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July 2021

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

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!


July Is also FTTH Month
New FOA FTTH Handbook
New FOA FTTH Tech Materials
4 New FTTH Video Lectures
Updated FTTH Course at Fiber U (AND FREE)
Broadband in California
FOA OJT-to-Cert Program

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section


Perils of Aerial Cable
Mapping Broadband in the US
Fiberminded Interviews FOA President
Fiber Tech In Crash Test Dummies
Can Facebook Disrupt Wireless?
Market Tape That Works
Lightwave is Back
New Submarine Cable Map
Why Isn't My  FTTH Faster?
Properly Managed Fiber Pedestal
Reusing Older Equipment
Rural FTTH Architectures
What Does "Telephone Symbol" Mean?
Are 850 LEDs Extinct?
Grounding Rules
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

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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
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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

July Is ALSO "FTTH Month" In The FOA Newsletter

Last month we focused on FTTH in the FOA Newsletter but we have more to add this month too. We'll start off with our new "FTTH Handbook," talk about updates at Fiber U and include some more information we find interesting.

Discussions going on everywhere about how we've learned during the pandemic that broadband is a necessary utility and there is a need to expand broadband to everyone. If you read the same newspapers, magazines and newsletters we do, you are hearing daily how various organizations, often local governments, coops or citizens groups, are organizing to develop their own broadband networks. (See the California report below.) All of these networks require fiber optic backbones and most are developed around fiber to the home (FTTH.)

New FOA Book - The FOA FTTH Handbook

FOA FTTH Handbook

FOA's FTTH Handbook:
We've gathered all our information on FTTH from the FOA Guide and past issues of the FOA Newsletter and edited it into a "FTTH Handbook." This large (8.5X11")
112 page book is full of information on FTTH to help you understand it and be more effective at implementing FTTH projects.

This FTTH Handbook is not just for technicians working on FTTH networks. It's even subtitled: For Planners, Managers, Designers, Installers And Operators Of FTTH - Fiber To The Home - Networks. We even added a section on planning and managing FTTH Projects for them.

So if you are involved in a FTTH project or are considering starting one, this book is for you too.

The Fiber Optic Association Fiber To The Home Handbook is available from Amazon in print ($19.95) and Kindle ($9.95) editions.

Workforce Development

We, the fiber optic industry, have a problem. There are simply not enough qualified techs to build all these FTTH (and all the other) networks on a timely basis. FOA has been addressing this issue for our entire history - it began with our charter "to enhance professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards." Following our focus on educations, we've published 7 of our own books (11 if you include translations), created  nearly 1000 pages of technical content online in the FOA Guide and offer over two dozen free online self-study courses on Fiber U.

Here's the latest at Fiber U, our updated and expanded FTTH course:

FTTH Online Training

FOA has updated the free Fiber U FTTx self-study course, added lots of tech material and added a completly new lesson on FTTH Design. This uses the new materials created for the FOA Guide and FOA YouTube channel. And for a limited time you can take the Fiber U Certificate of Completion test FREE when you complete the course. See details below.

Fiber U online courses
Take the Fiber U FTTH course and Certificate Test FREE until September 30, 2021!
Fiber U self-study courses themselves have always been free, but we have charged for the Fiber U Certificate of Completion test which uses an online testing service. So everyone can take advantage of all the new and updated FTTH materials we've created, FOA will offer the testing for the Fiber U
Certificate of Completion for the Fiber U FTTx self-study course free to everyone completing the course until September 30, 2021. Tell your employees, customers, everybody!

That means companies can have their workers get started on OJT using the new FOA program at no cost - the course is free and the certificate is free.


FTTH Updates In The FOA Guide And YouTube

FTTH has always been the most popular application for FOA's knowledge base. The subject is a major topic in the FOA Guide and the Fiber U FTTH course has been very popular. Many of our FOA approved schools use the FOA curriculum and teach combination courses for CFOT/CFOS/H for techs and CFOS/D (design) and CFOS/H for designers.

