2018-19 Update Page covers all the new technology and
applications we covered in this newsletter in 2018-19. Now you
can review all that new tech at once.
Fiber FAQs Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions)
gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran
in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general
months "Good Questions" has some unique
questions from our readers.
Damage Happens In Many Ways
How nature does its thing.... that's an ADSS cable in Zambia
where the iron roofing sheet blew away from a house in strong
winds, slid down the cable and landed on the pole. The entire
roof blew off, nearly hitting the street vendors who managed to
seek protection from near by store.
We lost some circuits on the same line. The cable jacket and
some cores were damaged. If the pic is zoomed on the cable white
section is visible, where damage was. Thes cable didn't break.
But we had to replace a section and he did some splicing.
It could have been extra eye catching if all was shot on a clip
when it all happened. @Malani Zgalunga was the Field Technician
who captured the photos and shared the all story. He was
assigned to work on the 10G (linking two sites) which happened
to have gone down due the same ordeal.
From Richard Mulopa
Field Technician, Zambia
on the FOA Facebook Page
Range Low Speed Wireless Network For IoT - From Amazon?
Amazon has gotten into the wireless network and IoT market with
a wireless network called "Sidewalk" based on a different
assumption. Rather than copy cellular wireless and WiFi which
are focused on providing more and more bandwidth, or Bluetooth
which is for limited range, Amazon has created a network for
larger areas and using lower power which is more appropriate for
Both cellular 5G and WiFi are focused on providing more
bandwidth, primarily for video, but that's not what IoT needs.
IoT devices are slow devices and accommodating more devices
inexpensively is important. Sidewalk uses unlicensed 900 MHz
spectrum, where the lower frequency provides longer distance
coverage and penetrates walls easier. Amazon, of course, sells
the Alexa and Echo home connection products and acquired Ring, a
maker of home video security and convenience devices in 2018.
Some of those devices already use this technology. Using the
lower frequency communications allows covering a large area.
Amazon reportedly conducted a test with a network of over 700
devices in a neighborhood using this technoogy.
Amazon will publish specifications for Sidewalk that allows
vendors to build compatible devices. Interested parties should sign
up here to be notified of the program.
more about Amazon Sidewalk
industry contact recently sent us this question:
I’ve been reading some of your articles relating to optical
power meters, I’m struggling a bit with the maths relating
to dBm. For example, if I apply -20dBm to an OPM and it’s
accuracy spec is +/- 5%, then I would expect it to read
between -21dBm and -19dBm. Similarly if the spec was
+/-0.5dB then I would expect it to read between -19.5dBm and
-20.5dBm. I’m not sure that is correct though, because dBm
is logarithmic, I’m not sure you can add/subtract 5% or
0.5dB to it. Is there a way to work this out correctly ?
Another one I’m struggling a bit with is linearity. Often
the OPM manufacturer will express linearity as +/-
0.2dB. To me that means that if -20dBm is applied, and the
OPM reads -19.8dBm then at -30dBm it should read -29.8 +/-
0.2dB (not -30dBm +/-0.2dB). One thing I’ve read about is
least squares linear regression. I’m not entirely sure about
It seems that this is an industry that is “math challenged,”
especially when it comes to logarithms, with a top company
writing articles saying that loss is a positive dB when it’s
mathematically negative, and OTDR manufacturers all - ALL -
have loss as a positive number. What drives us crazy is they
also have gainers as negative numbers. We’ve written several
articles about this already.
look at some examples:
+/-5% of 20dB can be interpreted as +/-1dB. But 20dB
represents a multiplier of 100 so +/-5% could also mean +/-5%
of 100 or 95 to 105. That turns out to be 19.78 dB ti 20.21dB
or about +/-0.2dB. However 19dB = 79.4 and 21dB = 125.9 or
It can get even worse at other dB levels. At 30dB, +/-5 is
28.5 to 31.5 or a factor of 707 to 1412, almost a factor of
two! That's understandable since +/-1.5dB is a range of 3dB
which is a factor of two!
have seen many articles, even a few standards, that would say
that a spec of +/-5% applied to dB would be +/-0.5dB at 10dB,
+/-1dB at 20dB, etc. But of course that’s bad math; 0.5dB =
~12% and 1dB=~25%. Of course 5% in power difference is ~0.2dB
and that holds no matter what the power level.
FOA created a simple
spreadsheet that calculates dB and linear power which allows
you to play with numbers yourself and see the results.
