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September 2023

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FOA's Role In Education
Types Of Work Performed by Fiber Techs
Weather And Fiber Optics, Part 2
More Disasters To Worry About
Preparation For Disaster Recovery
Good Lessons About Restoration
Safety When Working In Extreme Heat
New Fiber U MiniCourse - Jargon
FOA Schools Map
Links To Resources On Broadband

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

FOA Instructors Are Interesting People
CFOT Course In Spanish
FOA In International Business Magazine
Insider Info
Autonomous Vehicles Disabled By 5G
Recognized as a Telecom Tech

Fiber Sensors Integrated Into Clothing
Illegal To Sell Counterfeit Cables Online
Scouts Send Morse Code Over Fiber
POF Conference Comes To Ireland

Insider Info On Cables
Proposal To "Modernize" The NEC
Fiber Sensors For Water/Sewer Pipes
FTTH Drop Cables
Learning From A Cable Scrap
New Tool For Wet/Dry Cleaning
Problems with Old and New Cbles
Managing Projects - Gantt Charts
FOA Color Code Guides
FOA Online Loss Budget Calculator

Worth Reading  Lots of interesting articles

Q&A    Questions from our readers

Always Interesting!

New FOA-Approved Schools,
Fiber U MiniCourses
New FOA Technical Resources


About the FOA

FOA Certified Techs

CFOT Total

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?
Special offer - 1/3 Off Renewal

See FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
The FOA Jobs Web Page has been updated and a new page added on Using your FOA Training/Certification to Find the Right Job in Fiber Optics

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the qualifications for the workers in the field in this YouTube video.

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 message charges apply)

Trademarks: The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online learning site) are registered trademarks of the FOA.
FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French

FOA Reference
                          Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA
                          Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA
                          Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book FOA
                          Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference
                          Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book
                        on Fiber Optic Testing FOA
                            Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction
                            Guide  Lennie Lightwave

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.
                        Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle
                        Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.
Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos on videos

FOA is a member of:

TIA Online

The FOA Newsletter is edited by Jim Hayes - send your stories, leads, ideas, comments to <jim @>
Jim Hayes

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Top Stories From The Past FOA Newsletters

The Archives: Past Issues.
Use these links to read past issues or use FOA's  Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
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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

Highlights from the FOA Newsletter in 2022  

Multiple bullets hit Xfinity fiber cable, causing outage in Oakland   (February 22)
More Thoughts On Broadband For Rural Areas (March 22) (June 22)
Fiber Optics In The Movies - Star Wars Special Effects (March 22)
Fiber Optics Again Helps Find A Famous Shipwreck (April 22)
Thinking About A Fiber Optic Project?  Better Get Started Soon (April 22)
AT&T Says Good-bye To Copper (April 22)
More Pole Stories And Photos (May 22)
Why Stop At Gigabits? Let's Design Fiber Networks For Terabits (July 22)
Understanding The Fiber Optic Workforce (August 22)
Does the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) truly benefit people in rural America? (September 22)
Can Wireless Compete With Fiber? Satellites? (October 22)
What is Certification/How Do you Learn (November 22)
School Special Issue (with photos) (December 22)

New Fiber U Self Study Programs

Fiber Characterization (for long distance, high speed networks)
Minicourses: Attenuators, Reference Cables, Project Management 
Fiber Optic Jargon
December 2022 Special Feature: A Salute To FOA's Schools And Training Organizations  

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?

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

Renew online with a credit card or PayPal

Join FOA On  Social Media

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has 3 LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official page on LinkedIn - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)

August may be vacation month but it was busy in fiber optics!

Don't miss News and Technical this month!

The New BLS "Telecommunications Technicians" Web Page Is Live. 

FOA haws been working with the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics for two decades to update the job listings for fiber optics and telecom and finally we have a new job category! The new Occupational Outlook web pages for the new category of "Telecommunications Technician" offer job descriptions  for fiber optic and wireless techs and better job statistics that put some reality in discussions about how many more fiber techs the US needs. It also provides a reference for grants applications.

The New BLS "Telecommunications Technicians" Web Page.

