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February 2021

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In This Issue
Note we have changed the format to place articles in sections on one topic and all articles are dated so you know if we repeat one - whcih we often do when we think it's very important!


Why Fiber Optic Techs Need Training
How To Get AT&T FTTH In Your Home
How Fiber Works - New Fiber U Minicourse
Who Lost Lucent - A MUST READ
Tired of 5G, Read About 6G Instead

MM or SM FIber Continued

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

Over 1million 400G Ports Shipped
TIA-568 Revisions (Updated)
Phenix Automated Connector Cleaver

Technical  MM or SM FIber Continued, Lasers & LEDs, Patent on Fiber Optic Sensor , Loss Budget Calculator

Worth Reading  Lots of interesting articles

Q&A    Questions from our readers

Training/FiberU   New Fiber U MiniCourses,  schools, remote OTDR for training, making training classroom safe, onine training, materials, more
Resources New FOA YouTube Videos.  Safety  


FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?
Special offer - 1/3 Off Renewal

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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Trademarks: The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA.
FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide  Lennie 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

FOA is a member of:

TIA Online
FTTH Council

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

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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:

FOA Newsletter - Features

Why Fiber Optic Techs Need Training (And maybe an IQ test)

Photos and comments (edited to protect the guilty parties) provided from the subscriber about an installation in front of their home in the Midwestern US. 


Attached are several pics of a brand new XXXXX fiber optic junction ‘box’ installed on the utility pole across the street from my residence here in ZZZZZ.  Allow me to describe:  Clever XXXXX Technicians saw fit to locate this box on the utility pole 2 feet or so off the ground with plenty of excess wire lengths to provide handholds for intoxicated YYYYY University college students to grab onto as they stagger down the street.  This fiber-optic junction box is solidly secured to the utility pole with a roll of common electrical tape for a sound, solid, long lasting and secure mating of the device. 


In addition, the XXXXX technicians wrapped the excessive length around the utility pole ‘barber pole’ style rather than re-terminate several fiber-optic connections.


By mounting a ‘weather-proof’ splice closure upside down, this allowed rain water to seep thru the seals at the wire entry points and fill the box with water.  Later, sub freezing temperatures froze the intruded moisture which expanded (as water tends to do when frozen) and separated the fiber-optic connections inside.  This resulted in at least 3 local customers, who went out on a limb to give the new ISP a shot, losing their service.  This was Monday Feb. 15, 2021.  XXXXX's customer service informed us that the problem would be repaired by Friday Feb 19th.  A solid 4 day outage.  You can thank your intrepid highly trained installation staff for their expert craftsmanship, skill,  and foresight. 

Thanks to our reader who shared these photos and comments which were a perfect critique of this mess.If you recognize your work here, we can suggest some free online training at Fiber U to start.

FTTH Relic

FiOS Relic

This is an original FiOS drop point in the alley behind the building where we work for FOA in Santa Monica, CA It was installed around 200809 by Verizon who subsequently sold the system to Frontier. The thing to notice is the preterminated drop box.No, not the messy pole! The drop box has 12 ports but only 3 subscribers are connected. That was not good for the economics of the original system. Perhaps people just did not understand the advantages of fiber a decade ago. There is no longer a possibility of getting a fiber drop - we've tried.

How To Get AT&T "Fiber To The Home" At Your Home

It's not cheap, however. Ask Aaron Epstein of North Hollywood, CA. Tired of his slow AT&T DSL that only promised 3.5Mb/s and sometimes was only 1.5Mb/s, Mr. Epstein had been calling AT&T regularly for some time. During the pandemic, he started calling them weekly.

Frustrated by the lack of response from AT&T, Mr. Epstein placed two ads in the Wall Street Journal (below) in the Dallas (AT&T HQ) and New York editions asking why AT&T was treating its customers in North Hollywood so shabbily.


The ad was not cheap; it cost Mr. Epstein $10,000, but it got fast results, including a call from Mr. Stankey the morning the ad ran. The next day, two AT&T techs showed up to start installing his fiber optic connection.

AT&T said that a network upgrade was planned as part of an effort to bring AT&T fiber to an additional 2 million locations this year.

But it seems if you want AT&T's attention, you need to spend some money.

Lots of stories in the press on this: Washington Post, The HillArsTechnica

How Fiber Works - New Fiber U MiniCourse

Another of the mysteries of fiber optics, like dB, is how optical fiber actually guides light in the core of the fiber and transmits it with low loss. FOA has several pages in the FOA Guide on how fiber works with animated graphics that illustrate the different ways step index multimode, graded index multimode and singlemode fiber work. We also have YouTube video showing live demonstrations with a large plastic rod simulating the core of an optical fiber.

Graded index optical fiber

When we decides this was a good topic for a Fiber U MiniCourse. we decided to create a new video lecture on how fiber works. The lecture uses our usual lecture format but with videos that animate the process of total internal reflection and guided rays (modes) in the cores of the three types of optical fiber.

Like all Fiber U MiniCourses, it will take you less than an hour to complete the course and you can get a Fiber U Certificate of Completion at the end.

How Optical Fiber Works - Fiber U MiniCourse  

If you just want to watch the video, here is the FOA Lecture #60 - How Fiber Works

Worth Reading: This is a MUST READ for managers in telecom or any industry!

"Who Lost Lucent?: The Decline of America's Telecom Equipment Industry"

This long and well-researched and annotated article in American Affairs Journal should be mandatory reading for every high level manager in a telecom company - or any other company for that matter. To summarize the article, today, America has no major telecom equipment company and fears the major suppliers of equipment who are all foreign, especially the Huawei from China. This article explains how America got into this deplorable state.

Rather than retell the story, we'll give a few quotes from the article:

After all, in the 1970s the two largest telecom equipment manufacturers were U.S. companies: Western Electric and ITT. Even in the late 1990s, the two largest were still based in North America: Lucent and Nortel (headquartered in Canada but employing tens of thousands of workers in the United States).

What happened? How did America go from the world’s leader to not even an also-ran in the span of just two decades? Equally troub­ling, why did no one sound the alarm bell when there was still time for action?

The answer lies in the fact that other nations saw the industry as strate­gic and they fought to protect and promote their own companies within this sector.

While other nations were promoting and defending their industry, U.S. policymakers put their abiding faith in free markets. As the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) wrote in 1991, “The United States has never had a Federal policy to promote the communications sector and is unlikely to, given its tradition of and support for free-market policies.”

(Do you know that both ITT and Nortel were divested from AT&T  because of pressure from the US antitrust bureau? After divestiture, Western Electric was spun off and renamed Lucent Technologies>)

Once Lucent was formed, Wall Street pressures became even more intense and led to a set of ultimately catastrophic decisions.

An even faster way to grow was to buy other companies. Both Lucent and Nortel’s leaders were lured by the siren song of the internet, seeing telecom as a mature business compared to corporate data networking.

Moreover, in an effort both to cut costs and to improve their return on assets (a key measure used by Wall Street), both companies decided to get out of the business of making products.

Perhaps more than any single area of government action or inaction, a strong case can be made that it was seventy-five years of relentless effort by the federal government to break up AT&T that was the principal factor in the industry’s downfall.

(Here we're only halfway through the article. Believe me, you MUST read this article!)

The other MUST READ about this subject is one we've referenced before:

William Lazonick and Edward March, “The Rise and Demise of Lucent Technologies” (Paper presented at the conference on Innovation and Competition in the Global Communications Technology Industry, insead Fontainebleau, August 23–24, 2007),

Tired Of Hearing About 5G - Well You Can Read About 6G Instead

What? What is 6G? Why are people talking about 6G when 5G is still in its infancy?

The justification for talking about 6G is that each generation of cell phone technology has had a decade-long gestation period, so 6G should be here sometime around 2030, (probably before 5G is working right so vendors can abandon it and move on to 6G?). What do we know about 6G other than it's the next iteration of cell technology? Not very much, it turns out, but that does not deter technocrats from starting the hype already: 1000 times faster than 5G, so fast that it will enable AI in the networks. Applications you can't dream of yet. Teleportation, maybe? That's what we reported someone suggested in last month's Newsletter.

Somebody has even created a logo:


Website: What Is 6G

Multimode or Singlemode Fiber?  Continued

Last month in the FOA Newsletter we looked at the continuing debate about whether one should choose singlemode or multimode fiber for new premises networks. OSP is almost exclusively singlemode, of course. This month, we'll add more some data and discuss how there may be options for utilizing older singlemode fiber at higher speeds and longer distances. We also have some information on a movement to use APC connectors on MM fiber.

Read more in the
  Technical  section below.

FOA Newsletter Sections

News     Technical    Worth Reading    Q&A    Training/FiberU    Resoures    Safety   About


Lots more news in Worth Reading below

The following is from the Google.X blog entry for January 21, 2021

Loon’s final flight: After 9 years surfing the stratospheric winds, Loon’s journey is coming to an end.

Astro Teller

When we unveiled Loon in June 2013, we meant everything in its name. It was a way-out-there and risky venture. Not just fragile-balloons-on-the-edge-of-space risky, but risky at the core of the question it was asking. Could this be the radical idea that might finally bring abundant, affordable Internet access, not just to the next billion, but to the last billion? To the last unconnected communities and those least able to pay?

x Google photo

Sadly, despite the team’s groundbreaking technical achievements over the last 9 years — doing many things previously thought impossible, like precisely navigating balloons in the stratosphere, creating a mesh network in the sky, or developing balloons that can withstand the harsh conditions of the stratosphere for more than a year — the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped. So we’ve made the difficult decision to close down Loon. In the coming months, we’ll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet.

