Update Page covers all the new technology and
applications we covered in this newsletter in 2018-19. Now you
can review all that new tech at once.
Fiber FAQs Page (FAQs = frequently asked questions)
gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran
in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general
months "Good Questions" has some unique
questions from our readers.
Optic Cable Plant - The Finished Product
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
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.
in the FOA Guide
Is Still Confusing
second most missed question on FOA/Fiber U online tests
concerns dB, that strange logarithmic method we use to measure
power in fiber optics (and radio and electronics and acoustics
and more...). We've covered the topic several times in our
Newsletter but there still seems to be confusion. So we're
going to give you a clue to the answers and hopefully help you
understand dB better.
These are all correct statements with the percentage
of test takers who know the answer is correct.
The most answered correctly: dBm is absolute power
relative to 1mw of power (78.8% correct. Does "absolute"
confuse people? It's just "power" but absolute in contrast
to "relative power" which is loss or gain measured in dB.)
This one is answered correctly less than half the time: dBm
is absolute power like the output of a transmitter. (41.5%
correct, see comment above.)
This one does often get answered correctly: The difference
between 2 measurements in dBm is expressed in dB. (23.8%
Read a more
comprehensive explanation of dB here in the FOA Guide.
Guide To Using A VFL
Teague of SENKO sent us an interesting graphic that
explains the use of a visual fault locator (VFL).
There is some useful information here in visual format.
larger printable copy here (PDF).
The Status Of POF?
questions asking what is the status of plastic optical fiber.
Besides lighting and consumer electronics, POF has other
applications and is a growing market. Compared to glass fiber,
it's lower bandwidth and shorter distance capability limit its
use, but for particular applications it is an inexpensive
solution. Information Gatekeepers which organized POFTO - the
plastic fiber trade organization - has just released a new
market and technology assessment study that shows the status of
POF in 2020.
Plastic Optical Fibers (POF) have been overshadowed in the last
decade by the success of glass optical fibers. When people hear
the term "optical fibers," they immediately think of glass. Few
people, including professionals in the business, know about
plastic optical fibers (POFs), which predate those made of
glass. Because glass fibers have certain advantages, they have
dominated the market, while POFs have remained largely in the
background. POF had been relegated to low-bit-rate and
However, recent technological advances and the emergence of new
applications in the automotive, avionics, consumer electronics,
and short-distance interconnect industries have propelled POF
into the limelight as a lower-cost alternative to glass fiber or
copper at medium distances and at bit rates of 40Gbps.
New technological developments in sources, connectors, and
fibers are expanding the bandwidth-distance limits of POF into
new applications. There has been a dramatic increase in the
GI-POF technology and its availability in the market. This has
resulted in increased interest by component suppliers and end
users. The market for short, high-speed optical links is
experiencing sustained growth. These links are less than 100
meters, with speeds up to 40Gbps. After many years of playing
second fiddle to the glass optical fiber business, POF is now
starting to get the recognition it deserves. Some are even
saying that POF could be a disruptive technology.
This study reviews the history of POF, the technological
developments, emerging applications, commercial activities,
market forecasts, and research and education centers around the
world. It presents a comprehensive and historical review of the
POF business and should form the basis of future internal market
For more information on this report, please
visit igigroup.com or contact:
Dr. Hui Pan
There A Standard For Fiber Optic Installation?
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 think about. 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.
your free copy of ANSI/NECA/FOA-301
More Questions and Answers from our
Question - On Safety
Q: Can you please advise if any of the modules offered
at FOA include a section on safety best practices?
A: Safety is a very serious topic here at FOA! 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 is a page on the FOA Guide on Safety
procedures Including Eye Safety
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
Preparation And Guidelines, Underground
Cable Construction, Underground
Cable Installation and Aerial
There is even a safety poster for the fiber activities: PDF
Safety Rules For Fiber Optics
I did a search for “safety” on this FOA
Newsletter and found 14 matches, including a section we
run continuously on “Call Before You Dig.”
Yes, the FOA is concerned about safety!
More questions from this month below.
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.
On Damage Prevention Cancelled For 2020 - Scheduled for 2021
Excavation Safety Conference & Expo, the premiere
international event in the damage prevention industry, was
supposed to be March 24-26 but was cancelled due to the
coronovirus. Next year's program will be in Tampa.
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.
Communications - New Section In The FOA Guide
haul systems move up from the current standard of 100Gb/s, a
decade-old technology, coherent communications, has become the
standard for link transmission. Coherent communications systems
are complex and expensive compared to the direct modulation
systems of the past, but minimize the problems of fiber
dispersion that has been a problem in the past while still being
compatible with DWDM and fiber amplification.
Learn about Coherent
Communications Systems in the FOA Guide.
FOA Founders Still Active
will be 25 years old in July - watch for more articles on FOA
Anybody Here? This
is the FOA Board of Advisors 20 years ago, meeting to work on
FOA Founder Eric Pearson, Pearson Technologies
Eric (back row, right) shows students how to interpret
Eric Pearson and Jim Hayes are probably the two FOA Founders
with the most years in fiber optics, both started more than 40
years ago and are still active today.
Eric began in the fiber optic cable business, then transmission
systems and designed field installation equipment. He began
training more than 30 years ago and has published his workbooks
and manuals as what we like to call the "cookbooks" of fiber
optics. Eric may be the world's top expert in the process of
fiber optic termination and his books certainly are the best
manuals for termination. Eric still travels the world
doing training courses, finds time to continue writing and
updating his books and consulting as an expert witness in legal
Pearson, Pearson Technologies
Who Were The FOA Founders?
listed below in
still active teaching and working with FOA.
Jim Hayes, President of FOTEC Inc. Pioneering fiber optic
entrepreneur in test equipment and trainer who was trained in
physics/astronomy. Author of many EIA/TIA standards and the
instigator of the NBS/NIST fiber optic calibration program.
Creator of the Fiber U training conferences. Author of ten
textbooks, hundreds of technical articles. Current FOA
Eric Pearson, Pearson Technologies. Trained by Corning in
the 1970s, considered an industry expert on termination and
splicing, training since the early 1980s. Respected expert
witness in legal cases. Active FOA Instructor.
Dominick Tambone, Engineer, Automatic Tool and Connector, fiber
optic termination and installation, training since the early
1980s. Contractor and Active
Bill Graham, Mississauga Training
Associates, Toronto, ON, CN. Background in utilities, military,
metropolitan fiber optics, training since the early 1990s. Current
Prof. Elias Awad, Wentworth Institute, Boston, MA. Started one
of the first fiber optic academic programs in the engineering
department in late 1980s. Creator of NSF program “Fiber Optics
For Engineering Technology” (NSF#9353997).
Prof. John Highhouse, Lincoln Trail College, Robinson, IL. Head
of telecom training program, started teaching fiber optic
outside plant construction in late 1980s. Masters in Education,
Rosenberg, writer and technical trainer
Dan Silver, Product Specialist, 3M Fiber Optics, trainer and
applications. The man with the idea to create the Fiber U
training conferences and active FOA member.
Eric Loytty, Field Engineering, Corning/Siecor, applications and
Bob Mason, Product Manager, Network Systems, Panduit,
applications and training.
Doug Elliott, IBEW Instructor, Toronto, ON, CN. One of first
IBEW apprenticeship instructors to teach fiber optics.
Tom Collins, Northern Kentucky Technical College,
Professor. Techtricians, Owner/instructor. Current FOA
Dan Lyall, Project Engineer, Lockheed Martin, applications and
James H. (Jim) Davis, Program Director, Navsea 56ZC, Navy fiber
Dave Chaney, Disney, Network Manager
Tony Beam, Tyco/AMP, Product Manager
Richard J. Smith, FOTechnologies, Technican/Instructor
Trevor Conquest, Conquest Communications, Brisbane,
Australia, fiber optic training.
will be 25 years old in July - watch for more articles on FOA
Reading - News Summary
month we read hundreds of newsletters and online articles.
