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August 2014

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Coming September 18, FOA And CI&M Magazine Webinar "Best Practices for Deploying Preterminated Fiber-Optic Systems"(read more)

Don't Miss These Other Seminars and Webinars

FOA ofrece libros de texto y guía en línea en español!

videos   Qué es la FOA (What Is The FOA, in Spanish )

Le Guide de référence pour la fibre optique de la FOA est maintenant
disponible en français

In This Issue - (INDEX)

Click on "RETURN TO INDEX " after each section to return you to this INDEX so you can find things easier.


Video Product Tests - 3M Cleaver and Fiber Strippers
CI&M/FOA Webinar on Prefab Cabling
FOA on Pinterest
New FOA Courses: Data Centers and DAS
Multifiber connectors (MPO)
Sports Needs Fiber
How Fiber Networks Work - It's Magic!
Not Everybody Wants Fiber?
Fiber Speed Changes Internet Use
What Contractors See
Another Library Chooses Passive OLAN
Google Partners On US-Japan Submarine Cable
More On New FOA Training Programs
More Info On OTDR Traces


OLANs - Optical LANs
OTDRs - more info
More to read in Worth Reading and Q&A


New @ FOA  
Fiber U - free online self-study courses
Publications: FOA Textbooks, NECA/FOA 301 Installation, eBooks
More "Quickstart Guides" - OTDRs
 videos: New FOA YouTube Videos
Online Reference Guide: Many new pages 
Tech Topics: More online information
Certification: New FOA OSP Certification
FOA Schools: New schools and programs
Events: Webinars, Conferences and Shows of Interest To Fiber Techs  
Webinars: Online seminars on useful topics 
Q&A: What you are asking the FOA?
Product News - New stuff
Worth Reading: News from around the world
Download This - Good applications material online

DIG SAFE - Call 811 before you dig!


JobsCurrent openings for Cable Techs, Fiber Splicers, etc.
Also 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.

Join The FOA eMail Newsletter List
Want to be notified when the FOA Newsletter is updated? Sign up for the FOA eMail Newsletter. You can also sign up from your cell phone: text "FOA" to 22828 (usual text msg charges apply)

CFOT Renewals
Renew your FOA certification online - plus get a discount on the new FOA books and an extra month free. Details here.

The Archives: Previous Issues.
Use these links to read previous issues or use FOA's Google Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
1/14, 2/14, 3/14, 4/14, 5/14, 6/14, 7/14, 8/14
1/132/13, 3/13, 4/13, 5/13, 6/13, 7/13, 8/13, 9/13, 10/13, 11/1312/13 
1/12 , 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12   
1/11 ,  2/11,  3/11,  4/11,  6/11, 7/11, 8/11,  9/11, 10/11, 11/11,  12/11,  
1/10 ,  2/10, 3/10,  4/10,   05/10,  07/10, 08/10,  09/10,  10/10, 11/10 
1/09 ,  2/09,  3/09, 04/09,  05/09,  07/09, 08/09, 09/09, 10/09, 11/09,  12/09
1/08 , 2/08, 3/08, 4/08, 5/08,  6/08, 7/08, 8/08, 09/0810/08, 11/08,  12/08 
12/07 , 11/07, 10/07, 09/07, 08/07, 07/07, 06/07, 05/07, 04/07, 03/07, 2/07, 1/07
12/06 , 11/06, 10/06, 09/06, 8/06, 7/06, 6/06, 5/06, 4/06, 3/06, 2/06, 1/06,
12/05 ,11/05, 10/05, 09/05, 08/05, 07/05, 6/05, 5/05, 4/05, 2/05, 01/05,
12/04 , 10/04, 9/04, 8/04, 7/04, 6/04, 5/04, 4/04, 3/04, 1/04,
12/03 , 11/03 10/03 9/03, 8/03, 7/03, 6/03, 3/03, 10/02 , 8/02, 5/02
Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

It's CFOT®  and Fiber U® The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA. With over 43,000 fiber optic techs holding CFOTs (July 2013) and the CFOT being recognized worldwide as the foremost certification in fiber optics, the FOA realized the value of the CFOT and Fiber U required trademark protection. Now it's official!

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.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks

The fiber book is available in Spanish

All books were updated for 2014!

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

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are 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

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Looking for information on a particular topic?

Use the FOA's Google Custom Search to search the FOA website and all back issues of the FOA Newsletter.

Two New FOA Videos - Product Tests

In the June FOA Newsletter, we talked about the new #M "disposable" cleaver, the Easy Cleaver, which is provided free with 3M connectors and mechanical splices that need cleavers. We got samples of the Easy Cleaver from 3M and tested them ourselves, and they work great. You can see for yourself how they work in this FOA YouTube Video about the Easy Cleaver.

3M Easy Cleaver

If you want to know more about the 3M easy Cleaver, you can find it here on the 3M website.

We also tested the new Ripley/Miller FO-CF Center Feed Fiber Stripper and used it as an opportunity to show the other three common types of strippers, the Miller, MicroStrip and NoNik and how they are used. So you get a review of how to strip fiber and a product review of the new stripper in this FOA YouTube video about fiber strippers.

Fiber Optic Strippers

Go here for more information on Ripley fiber strippers.

We have plans for other product reviews - but what would you like to see?

Free Webinar: Best Practices for Deploying Preterminated (Prefab) Fiber-Optic Systems - Presented by FOA's Jim Hayes

September 18, 2014, 1PM EDT, 10AM PDT, Sign-Up Details Soon

Sign up here.

The popularity of preterminated fiber-optic systems continues to rise, as network owners realize the multidimensional benefits of these cablingsystems in several environments. Whether it is between servers inside a data center or between wireless towers outdoors, a preterminated fiber-optic cablingsystem offers efficiency in the fiber-connectivity process. These systems, however, do require careful forethought, planning, acceptance and, yes,installation. This webcast seminar, produced by Cabling Installation & Maintenance and delivered by Fiber Optic Association president Jim Hayes, describes the requirements and best practicesof deploying preterminated or “prefabricated” fiber-optic cabling. It covers the necessities of acceptance inspection, cleaning and testing, as well asproper design and installation techniques.


Join FOA on Pinterest. FOA has started a Pinterest page for fiber optics.


More New FOA Courses and Certifications Coming - Data Centers and DAS

Last month, we talked about the new FOA Application Specialist Certifications on Fiber To The Antenna (FTTA) and Fiber Characterization  which are applications certifications as opposed to skills certifcations like splicing, connectors and testing. This month, we are ready to announce another, Data Centers, that covers the types of cabling involved in data centers and how they are chosen, designed, installed and tested. This course covers small and large data centers and does not cover data center design which includes how to locate racks of servers and switches and how to power and coll them. We just focus on the cabling including tradeoffs in cabling for >10Gb/s.

Data Center

We are also working on a DAS (distributed antenna systems) course, as these systems are becoming more popular and often a challenge for installers.

FOA Visited By Singapore School Personnel

FOA was visited recently by the personnel from 100G, the FOA-Approved School in Singapore. In the photo, on the right is Bee Suat Lim, next Karen and Jim Hayes, Isaac Yeo Hock Lai and KC. FOA and 100G had time to discuss 100G's work in Singapore and SE Asia as well as FOA programs for the region. We also generated some new ideas for FOA curriculum and technical material.

100G visits FOA

   FOA Newsletter - Features

Sports Need Lots Of Fiber

Sporting events are now very high-tech events. The most visible technology are the large screen TVs that are scattered around playing fields and auto racing tracks to show the action close up and live. Feed for the broadcast TV crews is carried around the facility on fiber and out to distribution on fiber or direct to satellite.


Often forgotten is all the fans using their smartphones over WiFi or cellular connections. Not just watching video or talk/texting to friends, but using the team apps to order food to be brought to their seat! At a recent game at the new San Francisco 49ers stadium, about 60% of the fans were on their smartphones using 1Gb/s of data bandwidth for over two hours - over 2.13 terabytes of data during the event.

How can a stadium handle such traffic? Easy if you have  680 Wi-Fi access points and 12,000 Ethernet ports, all connected to a 40-gigabit-per-second fiber optic connection! The new $1.2 billion stadium in the heart of Silicon Valley is super high tech thanks to partnerships with Sony and now Yahoo.
Read more, and more, and more.

On the auto racetrack front, CommScope has become the first  technology partner at Daytona International Speedway. CommScope will install an estimated 355 kilometres of Category 6 cable, 80 kilometres of single mode fiber optic cable and all terminations supporting digital signage and way-finding, upwards of 1500 HD displays, synchronized stadium-wide messaging, Wi-Fi connectivity in social areas, and an enhanced audio experience. Read more.

racetrack fiber optic cables

In case you think cabling speedways with fiber is new, here is a photo from the Long Beach Grand Prix from almost a decade ago. And much earlier than that, over two decades ago, Road Atlanta did some of the first fiber at a racetrack, certainly influenced by the fact that track co-owner Jim Kanely was founder of one of the first independent fiber optic cable companies, Valtec!

And on a related topic....what are these guys doing?


These are race engineers for the Red Bull Formula 1 team with 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in the middle. Formula 1 is the fastest and most technically advanced form of automobile racing - and the most expensive. Each F1 car has about 150 sensors that monitor everything going on with the car and as many as 60 technical personnel
trackside to support the cars. But there may be another 150 or so engineers working at the same time back at the factory, analyzing data, running simulations and feeding back to the track information to make the car run faster. The driver has a steering wheel with a dozen or more controls to make adjustments to the car in real time.

F1 wheel

As you can imagine, all this data moving from race track to factory and back requires both a lot of bandwidth and - especially - low latency.

The support required for every one of the 11 F1 teams is immense. F1 races on 20 circuits around the globe: China, the US, Australia and Monaco are among the locations. At every location, the telecom support crew installs a temporary high-speed network for the team’s use.