Google.X blog entry for January 21, 2021

Also covered in the NYTimes 

Things To Learn From A Town That Voted Down Fiber

In last November's election, residents of Kaysville, Utah voted down a $22million bond issue for a FTTH network by a very narrow margin - 8855 votes against vs. 8570 votes in favor - a 285 vote (1.6%) margin. Normally we would not pay much attention to such a result; it happens all the time. But the value of the bond issue caught our attention. So we did a little research.
Kaysville is a small town. As of the census of 2000, there were 20,351 people, 5,496 households, and 4,814 families residing in the city.  Kaysville has a total area of 10.5 square miles (27.2 km2),(Wikipedia) With such a small population and relatively small size, how did they decide they needed a $22million bond issue. Based on normal FTTH costs, one should be able to build a FTTH network for that many homes for around $5-6million. Less if you aren't connecting everybody, of course.
Fortunately for those who want to understand the process of what happened here, Kaysville has most of the relevant documents online.

Kaysville engaged a consulting company, Design 9, to develop a design and proposal. (Note: there is another consulting company called Design9 in the railroad business.) That proposal is online here. A presentation to the city is here.

So how did this network get to be 5-10 times more expensive that a typical small town network? Here are some clues:
  • The network is based on 10G symmetrical GPON for most subscribers, 10G active Ethernet for business. Most towns have more than adequate service with regular GPON. Slide 8 in the city presentation. Part of the reason are their estimates of bandwidth needs of a typical home or business (page 12 in the proposal.)
  • Extensive use of directional boring, about 3/4 of the installation, plus some regular trenching. Directional boring can be very expensive. When FOA interviewed a city representative, they were unfamiliar with how microtrenching was usually done and how it is being used elsewhere.
  • Cost: total cost/mile of construction: ~$200,000, cost per building passed: ~$2350, average drop cost" ~$500.
And then, the opposition was well-funded very active. They created a website for the "Coalition for Respsonsible Kaysville Fiber. The home page is titled "TOP TEN REASONS TO VOTE AGAINST KAYSVILLE FIBER". (IN ALL CAPS!) Reason #7 is, well, humorous:

7. Fiber is old technology. While the world is increasingly shifting toward wireless network solutions like 5G and new satellite networks, Kaysville Fiber is doubling down on old technology that requires a corded connection. This fall all iPhones will have a 5G chip. In a few years your TV and laptop will have a 5G chip. Why will we need both fiber and a 5G connections.  Soon fiber will go the way of the corded phone. Cut cut cut! Wireless solutions are the future for an increasingly wireless society. 

That writer must have been reading too many 5G articles that the Washington Post labeled as "bullshit." And they don't know that to use 5G they will need fiber into every neighborhood anyway.

We were told was funded by private citizens first.  The anti-fiber movement was later supported by the Utah Tax Payers Association and by inference is the incumbents Comcast and CenturyLink. Comcast indirectly hired a former Mayor to oppose the project.

This website published a letter from the Kaysville City Attorney questioning the project. (Is that a conflict of interest?)

What you can learn from this project if you are interested in doing municipal fiber.
  • Consultants are expensive and may not provide lesser expensive options.
  • You need to understand all the options in construction and equipment.
  • GPON is fine. If you need 10G a few years from now, it runs on the same fiber, even as the old GPON system continues to run.
  • Incumbents will try to stop you, often relying on FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Innovium Ships Over 1 Million 400G Data Center Ports in 2020

And that is from only one company, Innovium, maker of Teralynx switches for data centers. With many people working and schooling at home, 2020 was a year of massive growth in Internet use, and higher speeds in data centers enabled much of this growth.

“2020 was a great year for Innovium. Demand for bandwidth accelerated across all cloud data centers driven by worldwide growth in online businesses, 'remote everything' and digitization efforts,” reported Rajiv Khemani, co-founder and CEO of Innovium. “We are delighted to have enabled cloud customers ramp their data center networks with 400G connectivity with our data center optimized and proven Teralynx switch silicon.”

Innovium - Read more in CI&M

BringCom Completes Pan-African Fiber Ring Network

BringCom, a leading provider of connectivity solutions in Africa, announces the completion of its pan-African fiber ring network. The new fiber ring network will link BringCom’s points of presence in East and West Africa to its European hub in London, providing BringCom customers with protected and reliable connectivity services.

This network expansion initiative is part of BringCom’s growth strategy in Africa to add secure, reliable, and diverse connectivity routes while providing innovative services such as SD-WAN, SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), and Edge Cloud services. BringCom’s enterprise SD-WAN services will lower costs, increase business agility, and improve multi-cloud applications performance. BringCom’s SD-WAN platform also acts as a cloud connect service to deliver complete solutions for afriQloud. afriQloud is BringCom’s local and distributed cloud services platform providing digital Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for virtual data center, and virtual machine (compute) needs in East Africa. BringCom’s operational expertise and extensive local partnerships in Africa uniquely position the company to deliver reliable communications services to and from challenging environments.

BringCom Incorporated, headquartered in Sterling, VA, USA is a leading Communications Solutions Provider operating in Africa who has been offering high-quality international and last-mile connectivity solutions since 1992 to international enterprise and government customers located in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Read More.

TIA-568 Revisions:  (Updated 02/2021 following TIA standards meeting)

LC Connector Replaces SC

BI MM Fiber Approved For Reference Test Cables

MPO Polarity Standards Expand To 38 Pages

APC MPO Connectors For Multimode

The TIA standard for fiber optic cabling in premises applications, TIA-568.3, is up for its 5th revision (TIA-568.3-E) and has many changes, most of which were expected. Three fibers, OS1, OM1 and OM2 are no longer included although they are mentioned as being "grandfathered," which means that these components which have been part of the standard for decades are now described as " grandfathered content recognized as compliant, but not recommended for new installations."

As usual, there are a few new definitions, some of which are puzzling.
  • A splitter, as used in a passive OLAN, is officially designated as a "non-wavelength-selective passive optical branching component."
  • "Optical fiber: Any filament made of dielectric materials that guides"

Other changes include changing TIA fiber component standards to comply with ISO/IEC designations; not a problem since the TIA designations (e.g. ANSI/TIA-492AAAA, -492AAAB, -492AAAC, -492AAAD, and -492AAAE) were confusing at best. Also added were bend-insensitive fibers and OM5 wideband fiber. Another change makes sense, we suppose, as all illustrations and references to single fiber/duplex connectors are changed from "SC" to "LC." The MPO is used as the example for "array" or multi-fiber connectors.

MPO Polarity Standards Expand To 38 Pages

The standard contains no less than 38 pages devoted to the MPO array connector, up from about 23 pages in earlier editions. There are also at least 34 drawings and even more tables. MPO is important, of course, but incredibly complex. The MPO is the de facto standard for array connectors used in prefabricated cabling systems and parallel optics for multimode links over 10G. The problem is that there are 3 variations of connector/fiber polarity which leads to multiple options for connecting various types of cables and breakouts to single fiber or duplex LC or SC connectors.

The Type-U breakout.

MPO type U
There is a new breakout configuration in TIA-568. Breakouts now come in 4 types, Types A, B, C, and now U. A is straight through, B is all fibers reversed, C is pair reversal and U connects even number fibers to one connector in a pair and odd number fibers into the other connector of the pair.

(See the FOA page here for an explanation of MPOs.)

Editorial Comment on MPOs
The whole MPO polarity thing is very confusing. It has taken up significant time at standards meetings for years and we have written a number of articles about it in the FOA Newsletter. With all the options included, there have been impassioned pleas to add another couple of options to fiber alignments, like the "Type-U". While I understand the desire to have something you can call “standard”, much of the MPO polarity info in TIA 568 seems unnecessary. 
It’s like the two configurations for UTP cable, TIA568A and TIA568B; created because AT&T said they would do what they always do not matter what the standard.
There is no real need for 3 different configurations of backbone cables. One can suffice because the adaptation to various configurations is dome in breakouts or modules. Version “A” perhaps makes the most sense because you know which color fiber is in which pin all the time. There is an argument for B which swaps direction on the fibers and would be used as a patchcord between two transceivers, but  “B” can also be done with keying in an adapter or breakouts. “C” is unnecessarily complex and should merely be done in breakout.
We would advise anyone installing MPO backbones to only use A cables. Knowing how people work, it is likely the backbone configuration has been buried in documentation that no one knows where to find. Labelling on cassettes or patch panels should take care of identifying what fiber goes where. Patchcords take care of the rest. Having one standard would reduce confusion immensely.
BTW, no such standard exists for other backbone cables. A 12 fiber distribution cable terminated in a patch panel should be organized but no standard I know says how. “Polarity” is buried in the documentation of the actual cable plant.
But, as we know, undoing standards is well nigh impossible!

The complexity of the MPO explains why you might need the gadget below.