These are the ones we think you will find "worth reading."
the Internet is coping with work at home: zdnet.
Statistics and Facts, 2020: Interesting, easy to
get lost here!
Europe creates Fastfiber in Portugal in collaboration with
Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners: Lightwave.
Interesting - values FTTH subscribers at $1150.
Many Fiber Questions: ISEmag.com, By Prysmian .
Interesting overview of cables - note what they call
"Retractable Module" cable, designed for midspan drops.
Democrats aim to put more than $80 billion into broadband
expansion during coronavirus. CNBC.
will fund $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants
that will expand service to support 31,000 unserved Tennesseans
in nearly 12,700 households and businesses, including in Middle
The True State Of Connectivity In America - 65% of US
counties receive broadband speeds below industry reports.
miss this Corning trivia about fiber - 3 times stronger
Businesses Need Fiber Connectivity, from Spectrum
CATV. Yes, it's a sales pitch, but they make good points and
it indicates they are serious.
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.
Falls, Iowa is monitoring a bill in the Iowa State House
that could threaten their municipally owned and operated
broadband utility network. Senate Study Bill
3009, introduced by Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs is
ibacked by commercial service providers.
Cabling News - a website and weekly newsletter
Team Up on Plans to Run Fibre Through the Sewers
Five water utilities have teamed up with infrastructure firm SSE
Telecoms on plans to lay fibre optic cables in the UK’s
sprawling network of waste water pipes. We first reported on
this proposed method for fiber installation in the FOA
Newsletter in 2012! It has not exactly taken off!)
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
Has Removed The "Dust" from "Dust Caps."
Corning "CleanAdvantage(tm) Edge cables have factory cleaned
connectors and caps to keep them clean.
Trivia From Corning.
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.
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.
Future Of Work Is Skills - So Stop Worrying About Degrees
reality is the future of work is about skills, not just degrees.
(FOA Newsletter Feb 2020)
a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an
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.
job market is hot. So why are half of U.S. grads missing
Books On Fiber Optic Testing (2 volumes) - They're back!
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
2. Viavi Books
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)
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!
Nexans Makes Copper Cables - compare the process to
fiber - don't most of the machines look similar?
True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or
target practice can cost)
Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues,
Certification Training Clearfield is now
offering their customers an FOA
CERTIFICATION course. This course provides a
basic understanding of fiber optic technology, as well as
Clearfield product knowledge and how Clearfield’s integrated
product systems work together in a fiber network.
Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle
Down (EC Mag)
Source Of Articles On Fiber
President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been
writing a column in Electrical
Contractor Magazine for almost 20 years now. Electrical
contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered
some topics they are interested in including installation
processes, network design, fiber applications and a lengthy
series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it
benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign
makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to http://www.ecmag.com/contributing-authors/jim-hayes
and you can see all of them.
consider upgrading your KSAs - your knowledge, skills and
abilities related to your work in fiber optics and keep up to
date with new applications. It should help your business "bottom
line" - income and profit, that is.
FOA has just the place to learn - Fiber
U. Fiber U offers 15 free online courses
starting with an introduction to fiber optics for those new to
fiber and including courses covering installer skills topics
(basic fiber, basic skills, OSP construction and installation,
testing and OTDRs), a course for those designing fiber optic
networks, and six courses on specific applications of fiber
optics (FTTx, OLANs, fiber for wireless, cell tower antennas and
DAS, and data centers.)
If you are a working fiber tech, the applications courses can
enhance your ability to get business in those areas because you
will know the specifics of the applications. With so much work
being done on wireless (small cells, 4G/5G) and data centers
(small to hyperscale), understanding these applications can
certainly improve your prospects in those markets.
Learning more from the skills courses like testing and OTDRs is
a no-brainer, but you might look at our upgraded "Basic
Fiber Optic Skills Lab" too. You might find it will help
you upgrade your skills, but we have another aim for the basic
If you are a contractor who has new employees that you want to
upgrade their skills or apprentices who are just starting in
fiber optics, the Basic
Fiber Optic Skills Lab lets them use their own tools
and components to learn installation skills they
use daily on the jobs. The new workbook we've added to the
basic skills lab guides the person taking the course
through the exercises and provides worksheets to record
the results of their labs. We've upgraded the virtual
hands-on (VHO) tutorials also and made them so you can
download and print them to help you with the steps in the
You Learn Hands-On Skills Online?
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
we have updated the materials in the Fiber
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.
The course on Fiber
U called "Basic
Fiber Optic Skills Lab" introduces you to the tools
and equipment then takes you through cable prep, splicing,
termination and testing. Recently we have been working on
improving the course to make it easier and more effective.
We've added a Basic Skills Workbook for each topic in
the course that you can download to guide you through the study
and hands-on exercises. We've updated what we call "Virtual
Hands-On" (VHO) tutorials where we use an analysis of the
activities to break them into step-by-step instructions that
help you learn the processes. We've also added new technologies
like splice-on connectors (SOCs) that have become very popular.
have created a Basic
Skills Labs - Copper Premises Cabling to cover UTP
(Cat 5) and coax copper cable processes. It has a lab
workbook, VHOs on each topic and quizzes to allow you to
check your knowledge. If you have to tools, you can do
all the processes on your own.
If you are a newcomer to fiber optics, have completed the Basic
Fiber course and already have a set of fiber
tools, this course will help you to learn how to
use the tools and learn basic fiber installation practices
which you can practice using your own equipment. If you are a
CFOT or working tech now and want to learn some new processes,
this can help you too.
Like all Fiber U courses, the Fiber
U Basic Fiber Optic Skills Lab is free.
Update In FOA Guide
updated its page on FTTH PON protocols to include the latest
standards for 10GPONs. There are three standards, NG-PON2,
XG-PON and XGS-PON. As is common with all communications
networks, work on upgradeing network capability and speed starts
as soon as a network is introduced and PONs are no exception.
GPON has been the most widely used PON scheme for both FTTx
netowrks and passive optical LANs (OLANs) and GPON has been
upgraded to several versions with higher transmission speeds and
higher power budgets to allow greater distance, higher split
capability, or both. The assumption is that a fiber network has
a lifetime of up to 40 years, so upgrades to GPON have assumed
that they will use the same passive optical network architecture
and fiber type (G.652 singlemode.)
Furthermore, upgrades have been designed around coexistence with
current GPON networks. By utilizing different wavelengths, it is
possible to have these newer, faster networks sharing the same
passive optical network as the original GPON system, allowing
offering higher speeds to users while continuing to serve
current users without disruption. Some commercial users can take
advantage of higher speeds while typical consumers are well
served by GPON. One of the big advantages of the PON upgrade
standards is the ability to overlay networks. Thus a city could
operate one regular GPON network for consumer FTTH use and have
another, faster network operating on the same cable plant
independently, offering a higher level of service and security.
PON Protocols in the FOA Guide.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide - 25th Anniversary Edition
Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special
Many of you have used the current online version of Lennie's
Guide on the FOA website. Now you can have a slick printed
version - real paper - you can hold in your hand and read. Leave
a copy on your desktop to impress your friends, or on the table
in your company's reception area instead of out-of-date
magazines. Give them to your customers and employees to help
them learn fiber optics. Use it to prepare for FOA
certifications. FOA will be giving them away at conferences like
the IMSA Annual Conference in New Orleans later this summer.
You can get your own copies of Lennie
Lightwave's Guide at Amazon.com, only $9.95US.
