2018-19 Update Page covers all the new technology and
applications we covered in this newsletter in 2018-19. Now you
can review all that new tech at once.
Fiber FAQs Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions)
gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran
in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general
months "Good Questions" has some unique
questions from our readers.
5G And 802.11ax
the hype about 5G, one finds little technical details. It's
either how great it's going to be or worries about the health
effects. Finally, we've found some technical explanations that
deal with the actual technology and why it's possible to have
higher bandwidth. Interestingly, it's a lot like 802.11ax, the
latest version of WiFi.
FOA did a comparison of WiFi, DAS and small cells in the November
2018 issue of FOA News that compares these three wireless
options. Now we want to see how the latest versions of cellular
wireless and WiFi differ.
Our information on 5G came from iBwave's
white paper "5G Technology Primer." For 802.11ax,
this page on technology from Ruckus
Fundamentals was our source. We highly recommend
you read these these papers to help understand these two
First, we should look at frequency ranges, what has been the
center of most discussion about 5G. 5G has two frequency ranges
within which cellular service providers have frequency bands
licensed to them exclusively. The band now called FR1 is 450MHz
to 6000 MHz and the new band is FR2, 24,250 MHz to 52,600 MHz,
or as it is mostly described, 24 to 52GHz. It's the new high
frequency band that has attracted most of the attention since it
is more affected by the environment and more readily absorbed,
with the health effects causing much controversy. 802.11ax
works at the same frequency bands as earlier version of WiFI,
unlicensed bands around 900MHz, 2.4 and 5GHz, although the 2.4
and 5GHz bands are generally used and the other frequencies
are for specialized applications, new tech (e.g. WiGig at
60GHz) or are licensed bands. The
higher frequencies are desirable because higher frequencies mean
more bandwidth as described by Claude Shannon at Bell Labs 70
years ago. Higher frequencies are also problematic because they
are more highly absorbed, shortening link distances and
preventing signals from penetrating walls or glass for example.
The other way to send more information is to use more efficient
protocols. The copper people found out long ago that one could
put more information in one bit by also encoding data in the
pulse height, optical transmission can also use polarization.
Wireless - both cellular and WiFi - is migrating to OFDMA which
stands for Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access. Both
cellular and WiFi appear to operate similarly. The system can
subdivide frequencies into subchannels and then divide up frames
using time division multiplexing to allocate bandwidth where it
is needed. Much of the additional throughput seems to come from
using this option to dynamically allocate bandwidth. 802.11ax is
expecting a four-fold increase in throughput.
802.11ax is using access point intelligence to manage overlaps
in coverage to maximize throughput. 5G meanwhile, probably
willing to spend more money on systems, appears to have decided
to use phased-array antennas, where beam steering and shaping
can be done dynamically to maximize signal transmission.
All this complicated tech probably shows why the 5G advocates
focus on the higher frequency transmission - explaining these
concepts is not easy. But what's surprising is that 5G and
802.11ax are so similar, focused on similar goals, with
seemingly the biggest difference is one is on licensed
frequencies and the other unlicensed. Why do we need both? Why
does a building need to have both a WiFi system and a DAS? Why
doe we nead outdoor WiFi? Practically every phone or tablet has
the capability of connecting to either and laptops can do the
same with a simple plug-in module. Anybody care to
Subtleties - Short Segment, Singlemode, Attenuation Rates
Pearson, Pearson Technologies has been doing some very
interesting research into OTDR measurement uncertainty. Short,
singlemode segments exist in many data centers, local area
networks, and telephone central offices. Technicians can, and
often do, test these short segments with an OTDR. The common,
working assumption is that the OTDR measurements will be
accurate and repeatable. This assumption is not always valid
because there is a minimum, singlemode, segment length, below
which the OTDR attenuation rates are inaccurate and
non-repeatable. The OTDR technician needs to recognize such
situations. Without such recognition, the OTDR technician can
misinterpret the measured attenuation rates. In this article, we
present a method the OTDR technician can use to approximate: the
minimum segment length, below which inaccurate rates occur; and
an estimate of the difference between actual and OTDR-measured
To determine the minimal length of accurate measurement for any
OTDR, the methodology is straightforward. First use the OTDR to
measure the attenuation rate of a long length of fiber,
preferably 2km or more using LSA (least squares analysis,) being
careful to avoid the nonlinear trace near the OTDR. Then measure
shorter and shorter lengths as one moves back toward the OTDR,
comparing the attenuation rate to the measurement of the entire
length. Many experiments have shown that the rate should be the
same, +/- some acceptable tolerance, until one gets close to the
Here is some data taken in the lab. The minimum length was
determined by the length at which the OTDR measurement varied
from the full length by a given amount, here 0.01, 0.02 or
that the results are highly dependent on the OTDR. While 2
different manufacturers instruments are tested here and give
very different results, it is possible that two different
examples of one model could also give different results due to
The results are compelling; OTDR tests on short lengths of cable
common to premises applications are questionable. The results
for multimode tests are probably similar.
complete application note is available here.
Look At Connector Contamination
Teague of Senko
Advanced Components sent us the results of an interesting
experiment he ran to show an unusual effect of the contamination
on a connector. He started with a clean SC/UPC singlemode
jumper, shown in the 400X image to the left. Then he connected
it to a 1310nm laser test source and measured the power out of
the fiber with a fiber optic power meter. Then he disconnected
the connector from the meter, touched the end to his finger,
contaminating the end of the ferrule as you can see in the image
on the right.
But then he connected the dirty connector to the meter and
measured the power again. The power was decreased by 0.22dB.