APC MPO Connectors For Multimode
Mentioned during the last TIA meeting discussing TIA-568 was the consideration of APC (angled physical contact) MPO connectors for high speed Ethernet. A new Ethernet Standard, 400G-SR8 is considering the use of MPO APC connectors for the parallel optics needed for multiple 50G lanes. High reflectance is a problem in these links because the reflectance lets light bounce back and forth in the link to create multipath interference (MPI). Using MPO APC connectors for MM is just as effective as SM as the graphs below show.


Regular MPO connectors have a return loss of around 35dB
(reflectance -35dB) while MPO APC connectors are about 25dB lower (below).


The angle used for SM APC connectors, 8 degrees, seems to work well for MM too.


Data from: Angled Multimode Connectors and PAM4 Signaling
E. Parsons, CommScope J. Young, CommScope
IEEE 802.3db Ad Hoc Call 25 Jun 2020

MM APC connectors are, like SM, only supposed to be mated to another APC connector. TO identify APC connectors, green coloring on the connector body or strain relief is used to identify them.

New Automated Fiber Cleaver For Connector Assembly


One of the difficult parts of terminating fibers with adhesive/polish connectors was cleaving the fiber that stuck out of the end of the ferrule after the adhesive set. The process had a big impact of the time and quality of the termination process. If the fiber was cleaved too long, it would take longer to air polish. Cleaving too short often ended up with the cleave extending below the end of the ferrule, ruining that connector.

cleave The manual way

This new Phenix cleaver, aimed at manufacturing facilities dong larger quantities of fiber optic terminations, is claimed to quickly cut through the epoxy bead and fiber producing a neat parallel face on the fiber that's easy to polish. It works on all types of connectors including MPOs. For manufacturers of patchcords, this tool can greatly enhance productivity. It's said to be portable, so maybe field use is possible too.

Learn more at Phenix Fiber Optics.

Ripley/MIller MB06 Adjustable Slit & Ring Tool

The compact Miller® MB06 is designed to perform slit and ring cuts on fiber optic cables, buffer tubes, and jackets from 0.05′′ to 0.25′′ (1.2 to 6.4 mm) in diameter. The tool features easily adjustable slit and ring blades. The MB06 has two ring cut channels and a reversible V block that improves slitting performance to accommodate the full diameter range. As usual with Ripley Miller tools, it is well thought out and aimed at making installation work easier and more efficient.

Ripley MB06
Miller® MB06 datasheet


This tester verifies polarity for MPO cable assemblies and identifies types A, B and C polarity cables. Let brian Teague of SENKO explain it to you in their video at datasheet is here.

SENKO knows about the complexity of the MPO. On this page about MPO polarity, they say "The installer must have deep knowledge of the equipment and their positions to perform a correct connection."


On fiber optic technology, standards, equipment, installation, etc.

The FOA Update Page covers all the new technology and applications we covered in this newsletter recently. Now you can review all that new tech at once.

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.

Multimode or Singlemode Fiber?  Continued

Last month in the FOA Newsletter we looked at the continuing debate about whether one should choose singlemode or multimode fiber for new premises networks. OSP is almost exclusively singlemode, of course. This month, we'll add more some data and discuss how there may be options for utilizing older singlemode fiber at higher speeds and longer distances. 

Media Converters For ~$10US?
Surely that can't be true! Although FTTH OLTs are reported to be costing about that much in some networks. But FOA has continued to search out inexpensive components and test them. We purchased this pair of 100Mb/s Ethernet media converters that operated bidirectionally over one fiber from Amazon for $23.63US. But there was a catch - no power modules. They cost another $16 for a pair. So for less than $40, we had a pair of 100Mb/s Ethernet media converters with a long range. 

fiber optic media converters

We don't understand the specifications for range, but we tested these media converters with a 10dB attenuator (see arrow above; also purchased from Amazon for less than $10/pair). A link loss of 10dB corresponds to 20-25km range. That's not a bad deal if you have a spare fiber and need an Ethernet link on your metropolitan or utility network. Worried about reliability of these gadgets? It's cheap enough to have several spares available.

Using Legacy Multimode Fiber
There is lots of multimode (MM) fiber installed in buildings and campuses that has been around for decades but continues to provide reliable service. However, upgrading to faster networks can be a problem because of the limited bandwidth of early types of MM fiber. Distances on these older MM fibers are limited at higher speeds by bandwidth, so much so that OM1 and OM2 fibers were never specified above 10G and have been written out of the newer TIA-568/ISO/IEC 11802 standards. Newer OM3 and OM4 fibers have been specified for higher speed networks and OM5 is specified for CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) to get t0 100G and above.

But if you have OM1 (62.5/125 MM) or OM2 (50/125 MM) that old, updating it with MM fiber might not make sense; better to make the upgrade to SM fiber instead.

But is it possible to use that older fiber?

Offset Launch Method
When Gigabit Ethernet was introduced, a 1300nm option for MM fiber used 1310nm lasers with a singlemode launch, but offset from the center of the core of the fiber. The reason for the offset was the discovery that part of the bandwidth problem with MM fiber was the index profile abnormalities in the cores of many MM fibers. The index profile was a step-index approximation of the ideal profile and Incomplete fusing of the preform could cause a center dip in the index profile (see below in this drawing from a late 1990s paper on gigabit Ethernet in MM fiber).
multimode fiber center dip
Fiber manufacturers modified their processes to remove this problem, along with adding more layers to the core index profile and modifying the profile for higher bandwidth at 850nm, the wavelength of the inexpensive VCSELs uses as gigabit transmitters. Thus OM3 and OM4 fiber were created.

But using legacy fiber for gigabit transmission was also a problem because the bandwidth of earlier MMF was optimized for 850 and 1300nm LEDs, used in MM networks prior to gigabit Ethernet. While using 1310 lasers should provide more bandwidth, the center dip in the core of some fibers made that a problem, leading to a solution of using a singlemode fiber launch but offset from the center of the core. Different offsets are required for 50μm and 62.5μm multimode fibers. An offset of 17~23μm is used for 62.5μm multimode fiber-and an offset of 10~16μm is used for 50μm multimode fiber.

Mode conditioning patchcords are available for using 1000base-LX SM transmitters on legacy fiber. A similar offset mode conditioning patchcord method is used in 10Gbase-LRM. However, unlike singlemode fiber where test equipment is available to test older SM fibers for CD/PMD/SA - called fiber characterization -  there does not exist similar test equipment and procedures for MM fiber. So the only way to know if this technique works is to try it.

Space Division Multiplexing
Another technique used to expand the bandwidth of MM fiber is called space division multiplexing. The "space" here is the core of the multimode fiber and the multiplexing uses separate modes to send different signals. It's like WDM where you have several signals at different wavelengths, but here it's separate modes. Considering the complexity of some multiplexing technologies in use today, this sounds simple.

One company, Cailabs in France, has developed this technology to a state they claim they can multiplex 45 signals in MM fiber and they offer products that have gained some customers. They have some very high profile customers so one assumes the technology works as described. But in an article in CI&M recently, they say they can use their technology to expand the bandwidth of MM fiber by transmitting a "singlemode" signal down the center of a legacy fiber. They say "A central-launch mode adapter can elicit from a multimode fiber a propagation similar to that of a singlemode fiber." But have they encountered legacy fibers with the central index dip that causes so many problems with the early applications of gigabit Ethernet?

A similar technique was used to send 1petabit/s data over multimode fiber using space-division multiplexing. Read the article in SciTechDaily.

SM to MM And Vice Versa
In a similar application, Panduit has introduced "OneMode-Link," a box that allows singlemode transceivers to use multimode fiber at higher speeds over longer distances. According to Panduit, "OneMode-Link is a passive media converter allowing the deployment of 10 Gbps, and greater, using existing multimode fibers, by eliminating modal dispersion."

The problem with mixing MM and SM fiber has always been the high loss of mismatched fibers. There is no problem with SM>MM, it's like aiming a hose (SM) into a bucket (MM.) But generally going from MM to SM causes up to  ~17dB loss because of the difference in core diameters. If the single mode launched into a MM fiber remains a single mode near the center of the core, the MM to SM connection would not be so high in loss.

So the Panduit unit, which sounds like it uses similar technology to that described by Cailabs in the CI&M article, could be a way to utilize installed MM fiber with singlemode equipment.

The real question is whether it is cost effective to use a passive converter like this or to just install new SM fiber. It depends on the application.

New Data On Using BI MM Fiber For Test Reference Cables

Recently in the FOA Newsletter (11/2019)  we showed data from a fiber optic manufacturer, Sylex Fiber Optics, that showed the differences in testing MM fiber with test reference cables using both bend-insensitive (BI) and non-BI fiber, noting the differences were small. At the time, only non-BI fiber was specified in standards for test leads, but in the meantime, the standards have changed so either fiber can be used. That was a very good decision since virtually all MM fiber is now BI and it is not identified on the cable jacket markings. Determining if the fiber is BI or not requires careful microscope inspection.

Recently Sylex sent us new data they had taken on LC and MPO connectors. The LC data shows a small systematic difference in loss, about 0.15dB higher with BI fiber reference cables, noticeable mostly because the LC loss is so low, ~0.15dB. With MPO connectors, the difference seems to be smaller than the uncertainty of the measurement.

You can read the Sylex report here.

