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MAY 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!


Women Installers in Alaska
New Fiber U MiniCourse: Coloe Codes
Vidoe: FOA/Fiber U OJT-to-Cert Program

Project Management For Managers
Ransomware Hack Shuts Down Pipeline

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

Fiber Contractor Breaks 16" Gas Main
Installing a Submarine Cable
UAE Achieves 98% FTTH
Graybar Helps Deliver Rural Broadband
Techtricians Training
Cable Installation for Drives and Parking Lots
OFC Goes Virtual

Connector Loss
Problems with Splicing BI SMF
Grounding Rules
Fire Resistant cable
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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Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?

To keep your FOA certifications active, you need to renew them when they expire. Now we have a new more convenient way to renew - an online store at Paypal - where you can quickly and conveniently use your PayPal account or your credit card to renew your certifications.

You can now renew with PayPal or a credit card
PayPal is available worldwide

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SPECIAL OFFER -  1/3 Off Your Certification Renewal Cost

In the near future, there will be a requirement for continuing education to renew your FOA certifications. FOA is testing an option for renewals where you take a short Fiber U online course. 

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

Women Installers in Alaska – Leading the Way

Women installers in Alaska

In the February issue of Electrical Contractor magazine, there was an article "Leading By Example: Women in electrical construction" by Claire Swedberg that captured our attention, The story and photos focused on Deborah Kelley, a former line constructor in Alaska were incredibly interesting. It inspired Karen Hayes, FOA GM, to talk to Deborah and here colleagues who were doing fiber optic installation in Alaska to get their feedback on their work. The article below is a result of Karen's conversations and includes insights into their work and how techs learn on the job. All photos courtesy of Deborah Kelly.

By Karen Hayes, FOA GM

One important fact about the fiber optic jobs, and the trades in general, is the lack of women filling the ranks even as the industry faces severe skilled labor shortages.  There has never a better time to reach out to women.  We took an opportunity to interview a group of 5 women working as fiber techs, all associated with the NECA/IBEW Apprenticeship Program in Alaska.   Their experiences were varied – most were splicers but one installed FTTH.   All were very positive about their jobs while acknowledging the personal choices you have to make.  Some loved working in Alaska’s harsh environment but not everyone wants to be a lineman.  As Karen Lopez put it: “The work is hard on your body.  The travel is hard on your life.”

women in Alaska

I asked if women are starting to fill the ranks of fiber optic tech.  The answer is yes but still slowly.   All were actively recruiting for the union.   They emphasized the need for training.  Throughout their careers all experienced the “throw you into a job and let you figure it out” approach as Karen put it.  They contrasted this with IBEW apprenticeship program where each individual enrolled receives extensive training both in the classroom and as apprentices in the field.

Most focused on the need to stay current with new technologies and to develop necessary skills at all stages of their working careers.    Unfortunately, companies are not spending as much $ on training as in the past – mostly for budget reasons but recently, of course, because of the pandemic.  If any training dollars are available, they generally go to new workers but these women made a pitch for giving experienced workers the opportunity to take advanced classes.

Karen pointed out “equipment is always changing – this is accelerating with 5G.“ Tara Thornton lamented that experienced workers who want to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills should not be overlooked.

Charlie Ruhl  and Karen are contract workers - time-off is not paid.  Charlie said “don’t wait for your company to provide training – seek it out yourself.  She also pointed out that splicers should get ongoing OJT training – they need “refining of skills that comes from repetition to develop muscle memory”.

I took an opportunity to introduce the idea of using Fiber U for “continuing education”.  Fiber U has almost 30 different courses, all are free and widely used around the world.  A certificate of completion exam is available for each course at a cost of $10 or $20. 

In addition to encouraging workers to use Fiber U for on their own, the FOA has worked with employers and employees to formalize an OJT program where workers learn on the job under the supervision of experienced co-workers utilizing training aids from Fiber U to help employers develop qualified techs.  Workers in the program who complete the program will receive FOA certification. (contact the FOA for more information).

