US is common. In fact the telcos have sold off most of their cell towers to independent operators like Crown Castle and American Tower and lease back space on the towers to save costs.)

Preliminary talks reported this week between Vodafone and BT Group Plc in the U.K., where full-fiber coverage sits at 2 percent, may widen a trend that’s also taken hold in Spain and Portugal, where fiber is directly available to more than 70 percent of buildings.

Vodafone has been one of the biggest advocates. In Ireland, the carrier partnered with Electricity Supply Board, a power utility, to create a wholesale fiber venture. In Portugal, Vodafone did separate deals with Portugal Telecom and Optimus and later acquired the network it built with Optimus. In Spain, the U.K.-based carrier first teamed up with Orange, but now supplements its own network by paying Telefonica for access to the much-larger national fiber grid the former Spanish monopoly built. Orange, meanwhile, has coinvestment and access-sharing agreements with Masmovil Ibercom SA.

Fiber costs about 500 pounds ($641) per home passed in the U.K., and operators typically need a 30 percent take-up rate to make a decent return, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

(Sharing fiber networks is not uncommon but as the article states the agreements can be difficult to negotiate.)

Here's why the value of fiber has grown 31% since 2015 (Fierce Telecom)

Crown Castle’s recent $7 billion purchase of Lightower shows that service providers that want to take advantage of the burgeoning small cell market are willing to pay a premium for fiber assets. Crown Castle, which has primarily served as a supplier of towers to the wireless industry has in less than two years transformed itself into a major fiber provider, purchasing three fiber operators: FiberNet, Sunesys and 24/7 Mid-Atlantic.

Kagan (a media research group)  estimates that Crown Castle’s purchase of Lightower is the second most expensive per fiber-mile at $221,875 per fiber mile. Interestingly, Crown Castle’s recently completed acquisition of Southern California-based Wilcon was $315,789 a mile.

But what’s even more telling is the overall growing pricing of fiber assets. According to Kagan, the average U.S. value per fiber optic mile passed has grown at a 31% CAGR since 2015 from $131,818 per mile in 2015 to an average of $227,139 per mile for the two deals so far in 2017.

NTCA 2016 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report

For nearly two decades, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association has conducted its annual Broadband/Internet Availability Survey to gauge the deployment rates of advanced services by its member companies.

100% of the 2016 survey respondents offer broadband to some part of their customer bases, compared with the 58% of the year 2000 survey respondents who offered the then-lower definition of broadband service.

Respondents indicated that they use a variety of technologies within their respective serving areas to provide at least basic levels of broadband to their customers.
41% of respondents’ broadband customers are served via fiber to the home (FTTH)
36% via copper loops
12% cable modem
9% fiber to the node (FTTN)
1% licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless
0.2% satellite.

52% of those survey respondents currently deploying fiber serve at least 50% of their customers with FTTH
24% serve 20% of their customers or less via such technology.

82% of those respondents with a fiber deployment strategy plan to offer fiber to the node to more than 75% of their customers by year-end 2019
31% have already completed fiber deployments to all customers.
66% plan to offer fiber to the home to at least 50% of their customers over the same time frame.

Deployment cost remains the most significant barrier to widespread deployment of fiber, followed by:
Regulatory uncertainty
Long loops
Current regulatory rules
Low customer demand
Obtaining financing
Fiber order fulfillment delays
Obtaining cost-effective equipment.
Throughout the history of the survey, deployment cost has been respondents’ most significant concern.

And one company reporting quoted the highest FTTH connection cost we’ve seen - $10M for 973 customers for FTTH - that’s more than $10,000 per customer!

While you are reading these, you might find this interesting - a history of rural communications on the NTCA website.

A Most Interesting Installation In Greenland

Ian Gordon Fudge or FiberDK, who routinely trains in the far North, sent us photos of his latest class in Greenland involving OPGW, submarine cables and some really beautiful terrain. (Photos by Ian too - he's quite an accomplished photographer!)

Fiber DK in Greenland

The project involved installing a cable connecting Aasiaat on the Western coast of Greenland to Sisimiut, Manitsog and Nuuk and connecting to the landing of the Transatlantic cable Greenland Connect North.

Cable map

This cable will connect the Transatlantic cable to the NW coast of Greenland.

Continued below

There's more below....

A Most Interesting Installation In Greenland


The cable is being installed aerially, because, as you can see, the terrain is not very good for underground installations and the cost would be astronomical.  Because of the difficult environmental conditions with lots of ice in the winter, the choice of cable was OPGW, able to withstand the winds, ice, and just about anything else from the local weather. While this run includes no repeaters, there will be requirements for power in the future so a power cable is being run underneath the OPGW. The fiber is super low loss G.654 with an attenuation coefficient of 0.159 dB per km.

Ian Gordon Fudge

Here is Ian in the class

cable prep

Two students prep the OPGW cable

splice closure

Two students preparing the entrance of the splice closure


Preparing the closure for splicing

Thanks to FOA instructor Ian Gordon Fudge of FiberDK for this story and photos.