Yes, the contamination on the connector acted as an attenuator
to reduce the power considerably. Think what would happen if you
them mated it to another connector. Not only would you see the
attenuation caused by the contamination, you will probably see
even more loss caused by the gap created by the flakes of skin.
That's why you should inspect, clean and inspect again to ensure
all connectors are clean before testing or making connections.
IMSA/FOA CFOT Certified
is the professional society of traffic engineers, a
partner with FOA in offering CFOT certifications.
master instructor Tom Collins will be teaching a combined
IMSA/FOA CFOT course at the IMSA Forum & Expo in New
Orleans August 18-22. More
information on the IMSA Conference classes here.
you are attending the IMSA conference, visit the FOA booth
to get a free copy of the new "Lennie Lightwave's Guide."
International Plastic Optical Fibers (POF 2019) will be held at
Keio University Hiyoshi Campus, Yokohama, Japan from November
20th to 22nd. Objective & scope of the conference is to
discuss the latest developments of POF and a variety of POF
related applications. During
the conference, there will be Special Session featuring
lectures by world’s leading experts and demonstrations over
the advantage of POF in occasion of 10th anniversary of Keio
University Photonics Research Institute (KPRI).
on POF2019 in Yokohama.
Annual Canadian Common Ground Alliance Damage Prevention
Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, ON. October 8 - 10, 2019
Focusing on critical issues specific to Canadian stakeholders,
this Symposium is an excellent opportunity to network with peers
across Canada, share knowledge and exchange ideas.
in the infrastructure of smart cities as they deal with the
future of connected and automated vehicles? This comprehensive
educational conference combines presentations, panel discussions
and tutorials, along with visionary keynote speakers, to provide
an end-to-end understanding of the infrastructure requirements
and business opportunities in V2X systems. The meeting is run by
SmartGig Media who ran the excellent SmartGig Cities conferences
a couple of years ago. FOA plans to attend because this is one
big aspect of the evolution of metro communications and relates
to the interest of our new certification partner IMSA, the
To The Latest FOA School
Alicante Spain, FOA-Approved School #770
Specializing in training for FTTH.
With High Fiber Count Cables - Continued Updates
We've had a
continuing feature on high fiber count cables in the FOA
Newsletter and we now have some interesting photos to show you.
Corning generously sent FOA some samples of 1728 and 3456
"RocketRibbonTM" cable. We took some photos and must
admit that these cables are fascinating updates on the
traditional fiber optic cables.
Here are Corning RocketRibbon 1728 fiber (bottom) and 3456 fiber
(top) cables. To get an idea of these cables size, look at this
fiber cable is 32mm diameter, 1.3 inches. The 1728 fiber cable
is 25mm, 1 inch diameter.
These are cables made from conventional "hard" ribbons, not the
"flexible" ribbons used on some cable designs. As a result of
using hard ribbons, the fibers are arranged in regular patterns
to get high density.
the tubes of ribbons from these cables. Each of those tubes of
ribbons has the equivalent of 24 ribbons of 12 fibers each
(actually 8 X 12 fibers and 8 by 24 fibers stacked up) for 288
fibers total. The 1728 fiber cable has 6 tubes and a center foam
spacer, with 144 ribbons total. The 3456 fiber version has 12
tubes and no spacers, 288 fiber ribbons total.
What amazes us is the density of fibers.
We calculated the "fiber density" of this 3456 fiber cable based
on 200 micron buffered fibers and determined that 54% of the
cable is fiber. Compare that to a typical 144 fiber loose tube
cable, which is about 14% fiber or a 144 fiber microcable which
is about 36% fiber.
Looking at the end of this cable reminded us of nothing so much
as this PR photo from AT&T from their intro of fiber in
Not the fiber, the dense cable of copper pairs!
Of course the cable is much lighter than copper but much heaver
than you are used to with fiber - it weighs 752 kg/km or about
1/2 pound per foot. And it's stiff. Very stiff. The minimum bend
radius is 15 times the cable diameter or 480mm (~19 inches),
about a meter or yard in diameter.
As we noted in the photo above, Ian Gordon Fudge of FIBERDK
taught some data center techs how to handle a 1728 fiber
Sumitomo cable with a slotted core. Ian sent FOA this photo to
illustrate the number of fibers in the cable he was using for
Here is the slotted core that separates the flexible fiber
in the Sumitomo cable:
With High Fiber Count Cables - Continued Updates
our ongoing research on high fiber count cables, last month we
were invited to visit Corning's OSP test and training facility
to experience the processes of installing these cables for
ourselves. We had the opportunity to handle some of these cables
ourselves and see how experienced techs worked with this cable.
Once you get a chance to handle this cable and see how big,
stiff and heavy it really is, you understand that it's quite
different from any fiber optic cable you have worked with, with
the possible exception of some hefty 144/288 fiber loose tube
cable that's armored and double jacketed. With a bend radius of
15X the diameter of the cable, the minimum bend radius of a 1728
fiber cable is 15" (375mm) and that's a 30" (750mm - 3/4 of a
meter) diameter. Just the reel it's shipped on is outsized - it
should have a ~750mm (30 inch) core and will be probably ~1.8m
(6 feet ) in overall diameter. 3300 feet (1km) of this cable
will weigh 550-750kg (1200-1700 pounds.) and the reel will weigh
another ~300-400kg (700-900 pounds). Will that fit on your
loading dock? Can you handle a ton of cable? (Metric or English)
I tried bending one of the 1728 fiber cables and (with the
manufacturer’s OK) tried to break it. The 1728 fiber cable I was
bending took an enormous amount of muscle to bend, and when I
got down to about an 8 inch radius, it broke, with a sound like
a tree limb of similar diameter cracking. In the field, that
would have been an expensive incident.