When it comes to linearity, the same applies. I believe that
most will say a linearity of +/-0.2dB means about +/-5% and so
20dB is going to be 20dB+/-0.2dB, 30dB is going to be
30dB+/-0.2dB, etc. or actually ~5%. See the section on
linearity toward the end of this
page on optical power.
There are several pages in the FOA Guide that cover this:
very technical one from an FOA instructor with a degree
In Rural America: A Pay Phone
In the town of Chugwater,
Wyoming, FOA friend and fiber
cleaning genius Ed Forest shot this photo. So is the pay
phone wireless or connected to fiber.
Microscope For MPOs and All Other Connectors
SUMIX Manta-W+ is a portable microscope designed for inspection
of all types of single and multi-fiber optical connectors, patch
cords and bulkhead, included but not limited to: MT, MPO, LC,
FC, SC, CS®, E2000™, PRIZM, QSFP, ARINC, MIL Spec termini,
ODC12, High-power SMA, Avim, mini-Avim and more.
The whole MTP®/MPO connector is tested in just one scan — as
fast as 2 seconds.
Manta-W+ can be used for visual inspection of the connector end
face for scratches, defects and contamination, as well as for
automatic Pass/Fail testing based on IEC standards.
on the SUMIX Manta here.
Update In FOA Guide
updated its page on FTTH PON protocols to include the latest
standards for 10GPONs. There are three standards, NG-PON2,
XG-PON and XGS-PON. As is common with all communications
networks, work on upgradeing network capability and speed starts
as soon as a network is introduced and PONs are no exception.
GPON has been the most widely used PON scheme for both FTTx
netowrks and passive optical LANs (OLANs) and GPON has been
upgraded to several versions with higher transmission speeds and
higher power budgets to allow greater distance, higher split
capability, or both. The assumption is that a fiber network has
a lifetime of up to 40 years, so upgrades to GPON have assumed
that they will use the same passive optical network architecture
and fiber type (G.652 singlemode.)
Furthermore, upgrades have been designed around coexistence with
current GPON networks. By utilizing different wavelengths, it is
possible to have these newer, faster networks sharing the same
passive optical network as the original GPON system, allowing
offering higher speeds to users while continuing to serve
current users without disruption. Some commercial users can take
advantage of higher speeds while typical consumers are well
served by GPON. One of the big advantages of the PON upgrade
standards is the ability to overlay networks. Thus a city could
operate one regular GPON network for consumer FTTH use and have
another, faster network operating on the same cable plant
independently, offering a higher level of service and security.
PON Protocols in the FOA Guide.
Multimode Fiber With BI Fibers - Update Below
FOA sent a
contribution to the last TIA standards meeting looking for
clarification on the use of bend-insensitive
(BI) fibers for testing, as well as what fibers to use
when testing BI MM fibers. It seems to be a bit odd to be
discussing this topic since BI fibers were introduced a decade
ago, but this issue remains unresolved.
The problem is as follows:
1. Most standards say do not use BI MMF for reference test
cables. This is because standards call for launch cable mode
conditioning (mandrel wrap or encircled flux) that is
ill-defined for BI MMF. Except one standard. FOTP-171B has one
section saying no BI MMF (Sec. 3.6.1) but another (A.3.2) says
to use the same type of fiber for reference cables as in the
cables you are testing.
2. Manufacturers are mostly making BI MMF today. OFS is the one
manufacturer that says they continue to make non-BI MMF.
3. As far as anyone knows, nobody marks on the jacket of cables
whether the fiber is BI or non-BI. There seems to be consensus
that is should be marked, but no standard exists to require it.
4. Many test equipment vendors provide non-BI MMF for test
cords. Nobody else was identified as a supplier.
Conclusion? We're about where we were a decade ago.
- Real Test Data
received a technical inquiry from SYLEX
Fiber Optics in Slovak Republic regarding insertion loss
differences in test results when using OM2 and OM4 fiber for
launch cables. They used rigorous controls on the test
conditions to ensure the data is valid, so we feel this is some
of the best data we've seen on testing with BI fiber launche
cables vs. non BI fiber.
The inquiry included lots of data including this table:
Note the same cable under test (DUT) showed much lower loss when
tested with an OM2 launch cable than with an OM4 launch cable
(-the same test source was used.) The OM4 cable, based on the
photo below, is BI fiber, had higher modal fill and gave much
SYLEX also shared this graph of tests done with OM2 and OM3 BI
fiber as launch cables and you can really see the differences.
