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January 2020


    
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In This Issue - (INDEX)

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

Features

Watch Out For This Year
FOA in 2019
Upgrade Your KSAs
Can You Learn Skills Online?
A Thing of Beauty Made From Fiber
Taking Care of Your Fiber Optic Tools
"Smart" Cities - Cutting Through The Hype
Pole Wars - New Battlefronts
Conference on Damage Prevention
OFC Conference
Recognize Anybody Here?
Worth Reading- News Summary
Video Microscope for Fast MPO Inspection
10GPON Update
Lennie's Guide - 25th Anniversary Edition
FOA Guide Updates
FOA School Offers Toolkit With Online Training
More

FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

Sections 

FOA Facts - about the organization

FOA Resources  
Fiber U - free online self-study courses
Publications: FOA Textbooks, NECA/FOA 301
 "Quickstart Guides"
 videos FOA YouTube Videos
Online Reference Guide: Many new pages
Certification. Updated:  FOA OSP Certification
FOA Schools: New schools and programs
Q&A: What technical questions you asked the FOA?
FOA Fiber FAQs Page
Product News - New stuff
Worth Reading: News from around the world



DIG SAFE - Call 811 before you dig!


Jobs
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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Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

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.

fiberu.org

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 Lightwave

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


FOA Videos on videos

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The FOA Newsletter is edited by Jim Hayes - send your stories, leads, ideas, comments to <jim @ foa.org>
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FOA Newsletter - Features

Best Wishes For A Happy And Prosperous 2020!

But Watch Out For This Year...

We're only a few days into the New Year and all we can say is the outlook is uncertain.

The enthusiastic hype that has filled the news in the past with promises of 5G solving the world's problems
has turned to skepticism. "Smart" cities are being discussed as not such a smart idea anymore. The latest battles in the "pole wars" we've written about before now focus on placement of small cells for 4G/5G, not on installing aerial fiber optic cables. Read the "Worth Reading" section below for more.

It is obvious that forecasting the near future is a futile exercise, so let's do the best thing we can, plan for uncertainty and do things that will hopefully make our future better, or at least less uncertain.

That's not to say we're pessimistic. Here at FOA we have been working on some programs that will help you improve you knowledge and skills so that you may be better equipped for the future. More on that below.

While large service providers in the US have stepped back from FTTH, cities and utilities are forging ahead, as are more foresighted service providers around the world. While 5G may be a dream (nightmare?), small cells are actively being installed, even leading to conflict with cities over who gets on which pole (utility, street light, traffic light, etc.) See "Pole Wars Update" below. Data centers seem an endless market driven by a seemingly endless appetite for data on digital devices. Alternative energy projects are growing with solar and wind power now cheaper than fossil fuels and they all use fiber. New sports stadiums are going up in lots of places and they consume thousands of miles of fiber and thousands of wireless (cellular and WiFi) antennas.

There seems to be enough work for everybody.

FOA in 2019

Here is a quick look at FOA in the last year. Certification continues at a fast pace, ending the year just shy of 80,000 certified techs who have achieved over 110,000 total certifications.

2019 FOA Certifications


FOA continues to add more educational resources to our knowledge base that can help you in your work. Last year, readers downloaded 3,364,626 pages from the ~1,000 pages of technical information in our online Guide. Visitors  have watched a total 3,266,969 videos on the FOA YouTube channel.
FOA's Fiber U free online self-study programs had  200,941 sessions last year, with the favorite courses the basic fiber optics, outside plant, OTDRs and design.

We started to do a long writeup about what happened last year in fiber optic technology, components and applications, but in reviewing last year's article in the FOA Newsletter, we saw mostly more of the same. so rather than copying that into this newsletter you can review last year's article here. One new item we covered extensively last year, even visiting Corning to see some of these cables in use, was high fiber count cables, with the maximum number of fibers doubling to 6912. These cables are still specialty items however, not in the scope of most installers.


New Year's Resolutions? Upgrade Your KSAs

Now we're a few weeks into the new year and you've probably already broken you resolutions about diet, exercise, etc., maybe you should consider upgrading your KSAs - your knowledge, skills and abilities related to your work in fiber optics and keeping up to date with new applications. While it won't necessarily help your waistline, it should help your "bottom line" - income and profit, that is.