FOA's Role In Education

Not surprisingly, when many people think of FOA, they first think of the CFOT®, the FOA Certified Fiber Optic Technician certification and recognize FOA as a certifying body. CFOT is a certification that has been achieved by over 92,000 fiber optic techs worldwide, making FOA the most recognized certifying body for fiber optics. But FOA is more than a certifying body, we are also the world's largest source of independent, dependable fiber optic information. And it is always free to everyone.

The charter of the FOA has always been "To promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards."

Building A Fiber Optic Knowledge Base 
When we began working on the CFOT certification, we noted the lack of information written for fiber optic  technicians; every book available at the time was written for university researchers (and nothing was online; there were not many websites in 1995 - the FOA website was one of the first 30,000 or so!) Our first project at FOA was to gather up information on installation from the FOA founders who were subject matter experts and create our own textbook for training techs.


FOA published its first textbook for fiber techs, The Fiber Optic Technicians Manual, in 1997. The book on premises cabling that covered copper and fiber cabling plus wireless, Data, Voice and Video Cabling, came out 4 years later.

Around the same time, FOA began using our large number of technical advisors and subject matter experts around the world to create an online knowledge base about fiber optics. That knowledge base has grown to be the largest online independent source of information on fiber optic communications in the world. Today, FOA's Online Guide has almost 1000 pages of technical material and about 3.5 to 4 million page downloads every year from about a half-million visitors. The FOA Guide continues to grow, adding new pages and updating older ones on a continual basis.

With all the information in the
FOA Online Guide,  FOA started Fiber U online, our free online learning website that is used by tens of thousands of techs monthly, studying for FOA certifications, preparing for classes in fiber optics and learning for OJT. Today, Fiber U offers 3 dozen free online courses, some aimed to prepare for FOA certifications and the rest on topics of interest in fiber optics. 

All FOA Books

In 2009, FOA began self-publishing its own textbooks. FOA wanted to be able to update material on a faster schedule than a commercial publisher would allow and
to keep prices lower than typical textbooks. Using the new technology of "publish on demand," allowed FOA to create books fast and update the text as needed to keep up with technology. The FOA textbooks cover important topics in fiber optics and function as study guides for the FOA certifications. We hate to brag but they are all highly rated (>4.5) on Amazon by those who purchase them!

Because FOA is an international organization, we offer many of our books and web pages in multiple  languages: English; Spanish, French and Portuguese. And we allow our schools to translate materials into their local languages as needed.

Because FOA was created by those in the industry to help build a workforce for the fiber optic telecommunications industry, we wanted the information we provided to be free to all, as it is today. The

FOA Online Guide and Fiber U remain free to everyone and all our books are affordable.

Today, FOA is where the world goes to get technical information on fiber optics.

The Types of Work Done By Fiber Techs

FOA install banner

 What is a fiber optic technician? What kinds of work do they do? Those topics were the center of FOA discussions with the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics that led to the new job category of "Telecommunications Technician" that will debut on the BLS website this month. The focus of this job category is primarily the installation and operation of the fiber optic cable plant, but one should not forget the cable plant must be designed also as part of a more extensive communications network.

In our discussion with the BLS analysts, we pointed out the various stages of a fiber optic communications network project and how techs with various knowledge and skill sets are needed and involved in every step. Here is how FOA defines these stages of a project and the skills of the techs. This is not unique to FOA; it's what has been traditional at telecom companies forever.

Planning and Design: Once needs for a communications network is established, project managers will be responsible for all the details of the project while experienced fiber techs trained and experienced in fiber optic network design (CFOS/D) will design the cable plant itself. (FOA Guide - Design)

Construction: Aerial cable plants may require installing new poles or doing make-ready on existing poles and messengers. Underground construction requires trenching and installation of ducts. In many cases the actual construction is done by general construction workers, as the construction work in many cases is not unique to fiber optics. Heavy machinery is required for much of the construction work and training is focused on safety as well as operating the machinery. (FOA Guide - Construction)

Fiber Optic Cable Installers: Once the route is prepared, the fiber optic cable can be installed. Aerial cable installation depends on the type of cable. Regular OSP cable, figure 8 cable and ADSS cable requires special hardware and installation techniques so the techs must understand the process appropriate for each cable. (FOA Guide - Installation)