This data shows that using BI fiber for a launch cable will give
much higher losses even on testing patchcords.
It also brings up an interesting philosophical question. Is it
more valid to test a cable with a non-BI fiber and get lower
losses or with a BI fiber and get higher losses - but probably
more realistic losses since most patchcords in the field will be
BI fiber? That's one to be argued out in the standards
committees - probably for years!
Much Future For Cat 8 and Wideband MMF (OM5)
FOTC - Fiber Optic Technology Consortium - shared data at their
fall meeting recently that is highly instructive. Based on
feedback from viewers of several of their webinars, when asked
if they planned to use two components, the results were:
8 - 1%
Wideband MMF (OM5) - 1% (with a further 16% maybe in the
It does not seem like those components have a real future.
Here is a
standards committee that stays busy! Bob Metcalfe, the
co-inventor of Ethernet once said "The wonderful thing about
standards is we have so many to choose from."
IEEE 802.3ca: 25 and 50 Gb/s PON Ethernet
IEEE 802.3cm: 400 Gb/s over MMF
IEEE 802.3cn: 50/200/400 Gb/s > 10 km SMF
IEEE 802.3cp: Bidi 10/25/50 Gb/s over single SMF ≥ 10 km
IEEE 802.3cp: Bidirectional 10/25/50 Gb/s over single SMF ≥
IEEE 802.3cs: Increased-reach Ethernet optical subscriber access
IEEE 802.3 Multi-Gb Automotive Optical PHY Study Group
IEEE 802.3cg 10 Mb/s Single Pair Ethernet (copper)
IEEE 802.3ch: Multi-Gb Automotive Ethernet PHY (copper)
You Learn Skills Online?
a tough one. Learning skills requires "hands-on" practice and
that requires tools and components to practice with. But FOA has
a course on Fiber
U called "Basic
Fiber Optic Skills Lab" that introduces you to the tools
and equipment then takes you through cable prep, splicing,
termination and testing. If you have completed the Basic
Fiber course and already have a set of fiber
tools, this course will help you to learn how to
use the tools and learn basic fiber installation practices
which you can practice using your own equipment.
What About Safety?
That's the subject of a future FOA Newsletter
Reading - News Summary
Joe Jensen, Director of Market Development at Corning
Read the last paragraph - it's priceless!
National Electrical Code® and data/comm cables
Among the changes from the 2017 edition, a new general article
in Chapter 8 consolidates redundant requirements.
introduces first pure optical backbone network connecting key
financial market data centers in New Jersey
It's all about latency
"cloud" data is making noise on the ground - Marketplace
The chillers cooling data centers make enough noise to bother
those living near some data centers
Considering NG-PON2 For 5G Backhaul
This is an important article with a very confusing headline.
Ignore it and read it anyway.
in Broadband Infrastructure Can Create Cost Savings and
Benton Institute for Broadband Society
Being Fleeced By The Telecoms And Your State Is Blessing It
Focus on Lafayette, LA
5G network can’t cover an entire basketball arena, either
Verizon 5G can't cover all the seating areas in any NBA or NFL
Finds Sparse 5G Coverage with AT&T and Verizon Offering
the Fastest Speeds, but Sprint Has Broader Reach
Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe
The technology is coming, but contrary to what some people say,
there could be health risks says Scientific American.
5G bad for your health? It’s complicated, say researchers
Starting to Face Up to 5G Power Cost
The cost of the energy needed to power 5G is shaping up to be
one of the biggest headaches for operators rolling out the new
Beach gets $8.5M FEMA grant for utility undergrounding
The town is burying all overhead power, cable television and
phone lines in eight phases, each of which is separated into
north and south areas.
FCC is using streaming services as an excuse to raise cable
Case You Missed These From Past Issues:
Great Georgia Jobs" TV Features Southern Fiberworx
Southern Fiberworx was one of the first "Do-It-Yourself" FTTH
networks which FOA worked with to help get started. Greg
Turton's company has been amazingly suffessful and is recognized
here for it's accomplishments. This
is a video worth watching!
To Singlemode Fiber
Well-written white paper by Leviton. When you see how many
generations of MMF have been introduced while we use the same
old SMF, you'll get the idea. And their analysis of SM
transceiver cost is revealing.