FOA has just the place to learn -
Fiber U. Fiber U offers 15 free online courses starting with an introduction to fiber optics for those new to fiber and including courses covering installer skills topics (basic fiber, basic skills, OSP construction and installation, testing and OTDRs), a course for those designing fiber optic networks, and six courses on specific applications of fiber optics (FTTx, OLANs, fiber for wireless, cell tower antennas and DAS, and data centers.)

If you are a working fiber tech, the applications courses can enhance your ability to get business in those areas because you will know the specifics of the applications. With so much work being done on wireless (small cells, 4G/5G) and data centers (small to hyperscale), understanding these applications can certainly improve your prospects in those markets.

Learning more from the skills courses like testing and OTDRs is a no-brainer, but you might look at our upgraded
"Basic Fiber Optic Skills Lab" too. You might find it will help you upgrade your skills, but we have another aim for the basic skills self-study.

If you are a contractor who has new employees that you want to upgrade their skills or apprentices who are just starting in fiber optics, the
Basic Fiber Optic Skills Lab lets them use their own tools and components to learn installation skills they use daily on the jobs. The new workbook we've added to the basic skills lab guides the person taking the course through the exercises and provides worksheets to record the results of their labs. We've upgraded the virtual hands-on (VHO) tutorials also and made them so you can download and print them to help you with the steps in the exercises.



Can You Learn Hands-On Skills Online?

basic skills lab

Knowledge is easy to learn online, but learning skills requires "hands-on" practice and that requires tools and components to practice with. Here at FOA, we've been working on an online course that could help many techs learn new skills or improve others using an online self-study course and their own equipment.

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. Recently we have been working on improving the course to make it easier and more effective.  We've added a Basic Skills Workbook for each topic in the course that you can download to guide you through the study and hands-on exercises. We've updated what we call "Virtual Hands-On" (VHO) tutorials where we use an analysis of the activities to break them into step-by-step instructions that help you learn the processes. We've also added new technologies like splice-on connectors (SOCs) that have become very popular.

If you are a newcomer to fiber optics, 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. If you are a CFOT or working tech now and want to learn some new processes, this can help you too.

Like all Fiber U courses, the
Fiber U Basic Fiber Optic Skills Lab is free.


A Thing of Beauty Made From Fiber

Sensorio

Not everything about fiber is technical details. Artists have made some beautiful works using fiber optics over the years, some ow which we have featured in this newsletter. But perhaps the most spectacular work of art made with fiber covers almost 15 acres on a ranch in wine country near Paso Robles, CA.

Sensorio

Artist Bruce Munro used 15,000 fiber optic cables and 60,000 glas spheres lit with a complex network of lights to create an undulating landscape of light. “Field of Light at Sensorio” has attracted worldwide attention and many visitors who pay to stroll along the walkways through the work. The exhibit costs $19-30 to visit, $95 with dinner, and will be open to the public until the end of June, 2020.

Thanks to Sensorio for the use of their photos. Don't miss the spectacular photos by the NY Times photographer Jim McAuley in their article on the exhibit. The pictures on artist Bruce Munro's website are spectacular also, showing his many other works of art using light.





SPECIAL OFFER - Save 1/3 On Your Certification Renewal Cost

In the near future, there will be a requirement for continuing education to renew your FOA certifications. We'll explain why soon, but for now FOA is testing an option for renewals where you take a short Fiber U online self-study course with certificate of completion exam and pay for renewal when taking the exam. 

If you would like to help FOA test this option, you can save 1/3 the cost of your renewal.  Go here to take the Fiber U CFOT Renewal Course:



Looking For A Job?

Did you know that FOA has a lot of information on the website about where the jobs are in fiber optics and how to get one of them? One of the topics is how to use job search sites to find fiber optic jobs. We just added a new site to the link, ZIPRECRUITER.COM, that you should check out. They even have some good information on what fiber optic jobs pay, based on their listings.



There's more below....

.. plus some really interesting technical questions discussed in depth





The FOA 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.

The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQs = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general interest.

This months "Good Questions" has some unique questions from our readers.


Taking Care of Your Fiber Optic Tools

fiber optic toolkit

Nothing is more frustrating that trying to accomplish a task and having problems with your tools. It doesn’t matter whether it is not being able to find a tool or finding a damaged tool put back in the toolbox without being repaired or replaced, it is a problem.