As with all topics in the FOA knowledgebase, we try to keep up to date, incorporating the latest developments and trends to ensure our materials are most useful to the industry. Over the last few months, we've been working overtime to update FOA materials covering FTTH. Along the way, we've found out about some new products and applications that are important for network owners and managers, designers, installers and operators to be familiar with, as they can help build FTTH networks that are better, cheaper and easier to design, build and operate.

Technical topics we've updated and expanded include 10G PONs and FTTx architectures for urban, suburban and rural networks. In doing so, we uncovered a new product that can make rural FTTH much more feasible and cost effective - a small OLT for remote locations (see article below). We've examined some architectures being used in the real world that are different but work better in some particular geographic locations - e.g. putting all the splitters in the CO/head end and running a fiber to every subscriber. We'll expand on those topics later in the Technical section of this newsletter.

Here's what we've created and updated recently:

FOA Guide: Added a section on FTTH Network Design, updated sections on Architecture and PONs (including 10G)
FOA's YouTube Channel: Added 4 new FTTH videos on Network Architecture, PONs, Network Design and Installation/Test.

How Can These New Materials Benefit You?
  • Update your knowledge: Even if you already have your CFOS/H or have completed the FTTx self-study course on Fiber U, we recommend you go back to the Fiber U course on FTTH Network Design and take the architecture, PON and Design lesson again.
  • Getting Started in FTTH:  We recommend buying a copy of FOA's FTTH Handbook or going straight to the Fiber U FTTx self-study course which will get you started right most quickly.  
  • Learning More About Special Topics in FTTH: Read the new/updated pages on the FOA Guide and watch the new videos.
  • Designing FTTH Networks: If you are involved in the design of FTTH networks but new to fiber optics, start with the Fiber U Fiber Optic Network Design course then take the Fiber U FTTx self-study course.
  • Teaching FTTH Courses: If you are already an FOA-approved school, download the new updated curriculum. Not an FOA School? Contact FOA.
  • Employee OJT

What's Next?
Our next project is to use these new/updated training materials to help train more techs.
  • Training at FOA approved schools:  We will of course work through the FOA network of approved schools, many of which already teach FTTH courses.
  • OJT (On the job training): We will also be reaching out to network owners and managers and their contractors who can use all these free materials for OJT - on the job training - for their workers.

FTTH Tech Update

While doing all the research for this major update of the FOA FTTH technical materials and FOA online course, we discovered some interesting things about FTTH. In particular, rural FTTH has been an issue because the low density of subscribers and long distances between them makes costs much higher.

From the June 2021 newsletter - moved to the Tech section below.

Broadband Internet in California - Lots to Learn For Everybody, Everywhere

One expects the state of California with all it's high tech industry to be aware of the state of broadband Internet in the state. A state commission has completed a survey and it is most interesting. Here are some of the highlights with emphasis by your editor:

California Broadband Council - The Current State of Broadband in California  

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. The Council solicited extensive engagement and input from state and local agencies, state legislative leaders, tribal nations, broadband industry leaders, nonprofits, and members of the public.

This Plan focuses on achieving three long-term goals: All Californians have high- performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses; All Californians have access to affordable broadband and the devices necessary to access the internet; and All Californians can access training and support to enable digital inclusion. To achieve these goals the California Broadband Council plans to leverage the state’s full range of tools, including policy, programs, funding, partnerships, and collaborations with federal, local, and tribal governments.

According to the most recent figures, 23 percent of California housing units—home to 8.4 million residents—do not have broadband subscriptions.

At the end of 2018, broadband services that advertised download speeds of 100 Mbps or greater were available to nearly 95 percent of California households. This achievement reflects widespread cable and fiber deployment in dense urban areas.

Nevertheless, many homes in urban areas remain unserved or do not have access to the same broadband infrastructure (especially fiber) that is available to wealthier neighbors, illustrating a historical pattern of uneven investment. In addition, in rural California less than half of households (46.5 percent) can adopt broadband at this speed.

Approximately 674,000 households in the state lack high-capacity broadband, with about 305,000 located in urban areas and 369,000 located in rural areas.

The geographical challenge is immense. Consider that urban California covers nearly 8,200 square miles and contains almost 95 percent of the state’s population. Rural California is home to 5 percent of the population spread across 147,000 square miles—an area larger than the combined land areas of Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virginia.