In addition to technical skills, everyone agreed that “life skills” are just as important to succeed at their jobs.  These skills include how you interact with colleagues, solve problems and manage your work.   All agreed that women generally excel in these skills.

women in fiber

Also, having a good attitude is very important.  Karen brought this into focus: “Just ignore bullies and do your job so well there will be nothing to criticize”.   Mary Beal-Kuhlman put it this way: “Let your work speak for you.  Don’t take criticism too personally.

women techs

The women also emphasized resourcefulness and cooperation to get the job done.  Mary weighs all of 95 lbs. but learned to recruit her co-workers to help her and encourage teamwork.  She can’t lift a 350 lb manhole but she can crawl into small openings.

Karen explained that as a FTTH tech coming into people’s homes, she is very successful because she is personable and patient - taking the time to listen to customers and solve their problems or find out how to help them.

They all consider it their job to encourage women to enter the trades and recruit young women into the IBEW Apprenticeship program.  Mary brought up the importance of diversity – “it creates a more positive workplace – everyone learns how to handle things better”.  They all shared that they take it upon themselves to mentor younger co-workers and set an example for how to thrive at the job site.

Mary describes being approached by students at a nearby high school – asking her questions about her job.  She thinks of herself as an ambassador for the union and carries brochures with her.  Charlie mentioned the importance of female role models

It was clear all 5 women depend on other female techs for support.  They all endorsed the importance of having a support system at work and in your personal life.   The women techs have their own Facebook group -  Mary describes it as a place to share technical information, practical advice like what clothes to wear on the job or to vent with other women who understand the unique world of “working on the line”.

The bottom line is that there has never been a better time for a company to diversify  their recruiting efforts.   Many fiber techs are retiring now and the pace will accelerate.  These 5 hardy Alaskan ladies set a great example.  I hope more individuals and companies follow their lead.

New Fiber U MiniCourse - Color Codes

color codes

FOA has created another Fiber U MiniCourse, the
Fiber U Color Codes MiniCourseThis course covers the color codes used in fiber optics. We cover fiber color codes for numbering, cable jackets and connectors used to identify fibers. After we finished, we wondered "Why didn't we do this a long time ago!"

At the same time, we updated the FOA Guide page on Color Codes with new information and lots of color and created a new YouTube video on Color Codes which we use in the Fiber U MiniCourse.

Like the other 
Fiber U MiniCourse, it will take less than an hour to complete and you can get a Fiber U Certificate of Completion when you finish.

Fiber U Color Codes MiniCourse 



New FOA YouTube Video Describes On-The-Job Training (OJT) And How To Use Fiber U To Make It Work Better.

To explain How OJT works and FOA's OJT-To-Cert program, FOA created a short 10 minute YouTube video that explains what OJT is, who uses it and how to use Fiber U to organize and enhance OJT for new employees and experienced workers too.

Lecture 62: On The Job Training For Fiber Optics Using Fiber U

FOA/Fiber U On-The-Job Training (OJT) Program

OJT is the well-known term for "on-the-job training." Workers learn on the job under the supervision of experienced co-workers. FOA has been asked many times how its resources like Fiber U can be used to help employers and their employee trainees involved in OJT. The interest in OJT has been so high, especially during the difficult year in 2020, that FOA has worked with employers and employees to formalize an OJT program and create training aids to help employers develop qualified techs using OJT.


The FOA Fiber U “OJT-To-Cert” program  includes both fiber optics and premises cabling (copper, fiber & wireless), so it covers techs working in both outside plant and premises jobs.

The FOA Fiber U OJT program combines online study at Fiber U with OJT with mentoring by experienced co-workers and their supervisor to help new employees develop into FOA-certified technicians in only one year.  Upon completion of this program, the trainee will be prepared to take the exam for the FOA CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and/or CPCT (Certified Premises Cabling Technician), the most widely recognized fiber optic and premises cabling certifications in the industry.

Like other FOA programs, the OJT-To-Cert program is free. The FOA provides directions for use of the free Fiber U online training programs and we provide a log for the trainee to keep track of their progress. The only cost is the two Fiber U certificates of completion and the FOA certification exam at the end of the program.

If you and/or your company is interested in the FOA OJT-To-Cert program, contact FOA.