Have you ever noticed how careful automobile mechanics are with their tools? The right tools are absolutely necessary for their work and they know they must keep them in good condition and stored in the tool’s proper location when not being used. Tools are expensive - not just for mechanics but for fiber technicians too - so learn how to use them correctly and take care of them so they will work properly when you need them.

Never, ever, go out on a job unless you have inspected your tools and test equipment back in the office and verified your tool kit is complete, your test equipment is working properly and you have all the supplies and consumables you need.

A corollary of this is never take new gear into the field until you have tested it in the office and are familiar enough with its use that you will not have problems in the field caused by unfamiliarity with it. When I was in the fiber optic test equipment business, it amazed us how many help calls we got from customers who were at the job site and wanted to know how to use the equipment!

Let’s get more specific. Start with your tools. Clean off a table and open your fiber optic tool kit. Are all the tools there? Grab a notepad and list what you are missing. Even better create a list of tools you need and use it as a checklist so you don’t forget anything. In fact, I’ll include on the online version of this article at http://www.ecmag.com a list of recommended tools you can use as a checklist. And keep a copy of that list in your toolkit for reference.

Some of your tools are bulletproof, but some are delicate and/or wear out. Check the condition of your fiber optic strippers and scribes in particular. They both should be carefully cleaned and inspected. Use a magnifying glass or loupe to check the working areas. Then get some fiber and test them to make sure they work properly. I recommend you have spares of these two tools in your kit since they do wear out or can be damaged, so spares are warranted.

Most test equipment is battery powered, so having spare batteries and/or keeping the batteries charged is important. Check the condition of the batteries in each piece of gear, turn it on and make sure it works properly. If your gear has adapters for various fiber optic connectors, make certain that all those adapters are there and kept in marked plastic bags to identify and protect them. Find all your reference test cables and mating adapters.

Grab one of your reference test cables and use it to check the operation of your connector inspection microscope. At the same time, you will be checking the condition of the reference cable connector. Does it look nice and clean and free from scratches? Reference test cables wear out after hundreds of tests, even when you clean them regularly, so use the microscope to check the condition of every connector on every reference cable and set aside those which look questionable.

Next use your light source and power meter to test all those reference cables. Use a single-ended insertion loss test to determine if they are still in good condition, with a loss of well under 0.5 dB, and discard the bad ones or set them aside for re-termination. If you have a checklist, keep track of the loss and watch how the loss will increase as they are used more and more. If you have an OTDR and associated launch cables for it also, use the light source and power meter to check them too.

    Finally, check all your cleaning supplies. Make sure you have enough for the next job. If not, add that to your notepad list of things to order ASAP. Don’t wait until the next job comes up; order all the replacement tools and supplies you need now and be ready.



"Smart" Cities? Cutting Through The Hype

As our readers know, we've been trying to cut through the hype about many subjects to try to determine what is real and what can be expected to actually happen that affects the fiber optic industry. From Xaqt, a company that helps customers manage data, sent out three end of the year newsletters offering something that's rare in tech, someone cutting through the hype and telling it like it is - or how they see it. Refreshing. Here are some excerpts.

The End of Smart Cities
For several months now, I've been hearing speculation and grumblings amongst technology companies about the unwinding of the Smart Cities industry. And evidence is mounting that most Cities are quietly doing the same.
  • Gone are the days of flashy press releases and cities jockeying to be the "Smartest".
  • Most corporations that were talking a big game and paying loads of money to sponsor conferences have restructured their solutions portfolio and dropped the Smart Cities moniker in favor of focusing on their core business (Xaqt included). 
  • The hype that was Columbus Smart City went exactly nowhere. Same with many other high profile initiatives.
  • The vendors that are still talking about Smart Cities are only talking about the same handful of City deployments that they have been for years.
  • The City of Kansas City, MO, who was arguably patient zero for Smart Cities in the US back in 2014 with their Cisco/Sprint partnership, has officially eliminated their Office of Innovation in favor of an "Emerging Technologies Board" (after killing the "mother of all Smart City RFPs" earlier this year).
  • 5g isn't going to save the world any more than parking sensors did...

Have we seen peak Smart Cities?
Yes, we've seen the peak. No one has scaled or found repeatability in the market. Not Cisco, not Verizon, not AT&T, not Accenture, not Xaqt. No one. The companies that have found success are those that dropped the Smart City moniker and are focused on solving acute problems instead of market making.