4000 Miles (6500 km) Of Fiber Connects New Atlanta Stadium

Atlanta Stadium

Atlanta's new Mercedes Benz Stadium is just opening but it's ready for high tech fans. Here are some impressive numbers: 4000 miles of optical fiber connect the stadium's digital infrastructure. The original plan was for 1000 DAS/WiFi access points but the total has been upped to 1800 to accommodate the traffic from 70,000+ fans. Connections to two 40G trunks should allow everybody to stream video simultaneously. Everything else is on fiber too - from ticket turnstiles to concession stand cash registers to the 2500 video screens in the facility. IBM was he systems integrator and used Corning One DAS/WiFi equipment.  Read more on MobileSportsReport. And this article from SportsTechie has some great photos.

Welcome To 5 New FOA Schools

The FOA network of training organizations offering CFOT (and more) certifications continues to expand. This month we welcome five new schools including Tellabs Training Services, Rally Training Services and the Springfield, MA JATC.

Tellabs Training Services, Dallas TX school #363

Rally Training Services, Genola, UT, USA #364

Mundo Interconnect LLC, Mansfield, MA USA #365  (teaching in Ecuador)
Springfield Electrical JATC, Springfield MA school #653

Fiber Optic Training Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada #366

Is Cable The Current Big Development Focus?

It seems like fiber optic component development goes in waves. A problem arises, some solutions are offered, the best ones get developed, and of course copied, until the idea becomes widely accepted. Exceptions occur, of course, when enterprising developers tie up the ideas in patents, but for the most part good ideas become industry accepted de facto standards.

A recent example is splice-on connectors. We do not know who started offering the fusion splice-on connector (SOC) but we've found references back to around 2010-11. The wide acceptance of them is much more recent, started in part by the success of the massive volumes being used in singlemode fiber cable plants for mega data centers. Following that was the development of low-cost portable fusion splicers aimed at volume installations like FTTH. Now everybody seems to offer SOCs and they appear to be well on their way to becoming the most popular means of termination.

Cable has been the subject of development since the beginning of fiber optics, but mainly in terms of adapting designs to particular applications. Underground in conduit led to direct burial cable which required armor to prevent crushing or rodent penetration. Aerial cables were developed to allow high tension after installation, making ADSS - all dielectric self-supporting cable - a very popular option for OSP installations. Specialty cables like submarine cables or OPGW - optical power ground wire - are small volume but have had a big impact on the expansion of the world's communications systems.

High Fiber Count Small Cables

Two years ago at the OFC conference, we saw a Prysmian cable that had an immense number of fibers in a small cable - 1728 fibers in a cable less than an inch (25mm) diameter.

Prysmian cable

High fiber count cables, over 3000 fibers in some cases, had been made before, but they were were very large. This cable was very small in comparison because it used two new developments,  bend-insensitive fiber that allowed crowding fibers close together without affecting performance and the smaller buffer coating (~200 microns) that BI fiber made possible. Standard buffer tubes could now handle double the number of fibers (24) and cables could be made more compact. The colored tubes you see are buffer tubes, not fibers by the way.

This particular Prysmian cable was intended for data center applications where there are massive numbers of links (100,000+ in a mega data center) but similar cables are being used in metropolitan backbones where large fiber counts are also needed.

This past Spring, a network entrepreneur sent me a photo of this cable shot with his phone at a trade show.

Corning MiniXtend Cable

That's a Corning MiniXtend cable with 288 fibers in a 9.7mm diameter! The size of the cable alone is a major accomplishment, but the installation method for which it's designed is even more important. It's designed to be blown into microducts as shown in this Corning graphic.

Corning MiniXtend Cable

Here are some typical duct configurations from Corning's datasheet.

Corning MiniXtend Cable in Ducts

Blowing cable is different from blowing fibers, a technique proposed decades ago for FTTH but dealing with bare fibers seemed to make some people uneasy and the costs exceed the benefits (being able to blow our fibers and blow in new ones). Blowing cable into microducts is very popular in many cities around the world where density is great and space limited.

Here is FOA Instructor Joe Botha's class learning the techinques of blowing cable at a recent Triple Play Fiber Optics school class in South Africa.

Blown cable

Technically you don't really "blow" fiber optic micro cable into the duct, you float it on air to reduce friction and use the air flow to help you push the cable through the duct. Having a small cable with light weight is important when blowing cable.

Corning's website on MiniXtend cables also points out an important possibility with microducts and blown cable - adding cables to current conduits and ducts. Here is how you can add cables to common 1.25" innerduct.

Corning microcables
Adding cables into ducts is a great idea. To date, the most obvious solution has been the MaxCell fabric ducts that can be pulled into existing conduit and ducts (see their new versions below) This method is another possibility that is perhaps more conventional than the fabric ducts but installation costs should be compared.

Another advantage of the microducts is they are small enough to install in cities by microtrenching. Microtrenching saws a narrow and shallow groove in a highway, drops in a microduct and fills the groove. It's quick and easy and much cheaper than trenching.