Splicers: Since the beginning, fiber techs have been called "splicers" because that was the original job unique to fiber optics. Construction and cable installation was not very different from earlier copper cables, but splicing was very different. Even today, fiber techs are often called splicers and splicing is a core skill for any fiber tech whether they are joining cables or terminating them. (FOA Guide - Splicing)

Testers: After the fiber optic cable is installed and spliced, it must be tested. Testing goes together with splicing since every splice will be tested, often as soon as it is made so if it needs redoing, it should be done before the splice closure is sealed. (FOA Guide - Testing)

Network Operators: Once the cable plant is built and the communications equipment installed, it needs techs who know how to operate the comms but may only know how to connect new gear or change connections on current gear. These techs should also know how to troubleshoot systems in an outage and either do the restoration themselves or call a tech who can. (FOA Guide - Operation)

These categories merely define the stages of installation of a fiber optic project. Of course there are subsets of these categories and most fiber techs are expected to have skills and jobs that cross into multiple groups, as FOA has defined in the KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) for a CFOT.

What an individual worker does differs according to their job. An independent fiber contractor may cover every job except operation and a FTTH subscriber installation tech may only understand installing cables, testing and connecting equipment within the scope of FTTH systems. A construction company may handle the trenching and even pole setting as well as parts of the traditional fiber work.

The FOA defined its role early on to focus on educating and certifying techs in the fiber specific skills: cable installation, splicing, testing and restoration. FOA would like to see more schools get into the construction phase, especially for newer techniques like microtrenching and blowing cable, but these require large outdoor areas for training and large investments in equipment. Most techs who learn these processes now do it with OJT - on-the-job-training - and hopefully get OSHA training for safety.

What's Weather Got To Do With Fiber Optics? Part 2

It's now late summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It's still setting records for hottest days and nights everywhere. News stories are warning everyone about the dangers of hot weather since some parts of the world are getting as hot as humans can tolerate. Last month, we said that hot weather almost always means wildfires, and wildfires are still burning in areas not generally associated with wildfires. We have had wildfires burning for months in Canada and this week wildfires were burning even in Hawaii, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Turkey and the Canary Islands and the Greek Isles.

Last month we mentioned it's time for the hurricane season to start in the mid-Atlantic and they are extremely disruptive to communications, likely to damage infrastructure in areas with lots of aerial cables. Below is a graphic example of how storms can be disruptive.

Aerial cable 
Besides disrupting electric service and communications south of Baltimore, there were over 30 cars trapped by these fallen poles and wires along this section of highway. Power was out for several days following this storm.

Come winter, northern areas will get cold; blizzards and ice storms become a hazard for infrastructure. Even artists like Sandow Birk recognize the problems with aerial cables in the winter.

Fixing frozen cables

It's not just aerial cables that are at risk. We've seen flooding in many areas during this very wet winter/spring and sea rise is threatening many coastal cities. That can cause problems with underground infrastructure if flooding has not been part of the design. And winter can bring a special set of problems to underground cables.

frozen splices

FOA has been sent several photos of splice closures like this one that filled with water and frozen solid, disrupting the network. FOA was even sent a photo of a flooded manhole that froze solid in a very cold winter. The question was how do you thaw up a frozen manhole; the answer was wait for springtime.

The FOA has always had technical information on preparing for and restoring network outages caused by the cable plant (FOA Guide on Restoration and Fiber U MiniCourse on Restoration), but with all the disruptive weather we have been having, several groups have contacted FOA to ask for advice on planning and designing networks to survive disasters. It's not a simple subject and there will be a wide variety of conditions to plan for, but it has become a very important topic.

More Disasters To Worry About:

Slashed fiber-optic cables blamed for phone, internet outages in SoCal’s high desert

Vandals cut fiber optic cables in the CA desert on Sunday August 13 causing many users to lose Spectrum Internet and cable TV services as well as Verizon wireless service. The location of the damage was found and service was restored later in the day.

Vandalism is always a problem with exposed cables, whether it is caused by cutting or target practice. Cables cut where they exit underground and go up poles can sometimes be difficult to repair.

Read more in the LA Times. 

and this.....

Airborne fish sparks New Jersey power outage, electricity company says


An incident involving a bird gave new meaning to the term “fish fry” after an electric company suspected an osprey of dropping its meal onto power lines – triggering an outage in a New Jersey neighborhood.