(CA overall is only 163,696 square miles - so 5% of the population is in 90% of the state by area while 95% of the population is in the other 10%. The rural broadband challenge is indeed immense. ed)

Challenges to Achieving Broadband for All
The Council identified five core roadblocks preventing Californians from accessing or adopting broadband: availability (speed and reliability), affordability, access to devices, digital skills, and data.
  • Challenge 1: Availability (speed and reliability)
  • Challenge 2: Affordability
  • Challenge 3: Devices (In 2019, only 82 percent of California households had a desktop or laptop at home.)
  • Challenge 4: Digital skills
  • Challenge 5: Data

Goals For Broadband in California
From Obstacles to Opportunity: California’s Broadband Goals
  • Goal 1: All Californians have high-performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses.
  • Goal 2: All Californians have access to affordable broadband and necessary devices.
  • Goal 3: All Californians can access training and support to enable digital inclusion.

You can download and read the complete plan here: California Broadband Council - The Current State of Broadband in California  

Job Opportunity At A Regional FTTH Project - Executive Director

Lamoille FiberNet

Lamoille FiberNet Communications Union District seeks a full-time Executive Director to lead and manage its work in building a community-based fiber network and bringing high speed symmetrical broadband service to its communities.

If you would like to work with a board that is hard-working and passionate about bringing fiber broadband to its region, and you have excellent leadership and communication skills, strong knowledge of telecommunications or technical expertise, and have experience with non-profit boards, this multi-faceted position could be a great fit. Competitive compensation package. Join us!

Complete job description at To apply, send cover letter and resume to <>. No phone calls, please.

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.

New FOA YouTube Video Describes On-The-Job Training (OJT) With Fiber U

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 Newsletter Sections

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


Lots more news in Worth Reading below

Perils Of Aerial Cable - Truck Breaks Low Hanging Cable In St. Louis Alley

FOA instructor Milt Murry lives in St. Louis and often sends us photos of installations in the area. He sent us these photos of a broken 144 fiber ribbon cable in an alley near his home.

Broken cable

The broken cable was taped to a utility pole in the alley.

broken cable

Looking up from the coil of cable you can see where it was ripped off the messenger under enough stress to leave it permanently kinked.

broken cable

This may be the reason. Milt measured the cable and it was only 13 feet (4m) high, about 3 feet / 1 m lower than cables are supposed to be placed. Milt's neighbor, an AT&T employee saw a large trailer truck going down the alley, so it could have snagged the cable.

Note the number of cables in the alley, power and telecom, going in all directions.

NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide Across the USA

NTIA map links poverty usage and broadband access by compiling data sets to show where high-poverty communities are located with relation to internet usage patterns and access to computers and related equipment

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. This is the first interactive, public map that allows users to explore different datasets about where people do not have quality Internet access. 

NTIA map of broadband

Map displaying Census tracts where median Internet speeds show fixed broadband below 25/3 Mbps, according to Ookla data

The public “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool released today puts on one map, for the first time, data from both public and private sources. It contains data aggregated at the county, census tract, and census block level from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), M-Lab, Ookla and Microsoft. Speed-test data provided by M-Lab and Ookla help to illustrate the reality that communities experience when going online, with many parts of the country reporting speeds that fall below the FCC’s current benchmark for fixed broadband service of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload. This is the first map that allows users to graphically compare and contrast these different data sources.

“As we release this important data to the public, it paints a sobering view of the challenges facing far too many Americans as they try to connect to high-speed broadband and participate in our modern economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.

“Broadband is no longer nice to have. It’s need to have. To ensure that every household has the internet access necessary for success in the digital age, we need better ways to accurately measure where high-speed service has reached Americans and where it has not,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “The latest mapping effort by NTIA is a welcome new tool that provides valuable insight into the state of broadband across the country. Kudos to Secretary Raimondo and Acting Assistant Secretary Remaley for their leadership. The FCC looks forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Commerce Department and other federal partners to fulfill the goal of connecting 100 percent of Americans.”

Here is the article and the interactive map.