To do this, AT&T, which supplies the communication systems to Red Bull, deploys an army of engineers to each location, installing a connection that has a maximum latency of 300 milliseconds - the time it takes for a human eye to blink. When the races are held closer to Red Bull's factory, which is based in Milton Keynes in the UK, the delay can drop to a amazing seven milliseconds.

The BBC recently posted a long story about how this all works - it's a good story. Read it here.

How Fiber Networks Work - It's Magic!

Courtesy of FOA Member Robbie Grubbs.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001, A Space Odyssey

magic fiber

Download the full size version here.

Multi-Fiber Connectors

As we mentioned above, FO has been working on a number of new training courses - Fiber Characterization, Fiber to the Antenna (FTTA), and one just announced, Data Centers. We're also working on a CI&M webinar on prefab cable assemblies for Sept 18.

Each time we do something new, we find ourselves digging into new topics to fully understand the technologies we cover in these training courses. The FTTA and Data Center courses and the CI&M webinar include a lot on prefab (preterminated) cabling systems. Some data centers also focus on parallel optics using MPO type connectors (but not all, or perhaps not many.) We wonder if there is a disconnect between what you hear in the trade press and advertisements and what is happening in data centers because we hear little about parallel optics using multimode fiber and lots about singlemode fiber using WDM.

The biggest problem with parallel optics is probably the cabling complexity; a 100G port needs 20 fibers but ends up using 24 because the connectors are 12/24/36/48 fibers in rows of 12. 40G uses only 8 of the 12 fibers in a connector. Compare a parallel solution to SM CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) that uses 2 fibers per port. Sure the SM transceivers are more expensive, but the fiber is much, much cheaper - you only need less than 10% as many fibers for a 100G system, a massive savings in fibers per rack.

The second problem is the connector itself. If you search the web, you will find discussions of the problems with polishing the large connector ferrule flat and higher loss in fibers away from the center of the ferrule (Belden app note.) But the biggest problem may well be the simplest one - polarity. The TIA 568 standard devotes approximately 21 pages to polarity options - even more would be included but another option from Corning was refused inclusion at the last TIA meeting.

The problem with polarity is the connectors are fixed male (with pins) or female (without pins) and key-up or key-down. A single patchcord can have 16 different configurations! Somebody was not thinking straight when this connector was designed.

But somebody came along and did think straight, but it was an FOA school instructor, Craig Bowden at FiberNexx in Concord, NY who told us about the "PanMPO," Panduit's MPO introduced last year that has options in one connector change one connector to make it male (with pins) or female (without pins) and key-up or key-down.


With the PanMPO connector, you can remove the connector outer body and flip it to change to key-up or key-down. While the connector body is off, you can use a special tool to slide the pins back or forward to change the  male (with pins) or female (without pins) gender.


What a brilliant idea! If they licensed this idea to all the other MPO manufacturers, we should be able to reduce the size of TIA 568 by about 21 pages and make the MPO a much more attractive option in cabling.

Be sure to watch the Panduit Video on the PanMPO on YouTube. Here is more data on the connector.

Not Everybody Wants Fiber, It Seems

Jon Brodkin, writing in ArsTechnica, is the author of this article which examines the pros and cons of fiber.

How Verizon Lets Its Copper Network Decay To Force Phone Customers Onto Fiber

The shift from copper landlines to fiber-based voice networks is continuing apace, and no one wants it to happen faster than Verizon. Still, Verizon campaigns against utility-style regulation that it benefits from.
Internet users nationwide are clamoring for fiber, as well, hoping it can free them from slower DSL service or the dreaded cable companies.

But not everyone wants fiber, because, when it comes to voice calls, the newer technology doesn’t have all the benefits of the old copper phone network. In particular, fiber doesn’t conduct electricity, where copper does. That means when your power goes out, copper landlines might keep working for days or weeks by drawing electricity over the lines, while a phone that relies on fiber will only last as long as its battery.

Read the article on ArsTechnica.

Fiber’s Speed Changing The Way We Use The Internet

The Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas has released the results of a survey by RVA, LLC, revealing new data on the usage and impact of fiber to the home networks in North America.

 “After surveying broadband consumers for seven years, two trends are very clear. First, the importance of broadband to the consumer lifestyle increases with each passing year and second, end-to-end fiber optic networks are becoming more and more differentiated from other types of broadband in terms of performance, use, and perception,” said Michael Render, President of RVA, LLC.

 “The numbers in this survey represent what we hear from FTTH communities every day -- fiber is fast, reliable, and ready to meet their growing needs. But fiber is also letting people do more, from high-bandwidth health care applications to powering the many connected devices in a modern home. The impact of fiber is large and growing,” said Heather Burnett Gold, President of the FTTH Council.

 Major findings from the 2014 survey include:

 ●     More people have fiber, and more providers are offering faster speeds: There are 10.4 million homes connected to fiber in North America compared with 9.7 million in May 2013 and there are now 58 providers offering gigabit-per-second packages.

●     The need for faster broadband at home continues to grow: Users report now spending over 5 hours a day at home online and are aware of 5.5 Internet ready devices in the home. Broadband users under age 35 now report getting slightly over half of their video content from online sources.

●     Satisfaction rates are far higher for FTTH than all other types of broadband:  Consumers say higher satisfaction is based on both reliability and speed. Based on speed testing during the survey, those with fiber optics all the way to the residence (fiber to the home or FTTH) enjoy far better performance. Comparing both ends of the spectrum in terms of performance, FTTH versus DSL, FTTH is now 5 times faster on download speeds and 23 times faster on upload speeds.

●     Fiber optic Internet is changing lifestyles: Based on consumer estimates of the percent of time waiting for applications to load – “gears turning” – FTTH consumers are far more productive. Compared again with the slowest type of broadband, FTTH consumers spend 49 fewer annual hours waiting for things to load. FTTH users work from home more often and enjoy a home value premium of over $5,000 versus other types of broadband.

What Contractors See (Another Horror Story)

Many FOA instructors are also active installers like Milt Murry in St. Louis. Often they send us stories about their work that helps illustrate the "do's and don'ts" of fiber optic installations. Milt recently did an install for upgrades at a 1934-era high school.


Here's some of his feedback:

  • Some of the teleco closets had automatic light switches. Very bad idea. It is not allowed in electrical rooms and some of the closet had panel boards. Just when you started to cleave the fibers for the prepolished connectors we were using, the lights would go out.
  • Every telco room had 5 gallon paint cans stored in them plus cleaning supplies and dust mops, very dirty.
  • The job was done during summer maintenance period and fumes from Gym floor restoration were overwhelming. The MDU was located just outside Gym on ground floor. Also cleaning and waxing was going on in other parts of building adding to the fumes.
We could run this as a contest about violations of the US National Electrical Code or OSHA regulations, but we'll let you decide for yourself.

Another Library Goes Passive OLAN


The Aurora, IL Public Library has selected an Optical LAN solution for its new 92,000 square-foot main facility in Aurora, Ill., scheduled to open in May 2015. The Library will use Tellabs’ innovative GPON fiber-optic technology to meet its patrons’ growing bandwidth needs and build a scalable, simple, secure and sustainable local area network (LAN) infrastructure.

“Tellabs’ Optical LAN technology is instrumental in the continued innovation of the Aurora Public Library system,” said Eva Luckinbill, director of the Aurora Public Library. “But, Optical LAN is not just a more innovative solution, it is an overall smarter choice. It gives us the flexibility to scale and adapt to whatever the educational and informational needs of the community are in the years ahead,” added Linda Whitmill, automated services coordinator of the Aurora Public Library.

Google, Asian Telecoms To Build $300 Million Undersea Cable To Japan

(Reuters) - Search engine Google Inc and five Asian telecom and communications companies have agreed to invest about $300 million to develop and operate a trans-Pacific cable network connecting the United States to Japan.

To be named "FASTER," the cable network will have an initial capacity of 60 terabits per second and will connect Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Oregon and Seattle to Chikura and Shima in Japan.

NEC Corp, which will be the system supplier for the cable network, said in a statement that construction would begin immediately and the network would be ready for service in the second quarter of 2016.  Read More.

New Training And Certifications From FOA - More Online Courses Coming

People have been asking FOA for more online training and some new specialized training programs, and we've been listening. We are ready to announce these new programs this month. More applications training is being developed and will be announced soon.

Many of these applications-based courses require the same skills learned by CFOTs, so they may qualify for online certifications or certificates of completion. Watch this newsletter for announcements about more online courses.

FIber U Online Self-Study Program Offers Option Of Certificate of Completion

FOA has 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 an online course.

We have just added a basic fiber optic course that anyone can take online, and when finished, there is an option to take an online exam that will provide a "Fiber U Certificate of Completion" when the exam is completed successfully. The course is still free but there is a small fee to cover costs to take the exam and get the certificate of completion.

Fiber U certificate

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, click on the Fiber U Basics of Fiber Optics - Online Certificate Course  and get started.

Fiber To The Antenna (FTTA)

One of the busiest fiber applications* is connecting cell towers and rooftop antennas to fiber and then installing fiber up the tower to connect the antennas. For most installations, the fiber installation uses prefab cable assemblies, mostly composite cables with fibers and copper conductors.

The fiber cables and associated equipment are shown in red on the diagram above. Like many specialized fiber applications, FTTA training is mostly needed for the specialized techs who currently work on towers, who are already trained on the safety aspects of tower work but need training on the special handling and testing needed for the fiber optic equipment.

The FOA FTTA curriculum was developed in conjunction with two highly experienced wireless groups, Wireless Workforce and Elkins Training, who will be offering the training along with other FOA schools.

*We project the overall number of cell sites in the United States to grow 18.5 percent during the next four years to 378,000 in 2017 from 319,000 in 2013, a 4.3 percent increase on a compound annual basis.
TIA's 2014 ICT Market Review & Forecast

Watch future newsletters for more information on this course.