There are many different designs for microducts, so you must be able to find one that meets your needs. Here is a photo sent to us by the same person who sent the photo of the microcable with the dime above. These are sample microducts sent to him from Emtelle, a manufacturer of microducts.

fiber microduct samples

Upgrades are a problem faced by many organizations today. Metropolitan networks are being investigated to develop plans to support hundreds or thousands of small cells, smart street lights and traffic lights, video cameras and other sensors and communications links projected to fill smart cities in the near future. If this method offers a simple, low cost solution, it's going to be adopted by a large number of users.

"Rollable Ribbon" Cable

Another cabling development seems to be coming into its own - a modification to ribbon cable that removes the problem of its lack of flexibility but retains its advantage of management and mass splicing. This is called "rollable ribbon" by its developer NTT and here is their drawing that illustrates it from the FOA Newsletter back in January 2013.

Rollable ribbon cable NTT

Most recently, OFS introduced their version of a high-density cable called "AccuTube+ Rollable Ribbon."

OFS Rollable Ribbon   OFS

Note the large number of fibers in each buffer tube. These cables can be handled just like regular loose tube cable but the fibers can be spliced as ribbons.

(And note the dry water-blocking fabric in the cable - that's got to be one of the most useful cable developments ever!)

Now if only we had low-cost high-quality ribbon splicers!

MaxCell Edge Offers Reduced Pulling Tension, Classic Orange Color

We've talked about MaxCell fabric innerduct in the FOA Newsletter before, noting their unique design that maximizes conduit space compared to normal plastic innerduct. We have also described their process to remove old innerduct and replace it with their fabric innerduct. (FOA Newsletter, September 2016).

MaxCell Edge Innerduct

MaxCell Edge has a new patented fabric design, resulting in up to 20% reduction in pulling tension over previous generations. Just like its predecessors, the Edge product will solve cabling issues in smaller ducts and overlay applications with the added benefit of easier identification in a new Telco orange color. With the patented 1250# Vis™ Glide rope in each cell, installers will see decreased pulling tension versus traditional tape.

Another Sign That Copper's Fading

Verizon Next Generation Broadband Strategy: We’ll Pass on and Stick With FTTP*

Verizon has been using VDSL and ethernet over copper to reach individual units in MDUs, when bringing fiber to its basement. They’ve run into considerable operational and interoperability challenges with this approach, O’Byrne, Verizon, noted. “We see ourselves in this same situation with five years from now,” O’Byrne explained.

As a result, Verizon would rather take the time and extra expense to run fiber all the way to each individual unit. O’Byrne admitted that is a somewhat unconventional approach, but one that Verizon feels will be worth it in the long run.

*FTTP - fiber to the premises - is how Verizon often refers to FTTH

EasySplicer Introduces Upgrades LC SOCs - Splice-On Connectors

The manufacturers of the EasySplicer have been supporting many of the FOA schools with their fusion splicer. Our schools like them because they are simple, easy to use rugged and reliable, important for being used in the classroom or the field. The company has just introduced an upgrade with some new features and improvements including the availability of LC SOCs which is important for data centers and high speed networks. Upgrades include long life electrodes (5000 fuses) and a higher temperature oven that can shrink SOC sleeves better. A upgraded cleaver now includes a fiber trash bin to keep fiber shards off the workbench. And software updates provide better functionality.

EasySplicer Mk 2

For more information go here (worldwide) or here (US) or contact the manufacturer for your local EasySplicer distributor.

"Pole Wars" Update

Pole Wars

Google Fiber wins Louisville, Kentucky, OTMR battle as court dismisses AT&T’s lawsuit

Google Fiber won a major coup in its battle to simplify the pole attachment process via the One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) ordinance in Louisville, Kentucky, as a district court dismissed AT&T’s suit against the metro government.

Louisville’s OTMR ordinance, which was passed in February 2016, would help ease Google Fiber’s and other competitors’ movement into the Louisville broadband market by allowing them to move and install their own wiring on poles instead of waiting for AT&T and other service providers to conduct this work.

But AT&T has not given up.

AT&T says FCC should adopt targeted pole attachment, make-ready reforms

AT&T has asked the FCC to consider a set of new targeted reforms to the current pole attachment process that will not only speed up broadband deployment cycles but retain service reliability and safety.

Two New Publications Available From FOA

Have You Downloaded Your Copy Of The Updated 

ANSI/NECA/FOA Fiber Optic Installation Standard Yet?

Available Free Courtesy of FOA

NECA 301

NECA/FOA-301was created to be a document that could be used as a guide to installation practices and also be quoted in project paperwork to define what was meant by installation in a "neat and workmanlike manner." This standard was the first standard to approach the issues of installation of fiber optics in a document that could be used by network owners, project managers, contractors, installers, test techs, maintenance personnel and even the manufacturers making the products being installed following this standard.
Go here for more information on NECA/FOA-301 and directions for a free download.