Look At Connector Contamination
Teague of Senko
Advanced Components sent us the results of an interesting
experiment he ran to show an unusual effect of the contamination
on a connector. He started with a clean SC/UPC singlemode
jumper, shown in the 400X image to the left. Then he connected
it to a 1310nm laser test source and measured the power out of
the fiber with a fiber optic power meter. Then he disconnected
the connector from the meter, touched the end to his finger,
contaminating the end of the ferrule as you can see in the image
on the right.
But then he connected the dirty connector to the meter and
measured the power again. The power was decreased by 0.22dB.
Yes, the contamination on the connector acted as an attenuator
to reduce the power considerably. Think what would happen if you
them mated it to another connector. Not only would you see the
attenuation caused by the contamination, you will probably see
even more loss caused by the gap created by the flakes of skin.
That's why you should inspect, clean and inspect again to ensure
all connectors are clean before testing or making connections.
continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with
changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of
technical information. When you go to the FOA
Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look
Protocols in the FOA Guide. 10GPON
Update In FOA Guide
Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP
Optic Jargon and Fiber
Optic Jargon for managers.
has a new page on Restoration
Characterization page in the FOA Guide goes in to more
depth on why fiber characterization is important, what tests
need performing and how to interpret results.
Practically every page in the section of the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Testing has been reviewed and updated, much of it based on
the new FOA textbook on testing. This includes pages on
measuring power, fiber attenuation, connector or splice loss and
cable plant loss. Browse
through the testing section and see what's new.
started with a page in the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Network Management that describes what our advisors
think is important and created a page to introduce them to the
language and technology of fiber optics which we call "Fiber
Optic Jargon - Illustrated." Over time, we'll be expanding
this section and create a Fiber U self-study course also.
created a new section of the FOA
Guide on OSP
and Cleaning Connectors.
connectors are one of the major problems in fiber optics,
causing high connector loss, high reflectance and contaminating
transceivers. Network operators claim that 15-50% of all network
problems can be traced to dirty connectors causing connection
Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.
FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.
School Offers Toolkit With Online Training
Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple
fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber
optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and
online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all
tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic
connectors and test optical power. Information
on the kit is available on YouTube.
You can contact them for more information at
FiberNext Job Board And Savings Club For CFOTs
Approved School FiberNext
has created an online job board for fiber techs and a special
"savings club" for CFOTs.
Job Board was designed to help connect employers with fiber
technicians and other fiber optic professionals. It is a place
where employers in the fiber optic market can post job
openings and a place where fiber optic professionals can post
that they are looking for employment. Please feel free to post
an opening or browse for your next job or employee. https://fibernext.com/job_board.php
FiberNext, besides being an FOA approved school is also a
distributor. FiberNext invites FOA CFOT®s to join the “FiberNext
CFOT® Club to get special savings on selected fiber optic
products. Visit https://fibernext.com/cfot_club.php to
sign up today ”
Fiber Optic Cable
received this note from Steve Maginnis, LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom
Recycling on recycling fiber optic cable:
We have 3 Processors gearing up to accept fiber optic
cable (FOC). As we all know, all FOC is not the same. Several
truckloads of “typical” FOC scrap from FOC mfgrs and “typical”
FOC and Coax cable have been studied and tested.
Therefore, today you can begin contacting me with the type FOC
material or scrap you toss to the landfills today. We need to
quantify the expected feedstock. Our expectation for quantities
is quite large (tons) but there is a capacity limit. And I do
have several processors that can take ALL materials and others
that can accept LIMITED types of FOC material and quantity.
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit our new
On The Job
the most important part of any job. Installers need to
understand the safety issues to be safe. An excellent guide to
analyzing job hazards is from OSHA, the US Occupational Safety
and Health Administration. Here
is a link to their guide for job hazard analysis.
FOA also has lots of information on safety: FOA
video and a Safety
Practices Guide For Underground Construction
you are familiar with the "One Call" and "Call Before
You Dig" (811) program, but are you also familiar "Click
Before You Dig.com" and with the people behind it -
the Common Ground Alliance and their Best Practices website?
is a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals,
organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground
utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to
saving lives and preventing damage to underground
infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention
practices. CGA has established itself as the leading
organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground
facilities in North America through shared responsibility
among all stakeholders.
formed in 2000, the CGA represents a continuation of the
damage prevention efforts embodied by the Common
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and
completed in 1999, this Study represents the collaborative
work of 160 industry professionals who identified best
practices relating to damage prevention. Any
best practice or program endorsed by the CGA comes with
consensus support from experts representing the following
stakeholder groups: Excavators, Locators, Road Builders,
Electric, Telecommunications, Oil, Gas Distribution, Gas
Transmission, Railroad, One Call, Public Works, Equipment
Manufacturing, State Regulators, Insurance, Emergency
Services and Engineering/Design.
the CGA Best Practices Guide here.
are all the CGA resources for damage prevention.
The word on
the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls
from cities asking us for information and advice. It helps that
the current Administration is trying to convince cities of the
advantages of installing ducts or conduits when they dig up a
street so they don't have to do it again. Here are some links
for more information.
The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/otps/exeorder.cfm
From the Council of State governments: http://www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/enews/cs41_1.aspx
From the city of San Francisco: http://sfgov.org/dt/dig-once
An article about Dakota County, MN: https://muninetworks.org/tags/tags/dig-once
the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative: https://share.america.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/6.-GCI-Dig-Once.pdf
have contacts give us online links for useful information which
we like to share with our readers. Here are two:
We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
Photo courtesy Brian Brandstetter, Mississauga
FOA is a
non-profit professional association chartered to promote
professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification
and standards. FOA is mostly known for certifying techs -
-Certified Fiber Optic Technicians - but also may be CPCTs -
Certified Premises Cabling Technicians or corporate
members involved in fiber optics.
FOA is a "virtual organization" - we have no "brick and mortar"
presence. We operate over the Internet with operations centered
in California, with active workers and volunteers in locations
as diverse as Texas, Ohio, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Denmark,
South Africa, the Middle East and many more.
Being a virtual organization, FOA has very low overhead,
allowing us to offer cost-effective certifications and many free
programs to support our industry.
As of today, FOA has certified this many techs. About 90% come
from our schools but many experienced techs have become FOA
CFOT-certified directly through our "Work-to-Cert"
FOA has almost 200 approved training organizations in about 40
countries around the world around the world.
Certifications Now Last For 3-Years
in 2019, all FOA certifications issued or renewed will be for a
period of 3 years. Most certification bodies worldwide have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has been working with
a number of organizations that use our programs but have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has decided that it
is time to change our policies to align with the majority of
Remember that FOA certification renewals include all the
certifications one individual has for one price. FOA does not
charge for any additional certifications, so, for example, if a
CFOT also has specialist certifications like the CFOS/T or
CFOS/S, they are included at no additional cost when the basic
certification is renewed.
FOA has 14
fiber optic certification programs covering every aspect
of fiber optic network design, installation and operation.
Certifications: CFOT (basic fiber), CPCT (premises cabling),
CFOS/O (outside plant, taught with CFOT included) and CFOS/D
(fiber optic network design).
Skills Certifications (for installers and techs, requires
CFOT): CFOS/S (splicing), CFOS/C (connectors/termination),
CFOS/T (testing), CFOS/FC (fiber characterization).
Applications Certifications (for techs or anyone, including
managers and supervisors): FTTH (fiber to the home), CFOS/L
(optical LANs), CFOS/DC (data centers), CFOS/A (fiber to the
antenna), CFOS/DAS (distributed antenna systems) and CFOS/W
(fiber for wireless)
(what you are reading)
FOA monitors the trade press, websites and other
resources continually to look at what's happening in many
technologies that affect fiber optics. We're tracing
technologies as diverse as wireless, IoT, autonomous vehicles,
smart cities, energy, or anywhere fiber is used to bring news to
FOA continually updates our technical materials, online and
printed, and our curriculum to ensure our readers have access to
the latest technical information and our schools teach the
latest technology and applications. Our printed books are being
updated right now.