Fiber Optic Cable Plant Characterization

Fiber characterization takes field testing into much more depth, beyond inspection, insertion loss and OTDR testing to add spectral attenuation, chromatic dispersion and polarization mode dispersion to qualify fibers for speed upgrades to 10G and beyond.

CD graph
Chromatic dispersion is tested as part of
fiber characterization

As networks get upgraded to higher speed systems, carriers want to know if they can use fibers already in their network. Some of these fibers are quite old - 20 years or more is not unusual - and are carrying ~2.5Gb/s OC-48 (2.405376 Gbit/s) communications. Upgrades to 10, 40 or even 100Gb/s  (OC-192, 10G Ethernet and beyond.) Even new fibers now being installed should be tested at these higher speeds to provide confidence of their capability.

This is the most complex specialist course FOA has introduced and requires learning how to use some new specialized equipment.  At the current time, there are a limited number of FOA instructors qualified to teach it. If you work for a carrier or OSP contractor and are interested in
fiber characterization contact the FOA and we will help make arrangements for this course to be taught for you.

Watch future newsletters for more information on this course.

Clean Every Connector - A Lesson We Learned From Creating Lessons

In creating the fiber characterization curriculum, we got inputs from many experienced techs about the testing requirements. Everyone we talked to made a big point about cleaning and inspecting connectors before testing. Dirty connectors are a major problem with errors in testing. We've also seen that many installers think that if a connector, especially new connectors, has a "dust cap" on the connector, it does not need cleaning. WRONG!
The common name for the plastic caps on connector ferrules is "dust cap" and a friend says they are called "dust caps" because they are full of dust. Those plastic caps are made by the millions, popped out of plastic molding machines into barrels and stored until put into plastic bags. Whenever you remove one of them, clean the connector before testing or connecting it.
More on connector cleaning is here and here

More Information From OTDR Traces

What's Wrong With This Picture?

OTDR Reflectance From the current version of TIA FOTP-8.

This is a figure from the TIA FOTP-8, Titled "Measurement of Splice or Connector Loss and Reflectance Using an OTDR." FOA co-founder and author of several books on fiber installation brought to our attention that the peak shown in this drawing appears to be highly saturated - that is the reflectance is so high that it overloads the OTDR receiver. Under such circumstances, it is totally impossible to get a valid measurement of reflectance since you are not measuring the peak of the reflectance but the saturation level of the OTDR.

Eric points out the standard says "Ensure that the receiver is not saturating here; this may be done by attenuating the signal with an OTDR control, by an in-line variable attenuator, or by introducing a loop prior to the splice or connector." But the standard makes no reference to the figure indicating it is saturated and this peak shown cannot be measured accurately.

The preceding figure purports to show a typical OTDR trace and events that can be identified, but the drawing itself appears to be a crude digital drawing from decades past that bears little resemblance to a real OTDR trace.

Proposed drawings from the proposed D revision of TIA-568.3-D are little better and one drawing shows a method of measurement that is unknown to several OTDR manufacturers I have contacted and no manufacturer has claimed they implement this method.

Is this any way to write standards?

A hint - if you are testing short cables, using launch cable longer than the cable being tested will get rid of ghosts, moving them out of the range of the cable.

Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free

FOA OTDR Simulator
You may already know that the FOA has a free OTDR Simulator you can download from our website (go here for directions) that allows you to practice using an OTDR on your PC, seeing the effects of changing setup parameters and analyzing dozens of real world traces. But here are two more tools that can be good for practice.

Including more hints from FOA Master Instructor Terry O'Malley like tests on what the end of a fiber trace looks like with broken and cleaved fibers.
Frequently Asked Questions On OTDRS And Hints On Their Use  

"Fiberizer" APP Reads, Analyzes OTDR Traces
Fiberizer is a iPhone/iPad APP that reads industry-standard ".sor" format files and allows trace analysis on your iPhone or iPad. An android version is in the works too. Read more about Fiberizer. And here are more directions on its use.

FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook and Web Pages In Spanish (French coming soon)

Guía de Referencia de la Asociación de Fibra Óptica (FOA) Sobre Fibra Óptica

FOA text in Spanish

Guía de estudio para la certificación de la FOA

Este libro es una guía de diseño e instalación para redes de cableado con fibra óptica. Fue escrito como un libro de referencia para los instructores y estudiantes en clases para certificación CFOT FOA, así como una referencia para cualquiera que trabaje en el campo. Este libro ofrece una cobertura amplia de los componentes y procesos de fibra óptica que se utilizan en todas las aplicaciones y prácticas de instalación.

Disponible desde CreateSpace, y muchos otros libreros

Available from CreateSpace, and many other booksellers

Qué es la FOA (What Is The FOA, in Spanish )

Plus, FOA Now Offers Its Basic Fiber Optic Online Guide Website In Spanish

Guía de referencia sobre fibra óptica de la FOA Y Guía de estudio para la certificación de la FOA 

La guía básica de fibra óptica de la FOA ha sido traducida al español. Es la versión completa de la FOA Guía básica Online traducido por especialistas técnicos, incluyendo todos los dibujos. Por favor, lea o comprar una copia del libro impreso y nos dan su opinión sobre cómo podemos mejorarlo!

Léela aquí.

Si usted está enseñando a la fibra óptica, póngase en contacto con nosotros ya que estamos ahora traduciendo el programa de formación FOA CFOT también.

If you are teaching fiber optics, contact us as we are now translating the FOA CFOT training curriculum also.

OLANs - Optical LANs

New Free Fiber U Optical LAN (OLAN) Self-Study Program

FOA has added a new Fiber U self-study program on Optical LANs (OLANs). As you know, this is a hot topic in the IT world, so FOA has created an online course that allows you to study about OLANs (FOA includes fiber to the desk, fiber to the office and passive optical LANs) on your own time and schedule. You will be guided to material to read, videos to watch and even have quizzes to check your comprehension.
All Free!
OLANs on Fiber U

FOA OLAN Certification Released

OLANs are probably the most important new technology for enterprise networks since the introduction of structured cabling standards 22 years ago. For the last few months, FOA has been working with companies and groups interested in OLANs to create a certification for techs designing and installing them.

With OLANs, FOA has worked with leaders in the field to create technical materials on our FOA Guide website, Fiber U self-study program and YouTube channel already. We now have a curriculum ready our FOA-Approved schools which will make OLAN training available for those interested. Read More.

OLAN Resources

Over the last couple of years, we've written a lot about Optical LANs, either based on FTTH passive optical network (PON) or point-to-point (P2P) Ethernet architecture. The more we see of these types of networks, the more we appreciate their design and economy. But how about scale - how big can they get?
In November, we ran a picture story about the new San Diego Central Library which is using a Tellabs optical LAN using PON technology that was using about 1000 4 port drops. Now we hear another Tellabs customer has over 16,000 users. That must make it one of the biggest LANs in the world.

Here are more sources of information on optical LANs - BTW, they need a name - let's start calling them OLANs!

FOA Guide Page on OLANs and FOA YouTube Video

APOLAN, trade association for Optical LANs website


Events of Interest

Don't Miss These Seminars and Webinars: 


Free Webcast: Best Practices for Deploying Preterminated Fiber-Optic Systems - Presented by FOA's Jim Hayes

September 18, 2014, 1PM EDT, 10AM PDT

Sign up here.

The popularity of preterminated fiber-optic systems continues to rise, as network owners realize the multidimensional benefits of these cablingsystems in several environments. Whether it is between servers inside a data center or between wireless towers outdoors, a preterminated fiber-optic cablingsystem offers efficiency in the fiber-connectivity process. These systems, however, do require careful forethought, planning, acceptance and, yes,installation. This webcast seminar, produced by Cabling Installation & Maintenance and delivered by Fiber Optic Association president Jim Hayes, describes the requirements and best practicesof deploying preterminated or “prefabricated” fiber-optic cabling. It covers the necessities of acceptance inspection, cleaning and testing, as well asproper design and installation techniques.

Sign up here.


Free Passive OLAN Webinar - by APOLAN, the OLAN trade association - Thursday August 28 1PM EDT.

Event Date: 08/28/2014 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The Association for Passive Optical LAN invites you to attend a webinar to learn about how fiber optic advancements are changing the way we design local area networks. We’ll discuss how recent rapid passive optical LAN deployments have resulted in cost savings, energy savings, and turned floor space savings into revenue generating uses. More.

Successfully Deploy Fiber-Based Wireless Systems
Join EXFO's experts for this seminar that will use a combination of theory and practice to explore the best testing practices and methods for detecting issues during the construction and turn-up phases.
Topics for discussion include how to be more effective in the field by making better, more informed decisions. The concepts taught during this session cover the physical and service transport layers, and primarily apply to distributed antenna systems (DAS) and fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA) deployments, but can also be applied to most short-distance fiber deployments.
Seminars are being held in locations around the US. April seminars are in NJ, NV and IL. Register here.



400GbE and Data Center Design
Event Date: August 6, 2014
Start Time: 1:00 PM EDT / 12:00 PM CDT / 10:00 AM PDT / 5:00 PM GMT
This webcast highlights the challenges awaiting the developers of the 400 Gigabit Ethernet specifications as well as emerging new roles for optical communications technology in mega-scale data centers. Stephen will also look at how fiber optics use is evolving in more conventional data centers.
More information.


See the Light® Fiber Optic Training Program
Webinars, seminars and certification training classes.

Corning offers a library of more than 200 hundred videos that help our customers with everything from product preparation and installation to proper testing procedures. Our free Video Library Tool provides direct links to individual Corning videos, and allows you to filter by topic or area of interest. Register to download the Video Library Tool.



You are invited to join JDSU for a complimentary series of educational webinars. Each webinar, presented by a JDSU subject matter expert, lasts approximately one hour, including Q&A. Seminars are on Connectivity (May 23), Testing Fundamentals (June 20) and OTDRs (July 11)
Go here to see the seminars offered. 