FOA's Latest Textbook - Fiber Optic Testing

FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing

FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing


Many of the FOA inquiries are about testing and most of those are about OTDRs. Several interesting questions were asked this month.

The first one deals with this event table:


This was sent to us by a tech testing cables at a job site with an OTDR. The OTDR launch cable was ~150m. The cable being tested had a number of fusion splices which you can see were not reflective. The customer's spec for reflectance was -40dB, so all the fusion splices passed. But the cable was rejected because of the first event - that was the connection of the launch cable to the OTDR.

The tech called us to help him explain to the customer that the reflective joint at the OTDR had nothing to do with his cable. We helped on that. But it brought up an interesting topic - why did the OTDR manufacturer include that data anyway? If you are using a launch cable, it has nothing to do with the cable under test and is mostly just a confusion factor. So we contacted the manufacturer. Their explanation was it showed the condition of the connection at the OTDR and when you see a high reflectance like this you can assume it affects the dead zone of the OTDR. It also tells you to inspect and clean this connection. We can see that, but it is very confusing to someone who is not very familiar with OTDR data. We could see it as a self-test mode, but not in every data table. What do you think?

Note: Several recent OTDRs we have tested have had SC-APC connectors that greatly reduce the reflectance at the instrument interface. We also recommend using a short cable to connect the launch cable to the OTDR that stays on the OTDR all the time. Not making that connection protects the OTDR interface connector from excessive weer that affects both loss and reflectance.

The second one deals with OTDR setup:

We got this question in an email: What are good OTDR settings for a 300-500m fibers? We’re using a 1.5 m launch cable and sometimes got (-) loss.

Our answer was that a 1.5m cable is not a launch cable.  A launch cable must be long enough to allow the OTDR to settle down after the test pulse. THe negative loss is because the OTDR has not settled down sufficiently. Generally the minimum launch cable for testing short cables would be 10-20m for MM, 100m for SM. Then use the shortest test pulse, ~1km range, average enough to reduce the noise.

Number 3 deals with distance:

We received a question about a VFL that would help identify longer fibers, up to 10km long, and identify faults in the cable. Our response was you need an OTDR. The high attenuation of the fiber at visible light wavelengths (~650nm) makes it impossible to use VFLs over 2-3km. Then we had to explain what an OTDR was.

And Number 4 deals with OTDR resolution and errors:

Finally, FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson was doing some comparison tests with several OTDRs for a new chapter in one of his books. He made an interesting observation - the variation in attenuation coefficient of fiber tested by an OTDR was quite high on short fibers. His experiments showed the variation was generally also sensitive to pulse width.

Think about how OTDRs measure attenuation:


If you are measuring a short length of fiber, say 100m, with MM fiber, the loss is going to be ~0.3 dB, with SM ~0.04dB. Depending on the OTDR range settings, the resolution of the OTDR can become significantly large compared to the values measured, causing digitiztion errors. Added to this, any nonlinearity in the fiber trace caused for example by recovery from the dead zone after a reflective connection - dependent on pulse width -  can have a very large effect on the error of the measurement.

Think about it this way:

The variability on short length measurements can be explained by statistics.

Attenuation coefficient = Loss / length

The uncertainty of the measurement is a combination of the errors in each measurement

Attenuation coefficient = Loss+/-error <divided by>  length+/-error

Errors have both fixed components-same for all measurements - and variable components-functions of the value being measured

For small values, fixed components tend to be more important as they will become a larger percentage of the measured value

Dividing the two factors compounds the errors statistically

In fact, this is similar to measuring length with a ruler calibrated in mm - you can only read to +/-1mm but that resolution is more important when measuring 10mm than when measuring 100mm!

Using The FOA OTDR Simulator On Windows 10 or A Mac

If you want to learn how an OTDR works or how to interpret traces, you would ideally have an OTDR and lots of cable plants to test. That's impractical for most users, but not for the FOA community. We have collected tons of SOR (the industry standard for OTDRs) files of OTDR traces and used them with a PC program for a OTDR to create an OTDR simulator. You can open and compare traces of one cable plant that show how the different choices in setup (wavelength, range, pulse width, averaging, etc.) affect the traces to understand how to make choices that optimize the trace. Then you can open many traces from networks - very short to very long - including traces through PON splitters and some really graphic gainers!


The software has been set up long ago for Windows XP - we know some of you still use it - and Windows 7 - same here - but one of our instructors figured how to use a feature of Windows 10 to make it useful on the latest versions of Windows. 
FOA thanks Tim Fiegenbaum, Electronics Faculty & Coordinator, North Seattle College for figuring this out and sharing it with the FOA community. 

Directions For Using FOA OTDR Simulator On Windows 10
At the following link download the file: “Download the PC Simulator” (Near the bottom of the page).