Mapping Broadband In The US, State By State

Next Century Cities has completed a survey of broadband in the US by state because the FCC data is widely known to be inaccurate. Next Century Cities (“NCC”) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that advocates for fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet access across the U.S. They work alongside local officials in communities of all sizes and political stripes to eliminate the digital divide.

As NCC has documented in filings and publications, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) maps have long told a different story of broadband access than what residents across the country actually experience. It is widely known that the FCC’s broadband availability data understates the seriousness of, and lacks granularity to adequately address, persistent gaps in connectivity.

Read the NCC Report here. Use this link if you want to jump to the report for a particular state.

A New Fiber Optic Shape-Sensing Technology for Crash Test Dummy Ribs

Most of the world’s current portfolio of crash test dummies use thorax rib displacement sensors that give us single point measurements that do not accurately represent the shape deformation of the rib cage. Humanetics has teamed up with Fibercore to design an ingenious new fiber optic rib for the WorldSID-50M ATD that uses a single optical fiber with multiple strain measurement nodes to calculate the entire rib shape.


For more information: Humanetics and Fibercore

Can Facebook Disrupt Wireless Like They Did Data Centers?

Terragraph wireless

Terragraph is Facebook's wireless system for Internet access. Their Open Compute Project "open source" designs for data centers have been very successful because they do the job as well or better than commercial products at lower cost. Now they are offering mm wave wireless systems operating on non-licensed frequencies with the same goal. Unlike point-to-point wireless, Terragraph creates a mesh network that can be higher performance and more reliable. The goal is lower costs for the "last mile" or subscriber connections. Will it be as successful as OCP? Only time will tell. (Don't worry, it still needs lots of fiber!)

Learn more about

When You Bury Marker Tape, Bury One That Will Work


Signaltape® provides a visual warning by ensuring tape is brought to the surface, alerting the operator to the presence of a buried utility. It includes a 3,000-lb. tensile strength aramid fiber membrane, which ensures the tape is pulled to the surface to alert the excavation crew. Signaltape comes in two sizes: 12″ x 1000′ or 6″ x 1000′.

"Become Fiberminded" Podcast Interviews FOA's Jim Hayes


"Become Fiberminded" is a podcast series started by Christian Till, a member of the fiber optic community from the Netherlands. He's interviewing people in the industry to have them discuss their work and help others learn from their knowledge. Here's what he says about Become Fiberminded:

By interviewing guests who are actively helping the fiber optics community to solve problems and enable a faster and better connection for everyone. Each episode contains powerful information to help you better understand fiber optic technology, stay on top of the latest trends, and enable you to efficiently build and maintain future-proof networks."

For his series, Christian interviewed FOA President Jim Hayes. In the interview Jim discusses the origins of the FOA and it's goals to serve the fiber optic industry through education, certification and standards. He also points out some of the areas which are often confused about fiber optics and how FOA tries to simplify learning the right way.

Listen to the Fiberminded Podcast interview of FOA President Jim Hayes.

Do-It-Yourself FTTH Is Powerful

Five years ago in the FOA Newsletter, FOA featured two broadband projects in areas that traditional telecom companies shunned, rural areas where residents wanted broadband and realized that unless they did it themselves, it was not going to happen. One project was initiated by a real estate developer with a technical bent, the other a very rural electrical coop. Since then, we've worked with or heard about hundreds of these projects. Many are rural, but others are simply small cities that are tired of poor Internet service and being ignored by incumbent service providers. The last year, during the pandemic, emphasized the importance of broadband and firmly established it as a necessary utility. It also motivated US and local politicians to finally look at broadband as an infrastructure projects that deserve funding. Even venture capital, famous for throwing vast sums at ridiculous ideas has begun to invest in broadband.

Just this month, we've seen announcements for projects in typically tight with the $$$ New England - New Hampshire and Maine following Vermont's lead - (Broadband Communities.) There are projects along the Appalachian Trail from Maryland to Georgia (Next Century Cities.)  California and Maryland propose statewide funding,
Drammen, WI, Knoxville, TN and Waukegan, IL begin working toward projects, and an Oregon electrical coop and one in Alabama get started on their project - (ILSR Community Networks.) And don't forget Kentucky Wired! FOA schools in the KCTCS system are training techs who are doing OJT while building the system which is now >83% complete.