FOA created the
FOA Online Guide as a non-commercial trustworthy technical
reference almost a decade ago so the industry would have a
reliable technical reference. In the last year, over 1million
visitors downloaded about 4 million pages of technical
FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber
U. In 2017, the number of online sessions doubled to
200,000. Many of those are preparing for FOA certification
programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert"
program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as
prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more
time on hands-on activities.
FOA offers over 100 educational YouTube
videos that have been viewed 2.4 million times.
FOA offers its training programs to other organizations at no
cost to help them train their members properly in fiber optics.
For example, FOA has been working with the Electrical Training
Alliance (IBEW/NECA) for over 20 years, training their
instructors for their apprenticeship programs. We work with many
other organizations and companies to provide the materials they
FOA has about 300 corporate
members - companies in various aspects of the fiber optic
industry worldwide that we list online and offer discounts on
certifications and renewals.
FOA provides speakers for many conferences and even
presentations for use by other organizations to educate people
on the aspects of fiber optic communications.
FOA has a program to provide classroom
materials for STEM
teachers (science, technology, engineering and math)
introducing K-12 students to fiber optics and creating science
FOA provides forums for discussion on various social media. Our
LinkedIn groups have about 5,000 members each. If you are not
joining us on social media yet, please do.
In A Career In Fiber Optics?
FOA has created a new YouTube video to introduce students to
careers in fiber optics. It was made for showing to high school
and junior high students interested in tech careers but anyone
interested in a possible career in this field will find it
interesting. If you have kids in school or know teachers, let
them know about this too. Watch the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics web page at www.foa.org/careers/.
Optic Education For Students At Any Age
about fiber optics all the time - it's in the news whenever we
hear articles about high tech, the Internet and communications,
and many communities are getting "fiber to the home." But few
people really understand fiber optics or how it works. FOA is
focused on educating the workforce that installs and operates
these fiber optic networks but we're always getting inquiries
from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers
who want to introduce fiber optics to younger students in K-12
grades or technical schools.
start with the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics web page at www.foa.org/careers/.
These are for students who think they might be interested in
careers in fiber optics and want to know more about what fiber
Using red laser light (a VFL here but a laser pointer works
also) to show how fiber guides light.
FOA has begun developing a series of YouTube videos intended for
teaching students in elementary, middle and high schools about
fiber optics. The first FOA video is titled "Fiber
Optics For Teachers." With this video, we show teachers
how fiber works and carries signals and then explains simple
experiments to demonstrate how fiber optics works in the
classroom using some plastic fiber and a laser pointer. Since
many teachers do not know where to get the fiber, the FOA offers
to send them a sample for use in demonstrations in their
classroom (USA only right now.)
At the end of the video, teachers are given directions on how to
request samples of the plastic fiber from the FOA.
This video joins the "Fiber Optics Live" series How
Light Travels In A Fiber, Fiber
Attenuation and Connector
Loss that show how fiber works using simple experiments
that can be duplicated in any classroom. More videos will be
If you have kids or know some teachers who would be interested,
please send them to the introductory video Fiber
Optics For Teachers and we'll be glad to help them
get started with some entertaining programs for their
For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools
Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber
optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has
created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology,
and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their
classes. Fiber Optic
Resources For Teachers.
you have kids in school or know teachers who are interested,
send them to the FOA page Fiber
Optic Resources For Teachers.
Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?
As all FOA
members know, they join the FOA by becoming certified,
mostly taking their CFOTs but some CPCTs, either by
attending a FOA approved school or joining directly based on
field experience (our "work to cert" program.) Over the years,
we've been contacted by manufacturers, contractors, consultants,
and other types of organizations who ask about becoming members.
We don't certify companies or organizations, we told them, so we
were not sure what we could offer as a benefit of membership.
But then, companies asked about using our educational programs
to train employees, how they could get listed on the FOA website
as service providers or if they could get a quantity discount on
membership or certification for all the FOA members working for
them. That began to sound like a benefit for being an FOA
corporate member. And providing a list of useful suppliers to
the market could be a benefit to the industry as a whole.
So FOA has quietly been letting companies and other
organizations join the FOA to take advantage of those benefits
so we now have several hundred corporate members. We've put then
into a database and listed them on the FOA website in map
form. Here's the map.
The online map
can be used to find suppliers and service providers.
The map, like our map of schools, lets you find the FOA
corporate members close to you. The table form lists them
by category: Installer/Contractor, Component Manufacturer,
Installation Equip. Manufacturer, Transmission Equipment,
Services/Consulting, Distribution and Users of Fiber Optic
Networks. You can sort the tables to find members meeting your
needs, e.g. by location, certifications offered, etc. Click on
any column heading to sort that column; click twice to sort in
Does An Organization Become An FOA Corporate Member?
just fill in the online
application form. When your application is accepted, you
will be asked to pay the one time membership fee - $100US. You
will then be listed on the online
have access to exclusive FOA educational materials for your
employees and get discounts on certifications and
now posts events on our LinkedIn groups, Facebook page and
other social media
has a company page and three LinkedIn Groups
- official company page on LinkedIn
- covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace
Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic
technology and training topics
de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)
FOA offers free standards for datalinks and testing the
installed fiber optic cable plant, patchcords and cable, optical
power from transmitters or at receivers and OTDR testing. Look
for the "1
PageStandard" web page and in the FOA Online Reference
301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard
cover components and systems and how to test them, but rarely
get into installation issues. The FOA NECA 301 standard which
covers installation of optical fiber systems has been revised
for the second time, adding considerable new materials. This
standard is derived from FOA educational material put in
standards form and approved by ANSI as an American National
Standard. It's specifically written to be used in contracts to
define "installation in a neat and workmanlike manner." The
standard is available from NECA.
FOA members can go
here for instructions on how to download your free copy.
Fiber U Self-Study Programs
"Fiber U" free online self-study programs help you learn about
fiber optics, study for FOA certifications or use them to help
create "blended learning" classes. There are two new free online
self-study programs on Fiber
U. Fiber Optic Network Design is for those interested in
learning more about how to design fiber optic networks or
studying for the CFOS/D certification. FTTx is for those wanting
to know more about fiber to the "x" - curb, home, wireless, etc.
- or studying for the CFOS/H certification.
Got to Fiber U
for more information.
Online Self-Study Programs Offer Certificates of Completion
been offering quite a few free online self-study programs on Fiber
U, our online learning site. We are always getting
questions about getting a certificate for completing the course
online, so we have setup an option to take a test online and get
a certificate of completion for these online courses.
While it's not FOA certification, FOA will recognize a Fiber
U Certificate of Completion as background experience to
qualify for applying for FOA certifications. We also intend to
expand the program to more specialized topics as preparation
for FOA specialist certifications.
If you have associates that want to get started in fiber,
have them take this course online to get started. Go to Fiber
U and get started.
Books And Publications
Many textbooks are behind the technology because they are
rarely updated. FOA really keeps our textbooks up to date. We
did a major update a year ago and another was just completed.
The The FOA
Reference Guide To Fiber Optics has been updated
to reflect new components like OM5 fiber, testing for fiber
characterization and more information on installation.
Reference Guide To Outside Plant FIber Optics
has been expanded to include an extensive section on outside
plant construction taken from Joe Botha's
OSP Construction Guide textbook. This additional
material is being added to support the new FOA CFOS/O OSP
tech certification program which now includes of OSP
Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Available in French and Spanish
de Diseño para Redes de Fibra Óptica en
Español - FOA
Design Book Available In Spanish Online
FOA has translated the FOA Guide To Fiber
Optic Network Design book and made it available online to
those studying for the CFOS/D Certification but whose native
language is Spanish. You
can access the Spanish translation of the Design book here.