Open the folder: “OTDR Win 7” …unzip
If using Windows 7 or XP, simply install the file:  “Setup_uOTDR_V9x.exe”
If using Windows 10
Right click on the file: Setup_uOTDR_V9x.exe and select  "Properties"
Select the "Compatibility" tab and select the option for "Windows 7."
Click apply and then OK
Click on the file "Setup_uOTDR_V9x.exe” and follow the direction to install
Open the file "uOTDR.exe" to run the program
The program will run just fine in Windows 10 if the Windows 7 compatibility mode is selected.

Some anti-virus software including Norton 360 will identity  Setup_uOTDR_V9x.exe an unsafe and will quarantine the file.  If that happens you will need to un-quarantine the file in order to install.

Thanks Tim!

Directions For Using FOA OTDR Simulator On A Mac

Running the OTDR Sim on a Mac is easy. There are several Windows emulators available for the Mac including Apple's own BootCamp, Parallels Desktop, Crossover, WinOnX, Virtual PC and VMware Fusion. We run our OTDR Sim on a Macbook Air using Parallels Desktop.

ANSI/NECA/FOA Fiber Optic Installation Standard

Available Free Courtesy of FOA

NECA 301

The ANSI/NECA/FOA-301-2016 standard for Installing and Testing Fiber Optics has been updated and is available for download from the FOA website. This standard is one of the many volumes in the NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) NEIS series (National Electrical Installation Standards). FOA and NECA created this standard in 2001 and this is the 3rd revision.

NECA/FOA-301was created to be a document that could be used as a guide to installation practices and also be quoted in project paperwork to define what was meant by installation in a "neat and workmanlike manner." This standard was the first standard to approach the issues of installation of fiber optics in a document that could be used by network owners, project managers, contractors, installers, test techs, maintenance personnel and even the manufacturers making the products being installed following this standard.

Download Free From FOA
As the authors of NECA/FOA-301, FOA feels strongly that this is a standard that every fiber optic tech - designer, installer, tester - as well as network owners should have for reference. Therefore, FOA sponsors distribution of this standard free to those involved in fiber optic projects. We encourage you to download a free PDF copy and tell others to do so themselves.

Go here for more information on
NECA/FOA-301 and directions for a free download.

Libro de Diseño para Redes de Fibra Óptica en Español - FOA Design Book Available In Spanish - Online

Design in Spanish

La Asociación Profesional de Fibra Óptica (The FOA) ha traducido y hecho disponible en Español, la “Guía de Diseño para Fibra Óptica”. Esto para todos los interesados en estudiar para la certificación CFOS/D en su idioma nativo. Puede acceder a la traducción al libro de Diseño en línea utilizando este enlace. La versión impresa del libro estará disponible muy prontamente.

FOA has translated the FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design book and made it available online to those studying for the CFOS/D Certification but whose native language is Spanish. You can access the Spanish translation of the Design book here. A printed version will be available in the near future.

FOA's Newest Textbook - Fiber Optic Testing

FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing

FOA has published another "reference guide" textbook:  FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing. This is a new textbook for training or studying for FOA CFOS/T certifications, and an up-to-date reference on fiber optic testing for the contractor, installer, designer and user.

Fiber optic manufacturers and network users say that testing is the most important aspect of installation and operation of fiber optic networks but often the least well understood. Of all the technical help requests received by the FOA, 90% are about testing. This book has been written by the FOA to provide a comprehensive but understandable technical guide to this important topic.

The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing is a unique book. It covers the topic of fiber optic testing more thoroughly than this topic has ever been covered in a textbook before and in some different ways. Every subject (see Table of Contents below) starts with basic information on why a test is necessary and what test equipment is required which everyone needs to know. Then the chapter expands on how the tests are performed and completes the topic by discussing the potential measurement uncertainty and how to minimize that uncertainty.

Several chapters are at the expert level. Chapter 10 on fiber characterization is technically complex but a subject that is becoming more important for upgrades to older cable plants and new installations intended for 100G and beyond. Chapter 14 on Metrology - the science of measurements - is the longest and most difficult chapter to master. This chapter is aimed at the experienced tech who wants to understand the depths of fiber optic testing and use that information to make their testing more accurate and usually much faster.

List Price: $29.95 ($9.95 on Kindle)
7" x 10" (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
328 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1544289656, ISBN-10: 1544289650

FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing

FOA YouTube Videos Now "Closed Captioned"

FOA's YouTube videos are very popular as you can see from the statistics above. We have had requests from teachers and viewers for closed-captioning. Now FOA is upgrading all its YouTube Videos to offer "closed captioning" for those with hearing disabilities - or if you want to view the video quietly and don't have headphones. FOA used a highly-regarded service that does closed-captioning for many of the television networks to ensure accurate captioning.

FOA YouTube  Video Closed Captioning

The closed captioning can be turned on by the small "CC" button on the lower right side of the video (right arrow). The captioning shows up on screen in white letters on a black background (left arrow). You can view this video on fiber optic testing here, and try the "CC" button to see how it works.

We hope our viewers find this helpful.

FOA has over 100 YouTube videos on fiber optics, premises cabling and the fiber optic job marketplace. Here is a list with links to them online.