How powerful is this movement? So powerful that the lobbyists for the incumbents are back at it, pushing Ohio to pass laws banning municipal broadband. Just like Will Rogers, comedian and newspaper columnist wrote almost a century ago, "America has the best government money can buy."

Lightwave Magazine Is Back! 

Lightwave Magazine is back!

Lightwave Magazine is back after many years as only a online newsletter. Lightwave was started in 1984 by Howard Rausch, a veteran newsman, a gentleman and a scholar! (JH) We reported on the demise of the printed version of Lightwave in the FOA Newsletter of March 2009. Lightwave is back as a digital magazine, perfect for the times, and still headed by Editorial Director Stephen Hardy, a veteran of the fiber optic community with great in-dept knowledge of the technology, companies and people who make fiber optics what it is today. Lightwave's comprehensive website continues too. All very worthwhile reading.

TeleGeography's New Submarine Cable Map

cable map

TeleGeography's new 2021 Submarine Cable Map is packed with new cables and stats. Not to mention the new graphics and FAQs! This edition is loaded with trivia on cable suppliers, content providers, deployments, fiber, and more.

The 2021 Submarine Cable Map depicts 464 cables and 1,245 landing stations; 428 cables are active and 36 are planned.
Of the planned cables, 19 were not depicted in our 2020 edition. (The combined length of those 19 new planned cables is 103,348 km!)


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.

Why Isn't My New Fiber Connection Faster Than My Previous DSL?

FOA received an inquiry from a person who had just had a FTTH connection replace their old copper DSL connection. Their question was why their new fiber was not much faster than their old copper Internet connection. We went through how the network was set up and how they were using it. We explained how networks were sharing bandwidth so speeds often depend on the number of users.

Then we found that they were using a 12 year old computer. We suggested that the problem could be their computer's speed. A neighbor tried a few years newer computer and it was a bit faster. No current computers were available to test the connection, so we decided to try our own test.

We use a high end MacBook Pro computer on a cable modem that is supposed to deliver 200 Mb/s. We ran speed tests and got these results:

Speedtest results were 14 ms /234 Mb/s down/10 up. Nperf results were  21ms /235 Mb/s down /11 Mb/s up. I got basically the same results using Safari and Firefox.

I dug out a 10 year old MacBook Air with 2GB of ram running OS 10.10.6 and repeated the Speediest.

On Safari. 22ms/75 Mb/s down/11 Mb/s uploading - the download speed was 1/3 as fast. Using Firefox, it was 24 ms /39 Mb/s down /11 Mb/s up.Now the download speed is ~1/6 as fast.

Interestingly, the latency and upload speeds did not change (neither were very good either), only the download speeds differed, indicating the gating item was the speed on the computers.

The conclusion is that to take advantage of the speed of FTTH, especially those offering Gb/s download speeds, you need to have the latest hardware. Otherwise the gating item is your computer.

Here's A Properly Installed Fiber Distribution Hub


Just around the corner from our office is this FDH installed by Verizon for FiOS over ten years ago. It shows the rows of SC-APC connectors available for connections and the patchcords connecting current users. After all the terrible workmanship we've seen, it's is a pleasure to show this photo of a well-organized, neat FDH pedestal.

Reusing Older Equipment For Network Monitoring

A reader and FOA certified tech passed along this note about a network owner using older equipment to imbed in the network for real-time monitoring and troubleshooting. Here's what he said:

"I came across an article this week that I found might be interesting to the FOA and other readers. It is about a service provider company upcycling their EOL spectrum analyzers, to deploy a fiber network monitoring platform. I was wondering if the FOA staff could expand on this topic in a future newsletter?

I feel we live in a "throw away" society and everyone is always focusing on the next best thing with bells and whistles or the "bigger and better mouse trap". When in actuality bells and whistles are just things we spend more money on, but the core principles do not change (although the info may be updated or special circumstances with new data are revealed). IE: I prefer my "old school" OTDR that views data like my oscilloscope over the new-er units with fancy graphics and red and green colors for bad and good fiber tests.