A printed version will be available in the near future.
& Uncle Ted Guides - Perfect For Getting Started
Ted's Guides have moved to the FOA website.
Lennie is the place where many if not most fiber techs
begin their education. FOA has just updated the two
guides to ensure they stay relevant - more than 20 years
after they were first written.
Lennie goes all the way back to 1993 when he was created
as the mascot of the original "Fiber U" conference - the
same Fiber U that is now the FOA's web-based training
Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics was created
as a beginner's introduction to fiber optics. Over
60,000 printed version of Lennie's Guide were given away
and it became one of the first commercial web pages in
1994. Uncle Ted's
Guide To Communications Cabling was written a
few years later to introduce techs to "Cat 5" - UTP
wiring - that had only recently been standardized in
Lennie and Ted's Guides are used in the current Fiber U
online self-study programs and are still the best place
to start learning about fiber optics.
Ted's Guides are online at the links here, can be
downloaded as printable PDFs and are now also available
as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and
Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling
are now available free to iPad users who can download them from
the Apple iTunes store. Of course they are still available
online or for download.
You can also find these free guides on the FOA website - go here
for all the links: Lennie
Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle
Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling
Download PDFs of Lennie
or Uncle Ted.
LossCalc estimates the optical loss of a fiber optic link. This
will save time for the installer of a fiber optic link needing
to know whether test results are reasonable and/or make a
"pass/fail" determination. It can also help the designer of a
link to determine if communications equipment will operate over
By choosing the type of link (singlemode or multimode) and
specifying the length of the fiber and numbers of connections
and splices, it will calculate the end to end loss of the link.
The app has default specifications for singlemode and multimode
links or the user may create custom setups with specifications
appropriate for any application. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/foa-losscalc/id476262894?mt=8&ls=1
FOA has many videos on ,
including two Lecture Series (Fiber Optics and Premises
Cabling), Hands-On lectures on both and some other informational
and instructional videos. For all the videos, go
to the FOA Channel "thefoainc" or use the direct links
a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the
applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the
qualifications for the workers in the field.
Optics - Live! A
series of videos that use lab demonstrations to show how
optical fiber works.
Project Management - what's involved in a
copper/fiber/wireless project -advice for the customer and the
Of Counterfeit Cable
have read the stories we have written about the counterfeit
"Cat 5" cable made from copper-clad aluminum rather than pure
copper. Recently we tried an unscientific burn test on the
cable compared to a known good UL tested cable and posted a
video on YouTube. You can see the results below.
Cable Real UL-rated cable
difference is obvious and the danger is real. Watch the video
on YouTube: Premises
Cabling Lecture 11: Counterfeit Cat 5 Cabling
complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
all the FOA Channel on YouTube.
Communications Technologies, FOA
Approved School #378.
a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.
Find An FOA-Approved Training
inquiries we get regarding finding a FOA-Approved training
organization want to know two things: what school is closest to
me or what school offers the certifications I need. The FOA has
about 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide so
finding the right one can be difficult! We've been looking at
ways to make it easier, and we think we've got a good solution.
In fact we have two solutions.
First we have added a sortable
table of all the FOA-Approved schools.
You can also use our FOA
Google Map to find FOA-Approved schools.
Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do
certifications are based on our KSAs - the Knowledge, Skills and
Abilities that techs need to succeed. Read the FOA KSAs
for fiber and cabling techs.
enjoy feedback, especially when it shows how great some FOA
instructors are. These came from students of Tom Rauch, an
instructor at BDI
"I took your fiber optics certification courses this past March.
I just wanted to let you know that in two weeks I start working
as a fiber optic technician with ___ up in ___. You mentioned on
the first day of the course that there is always one guy in
class who had rubbed his last two nickels together to be there
and, in that instance, I was that guy. Now I'm going to be able
to provide for my family like never before and I owe it to the
certification that I received from you and BDI Datalynk. I just
wanted to thank you again."
"Thanks to our tremendously knowledgeable and patient instructor
Thomas Rauch, who was not only generous in sharing his wealth of
information, but he did so with ease, humor and in a way that
invited curiosity and participation. He was encouraging and
proud of our accomplishments and helped us learn from our
mistakes in a way that did not break our confidence, rather it
pushed us to better results the next go around. The hands on
labs were just AWESOME!" Just thought you should know what a
class act you have representing you in his travels..... but then
again you probably already knew that! : )
In almost 19 years at Verizon and having held numerous
positions, I have gone through many training sessions. I cannot
remember ever having been actually looking forward to coming
back to class quickly after lunch, to get back to the hands on
activities, and walking away with the sense of empowerment that
the information presented was not only relevant but dead on
point accurate! I will be signing up for the Outside Plant class
on March! I can't say enough good things about Tom and his
impact! Feel free to quote me, I can only imagine that he will
open so many doors and change so many lives in the years to
come, with his style of teaching! Great experience, awesome job!"
and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the
National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
a partnership with the FOA has published a new textbook for
training IBEW apprentices and journeymen in fiber optics. The
new textbook uses the material from the FOA Reference Guide To
Fiber Optics with new material and photos from other NJATC
from one of our certified instructors: I want to thank
you and your organization for all the resources you provide for
the students and the opportunity to offer the certification to
the students. The fact that you published the book yourself to
get the cost down and the unlimited free resources on your
website shows a commitment to the public that is second to none.
I let it be known to the students that the FOA is the best in
the industry at supplying knowledge and resources related to the
communication industry. I look forward to passing on the
information that you provide for the industry.
Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating
The FOA Fiber FAQs
Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions) gathers up
questions readers have asked us and adds tech topics of
From FOA Newsletter Readers
Aerial Cable With Cable Ties?
Q: I am considering an electrical job installing fiber
optic aerially on a messenger cable.
I have seen the cable tie method of lashing the fiber to the
messenger. Would you recommend this method considering the cost
of a lashing machine for a single project and if so what would
be a good distance between ties for the proper support of the
fiber to the cable.
A: The normal way to attach an aerial cable to a
messenger is lashing the cable with stainless steel wire. If you
use cable ties, you would need ensure the cable doesn’t droop
and the cable ties are designed for outdoor use in the sun over
a long time (stainless steel ones are available). How long is
the span? If it’s more than 100 feet, I think I would go with
lashing. If you don’t have a lasher, you can rent one. You will
need a bucket truck anyway.
Power Budget For PON
Q: Do you have any information on guidelines for avoiding
over saturation in a PON network? Our ONTs have a power window
of between -8dBm and -27dBm. OLT transceivers transmit at
around 4dBm. So our designers budget for no more than 28dB
of loss. However, some ignore the -8dBm maximum power
spec. With a short run from OLT to ONT and a small
splitter, installers are sometimes seeing light levels at the
ONT at around -6 to -7dBm. What would you recommend as a minimum
loss budget in this case? Do we need margin?
A: The GPON spec does have a max power at the ONT
generally expressed as a minimum loss in the cable plant - 13dB
for GPON. There is a graph about halfway down this page
(https://foa.org/tech/ref/appln/datalink.html) that shows a
graph of BER vs Receiver power. To have a link work properly, it
must have sufficient power to be above the minimum S/N - signal
to noise - ratio for the link but not so much power that it
saturates the receiver.
This is a very common situation in telco networks where links
are designed for relatively long distances but may be used on
short ones - e.g. a 40km link being used over 10km in a city.
Their solution is simple - add an attenuator
(https://foa.org/tech/ref/appln/attenuators.html). Lots of these
links use attenuators.