Don't forget to download your copies of the JDSU Testing Textbooks.


FOA LogoWhat's Happening @ FOA

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has three LinkedIn Groups

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

FOA School Instructors - a closed group for instructors and administrators at FOA-approved schools

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)

FOA Corporate MemberCorporate Memberships

FOA is now offering corporate memberships to companies involved in fiber optics as manufacturers, contractors, installers, etc. Corporate Membership gives companies discounts on memberships and direct certifications and access to special FOA materials for educating customers and employees. Read more.

FOA Standards:

FOA now 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.

What Is A Fiber Optic Cable Plant?

In a recent standards meeting, that issue was discussed with some disagreement as to what constituted a "cable plant." It seemed to be a perfect topic for another FOA "1Page Standard," so a draft version is now uploaded for review (FOA Standard FOA-6, Fiber Optic Cable Plant). Feel free to review it and comment to the FOA at

cable plant

Available also is a new standard for Datalinks.

Look for the "1 PageStandard" web page and in the FOA Online Reference Guide.

View the  FOA YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

Go to the FOA "1 Page Standards"

Free For FOA Members: NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

NECA 301
Standards 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

Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs

FOA'S "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.

Lennie & Uncle Ted Now Available As Free Books on iTunes

Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling

Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Premises Cabling are now available free to iPad users who can download them from the Apple iTunes store.
Lennie's Guide has always been the world's favorite introduction to fiber optics. It was first published in the mid-1990s by Fotec, the fiber optic test equipment company famous for its "Fiber U" training conferences and more than 60,000 printed copies were distributed. Lennie was one of the earliest commercial webpages and is still online today (and as popular as ever) at Uncle Ted's Guide was created at the request of Lennie readers who wanted a similar simple introduction to "Cat 5" wiring. This latest version of Uncle Ted's Guide covers the all premises cabling topics - wiring, fiber and wireless.
You can find these free guides on Apple's iTunes Store: Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Premises Cabling  

What's New

FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook In Spanish

Guía de Referencia de la Asociación de Fibra Óptica (FOA) Sobre Fibra Óptica

FOA text in Spanish
Reference Books for FOA Certifications available on Kindle and iPad/iPhone as well as printed
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

We have created three new FOA books to be used in training for FOA certifications and as reference books for contractors, installers and end users of fiber optics. These books have full curriculum support, including free curriculum materials for teaching FOA certification courses. Because we are self-publishing these books using more modern "publish on demand" technology, they are easier to keep up to date, easier to buy and much, MUCH cheaper!
All are now available in print and electronically in Kindle and Apple iBook versions. The basic fiber optic book is also available as a self-study program in an Apple APP for iPad/iPhone/iPod.
Details on the new book each of the new books are at the book pages linked to the photos above.


FOA iPad Apps

The FOA has just released its second APP for the iPad, a free "loss budget calculator," FOA LossCalc.

FOA LossCalc
FOA Loss Calculator AppFOA 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 this link.
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.

Self -Study in Fiber Optics
FOA iPad AppOur first app is a self-study version of the FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics. The FOA APP builds on the FOA basic fiber optic textbook to create an interactive learning environment that builds on the iBook electronic version of the book to add a guide to use for self-study and real-time testing that provides feedback on what you have learned and correct answers to questions answered incorrectly.
The FOA APP is priced at only $9.99, same as the iBook, so the self-study program is free. Download it from the Apple APP Store with your iPad or iTunes.

More "Quickstart Guides"

In our 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.

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords  

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR  

Measuring Optical Power In Communications Systems 



The FOA has many videos on videos, 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 below.

FOA Product Demonstrations

In the June FOA Newsletter, we talked about the new #M "disposable" cleaver, the Easy Cleaver, which is provided free with 3M connectors and mechanical splices that need cleavers. We got samples of the Easy Cleaver from 3M and tested them ourselves, and they work great. You can see for yourself how they work in this FOA YouTube Video about the Easy Cleaver.

We also tested the new Ripley/Miller FO-CF Center Feed Fiber Stripper and used it as an opportunity to show the other three common types of strippers, the Miller, MicroStrip and NoNik and how they are used. So you get a review of how to strip fiber and a product review of the new stripper in this FOA YouTube video about fiber strippers.

New FOA Lectures And Hands-On Videos

How to Talk Fiber Optics - an introduction to fiber optic jargon - the perfect place to start learning about 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.

What's A "Network"

netwoork diagram

That's a common question from fiber and cabling people. Even though they may be installing the cable plants for networks, often the nature of networks is not something they have been exposed to, other than perhaps the catch-all "star network" description. But what is a network? What does it connect? How does it connect users and how does it allocate the bandwidth to them? How do various network types vary?

We've been working on some new YouTube videos on networks, starting as we usually do on a new subject with the basics. We have these three videos online now, but watch for more.

Fiber Optics - Live!  A series of videos that use lab demonstrations to show how optical fiber works. 
Fiber Optics LIVE!

Prepolished/Splice Connector Termination (Panduit OptiCam) 

Cabling Project Management - what's involved in a copper/fiber/wireless project -advice for the customer and the contractor

Hazards Of Counterfeit Cable

You may 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.

Counterfeit cable flame test

Counterfeit Cable     Real UL-rated cable

The difference is obvious and the danger is real. Watch the video on YouTube: Premises Cabling Lecture 11: Counterfeit Cat 5 Cabling

View a complete list of FOA Videos with links to each video on YouTube.

View all the FOA Channel  on YouTube.  


FOA Guide

What's New  in the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide?

We have been updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information.

Le Guide de référence pour la fibre optique de la FOA est maintenant disponible en français

Guía de referencia sobre fibra óptica de la FOA Y Guía de estudio para la certificación de la FOA 

What do you do when you need to test fiber or cable on a reel? Here is a new page on
Bare Fiber Testing  

Couplers or splitters are used in FTTH and OLANs. How do you Test Splitters? 

Tapping fiber has been a big topic in the news. How do you tap fiber?   
The page on Optical LANs (OLANs) has been expanded with new material and links.

What's A Network? A simple explanation of network types and operation has been added to the FOA Online Guide.

We have updated the "Datalinks" page.

Three new "Quickstart Guides" for fiber optic testing: cable plant & patchcord loss, power and OTDR

Learn More About OTDRs - Download a Free OTDR Simulator
More and more installers are being asked for OTDR testing but using these instruments is not easy. They are hard to set up properly and complicated to interpret the traces. Using the autotest function can lead to disastrous results! The FOA has a good tutorial on OTDRs on our Online Reference Guide and we added a free download of an OTDR simulator to the OTDR section so you can learn how to use an OTDR on your PC.

More New Info:

Links to manufacturers and distributors of fiber optic lighting products.

The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide has become very popular - perhaps the most popular technical website ever, typically with over 360,000 users downloading about 1.75 million pages in 2011! We continue updating materials regularly, keeping it as up to date as possible.

Find What You Want Using "Google Custom Search
custom searchThere's so much information on the FOA Tech Topics and Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide that even a well-organized Table of Contents isn't enough and when the material is always changing, an index is impossible to maintain. So the FOA is using the latest technology in search, Google Custom Search, which will allow you to search just the FOA Tech Topics and Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide for any topic you want to find more about. Try it!  

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.


New Schools
The FOA welcomes the newest additions to our listing of FOA-Approved Training Organizations:

Total Network Solutions Europe
Newcastle, UK

CFOT, FOA Approved School # 764

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

Find A FOA-Approved Training Organization

Most inqiries 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.


What Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do They Need?
FOA 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.

School News


We always enjoy feedback, especially when it shows how great some FOA instructors are. These came from students of Tom Rauch, an instructor at BDI Datalynk:

"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!

IBEW and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) in 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 training partners.

NJATC FOA Textbook

FOA is pleased to have been able to assist the NJATC in the development of this new text. FOA has been a NJATC training partner for many years, including offering instructor training at more than 16 of the NJATC's summer National Training Institutes. A majority of IBEW NECA contractors do fiber optics and low voltage, especially for applications that combine electrical and communications cabling like smart grid, alternative energy, traffic controls, data centers, etc.

Quote 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.

Great Video About An FOA School And Their Training 
BDI Datalynk trains at the Unversity of Central Florida. UCF created this incredible video on the BDI Datalynk program.  It shows the power of what they offer on campuses around the US.
Watch the video here:
For more information, contact Bob Ballard, CFOS/I, BDI DataLynk, LLC, A Vietnam Veteran-Owned Company, Ph: 512-785-9024 



Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Real Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

I have a 62.5 micron fiber and 50 micron connectors. We only need 62.5 capability. I have the tools to put the connector on the cable but will this cable work?
A: There are several ways to interpret your question.
1) If you are talking about adhesive/polish connectors, the hole in the connector is the same for 50/125 and 62.5/125 micron fibers, so the connector itself is the same.
2) If you are talking about prepolished/splice connectors where you cleave a fiber and insert it into the connector without polishing, you must have connectors with the proper size fiber or you can incur 2-4dB loss going from 62.5 to 50 micron fiber. See this page in the FOA Guide:
More info on termination can be found on the FOA Guide:
Fiber optic connectors:
And you can search the FOA Guide with our Google Custom Search:

Testing Connectors (From A Patchcord Maker)
What are the chief defining standard(s) that specifies connector and assembly IL (insertion loss) and RL (return loss or reflectance) for both SM and MM fiber?
A: The description on our Guide is here:  
FOTP-34 covers connector testing as a qualification test for the type of connector - basically a "destructive" test for connector manufacturers.
Reflectance is described on that page and here also:
Testing an assembly like a patchcord is covered under FOTP-107

What Is The "Index Profile" Of An Optical Fiber?
In your textbook, you make mention of “Index Profile”(see pg 49). There are some other bits of information relating to that term. For multimode step-index, the profile appears square, for graded, rounded, and singlemode rectangular. I presume this is not the finish on the connector, but some other characteristic. I would appreciate if you could explain it to me.
A: The index profile of a fiber refers to a characteristic of the glass used to make the fiber, specifically the different materials in the core and cladding. "Index" means index of refraction, a characteristic of glass defined by the speed of light in the glass, technically abbreviated as "n" but often called "IR" in fiber optics. For most glass, the index of refraction is about 1.5 and the speed of light is calculated using v (the speed of light in the material) and c (the speed of light in a vacuum) as

V=C/n or for most glass, v = 300,000km per sec/1.5 = 200,000 km/s

That's right, light travels in glass at about 2/3 the speed of light in a vacuum, interestingly enough about the same speed as electrons in UTP copper cable and much slower than electrons in coax which is ~0.9c.