New Website Keeps You Up To Date On Structured Cabling

Liz Goldsmith, manager of the TIA Fiber Optic Technology Consortium (FOTC) has started a new website that aims to keep readers up to data on the news and products in the structured cabling (premises cabling) space. Called Structured Cabling News, it offers news about the industry in more than a dozen categories so you can browse the news by categories (like fiber) that interest you most. Liz sums up the aim of SCN as "SCN brings you current Structured Cabling News curated by category and topic. We search the 'Net so you don't have to - updated daily with industry trends, new products and best practice from industry leaders."

And you can subscribe to daily or weekly digests to keep yourself informed.

Structured Cabling News

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

Ed Forrest - NEW Lecture On Cleaning And Inspecting Connectors

Ed Forrest, the person we consider the guru of cleaning fiber optic connectors, has added a video lecture on cleaning. It's a bit long for YouTube, about an hour, but worth every minute of it!


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

Here is the datasheet on the RMS-1 Fiber Optic Video Scope

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!

Education and Certification In California

In California, PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) has created a program for training and certification for avoiding underground utilities called "Gold Shovel Standard." PG&E developed the Gold Shovel Standard Certification process to ensure that PG&E's hired contractors adhere to the safest excavation standards.

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.

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)

Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards

Fiber in Finger

Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultants

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.

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 (Win XP or 7), 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 now posts events on our LinkedIn groups, Facebook page and other social media

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has a company page and three LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official company page on LinkedIn
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 Certificates 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  

New FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing

FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing

FOA Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Now Also 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.

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:

Tellabs Training Services, Dallas TX school #363

Rally Training Services, Genola, UT, USA #364

Springfield Electrical JATC, Springfield MA school #653

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

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.



Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Real Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

Why A Figure 8?
What is the reason for wrapping the cable in a figure eight?
When you need to do an intermediate pull, you have to pull the fiber and coil it on the ground. A simple coil will put a twist in the cable. Figure-8 coils put in twists of opposite directions on each side of the 8 making for no overall twist in the cable. See How To "Figure 8" Cable For Intermediate Pulls in the FOA Online Guide.

Can I Build A GPON Network With "Taps"?

Q: Can I build a GPON network where I do a drop to one subscriber then continue to the next subscriber for another drop and so on?
A: There have been examples of this type of “tap” drop proposed, for example in rural areas for drops to  widespread subscribers on a longer network than is typical for FTTH. It’s just a version of a cascaded splitter network. with taps that just do a 2 way split. The taps used are typically 90/10 taps, where 10% of the power is tapped off for the drop.
There are some important issues to consider - Since you are dropping 10% of the power at each tap, you are limited by how many drops you can have.   If you calculate the loss budget - after the first tap, you have 90% power left less the excess loss of the splitter (~0.3-0.5dB). The tap power is down ~10.3 dB and the through power is down ~0.6 dB. At the next tap, you  use the same formula plus you add the loss of the fiber to that tap and so on until you reach the GPON limit.  It’s a pretty complicated process to design, but you can see that with these power losses you will not get a large number of drops in a GPON network with 28dB max power budget. We did a rough calculation and 20-24 drops may be possible depending on the fiber lengths.
This network will probably be much more expensive and more distance limited than simply running a cable with many fibers and dropping fibers from that cable with midspan entry. Couplers are expensive, fiber is cheap. We also do not know the issues with the large differences in transmission times between the first connections and the last ones, which depends on the length of fiber in the systems. That may require some programming at the OLT.

Replacing OM1 MM Fiber
Q: 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.

Do We Need Repeaters For 30 Mile Link?
Q: I need to design a 30 mile (~50km) link. Will regeneration like a fiber amplifier be necessary?
A: It depends on the comms equipment but I doubt you need regeneration. 30 miles is 50km, only 10dB of loss for the fiber at 1550nm, maybe 10 splices at <0.1dB adds only 1dB loss and another dB for connectors on each end. I think you probably can find equipment that runs on 12dB loss budget. That said, most new high speed systems (>10G) have 20km versions then go to expensive long haul coherent systems. So talk to the communications equipment manufacturers and see what they say. If you do need a EDFA, they are not that expensive but the site is expensive and requires power (+ backup). See if it’s possible to put the EDFA in the end facilities to get enough power for the whole run.

Testing PCS Fiber
We Get Many Questions From Our Instructors Also

Q: I recently did a CFOT training class for a government agency.  They use 200 micron core fiber in short sections (50 ft. the longest) within aircraft. The connectors are SMA 905s.  The cable specs state that there is 8dB of loss in 1 km at 850nm. I have searched but cannot find any info regarding how to test the cable/connector links.  The OLTS they have uses 62.5/125 jumpers. Is testing these cables with the above OLTS setup at 850 nm a valid testing method?