New Patent On Fiber Optic Sensor For Electrical Safety

A new patent has been granted to Glen Payne for a fiber optic cable assembly used as a sensor in electrical cabinets to detect "arc flash" and trigger shutdown of the electrical system. Arc flash refers to the explosive arc that occurs when high voltage electrical circuits get shorted out. It can be extremely dangerous or deadly for personnel working near the circuits.

See Getting Electrocuted In VR Is Scary Too  

The detection method used to detect the bright arc flash involves a bare optical fiber that captures enough light to transmit it to the end of the fiber and trigger a relay to shut down the power. This is an innovative way of detecting the bright light since it is very sensitive and immune to electromagnetic interference which is caused by the arc itself.

arc flash
The Payne patent (US 10,916,391) covers the fiber optic cable assembly that senses the arc flash, making it more rugged and flexible in application. The fiber is large in diameter, 400 microns, to increase sensitivity to the arc and a clear tube covering the fiber protects it from damage.

Fiber Optic Sources For Transmitters

FOA has added a new page to its online reference Guide on laser and LED sources for fiber optic transmitters. The types of sources used in fiber optic transmitters are determined by a number of factors including the speed of transmission and the distance needed over the link. It's also tied to the types of fiber being used, affecting coupling to the fiber and the preferred wavelengths of transmission. This page in the FOA Guide covers the types of sources and their characteristics that make them appropriate for each application.

Sources For Fiber Optic Transmitters - LEDs And Lasers  

Midspan Access - Simplifying Installation Of Drops

Technical questions we get here at FOA often remind us of things many of us take for granted that are not known by many installers and particularly network owners and users. Recently we received an email like this from a network owner working with a contractor on a 15mile (25km) cable plant with roughly 17 locations where cable drops were needed. They were not aware of the technique of midspan access, so we created a new page for the FOA Guide on the subject (FOA Guide Page on Midspan Access), a YouTube video and a Fiber U MiniCourse.

Try The FOA's Online Loss Budget Calculator

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We've created a online Loss Budget Calculator that does the work for you. Just input your cable plant data and it calculates the loss budget. It works on any device, especially smartphones and tablets for field use and even allows printing the results.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

Splice-On Connector Manufacturers and Tradenames   7/2020

FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies shared a list he has researched of prepolished splice connectors with mechanical splices and SOC - splice-on connectors for fusion splicing. This list shows how widepread the availability of these connectors has become, especially the SOCs and low cost fusion splicers.

Mechanical Splice
1.    Corning Unicam® (50, 62.5, SM)
1.    FIS Cheetah (???)
2.    Panduit OptiCam® (50, 62.5, SM)
3.    Commscope Quik II  (50, 62.5, SM)
4.    Cleerline SSF™ (50, SM)
5.    LeGrand/Ortronics Infinium® (50, 62.5, SM)
6.    3M/Corning CrimpLok (50, 62.5, SM)
7.    Leviton FastCam© (50, 62.5, SM)

Fusion Splice
2.    Inno (50, 62.5, SM)
3.    Corning FuseLite® (50, SM)
4.    FORC (50, 62.5, SM)
5.    Siemon OptiFuse ™ (SM, MM)
6.    Belden OptiMax?? FiberExpress (SM, MM)
7.    AFL FuseConnect® (SM, MM)
8.    OFS optics EZ!Fuse ™ (50, 62.5, SM)
9.    Sumitomo Lynx2 Custom Fit® (50, 62.5, SM)
10.    Commscope Quik-Fuse (50, SM)
11.    Ilsintech Pro, Swift® (50, 62.5, SM)
12.    LeGrand/Ortronics Infinium® (50, 62.5, SM)
13.    Greenlee (50, 62.5, SM)
14.    Hubbell Pro  (50, SM)
15.    Easysplicer (SM)

Note: There are additional manufacturers from the Peoples Republic of China, which advertise on Amazon and eBay.

Worth Reading

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

Worth Reading: 02/2021

Over 1 Million 400G Data Center Ports Shipped in 2020, CI&M. And that is from one company, Innovium, only, maker of Teralynx switches for data centers.

HyperOne Australian fiber backbone network planned Lightwave “HyperOne will be a new generation of hyperscaled network, capable of carrying over 10,000 Tbps – more traffic than every other national backbone built in Australia’s history combined,” according to the company's founder.

ViaSat drops more hints about super-capacity satellite – Urgent Comms - and VIASAT generally delivers on its promises. And doesn't mess up the skies with thousands of limited capacity low-earth orbit sattelites.

Recently in ILSR's Community Networks Weekly Newsletter - lots of interesting reading about communities and broadband.  Week of 2/8/2021, 2/1/2021 1/25,2021

Telecom Industry Wants Federal Broadband Initiatives to Support Training - Telecompetitor - As the Biden administration considers federal broadband initiatives, 10 telecom industry associations are urging the administration to include support for broadband skills training in those plans.

Thinking About Changing Jobs To Telecom? Use the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's "Occupational Mobility Explorer" Scroll way down on the lists of occupations to find several options for telecommunications, like Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers to see what skills are involved.

5G and Wi-Fi 6 convergence crucial for smart cities and Industry 4.0, Wireless Broadband Alliance. New industry guidelines highlight critical role Wi-Fi will play in the long-term success of 5G. "Operators are increasingly utilizing the high capacity, low latency and low-cost of Wi-Fi 6/6E to control the elevated capital expenditure associated with 5G systems rollouts,"

Researchers send 1petabit/s data over multimode fiber using space-division multiplexing. SciTechDaily.

Recommendations for a National Broadband Agenda, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society - We need a national, comprehensive broadband strategy, a plan that ensures that everyone in America can use High-Performance Broadband as soon as possible.

Low-Earth Orbit Satellites: Great Idea but Not for Everything – And Not Cheap. By Steven S. Ross  |  Broadband Communities (And maybe as "loony" as baloons.?)

Statistics on US Labor In Telecom

Eric Pearson sent us some links to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the US Workforce. Granted it was updated in May 2019, but has lots of useful and interesting information on where the work is and what workers are paid.


Read the reports here:

Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers   (Install and repair telecommunications cable, including fiber optics.

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers  (Install,
set up, rearrange, or remove switching, distribution, routing, and dialing equipment used in central offices or headends. Service or repair telephone, cable television, Internet, and other communications equipment on customers’ property. May install communications equipment or communications wiring in buildings.


Making Your Town Broadband Ready Even if you are not ready to build your own fiber or FTTH network, there are things you can do now to be ready when you make that decision that will also help attract private investment. This article is by Trevor Jones, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Customer service for OTELCO, which owns independent telephone companies in seven states and partners with several community networks in Massachusetts. Contact him at It offers good advice for cities thinking about or needing fiber in their town. (Broadband Communities)

Everstream launches 5G fiber builds in seven Midwestern U.S. markets Business-only fiber network services provider Everstream says it plans to launch fiber cable deployments in seven Midwest markets to support 5G mobile network requirements. The company says the fiber networks will help to connect more than 2,000 macro cell towers in those markets and offer backhaul support. (Lightwave)

Infinera, Facebook achieve 700-Gbps per wavelength transmission on MAREA submarine cable In a “hero experiment” scenario, a production version of an ICE6 module enabled wavelength transmission of 700 Gbps over 6,640 km. (Lightwave)

Removing Roadblocks on Bridge Over Digital Divide: Explaining the Affordable, Accessible Internet for All Act - Reversing laws that prohibited government or public/private broadband, mandating "Dig Once." ILSW Community Networks

Next Century Cities Year in Review - Overview of progress made in the last - eventful - year. Link is to a Black&White version which is easier to read. The color version is here.

Telcos’ tipping point: 10G Fiber and Software-Defined Access, Dell'Oro Group/Adtran.  The need to provision and deliver new services in a matter of hours, as opposed to weeks or months, holds just as much priority as the ability to deliver up to 10Gbps of PON capacity.


Dilbert's Company Rolls Out 5G - DON"T MISS THIS!

Passive Optical LAN shines in Cost Comparison - Lightwave

US FCCs Rural Digital Opportunity Fund made awards of >$9BUS to ISPs to deliver Internet. There was jubilation and consternation. Reading these show what we mean:

Case Studies - Next Century Cities - state of broadband in some US cities.

Fiber Resource Shortages - Doug Dawson, President of CCG Consulting sees shortages of labor and components in 2021

Terminating an eposy/polish ST connector - Linden Photonics shows how to make a reliable termination (excellent visuals show how it's done)

AFL Splice Closure For High Density Cables - up to 3456 fibers (video)

Can one of the architects of AT&T’s woes turn it around?  

Uncool can beat flashy tech - NY Times. Balloon Internet project by Google's parent Alphabet hits snags, remote areas wonder why it's needed - they have Internet on old-tech mobile phones

Power Delivery over Single-Pair Ethernet - TIA Webinar recorded earlier.

Biden, top Democrats lay groundwork for multibillion-dollar push to boost U.S. broadband  

Residents Form Broadband Coop -
“Electric cooperatives worked, why can’t we do the same thing for broadband?”