The choice of the index profile for fiber depends on the type of fiber and the transmission specifications desired.

Step index fiber has the core made completely of one type of glass and the cladding of another type with a slightly lower index of refraction to "trap" light in the core using what we call "total internal reflection."

Singlemode fiber is a special step index fiber with the core so small that light cannot bounce around - the core is only ~6 times the wavelength of the light and it is only transmitted in one mode, allowing much higher bandwidth and lower loss.

Graded index MM fiber is more complex. Graded index (GI) fiber has a range of materials in the core which are chosen to minimize modal dispersion caused by different path lengths of different modes being transmitted down the fiber. The core index profile is curved - a parabola to be exact - with lower index glass on the outside of the core. The lower index glass transmits the higher angle light rays (called high order modes) faster than the lower index glass near the center of the core. The index profile of the core of multimode GI fiber is not continuous, which is hard if not impossible to manufacture, but is in steps, from hundreds of steps to thousands depending on the fiber. As a mode of light goes through each step, it is bent slightly until it is reflected back toward the core of the fiber. Since the light is going into lower index material in the outside of the core, it speeds up compared to the speed at the center of the core. By carefully designing and manufacturing the fiber, you can get the average speed of a higher-order mode approximately the same as the modes going straight down the fiber, reducing modal dispersion.
MM fiber
A more complete explanation is on the page in the FOA online reference guide about fiber here:

Tests For Fiber Optic Cable Plants
Q: I
did some research and I noticed that there is a bunch of tests that can be done to fiber optics and I was wondering if there is a list of primary tests that can be done as a basic test.
A: Fiber optic testing does have a hierarchy of tests.
  • At the top of the list is "insertion loss" testing which uses a light source and power  meter to test the fibers in the same way that a communications system transmits over the fiber. It is a simple test and the equipment needed is inexpensive.
  • Techs will also use a microscope to inspect the fiber optic connectors for dirt and damage, a big issue for fiber.
  • The instrument called an "OTDR" takes a snapshot of the fiber using a technique like radar. Most outside plant cables are tested with an OTDR and the data ( the snapshots are called "traces") stored for future reference. OTDRs are more expensive and require more training to use properly.
Here is a link to a page on the FOA Guide site that explains the technical,details:
FOA also has information just for users of fiber optic networks, see

Singlemode or Multimode Connectors
Can I use the same connectors for epoxy or anareobic terminations?
A: Connectors for singlemode and multimode fiber are different. SM connectors have tighter tolerances than multimode with slightly smaller hole in ferrule. Thus SM fiber should not be used with MM connectors because the tolerances will lead to core offset and higher loss. Likewise MM fiber might not fit in SM connector hole.

Cascading PON Splitters
Q: How does on design a PON or POL network with cascaded splitters?
A: The splitters can be placed where it makes sense or to save fiber, but the total split ratio of cascaded splitters should not exceed the maximum split ratio for the system standard, e.g. 64 for GPON (see the table here

The split ratios multiply, so if the maximum split is 64X, you can have:
64X only
32X and 2X = 64X (of course this is the same as 2X and 32X, if you are thinking the first splitter is nearer the OLT.)
16X and 4X = 64X
8X and 8X = 64X

Also, each system has a "Power Budget" (see that is the minimum and maximum loss the system can tolerate over the cable plant. For the most popular versions of GPON, the power budget is 13dB minimum and 28dB maximum (so the cable plant, including splitters, between the OLT and ONT must have at least 13dB but no more than 28dB.) Within any given subsystem using one OLT port, you can have a different loss to each ONT (and you probably will) but the system will work as long as the loss in the link is between 13 and 28dB.

In addition, each system has a maximum number of ONTs that can be supported by the software, 64 in the GPON standard.

Encircled Flux Continues to Be A Problem (Update - see HOML article above)
Question from a installer:
What’s the latest on encircled flux? We purchased some Flux encircled flux controllers at over $400 each.  The warranty on those is only 90 days so they’re very expensive to replace, especially compared with the cost of new fiber jumpers. Do you know of a company that makes these besides ____? They don’t even service them and I have doubts about the quality.  We’ve had problems with 2 that we never have had with fiber jumpers that we test with.
Answer: It's a long story, but....TIA is changing OFSTP-14 to only require EF on 50/125 Laser Optimized fibers at 850nm because it's unnecessary on other fibers and not proven worthwhile. Internationally, it's still called for everywhere, as far as I know. The only makers of those devices as far as we know is Arden Photonics in the UK.  The entire EF issue is based around products they alone make as far as we know. TIA knows the devices have a limited lifetime- the TR-42.11 committee has discussed the subject.  The ISO/IEC committee behind it has said the old TIA mandrel wrap meets the EF standard. We quote the reference in our Guide page on EF.

FOA Loss Budget App
FOA Loss budget App
Q: How do you calculate the Avg loss?
A: The app is programmed to allow multiple setups of component loss values to ensure the values are appropriate to the application. There are default values for SM and MM using typical values (based on FOA experience) and max values (TIA or ISO/IEC standards which are worst case values decided ny manufacturers.)
When you create your own setup, you can set the typical (Splice Loss Typ) and maximum (just says Splice Loss for example) as you desire, so the app gives a range of loss values that will be what you expect (average or typical) and (Max) to compare against the Power Budget of the communication system when designing the cable plant and comparing against test results after installation. The "Help" section gives the values used in the default setups.

Polishing Pucks
Why are there so many types of polishing pucks? Which ones are best?
A: Polishing pucks are available in more varieties than M&Ms - plastic, glass-fllled plastic, stainless steel, steel with carbide inserts, etc. We have used most types and find the inexpensive glass-filled plastic ones work fine. You need one for 2.5mm ferrule connectors (ST/SC/FC) and one for 1.25mm ferrule connectors (LC).
There are some caveats in using them that makes more difference than you think.
1. Polish on a flat plate topped with 1/8" (3mm) rubber of ~80 durometer on which the polishing film is placed.
2.  Put the connector in the puck, place one side on the polishing film and gently lower it to the surface of the film to not damage the protruding fiber.
3. Calibrate your polishing pressure - it requires less than most people think. Watch this video from a couple of our instructors who used a postal scale to teach how much pressure to use:
4. Clean the puck and polishing film after each use with a lint-free wipe and 99% isopropyl alcohol to remove the grit that accumulates - use the same cleaning wipes you use to clean the connector and dry it off, then clean the film and puck, then discard it.

Relative vs. Absolute Power Measurements
Q: I am thinking how to minimize uncertainty when doing relative measurements. I am mostly interested not in absolute power but rather a relative one, that is measuring loss not absolute power.  Will any source of error be smaller or maybe vanish as a result of ratio? What can I do to reduce the uncertainty of the ratio of powers?
A: When measuring relative power, e.g. when measuring loss, the issue is relative power and depends on the linearity of the meter. The linearity of the meter can be affected by two issues - the slope of the calibration curve and the offset where the meter autoranges. Most meters read power over a large dynamic range, 1,000,000 to 1 (60dB) is not uncommon, and that is beyond the range of the electronics in the meter. To get this kind of range, the meters have a range switch controlled by the microprocessor that changes the gain in the amplifier attached to the detector. The amplifiers are linear and dB is calculated by the microprocessor so it does not matter if you measure in dB or W and calculate dB yourself. Calibration of the meter should include looking at the autoranging points to ensure minimal nonlinearity. Look at this graph:
Power meter linearity

When the meter measures two power levels away from the autorange point, the error is simply the error in the calibration slope, which will be proportional to the range measured. For reading of a few dB, the error is usually very small, ~0.0x dB. If the measurement includes the autorange point, the error can be higher, depending on the amount of error in the autoranging.
This argues for having your meters calibrated by a factory-approved facility who knows where the autorange points are and can carefully calibrate around them. If you just check calibration at low and high points, you may miss autorange problems.

How to Clean POF (plastic optical fiber)
Q: I heard that plastic fibres such as PMMA can suffer damage from cleaning from an alcohol solution. Are there alternate cleaning solutions available for these types of fibres."
A: You can use a 10/90 mix of  isopropyl alcohol/water. Typically use with a lint free swab. (from out POF consultants)

Using Older Fiber For Faster Systems
Question: My client has SMF 28 and Metrocor fiber cables that were manufactured c.2000. Please let me know whether these cables are obsolete or if they can be used for today's applications.
Answer: There is no definitive answer to your questions. The fiber may be used for upgraded systems but it must be tested for CD and PMD and results compared to the requirements of the systems being considered.

Testing Bare Fibers With OTDR
We are starting to test some OPGW cables. We have an OTDR but we don’t find some reusable connectors. If we have to test an OPGW with 48 fibres, we can’t set up 48 SC connectors!
Are there some reusable connectors in the commerce?
A: I assume you mean you need to test with a bare fiber on the OPGW. For testing bare fiber, use a splice, not a connector. Have a long pigtail on the OTDR as a launch cable, long enough for the test pulse to settle, say 100-500m, then use a splice for a temporary connection. You can fusion splice the fibers then cut the splice out or use a removable splice like the Corning Camsplice (
If you use a mechanical splice, you need a high quality cleaver just like with fusion splicing and after several uses, you need to add more index matching gel or liquid - mineral oil works OK.
See the FOA page on Testing Bare Fiber.