Just some thoughts. Hope to see more info on this!"

Here is the article he refers to:

Comcast slashes time to find fiber cuts from 2 hours to 2 minutes (Fierce Telecom)
Comcast is putting outdated optical spectrum analyzers to work to boost local network reliability, using them as part of a new performance monitoring system which can slash the time it takes to pinpoint fiber cuts from two hours to less than two minutes.

Which leads to an interesting discussion.  We know a cable manufacturing company using 30 year old Tektronix OF150 OTDRs to test cables. FOA has been buying 20-25 year old FOTEC power meters and sources from eBay and giving them to schools teaching low-income students. Those old FOTEC meters are still working perfectly and surprisingly still in calibration!

Are you still using older equipment that might be considered "antique" by today's standards? Let us know.

Rural FTTH  Architecture Options

Rural areas are characterized by low subscriber density and long distances, not the conditions PONs were designed for. There is a "long reach" GPON version with a capability of 64 users and 60km that can work in some applications.
But in big countries like the US, 60km is short compared to the distances in some rural areas. And it will use much more fiber than the remote OLT architecture.

Another option sometimes considered is not using splitters but taps, special splitters at drops that are not symmetrical - multiple equal outputs - but split off a small portion of the signal in the fiber, like 10% and pass 90% along to the next drop. We have already analyzed this in the FOA Newsletter back in April 2021.

FTTH Rural - Taps
The problem with the tap architecture is the inefficiency of tap-type splitters, The excess loss in taps can be as much as 1dB per tap. That excess loss adds up fast, rapidly cutting the length the network can reach (1dB = ~2.5km of fiber). FOA has done an analysis of the use of taps in rural FTTH which can be used as a model for analyzing the use of taps in any FTTH network.

In conversations with a supplier of PON equipment recently, we discovered another option which has been developed for low subscriber density like rural areas. This is a remote OLT with only 1 or 2 ports. OLTs designed for CO use generally have options for many OLT ports because they are intended for applications with large numbers of users - hundreds of thousands in a dense city. But rural areas may only have a few subscribers in a small town or scattered along country roads. Large numbers of ports are not needed. What is needed is an architecture that allows a service provider to connect users spread out over large areas.

The remote OLT option allows creating a "head end" periodically along a rural road where users are grouped, such as small towns or clusters or homes and farms. The Remote OLTs can take advantage of the fibers already installed along many roads, and since some allow "daisy-chaining," the use of two fibers along the route is all that's needed. They are in small enclosures similar to CATV amplifiers and can be mounted on poles or suspended from messenger wires.

More Uses - Roads, Railroads and Electrical Utilities
Besides rural FTTH architectures, this device has many other uses. One is for communications and control along highways and rail lines. It is also suited for electrical utilities doing grid management, for example connecting them on fiber run on transmission and distribution power lines for managing the grid and building networks for all the connected devices in a power substation.

Several providers of PON equipment make these devices. Here are links to three of them.

remote OLT


remote OLT


remote OLT

We'll try to get more information on these devces, especially feedback from actual users, for future newsletters. (If you are using these, contact us!)

Smaller Connectors For Prefab Drop Assemblies
Connectors on prefab drop cables have always been large which makes installation and storage harder. Two new connectors are aimed at reducing the size of hardware needed for subscriber drops in a FTTH cable plant. Both are about half the size of earlier connectors and are good to reduce clutter and simplify drops.

FTTH connecotors
Corning Evolv(TM)  Connectors:
Note the size compared to the earlier designs on the right.

FTTH connectors
Senko's IP-9 connector is a similar size - note the size of the SC connector body on the right.

Cable Marking Mystery

You are all familiar with the information printed on a typical fiber optic cable which includes the manufacturer, how many fibers in the cable and distance markings, plus sometimes other information like the manufacturer's part number.