2020 Vision,
  • 5G - This will be more fizzle than sizzle. If the large telecom providers (cough, Verizon/T-Mobile) need to spend millions of dollars in advertising to convince you that you need something, then be wary... There will be pockets of promise emerge, but in a world where many still lack access to even basic high speed internet, I'm not optimistic that 5G will revolutionize anything this year other than maybe some Super Bowl commercials. 
  • Smart Cities - As I've said, this will transition to Digital Cities and Digital Transformation of Government.


Digital Cities - a Managed Approach.  

As we transition from the end of Smart Cities and technology driven agendas into Digital Cities where technology supports policy, I believe it's important to evaluate what we've learned and take a fresh approach moving forward.
In Smart Cities, technology became the agenda with objectives and outcomes being loosely defined, if at all. However, if we simply reverse the concept, we end-up with the notion that technology should support City and government priorities and objectives. Not the other way around.
Thus we enter a new era of Digital Cities where well designed and measured initiatives can yield tangible benefits to governments and their constituents.


All three are really worth reading!


Pole Wars - New Battlefronts

pole wars

Utilities, Telcos in 5G Street Light Fight (Light Reading)

The origin of our series on "Pole Wars was the battle between incumbent service providers and Google Fiber. Now a new battle is brewing over the poles.

"Big wireless network operators like AT&T and Verizon are hungrily eying your neighborhood street light as the perfect home for their 5G small cell transmitters. After all, those light poles already offer a reliable source of electricity, and they're often located in just the right place to push 5G signals into your home or office.

There's just one big problem: The street light might fall over if the small cell is too heavy.

"The vast majority of street lights are not structurally capable of supporting wireless communications facilities, thus requiring the complete replacement of the street light structure in order to accommodate wireless," Xcel and Southern Company -- two of the nation's biggest utilities -- wrote in a filing to the FCC on the topic."

But the battle may really be over revenue for small cell sites. Read the article in Light Reading - some of the links are very interesting also!






Conference On Damage Prevention For Utilities

CGA COnf 2020

Registration is now open!

FOA will be talking about "New Construction Techniques In Fiber Optics."

The CGA 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 damages.

Put this conference on your calendar - the focus is safety in construction.


OFC 2020

March 8-12, Exhibits 10-12, San Diego California

With nearly 15,000 attendees from 65 countries and more than 700 exhibits, OFC is the year's largest conference for the optical communications and networking industry. It is the premier event where you can learn about the latest research breakthroughs, innovations and see the newest commercial products. Admission to the exhibits is free, but be sure to look at all the conference sessions and educational courses.

Register for Free Exhibit Pass and conference sessions at the OFC Exhibition.



Recognize Anybody Here?

This is the FOA Board of Advisors 20 years ago, meeting to work on FOA certifications.

FOA Directors 1999

FOA will be 25 years old in July - watch for more articles on FOA history.



Worth Reading - News Summary

Each month we read hundreds of emails and online articles. These are the ones we think you will find "worth reading."

The End of Smart Cities, 2020 Vision, Digital Cities - a Managed Approach.   From Xaqt, a company that helps customers manage data, read something that's rare in tech, someone cutting through the hype and telling it like it is - or how they see it


How OFS Manufactures Optical Fiber
While OFS is well known as a leader in fiber optics, some people do not realize that our company is also a global manufacturer of award-winning, world-class optical fibers. In fact, OFS, through its predecessor companies, was actually one of the first optical fiber manufacturers in the world. We invite you to tour our Norcross, Georgia, fiber manufacturing facilities by viewing our latest video. (This is from the OFS "Optical Pulse" newsletter, wihich has several very interesting articles and product announcements. Worth reading!)


Experts want to help heartland cities compete for tech jobs. Their plan costs $100 billion. - The Washington Post

Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy - The New York Times
What does your cell phone reveal about you?

Here's Why It Might Be Time to Worry About mmWave 5G
Neither AT&T nor Verizon has offered any specificity around their 5G millimeter-wave (mmWave) buildout plans for 2020.

Meet Trump's New 5G Czar -  Robert Blair the US's new "Special Representative for International Telecommunications Policy," where he will be responsible for supporting the administration's 5G efforts. However, Blair has no discernible background in telecommunications.