The stiffness of these cables affects the choice of other
components and hardware. You will not fit service loops into a
typical handhole, you need a large vault like the one shown in
the photos taken at Corning. You will also need close to 100
feet (30m) of cable for a service loop. You may need to figure 8
the cable on an intermediate pull and that will require lots of
space and a crew to lift the cable to flip it over.
This 1728 fiber cable is stiff, does not easily twist and only
bends in one direction because there are stiff strength members
on opposite sides of the cable. Placing it into a manhole or
vault and fitting service loops into it is not easy. In this
case, it helped to have two people and one was the trainer. You
need to have a "feel" for the cable - how it bends and twists -
to make it fit. The limits of bend radius, stiffness and
unidirectional bending makes it necessary to work carefully with
the cable to fit loops into the vault. Sometimes it's necessary
to pull a loop out and try in a different way to get it to fit.
But it can be done as you see at the right.
the cable out of conduit in the vault without damaging it also
requires care. You can see in the back the orange duct coming
into this vault. When pulling the cable, it's important to not
kink the cable while pulling it out of a duct. A length of
stiff duct can be attached to the incoming duct to limit bend
radius. Capstans, sheeves and radius cable sheaves need to be
chosen to fit the required cable bend radius. A a radius cable
sheave with small rollers can damage the cable under tension
and are bot a good choice unless the rollers are used with a
piece of conduit to just set the bend radius.
Corning also showed us a new feature of their RocketRibbon
Cables. A high fiber count cable has a lot of fibers, even a
lot of ribbons, so identifying ribbons can be a problem. In
addition to printing data on each ribbon, Corning now tints
the ribbons with color codes to simplify identification. Great
More on high
fiber count cables and our continuing coverage.
this first in the March 2019 FOA Newsletter and asked for
feedback. We have some feedback and have been talking to
people in the industry also. We thought we'd share some of
what we've been told and see if others agree. Feel free to
Count Cables may not be for everyone. Maybe only for a very few.
A single cable that has as many fibers as 12-144 fiber cables
(1728 fibers) in a cable with a diameter of only twice that of a
conventional 144 fiber cable can present challenges.
of all, the cost - it's high. Fiber may be inexpensive but
with so many fibers, the cable becomes expensive. You do not
want to waste cable at this price. Engineering the cable
length precisely will save lots of money.And it's worse for
higher fiber counts.
making mistakes when preparing the cable for termination can
cable may require special preparation procedures to separate
fibers for termination. Most use new methods of identifying
cables and bundles.
skill, the tech working with high fiber count cables needs
lots of patience.
multiple cables at a joint can get complicated keeping all
cables will generally use 200 micron buffered fiber and
often a flexible ribbon instead of a typical rigid ribbon
structure to reduce fiber sizes. This may complicate
splicing as the methodology to splice the flexible fibers
and splice 200 micron fibers to regular 250 micron fibers is
a work in progress.
200 to 250 micron fibers may be easier with the flexible
ribbon designs which make it easier to spread fibers to the
heard the splicing time for flexible ribbons is about twice
that of conventional rigid ribbons. So if you use that table
below, you may need to double your ribbon splicing estimates
when working with flexible ribbons.
ORIGINAL Article: March 2019
FOA has recently gotten several inquires about these new high
fiber count cables - 1728, 3456 or even 6,912 fibers. Like
this one from Prysmian with 1728 fibers:
We've been looking for directions on how to deal with high fiber
count cables. Several contractors tell us ribbon splicing is the
way to go, and most of these cables now use a version of the new
ribbon types that are flexible. We've put together this
table from some articles on splicing ribbons:
Is that realistic? We've heard the flexible ribbons may take
twice as long as the conventional ribbons.
Here's links to some of the information we've been reading
and watching online:
sticks with solid ribbons in high density cables.
ribbon splice closure for 1728 fibers.
Directions from Corning
on ultra high-density cabinets
a high fiber count cable with flexible ribbons - SEI.
(Japan) Highest density Optical Fiber Cable.
Presentation on 200micron buffer, bend insensitive, high fiber
250 micron loose tube fibers for splicing, AFL Fujikura.
AFL "SpiderWeb ribbon cable.
250 micron loose tube fibers for splicing, Sumitomo.
for ribbonizing and de-ribbonizing fibers. (Telonix).
things you need to know about splicing 200micron buffered
things you need to know about the new ribbon cables
like more information for a future story on these
cables, new ribbon types and how installers deal with them.
your experiences - email us at jim @foa.org.
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
Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP
Optic Jargon and Fiber
Optic Jargon for managers.
has a new page on Restoration
Characterization page in the FOA Guide goes in to more
depth on why fiber characterization is important, what tests
need performing and how to interpret results.
Practically every page in the section of the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Testing has been reviewed and updated, much of it based on
the new FOA textbook on testing. This includes pages on
measuring power, fiber attenuation, connector or splice loss and
cable plant loss. Browse
through the testing section and see what's new.
started with a page in the FOA Guide on Fiber
Optic Network Management that describes what our advisors
think is important and created a page to introduce them to the
language and technology of fiber optics which we call "Fiber
Optic Jargon - Illustrated." Over time, we'll be expanding
this section and create a Fiber U self-study course also.
created a new section of the FOA
Guide on OSP
and Cleaning Connectors.
connectors are one of the major problems in fiber optics,
causing high connector loss, high reflectance and contaminating
transceivers. Network operators claim that 15-50% of all network
problems can be traced to dirty connectors causing connection
Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.
FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.
School Offers Toolkit With Online Training
Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple
fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber
optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and
online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all
tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic
connectors and test optical power. Information
on the kit is available on YouTube.
You can contact them for more information at
Want To Be A Guinea Pig And Save?
As part of our program to adhere to international standards for
certifying bodies and to ensure FOA certified techs are up to
date on the latest technologies and applications, FOA is also
considering adding a short online course based on our annual "Fiber
Update" as a future requirement for renewal. This course
would cover new technology and applications that FOA thinks all
technicians should be familiar with. Over the next year we will
be testing this concept by offering it to selected individuals.
You may be one of those selected! Watch your email for your
Reading - News Summary
True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or target
practice can cost)
Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues,
Has Become a New Kind of Media Giant. AT&T
has $200Billion of debt to service and a declining cellular
market. (Chairman) Stephenson also must think about the phone
business, though, because it remains his biggest business by
far—and it’s not growing, putting AT&T’s stock price and
its financial future under pressure. Fortune Magazine.
and lasers replace spark plugs in engine. Laser Focus
New Communities Become Fidelity Communications' Gig Cities
(MO, AR, OK)
Toronto’s Google-linked smart city, draws opposition over
privacy, costs, Sidewalk Labs is proposing a
data-driven city of tomorrow. Critics launched a protest
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.
the most of your FTTX investment (10G PON by ADTRAN).
Best Practices for Utilizing GIS Data.
(White paper) American City & County
Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle
Down (EC Mag)
For WiFi 6. (Siemon white paper on cabling for IEEE
Source Of Articles On Fiber
President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been
writing a column in Electrical
Contractor Magazine for almost 20 years now. Electrical
contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered
some topics they are interested in including installation
processes, network design, fiber applications and a lengthy
series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it
benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign
makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to http://www.ecmag.com/contributing-authors/jim-hayes
and you can see all of them.
FiberNext Job Board And Savings Club For CFOTs
Approved School FiberNext
has created an online job board for fiber techs and a special
"savings club" for CFOTs.
Job Board was designed to help connect employers with fiber
technicians and other fiber optic professionals. It is a place
where employers in the fiber optic market can post job
openings and a place where fiber optic professionals can post
that they are looking for employment. Please feel free to post
an opening or browse for your next job or employee. https://fibernext.com/job_board.php
FiberNext, besides being an FOA approved school is also a
distributor. FiberNext invites FOA CFOT®s to join the “FiberNext
CFOT® Club to get special savings on selected fiber optic
products. Visit https://fibernext.com/cfot_club.php to
sign up today ”
Fiber Optic Cable
received this note from Steve Maginnis, LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom
Recycling on recycling fiber optic cable:
We have 3 Processors gearing up to accept fiber optic
cable (FOC). As we all know, all FOC is not the same. Several
truckloads of “typical” FOC scrap from FOC mfgrs and “typical”
FOC and Coax cable have been studied and tested.
Therefore, today you can begin contacting me with the type FOC
material or scrap you toss to the landfills today. We need to
quantify the expected feedstock. Our expectation for quantities
is quite large (tons) but there is a capacity limit. And I do
have several processors that can take ALL materials and others
that can accept LIMITED types of FOC material and quantity.
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit our new
On The Job
the most important part of any job. Installers need to
understand the safety issues to be safe. An excellent guide to
analyzing job hazards is from OSHA, the US Occupational Safety
and Health Administration. Here
is a link to their guide for job hazard analysis.
Eye Fiber Optic Work in Deadly Wisconsin Gas Explosion
killed, nine injured, and three buildings destroyed in
downtown Sun Prairie, Wis.
A hole punched into a 4-in.-dia gas pipeline during
fiber-optic line laying is blamed for an explosion that killed a
34-year-old fire captain and injured nine other people,
including four firefighters, in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., on
July 10. The injured were treated at nearby hospitals and have
since been released. The blast destroyed three buildings,
including the Barr House, a tavern at 100 Main St. that was
owned by the deceased fire captain, Cory Barr.
Sun Prairie Fire Chief Chris Garrison said at a news conference
that after the leak was initially reported at 6:20 PM CDT, first
responders established a 300-ft-dia "hot zone" in the area and
evacuated about 65 people before the explosion occurred. "The
rapid response of firefighters, EMS and police saved a lot of
lives," Garrison said. "This could have been a lot more tragic
than it was."
The owner of the fiber-optics network is Verizon Wireless, which
confirmed in a statement that it had contracted with Bear
Communications "to provide a fiber backhaul for our networks."
It added that no Verizon employees were present at the job site.
"Verizon does contract with local providers in various markets
to provide fiber backhaul for our networks," the Verizon
statement said. "While we have not been contacted about the
investigation, both we and Bear are prepared to work with law
enforcement, public safety and public officials as they
investigate this tragic situation."
the story in ENR. And the final
report by the NTSB details the mistakes made by the
FOA also has lots of information on safety: FOA
video and a Safety
Practices Guide For Underground Construction
you are familiar with the "One Call" and "Call Before You Dig"
(811) program, but are you also familiar with the people behind
it - the Common Ground Alliance and their Best Practices
is a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals,
organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground
utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to
saving lives and preventing damage to underground
infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention
practices. CGA has established itself as the leading
organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground
facilities in North America through shared responsibility
among all stakeholders.
formed in 2000, the CGA represents a continuation of the
damage prevention efforts embodied by the Common
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and
completed in 1999, this Study represents the collaborative
work of 160 industry professionals who identified best
practices relating to damage prevention. Any
best practice or program endorsed by the CGA comes with
consensus support from experts representing the following
stakeholder groups: Excavators, Locators, Road Builders,
Electric, Telecommunications, Oil, Gas Distribution, Gas
Transmission, Railroad, One Call, Public Works, Equipment
Manufacturing, State Regulators, Insurance, Emergency
Services and Engineering/Design.
the CGA Best Practices Guide here.
are all the CGA resources for damage prevention.