OFS Makes Fiber
Interesting YouTube video on how fiber is made. Perhaps a little
too much "show biz" but fascinating. If you have ever seen fiber
manufacture, look at this video. You will be amazed at how big
preforms have become!
broadband project completed in Eastern Kentucky,
FOA schools are training workers for this project since it
began. FOA hosted a Workforce
Summit in 2016 to kick off the program. Here
is the project website.
York Stock Exchange Uses MIcrowaves Because They Are Faster
Than Fiber. Of course, radio waves travel near 1C while
light travels through glass at ~2/3C.
helps towns building own fiber networks In
all, the state office has so far marshaled $3.5 million from a
contingency fund to cover unforeseen costs for seven towns.
Legislative Initiatives to Restrict Low-Voltage
Contractors and Integrators From Installing Equipment,
Cabling and Infrastructure.
True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or
target practice can cost)
Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues,
Certification Training Clearfield is now
offering their customers an FOA
CERTIFICATION course. This course provides a
basic understanding of fiber optic technology, as well as
Clearfield product knowledge and how Clearfield’s integrated
product systems work together in a fiber network.
Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle
Down (EC Mag)
Source Of Articles On Fiber
President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been
writing a column in Electrical
Contractor Magazine for almost 20 years now. Electrical
contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered
some topics they are interested in including installation
processes, network design, fiber applications and 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 http://www.ecmag.com/contributing-authors/jim-hayes
and you can see all of them.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide - 25th Anniversary Edition
Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special
Many of you have used the current online version of Lennie's
Guide on the FOA website. Now you can have a slick printed
version - real paper - you can hold in your hand and read. Leave
a copy on your desktop to impress your friends, or on the table
in your company's reception area instead of out-of-date
magazines. Give them to your customers and employees to help
them learn fiber optics. Use it to prepare for FOA
certifications. FOA will be giving them away at conferences like
the IMSA Annual Conference in New Orleans later this summer.
You can get your own copies of Lennie
Lightwave's Guide at Amazon.com, only $9.95US.
Look At Connector Contamination
Teague of Senko
Advanced Components sent us the results of an interesting
experiment he ran to show an unusual effect of the contamination
on a connector. He started with a clean SC/UPC singlemode
jumper, shown in the 400X image to the left. Then he connected
it to a 1310nm laser test source and measured the power out of
the fiber with a fiber optic power meter. Then he disconnected
the connector from the meter, touched the end to his finger,
contaminating the end of the ferrule as you can see in the image
on the right.
But then he connected the dirty connector to the meter and
measured the power again. The power was decreased by 0.22dB.
Yes, the contamination on the connector acted as an attenuator
to reduce the power considerably. Think what would happen if you
them mated it to another connector. Not only would you see the
attenuation caused by the contamination, you will probably see
even more loss caused by the gap created by the flakes of skin.
That's why you should inspect, clean and inspect again to ensure
all connectors are clean before testing or making connections.
International Plastic Optical Fibers (POF 2019) will be held at
Keio University Hiyoshi Campus, Yokohama, Japan from November
20th to 22nd. Objective & scope of the conference is to
discuss the latest developments of POF and a variety of POF
related applications. During
the conference, there will be Special Session featuring
lectures by world’s leading experts and demonstrations over
the advantage of POF in occasion of 10th anniversary of Keio
University Photonics Research Institute (KPRI).
on POF2019 in Yokohama.
is now open!
811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo is the
premiere international event in the damage prevention industry.
This event has featured education to help all stakeholder
groups, and opportunities to network with industry peers, learn
safe practices, and lower costs associated with underground
Put this conference on your calendar - the focus is safety in
construction. FOA will be talking about "New Construction
Techniques In Fiber Optics."
Want to submit a paper yourself? Go
in the infrastructure of smart cities as they deal with the
future of connected and automated vehicles? This comprehensive
educational conference combines presentations, panel discussions
and tutorials, along with visionary keynote speakers, to provide
an end-to-end understanding of the infrastructure requirements
and business opportunities in V2X systems. The meeting is run by
SmartGig Media who ran the excellent SmartGig Cities conferences
a couple of years ago. FOA plans to attend because this is one
big aspect of the evolution of metro communications and relates
to the interest of our new certification partner IMSA, the
Fiber Count Cables - Continued Updates
Nothing new this month...
continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with
changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of
technical information. When you go to the FOA
Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look
Protocols in the FOA Guide. 10GPON
Update In FOA Guide
Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP
Optic Jargon and Fiber
Optic Jargon for managers.
has a new page on Restoration
Characterization page in the FOA Guide goes in to more
depth on why fiber characterization is important, what tests
need performing and how to interpret results.