Businesses need to rethink where they put cell towers - Futurity - Placing cell towers 500 meters (1,640 feet) away from schools and hospitals could save companies trouble down the road, researchers at Michigan Tech report.


Cisco Wants to 'Build a New Internet' for 5G - Cisco rolled out a revamp of its end-to-end networking portfolio on Wednesday, including new silicon, optics and software that, the company proclaims, will carry the Internet through the next decade.

Your Internet Provider Likely Juiced Its Official Speed Scores - AT&T, Cox, Comcast and other broadband companies succe
New Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos From Sticklers
This three-part training video series covers some of the most important practices to consider when cleaning fiber.

5G could change the world. 5G is also marketing hype.
5G is 80% marketing and 20% technology,” said Gigi Sohn, a senior fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “The hype around this technology is enormous, and also the hype around needing to win a so-called race around 5G.”  Marketplace,
 
So the internet didn’t turn out the way we hoped. The NY Times devoted an entire Sunday Magazine to the Internet

Carriers' 4G Maps Are Rubbish, but FCC Chief Proposes $9B for 5G Anyway    Light Reading
"The Commission dispatched Enforcement Bureau field agents to conduct speed tests of the Verizon, U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile networks," the FCC wrote in its 66-page report.


T-Mobile Quietly Moves Its 5G Goalposts.    Light Reading
T-Mobile is informing reviewers and customers that its new lowband 5G network will be on average 20% faster than its 4G LTE network.


AT&T Rolls Out 5G on Multiple Frequencies     
Light Reading
AT&T announced last week that they will roll-out their 5G mobile service in select markets this year using low-band 850 MHz spectrum. AT&T has offered guidance that its low-band 850 MHz 5G can reach about 2 miles, and the 5G+ in comparison, has a range of roughly 1,000 feet.

Want a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an Apprentice (NYTimes)
Apprenticeships probably began with the first jobs, where young people work under experienced craftspeople to learn a trade. In the last century, they became more organized under labor unions like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the FOA's oldest and biggest approved school systems. Today, apprenticeships are expanding as young people look at viable alternatives to loading themselves with debt while attending college.


How 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!

State Legislative Initiatives to Restrict Low-Voltage Contractors and Integrators From Installing Equipment, Cabling and Infrastructure



The True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or target practice can cost)

Rural Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues, June 2019.

Ckearfield-FOA 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.

Substandard Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle Down  (EC Mag)

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 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.


New Video Microscope For Fast MPO Inspection

AFL-MPO

AFL’s new FOCIS Lightning is an ultrafast compact multifiber inspection system that is 10 to 100 times faster than other solutions. One button push auto-focuses, captures & performs pass/fail analysis and stores up to 10,000 images. Share results via USB, Bluetooth® or WiFi.

Here is the datasheet on the product.



10GPON Update In FOA Guide

FOA has 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.

More on PON Protocols in the FOA Guide.



Introducing Lennie Lightwave's Guide - 25th Anniversary Edition

FOA has reprinted "Lennie Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special print edition.

Lennie 25th Anniversary  


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.



Another Look At Connector Contamination

Brian 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.
contamination of fiber optic conector


FOA 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. When you go to the FOA Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look for New.


PON Protocols in the FOA Guide. 10GPON Update In FOA Guide

Basic Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP Fiber Optic Jargon and Fiber Optic Jargon for managers.

FOA has a new page on Restoration
 
The updated Fiber 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.

We've 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.

FOA has created a new section of the FOA Guide on OSP Construction.

Inspecting and Cleaning Connectors.
Dirty 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 problems.
FOA Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

FOA School Offers Toolkit With Online Training

Slayton tool kit

Slayton 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  slaytonsolutions@sbcglobal.net or https://www.fiberopticsinstitute.com



New FiberNext Job Board And Savings Club For CFOTs

FiberNext
FOA Approved School FiberNext has created an online job board for fiber techs and a special "savings club" for CFOTs.

Job Board
The 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

Savings Club
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 ”


Recycling Fiber Optic Cable

We 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.

Contact:
Steve Maginnis
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit our new website)
sm@LD4Recycle.com
803.371.5436



Safety On The Job

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


Best Practices Guide For Underground Construction

Best Practices - CGA

We assume 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 website?

CGA 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.