Getting Started
I have been asked internally what I would do and how I would start a data division. I know from looking at your website that you understand it and I was hoping you could give me some bullet points on how I would get a Tele/Data division started up from its infant stages. Any advice you could give me would be appreciated.
Basically, the cabling installation is similar to electrical, just the termination and splicing are different and testing is specialized. All these are easily learned. FOA has Fiber U free online training in both fiber and structured cabling ( and 80 YouTube Videos on this subject (FOA channel "thefoainc" you can use to become more familiar with the topics. Through the FOA we have approved schools that offer training and certification, courses you can take at scheduled locations or have brought to your facility.

OTDR Calibration
I read on your website information about ODTR, and I'm curios if you could offer some more information. I am interested in all compatible standards considering OTDR Calibration. So far I managed to find out that there is IEC 61746-1 standard for Calibration, and also TIA/EIA-455-226 wich is adoption of IEC 61746-1. And I concluded that those 2 are surely internationally approved and do the same thing. I found in some website the offer for calibration performing both NIST traceable, and TIA 455.
I could not find out what is relation between TIA and NIST traceable calibration standards ( if there are any), is it the same or  those 2 are compatible (if u use one of those for OTDR calibration  it is enough)or those 2 are different and you need to perform both.
A: NIST was approached for OTDR calibration in the 1980s and considered making a transfer standard for use in calibrating OTDRs. It was intended to be a sample fiber of known index of refraction and length with splices and connectors of known loss. However the project was never completed as it could not be made agreeable to all parties. Many thought a calibration based on a device that would simulate the return from a cable was more accurate. Both these methods have been used since, but NIST never produced an OTDR calibration system like they did for optical power meters (I worked on that one myself.)
Other than the IEC document, I know of no other standards or traceable calibration by a national standards lab.

Is A Flashlight Test Adequate?

Q: I contracted a firm to install an OM3 of 200 meters. On one  end I have an SFP 1000SX ,on the other a 1000SX converter from optical to UTP. We made pings but they never reached, and I didn’t see the laser at the extreme of the fiber. They promised me to send me the certification they supposely made ,though they assured me the fiber is ok, because  WITH A FLASHLIGHT THEY SENT WHITE LIGHT FROM ONE SIDE TO THE OTHER AND IT WAS VISIBLE. I saw the light too, and I thought the culprit was my switch or my SFP. I want to know: is this a good demonstration that the fiber is ok?
A: A visual continuity test is not adequate - your eye is not calibrated! The power of the lamp is unimportant as each eye’s sensitivity is different. And your eye probably cannot see the light from a 850nm VCSEL source - most people’s eyes are not sensitive at that infrared wavelength. The installer should have tested the link with a light source and power meter ( and given you the loss in dB. The connectors should also be inspected with a microscope to ensure proper polishing and cleanliness ( If the SFP output is -6dBm, what is the power at the receiver? 1000base-SX is supposed to work with 4.5dB loss (see The fiber loss should be ~0.6 dB, so you must have >4dB connector losses! That says bad installation! The 1000SX link should work over 200m if the fiber has been properly installed.

Mismatched Fibers Working
I have an existing light blue, 50 micron, armored fiber cable, with 3 pairs, between data closets. The first pair is used successfully with my 10 GB data network, using all 50 micron patch cables and connectors to Dell Force 10 switches.
My issue is with a secondary network.  I would like to utilize a second pair on the 50 micron riser.  But, the patch cables from each side will be 62.5 microns (orange) cables that go into my HP switches, with 1GB connectors. I know mixing 50 to 62.5 is NOT best practice according to your site (, but I have tested the connection from 1 HP switch to the other, utilizing the 62.5 micron patch cables, into the 50 micron uplink, with success.
Should this even be working?  Is it strange that it works at all?  If not, should I be even more concerned, if I connect 48 people using this same scenario?
A: This is a common problem. There is an explanation and two solutions.
Explanation: Every link has some margin for optical power - that is it has more power at the receiver than the minimum required. The link where you have Trans>62.5>50>62.5>receiver  fiber will has a higher loss at the 62.5>50 connection near the transmitter and a lower loss (even than connections of two fibers the same size), since the larger fiber on the receiver end negates the losses due to most alignment factors - big to small means very low loss. Since the link works, the excess loss at the 62.5>50 connection near the transmitter is compensated by the lower loss of the 50>62.5 connection near the receiver and is within the original margin of the link. Thus it works.
Solution #1, document the mismatch and leave it alone - it works
Soution #2, replace the patchcords with 50/125 patchcords, since there may be a slightly lower coupled power from the transmitter, but not much since both are VCSELs* with similar power outputs, and the receiver will pick up all the light. In other words, using 50/125 patchcords will probably have higher margin.
* Since fiber networks moved to gigabit speeds, the old LEDs used at 100Mb/s were unable to cope, so everybody switched to an inexpensive laser a VCSEL - vertical cavity surface emitting laser - that launches power in a very narrow beam in the center of the fiber, smaller than a 50 micron core and way smaller than a 62.5 micron core. Thus there is no penalty to using the smaller fiber at the transmitter end.
We recommend you try #2.

Older Fiber?
I have some 62.5 mm and sm inside fiber plant over 20 years old.  When is a good time to upgrade?
A: When you need to or have to. If it's working OK, there is no need to upgrade!

"Connector Loss" or "Connection Loss"

Q: I have always counted the loss of a connector as .75 dB (568B-3) and 1.5 for a mated pair. Is that correct?
A: While the industry always says "connector" loss, it is actually "connection" loss. As we explain in the page on termination and splicing ( When we say "connector" loss, we really mean "connection" loss - the loss of a mated pair of connectors, expressed in "dB." Thus, testing connectors requires mating them to reference connectors which must be high quality connectors themselves to not adversely affect the measured loss when mated to an unknown connector. This is an important point often not fully explained.  In order to measure the loss of the connectors you must mate them to a similar, known good, connector. When a connector being tested is mated to several different connectors, it may have different losses, because those losses are dependent on the reference connector it is mated to."
The TIA spec of 0.75dB is for a mated pair of connectors. If you have been passing connectors tested @ 1.5dB may have some very bad connectors in your cabling!

Changing From OM2 to OM3/4 Fiber
We have a system currently that is comprised of OM2 fibre with LED transceivers. There is a proposal to change the fibre to OM3 and I have been asked to look at how the change will affect the transceivers currently fitted which will remain the same until a later upgrade.  From looking around on various forums I can see that OM3 is optimised for lasers, however the existing hardware will remain as LED. My understanding is that OM3 is simply fibre manufactured to a better standard than OM2 with significantly less internal defects. This leads me to think that switching from OM2 to OM3 fibre would not have any negative effect on the existing hardware and would probably reduce the overall link loss.  I am also looking at whether we can use the same connectors, again looking on the internet I can see that the physical dimensions are the same, however are some connectors only certified to OM2?
A: The difference between OM2, OM3 and OM4 fiber is the "modal" bandwidth potential of the fiber at 850nm. OM2 and OM3 fiber is optimized for bandwidth with 850nm VCSELs and has no bandwidth advantage with 1300nm LEDs. The optimization is done by more careful manufacture of the graded index profile of the core of the fiber, nothing else. There is no reason to use OM3 or OM4 fiber with an LED transceiver as the LED cannot be modulated at high speed and the LED bandwidth in any of these fiber is limited by chromatic dispersion which is not significantly different in any of the higher grade fibers. The attenuation coefficient of these fibers is not enough different to justify replacement either. See for more info on fiber. They all use the same connectors. Fiber optic connectors are not a factor in the bandwidth of the fiber.

Microscope Magnification (11/13)
I am doing a lot of fiber optic jumpers for control systems,  either single mode or multimode. I want to get a scope to inspect the ends after I clean them would you recommend a 200X,  400X handheld or one similar to a Noyes OFS 300 200C?
A: We prefer to use lower magnification and have a wider view so I can see more of the ferrule to determine its condition. You can see the fiber effectively at 100X but 200X may be better. 400X may be too much for most tasks like inspecting for cleanliness, but may be good if you are polishing SM for good reflectance. We've used the Westover units for years because they offer two different methods of illumination - direct and at an angle. If you are doing a lot of patchcords, I recommend a video microscope. I've used the Noyes unit that interfaces to a PC to create the FOA Microscope Inspection YouTube video here: and it works well.

Recycling Cabling
Who can I contact regarding recycling cable I am removing from a building?
A: Here are some people who say they recycle fiber optic cable or at least know how to do it:

Tech Hint: Did You Know You Have A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?
Yes! That old mobile phone has a camera which may be 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 sent us some photos showing how this works. See below or the video now on YouTube. Update: You should check out your old cell phones before you recycle them. We've found older models use sensors which are better at infrared than the newer ones which take better pictures. This is a good use for your old cell phones hiding in the drawer!

Fiber Cleaning
This is a topic we keep reminding everybody about, and here is why:
From a contrator in the Middle East: Here some samples of the connectors for SM fiber already installed in the system we were testing.
dirty connector   dirty connector
As you can see, the dirt is large compared to the size of the fiber (dark gray), and the core (not visible here) is only 9/125 of the overall diameter of the fiber! More on cleaningSee Product News below for links to vendors of fiber cleaning products.

See news about Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube by ITW Chemtronics below.

Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube 
See news about Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube by ITW Chemtronics three fiber optic cleaning videos on YouTUbe covering Dry CleaningWet-Dry Method, FiberWash and Combination Cleaning. They are good explanations of cleaning processes - the Wet-Dry is especially interesting.