Project Management For Managers

While this subject could take an entire book to cover or a long class, we did not do that. We thought about it but decided managers are very busy and what they want/need is a short overview of the issues of managing fiber optic projects with listings of available resources. We ended up with two pages for managers: Guide To Fiber Optic Projects and Fiber Optic Project Management (For Managers).


The FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Projects summarizes what's involved in a fiber optic project. Then it becomes a resource guide, with links to other pages in the FOA Guide that provide much more information on the details of a fiber optic project. A manager can read the page in a few minutes, familiarize themselves with the links to other pages in the FOA guide that can be used for future reference.

The page
Fiber Optic Project Management (For Managers) page discusses the role of the manager in a fiber optic project and makes recommendations on what the manager needs to know and focus on to make a project successful. Again, it's an overview but provides links to additional resources that can be used as needed.

We encourage managers to use these two pages as resources and give us feedback: What do you think is missing and how can we make it better?

Worst Technical Boo-Boo Of The Month

In an article in a major magazine by a manufacturer of fiber splices: "‘ Under the wind cover is the area called the fusion chamber - where the magic happens. Two pieces of hollow glass are melted together, preserving the hole so light can pass through it.‘

"HOLEY smokes...."

Worth Reading (more below)

Ransomware attack leads to shutdown of major U.S. pipeline system Washington Post. A ransomware attack led one of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline operators to shut down its entire network on Friday, according to the company and two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The attack on top U.S. operator Colonial Pipeline appears to have been carried out by an Eastern European-based criminal gang.

Are you sure you want that critical system connected to the Internet?

Does IoT really stand for "Internet of Thieves"????

Read more about this incident from Marketplace on NPR

FOA Newsletter Sections

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


Lots more news in Worth Reading below

Fiber Optic Contractor Punctures Large Gas Main In Santa Monica

From the SMDP website

A fiber optic contractor installing cable in Santa Monica, CA, less than 2 miles/3km from FOA hit a gas main creating an event that has led in many circumstances to true disasters, but in this case disaster was averted, According to the Santa Monica Daily Press:

"The smell and sound of natural gas rushing from one of the city’s largest mains prompted the evacuation of residents in the city’s northeast corner Friday morning, but those left behind have been stuck in the dark, without power, searching for information.

"The situation started around noon Thursday when a private contractor attempting to install fiber optic lines on Stanford Street near Washington Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard struck a 16” gas main, which prompted a large response of state and local officials, some of whom said they have been working since 3 p.m. Thursday."

FOA contacted both the city works department and the fire department but was unable to get more details. An inspection of the area showed multiple openings in the road where the contractor might have been doing directional boring.

How a contractor could have done this is puzzling. One does not work around 16" (almost 500mm) high pressure gas lines without great caution. When we find out more, we will continue the story.

Submarine Cable Connects Portugal to South/Latin America

With some very interesting videos on how submarine cables are installed

sub cable

EllaLink is a state-of-the-art optical platform offering secure high capacity connectivity on a unique and low latency diverse transatlantic route, linking the major terrestrial and subsea hubs in Europe and Latin America. EllaLink will be ready for service in 2021, providing the first-ever high capacity direct fibers between the two continents with points of presence in Sines, Madrid, Lisbon, Marseille, Barcelona, Fortaleza, Sao Paulo & Rio and onward connectivity to the USA, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

link videos
Ella Link has some very interesting installation videos on the installation of the cable - especially the "Final Splice" video and the ones on the landings.

More: EllaLink and installation videos

UAE Achieves 98% FTTH, Top in MENA, World


UAE has achieved the highest percentage of FTTH connections with 98.3% in a recent survey by Fiber Connect Council MENA. Qatar is close behind with 89.4%. The local service provider, Etisalat, is also a long standing FOA-approved school, Etisalat Academy. Here is the report from 
MENA Fibre News - April 2021.

"Mr. Abdulrahman Al Humaidan, Sr. Director/Fixed Access Network Planning & Design, Etisalat, commented on the study and the UAE achievement “Fiber connectivity is an integral part of future networks, especially today, with the availability of 5G, making it easier to bring futuristic technologies and services to all subscribers. Today’s achievement was made possible due to the wise vision of the Leadership in the UAE, which resulted in positioning the country among the most digitally advanced countries. This has inspired us to realize our efforts to ‘Drive the digital future to Empower Societies’ by delivering world-class networks, infrastructure and innovative services.