Officially formed in 2000, the CGA represents a continuation of the damage prevention efforts embodied by the Common Ground Study. 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.

Read the CGA Best Practices Guide here.

Here are all the CGA resources for damage prevention.

Should Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?





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: 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

And 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

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:




Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards


Fiber in Finger

Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultan


FOA Facts

FOA is a non-profit professional association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. FOA is mostly known for  certifying techs - mostly CFOT®s -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.

CFOT Total
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" program.

FOA has almost 200 approved training organizations in about 40 countries around the world around the world.

FOA Certifications Now Last For 3-Years

Beginning 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 other organizations.

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 CFOT Logo

FOA has 14 fiber optic certification programs covering every aspect of fiber optic network design, installation and operation.

Primary 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 our readers.

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 Guide
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 information.

fiberu.org

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.

videos

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 need.

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 projects.

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.

Find us on Facebook  FOA on LinkedIn  videos 
Pinterest  Twitter


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 www.foa.org/careers/.

ts
1-844-440-0047
www.fiberoptictraining.com





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 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 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 one time membership fee - $100US. 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. 




  


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)  

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FOA Logo FOA Resources



FOA Standards:


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 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.


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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.


FOA Books And Publications

Updated Books
FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics  FOA Reference Guide To OSP Fiber Optics

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.

The
FOA 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 construction.

 FOA Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Available in French and Spanish

  FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Text in French FOA text in Spanish FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book  FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design  FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing   FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Testing


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.


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  

Download PDFs of Lennie or Uncle Ted.


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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. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/foa-losscalc/id476262894?mt=8&ls=1



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videos


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.  






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FOA Schools

New School:

Midwest Communications Technologies, FOA Approved School #378.


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.

FOA Map

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


Feedback

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.


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Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

New: The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us and adds tech topics of general interest.

Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

Fiber Choice for LANs
Q:
Many manufacturers or suppliers worldwide emphasize the use of OM4 multimode optical fiber for the LAN. Does single-mode fiber not provide greater bandwidth than multimode? Do they imply that single mode optical fiber should only be used for long distance applications and not in LAN environments?
A: Multimode fiber is acceptable for LANs up to 10 gigabits/second and up to 550 meters depending on the type of fiber and Ethernet version. See this page for a complete list of network specifications.Higher versions of multimode fiber OM2-OM3-OM4 have higher bandwidth capability. OM5 is a version of MO4 that also supports wavelength division multiplexing with VCSEL sources in the extended wavelength 850-950nm range. OM1 is a earlier fiber with a different core size that has not been designed into new systems for almost 20 years. LANs can use singlemode fiber for all versions. Singlemode has longer distance capability (up to 40km) and virtually infinite bandwidth. See the singlemode specification in the link above. Singlemode is also used in passive optical LANs that can be much cheaper to build than conventional networks. See this page  for information on optical LANs (OLANs) including passive OLANs based on FTTH GPON technology.


Testing Pigtails
Q: A customer said he said he would test 100 foot pigtails with OTDR. I question that practice and think OLTS Tier 1 and microscope test for defects,
A: Pigtails do not have a connector on one end so that makes OTDR testing more justifiable. Clean connector, mate to connector on long reference cable, check connection and length. OLTS testing would require using bare fiber adapter or temporary splice and might not be very accurate.

What Is A Ring Network?
Q:
If according to the TIA or ISO structured cabling standards the fiber optic campus backbone must be star-hierarchical type, how should a fiber optic "ring" be built? to always ensure connectivity on a LAN?
A: A “ring” network consists of a series of links connecting equipment (nodes) in series until the last one connects back to the first. Since the links are communicate in both directions, the network can still operate if any one cabling link or equipment fails. Today, survivability is usually ensured by using a “mesh” network; the architecture of data centers, the Internet or phones. In addition to having a series connection of nodes, there are other interconnections that provide for multiple alternative paths. See Networks in the FOA Guide. https://foa.org/tech/ref/appln/networks.html


Testing Samples Not Everything
Q
: Instead of testing everything, how does one determine how many fibers or components to test for a reasonable statistical sampling?
A: The relevant term is AQL - acceptance quality limit - a term that is used for statistical sampling for testing. Here is a web page that explains it: https://qualityinspection.org/what-is-the-aql/. Let testing and inspection evolve. At first test thoroughly, but drop testing anything that never fails, it’s a waste of time. Qualify vendors and test trusted vendors less. 