Practically every page in the section of the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Testing has been reviewed and updated, much of it based on
the new FOA textbook on testing. This includes pages on
measuring power, fiber attenuation, connector or splice loss and
cable plant loss. Browse
through the testing section and see what's new.
started with a page in the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Network Management that describes what our advisors
think is important and created a page to introduce them to the
language and technology of fiber optics which we call "Fiber
Optic Jargon - Illustrated." Over time, we'll be expanding
this section and create a Fiber U self-study course also.
created a new section of the FOA
Guide on OSP
and Cleaning Connectors.
connectors are one of the major problems in fiber optics,
causing high connector loss, high reflectance and contaminating
transceivers. Network operators claim that 15-50% of all network
problems can be traced to dirty connectors causing connection
Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.
FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.
School Offers Toolkit With Online Training
Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple
fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber
optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and
online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all
tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic
connectors and test optical power. Information
on the kit is available on YouTube.
You can contact them for more information at
FiberNext Job Board And Savings Club For CFOTs
Approved School FiberNext
has created an online job board for fiber techs and a special
"savings club" for CFOTs.
Job Board was designed to help connect employers with fiber
technicians and other fiber optic professionals. It is a place
where employers in the fiber optic market can post job
openings and a place where fiber optic professionals can post
that they are looking for employment. Please feel free to post
an opening or browse for your next job or employee. https://fibernext.com/job_board.php
FiberNext, besides being an FOA approved school is also a
distributor. FiberNext invites FOA CFOT®s to join the “FiberNext
CFOT® Club to get special savings on selected fiber optic
products. Visit https://fibernext.com/cfot_club.php to
sign up today ”
Fiber Optic Cable
received this note from Steve Maginnis, LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom
Recycling on recycling fiber optic cable:
We have 3 Processors gearing up to accept fiber optic
cable (FOC). As we all know, all FOC is not the same. Several
truckloads of “typical” FOC scrap from FOC mfgrs and “typical”
FOC and Coax cable have been studied and tested.
Therefore, today you can begin contacting me with the type FOC
material or scrap you toss to the landfills today. We need to
quantify the expected feedstock. Our expectation for quantities
is quite large (tons) but there is a capacity limit. And I do
have several processors that can take ALL materials and others
that can accept LIMITED types of FOC material and quantity.
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit our new
On The Job
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
video and a Safety
Practices Guide For Underground Construction
you are familiar with the "One Call" and "Call Before You Dig"
(811) program, but are you also familiar with the people behind
it - the Common Ground Alliance and their Best Practices
is a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals,
organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground
utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to
saving lives and preventing damage to underground
infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention
practices. CGA has established itself as the leading
organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground
facilities in North America through shared responsibility
among all stakeholders.
formed in 2000, the CGA represents a continuation of the
damage prevention efforts embodied by the Common
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and
completed in 1999, this Study represents the collaborative
work of 160 industry professionals who identified best
practices relating to damage prevention. Any
best practice or program endorsed by the CGA comes with
consensus support from experts representing the following
stakeholder groups: Excavators, Locators, Road Builders,
Electric, Telecommunications, Oil, Gas Distribution, Gas
Transmission, Railroad, One Call, Public Works, Equipment
Manufacturing, State Regulators, Insurance, Emergency
Services and Engineering/Design.
the CGA Best Practices Guide here.
are all the CGA resources for damage prevention.
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: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/otps/exeorder.cfm
From the Council of State governments: http://www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/enews/cs41_1.aspx
From the city of San Francisco: http://sfgov.org/dt/dig-once
An article about Dakota County, MN: https://muninetworks.org/tags/tags/dig-once
the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative: https://share.america.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/6.-GCI-Dig-Once.pdf
have contacts give us online links for useful information which
we like to share with our readers. Here are two:
We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
Photo courtesy Brian Brandstetter, Mississauga
FOA is a
non-profit professional society chartered to promote
professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification
and standards. FOA is mostly known for certifying techs -
-Certified Fiber Optic Technicians - but also may be CPCTs -
Certified Premises Cabling Technicians or corporate
members involved in fiber optics.