Etisalat’s State-of-Art Fiber Infrastructure has empowered us in addressing the current challenges imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic and meeting our customers’ digital requirements, which resulted in Facilitating businesses to work remotely and over a million students enjoying distance learning. We will continue working towards maintaining our global leadership in FTTH penetration, and enhance our efforts in infrastructure readiness, to deliver access to vital digital services to all of our customers during today’s extraordinary difficult times “.

Read more: MENA Fibre News - April 2021.

New CFOT Participated in Techtricians/FOA Scholarship Program


Mr. Charles and instructor Tom Collins of Techtricians. 

Mr. Charles recently received a Certified Fiber Optic Technician certification as part of a Scholarship program by Techtricians and The Fiber Optic Association. We tried a variety of blended learning strategies; traditional, online assignments, and in person lab. Mr. Charles successfully completed the certification and with an above average score. He would make any company a valuable employee.  

Training Using Hybrid Classes - Online And in Person
Tom has also been busy training electrical technicians at the IBEW local 1579 in Augusta, GA. Tom's training organization, Techtricians has completed 4 hybrid classes with a total of 38 participants. They were required to complete online assignments prior to their 3 days of intense scheduled training.  Lecture and labs were administered in a safe environment.  All of the participants successfully passed the skills portion of the program as well as on the last day of training passing the CFOT certification test.  With the hybrid online/in person format, the certification test scores were above average! Techtricians Instructor, Tom Collins, a retired IBEW Local 212 member and JATC trainer is excited and happy local contractors are trained and bidding fiber optic work with a skilled work force.     

More about Tom and Techtricians.

New Technique For Simplified Cable Installation In Drives And Parking Lots

FiberTRAX is a method of installing optical fiber in shallow grooves in the surface of parking lots or driveways that is simpler than trenching, microtrenching or directional boring, Developed by Traxyl, it's similar to the "nanotrenching" that Google Fiber unsuccessfully tried in Louisville, KY, but doesn't seem aimed at high traffic roads.

For more information, see FiberTRAX on the Traxyl website.

How Graybar Is Helping Local Utilities Deliver Broadband to Rural America

This video was created as a promotion for Graybar but it has some very good information on what a rural electrical coop - or any rural fiber broadband system operator - needs to know.

Graybar on rural broadband
This Broadband internet access has become a 21st century utility, but many rural communities still lack access. Across the U.S., member-owned utility co-operatives formed decades ago to deliver electricity are now taking the lead to deploy fiber networks. Learn how Graybar’s Managed Services can help these companies keep network buildouts on time and on budget.

Watch the video here.

OFC Conference Goes Virtual For 2021

OFC 2021

OFC, the biggest technical conference in fiber optics, will be virtual in 2021.

High Frequency Traders Benefit From Hollow Core Fibers

euNetworks deploys Lumenisity's hollow-core fiber cable in London, the first broad-based deployment by a carrier of hollow-core fiber to a trading venue, offering a live route more than 30% faster than existing fiber-based routes. euNetworks Fiber UK Limited, a Western European bandwidth infrastructure company, announced it has deployed its first ultra low latency cable system based on Lumenisity Limited's CoreSmart NANF hollow-core fiber technology.

Lumenisity supplied the CoreSmart cable solution, with the new deployment now conducting live data traffic between Interxion: A Digital Realty Company, and the London Stock Exchange.

According to
euNetworks, this marks the first commercial deployment of hollow-core fiber technology in the world, and is part of an agreement covering additional deployments over the coming years between trading venues and other locations. According to Lumenisity, "Data travels 50% faster in hollow-core cable, reducing latency by 1/3, and providing a round trip saving of 3μs per km. These latency savings are very significant in financial trading applications."

Read more in CI&M.


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.

Confused Technical Question Of The Month

FOA received a call from a contractor working on a network. His subcontractor doing termination presented data on terminations using mechanical splice-on connectors where he claimed the TIA standard for these connectors was 0.75dB for th connector PLUS 0.3dB for the splice, for a total of 1.05dB. He wanted to know if this were true.