A fish that fell from a bird’s grip landed on a transponder in Sayreville, located just southwest of New York’s Staten Island, according to Jersey Central Power and Light Company spokesperson Chris Hoenig.

“Animal contact is a common cause of power outages; however, fish are not on the list of frequent offenders,” Hoenig told CNN.

Read more on CNN.

The Importance of  Preparation For Disaster Recovery

Like every fiber optic network installation project is unique, every network disaster recovery is unique. When a disaster strikes, the first concern is the safety of the people and as soon as possible restoring communications to assist in the recovery process. Paramount is having power for communications equipment, then setting up local communications systems. Once a basic network is restored, work can begin on rebuilding damaged infrastructure.

Disaster planning should be based on the local area. Any location in the world can evaluate the likely disaster scenarios and incorporate it into their planning, but don't forget about the unknown disaster that could happen.

Here in California we worry more about wildfires and earthquakes, although we were recently battered by a hurricane/tropical storm that dropped up to 10 inches (25cm) of rain in areas and caused flooding, mudslides and infrastructure damage. In the midst of the storm, the town of Ojai also suffered a 5.1 earthquake - the first recorded "hurriquake"!

The FOA technical information on preparing for and restoring network outages focuses on the cable plant (FOA Guide on Restoration and Fiber U MiniCourse on Restoration), but future work will focus on planning and designing networks to survive disasters.

Watch for future FOA work in this area.

Good Lessons About Restoration For Managers Of Infrastructure Projects

Philly road

When a section of a major highway in Philadelphia was damaged by a fire caused by a tank truck accident, estimates of the repair time were several months or more. In actuality, the road was repaired in 12 days, a fraction of the estimates. How did this happen?

The story was told in a recent article in the Washingotn Post written by Josh Shapiro, the Governor of Pennsylvania. The article tells the whole story well but summarizes how this project was done so quickly in just 4 points:

  1. Empower strong leadership
  2. Speed up the bureaucracy
  3. Encourage creativity
  4. Work together

The lessons learned here apply to any public works project including the typical broadband project. You need knowledgeable leaders who know what they are doing and how to get things done. You need the bureaucracies that are involved in permitting, for example, to understand the project and it's priority. Thinking creatively in a fiber project may involved installation techniques, component selection or even choosing to use a different network model, like building a "terabit city" for the future. Number 4 is obvious - a project involves many workers with different tasks, but they need to understand each of their roles and cooperate to get their part done in time for others to do theirs.

All this is always very important, but even more so with all the US infrastructure funding available that will involve public-private partnerships.

Safety While Working In Extreme Heat 

Temperatures above 100 degrees F (38 deg C) are no longer unusual in the summer. Techs working on fiber optic installations and their supervisors need to understand the risks of working in high heat and humidity and signs of worker health issues.

Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Symptoms of heatstroke may include rapid, shallow breathing, flushed red skin, headache, nausea and vomiting, racing heart rate, confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma - and death.

Heatstroke requires immediate emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death. While waiting for medical personnel, keep the person into the shade or cool areas indoors and cool the person with sprays or mists of water or cold ice packs.

Companies need to ensure employees understand the risks of working in high temperatures, a safety issue just like any other. There are many good websites like this one from the Mayo Clinic about heatstroke that explain what to look for and how to provide emergency treatment.

Heat Illness Banner

For more information on heat illness prevention, go to

New Fiber U MiniCourse - Fiber Optic Jargon

There is a new MiniCourse at Fiber U - Fiber Optic Jargon. Jargon is the most important thing you need to learn when you learn about a new technology. This short Fiber U MiniCourse is intended to introduce you to fiber optic jargon and make learning about fiber much easier. It's aimed at novices but is a good refresher for even experienced techs.

New Fiber U MiniCourse Fiber Optic Project Management  

FOA's World Map Of Approved Training Schools Updated  


FOA has updated its online interactive map showing the FOA approved schools around the world. The new map shows the location of FOA schools, allows zooming in on a location and now includes a search function that allows locating a school by name or location. Once you locate a school, you can click on the school name and link to their website.