Saving Lives through Education. Online, worldwide April 6-8, 2021. The Excavation Safety Conference VIRTUAL brings critical damage prevention education to help all stakeholder groups online, providing new opportunities to network with industry peers, learn safe practices, and lower costs associated with underground damages. Register now at

Worth Reading: 11/20

The pandemic makes clear it’s time to treat the internet as a utility - David Lazarus, Business, LA Times

Another company (SpaceMobile) wants to load space with low earth satellites - Light Reading

Chicago And Denver Voters Say Yes to Expanded Broadband Options - ILSR

10 Tips For Installing Fiber Optic Cable - Multilink

Why the 5G pushiness? Because $$$. Shira Ovide, NYTimes

1995-2020 - FOA's 25th Anniversary!

As part of celebrating 25 years of serving the fiber optic industry as its primary source of technical information and independent certifying body, FOA thought it appropriate to create a short history of the organization and how it has developed  to help the fiber optic industry. We also wanted to recognize the contributions many people have made to the organization over the years that made FOA what it is today.

The FOA history is now archived on the FOA website where you can read it anytime or link to it.
Updated info - dB, total internal reflection and science projects,

Worth Reading - News Summary - Past Links Worth Repeating

Recycling Fiber Optic Cable - Contact:
Steve Maginnis
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit website)

If you are interested in restoration - aren't we all? - you should also read this article in dpPro magazine by FOA President Jim Hayes: Damage Protection Requies Looking Overheas As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - about the problems with aerial cables. His previous article for the magazine was New Techniques for Fiber Optic Installation.

How much fiber optic cable is manufactured each year? CRU Reports - unsurprisingly China is by far the largest market today

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance weekly newsletter has lots of interesting articles and links.

The Open Technology Institute at New America just published “The Cost of Connectivity 2020,”

US Ignite and Altman Solon issued “Broadband Models for Unserved and Underserved Communities

Universal access to broadband is a cornerstone to a strong economy, Achieving universal access will require community partnerships. by
Alfreda B. Norman, Sr. VP,  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

FIBER TO THE FARM: The co-ops that electrified Depression-era farms are now building rural internet. Be sure to check out the high-tech equine installation equipment.

Next Century Cities Newsletter - News from cities around the US including Detroit and New York plus small

Infrastructure Get Some Respect, NY TImes "On Tech"   "The magic of the internet requires a lot of very boring stuff behind the scenes. "

Pentagon official: FCC decision on 5G threatens GPS, national security

Internet Statistics and Facts, 2020: Interesting, easy to get lost here!

DIRT Report On Damage To Utilities Common Ground Alliance (CGA) annual DIRT report provides a summary and analysis of the events submitted into CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) for the year 2018. The complete report is available for download here. In addition, there is an interactive dashboard that allows users to filter the data more  by factors contributing to damages.

Structured Cabling News - a website and weekly newsletter about cabling.

The Internet Master Plan for New York City. The New York City Internet Master Plan is a comprehensive framework for the infrastructure and services that provide connectivity to New York City residents and businesses. This Master Plan will guide City actions and public-private partnerships to transform New Yorkers’ access to this essential infrastructure for generations to come.

Fiber Trivia From Corning.

Why understanding PoE now is crucial for electricians - To ring in the new decade, IDEAL Networks is urging today's electricians to master new skills and equipment to cope with the growing use of PoE in intelligent lighting applications.

Smart City Projects: Smart city initiatives are underway across the country. But they face funding and technology challenges. Many cities want to upgrade infrastructure to improve resident experience, safety and to generate revenue.

The Future Of Work Is Skills - So Stop Worrying About Degrees - The reality is the future of work is about skills, not just degrees. (FOA Newsletter Feb 2020)

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.

The job market is hot. So why are half of U.S. grads missing out?  

VIAVI Books On Fiber Optic Testing (2 volumes) - They're back!

books  book 2

Besides the FOA reference materials, two JDSU/VIAVI textbooks, Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Testing, Volumes 1 and 2,  were used as references for some of the FOA courses and are recommended for instructors and students. The books are available from VIAVI as eBooks and the everyone should download them and recommend them to others.Download yours now. Volume 1. Volume 2. Viavi Books

Guidebook To MPO Testing
OptoTest offers this complete guide to MTP®/MPO testing. In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about the different test methods, equipment options, troubleshooting, and best maintenance practices to ensure that you have the best testing experience. Go here to download the book.

50th Anniversary of The Development of Low Loss Fibers
A history of the development of low loss fiber, a fascinating story by Jeff Hecht on the OSA (Optical Society of America) website.

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!

How Nexans Makes Copper Cables - compare the process to fiber - don't most of the machines look similar?

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

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

Clearfield-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 and you can see all of them.


Tech Questions/Comments From FOA Newsletter Readers Worth Repeating

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.

Good Question!

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

February 2021

Documenting Test Results
We’re currently working on a bid that includes presenting some test sheet documentation for OTDR & Light loss testing. What should I do?
A: High end LSPM or OLTS should store data and have some software to report test results. Simpler units should simply require logging data into a spreadsheet showing Cable ID, Fiber ID, wavelength and loss. Details like launch & receive cables and test results can be kept separately on the spreadsheet. Today’s OTDRs will show you a trace and an event table that lists each even in the fiber tested as well as overall loss. Whatever OTDR you use should have software for reporting test results. Here is an example of a report from an EXFO and a trace from a Yokogawa.

Installing Cable
Below are specs for an installation. We’ve never installed a Fiber Optic run this long. Please see below questions and info.
-Fiber Optic cable to be used is a 24 strand Single Mode application
-Length of run is 7200 m long
-Appears that all the Fiber is on one reel. However do you recommend having some junction points on pedestals along the way for testing-maintenance purposes or just one continuous run if possible?
A: FOA has lots of information to help answer your questions:
Re underground installation. See and in the FOA Guide.
There are other questions you need to ask:
Are there no intermediate connections or drops required? It’s just one straight fiber run? You should be able to install it continuously.
What is the installation type? Pulled in conduit or direct burial?
If pulled in conduit and you can pull in one try, that’s best. You should use a pulling capstan to limit tension, attached to the cable with a breakaway swivel pulling eye and use lubrication. Use the American Polywater guides ( for choosing lubricant and decide if you need an intermediate pull.
Direct burial is simple for a long run, just ensure you have the proper equipment.

January 2021

Maintaining Dark Fiber
Do you have any standards that speak to how often dark fiber should be tested with OLTS and OTDR? Such as just at installation and when troubleshooting, or should they be done on a regular basis?
A: We at FOA know of no standards calling for periodic testing of fiber optic cable plants.
Fiber optic networks generally do not require maintenance and it is often detrimental to the network. It is the opinion of FOA and most people in the industry that testing should be done upon completion of the installation and data submitted to confirm proper installation of the cable plant. Data should then be stored for reference in case of problems requiring troubleshooting or when new dark fibers are turned up. Before lighting a dark fiber, it should be tested and the results compared to earlier data. Since both tests have some uncertainty, test results can vary as much as 0.5dB on short cables, higher on longer runs.
If older fiber is being upgraded to higher speeds, now cities like Santa Monica where we live are upgrading to 100G networks, fiber characterization including chromatic dispersion, polarization mode dispersion and spectral attenuation (for DWDM) are advised. Of course, every time a connection is opened, it should be inspected and cleaned. And patchcords should be tested; even new ones in sealed packages are often dirty. There is a reason people call the plastic protective caps on connectors “dust caps!”
Otherwise, with fiber, we suggest the patch panels be locket to keep unauthorized personnel from accessing them and causing problems. Even disconnecting a connector can add dirt to the connections and cause problems.


December 2020

Are FOA Videos and Web Up To Date?
Q: Are the videos on YouTube still relevant by today's standards are are they out of date?
A: Excellent question. We’ve discussed this within the FOA many times.
For example the live action videos on cable preparation, termination, mechanical and fusion splicing and testing are quite old by tech standards but the processes have not changed in two decades. Preparing loose tube, armored or tight buffer cables has not changed in over 20 years, nor has adhesive/polish connector termination. Prepolished/splice connector and SOC process are different and those processes have been updated. Testing processes are the same with the main difference being the automating of OTDR testing. Manufacturers have dumbed-down OTDRs so well that it seems few techs know how they work or how to read a trace, evidenced by the results of the FOA CFOT Certification exam where questions on OTDRs are the most often missed.
We just did a review of the copper installation for the Premises cabling (CPCT Certification) and that has not really changed in three decades - since the introduction of Cat 5 cable!
We review and update the technical pages in the FOA Guide all the time. Look at the Table of Contents (FOA Guide-  and see how many pages have the NEW symbol, indicating updates in the last couple of months.
Also FOA is adding YouTube videos ( ) and Fiber U MiniCourses ( on many topics regularly - monthly this year, covering new tech and the topics we know are lesser-known or new to most techs.
And let us know if there are topics you think we should focus on in the future.

Microscope Power For Connector Inspection
What power microscope do you recommend to inspect singlemode/multimode in 1.25/2.5 format (ST, SC, LC)?
Microscopes in the range of 100-400 power are available. Many people assume higher power is best - and it is for examining polishing results in the center of the ferrule - but lower power helps inspect more of the ferrule for dirt when used in the field before connecting or testing cables. We prefer the lower power.
So for patchcord manufacturers, 400, field techs 100. Patchcord manufacturers will undoubtedly use video microscopes, most field tech the optical ones.