The word on
the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls
from cities asking us for information and advice. It helps that
the current Administration is trying to convince cities of the
advantages of installing ducts or conduits when they dig up a
street so they don't have to do it again. Here are some links
for more information.
The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/otps/exeorder.cfm
From the Council of State governments: http://www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/enews/cs41_1.aspx
From the city of San Francisco: http://sfgov.org/dt/dig-once
An article about Dakota County, MN: https://muninetworks.org/tags/tags/dig-once
the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative: https://share.america.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/6.-GCI-Dig-Once.pdf
have contacts give us online links for useful information which
we like to share with our readers. Here are two:
We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
Photo courtesy Brian Brandstetter, Mississauga
FOA is a
non-profit professional society chartered to promote
professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification
and standards. FOA is mostly known for certifying techs -
-Certified Fiber Optic Technicians - but also may be CPCTs -
Certified Premises Cabling Technicians or corporate
members involved in fiber optics.
FOA is a "virtual organization" - we have no "brick and mortar"
presence. We operate over the Internet with operations centered
in California, with active workers and volunteers in locations
as diverse as Texas, Ohio, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Denmark,
South Africa, the Middle East and many more.
Being a virtual organization, FOA has very low overhead,
allowing us to offer cost-effective certifications and many free
programs to support our industry.
As of today, FOA has certified this many techs. About 90% come
from our schools but many experienced techs have become FOA
CFOT-certified directly through our "Work-to-Cert"
FOA has almost 200 approved training organizations in about 40
countries around the world around the world.
Certifications Now Last For 3-Years
in 2019, all FOA certifications issued or renewed will be for a
period of 3 years. Most certification bodies worldwide have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has been working with
a number of organizations that use our programs but have
standardized on 3 year certifications. FOA has decided that it
is time to change our policies to align with the majority of
Remember that FOA certification renewals include all the
certifications one individual has for one price. FOA does not
charge for any additional certifications, so, for example, if a
CFOT also has specialist certifications like the CFOS/T or
CFOS/S, they are included at no additional cost when the basic
certification is renewed.
FOA has 14
fiber optic certification programs covering every aspect
of fiber optic network design, installation and operation.
Certifications: CFOT (basic fiber), CPCT (premises cabling),
CFOS/O (outside plant, taught with CFOT included) and CFOS/D
(fiber optic network design).
Skills Certifications (for installers and techs, requires
CFOT): CFOS/S (splicing), CFOS/C (connectors/termination),
CFOS/T (testing), CFOS/FC (fiber characterization).
Applications Certifications (for techs or anyone, including
managers and supervisors): FTTH (fiber to the home), CFOS/L
(optical LANs), CFOS/DC (data centers), CFOS/A (fiber to the
antenna), CFOS/DAS (distributed antenna systems) and CFOS/W
(fiber for wireless)
(what you are reading)
FOA monitors the trade press, websites and other
resources continually to look at what's happening in many
technologies that affect fiber optics. We're tracing
technologies as diverse as wireless, IoT, autonomous vehicles,
smart cities, energy, or anywhere fiber is used to bring news to
FOA continually updates our technical materials, online and
printed, and our curriculum to ensure our readers have access to
the latest technical information and our schools teach the
latest technology and applications. Our printed books are being
updated right now.
FOA created the
FOA Online Guide as a non-commercial trustworthy technical
reference almost a decade ago so the industry would have a
reliable technical reference. In the last year, over 1million
visitors downloaded about 4 million pages of technical
FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber
U. In 2017, the number of online sessions doubled to
200,000. Many of those are preparing for FOA certification
programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert"
program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as
prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more
time on hands-on activities.
FOA offers over 100 educational YouTube
videos that have been viewed 2.4 million times.
FOA offers its training programs to other organizations at no
cost to help them train their members properly in fiber optics.
For example, FOA has been working with the Electrical Training
Alliance (IBEW/NECA) for over 20 years, training their
instructors for their apprenticeship programs. We work with many
other organizations and companies to provide the materials they
FOA has about 300 corporate
members - companies in various aspects of the fiber optic
industry worldwide that we list online and offer discounts on
certifications and renewals.
FOA provides speakers for many conferences and even
presentations for use by other organizations to educate people
on the aspects of fiber optic communications.
FOA has a program to provide classroom
materials for STEM
teachers (science, technology, engineering and math)
introducing K-12 students to fiber optics and creating science
FOA provides forums for discussion on various social media. Our
LinkedIn groups have about 5,000 members each. If you are not
joining us on social media yet, please do.
In A Career In Fiber Optics?
FOA has created a new YouTube video to introduce students to
careers in fiber optics. It was made for showing to high school
and junior high students interested in tech careers but anyone
interested in a possible career in this field will find it
interesting. If you have kids in school or know teachers, let
them know about this too. Watch the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics web page at www.foa.org/careers/.