Fiber Lifetime
Q:
I am often ask how long the fiber we are deploying today will last or be useable , I typically say something like it will last at least 20 years and that no one really knows how long it can be used.   What is the oldest fiber optic network or longish segment that is still in production that you know of?
A: Current cables are probably good for 40 years or so. Today there is some fiber being used by telcos from the late 1980s and lots form the late 1990s and early 2000s. Lots of OPGW (optical power ground wire) is in use up to 30 years old. Some of this old fiber is being used at 10Gb//s. But remember that fiber from 20 or 30 years ago may have limitations on bandwidth, since both chromatic and polarization mode dispersion has been reduced in newer fibers for higher speed networks. And spectral attenuation of older fibers may be higher and have the water peak at 1383nm that can affect wavelength-division multiplexing systems. But the weak point may not be the cable or fiber, but the splice and termination points where bare fibers may be exposed to the elements. It's not uncommon to find these fibers have become brittle and are hard to work with. What we always tell people is if it’s working, leave it alone. If you want to upgrade to higher bit rate systems, use fiber characterization to determine if the fibers are capable of use at higher speeds.

Crossed Connections
Q:
If a FO connector is crossed connected i.e Rx connected Rx and Tx to Tx at both end, will it works?
I know in theory it will not due to light circuits arrangement, but is there SFP in the market can tolerate that? 
A: We do not know how a SFP could sense and change polarity unless it had an optical switch inside the module. A transmitter is a laser or LED and a receiver has a photodetector. Unless one could have the devices change function, changing polarity would be impossible.

Construction Near Underground Fiber
Q:
What is the recommended distance for any new building construction to build near underground fiber duct channel?
A: We do not know of any standards or codes related to construction near fiber or other underground utilities. Common sense dictates that one stay far enough away to prevent accidental damage, so adding 5-6 meters(15-20ft) from the areas of construction makes sense.



FTTH GPON
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,


Splice Loss
Q: 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 splicing loss?
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 instruments.



Cheating 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.


Pulling Cable
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 Keiser  
Middle Level: Jeff Hecht.

If you are interested in non-math explanations, the FOA website has that:
Fiber Optic Datalinks
Bandwidth: https://foa.org/tech/ref/OSP/fiber.html#dispersion
Wavelength-Division Multiplexing

For testing math (dB loss, metrology, etc.) these links or the FOA book on Testing
Metrology and Fiber Optics
The Math of Insertion Loss Testing - Reference Methods


APC Connectors
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.

GPON
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 -32dBm.
See http://thefoa.org/tech/ref/appln/FTTH-PON.html for the full specifications for GPON.

T
esting Cable Before Installation
Q: 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 splice.


Cable Bend Radius
Q: We are working on project where we need to know difference between short term and long term bend radius for fiber optic cable?
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.

OTDR Resolution
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 connector combined.


Transmission Wavelength Compatibility
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 is irrelevant?
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.

 



Older questions are now available here on the FOA Guide.



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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  

Testing Optical Power In Communications Systems 





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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.


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Product News


YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking


Yokogawa OTDR

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

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



Have you read the FOA pages on cleaning?



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 Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

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

See www.call811.com for more information

The Common Ground Alliance has an excellent "Best Practices Guide" online

Fiber Optic Asset 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.   




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Employment/Job Listings

Send your job openings to info @foa.org and we'll run them in all our social media.


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 info@thefoa.org.

Join FOA on 
FOA on LinkedIn

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




 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."





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 FOA Logo Merchandise

New FOA Swag! Shirts, Caps, Stickers, Cups, etc.
FOA T Shirt
The FOA has created a store on Zazzle.com 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 info@thefoa.org to get logos in file format for your use.

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Privacy Policy (for the EU GDPR): The FOA does not use cookies or any other web tricks to gather information on visitors to our website, nor do we allow commercial advertising. Our website hosts may gather traffic statistics for the visitors to our website and our online testing service, ClassMarker, maintains statistics of test results. 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.
Read the complete FOA Privacy Policy here.

To Contact The FOA:
 
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA) is the international professional association of fiber optics. FOA is chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certification and standards.


 
Contact Us
 
The Fiber Optic Association

http://www.foa.org or email <info@foa.org>
       



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