November 2020

Loss For APC vs UPC Connectors
Q: I was wondering if there will be a standard connector loss for a UPC connector and a different lower value for an APC connector.. ex. upc has 0.5dB while APC is 0.3dB.
I would like to make all connectors uniform on a new network infra to avoid mismatch and causing any possible damage on the equipment when APC will be plugged into to a flat.
A: There is really no statistical difference between APC and UPC connector loss. The lower reflectance of the APC actually reduces loss since the reflectance represents a factor in connection loss, This issue of connector grades has been discussed at international standards committees for years. ISO/IEC wants to have grades of connectors, rated for connector loss in ranges from 0.1 to 1dB, but I do not think it’s standardized. I recommend using 0.3-0.5dB for loss budgets, where in OSP networks it matters little, since there are only a few connections and fiber and splice loss is a larger factor.
Keeping UPC and APC connectors straight is easy - APCs are Green, UPCs are blue. Everybody just needs to be taught that!

OTDRs - Launch Cables And Range
Q: I have a question about OTDR launch cables.  In all readings about OTDR testing, it states that the launch cable "needs to be of sufficient length ...".  What length is sufficient?  How long should a launch cable be?  What is the maximum length of cable plant that can be tested at one time?
A: OTDR launch cables need to be long enough to allow the OTDR to settle down after the test pulse leaves the instrument and reflectance at the output connector overloads the receiver. The dead zone is a function of the OTDR test pulse and the condition of the output connector. If you are testing short cables (<1km) with very short test pulses, a launch cable can be 20-50m long. If you are testing a very long cable with very wide pulses (some OTDRs have pulses ~4microseconds long, equivalent to ~1km) you would need a 2-5km launch cable. So the answer to that question is it depends on how long the fibers are you are testing.
As to how far a OTDR can reach, the answer is generally not specified in km but in dB. The best OTDRs have a reach of ~40dB at 1550nm which corresponds to ~150-200km, spending on how good the splices are. That length of fiber would have ~30 splices for say 3dB splice loss.
Here’s the FOA Guide page on OTDR testing and the FAQs page Frequently Asked Questions about OTDRs

October 2020
Last month's article about the installation of a 6912 fiber cable in small conduit prompted a number of this month's questions on social media. And there were more too.

Installation of a 6912 fiber cable

For this post, "Tight Fit: 6912 Fiber Cable Pulled in 1.25 inch Conduit”, he asks if they can see one end completely terminated?
A: It takes about 2 full racks of patch panels or one rack of splice trays. Sumitomo shows the splicing rack here Most systems using these cables will buy fully populated patch panel racks with a splice rack for the cable to splice to 6912 fibers terminated in the rack.

Q: And a second question:: How long does it take to terminate? And over how many panels?
A: A very experienced tech can splice one of these cables in ~75-100 hours using ribbon splicing.

Q: I assume that's smaller fiber like 80 micron cladding
A: All the fibers in the high fiber count cables are made with regular singlemode fiber - 9/125micron. TO make the cables smaller, the buffer coating diameter is reduced to ~200microns to make the fibers smaller.

Q: How was it prepared with the splice tray and ODF? It might require a dedicated panel and splice tray.
A: It takes about 2 full racks of patch panels or one rack of splice trays. Most systems using these cables will buy fully populated patch panel racks with a splice rack for the cable to splice to 6912 fibers terminated in the rack.

Q: Is this an actual photo or was the cable installed in a different type conduit.
A: We were told that is the actual size of the cable and conduit although not of the actual installation discussed.

Q: What is the minimum bend radius of that cable? What procedures did they use to maintain that bend radius through those 90 degree curves?
A: The minimum bend radius is 15X the cable diameter for that cable (diameter 1.14” or 29mm), about  17” or 435mm. The conduit bends had to be controlled to be larger than that radius.

Jobs In The Movie Industry
Does anyone know if there are job positions in the film industry that involve fiber optics? I started out working in film with audio work with some camera as well. I eventually transitioned into fiber optics installation and testing. I've been trying to find out if there's a way to find work that combines the two.
A: There are certainly jobs for fiber techs at the film studios. We worked with a group 20 years ago to find dark fiber in LA to connect studios to sound stages and other facilities. Every studio now has fiber connections everywhere, like this one at Paramount (below). I don’t know where to look for jobs, but I’d guess it would be through the unions - who represents the techs for the cameras, monitors, etc.?

Movie studio fiber

Preparing Cable For Splicing
Is there any standard on the preparation length of strip jacket upto the splice tray. Ideally its better to have a loop of buffer before getting into the tray if ever the closure has enough space for slack.. its also nice to put some hose to the buffer to add on protection. So far, i don't see any standard and can't support the remarks on what to follow. The practice was to take note on macrobend and have enough length of fiber to reach the machine.
A: There is a lot of variation in the size, shape and design of splice closures, so the length varies according to the closure and trays. For loose tube cable, the length of buffer tube from the entrance to the splice tray and the length of fiber needed in the tray are given in the directions for that splice tray. Similarly for ribbon cable, but the variations in ribbon cable designs often requires special handling and sleeving for the ribbons. Most manufacturers have specs available online.

Fusion Splice-On Connectors (SOCs) (From an FOA Instructor)
A question came up from one of our students regarding splice on connectors.  Is there a TIA or other standards body that addresses this issue? We are used to the 0.75 dB loss for a mated pair, however, when this mated pair has two fusion splices that terminate the connector, is there a recommendation? 
One could make the argument that it does not make any difference as the other alternative is splicing a pigtail for termination of a cable.  This pigtail splice is normally included in the link loss budget calculation.   So similarly, with a splice on connector it is the same as splicing on a pigtail.
A: There are no specific TIA or IEC specs that address these splice-on connectors or pigtails. If you used TIA numbers and included the splice and connector it would be 1.05dB - 0.75dB for the connection and 0.3dB for the splice, that’s mated to a factory adhesive/polish connector.   Or if it were two similar connectors, 1.35dB. 
Everybody, including the people in TIA standards groups, know those numbers are too high for most single ferrule connectors. They keep them at 0.75dB for prepolished/splice connectors (w/ mechanical splices) and array connectors (MPOs) which have somewhat unpredictable performance. Internationally, IEC has created grades of connectors from ~0.3 to over 1dB. The newer mechanical splice connector kits now use the Chinese copied cleavers which are super - at least the few we have tested - and the connectors are now much lower loss and consistent.
SOCs (fusion splice-on connectors) are spec’ed as the total termination and are generally just as good as the typical adhesive polish connector - 0.5dB is plenty of margin for a those mated to a factory adhesive/polish connector.
Spliced on pigtails are generally considered a termination and the splice is not broken out - like a long SOC. But I cannot guarantee everybody thinks that way. But a fusion splice is typically <0.1dB anyway.


Dig Once

The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. Here are some links:

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:
From the Council of State governments:
From the city of San Francisco:
An article about Dakota County, MN:

And the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative:

Fiber Optic Cable Plant - The Finished Product 4/2020
In April, FOA received inquiries from several sources that all deal with the same subject - what is involved in the specification and acceptance of a cable plant at the end of a installation project. And what are reasonable specifications for a cable plant.

FOA has a lot of documentation on a project involving  designing and installing a cable plant in the FOA Online Guide and our Textbooks, but the acceptance process has usually been relegated to a few paragraphs. We decided to add a page on project "Deliverables" in the FOA Guide that covers this topic in more depth. This page looks at a project, goes into some depth on loss budgets and includes links to FOA tech documents to help you investigate further.

Correction: In the article, the original list of fiber specs for G.652 was wrong. It should be 0.4dB/km @ 1310nm.

Deliverables in the FOA Guide

Is There A Standard For Fiber Optic Installation?

Another question we get often is "Is there a standard for fiber optic installation." The answer is yes, but not from the usual standards groups you might expect. Over 20 years ago, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) asked FOA to help create a standard for installation. That standard, ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 has been updated three times already and is about ready for another update.

Unlike most of those groups who charge you a fortune for standards, FOA covers the cost so
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 is available free from FOA.

NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

Download your free copy of
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 here (PDF)

Older questions are now available here.

/ FiberU

News and resources to help you learn more and stay updated.

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.
Free online training at Fiber U

The FOA has >100 videos on videos

More New Free Fiber U MiniCourses

How Fiber Works
Another of the mysteries of fiber optics, like dB, is how optical fiber actually guides light in the core of the fiber and transmits it with low loss. FOA has several pages in the FOA Guide on how fiber works with animated graphics that illustrate the different ways step index multimode, graded index multimode and singlemode fiber work. We also have YouTUbe video showing live demonstrations with a large plastic rod simulating the core of an optical fiber.

Graded index optical fiber

When we decides this was a good topic for a Fiber U MiniCourse. we decided to create a new video lecture on how fiber works. The lecture uses our usual lecture format but with videos that animate the process of total internal reflection and guided rays (modes) in the cores of the three types of optical fiber.

How Optical Fiber Works - Fiber U MiniCourse  

Reading OTDR Traces
The second course this month covers one of the topics most missed on CFOT certification exams - Reading OTDR Traces. It's all about what elements are displayed in an OTDR trace and what they represent. It's a very different format from other Fiber U courses. OTDR traces are visual, so it's a visual course where you learn by "pointing and clicking" on a simulated OTDR trace, like this:
OTDR Trace
Midspan Access
As promised last month in our tech article on midspan access, we took the new material created about Midspan Access in fiber optic cable installation and made that into a minicourse. This technique is fairly widely used because it saves much time and cost in adding drops to a fiber optic cable, but we've been surprised how many techs are not familiar with it. The MiniCourse takes only a little time, about right for a coffee break.

midspan access

That makes 10 Fiber U MiniCourses, 5 Basics courses, 4 Skills courses, 1 Design course and 6 Applications courses - 26 free online self-study courses for everyone. And we have lots more planned for the near future.