No, it is not true. These connectors have an internal splice to a stub fiber already glued in the ferrule and factory polished. The loss of the connector used to terminate a fiber must include the splice since it is the termination method and there is no way to test it separately from the connector itself.

Typical mechanical splice-on connector, also called a prepolished/splice connector.

We noted the TIA loss value, 0.75dB was very high compared to adhesive polish connectors which average around 0.3dB loss when tested against a reference connector. In the standards it has remained at 0.75dB to cover this type of connector and array connectors like the MPO.

850nm LEDs Extinct?

Two equipment manufacturers told us this month that they could not get 850nm LEDs - leadtimes were long and prices very high. These LEDs are needed for multimode test equipment. In transmission equipment, 850nm VCSELs are good subsititues, but test equipment needs the more consistent, less coherent light from the LED.

What Do You Think? Splicing BI Fibers

splicing bend-insensitive fibers

FOA received these photos  with this description. When you read this, if you have experienced similar issues, please share the information with FOA at email

"Can you take a quick look at these two fibers being spliced and let me know what you think.  One fiber is supposed to be G.657.A2 and the other is supposed to be G.657.A1, but the MFD mismatch does not seem to confirm this.  Have you seen this scenario and if so, what fiber types were they?  The machine in SM mode does not want to splice them, but in auto mode will splice them with some degree of hesitation and time."

We wondered if the mismatched BI fibers were confusing the core alignment machines and if cladding aligment would be better. We also contacted Joe Botha of Triple Play in SA who has shared his tests on splicing dissimilar fibers before and here's what he said:

"Yes, we see this all the time, at every FTTH drop cable to feeder/backhaul splice you will find this and at the ONT TP.

Using a Fujikura or Sumitomo fusion splicer set on “auto”, splicing them is not an issue and the MFD difference does not look as striking.

As we know, what’s bewildering this fusion splicer is 657A1’s 9.2 μm vs. 657A2’s  8.32 μm MFD.
I’m a lucky guy… I recently got handed x15 10km reels of Corning fibre, a mix of 657’s 652 and 655.
What is really cool about this is that I can now do micron-accurate MFD research, because:
Each reel has a serial # with an associated spec sheet containing the actual measured MFD i.e. 8.32 μm @ 1310 nm and not what you will find on a generic spec or data sheet e.g. 8.6 ± 04 μm.
I will soon do some research on this and publish the outcomes.

I would love to know on average, how much unidirectional exaggerated loss a micron difference in MFD creates."

Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: Article 800 provides specific requirements

In the March issue of Electrical Contractor magazine, Michael Johnston, the NECA Executive Director of Standards and Safety wrote an excellent article on grounding and bonding for communications systems.

"Communications systems and equipment installed in buildings must comply with the specific rules given in Chapter 8 of the NEC . Even though these systems typically operate at lower energy levels, improper grounding and bonding can result in severe consequences for equipment and property and present shock hazards. Article 770 and the Chapter 8 articles of the NEC provide unique and specific grounding and bonding requirements for communications system installations."

Anyone installing low voltage systems needs to know about grounding and bonding and Michael's article is an excellent introduction to the topic.

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: Article 800 provides specific requirements  by Michael Johnston,  NECA Executive Director of Standards and Safetyin EC Magazine

Worst Technical Boo-Boo Of The Month

In an article in a major magazine by a manufacturer of fiber splices: "‘ Under the wind cover is the area called the fusion chamber - where the magic happens. Two pieces of hollow glass are melted together, preserving the hole so light can pass through it.‘

"HOLEY smokes...."

Fire Resistant, Flame Retardant Loose Tube Withstands 1000ºC Fire For 3 Hours


The first UL flame listed optical cable designed for indoor/ outdoor use in vital communication and emergency systems that need to be operational during fire. The cable has a patented design that ensures operation for more than 3 hours in fires up to 1000ºC. The cable is halogen free and flame retardant to protect against secondary damage to electronic equipment during and after fire. Outer sheath is made from black UV-stabilized and weather resistant LSZH jacketing material.