A: That’s 200/240 PCS or HCS fiber - plastic clad silica or hard clad silica step-index fiber - that has a glass core and plastic cladding. It has been used on a lot of platforms because it’s large core makes connection alignment easy. The SMAs are used because the connectors are air gap connections so vibration will not cause scuffing that you can get with PC - physical contact connectors. On aircraft, the 1/4-36 nuts on the SMAs are usually safety-wired too.

Testing can be done just like any other cable plant with a double-ended test (OFSTP-14) for the whole cable or a single-ended test (FOTP-171) to check the connection on either end. You need a 850nm LED source and a meter with a large detector (>2mm) to pick up all the light and an adapter for SMA connectors. You also need launch and receive cables of matching fiber and connectors about 2m long. No worries about mode conditioning since the step-index fiber is a mode mixer itself.

Fiber attenuation coefficient of 8 dB/km sounds about right. Connection losses ~0.5-1.0 dB are normal. A typical patchcord would have a loss of ~1-2 dB.

To get a microscope to view it might be difficult.

VFL for 10km?

Q: I have 10 kilometers of singlemode cable installed that was not labeled. It has been suggested that we shoot a VFL down the fiber and label it. I am having trouble finding a VFL that will shoot this far. Any ideas?
A: Occasionally we see some imported VFL that claims to go 10km or more. That tells us the company is clueless about fiber optics. VFLs work at ~650nm in the visible red spectrum while SM is optimized for 1300-1600nm in the infrared where it has a loss of ~0.3dB/km. At 10km it has a total loss of ~3dB or half the input signal. At 650nm, singlemode fiber has a loss of ~10dB/km which means it loses 90% of its power per km. At 10km, you have 100dB of loss - leaving you with 0.00000001% of the input power - not much!
VFLs have enough power for 2-3km max. To identify fibers at 10km, you need a 1310nm laser source and a power meter to do continuity. Or a gadget called a fiber identifier. For more info, see and

Connecting WiFi Access Points In a Passive Optical LAN

Q: If we install GPON passive fiber optical LAN in a new hotel, would one need to run fiber to every AP? Since every hotel room needs an AP this gets expensive. Any suggestion on the simplest and less expensive  way of connecting Fiber Cable to an AP in the hotel room?
A: You do not need a fiber to every wireless AP in a GPON passive optical LAN (POL). The AP needs a UTP (Cat 5e/6) cable with Gigabit Ethernet and  POE (Power over Ethernet) capability. The POL fiber  should terminate in a multiport switch that has a fiber input and then 4 or more UTP/POE outputs for the wirelses APs. That’s the cost saving architecture of a GPON POL. See this page in the FOA Guide:

You should also check out the APOLAN website ( for more information on hospitality applications with POLs.

Wireless Infrastructure

Q: I am wondering how the landscape will change as the nation moves from 4G-LTE to 5G. Will it use the same network as currently, or will the network need to be updated or replaced? To what extent will 5G be dependent on wireless vs fibre optic? Will the infrastructure nationally move more toward an underground wired one, rather than a Radio Access Network?
A: The wireless network is totally dependent on fiber optics for it’s communications backbone. The “wireless” part is the connection from an antenna to the mobile device. From that point, the network is cabled, mostly fiber already and soon to be all fiber.
4G/LTE and soon 5G in urban areas is moving to “small cells” with about 10X as many cell sites covering much smaller areas. Every small cell site needs a couple of fibers. Metro backbones will require very much larger fiber counts, especially with C-RAN (centralized radio access network) architectures now being implemented.
An example is Santa Monic, CA where we live. It has about 200K citizens, 8.9 square miles(about 23 sq km), but has planned for 600 small cell sites, spread over multiple service providers.

At FOA we see wireless as one of the most active areas for fiber, along with data centers.See

OTDR Setup

Q: What are good OTDR settings for a 300-500m fibers? We’re using a 1.5 m launch cable and sometimes got (-) loss,
A 1.5m cable is not a launch cable. A launch cable must be long enough to allow the OTDR to settle down after the test pulse. THe negative loss is because the OTDR has not settled down sufficiently.
Generally the minimum launch cable for testing short cables would be 10-20m for MM, 100m for SM. Then use the shortest test pulse, ~1km range, average enough to reduce the noise.

Arsenic Coated Cable?
  I was told a contractor installed arsenic coated fiber optic cable because they didn’t want animals to chew through it. Is this true?
A: Some cable has chemicals put in the jacket to make it taste bad to rodents. We have not found any one who claims to use arsenic, in fact, we could find no references to what kinds of chemicals are used.

Why Do Cables "Go Bad"?
It’s been my observation over ~15 years of building and managing fiber channel storage area networks that from time to time cables will fall out of transmission spec.  In terms of communicating with non-storage people, they in essence, “go bad”.  Other than possible damage due to physical disruption of a cable, or contamination at the connectors usually caused by a human being unplugging/replacing, has it been your observation that MM cables can “go bad”?