All Fiber U courses are free but there is a nominal charge for the tests for a Certificate of Completion to cover the cost of the online testing site we use. Most online courses cost hundreds or thousands of $US, so we are sometimes asked how FOA can offer free courses. The answer is we have very low course development costs since we use the FOA Guide's pages (almost 1,000 of them) and Videos (over 100 on YouTube) and the courses are completely self-study - no instructor to guide you and provide feedback on your work. (And we do not track you.)

The Fiber U course method has been around for over two decades and used by tens of thousands of people  to learn more about aspects of fiber optics or prepare for their FOA certification exams. Since the reference material for Fiber U is the same as used for training for FOA certifications and for the certification exams themselves, Fiber U courses are the ideal study guide for FOA certifications.

More New Fiber U MiniCourses

Got An Hour Or Less? Learn Something New About Fiber Optics.

FOA has introduced a new type of Fiber U course, the MiniCourse, a free online course you could take in a short time, perhaps as you ate lunch at your desk or took a coffee break. The topics of these courses should explain what they are about, and these are all very important topics to fiber optic techs.

Fiber Optics In Communications  

Fiber Optic Network Restoration 

Fiber Optic Connector Identification

The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics

Fiber Optic Cable Bend Radius

Fiber Optic Link Loss And Power Budgets

Fiber Optic Connector Inspection And Cleaning

Fiber Optic Media Conversion  

Fiber Optic Cable Midspan Access  

Reading An OTDR Trace  

The courses have two components, video lectures and readings, that are complementary. As usual there is a self-test to allow you to check your comprehension. As with other Fiber U courses if you desire, you can take a short test for a Fiber U Certificate of Completion that costs
only $10.

All these free courses and many more are available at Fiber U.

New FOA Schools

Welcome School 386 Peabody HS (program in conjunction with RCN)

What Fiber Techs Don't Know -

What We Learn From FOA Certification Tests

As FOA moves more testing over to our digital online testing system at ClassMarker, we have access to more data about our testing, including what questions and topics on the tests are answered incorrectly most often. Having this data gives us an opportunity to evaluate the questions and how they are stated, but more importantly it allow us to help our instructors teach the subjects and us to change our curriculum and online courses to emphasize these particular topics. These are some of the topics that we have noticed are answered incorrectly more often in FOA and Fiber U tests.

Most of the questions missed are on testing.

1. OTDRs - particularly what information is in the OTDR trace.

2. The difference between dB and dBm

3. Loss budgets - both the concepts and doing the math

4. Insertion loss testing - single-ended or double ended for testing patchcords or cable plants, how to set 0dB references

5. Units of measure - fiber is measured in microns, wavelengths in nanometers, etc.

At FOA, we're working to add Fiber U MiniCourses on these topics and working with our schools to emphasize these topics in their classes.

If you are going to be taking a FOA certification course or test in the near future, these topics should be on your final exam study list.

What We Learn From Hands On Labs
We learn about students performance in hands-on labs from the feedback of our instructors and our own experiences too. One big problem is the use of hand tools. Growing up today, you learn how to use keyboards, mouses and touch screens, but decades ago, you also learned how to use basic hand tools. This is big enough of a problem that we're considering adding some video lessons on basic hand tools to prepare students for cable prep, termination and splicing that require the use of hand tools.

FOA "Work-To-Cert" Program

Experience Plus Online Study At Fiber U = FOA Certification

This year, more techs have become comfortable with online conferences, webinars and training. Many have discovered that they can become FOA Certified using their experience in fiber optics and study for the FOA certification exams online at Fiber U. Thousands of industry professionals have applied to the FOA directly for certification without the need for classroom training, based on their knowledge and skills developed working the field. Since FOA certifications are based on KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities), current techs already show the skills and abilities required through their field experience. FOA provides free online self-study courses at Fiber U for the knowledge part to prepare you for FOA certification exams which you can also take online.

If you are an experienced field tech interested in certification, and FOA is the internationally recognized certifying body for fiber optics, you can find out more about the FOA "Work to Cert" program here.

If you are already a CFOT, FOA also offers many specialist certifications you can obtain based on your experience as a field tech. See what's available at
Fiber U.

Options For Training Classes  - 

Social Distancing and Masks


Outdoors (11/2020)

outdoor class

Tom Collins, Techtricians, FOA Director, keeps exploring new ideas for training. This time, the course moved outdoors in Daytona Beach, Florida. This solution works well as long as it's warm and dry!

New Approach To Fiber Optic Labs - Sharing Test Equipment (10/2020)

Tom Collins, Techtricians, FOA Director

, a FOA approved school, has taken a new approach in how we provide lab training. Fifteen years ago, we developed a hybrid training model had the participants complete online (remote) lessons with face to face labs. Over the past 12 years trade organizations, colleges, vocational, vendor training, and trade apprenticeships have adopted this model. At the beginning of the pandemic we spent a lot of time, energy, and money developing remote labs. We have incorporated lessons learned from that process to restart safe face to face labs.

First, we provide disposable materials and PPE’s for all learning. Every student has their own work space with 8-9 feet of separation and their own set of hand tools only used by the student. All of the classroom information is accessed online or with USB drives. Our biggest challenge was how to safely share testing equipment so every student could have the practical hands on experience.

We believe we have found that solution with the help of “ezremote”.  The ezremote allows a multitude of students to have practical exposure and experience with using a video microscope, OLTS and OTDR testers. Every student can access the remote via their own iPad or their smart phone, see below picture and movie.

Remote OTDR
The VeEX OTDR set up for remote access in class

Recently, we contacted PCS, Inc. which is a premiere manufacturer’s representative firm serving the Southeastern US since 1974.  Headquartered in Roswell, GA, Marc Wright  a sales representative spent a lot of time and energy helping Techtricians to purchase the VeEX  FX150+ device.  It is a full featured Mini OTDR with high resolution sampling and intelligent link mapping for Metro, Access and FTTx networks remote application. The compact, lightweight platform incorporates built in WiFi, power meter, light source, fiber inspection probe and VFL test options which add exceptional versatility to the unit.

OTDR display on iPad OTDR remote
The remote OTDR displayed on an iPad (L) and on 4 smartphones and 2 laptops

In September we completed our first trial in a face to face lab session in Lake Mary, Florida. The OTDR unit uses a WIFI connection. The students went to the VeEX website with their iPad or their smart phone and connected the to the base unit. The lab module used one OTDR setup for the entire class for testing the cable plant.

The instructor's laptop is connected to the OTDR and projecting the display for everyone to see

The students when logged-in had control over the OTDR. Each student saw the same screen which made the various events much easier to explain. The module is very safe as the OTDR is not touched by any student. The feedback we received from the students was very positive. They provided suggestions for future training modules. Even after the pandemic is over, we will continue to use this new training method. Our best teachers are our students and our hats are off to all of our students.

For more information, contact Tom or Donna Collins at Techtricians.

FOA School BDI Datalynk is offering classroom training with Covid precautions and  remote classes over most of the US.

FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologiesis now offering classroom training with Covid precautions - 9/2020

Contact Eric for details on his classes.

Classroom Training Is Adapting To The Pandemic 8/2020

FOA Director and instructor Tom Collins sent photos of his recent IMSA/FOA CFOT class held in Florida. It shows how Tom dresses for the job and how his students are social distancing. More FOA classes are being held now using techniques like these.

TC class

Instructor Tom Collins perpared to teach in the classroom.

TC Class

Students with appropriate distancing.

Training Is Back - Made Safer (6/2020)

FOA schools are starting to offer classes at their facilities again to provide the personal interaction with an instructor and hands-on labs, but some things have changed to provide social distancing. Serge Rodrigue at Fibre Zone in Quebec, Canada sent photos of his new lab setup that includes individual lab stations with plexiglass barriers.

safe lab at Fibre Zone

Students are following safe working protocols - masks and gloves - to make classes safe and meet local government requirements for social distancing.


Fibre Zone in Quebec, Canada for more information on their classes.

FiberNext in New Hampshire has also rearranged classrooms for safer classes and has begun training in their facilities in Concord, NH.


Contact FiberNext in Concord, NH, USA
or more information on their classes. Also ask about joining their CFOT Club for savings on products and training.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Labs (6/20)

Knowledge is easy to get 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. Recently, we have updated the materials in the Fiber U Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs which includes cable preparation, splicing, termination and testing. And we have created a Basic Skills Labs - Copper Premises Cabling to cover UTP (Cat 5) and coax copper cable processes. As with all Fiber U courses, these are free.
Several times in the FOA Newsletter we've discussed the Fiber U Basic Skills Lab. This online DIY lab course assumes you have your own equipment to use for the labs, but most novices, unless they work for a larger company already in fiber optics, will not have equipment. FOA instructors have found a solution: purchase inexpensive equipment online. What they have found are many low cost tools and components that are perfectly suited to training.