The cable is reinforced with a steel wire braiding. The fibers are protected in gel-filled loose tubes stranded around a central strength member to ensure optimum performance and long life. Each fiber and loose tube is color coded for easy identification during splicing and termination.

The outer sheath is marked to show fiber type and cable type in addition to UL listings demonstrating compliance to NEC 770, NFPA 130 and NFPA 502.

Read more.


Improving Splicing Yield

According to aggregated field data, the most frequently observed problem is poorly cleaved fibers. When faced with this problem, field operators are required to re-cleave, which happens about every 6 to 7 splices (15%). Poor cleaves are associated with lower efficiency and higher insertion loss causing many problems. How can we prevent this? First, why do poor cleaves occur? Even when using high quality cleavers, we have seen poor cleaves. In our observation, the following 3 key points are the major causes of these poor cleaves.

The lack of knowledge or skill can result in poor cleaves, regardless of cleaver quality or deterioration levels. This type of error can be categorized as ‘constant failures’ in reliability engineering. To prevent this type of error, a certain level of expertise is needed, including the following: fiber cleaning, daily maintenance of tools, how to put the fiber correctly on the cleaver stage, etc. To accumulate this type of knowledge and skill, technical training is one of the most popular methods.

Dust, dirt, or other debris (fibers, coating, etc.) can disturb a cleave, even when the operator has all the necessary skills. This type of error can also occur regardless of cleaver quality or deterioration levels, making it a ‘constant failure’. Periodical cleaning & maintenance is essential to prevent this type of error.

After thousands of fiber cleaves, the cleaver blade will gradually deteriorate and near its end of life. This is the so called “wear and tear failure” and it should be distinguished from the 2 previously mentioned causes above, since rotating or replacement of a worn blade is required. It is not necessarily as a result of bad work practices.

Sumitomo Nanotune™ is designed to improve your field splice success rate by 90% and reduce working time drastically. Being cost effective and displaying excellent performance, Nanotune Technology™ meets all of your fusion splicing needs.

Read more about Sumitomo Nanotune.

How Many Fibers? - What's The Optimal Cable Size? (March 2021)

Is the cost of fiber such a big part of the cost of the cable plant? We decided to analyze cable costs for standard loose tube cable capable of being pulled into conduit for underground or lashed to a messenger for aerial installation.

Gathering data was not easy, but we found several large, reputable US distributors who listed prices for several types of loose tube singlemode OSP cables from top cable makers. All prices are for small quantities (km, not 10s or 100s of km).  Prices are how they were quoted, in $US per foot, so our readers outside the US should feel free to convert into another currency and meters.

e analyzed the data by cost per fiber per foot and got the graph below.


The cost per fiber per foot increases rapidly below 24 fibers, probably because the cost of making cable doesn't change much with fewer fibers; it's the cost of the plastics, strength members and manufacturing process that dominates the cost. However, after 24 fibers, the cost settles down and slowly decreases for higher fiber counts, reflecting then the cost of the added fibers.

Another way to think of this is that below 24 fibers, you are paying for the cable; above 24 fibers you pay for the fibers.

The thing to note of course is the cost of each fiber is less than 2 cents per foot for any cable above 24 fibers. When OSP construction costs are $5-25 or more per foot, the cost of fiber seems to be quite cheap. Certainly installing cable with additional fibers is very cost effective if it means having fibers to expand the network without having to install another cable. And, of course, that applies to urban and suburban networks, not just rural.

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

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: New - May 2021

China starts large-scale testing of its internet of the future
China launched a large-scale experimental network in Beijing on Tuesday to test the future of internet technology over the next five to 10 years.Headquartered at Tsinghua University, the “future internet technology infrastructure” connects 40 of the…
Read in Apple News from South China Morning Post:

Broadband in New England by Next Century Cities 

Ransomware attack leads to shutdown of major U.S. pipeline system Washington Post. The attack on top U.S. operator Colonial Pipeline appears to have been carried out by an Eastern European-based criminal gang. Are you sure you want that critical system connected to the Internet?