In a PON, there are several ways to go. 1) Brute force - test
each ONT and add attenuators as needed. Techs could carry a
selection of 5dB or 10dB attenuators to get at least to the 13dB
minimum needed. 2) Rather than require testing at each ONT, have
the designer do a loss budget based on the link length and
specify a minimum splitter in the link (8:1 would probably work
well) which would probably be cheaper than testing and adding
lots of attenuators.
am working on a project that has 5 sections, consisting of 5
miles each section, CCTV, detectors, DMS connected by 192 count
fiber. We were directed to use the consultants plans from
the first section as a guide for uniformity for the remaining
contracts. The attached fiber detail shows a 4 fiber drop
cable going to the ITS device. I was thinking to take all
12 fibers to the device and back for redundancy? Also, if
we did use the 4 fiber drop cable, I didn’t understand why they
would splice the other 10 thru cables and instead leave them
intact? Is there a preferred method for a drop cable to a device
or just preferences?
A: We are not sure why they do it the way they do.
Perhaps the designer was not familiar with midspan access which
would preclude having to make the other splices. Using a 12
fiber drop cable would be more expensive and perhaps unnecessary
unless the device being connected is in a location where a small
cell site might be located. They may also have uses for those
other fibers that require a connection through the drop
point. We”d suggest to the designer that midspan access
might allow saving the 10 splices at each drop.
Q: Do you have any statistical data on how long (on
average) it takes for a utility network operator to detect and
pinpoint the exact location of a fiber cut?
A: We don’t have any information on the average time it
would take to find a fiber fault and like all averages, it might
not have a lot of meaning.
Many fiber optic links today have alarms that indicate loss of
transmission so they tell you immediately when the link goes
down. Identify the link and the fiber connection. Then it
becomes a matter of troubleshooting and eliminating causes.
Sometimes even when reconnected the equipment requires a system
reset to get started.
First - check the power on the equipment
Secondly: determine if someone was doing something in the
equipment area that might have caused a problem. We do know of a
link that was brought down because an executive giving a tour
disconnected a live link to show someone a fiber connector! If
someone was working nearby, check that area first - patchcords,
cables, etc. Don’t forget to check work records to see if a crew
is working around the cable plant at that time. It’s possible a
crew installing new cables damaged old ones. See the FOA
newsletter for this month for what installers do on aerial cable
plant https://www.foa.org/foanl-3-20.html or last month for
If it appears to be in the cable plant and nobody is working
near it, OTDRs are generally used for troubleshooting. They get
you into the area where the problem is and them it’s finding it
manually. Underground it’s often contractors digging or boring,
overhead it’s just poor workmanship - or as a guy from
Bonneville Power put it, it may be “target practice” although
animals damage aerial cables too.
FOA has a page on restoration
https://foa.org/tech/ref/restoration/rest.html and some of our
instructors do seminars on it.
Time? If there are trained techs available, finding the problem
can take less than an hour. If not, it can take a lot longer.
Repair can be hours or days if the proper techs and equipment
are not available.
If nonstop service is required, alternative fiber routing is the
solution - build a mesh network.
Under any circumstances, having a restoration plan and repair
materials should be ready. If tech personnel are not available,
a contractor on call is needed.
APC or UPC?
Q: Can my otdr test upc connectors? Can I test this
distribution without problems?
A: APC and UPC connectors are not compatible. APCs are
green, UPCs are blue. See https://foa.org/tech/ColCodes.htm To
test UPC connectors you would need a launch cable that is UPC on
the OTDR end and APC to to mate to an APC connectors. But if I
look behind these green APC mating adapters, I seem to see blue
connectors - blue is UPC not APC. (add photo)
VFL Works On Multimode And Singlemode
Q: Will a VFL for single mode work with a multi mode as
A: Yes, a VFL works for either SM or MM fiber. Tight
buffer MM is no problem. On patchcords, the ability to see light
through the jacket of the cable depends on the color and
transparency of the plastic. On buffered fiber, it works well on
most 900 micron buffer fibers.
Campus Network Expansion
Q: Any advice for expanding a campus fiber optic network?
A: Here are some thoughts:
to building can more easily be done with indoor/outdoor
cable to get past the 50’ code limit for OSP cable.
campuses have ducts but they are often crowded. Microducts
or fabric ducts are often the solution even if you have to
pull out an older cable to pull in new microducts into one
and blowing microcables are gaining lots of traction for
and microtrenching can be what we call “construction without
are seeing more and more directional boring - works fine as
long as you know where other buried utilities are! Many
contractors need to learn more about underground location.
are finally getting the idea about singlemode fiber - now
it’s probably cheaper than multimode.
optical LANs can save money. Biggest advantage is the
upgrade from GPON to 10GPON is seamless - you can even run
both simultaneously, e.g. for a student system and a
fiber count cables are tempting, but require special
handling and lots of manhole/handhole space.
working with a Corning “Pioneer” (retired engineer) on
trying to educate installers about bend radius violations,
esp when pulling large fiber count cables.
installations shortchange manhole/handhole space.
is sometimes used. Lashing to a messenger is probably best.
We worked with a school in Canada last year trying to use
short lengths of ADSS and it was not cost effective nor was
their much applications support for short ADSS links.
of sight wireless (RF or optical) works across highways and
may be cheaper than construction for fiber.
Q: I have a run of 12 Strand single mode fiber from a
remote closet back to my main equipment room. I unpluged
it this morning to check another cable and when i plugged it
back i have lost communication with the remote closet. Can
you help me with some trouble shooting ideas. I have
already tried a new cable from the termination point back to the
switch but still no communication.
A: The first guess is that the fibers are not connected
correctly - transmitter to receiver. That’s the first thing to
check. The second possibility is dirt on the connector or in the
connector housing on the transmitter or receiver. Cleaning might
be the solution. Third and worst possibility is the connector
was damaged when being disconnected.
Q2: I ended up powering down the switch in the remote
closet and plugging the fiber in then powering it back up and it
picked up communication again. Strange ??
A: Nope, makes sense. Many new networks shut down unless
they have full duplex communications. If the link is broken, it
shuts down until reset.
Cable Installation Guidelines
Q: I am trying to find information on the recommendations
regarding fiber underground in conduit. I am looking for
industry specific verbiage on the cumulative turn degrees before
you need a handhole or manhole. I believe it is 180 degree
cumulative but I can’t find it anywhere.
A: We’ve heard the 180 degree limit mentioned on some
conduit but not for fiber optics. For any fiber optic cable
pulling, the relevant issues are pulling tension and bend
We know of no specific standards or guidelines on conduit bends
for fiber optics. It has many factors, including conduit size
and type - there are many types, length of the pull, radius of
the bends, type of fiber optic cable and lubricants used, if
any. For the cable, there are thousands of fiber optic cable
designs that vary in diameter from ~3mm to ~30mm depending on
the type of cable and number of fibers, the stiffness of the
cable and the location and type of stiffer/strength members and
the method of installation - pulling or blowing/jetting. And for
locations as far North as you are, temperature can be an issue
as cable gets stiffer when colder!
For any given installation, corners are generally accommodated
by handholes/manholes and pulling done from handhole to handhole
with figure-8ed cable pulling techniques to prevent cable damage
by excessive tension or bending.
FOA has a section of our Guide on OSP construction: Outside
Plant Fiber Optic Cable Plant Construction and in that is
a section on OSP
installation. For specific cables or conduit runs, we’d
suggest talking to the application engineers at cable
manufacturers who can give specific advice.
Minimum Link Length
Q: I have a question regarding minimum fiber optic
distances for horizontal runs. Is there a minimum distance for a
horizontal fiber optic run? Any information regarding this would
be greatly appreciated. Thank you for you help!
A: The answer to your question is for the most part no,
there is no minimum distance for a fiber optic link. For
example, fiber is used in offices, data centers, etc. sometimes
connecting equipment on a single rack. And there are many fiber
optic links used on platforms - aircraft, helicopters, ships,
etc. - and in command posts.