If you do not have tools or equipment and want to purchase them, there is a new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Those tools and components are what we describe here.

For example, you need a fiber cleaver for splices and prepolished/splice connectors. A good cleave is essential for a good splice or termination with a splice-type connection. Good cleavers are now available online at prices in the US starting at $20US. 


Besides the cleaver, another really good tool for learning or teaching is a visual fault locator. These devices used to be very expensive, but now are available online for $10-20.

Many online sellers offer sets of fiber optic tools in a kit for very low cost.

With plenty of tools available online, the next things you need are components to practice on. No problem here either. You need a patchcord, some mechanical splices and some prepolished/splice connectors. The connectors and splices are available from online sellers for ~$1 each, easy to afford plenty to practice on.

FOA has used all these available parts together into a do-it-yourself hands-on lab as part of the Fiber U Basic Skills Lab. You can do this yourself at a very low cost. We even provide directions on how to search for suppliers of these tools and components.

FOA has not exhaustively tested these tools or components enough to recommend them for field use. The work we did with them to create teaching labs shows they are certainly good enough to use for teaching the installation processes in a training lab. We suggest read the buyers reviews and do some of your own testing before using them for anything other than training and practice.

FOA Guide "Basics Of Fiber Optics" Now Available Online in Portuguese (6/2020)

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book

FOA has now translated the Basics of Fiber Optics textbook in our Online Guide into Portuguese, joining Spanish and French translations. For those speaking Portuguese, we have the technical information and for schools we also have curriculum available.

Here is the FOA Guide in Portuguese, Spanish and French translations.

Time To Learn - Online - (Update 4/5/6/8 2020)

Schools have generally been closed during the pandemic lock-downs, so FOA has been working with some of them to create new online learning experiences that can in some cases lead to certification online. FOA certifications are still based on the KSAs - knowledge from the classroom, skills from the labs and abilities judged by instructors or proven by actual experience.

Much of what we're doing benefits from the capabilities of "Zoom." Others have created videoconferencing apps, but none work so well, especially with limited bandwidth. We've seen remote labs that have an instructor showing students how to use the tools they were sent then watching them duplicate their actions. We have worked out methods to use Zoom to proctor FOA's online certification exams.

Blended Learning
While most FOA schools have suspended in-person training during this period, some are offering a "blended learning" option. That means that students sign up for a FOA certification course, take the classroom sessions on Fiber U with the assistance of a FOA certified instructor. Now online instruction can include reviewing the labs using the
Fiber U Basic Skills Labs, then when it's possible to attend classes at the school, complete the hands-on labs and take the FOA certification exam.

Online Remote Labs
Alternatively, some schools are experimenting with "remote labs," where the students get sent tool kits and components and labs are conducted by videoconferencing. Before the labs, the students may watch demos by their instructor on videoconferencing and/or review the relevant "virtual hands-on" lessons in the Fiber U
Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs  so they will already know the steps in the exercises.
And Fiber U has the new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Videoconferencing allows the instructor to remotely monitor their work and provide help as needed. Contact the FOA for more information.

FOA Zoom Exam Proctoring

Online Certification Testing
FOA has all its certification tests available online, both for use by our schools and by our direct "Work to Cert" applicants. All FOA certification tests require a proctor to oversee the applicant taking the exam. In this time of social distancing, getting a proctor can be difficult, so FOA now has procedures for online proctors administering the exam.
Contact the FOA for more information.
OJT - On-The-Job-Training
Many novices get a job and learn on the job. They usually have an experienced tech who helps them gain the knowledge and  learn the skills they need to perform their job. Thinking about this in relation to the 
FOA KSAs, the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by a fiber optic tech,  the tech will learn skills but not the basic knowledge that helps them understand the processes involved. FOA can offer help here, using our Fiber U online self-study programs. While the tech learns on the job, they become a Fiber U trainee, getting the knowledge they need, while working under their "mentor" at work. This is particularly good for contracting companies who need techs but do not have the usual training courses available. Interested in OJT programs? Contact FOA for more information.

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.
Recently, we have updated the materials in the Fiber U Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs which includes cable preparation, splicing, termination and testing. And we have created a Basic Skills Labs - Copper Premises Cabling to cover UTP (Cat 5) and coax copper cable processes. As with all Fiber U courses, these are free.

FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber U. Many users 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.

New FOA Approved School: Central Electrical Training Center, FOA School #656.

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

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 or

/ Resources

FOA Guide

More New FOA Video Lectures On YouTube

As part of developing the new Fiber U MiniCourses, we added several new YouTube videos:
Lecture 56 explains the issues of cable bend radius limitations, typical cable specifications and how to gage the proper radius or diameter when installing or storing cable. Lecture 57 covers problems with dirty connectors and how to inspect and clean them.

Videos added last month:

FOA Lecture 51 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 1 - Causes of Damage To The Network  
FOA Lecture 52 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 2 - Planning For Restoration 
FOA Lecture 53 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 3 - Troubleshooting And Repair
FOA Lecture 54 Fiber Optic Connector Identification - New and old
FOA Lecture 55 The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics. - Understanding dB 
FOA Lecture 56 Fiber Optic Cable - Bend Radius -  Important for Installers to Understand
FOA Lecture 57 Fiber Optic Connector Inspection and Cleaning -  Most Connection Problems Are Caused By Dirty Connectors
FOA Lecture 58 Fiber Optic Media Conversion  - Copper To Fiber Made Easy

Lectures 51, 52 and 53 are about fiber optic network restoration, broken into 3 parts: what causes damage, how to plan for restoration and finally troubleshooting and repairing a network outage. Lecture 54 is a short history of the development of fiber optic connectors and a overview of the ones most used today. Lecture 55 will teach you about dB, it's origin, an explanation of the math behind it and why standards can make it confusing.  Lecture 56 explains fiber optic cable bend radius limits and reduces the confusion over radius and diameter. Lecture 57 is a quick tutorial on cleaning and inspecting connectors. Lecture 58 is about converting fiber to copper or multimode to singlemode fiber.

Like all our YouTube lectures, they are all short and easy to understand.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator On A Web Page 5/2020

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We recently discovered how to get a spreadsheet ported to a Web page, so we created this web page that calculates loss budgets. We have an iOS loss budget app, but with this web page, you can calculate loss budgets from any device, smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that has web browsing capability.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator 

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

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.

Recent updates:

10GPON on PON Protocols in the FOA Guide.

Coherent Communications Systems in the FOA Guide.

Updated (and more illustrations): Basic Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP Fiber Optic Jargon and Fiber Optic Jargon for managers.

Fiber Optic Network Restoration
Fiber Characterization goes in to more depth, why fiber characterization is important and how to interpret results.

Fiber Optic Network Management for managers

FOA has created a section on OSP Construction and a Fiber U course based on it.

FOA Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

FOA Reference Books

Available Printed or Kindle Books
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French (printed) and Portuguese (online). The design book is available in Spanish (online)

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

FOA has reprinted "Lennie Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special print edition.
Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online or 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

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.



On Safety

FOA considers safety an integral part of all our programs, curriculum materials and technical materials. We start all our textbooks and their online versions with a section on safety in the first chapter, like this: Before we get started - Safety First!
There are pages on the FOA Guide on Safety procedures Including Eye Safety  and.
Digging Safely 

And a YouTube lecture: FOA Lecture 2: Safety When Working With Fiber Optics
In our OSP Construction Section, these pages cover many safety issues including those related to the construction of the cable plant: Project Preparation And Guidelines, Underground Cable Construction, Underground Cable Installation and Aerial Cable Installation.
There is even a safety poster for the fiber activities: PDF Safety Rules For Fiber Optics
The FOA is concerned about safety!

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

See for more information

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

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   

Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
fiber in finger
Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultantcy

Safety Leader Magazine

Safety Leader Magazine

Safety Leader, a new quarterly magazine, informs and educates electrical contractors on safety from various angles—electrical, workplace, PPE, regulations, leadership, line work, NFPA 70E, and more. Safety Leader is bundled with ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR in February, May, August and November. To receive Safety Leader subscribe to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine here or subscribe to the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR newsletter here.

2021 Conference On Damage Prevention Goes Virtual

2021 Global Excavation Safety Conference VIRTUAL, taking place April 6-8, 2021
More information in an article in the dp-PRO announcing the Global Locate Masters:


The magazine, dp-Pro, sponsor of the conference, has also published it's latest issue with an article by FOA on "New Construction Techniques in Fiber Optics" and a overview of the FOA. You can read the magazine here.

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 "Click Before You" and with the people behind it - the Common Ground Alliance and their Best Practices website?

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.

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   


About The FOA

Contact Us: or email <>

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has a company page and four 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)  

What is The FOA? 

The FOA is a, international non-profit educational association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. 

Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and  leaders from education, 
industry and government as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

FOA is 25 years old this July - read about FOA's history in this newsletter above.

Learn More About FOA's History.

Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>

The FOA Home Page

FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.


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Phone: 1-760-451-3655

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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 offering lots of new logo merchandise. It has lots of versions of shirts and other merchandise with "FOA," "Fiber U," "Lennie Lightwave" designs and more so you should find something just for you! See FOA on Zazzle.

Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

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

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

Contact FOA at to get logos in file format for your use.

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.