Optic Education For Students At Any Age
about fiber optics all the time - it's in the news whenever we
hear articles about high tech, the Internet and communications,
and many communities are getting "fiber to the home." But few
people really understand fiber optics or how it works. FOA is
focused on educating the workforce that installs and operates
these fiber optic networks but we're always getting inquiries
from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers
who want to introduce fiber optics to younger students in K-12
grades or technical schools.
start with the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics Video on YouTube and visit the FOA
Careers In Fiber Optics web page at www.foa.org/careers/.
These are for students who think they might be interested in
careers in fiber optics and want to know more about what fiber
Using red laser light (a VFL here but a laser pointer works
also) to show how fiber guides light.
FOA has begun developing a series of YouTube videos intended for
teaching students in elementary, middle and high schools about
fiber optics. The first FOA video is titled "Fiber
Optics For Teachers." With this video, we show teachers
how fiber works and carries signals and then explains simple
experiments to demonstrate how fiber optics works in the
classroom using some plastic fiber and a laser pointer. Since
many teachers do not know where to get the fiber, the FOA offers
to send them a sample for use in demonstrations in their
classroom (USA only right now.)
At the end of the video, teachers are given directions on how to
request samples of the plastic fiber from the FOA.
This video joins the "Fiber Optics Live" series How
Light Travels In A Fiber, Fiber
Attenuation and Connector
Loss that show how fiber works using simple experiments
that can be duplicated in any classroom. More videos will be
If you have kids or know some teachers who would be interested,
please send them to the introductory video Fiber
Optics For Teachers and we'll be glad to help them
get started with some entertaining programs for their
For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools
Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber
optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has
created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology,
and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their
classes. Fiber Optic
Resources For Teachers.
you have kids in school or know teachers who are interested,
send them to the FOA page Fiber
Optic Resources For Teachers.
Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?
As all FOA
members know, they join the FOA by becoming certified,
mostly taking their CFOTs but some CPCTs, either by
attending a FOA approved school or joining directly based on
field experience (our "work to cert" program.) Over the years,
we've been contacted by manufacturers, contractors, consultants,
and other types of organizations who ask about becoming members.
We don't certify companies or organizations, we told them, so we
were not sure what we could offer as a benefit of membership.
But then, companies asked about using our educational programs
to train employees, how they could get listed on the FOA website
as service providers or if they could get a quantity discount on
membership or certification for all the FOA members working for
them. That began to sound like a benefit for being an FOA
corporate member. And providing a list of useful suppliers to
the market could be a benefit to the industry as a whole.
So FOA has quietly been letting companies and other
organizations join the FOA to take advantage of those benefits
so we now have several hundred corporate members. We've put then
into a database and listed them on the FOA website in map
form. Here's the map.
The online map
can be used to find suppliers and service providers.
The map, like our map of schools, lets you find the FOA
corporate members close to you. The table form lists them
by category: Installer/Contractor, Component Manufacturer,
Installation Equip. Manufacturer, Transmission Equipment,
Services/Consulting, Distribution and Users of Fiber Optic
Networks. You can sort the tables to find members meeting your
needs, e.g. by location, certifications offered, etc. Click on
any column heading to sort that column; click twice to sort in
Does An Organization Become An FOA Corporate Member?
just fill in the online
application form. When your application is accepted, you
will be asked to pay the one time membership fee - $100US. You
will then be listed on the online
have access to exclusive FOA educational materials for your
employees and get discounts on certifications and
now posts events on our LinkedIn groups, Facebook page and
other social media
has a company page and three LinkedIn Groups
- official company page on LinkedIn
- covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace
Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic
technology and training topics
de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)
FOA offers free standards for datalinks and testing the
installed fiber optic cable plant, patchcords and cable, optical
power from transmitters or at receivers and OTDR testing. Look
for the "1
PageStandard" web page and in the FOA Online Reference
301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard
cover components and systems and how to test them, but rarely
get into installation issues. The FOA NECA 301 standard which
covers installation of optical fiber systems has been revised
for the second time, adding considerable new materials. This
standard is derived from FOA educational material put in
standards form and approved by ANSI as an American National
Standard. It's specifically written to be used in contracts to
define "installation in a neat and workmanlike manner." The
standard is available from NECA.
FOA members can go
here for instructions on how to download your free copy.
Fiber U Self-Study Programs
"Fiber U" free online self-study programs help you learn about
fiber optics, study for FOA certifications or use them to help
create "blended learning" classes. There are two new free online
self-study programs on Fiber
U. Fiber Optic Network Design is for those interested in
learning more about how to design fiber optic networks or
studying for the CFOS/D certification. FTTx is for those wanting
to know more about fiber to the "x" - curb, home, wireless, etc.
- or studying for the CFOS/H certification.
Got to Fiber U
for more information.
Online Self-Study Programs Offer Certificates of Completion
been offering quite a few free online self-study programs on Fiber
U, our online learning site. We are always getting
questions about getting a certificate for completing the course
online, so we have setup an option to take a test online and get
a certificate of completion for these online courses.
While it's not FOA certification, FOA will recognize a Fiber
U Certificate of Completion as background experience to
qualify for applying for FOA certifications. We also intend to
expand the program to more specialized topics as preparation
for FOA specialist certifications.
If you have associates that want to get started in fiber,
have them take this course online to get started. Go to Fiber
U and get started.
Books And Publications
Many textbooks are behind the technology because they are
rarely updated. FOA really keeps our textbooks up to date. We
did a major update a year ago and another was just completed.
The The FOA
Reference Guide To Fiber Optics has been updated
to reflect new components like OM5 fiber, testing for fiber
characterization and more information on installation.