Most of the Ethernet standards are based on a 2m minimum, but
also most are defined by a maximum length. For multimode
systems, the max length is mainly a bandwidth issue, so shorter
links are no problem.
For singlemode links, the bandwidth is not an issue, it’s the
power budget, limited by the transmitter power and receiver
sensitivity, translated into the loss of the cable plant. But
for receivers, often they have not only a minimum input power
limited by their baseline noise but also a maximum power they
can have before saturating and causing high bit error rates. See
Budget” on this page in the FOA Guide. So if a singlemode
link is short, the receiver can be overloaded so an attenuator
is used at the receiver.
There is a secondary problem with singlemode systems,
reflectance. Reflections from connections can cause problems
with both transmitters and receivers, a topic covered in the
link given above. The reflectance problem can be solved with APC
The FOA Guide
has many pages on links, networks, reflectance, testing, etc.
that you may find helpful.
Q: I have question about DBM IN GPON system with splitter
1:64. I spliced 2 fiber from splitter to customer going through
4 splicing points and when I measured the loss at the end
(customer) the #2 fiber was fine but the #1 fiber was down
12 dB. I checked the fiber with OTDR without splitter and it
looks fine. What you think is the problem?
A: You need to test the splitter itself to make sure all
ports are good.
Fiber Flexibility and Longevity
When I think of glass, I think of a material that is not
very flexible. If you try to bend most glass, it will break. So
it is rather remarkable that you can bend a fiber and not
crack it, even though the strands are quite thin. Perhaps it's
not a good idea to bend fiber too sharply? I was talking to the
people who maintain the fiber network at the university here.
They tell me they have a problem when fiber gets to be about 15
years old, it will start to become brittle. If you flex it, it
will crack or break. Is this a common problem? How long can
fiber be expected to last before it becomes brittle? Is fiber
that is manufactured more recently have a longer life-span?
A: Fiber is quite flexible. One demo I did when I taught classes
was to walk up to a large window and push on it, telling
everyone to watch the reflections to see how the glass flexed. I
can flex quite a lot. Like most materials, as it gets smaller,
it can bend more easily because the stress is less across the
cross sectional area. Consider a bar of steel 1” in diameter
compared to a piano wire or banjo string. Most things break
because either they are overstressed or there is some impurity
in the material that focuses the stress and the crack propagates
from there. Ever cut glass? You scratch it and stress it along
the scratch line and its maps off - called cleaving - where the
stress concentrates along the induced fault. Fiber is extremely
low in impurities - a matter of how it’s made from raw
materials, not melted sand like most glass - that’s part of what
makes them have such low loss (efficient transmission) and high
strength. A glass fiber is much stronger than steel of the same
explains it here.
The brittleness of older fiber is due to the migration of
moisture up the cable into the glass. The H2O becomes the OH
radical which interacts with the glass to reduce its strength.
Most cable companies say their cable today protects the fiber
well enough that it should last 40 years, but where fiber is
terminated or spliced and exposed to the air, it can get brittle
and be hard to handle in 10 years or more. Older fiber had
shorter lifetimes simply because we learned to make fiber
coatings and cables better at sealing fiber from the ambient
Choice for LANs
Q: Many manufacturers or suppliers worldwide emphasize the
use of OM4 multimode optical fiber for the LAN. Does single-mode
fiber not provide greater bandwidth than multimode? Do they
imply that single mode optical fiber should only be used for
long distance applications and not in LAN environments?
A: Multimode fiber is acceptable for LANs up to 10
gigabits/second and up to 550 meters depending on the type of
fiber and Ethernet version. See this
page for a complete list of network specifications.Higher
versions of multimode fiber OM2-OM3-OM4 have higher bandwidth
capability. OM5 is a version of MO4 that also supports
wavelength division multiplexing with VCSEL sources in the
extended wavelength 850-950nm range. OM1 is a earlier fiber with
a different core size that has not been designed into new
systems for almost 20 years. LANs can use singlemode fiber for
all versions. Singlemode has longer distance capability (up to
40km) and virtually infinite bandwidth. See the singlemode
specification in the link above. Singlemode is also used in
passive optical LANs that can be much cheaper to build than
conventional networks. See this
page for information on optical LANs (OLANs)
including passive OLANs based on FTTH GPON technology.
Pigtails do not have a connector on one end so that makes OTDR
testing more justifiable. Clean connector, mate to connector on
long reference cable, check connection and length. OLTS testing
would require using bare fiber adapter or temporary splice and
might not be very accurate.
A customer said he said he would test 100 foot pigtails with
OTDR. I question that practice and think OLTS Tier 1 and
microscope test for defects,
What Is A Ring Network?
Q: If according to the TIA or ISO structured cabling
standards the fiber optic campus backbone must be
star-hierarchical type, how should a fiber optic "ring" be
built? to always ensure connectivity on a LAN?
A: A “ring” network consists of a series of links
connecting equipment (nodes) in series until the last one
connects back to the first. Since the links are communicate in
both directions, the network can still operate if any one
cabling link or equipment fails. Today, survivability is usually
ensured by using a “mesh” network; the architecture of data
centers, the Internet or phones. In addition to having a series
connection of nodes, there are other interconnections that
provide for multiple alternative paths. See Networks in the FOA
Testing Samples Not Everything
Q: Instead of testing everything, how does one determine
how many fibers or components to test for a reasonable
A: The relevant term is AQL - acceptance quality limit -
a term that is used for statistical sampling for testing. Here
is a web page that explains it:
https://qualityinspection.org/what-is-the-aql/. Let testing and
inspection evolve. At first test thoroughly, but drop testing
anything that never fails, it’s a waste of time. Qualify vendors
and test trusted vendors less.
Q: I am often ask how long the fiber we are deploying
today will last or be useable , I typically say something like
it will last at least 20 years and that no one really knows how
long it can be used. What is the oldest fiber optic
network or longish segment that is still in production that you
A: Current cables are probably good for 40 years or so.
Today there is some fiber being used by telcos from the late
1980s and lots form the late 1990s and early 2000s. Lots of OPGW
(optical power ground wire) is in use up to 30 years old. Some
of this old fiber is being used at 10Gb//s. But remember that
fiber from 20 or 30 years ago may have limitations on bandwidth,
since both chromatic and polarization mode dispersion has been
reduced in newer fibers for higher speed networks. And spectral
attenuation of older fibers may be higher and have the water
peak at 1383nm that can affect wavelength-division multiplexing
systems. But the weak point may not be the cable or fiber, but
the splice and termination points where bare fibers may be
exposed to the elements. It's not uncommon to find these fibers
have become brittle and are hard to work with. What we always
tell people is if it’s working, leave it alone. If you want to
upgrade to higher bit rate systems, use fiber characterization
to determine if the fibers are capable of use at higher speeds.
Q: If a FO connector is crossed connected i.e Rx
connected Rx and Tx to Tx at both end, will it works?
I know in theory it will not due to light circuits arrangement,
but is there SFP in the market can tolerate that?
A: We do not know how a SFP could sense and change
polarity unless it had an optical switch inside the module. A
transmitter is a laser or LED and a receiver has a
photodetector. Unless one could have the devices change
function, changing polarity would be impossible.
Construction Near Underground Fiber
Q: What is the recommended distance for any new building
construction to build near underground fiber duct channel?
A: We do not know of any standards or codes related to
construction near fiber or other underground utilities. Common
sense dictates that one stay far enough away to prevent
accidental damage, so adding 5-6 meters(15-20ft) from the areas
of construction makes sense.
Q: Can you guide me some websites or pages where I can learn more about Gpon Technology please?