A: There are some possible causes of problems over time. We know of connectors that fail for several reasons.
  • The biggest cause is with prepolished/splice connectors with mechanical splices. the assumed problem is the index matching get goes bad, but that’s highly unlikely. It’s usually the crimp fails and the fiber pulls out, especially if it has any stress on the fiber.
  • Adhesive connectors can have a bond between the connector and fiber fail, more likely on anaerobic connectors.
  • Any stress on the fiber at the connector is bad. Patchcords should not be left hanging on racks but dressed into horizontal racks below each patch panel.
  • Residual stress in cables can be a problem - tension or tight bends - and they may get worse over time.
  • Moisture is always a worry. It takes years to show up, but indoor cables are not protected from moisture like OSP cables.
  • Of course, transceivers fail too - electronics are generally very reliable but do deteriorate over time and cause failures.
We always say fiber requires no maintenance - set it up right and lock it up. As you pointed out human intervention is often the issue.

Fiber Ports Or Media Converters?
Should I Buy A Switch With Fiber Ports Or Use Media Converters?
A: I’m assuming you are thinking of using a switch with copper Ethernet ports and a media converter instead of a switch with fiber ports. The downside is that it adds complexity and increases the chance of failure. My analogy is something my primary flight instructor told me many years ago - multiengine planes are not safer because having two engines doubles your chance of having an engine failure. IBM still says that most network problems are cabling problems. Using media converters adds more electronics, more power supples and more cabling connections.

Testing PON Meters And Sources
We're evaluating PON power meters and test sources. How should we test them? Do we need a PON network?
A: There is no requirement for having a PON to test the meters. I would check it against a meter you trust to test
1) if the reading of absolute power (dBm) agrees - should be within +/-0.2dBm. Compare at several power levels, as high as possible (~0dBm with a laser), medium, (~ -20dBm) and very low (~ -40dBm)
2) make some loss tests of cables and attenuators over the range of 1-5-10-15-20dB and compare to a meter you trust.
3)the extra calibration at 1490 is not an issue - the difference between 1490 and 1550 is very small and providing that calibration can be more a confusion factor since there are no transfer standards for that wavelength.
3) The big issue with sources is stability. Connect the source with a short cable to a trusted power meter, connect it to its power supply, turn it on and monitor the output over time. There should be a short warm-up period and then it should be stable within a few 0.01s dB. Let it run on batteries until the batteries run down to ensure that the source has a proper power supply that keeps the light output stable over time as the batteries discharge.

High Loss At 1383nm?
We tested one link of 90.8 km at 1310/1383/1550nm and we got high loss at 1383 while other wave lengths have good results. What's up?
A: That wavelength is the center wavelength of the OH+ water peak, so you are seeing the extra attenuation there. Older fibers will have attenuation of 2-3 dB/km at that wavelength but new “low water peak” fibers will be <1dB/km. See “Low Water Peak Fibers” here

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 

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

New Ripley Fiber Stripper

Ripley recently sent us some new fiber strippers to try, the Ripley Tri-hole fiber stripper model  CFS-3. It is aimed at contractors and installers and is very reasonable prived - plus we understand there are some introductory price specials from some distributors.

The CFS-3 can strip fiber jackets, 900 micron buffer and 250 micron buffer for one step cable preparation.
- 1st hole strips 1.6 – 3mm Fiber Jacket to the 600-900 buffer coating.
- 2nd hole strips the 600-900 micron buffer coating to the 250 micron coating.
- 3rd hole strips the 250 micron buffer coating to the 125 micron glass fiber.

fiber stripper

We tested the CFS-3 on several fibers and cables and found it easy to use and very consistent. It seemed much less sensitive to the angle you hold it at when stripping fibers than some strippers like this and it was very effective even stripping some older, more brittle fibers.

Here's more information on the Ripley CFS-3 Part #: 81300.

VIAVI Introduces OLTS For MPO Connectors

One of the biggest problems with multifiber MPO connectors is testing. Viavi Solutions (formerly JDSU) has introduced its SmartClass Fiber MPOLx optical loss test set, a basic test solution for cabling systems that utilize multi-fiber MPO connectors. The testing of parallel optics with MPO connectors has always been difficult for regular single or dual fiber OLTS, needing MPO to SC or LC breakout cables for testing one fiber at a time and using the three cable “0 dB” reference method. The MPOLx should make testing cable plants using these connectors much easier.

The MPOLx can test for length, optical loss, polarity and inspect fiber end-face condition - a complete cable plant test. The ability to check polarity is important since there are several polarity schemes used in MPO systems. The MPOLx is fast too, delivering comprehensive test results in less than 6 seconds for all 12 fibers.

More information on the Viavi MPOLx here.

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

 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 Inc. (FOA) is the international professional society of fiber optics. FOA is chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certification and standards.

Privacy Policy: The FOA does not use cookies or any other web tricks to gather information on visitors to our website. Our website host, Network Solutions, does gather traffic statistics for the visitors to our website. We do not release or misuse any information on any of our members except we will confirm FOA certifications and Fiber U certificates of completion when requested by appropriate persons such as employers or personnel services.
Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association or email <>

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.)
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