September, 2004

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

Why Not A Standard FO Connector For Premises Cabling?

One of the major complaints about fiber optics is that there are so many different types of incompatible connectors.

Think about it. We have simplex male-type connectors with several different sized ferrules that require mating adapters for alignment at connections. We have duplex connectors that also require mating adapters and some that are male/female and self-align. Back in the days when we ran Fotec, the fiber optic test equipment company we founded in the beginning of fiber optics, we told customers we would make adapters for any connector so they could use our test equipment. In 20 years in the business, we made adapters for about 85 different connectors!

Few of these fiber optic connectors are intermateable. Test equipment generally has fixed SC or ST connectors, meaning you need lots of hybrid jumpers for reference cables. And some of these connectors are incompatible with the test equipment, meaning you cannot set the zero reference with just a launch reference cable, as called for in standards like TIA 568. In fact, with most test equipment, testing connectors like the duplex, male/female MT-RJ according to the guidelines of TIA-568 is simply impossible except using a 3 cable reference method.

Contrast fiber optic's confusion with copper wiring, which uses one style of connector - the modular 8 pin connector commonly but erroneously called a RJ-45. Although there are several different performance levels appropriate for different categories of cabling systems and some incompatibilities among companies' designs, there is basically one connector.

Why can't fiber optics have a single design?

When I first asked that question twenty years ago, there was a reasonable explanation. Technology was moving rapidly with the expansion of singlemode fiber requiring more precise connectors and ceramic ferrules were just being introduced. All the connectors were single fiber connectors and most used epoxy/polish termination.

Today, connector technology is very stable. Ceramic ferrules dominate designs, adhesive technology includes quick-setting adhesives as well as epoxy and prepolished/splice connectors are getting better. While the "old faithful" ST and SC connector continue being the most popular, only the LC of the "small form factor" connectors introduced about 5 years ago could be called a big success.

But the small form factor (SFF) connector debacle in the standards committees illustrates the real problem in fiber optics - the N.I.H. syndrome. N.I.H., of course, means "not invented here." Where the discussions on standardizing on one SFF design fell apart was that no manufacturer was willing to support another manufacturer's design over theirs.

Acceptance of fiber optics would be much easier if one connector was universal. But what connector? There is probably no way the industry would accept any current design - or one from any competitor, so I decided to design one myself.

It seemed that connector would ideally be a duplex connector, since every fiber optic link requires two fibers, carrying signals in each direction. Small size is also desirable, as is compatibility with both adhesive and prepolished/splice termination methods. Above all, the connector needs to be easy to accommodate with test equipment and transceivers.

Why not design a small (RJ-45 sized) connector around two of the tiny 1.25 mm ferrules from a LC connector? If the ferrules extend from the end of the connector, it becomes easy to mate to like connectors and easy to adapt to test equipment or transceivers.

I started sketching some crude designs. It seemed too easy. Two LC ferrules, a molded plastic body like a RJ, even an option of retractable covers for protecting the ferrules or users from laser light in high powered systems. Mating adapters are easy to build and can be modified to be instrument adapters.

To me, it's a no-brainer. Get a few mechanical designers together and decide on some basic specs. Build a few prototypes and in no time you have ­ well, not the ideal connector, but perhaps a darned good compromise.

How about it, all you fiber optic connector companies? You can have the design idea for free!

What do you think? Send your comments to

Jim Hayes, 8-17-04

Verizon Targets 1 Million FTTH in 2004

Verizon hopes to connect 1 million customers' homes with fiber this year, another million in 2005 and 3 million in 2006. They have budgeted $1 billion this year and $2 billion in 2005 to reach these goals. Obviously, this ambitious plan is a major shot in the arm to the fiber optic industry, which must gear up to provide components and prepare installation crews to meet these goals.

Let's hope SBC and BellSouth respond to Verizon's commitment by getting going themselves!


Majority of Americans Connect To Internet Over Broadband

Nielsen announced that as of July, 2004, 63 million Internet users, that's 51% of the total number of users, now connect over broadband - more over cable modems than DSL.