But recently two people made reference to the small symbol that looks like an old-style telephone handset. One thought the manufacturer of the cable used that symbol to show where the helical winding of the buffer tubes reversed, a reference point for preparing the cable for midspan access. Another thought it was to indicate this was a telecom cable not a power cable.

telephone symbol on cable

FOA has been reaching out to people at cable companies to see if anyone has a definitive answer as to what this symbol means, and the answer comes from Rodney Casteel and his engineers at Commscope.

"The handset symbol is mandatory for cables “suitable for direct burial applications” per ICEA 640 and Telcordia GR-20.  I think this handset symbol started a long time ago so data cables could be identified if they were dug up. My guess is the first standard to mandate this was Telcordia GR-20 Issue 1 back in the 80s."

From ICEA-640:

telephone symbol

And Bellcore/Telcordia GR-20:

telephone symbol

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.

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: NEC 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 (May)

In an article in a major magazine by a manufacturer of fiber splicers: "‘ 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...."

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: July 2021

Community Networks notes that community-owned and operated broadband networks have topped PCMag's annual "Fastest ISPs in America" analysis for three years running, poking holes in arguments that modern network infrastructure is too complicated or costly for local communities to build and operate successfully.

Municipal Broadband Advocates Win Major Victory in Ohio as the lawmakers turn down an amendment to the state budget that would ban municipal broadband networks. Community Networks

Technical Standards For OSP Installations from the Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia. Very thorough, easily understood. Courtesy FOA instructor Tom Collins.

Scenes From California’s Sugar Fire - The Atlantic. Look at photo #7 and imagine your aerial cable under those conditions.

Knoxville Utilities Board Set To Build Largest Municipal Fiber Network In The Nation The Knoxville City Council unanimously approved a proposal to build a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. Network construction is expected to cost $702 million and take seven to 10 years to build out, reaching 210,000 households. Community Networks.

Muni Broadband Wave Washes Across Massachusetts  Muni Broadband Wave Washes Across Massachusetts. Community Networks.

Worth Reading:  June 2021

Lightwave Magazine is back after many years as only a online newsletter.

To Fill Millions of Open Jobs, Many Workers Need More Than Skills (NYTimes) Helping people land good jobs with career paths takes more than skills training, labor experts say. Coaching, mentoring and other assistance are also needed.

Traditional Federal Money Drying Up For Rural Broadband “We’re taxing the telephone networks to pay for the broadband network,” said Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission. “That’s like taxing horseshoes to pay for highways.” Read more from Bloomberg.

Worth Reading:  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:

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.

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)

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

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

"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.

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

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"

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

June 2021

Using FOA Resources To Learn
I've been working in this industry since October 2018. Started as a Field Service Engineer fielding aerial and underground. I have since become a Project Engineer working with aerial OSP and ISP. What is the catch? This is just an amazing platform to continue with for me. It's been all about the OJT, but this is just a great resource for me now and the YouTube videos allow me to watch your videos from today as well as 10 plus years ago.
How can I use the website to benefit me? Where should I start? I just want to watch every YouTube video before I focus on your website, but maybe I want to do both, Suggestions?
A: FOA has three options to get information:
FOA Guide is the FOA knowledgebase, ~1000 pages of technical material generated by the FOA technical advisors around the world. The link is to the Table of Contents where you can find pages on just about any topic in fiber optics from fiber to coherent communications. Every year about 1/2 million users download about 4 million pages!
Linked from the Guide above is the FOA YouTube channel which you have found. It’s over 100 videos, about 60 lectures on tech topics, where you can get very familiar with my voice - I’m the lecturer. The FOA videos are listed here:
You can also go to the FOA channel on YouTube: go to the FOA Channel “thefoainc"
Fiber U  is our free online learning site. We started online learning at Fiber U in 1997. Today it has over two dozen free online self-study courses that lead to a Fiber U Certificate of Completion. Courses include Basics of Fiber Optics with an accompanying Basic Skills Lab, where many people start, especially if they are aiming at FOA CFOT certification, the primary certification from FOA.
We also have basic courses on premises cabling, OSP construction and installation, splicing, termination, testing, network design and about a  dozen that cover specific applications. The FTTH course was developed when Verizon approached FOA in 2005/6 to help with the rollout of FiOS - training and recruiting installers.
FOA”s problem is we have too much “stuff”! It’s so much it can be confusing on where to start. We generally recommend going to Fiber U and picking courses that are important to your work. Those courses will lead you to the appropriate pages in the FOA Guide and videos on YouTube.
But we are always here to help. Tell us what you are interested in and we can point you to the right places (often including websites of manufacturers of products who also have immense amounts of applications information.)