FOA is a "virtual organization" - we have no "brick and mortar"
presence. We operate over the Internet with operations centered
in California, with active workers and volunteers in locations
as diverse as Texas, Ohio, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Denmark,
South Africa, the Middle East and many more.
Being a virtual organization, FOA has very low overhead,
allowing us to offer cost-effective certifications and many free
programs to support our industry.
As of today, FOA has certified this many techs. About 90% come
from our schools but many experienced techs have become FOA
CFOT-certified directly through our "Work-to-Cert"
FOA has almost 200 approved training organizations in about 40
countries around the world around the world.
Certifications Now Last For 3-Years
in 2019, all FOA certifications issued or renewed will be for a
period of 3 years. Most certification bodies worldwide have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has been working with
a number of organizations that use our programs but have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has decided that it
is time to change our policies to align with the majority of
Remember that FOA certification renewals include all the
certifications one individual has for one price. FOA does not
charge for any additional certifications, so, for example, if a
CFOT also has specialist certifications like the CFOS/T or
CFOS/S, they are included at no additional cost when the basic
certification is renewed.
FOA has 14
fiber optic certification programs covering every aspect
of fiber optic network design, installation and operation.
Certifications: CFOT (basic fiber), CPCT (premises cabling),
CFOS/O (outside plant, taught with CFOT included) and CFOS/D
(fiber optic network design).
Skills Certifications (for installers and techs, requires
CFOT): CFOS/S (splicing), CFOS/C (connectors/termination),
CFOS/T (testing), CFOS/FC (fiber characterization).
Applications Certifications (for techs or anyone, including
managers and supervisors): FTTH (fiber to the home), CFOS/L
(optical LANs), CFOS/DC (data centers), CFOS/A (fiber to the
antenna), CFOS/DAS (distributed antenna systems) and CFOS/W
(fiber for wireless)
(what you are reading)
FOA monitors the trade press, websites and other
resources continually to look at what's happening in many
technologies that affect fiber optics. We're tracing
technologies as diverse as wireless, IoT, autonomous vehicles,
smart cities, energy, or anywhere fiber is used to bring news to
FOA continually updates our technical materials, online and
printed, and our curriculum to ensure our readers have access to
the latest technical information and our schools teach the
latest technology and applications. Our printed books are being
updated right now.
FOA created the
FOA Online Guide as a non-commercial trustworthy technical
reference almost a decade ago so the industry would have a
reliable technical reference. In the last year, over 1million
visitors downloaded about 4 million pages of technical
FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber
U. In 2017, the number of online sessions doubled to
200,000. Many of those are preparing for FOA certification
programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert"
program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as
prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more
time on hands-on activities.
FOA offers over 100 educational YouTube
videos that have been viewed 2.4 million times.
FOA offers its training programs to other organizations at no
cost to help them train their members properly in fiber optics.
For example, FOA has been working with the Electrical Training
Alliance (IBEW/NECA) for over 20 years, training their
instructors for their apprenticeship programs. We work with many
other organizations and companies to provide the materials they
FOA has about 300 corporate
members - companies in various aspects of the fiber optic
industry worldwide that we list online and offer discounts on
certifications and renewals.
FOA provides speakers for many conferences and even
presentations for use by other organizations to educate people
on the aspects of fiber optic communications.
FOA has a program to provide classroom
materials for STEM
teachers (science, technology, engineering and math)
introducing K-12 students to fiber optics and creating science
FOA provides forums for discussion on various social media. Our
LinkedIn groups have about 5,000 members each. If you are not
joining us on social media yet, please do.
In A Career 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 www.foa.org/careers/.
Optic Education For Students At Any Age
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.
start with the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics web page at www.foa.org/careers/.
These are for students who think they might be interested in
careers in fiber optics and want to know more about what fiber
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 Fiber, Fiber
Attenuation and Connector
Loss that show how fiber works using simple experiments
that can be duplicated in any classroom. More videos will be
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
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,
and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their
classes. Fiber Optic
Resources For Teachers.
you have kids in school or know teachers who are interested,
send them to the FOA page Fiber
Optic Resources For Teachers.
Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?
As all FOA
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
form. Here's the map.