NeoPhotonics Announces Cumulative Shipments of 2 Million Ultra-Narrow Linewidth Lasers for Coherent Transmission Systems  That's a lot of coherent systems!

The federal government is rolling out record amounts of broadband funding. It could be just the beginning. The federal government is starting to disburse more than $10 billion to bring more Americans affordable Internet. Washington Post

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: Article 800 provides specific requirements  by Michael Johnston,  NECA Executive Director of Standards and Safetyin EC Magazine

Summer 2021 Edition - the "Call Before You Dig" magazine.

The Year Ahead In Broadband Networks - COMMSCOPE

Worth Reading - April 2021

Biden’s plan to fix America’s internet Shira Ovide, NY Times
Millions of Americans don’t have modern internet service. It’s a symptom of our internet dysfunction that we don’t even know how many.

As telecoms spend billions on wireless, where does that leave the wired? - Marketplace/NPR

Communities Responding to Natural Disasters Through Network Resilience, Next Century Cities examines how broadband networks fared during a variety of natural disasters

Five Fiber Outages Prove The Importance of Telecom Damage Prevention    dp-Pro Magazine
Fiber damage caused disruptions in education, elections, 911 emergency calls and even a "Call Before You Dig - 811" call center.

2020 Pandemic Network Performance Report - BITAG
ISPs saw significant growth in both downstream and upstream traffic, increasing at least 30% and as much as 40% during peak business hours and as much as 60% in some markets. From the Boradband Internet Technical Advisory Group. The link above is to the summary. Download the whole report here.

AT&T serves up 5G plans with healthy dose of pragmatism (Light Reading)
AT&T executives shied away from the kind of grandiose, change-the-world statements about C-band spectrum and 5G that peppered the Verizon and T-Mobile analyst events.

America’s drowsy telecom giants face a 5G wake-up call - T-Mobile is leaving them standing (Economist)

GPS is endangered by a misguided FCC decision made during the Trump administration - Washington Post
Opinion by Diana Furchtgott-Roth
The Biden administration has an opportunity to undo a potentially devastating ruling that ignored government-wide, bipartisan criticism.

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: NEC Article 800 provides specific requirements - Electrical Contractor Magazine

A new subsea cable between Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and more telecom stories this month. - Telegeography

Sumitomo's Ribbon Splicing Guide - download from one of the leasers in splicing.


Current Map Of Undersea Fiber Optic Cables  by TeleGeography

"Who Lost Lucent?: The Decline of America's Telecom Equipment Industry"
This is a MUST READ for managers in telecom or any 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.

Optical fiber for 1310nm single-mode and 850nm few-mode transmission a Corning invention that is not commercially available yet.

Tired Of Hearing About 5G?  You Can Read About 6G Instead  (Yes there is a group with a website already.)

Connecting Carteret A PLAN FOR DIGITAL INCLUSION A North Carolina county evaluates its current situation and looks at the future. Good model for any government looking to survey its population.

Things You Should Know About IEEE Std 802.3cm™-2020; 400 Gb/s over Multimode Fiber. OFS - 400GBASE-SR4.2 is the first multimode standard to use two wavelengths (850nm and 910nm), enabling 100 Gb/s transmission over a single fiber pair. It also includes a new concept - using a single 400G port for 4 100G links, saving panel space on switches.

OFS also has an excellent website and blog of tech articles worth browsing.

California State Broadband Action Plan - California Broadband Council developed the “Broadband for All” Action Plan with the understanding that broadband access, adoption, and training are essential components of digital equity. Includes a detailed cost model.

More Than 12 Million US Households Have Cut the Cord on Their Home's Broadband Service -
Parks Associates: New research on the US broadband market estimates the US has more than 15 million households that have only mobile broadband service. "High cost is the most prominent issue driving households to cut the cord and go mobile only, although service-related issues, from slow speeds to poor customer experience, also contribute,"

IEC 60050 - International Electrotechnical Vocabulary - An extensive dictionary for fiber optics in English and French. Highly technical - this is one definition: "mode - one solution of Maxwell's equations, representing an electromagnetic field in a certain space domain and belonging to a family of independent solutions defined by specified boundary conditions"

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.

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. "

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.