Westover Application Notes And Cleaning Video
Westover has several application notes on inspecting and cleaning fiber optic connectors. The video is a big file (50+MB) but a good tutorial.
Download page:

Measurement Uncertainty: Everyone testing fiber optics should understand that every measurement has some uncertainty - whether you are measuring loss, length, wavelength, power, etc. Knowing that uncertainty is very important to interpreting the measurement. It's worthwhile to read and understand the issue of measurement accuracy covered in this page of the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.


Worth Reading or Watching:

What Is The FOA?
Hear FOA President Jim Hayes tell the FOA Story in a 2-part interview by Sound & Video Contractor Contributing Editor Bennett Liles. It tells about the FOA history, goals and achievements.
Part 1:  
Part 2

Australia's Standard Is Comprehensive Guide To Customer Cabling (Get your copy free)

In answering a recent technical questino, Trevor Conquest in Australia pointed to the Australian Standard  "Installation Requirements For Customer Cabling." When we checked, it is on the web and can be downloaded. It's a big book - 220 pages - full of details for fiber and copper installations. We recommend you download yourself a copy - go here.

AU Std

Demystify fiber inspection probe technical specifications - From EXFO
The intent of this application note is to promote a better understanding of video inspection probe specifications and features. Properly understanding the key specifications and features will greatly facilitate the decision process involved in acquiring such devices. Understanding the key aspects of fiber inspection probes will also help users understand how fiber inspection probes operate, thus enabling them to maximize the full potential of these devices. Read more.

Data Center Cabling
Opticonix, a cabling systems manufacturer, has two guides on data center cabling, one for Cisco products and one for Arista products. Both are based on parallel MM fiber solutions and illustrate the care needed to keep all those parallel fibers straight. Read more.

EXFO Poster For 100G Systems
EXFO's 100G reference poster, which provides a quick, yet comprehensive view of 100G line side modulation schemes and impairments. In addition, it  can help you quickly grasp 40G/100G Ethernet (IEEE 802.3ba), OTU4/OTU3 (ITU-T G.709) and 40G/100G interfaces. You can view a PDF version of the poster here.

Where In The US Do Contractors Need Licenses For Fiber Optics?

We often get asked where in the US do contractors doing fiber optic installations need licenses. We found a good website for that information, the NECA -NEIS website. You might remember NECA-EIS, as they are the partner with the FOA in the NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard. NECA is the National Electrical Contractors Association and NEIS stands for National Electrical Installation Standards. They have a very easy to use map and table that gives you data on every state in the US, so mark these pages for future reference.

NECA/NEIS (See “State Regulations”) (all electrical licensing)
Low Voltage:

Fiber Support For Small Cells
Small cells are becoming very important for cellular coverage. Read this JDSU report published by Lightwave.

Networks Today: 80% on cable, 20% wireless, Networks Tomorrow: 20% on cable, 80% wireless
Dimension Data this week released its annual Network Barometer Report 2013, which evaluates the readiness of enterprise networks to support critical business operations. The announcement, made during the Cisco Live user conference in Orlando, Fla.

(The gentlemen looking at a bundle of copper cables must be illustrating the industry's nostalgia for old copper technology!)

You can download the Dimension Data report here.

How Is Fiber Manufactured?

Manufacturing fiber at OFS

OFS invites you on a tour of their multimode fiber manufacturing facilities in this new 5-minute video. You will see their highly automated manufacturing operation in Sturbridge, Mass., including their patented MCVD preform fabrication process to fiber draw and final product testing. With a technological heritage dating back to AT&T and Bell Labs, OFS has been manufacturing high-quality multimode fiber since 1981.
Watch the video here.

Want To Know Where Submarine Fiber Optic Cables Run?

There is a good map online by TeleGeography you can access here.

Benchmarking Fusion Splicing And Selecting Singlemode Fiber
We've been asked many times "How long does it take to splice a cable?" It's not a simple answer as it varies with the number of fibers in the cable and the work setup, including whether one or two techs are working at a job site. FOA Master Instructor Joe Botha of Triple Play in South Africa did his own analysis based on decades of experience both splicing cables and teaching others how to do it properly. This is one of the best analyses we have seen because Joe includes prep times as well as splicing times and differentiates between one tech and two techs working together. He adds some other tips on fusion splicing too. This should be mandatory reading for every tech and given to every student! Here is Joe's splicing analysis. 

Joe also has an excellent writeup on how to choose singlemode fiber that helps understanding the different types of G.6xx fiber. Read it here.
And you will want to read Joe's report on splicing different types of SM fiber, including bend-insensitive (G.657) fiber. Read it here.

Videos on Firestopping: These free videos from UL and the International Firestop Council are good tutorials on firestopping. Go here to view the videos.

Micro-Trenching, Cable Removal
Nano-Trench offers products for micro (or I guess they call it nano-) trenching and their website is very informative. They also have Kabel-X, a method of extracting copper cables from old conduit. Both websites are informative and interesting. Watch this video on the cable removal process!

Free - Mike Holt's Explanation Of The US National Electrical Code (NEC) For Communications Cables
Mike Holt is the acknowledged expert of the US National Electrical Code (NEC). His books and seminars are highly praised for their ability to make a very complicated standard (that is in fact Code - law - in most areas of the US) easily understood. Part of the appeal is Mike's great drawings that make understanding so much easier. Mike makes Chapter 8 of his book available free. It covers communications cables, telephones, LANs, CATV and CCTV, for premises applications. Even if you live in a region or country where the NEC is not the law, you may find this interesting.
Download Mike's Chapter Here

Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube
ITW Chemtronics has three fiber optic cleaning videos on videos covering Dry CleaningWet-Dry Method, FiberWash and Combination Cleaning. They are good explanations of cleaning processes - the Wet-Dry is especially interesting.

Westover Application Notes And Cleaning Video
Westover has several application notes on inspecting and cleaning fiber optic connectors. The video is a big file (50+MB) but a good tutorial.
Download page:

A Documentary Treasure on the History of the Internet
15 minutes of a rarely-seen BBC documentary demolish the myth that ARPAnet was inspired by nuclear war, and explain the far more intriguing truth.

Ensuring Distance Accuracy On OTDR Measurements

JDSU Reference Guide to Fiber Optic TestingJDSU Fiber Optic Testing Volume 2
Volume 1 focuses on Basic Fiber testing and Volume 2 is geared toward fiber optic installers, project managers, telecom technicians and engineers who need to understand fiber networks. Volume 2 also covers Chromatic Dispersion, Polarization Mode Dispersion, Attenuation Profile and Fiber Link and Network Characterization. A 3rd volume, a glossary of fiber optic terms, is also available for download.
This is a "MUST HAVE" for all fiber optic techs. Download your free copies here.
We used this book as one of our references in creating a new page in the FOA Online Reference Guide on chromatic dispersion (CD) and polarization-mode dispersion (PMD).

Download yourself a copy and read it

Good Technical Website For Installers
American Polywater ( has one of the best technical website for cable installers. Check out their website, especially “Videos,” “Engineer’s Corner” and  “Calculators.”

Fiber Optic Safety Poster
We've had numerous requests to reprint our guidelines on safety when working with fiber optics, so we have created a "Safety Poster" for you to print and post in your classroom, worksite, etc. We suggest giving a copy to every student and installer.


" Heard on the Street" is a monthly online newsletter from Frank Bisbee of Communications Planning Corporation  that covers the telecommunications and cabling businesses. Each month includes news from manufacturers, trade associations and professional societies like the FOA. You can read the current issue and back issues online.

JDSU Webinar series
JDSU has announced the See the Light webinar series, a four-part program designed for anyone involved in the installation, maintenance, and repair of fiber optic systems. It begins with fiber inspection and cleaning and then covers the basics of fiber testing. The webinar series then continues with the more advanced optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) and fiber local area network (LAN) testing challenges. More information on the series.

IGI is offering a series of webinars on topics of interest to those in the communications industry. You can join them live ir download from the archives. IGI WEBINAR ARCHIVES UP AND RUNNING - VISIT TELECOMBRIEFINGS.COM TO DOWNLOAD!
IGI, a major market research and technology reporting company (the "Active Optical Cables" below)  is offering a a free one year subscription to one of our fiber optics newsletters to FOA members.  All they have to do is to send IGI an e-mail stating which newsletter they would like to get. See for a listing of IGI Newsletters.


FOA Tech Topics - 

A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?  (See the video on Corning on YouTube )
Yes! The camera in your 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.
IR Viewer 850 nm  IR Viewer 1300 nm

If you have an old cell phone, try it too. 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 phone into the toolbox.


Product News

Need A Fiber Optic Cable That's Waterproof And Floats?

fiber that floats

Linden Photonics can help you. The specialize in special underwater cables for towed vehicles or ROVs. Read more.

How To Make Space For More Cables In Full Conduits

Traditionally, underground fiber has been placed in plastic innerducts in conduit. About a decade ago, MaxCell "fabric" innerducts were introduced. They provided the protection needed during installation and greatly increased the availabe space in conduit. Recently, the company has introduced an interesting technique to remove plastic innerduct in place to make more space for cables in current ducts.

Here are photos from a MaxCell YouTube video showing what we are describing.

Before, with innerduct in place:


After, with the MaxCell innerduct and more cables:


We suggest you watch the overview:

Then watch some actual examples of the innerduct removal process:

A Really Bright Visual Fault Locator


SKY Technologies recently sent us a VFL to evaluate. With a VFL, you need quite a bit of power to see splices and through some cable jackets, even MM orange (the cable in the photo) but especially other colors, so high power is an advantage. This VFL is the brightest we have seen - bright enough that you want to ensure it's aimed away from your eyes when you turn it on! It has CE and RoHS approval. Model FT650H-50B. Contact SKY for more information.

SKY Technologies Inc.

