Time to Renew!
For most FOA members, it's time to check the expiration date on your FOA membership card and remember to renew before that date. Don't delay! You need to continue to be an active member of the FOA in order to maintain your CFOT certification and be eligible for advanced CFOS certifications (see below)
As a member of The FOA, you are a member of the Professional Society for fiber optics. It's Board of Advisors is made up of the leading professionals and trainers who represented a virtual "brain trust" of fiber optic expertise. The organization is growing and expanding its services to better serve the needs of its members.
New FOA Initiatives Include:
The advanced "Certified Fiber Optic Specialist" program which is available to all members who have passed the CFOT program and are looking to demonstrate their higher level of competence in the fiber optic field.
The FOA's new "Certified Fiber Optic Instructor" program.
The online store where members can purchase books and videos at discounted prices, educational materials and FOA merchandise
An new, expanded online newsletter covering fiber optic technology, industry news and events, training programs and other news of interest to the membership is now posted monthly.
The FOA is taking an active role in industry standards activities. These standards affect every aspect of fiber optic technology - the FOA will keep you up-to-date. See the note below on the new NECA/FOA installation standard.
How to Renew?
There are two ways you can renew:
1. Go to the new FOA online store at
2. You can also fill out the application form which will be in the newsletter now being sent to you and mail or fax it back to the FOA office to pay by check or credit card.
BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR MEMBERSHIP NUMBER! Your membership card shows the expiration date of your membership and it also shows your member number and all your certifications.
Have you personalized your FOA card. It's designed to be laminated with your photo, as FOA President Jim Hayes's card has been done here.
NECA/FOA Fiber Optic Installation
The revised NECA/FOA standard for the installation of optical fiber cabling systems is in final review and should be published early in 2003. This standard defines what is meant in the NEC by "installed in a neat and workmanlike manner."
Once published, the standard will be available from the FOA and we urge every member doing installations to get a copy and follow its guidelines to produce a professional installation.
When's The Recovery Coming In Fiber Optics?
Last year the angry attendees
at KMI Research's Newport Meeting, a fiber optic industry marketing
meeting, practically attacked the speakers, wanting to know why
they were not warned ahead of time that the fiber optic industry
was about to go under. This year, I attended the opening session
of the same meeting to see what the analysts were saying about
the future and what the mood of the attendees was this year.
Throughout the session I attended, there was a noticeable underlying tension in the meeting room. The speakers I heard, all market researchers with golden credentials presented data for two solid hours before the questioning began.
Almost all the data was the same. The "optical fiber industry bubble" tracked the "telecom bubble" which followed the "Internet bubble." All were tightly connected, as the telecom industry grew like crazy to keep up with the forecasts for increased usage of the Internet and the fiber optic industry tried to catch up with telecom's requests for massive quantities of the latest technology to deliver the services. (Remember Worldcom was frequently quoted as saying that Internet traffic was growing at 1000% per year a few years ago, but unfortunately, we all now know how truthful Worldcom execs were with the press and public! )
The analysts presented historic data explaining why the fiber optic industry was in such bad shape. The graph (schematically shown here) showed consistent growth of about 25% per year for almost 10 years, then grew 400% between 1995 and 2000. The total drop in 2001-2002 will amount to 60-70% - about 40% per year - setting the industry back about 5 years to the volume of 1997!
After all this bad news, new data was presented for their forecasts for the next 5 years. They forecast "growth will be slower going forward, 10-15%/year."
The question period was busy. Nobody questioned their historical data, but there was notable skepticism about their forecasts for the future. Part of their justification for the numbers was "that's just what people are telling us."
No wonder the crowd was skeptical. The papers are still full of more news of telecom and optical fiber company financial woes and layoffs. Telephone operating companies were talking about massive cutbacks in capital expenditures.
Talking to some of the attendees and analysts, there appeared to be some bright spots. The multimode fiber business is holding its own. Premises cabling for security and LANs is growing well. With the new 10Gb Ethernet standard only calling for fiber, many network users are finally considering fiber seriously. Dropping component costs are helping make fiber easier to justify in premises applications too.
Bottom line: Telecom's future is cloudy but premises cabling is doing OK.
Fiber Prices Continue Fall
Corning's latest financial reports indicates a 17% drop in average price for fiber in the last quarter and a potential similar drop this quarter. While this might be good news for users, it's not too good for the industry as a whole. Feedback says the same thing is happening in sources for transmitters, with VCSELs about as cheap as 850 LEDs and 1300 LEDs half the price they were just about a year ago.
EIA/TIA Standards Groups Merge
For over 20 years, two EIA/TIA
standards groups have focused on fiber optics: FO-2 covered fiber
optic systems and FO-6 covered components. The two groups have
always had some confusion on charters and what each should cover,
so they have finally been merged and several groups will consolidate.
The new group is called FO-4, of course, the average of 4 and
They will still produce all the testing and component standards as before, along with system design guidelines and deal with performance and reliability issues for systems.
New FO Eye Safety Standard
A new international standard,
IEC 60825-1 has been passed that covers eye safety in FO systems.
It's main change is to increase the power at 850 nm to -1.3 dBm
to coordinate with the 10 gigabit Ethernet standard for new-generation
50/125 fiber using VCSELs that allows 300m link lengths. This
power level is increased 2.4 dB over the previous standard.
The US standard for eye safety in FO systems, ANSI Z136.2 is under revision to coordinate with the IEC standard.
Fiber Optics To Enhance Astronomical Observations
Jodrell Bank Observatory in the
UK, one of the most prestigious radio astronomy facilities in
the world, is expanding is large baseline observing network using
optical fiber. Today, they use microwave connections, but using
fiber will allow the expansion of the network and higher data
rates needed for more detailed observations. See
A New Reason To Consider Laser-Optimized 50/125 Fiber
The next generation of multimode
fiber is a 50/125 fiber with very high bandwidth at 850 nm (~2000
MHz-km, compared to 160 MHz-km for FDDI grade 62.5/125 and 500
MHz-km for current 50/125 fiber). While it's mainly aimed at the
10 gigabit Ethernet application, it has some more advantages not
Using this fiber, Gigabit Ethernet can go 1000 meters instead of 250 m on FDDI fiber or 500 m on the current 50/125 fiber.
But perhaps even better, the new 100Base-SX, Fast Ethernet using 850 LEDs, can go up to 2 km on the new fiber, as opposed to 300 m on FDDI fiber. That's the same distance as 10 Mb/s Ethernet goes on FDDI fiber.
So maybe it's time to reconsider going to 50/125 fiber - as long as the support issues ( documentation identifying it to prevent mixing with 62.5/125 fiber, stocking patchcords, etc.) are well covered.
The First FOA Fiber Optic "Train-The-Trainer" Program And Our New Certified Fiber Optic Instructors
Did you miss the story in our last newsletter? Click on the photo for the details.
Want To Get FOA Email?
We have been asked if we could send the FOA newsletter by email or post it on the website. We are looking into that and will definitely get one started soon. When you renew, you will be asked if you are interested in email newsletters and if so, you will be asked to give your email address for us to use in a mailing list. If you want to get started now, send an email to email@example.com with the subject "eMail List"
Note that The FOA never releases its mailing lists for any use! Your data is always safe with us.
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