Reference Guide To Outside Plant FIber Optics
has been expanded to include an extensive section on outside
plant construction taken from Joe Botha's
OSP Construction Guide textbook. This additional
material is being added to support the new FOA CFOS/O OSP
tech certification program which now includes of OSP
Basic Fiber Optic Textbook Available in French and Spanish
de Diseño para Redes de Fibra Óptica en
Español - FOA
Design Book Available In Spanish Online
FOA has translated the FOA Guide To Fiber
Optic Network Design book and made it available online to
those studying for the CFOS/D Certification but whose native
language is Spanish. You
can access the Spanish translation of the Design book here.
A printed version will be available in the near future.
& Uncle Ted Guides - Perfect For Getting Started
Ted's Guides have moved to the FOA website.
Lennie is the place where many if not most fiber techs
begin their education. FOA has just updated the two
guides to ensure they stay relevant - more than 20 years
after they were first written.
Lennie goes all the way back to 1993 when he was created
as the mascot of the original "Fiber U" conference - the
same Fiber U that is now the FOA's web-based training
Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics was created
as a beginner's introduction to fiber optics. Over
60,000 printed version of Lennie's Guide were given away
and it became one of the first commercial web pages in
1994. Uncle Ted's
Guide To Communications Cabling was written a
few years later to introduce techs to "Cat 5" - UTP
wiring - that had only recently been standardized in
Lennie and Ted's Guides are used in the current Fiber U
online self-study programs and are still the best place
to start learning about fiber optics.
Ted's Guides are online at the links here, can be
downloaded as printable PDFs and are now also available
as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and
Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling
are now available free to iPad users who can download them from
the Apple iTunes store. Of course they are still available
online or for download.
You can also find these free guides on the FOA website - go here
for all the links: Lennie
Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle
Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling
Download PDFs of Lennie
or Uncle Ted.
LossCalc estimates the optical loss of a fiber optic link. This
will save time for the installer of a fiber optic link needing
to know whether test results are reasonable and/or make a
"pass/fail" determination. It can also help the designer of a
link to determine if communications equipment will operate over
By choosing the type of link (singlemode or multimode) and
specifying the length of the fiber and numbers of connections
and splices, it will calculate the end to end loss of the link.
The app has default specifications for singlemode and multimode
links or the user may create custom setups with specifications
appropriate for any application. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/foa-losscalc/id476262894?mt=8&ls=1
FOA has many videos on ,
including two Lecture Series (Fiber Optics and Premises
Cabling), Hands-On lectures on both and some other informational
and instructional videos. For all the videos, go
to the FOA Channel "thefoainc" or use the direct links
a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the
applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the
qualifications for the workers in the field.
Optics - Live! A
series of videos that use lab demonstrations to show how
optical fiber works.
Project Management - what's involved in a
copper/fiber/wireless project -advice for the customer and the
Of Counterfeit Cable
have read the stories we have written about the counterfeit
"Cat 5" cable made from copper-clad aluminum rather than pure
copper. Recently we tried an unscientific burn test on the
cable compared to a known good UL tested cable and posted a
video on YouTube. You can see the results below.
Cable Real UL-rated cable
difference is obvious and the danger is real. Watch the video
on YouTube: Premises
Cabling Lecture 11: Counterfeit Cat 5 Cabling
complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on
all the FOA Channel on YouTube.
Communications Technologies, FOA
Approved School #378.
a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.
Find An FOA-Approved Training
inquiries we get regarding finding a FOA-Approved training
organization want to know two things: what school is closest to
me or what school offers the certifications I need. The FOA has
about 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide so
finding the right one can be difficult! We've been looking at
ways to make it easier, and we think we've got a good solution.
In fact we have two solutions.
First we have added a sortable
table of all the FOA-Approved schools.
You can also use our FOA
Google Map to find FOA-Approved schools.
Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do
certifications are based on our KSAs - the Knowledge, Skills and
Abilities that techs need to succeed. Read the FOA KSAs
for fiber and cabling techs.
enjoy feedback, especially when it shows how great some FOA
instructors are. These came from students of Tom Rauch, an
instructor at BDI
"I took your fiber optics certification courses this past March.
I just wanted to let you know that in two weeks I start working
as a fiber optic technician with ___ up in ___. You mentioned on
the first day of the course that there is always one guy in
class who had rubbed his last two nickels together to be there
and, in that instance, I was that guy. Now I'm going to be able
to provide for my family like never before and I owe it to the
certification that I received from you and BDI Datalynk. I just
wanted to thank you again."
"Thanks to our tremendously knowledgeable and patient instructor
Thomas Rauch, who was not only generous in sharing his wealth of
information, but he did so with ease, humor and in a way that
invited curiosity and participation. He was encouraging and
proud of our accomplishments and helped us learn from our
mistakes in a way that did not break our confidence, rather it
pushed us to better results the next go around. The hands on
labs were just AWESOME!" Just thought you should know what a
class act you have representing you in his travels..... but then
again you probably already knew that! : )
In almost 19 years at Verizon and having held numerous
positions, I have gone through many training sessions. I cannot
remember ever having been actually looking forward to coming
back to class quickly after lunch, to get back to the hands on
activities, and walking away with the sense of empowerment that
the information presented was not only relevant but dead on
point accurate! I will be signing up for the Outside Plant class
on March! I can't say enough good things about Tom and his
impact! Feel free to quote me, I can only imagine that he will
open so many doors and change so many lives in the years to
come, with his style of teaching! Great experience, awesome job!"
and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the
National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
a partnership with the FOA has published a new textbook for
training IBEW apprentices and journeymen in fiber optics. The
new textbook uses the material from the FOA Reference Guide To
Fiber Optics with new material and photos from other NJATC
from one of our certified instructors: I want to thank
you and your organization for all the resources you provide for
the students and the opportunity to offer the certification to
the students. The fact that you published the book yourself to
get the cost down and the unlimited free resources on your
website shows a commitment to the public that is second to none.