The online map
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
Does An Organization Become An FOA Corporate Member?
just fill in the online
application form. When your application is accepted, you
will be asked to pay the one time membership fee - $100US. You
will then be listed on the online
have access to exclusive FOA educational materials for your
employees and get discounts on certifications and
now posts events on our LinkedIn groups, Facebook page and
other social media
has a company page and three LinkedIn Groups
- official company page on LinkedIn
- covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace
Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic
technology and training topics
de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)
FOA 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
301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard
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 Self-Study Programs
"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.
Online Self-Study Programs Offer Certificates of Completion
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.
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.
Books And Publications
Many textbooks are behind the technology because they are
rarely updated. FOA really keeps our textbooks up to date. We
did a major update a year ago and another was just completed.
The The FOA
Reference Guide To Fiber Optics has been updated
to reflect new components like OM5 fiber, testing for fiber
characterization and more information on installation.
Reference Guide To Outside Plant FIber Optics
has been expanded to include an extensive section on outside
plant construction taken from Joe Botha's
OSP Construction Guide textbook. This additional
material is being added to support the new FOA CFOS/O OSP
tech certification program which now includes of OSP
Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Available in French and Spanish
de Diseño para Redes de Fibra Óptica en
Español - FOA
Design Book Available In Spanish Online
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.
& Uncle Ted Guides - Perfect For Getting Started
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
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
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.
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.
Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and
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
Download PDFs of Lennie
or Uncle Ted.
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
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. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/foa-losscalc/id476262894?mt=8&ls=1
FOA has many videos on ,
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
a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
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.
Optics - Live! A
series of videos that use lab demonstrations to show how
optical fiber works.
Project Management - what's involved in a
copper/fiber/wireless project -advice for the customer and the
Of Counterfeit Cable
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.
Cable Real UL-rated cable
difference is obvious and the danger is real. Watch the video
on YouTube: Premises
Cabling Lecture 11: Counterfeit Cat 5 Cabling
complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
all the FOA Channel on YouTube.
Communications Technologies, FOA
Approved School #378.
a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.
Find An FOA-Approved Training
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.
Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do
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.
enjoy feedback, especially when it shows how great some FOA
instructors are. These came from students of Tom Rauch, an
instructor at BDI
"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!"
and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the
National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
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
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.
Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating
The FOA Fiber FAQs
Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions) gathers up
questions readers have asked us and adds tech topics of
Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers
Q: Can you guide me some websites or pages where I can learn more about Gpon Technology please?
A: FOA Guide has a big section on FTTH and OLANs using GPON technology. Follow those links,
We are installing 216 fiber aerial cable for 12km with 2
splicing points. We use 3 different fusion machines and they
report that all splices are 0.00db. But when we check using OTDR
we get above 0.04db. The question is how can we get below 0.04db
A: The loss results from both fusion splicers and OTDRs
are estimates, with considerable uncertainty. The splicing
machines estimate based on the optical images of the fibers. The
OTDR estimates loss based on fiber backscatter and may give
significant differences depending on the direction of test. The
differences you quote are within the uncertainty of the two
On Link Length
Q: I have a fiber run for a camera starts at location A to
location B it is 467 feet. Location B jumpers through to
location C which is 2060 ft at location C. Transceivers areSFPs
ONLY GOOD UP TO 1800 ft, but this company only has a multimode
system. Is there something i can do to make this work?
A: It might work as is, since electronics are usually
quoted with conservative specs and will work farther than
specified most of the time. If you have several SFPs, test the
output power to see if it exceeds specs and choose the 2 ones
with highest power. If that still doesn’t work, contact SFP
manufacturers for higher power units.
Q: I’m having trouble finding much information on the
matter. What type of swivel should be used to pull fiber and
what would be the correct way to pull armored fiber.
A: Start on the FOA Guide here and go here for
types of swivel pulling eyes. with https://foa.org/tech/ref/OSP_Construction/Underground_Installation.html
and here are sources https://www.comstarsupply.com/cable-pulling/swivels.html
It’s not common to “pull” armored cable since it’s designed for
direct burial, but a kellums
grip on the jacket will generally work.
Errors In A Data Link
Q: What is the significance of bit error, and what is the
acceptable rate for communications and submersible vehicles?
A: On any data link, there is an acceptable amount of
error that can be tolerated. If it’s a digital voice link, a BER
10E-6 (1 error in 1million bits) is acceptable without affecting
voice quality. If it’s a link to your bank, the typical standard
is a million times higher (10E-12). Link protocols usually have
ways to determine BER, like attaching a checksum to the end of a
data packet and having it checked at the receiving end. If a
error is suspected, the packet will be discarded and
retransmitted. Here is a tutorial
on BER and an explanation
of errors in a a fiber optic link.