A: FOA Guide has a big section on FTTH and OLANs using GPON technology. Follow those links,
We are installing 216 fiber aerial cable for 12km with 2
splicing points. We use 3 different fusion machines and they
report that all splices are 0.00db. But when we check using OTDR
we get above 0.04db. The question is how can we get below 0.04db
A: The loss results from both fusion splicers and OTDRs
are estimates, with considerable uncertainty. The splicing
machines estimate based on the optical images of the fibers. The
OTDR estimates loss based on fiber backscatter and may give
significant differences depending on the direction of test. The
differences you quote are within the uncertainty of the two
On Link Length
Q: I have a fiber run for a camera starts at location A to
location B it is 467 feet. Location B jumpers through to
location C which is 2060 ft at location C. Transceivers areSFPs
ONLY GOOD UP TO 1800 ft, but this company only has a multimode
system. Is there something i can do to make this work?
A: It might work as is, since electronics are usually
quoted with conservative specs and will work farther than
specified most of the time. If you have several SFPs, test the
output power to see if it exceeds specs and choose the 2 ones
with highest power. If that still doesn’t work, contact SFP
manufacturers for higher power units.
Q: I’m having trouble finding much information on the
matter. What type of swivel should be used to pull fiber and
what would be the correct way to pull armored fiber.
A: Start on the FOA Guide here and go here for
types of swivel pulling eyes. with https://foa.org/tech/ref/OSP_Construction/Underground_Installation.html
and here are sources https://www.comstarsupply.com/cable-pulling/swivels.html
It’s not common to “pull” armored cable since it’s designed for
direct burial, but a kellums
grip on the jacket will generally work.
Errors In A Data Link
Q: What is the significance of bit error, and what is the
acceptable rate for communications and submersible vehicles?
A: On any data link, there is an acceptable amount of
error that can be tolerated. If it’s a digital voice link, a BER
10E-6 (1 error in 1million bits) is acceptable without affecting
voice quality. If it’s a link to your bank, the typical standard
is a million times higher (10E-12). Link protocols usually have
ways to determine BER, like attaching a checksum to the end of a
data packet and having it checked at the receiving end. If a
error is suspected, the packet will be discarded and
retransmitted. Here is a tutorial
on BER and an explanation
of errors in a a fiber optic link.
Math of Fiber Optics
Q: Do you by any chance recommend any books as an
introduction to understand the mathematics of fiber optics?
Fiber optics confuses me, particularly how so much data
can travel over light without interfering with each other,
A: If you are interested in information theory, that’s
really covered by Claude Shannon at Bell Labs 70 years ago.
That’s actually pretty simple. Shannon proved that digital data
was best and how much data could be transmitted with a given
amount of bandwidth (Read
more). There are several levels of math associated with
fiber optics. The real theoretical basis is probably in dozens
of books but I like these:
Top Level: Gerd
Middle Level: Jeff
If you are interested in non-math explanations, the FOA website
For testing math (dB loss, metrology, etc.) these links or the FOA
book on Testing
and Fiber Optics
Math of Insertion Loss Testing - Reference Methods
Q: Why NOT make the use of APC connectors the new standard
for all adds, moves and changes to any campus, MDU or similar
application using single mode cable?
A: There is absolutely no reason not to use APC
connectors other than the cost is higher and one must be careful
if they are used in a cable plant that also has PCs or UPCs
because they are incompatible. We recommend them all the time
for short links like data centers, passive optical LANs and FTTH
where runs of singlemode fiber are short. In fact they are very
common in these networks today.
Q What is normal Range for good power in an FTTH fiber?
A: The GPON specification for downstream power from the
OLT is OLT transmitter power should be 0 to +6dBm and link
attenuation in the range of 13 to 28dB, which says receiver
power the ONT must be a maximum of 13 dB less than +6dBm or
-7dBm and a minimum of 28 dB less than 0dBm or -28dBm, so -7 to
-28dBm at the receiver.
Upstream, the similar calculation is ONT transmitter -4 to
+2dBm and the receive power at theOLT is -11 to
See http://thefoa.org/tech/ref/appln/FTTH-PON.html for the full
specifications for GPON.
Cable Before Installation
Does the FOA publish a standard for assessing single-mode
fiber optic cables, prior to use on a specific project?
A: The ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 fiber optic installation
standard covers this in Section 4.1. It recommends visual
inspection and testing if there is any suspicion of damage to
the cable. Many contractors will test a couple of fibers with an
OTDR before installing any cable, just for assurance. It
requires an OTDR with a pigtail launch cable and a mechanical
Cable Bend Radius
We are working on project where we need to know difference
between short term and long term bend radius for fiber optic
A: The bend radius for cables is generally specified
under two conditions - under stress, e. g. when being pulled, it
is a radius 20 times the cable diameter. Relaxed, after
installation, it is a radius 10 times the cable diameter. The
relaxed specification, 10X, is considered a long term
specification. Some of the new high fiber count cables have
different specifications, sometimes 15X or 20X under either
condition. Check with the manufacturer for their specific cable.
Q: If testing a 40KM link with 1KM launch and
receive cords should I be able to see the connector and cassette
splice on each side? My OTDR setup is at 64KM, 300ns pulse and
10 second test at 1310/1550/1625. It shows as a single event so
far but with the pulse width at 300ns won’t that combine the
events into one event during analysis?
A: You will not be able to resolve a connector and splice
close together, especially on a long link like that. 300ns is
almost 60m pulse width! You will see an even of the splice and
Q: We are looking at the specs for two devices, A
and B. The spec sheet of Device A lists it is capable of MM in
850nm wavelength. The spec sheet of Device B lists it can do MM
at 1300nm. If I connect these devices via MM patch cord, what is
the impact due to different wavelengths? Will the transmission
suffer significant loss or since both are multimode, wavelength
A: Fiber works at either wavelength, but transceivers do
not. The attenuation rate for MM fiber is ~3dB/km at 850nm but
only ~1dB/km at 1300nm. But 850nm receivers use silicon
photodiodes while 1300 nm receivers use InGaAs. The 1300
detectors are not sensitive at 850nm and vice versa. So while
the fiber works fine, the electronics do not. They should only
be used with like devices.
questions are now available here on the FOA Guide.
continuing quest to help people understand how to test fiber
optic cable plants and communications systems, we've created two
more "QuickStart Guides to Fiber Optic Testing." They are
simple, step-by-step guides on how to test fiber optic cable
plants, patchcords or single cables using insertion loss or OTDR
techniques and optical power from transceivers. It's as
straightforward as it can get - what equipment do you need, what
are the procedures for testing, options in implementing the
test, measurement errors and documenting the results.
It can't get much simpler.
Send anybody you know who needs to know about fiber optic
testing here to learn how it's done in a few minutes.
Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords
Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR
Optical Power In Communications Systems
Tech Topics -
Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket? (See the video on
The camera in your old cell phone is sensitive to infrared light
- lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical
fiber or from a transmitter. Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I,
Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication
JATC brought this to our attention.
you have an old cell phone, try it. Our experience is that older
cell phone cameras have better sensitivity at IR wavelengths
than newer phones, so you may want to toss that old flip phone
into the toolbox.
YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking
One OTDR manufacturer you don't hear as much about is YOKOGAWA
(formerly ANDO) which is too bad - they make some of the best
OTDRs, exemplified by this new model AQ7280. Need long range -
how about 50dB. High resolution - 0.6m dead zone. Like touch
screens, but for some functions want hard buttons, it's got
that. Options for VFL, microscope, light source and power meter,
etc. - it has that too.
But the unique aspect of the YOKOGAWA AQ7280 is it offers
multitasking - you can let do a trace with long averages while
you inspect connectors, make power readings, use the VFL or
info on the YOKOGAWA AQ7280.
thanks Yokogawa for a gift of an OTDR to use for R&D and
you read the FOA
pages on cleaning?