Design Software for FTTH

At the recent FTTH Council meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana, we talked to Tim Barron, a consultant working with Network Design Decisions, Inc. (NDDI), a subsidiary of the global IT company Velankani Communications Technologies. NDDI  provides a unique FTTx software capital planning tool called NOCPlan that allows the user to design, scope, and cost-out a new neighborhood or city-wide fiber project.  It identifies demand points, optimizes where the OLTs, splitters, and fiber should be installed, generates a Bill of Material (BOM) and produces a total project cost for equipment and fiber construction.
According to Tim, “Many large service providers I typically talk to reveal that they still do this design work manually, and that what takes them a month to do could be accomplished in two or three days using NOCPlan.”

If you are designing a FTTH system, NOCplan might be worth consideration.
Tim Barron

or Kermit Ross

Switch For Testing MTP/MPO Cables
Fibernext has introduced a portable switch for testing multifiber MTP/MPO connectors. You can also watch the YouTube video here.


Recycling Communications Cable

FOA was contacted by a company that recycles electronics communications equipment and cabling. CommuniCom recycles cable/metals/e-waste for Telcos and CATVs. They also recycle Fiber Optic Cable and associated Materials (the fiber scrap). And, they reclaim OSP abandoned copper cables (abandoned from road moves or FTTx growth). This is a huge part of our business. They do the work (permitting/locates/labor) for free and we revenue share back with our clients (telcos).

Contact Steve Maginnis
803.371.5436 (cell)

Micro-Trenching, Cable Removal
Nano-Trench offers products for micro (or I guess they call it nano-) trenching and their website is very informative. They also have Kabel-X, a method of extracting copper cables from old conduit. Both websites are informative and interesting. Watch this video on the cable removal process!

Protecting Pedestals From Rodents
Pedestals and underground vaults can be damaged by rodents who come up through the base and damage cables. Uraseal "Drain N'Seal" foam deters mice from taking up residence in your pedestals. They have some good videos on using their product.

Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

Have you read the FOA Tech Topics on Cleaning?

As much as 70% of the problems associated with deploying fiber result from something as simple as dirty connectors according to JDSU. Telephony Online.

US Conec's videos on cleaning fibers - show's the results of proper cleaning.

  • Westover 
  • AFL
    ITW Chemtronics

    Cleantex Alco Pads




    FTTH Notes:

    Many States In the US Restrict Municipal Networks

    As reported in the website "Community Broadband Networks," many municipalities are creating their own networks, including FTTH like Chattanooga and Clarksville, TN, etc. But in 19 of the US states, there are laws that handicap municipalities or outright ban their offering "telecom" services. (See the list of laws compiled by Optica here.) Obviously, these laws were passed to protect the (usually monopoly) telecom and CATV providers who do not want competition. But they also make it difficult or impossible for many areas to get broadband.

    Does anybody know if these laws prohibit a municipality from building a fiber network and then leasing it to an Internet service provider? Obviously, FTTH needs good lawyers too.

    FTTH in MDUs (Multiple Dwelling Units)

    When we talk about FTTH, we often assume we are installing the fiber to a “home” where it terminates in a optical line terminal (OLT) and services (voice, data and video) are delivered inside the subscriber’s "home." But since we may have detached single-family homes, row houses or living units in a large building, the situations can be quite different, requiring different architectures and installation practices. To clarify the options for fiber in MDUs, FOA has created a new page in our FTTx section of the FOA Guide to explain the options.

    FTTH in MDUs

    FOA Guide: FTTH in MDUs  
    Testing FTTH
    JDSU shows how to test a PON with an OTDR:
    Want To Learn More About FTTx?
    The FOA has created a special FTTx resources section of our website with a FTTx links page with lots of links to news, market reports, technical articles and vendor technical and product information. Here is a great place to start learning more about FTTx.
    FOA's CFxT FTTx Certification Program Explained
    Read the Broadband Properties article about the FOA FTTx certification program. Read the article about FOA President Jim Hayes being honored for his work promoting FTTH.

     Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

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

    See for more information

    National Fiber Optic Protection Summit by the "811" group.

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


    Employment/Job Listings

    Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

    Fiber Optic Installation Banner

    The FOA was chartered to "promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards." Our focus on creating a professional workforce to properly design, install, maintain and repair communications network infrastructure has led us to work with groups in many different areas of technology that use fiber optics, way beyond the basic telecom applications that most of us think of first. FOA has probably worked with most of the potential applications of fiber optics, but we're always learning about new ones!
    In addition, we get lots of calls and emails from our members looking for information about where the jobs are and how to train for them. FOA has created three ways to help you find jobs, train for them and apply for them.

    Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?
    FOA has created a 20 minute YouTube video that talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs are involved and the qualifications for the workers in the field. Besides telecom and the Internet, we cover wireless, cable TV, energy, LANs, security, etc. etc. etc. It's a quick way to get an overview of the fiber optic marketplace and we give you an idea of where the opportunities are today.

    Watch the new FOA YouTube Video: Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

    What Training Is Needed For The Jobs In Fiber Optics?
    As you will learn from the video described above, the jobs in fiber optics are quite diverse. FOA has investigated these jobs to understand the needs of workers for those jobs and, when necessary, create curriculum and certifications to properly train workers. For example, the FOA FTTx certification was developed at the request of Verizon who needed specialized installers for their FiOS program. Now we are working with the industry on the OLAN (Optical LAN) program (see below).
    We have summarized the jobs and required training in a new web page that has two uses - 1) If you have FOA certifications, what jobs are you specifically qualified for? - 2) If you are working in a specialized field or want to get a job in that area, what training and certifications will qualify you for those jobs?
    What Training And Certifications Are Needed For Jobs In Fiber Optics? 

    How To Find And Apply For Jobs In Fiber Optics
    We get many questions from CFOTs, students at FOA-Approved schools and others contemplating getting into the fiber optic business regarding jobs in fiber optics - and how to find them - so we’ve created a new web page to share some information we've gathered about jobs in our industry. The information is designed to help you understand what jobs are available in fiber optics, how to find them and apply for them.
    If you are looking for a job in fiber optics, here is the FOA's guide to jobs. 

    We hope you find this useful. FOA tries to find new to increase the professionalism in our industry and helping qualified people find jobs is our highest priority - read the article below to see why! If you have feedback on how we can help you and our industry, contact us at

    Join FOA on 
    FOA on LinkedIn

    A list of 10 ways to get your resume noticed, from Marketplace on NPR   

    Job Openings


    We are seeking full-time, experienced fiber splicer's to maintain and expand the Verizon FiOS network.

    Primary responsibilities for this position:

    Splicing fiber optic cable using signal and mass fusion equipment.
    • Testing using a OTDR , power meter and light source, light identifier.
    • Maintain existing plant without causing signal failure interruptions.
    • Maintain project tracking information (production sheets, time sheets and customer required paperwork)
    • Maintain a safe work environment.

    Completing and testing the following work orders.
    • DOR
    • No lights
    • BAU
    • FTTP

    Required skills/qualifications:
    • Minimum of 2 years experience.
    • Efficiently troubleshoot and test Verizon's fiber optic network.
    • Proficient in the use of signal and mass fusion equipment.
    • Understand construction prints and splice schematics.
    • Able to work in aerial and underground conditions.
    • Able to work nights and weekends when the job requires.
    • Must have a valid drivers license and vehicle insurance.

    Required tools:
    • All techs are required to drive their personal vehicle, and have the following tools.
    • 28' fiberglass extension ladder with hooks and "V".
    • Basic hand tools
    • Manhole setup including: blower, cage..

    Technicians will be working in the CAMARILLO and THOUSAND OAKS area.

    All applicants must pass a DMV and Background check, and will be subject to random drug test.

    Pay- Competitive unit rates, pay is weekly.

    Please submit you resume/work history via e-mail:

    Contact David Pahia -- (714)-615-4671

    David Pahia
    GSI Field Supervisor
    Gulbranson Services Inc.
    14369 Park Ave Suite 201B
    Victorville, Ca. 92392

    FOA lists jobs and contracting opportunities on our LinkedIn groups. CFOTs are invited to join.

     Do listings in the FOA Newsletter Work? Here's feedback:

    "We did great!  We have over 15 interviews next week."

    "Your newsletter generated a significant number of applicants and we have filled the position."



     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.


    FOA Certification Top Choice

    The FOA CFOT and CFOS programs continue to gain momentum in fiber optics. Over 36,000 CFOTs (December 2011) have been certified by over 250 schools. Since our founding in July, 1995, we have dedicated ourselves to promoting fiber optics and professionalism in fiber optics personnel, focusing on education and certification. We are continuing to add new schools and more CFOTs as users of fiber optics learn that a CFOT is the indication of a professional, well-trained fiber optic technician. Now with FTTH (fiber to the home) finally taking off, demand for CFOTs is rising and schools are responding by expanding programs rapidly.
    The FOA now has approved programs in place at 200+ organizations, welcoming new additions like the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Corning Cable Systems and AFL (and their new acquisition "The Light Brigade" for their installation training programs) and NASA's Goldstone Tracking Station. The complete list of FOA-Approved schools is at


    Understanding FOA Certifications
    To answer questions on FOA certifications, we have several web pages:
    Overview of FOA certifications
    Training Requirements - What Schools Are Teaching
    Reading these will help you understand what each FOA certification covers and how to prepare for them.

    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.


    Remember To Renew Your Certification !

    Remember to renew your FOA certification. All current CFOTs have a ID Card with their certification data and we keep a database of current CFOTs to answer inquiries regarding your qualifications if needed.  If you forgot to renew, use the online application form to renew NOW!

    You can now renew your FOA certification online - and get an extra month free. Details here.



    To Contact The FOA:
    The Fiber Optic Association
    1119 S Mission Road, # 355
    Fallbrook, California 92028 USA
    Office Hours 10AM-5 PM Pacific Time, Monday to Friday
    Telephone: 760-451-3655
    Fax: 781-207-2421

    You can now renew your FOA certification online - and get an extra month free. Details here.

    Want to write for the FOA Newsletter? Send us articles, news, anything you think might be interesting to the rest of the membership!

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