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)

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

May 2021

Gloves for Fiber Techs
I was wondering if as part of the safety rules, in addition to glasses, if it is recommended to use gloves.
If that the case, would you recommend a specific type of gloves.
A: FOA emphasizes the need for safety glasses because of the problem with fiber scraps flying around, especially when students in class are learning to strip fibers. Proper safety glasses have side shields that provide more protection than regular eyeglasses. For eyeglass wearers, prescription safety glasses are available at very reasonable costs that are much more comfortable to wear than wearing safety glasses over the user’s prescription eyeglasses.
We only recommend gloves when working with cables that have sharp metallic armor in them or some heavy outside plant cable. The metallic armor can cause serious cuts if one slips when splitting or removing it. The gloves to use are the kevlar gloves used to prevent cuts (they are also used for chefs working with sharp knives.)
Once the cable is opened and you are dealing with buffer tubes or bare fibers, gloves like the ones used for cables can make the work difficult because gloved hands are clumsy. Tight surgical rubber gloves might work for some, but still make working with bare fiber difficult and provide limited protection.  There we recommend bare hands and being very cautious.

April 2021

ultimode In Premises Cabling
Q: I wonder when/if single mode fiber will start invading the enterprise. There's a whole ecosystem, of course, in addition to physical fiber cabling.  Switches, server connections, protocols, etc. But I'm wondering if you see the industry moving towards some set of standards using single mode?

Today, singlemode transceivers are as cheap as multimode for 10G and cheaper at higher speeds. Indoor cell systems (DAS) use singlemode. FTTH PONs (passive optical networks using singlemode) are being used for LANs because they are cheaper too. Both technology and costs point to the advantages of SM. Multimode is the historical design and it's hard to change. But structured cabling standards (TIA-568, ISO 11801)  include singlemode and POLs (passive optical LANs.)

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's Newsletter 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. See the Fiber U MiniCourse
Fiber Optic Cable Bend Radius

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

Welcome New FOA Approved School 388:  Global Com of Sterling, Virginia, USA

More New Free Fiber U MiniCourses

Color Codes For Fiber Optics
FOA has created another Fiber U MiniCourse, the Fiber U Color Codes MiniCourseThis course covers the color codes used in fiber optics. We cover fiber color codes for numbering, cable jackets and connectors used to identify fibers. After we finished, we wondered "Why didn't we do this a long time ago!"

color codes

At the same time, we updated the FOA Guide page on Color Codes with new information and lots of color and created a new YouTube video on Color Codes which we use in the Fiber U MiniCourse.

Fiber U Color Codes MiniCourse 

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  

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  

How Optical Fiber Works 

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.

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!

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Labs

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 4/2021)

Ssome schools have been closed during the pandemic, so FOA has been working with 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.

Offline Fiber U
FOA has also created offline Fiber U modules to allow students with poor or limited Internet access to use the Fiber U Basic Fiber Optics and Premises Cabling programs without Internet access. Contact FOA for information on using this option.

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 with our
FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program, 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? Click on the link below or contact FOA for more information.

FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program

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.

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

New FOA YouTube Video Describes On-The-Job Training (OJT) And How To Use Fiber U To Make It Work Better.

To explain How OJT works and FOA's OJT-To-Cert program, FOA created a short 10 minute YouTube video that explains what OJT is, who uses it and how to use Fiber U to organize and enhance OJT for new employees and experienced workers too.

Lecture 62: On The Job Training For Fiber Optics Using Fiber U

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.

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
FOA Lecture 59 Fiber Optic Cable Midspan Access   - How to drop fibers from a cable with minimal splicing
FOA Lecture 60 How Fiber Works   - Animated explanations of how fiber transmits light
FOA Lecture 61 Fiber Optic Color Codes    

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:

Color Codes For Fiber Optics  

Fiber Optic Projects - the FOA Guide to projects from concept to operation

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.

2022 Conference On Damage Prevention In Phoenix

Global Excavation Safety Conference

Phoenix AZ

March 1-3, 2022


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.

Read More  

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.


Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>
Phone: 1-760-451-3655

The FOA Home Page
(C)1999-2020, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

 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.