I let it be known to the students that the FOA is the best in
the industry at supplying knowledge and resources related to the
communication industry. I look forward to passing on the
information that you provide for the industry.
Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating
The FOA Fiber FAQs
Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions) gathers up
questions readers have asked us and adds tech topics of
Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers
Q: Why NOT make the use of APC connectors the new standard
for all adds, moves and changes to any campus, MDU or similar
application using single mode cable?
A: There is absolutely no reason not to use APC
connectors other than the cost is higher and one must be careful
if they are used in a cable plant that also has PCs or UPCs
because they are incompatible. We recommend them all the time
for short links like data centers, passive optical LANs and FTTH
where runs of singlemode fiber are short. In fact they are very
common in these networks today.
Q What is normal Range for good power in an FTTH fiber?
A: The GPON specification for downstream power from the
OLT is OLT transmitter power should be 0 to +6dBm and link
attenuation in the range of 13 to 28dB, which says receiver
power the ONT must be a maximum of 13 dB less than +6dBm or
-7dBm and a minimum of 28 dB less than 0dBm or -28dBm, so -7 to
-28dBm at the receiver.
Upstream, the similar calculation is ONT transmitter -4 to
+2dBm and the receive power at theOLT is -11 to
See http://thefoa.org/tech/ref/appln/FTTH-PON.html for the full
specifications for GPON.
Cable Before Installation
Does the FOA publish a standard for assessing single-mode
fiber optic cables, prior to use on a specific project?
A: The ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 fiber optic installation
standard covers this in Section 4.1. It recommends visual
inspection and testing if there is any suspicion of damage to
the cable. Many contractors will test a couple of fibers with an
OTDR before installing any cable, just for assurance. It
requires an OTDR with a pigtail launch cable and a mechanical
Cable Bend Radius
We are working on project where we need to know difference
between short term and long term bend radius for fiber optic
A: The bend radius for cables is generally specified
under two conditions - under stress, e. g. when being pulled, it
is a radius 20 times the cable diameter. Relaxed, after
installation, it is a radius 10 times the cable diameter. The
relaxed specification, 10X, is considered a long term
specification. Some of the new high fiber count cables have
different specifications, sometimes 15X or 20X under either
condition. Check with the manufacturer for their specific cable.
Q: If testing a 40KM link with 1KM launch and
receive cords should I be able to see the connector and cassette
splice on each side? My OTDR setup is at 64KM, 300ns pulse and
10 second test at 1310/1550/1625. It shows as a single event so
far but with the pulse width at 300ns won’t that combine the
events into one event during analysis?
A: You will not be able to resolve a connector and splice
close together, especially on a long link like that. 300ns is
almost 60m pulse width! You will see an even of the splice and
Q: We are looking at the specs for two devices, A
and B. The spec sheet of Device A lists it is capable of MM in
850nm wavelength. The spec sheet of Device B lists it can do MM
at 1300nm. If I connect these devices via MM patch cord, what is
the impact due to different wavelengths? Will the transmission
suffer significant loss or since both are multimode, wavelength
A: Fiber works at either wavelength, but transceivers do
not. The attenuation rate for MM fiber is ~3dB/km at 850nm but
only ~1dB/km at 1300nm. But 850nm receivers use silicon
photodiodes while 1300 nm receivers use InGaAs. The 1300
detectors are not sensitive at 850nm and vice versa. So while
the fiber works fine, the electronics do not. They should only
be used with like devices.
questions are now available here on the FOA Guide.
continuing quest to help people understand how to test fiber
optic cable plants and communications systems, we've created two
more "QuickStart Guides to Fiber Optic Testing." They are
simple, step-by-step guides on how to test fiber optic cable
plants, patchcords or single cables using insertion loss or OTDR
techniques and optical power from transceivers. It's as
straightforward as it can get - what equipment do you need, what
are the procedures for testing, options in implementing the
test, measurement errors and documenting the results.
It can't get much simpler.
Send anybody you know who needs to know about fiber optic
testing here to learn how it's done in a few minutes.
Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords
Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR
Optical Power In Communications Systems
Tech Topics -
Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket? (See the video on
The camera in your old cell phone is sensitive to infrared light
- lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical
fiber or from a transmitter. Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I,
Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication
JATC brought this to our attention.
you have an old cell phone, try it. Our experience is that older
cell phone cameras have better sensitivity at IR wavelengths
than newer phones, so you may want to toss that old flip phone
into the toolbox.
YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking
One OTDR manufacturer you don't hear as much about is YOKOGAWA
(formerly ANDO) which is too bad - they make some of the best
OTDRs, exemplified by this new model AQ7280. Need long range -
how about 50dB. High resolution - 0.6m dead zone. Like touch
screens, but for some functions want hard buttons, it's got
that. Options for VFL, microscope, light source and power meter,
etc. - it has that too.
But the unique aspect of the YOKOGAWA AQ7280 is it offers
multitasking - you can let do a trace with long averages while
you inspect connectors, make power readings, use the VFL or
info on the YOKOGAWA AQ7280.
thanks Yokogawa for a gift of an OTDR to use for R&D and
you read the FOA
pages on cleaning?