FOA Working WIth TIA on 568 Standard Revision
Jim Hayes, President of The FOA, made a presentation to the TIA TR-42.8 committee at the June 8, 2004 meeting in Providence, RI, covering the recommendations of the FOA for revisions in the "C" version of TIA-568 standard for structured cabling. 568 is currently in the "B" revision but work should begin soon on the "C" version.
Until 568B, fiber optics was an afterthought. 568B added a separate section to cover the unique aspects of fiber, enhancing the attractiveness of fiber to many users. However, there are still issues with 568B, including test requirements, that make fiber optics confusing to many potential users.
The FOA board, members of which have over 20 years experience in fiber optics on the average, reviewed the 568B standard and discussed these issues at length, then produced a document with our recommendations. You can read the whole PDF document here.
Jim will continue attending TR-42.8 meetings to work with the committee in developing 568C and representing the interests of our organization and our CFOTs.

FOA Expands Commitment To Fiber Optic Education

Instructors' Home Page And New Online Train-The-Trainer Program
The FOA has always focused on creating better educational opportunities in fiber optics - it's our charter: we're a non-profit educational organization. We've done two things recently to expand that commitment - both here on the FOA website.

We have over 120 schools and hundreds of instructors teaching at those organizations, and we'll notify them about these new web pages, but we invite any instructor interested in fiber optics to dig in and use these pages too.

First, we've created a home page for instructors where we'll cover topics just for them. It's at

Secondly, we've put our TTT seminar online, in both PPT and PDF format at

Our online TTT program is the beginning of qualifying for the FOA CFOS/I Instructor Certification. Soon we'll have the program set up for instructors to register to begin qualifying for the certification.

Fiber Optic Network Standard For Aftermarket Automotive Products
The Consumer Electronics Association has adopted a new standard, CEA-2012 that provides for automotive aftermarket manufacturers to build interoperable products for the MOST network, a POF-based multimedia network now being used by many high-end automobiles. Currently, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, SAAB, Jaguar, Renault and other car manufacturers use MOST to incorporate navigation, radio, CD, DVD, cell phone, and other entertainment devices that are integrated with the instrument panel controls and displays. CEA-2012 allows aftermarket manufacturers to use MOST devices in separate networks or to integrate with the vehicle systems using a gateway.
Here is the CEA announcement.
And here is the MOST website

POF Going Mainstream?
Plastic optical fiber has always been cheap, but applications have been limited by its high loss, incompatibility with 850/1310 sources and low bandwidth. Graded index POF promised more bandwidth, and now Asahi Glass in Japan and Nexans in France have developed a new polymer fiber called CYTOP that offers lower losses of 20 dB/km at 850 nm, perfect for use with VCSELs and other standard fiber optic transceivers. The fiber also works at 1300 nm. Unlike large core POF, this has core sizes of 62.5 and 120 microns. Tests show transmission capabilities of CYTOP fiber competitive with copper in structured cabling applications.

Tech Puzzler
What test is always required for an installed fiber link?
Answer below

FOA Certification Top Choice

The FOA CFOT and CFOS programs continue to gain momentum in fiber optics. Over 13,000 CFOTs have been certified by 114 schools as the FOA completes its 9th year. Since our founding in July, 1995, we have dedicated ourselves to promoting fiber optics and professionalism in fiber optics personnel, focusing on education and certification. We are continuing to add new schools and more CFOTs as users of fiber optics learn that a CFOT is the indication of a professional, well-trained fiber optic technician. Now with FTTH (fiber to the home) finally taking off, demand for CFOTs is rising and schools are responding by expanding programs rapidly.
The FOA now has approved programs at 114 organizations, welcoming new additions like Corning Cable Systems for their installation training programs and NASA's Goldstone Tracking Station. The complete list of FOA-Approved schools is at

New Tech Topics

New PowerPoint Presentation Introduces Fiber Optics
The FOA has created a short PowerPoint presentation that introduces you to fiber optics and talks about job opportunities in the field. It was intended for instructors to introdcue studnets to the field, but it's a good introduction for anyone. It's about 3 meg file so it takes a while to download and you need PowerPoint to view it. See

How Optical Fiber Is Made

Singlemode Fiber Nomenclature

Plastic Optical Fibers (POF)

Wavelength-Division Multiplexing

Fiber Amplifiers

Don't miss Eric Pearson's Newsletters - with some tests on connectors.

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


Your Name, CFOT - It pays to advertise!

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

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

Remember To Renew Your Certification !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(C)1999-2004, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.


Tech Puzzler: Insertion loss, of course. We see more requests for OTDR testing, and that's OK, as long as it's appropriate for the cable plant - e.g. no short links - but insertion loss with a meter/source or OLTS is mandatory!