Math of Fiber Optics
Q: Do you by any chance recommend any books as an
introduction to understand the mathematics of fiber optics?
Fiber optics confuses me, particularly how so much data
can travel over light without interfering with each other,
A: If you are interested in information theory, that’s
really covered by Claude Shannon at Bell Labs 70 years ago.
That’s actually pretty simple. Shannon proved that digital data
was best and how much data could be transmitted with a given
amount of bandwidth (Read
more). There are several levels of math associated with
fiber optics. The real theoretical basis is probably in dozens
of books but I like these:
Top Level: Gerd
Middle Level: Jeff
If you are interested in non-math explanations, the FOA website
For testing math (dB loss, metrology, etc.) these links or the FOA
book on Testing
and Fiber Optics
Math of Insertion Loss Testing - Reference Methods
Q: Why NOT make the use of APC connectors the new standard
for all adds, moves and changes to any campus, MDU or similar
application using single mode cable?
A: There is absolutely no reason not to use APC
connectors other than the cost is higher and one must be careful
if they are used in a cable plant that also has PCs or UPCs
because they are incompatible. We recommend them all the time
for short links like data centers, passive optical LANs and FTTH
where runs of singlemode fiber are short. In fact they are very
common in these networks today.
Q What is normal Range for good power in an FTTH fiber?
A: The GPON specification for downstream power from the
OLT is OLT transmitter power should be 0 to +6dBm and link
attenuation in the range of 13 to 28dB, which says receiver
power the ONT must be a maximum of 13 dB less than +6dBm or
-7dBm and a minimum of 28 dB less than 0dBm or -28dBm, so -7 to
-28dBm at the receiver.
Upstream, the similar calculation is ONT transmitter -4 to
+2dBm and the receive power at theOLT is -11 to
See http://thefoa.org/tech/ref/appln/FTTH-PON.html for the full
specifications for GPON.
Cable Before Installation
Does the FOA publish a standard for assessing single-mode
fiber optic cables, prior to use on a specific project?
A: The ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 fiber optic installation
standard covers this in Section 4.1. It recommends visual
inspection and testing if there is any suspicion of damage to
the cable. Many contractors will test a couple of fibers with an
OTDR before installing any cable, just for assurance. It
requires an OTDR with a pigtail launch cable and a mechanical
Cable Bend Radius
We are working on project where we need to know difference
between short term and long term bend radius for fiber optic
A: The bend radius for cables is generally specified
under two conditions - under stress, e. g. when being pulled, it
is a radius 20 times the cable diameter. Relaxed, after
installation, it is a radius 10 times the cable diameter. The
relaxed specification, 10X, is considered a long term
specification. Some of the new high fiber count cables have
different specifications, sometimes 15X or 20X under either
condition. Check with the manufacturer for their specific cable.
Q: If testing a 40KM link with 1KM launch and
receive cords should I be able to see the connector and cassette
splice on each side? My OTDR setup is at 64KM, 300ns pulse and
10 second test at 1310/1550/1625. It shows as a single event so
far but with the pulse width at 300ns won’t that combine the
events into one event during analysis?
A: You will not be able to resolve a connector and splice
close together, especially on a long link like that. 300ns is
almost 60m pulse width! You will see an even of the splice and
Q: We are looking at the specs for two devices, A
and B. The spec sheet of Device A lists it is capable of MM in
850nm wavelength. The spec sheet of Device B lists it can do MM
at 1300nm. If I connect these devices via MM patch cord, what is
the impact due to different wavelengths? Will the transmission
suffer significant loss or since both are multimode, wavelength
A: Fiber works at either wavelength, but transceivers do
not. The attenuation rate for MM fiber is ~3dB/km at 850nm but
only ~1dB/km at 1300nm. But 850nm receivers use silicon
photodiodes while 1300 nm receivers use InGaAs. The 1300
detectors are not sensitive at 850nm and vice versa. So while
the fiber works fine, the electronics do not. They should only
be used with like devices.
questions are now available here on the FOA Guide.
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.
Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords
Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR
Optical Power In Communications Systems
Tech Topics -
Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket? (See the video on
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.
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.
YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking
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
info on the YOKOGAWA AQ7280.
thanks Yokogawa for a gift of an OTDR to use for R&D and
you read the FOA
pages on cleaning?