We’re now working on a “Roadmap” to help people find their way, but that will take time, there are a lot of paths to connect!

Slow Internet After Conversion From DSL To FIber
Could you please help me understand why I am getting a slow connection (the same as when I was using anADSL box and sometimes even a bit slower) while having a fiber optic connection to my home (FTTH then RJ45 between wall & iMac)?
I am using an old iMac from early 2009 but the cable needed is a regular RJ45, so I do not see why it should not take the high speed connection...
As a matter of fact, it still takes several seconds (3 to 6 or even 12) for some pages to load...
A:There are several possible reasons your Internet is slow loading pages.
The fiber optic link to your residence may have little or nothing to do with the speed you see. If you use a speed test to check the speed of the connection, it’s probably going to show faster speeds, but it generally only tests the connection to your ISP - Internet Service Provider - not to the Internet or a remote data center.  The actual connection to the data center sending you the pages you request may be hundreds or thousands of km long and through many switches, so that could affect the speeds.
The major problem we see is the speed of the connection of your ISP to the Internet. If they have many subscribers, the “traffic jam” is at their connection. This is generally easy to see over the time of day. In the evening when many people are streaming TV or movies, it sends to get much slower, just like automobile traffic during rush hour. At times when fewer people are online, speeds will be faster.
We have exactly the same problem here in Santa Monica. Our Internet over a cable modem tests at 100-200 Mb/s but pages are slow loading because so many people are on the network at once.
However, I also suspect your 12 year old iMac. The typical web page is more complex than a decade ago and may contain hundreds of files including graphics that have to be downloaded and assembled for you to see the page.Newer computers are much faster and software is more efficient at handling large pages.

Seal End Of Cable
For aerial OSP cable, are there any problems with leaving the end of the cable open or should it always be put into a closure of some kind?
A: The open end of the cable allows moisture to get into the cable and can be a problem.
I see several scenarios here. If the cable is installed and waiting for splicing, it could be a matter of time. If the work is to be done soon - a week or two - leaving it open is OK, but if the time is longer or you prefer being careful, just seal the end of the cable by wrapping it with plastic electrical tape. The end will be opened up for splicing;  about 2m of cable needs to be stripped to splice it, so a few days exposure is OK, but long term we’d recommend a simple tape seal, the way manufacturers do when shipping cable on a reel.

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 Schools

School 388:  Global Com of Sterling, Virginia, USA
School 389. CWA-JATC Telecom Training Center, San Jose, CA
School 390  Northern Allied Communications, Nespelem, WA
School 391  Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, ID
School 392  Wallace Community College, Dothan, AL

For information on these new FOA-Approved Schools and a listing of all the other schools, go here.

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.

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?

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

FOA Reference Books (Printed or Kindle eBooks!)

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA text in Spanish FOA Text in French FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book   FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic OSP Construction book 
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics Design book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics Testing book  FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic OSP Construction book
Fiber Optics (4 languages), Premises Cabling, OSP fiber and construction, Network Design, Testing and FTTH

   The FOA has it's own reference books for everyone working in fiber optics - contractors, installers and end users as well as for use as textbooks in classes at educational institutions. They are available as printed books or Kindle at much lower prices than most textbooks since we self-publish and sell online, cutting out the middlemen. Click on the book images for more information. The Reference Guide To Fiber Optics is also available in Spanish and French (print and online) and Portuguese (online only.)

Click on any book for more information about it.

FOA FTTH Handbook

NEW: FOA's FTTH Handbook:
We've gathered all our information on FTTH from the FOA Guide and past issues of the FOA Newsletter and edited it into a 112 page "FTTH Handbook." We even added a section on planning and managing FTTH Projects.
The Fiber Optic Association Fiber To The Home Handbook is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions.

FOA has reprinted

Lennie Lightwave
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.