FOA's School Map 

Latest FOA Book: Fiber Broadband (Paperback and Kindle)

FOA Guide To Fiber BroadbandHow does broadband work? Without fiber optics it would not work; even wireless has a fiber backbone. This book is not the typical FOA technical textbook - it is written for anyone who wants to understand fiber broadband or fiber optics or the Internet. It's also aimed at STEM teachers who want to include communications technology in their classes. This book will try to explain not only how fiber broadband works, but how it was developed. It is intended to be an introduction to communications technology appropriate for a communications course at almost any level (junior high, high school or college,) for managers involved with broadband projects, or for anyone who just wonders how all this stuff works.

The Fiber Optic Association Guide To Fiber Broadband   Paperback ($12.95) and Kindle ($9.95) versions available from Amazon or most booksellers. Kindle version is in color!

Cross Reference Guide to Textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U    FOA Videos Guide.

FOA  has a web page with resources on fiber broadband and the IIJA/BEAD funding programs.

FOA Newsletter Sections

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


Lots more news in Worth Reading below

FOA Instructors Are Interesting People

Over the years, we have written many stories about FOA instructors and their hobbies: scuba divers, treasure hunters, builders and pilots of homebuilt aircraft and of course car enthusiasts. The instructor at one of our new schools, Buckeye Hills Career Center in Rio Grande, Ohio, is Tim Henderson. Besides teaching FOA certification courses at Buckeye, Tim is assisting FOA in training new instructors in the Ohio schools being added to the FOA network.

Here is Tim, his wife Mary and 3 of their 6 grandchildren.

Tim Henderson

In his spare time, Tim is an antique enthusiast and part-time auctioneer. Tim is also a big fan of antique Ford Model A cars which he restores and shows. He has been an enthusiast for many years but became very active in the Model A field about ten years ago.Tim is president of the local Model A car club and trades parts - and cars - in local swap meets.

Meet "Penelope," Tim's 1929 Model A Ford "Leather Back" touring car.  Penelope won first prize in the Touring Class at this year's Model A Restorers' Club National Meet in West Chester, Ohio.

Penelope Penelope award

Of course as a real enthusiast, Tim is always looking for another. His latest acquisition came from one of his friends in the club, a 1931 Ford Model A Roadster which he just acquired last month. What a beauty!


And think, these cars are nearly a century old!

FOA CFOT Course For The Spanish-Speaking Community in Raleigh, NC

Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, NC offered a special FOA CFOT course recently for the local Spanish-speaking community. The course was taught by their instructor, Gilberto Guitarte who is from Argentina, using the FOA CFOT course curriculum which is available in Spanish. Here is Gilberto's report on the course:

"CFOT Spanish" started  last week with only 6 students ( and a half) which is great, because you can really follow each one on their progress and/or "Understand/No understand" stamped on their facial expressions and body postures. One that had enrolled (for a total of 7) could not make it due to workload demands... and "where did the 6 and a 1/2 come from, then?"..... well,  see picture below:

Student Yamilet from Cuba , is expecting baby Isabela ANY TIME NOW!. Partner Oscar (also a student originally from Cuba) is standing by her side holding hands in the picture.

We are all hoping for a healthy birth and betting for a great " future fiber technician Isabela ! "

Gilberto CFOT Class In SPanish

From Left ro right:
Adan (Mexico), Giancarlo(Venezuela), Geronimo (Republica Dominicana),Jose (Venezuela) Yamilet (Cuba), Oscar (Cuba)
Sitting down.. Instructor Gilberto Guitarte (Argentina)

FOA Featured In International Business Magazine


FOA President Jim Hayes was interviewed by Business View Magazine, an international business publication covering all types of businesses for their July 2023 issue. The large amount of press given to fiber optics for broadband communications and the discussions of a need for more trained and certified workers led Business View to the FOA.

The article covers how the FOA was started in 1995 to build a workforce for fiber optic expansion during the building of the Internet and how it expanded worldwide to assist service providers in training workers who have been building the fiber optic networks we depend on for communications today.

mafaxine cover

Read the complete article in Business View Magazine  

Insider Info

From a reliable source within the industry: Within a couple of years, the old inflexible  hard ribbon cables will be extinct. Everything will be flexible ribbons and mostly 200 micron fibers and BI (bend insensitive) fibers (G.657). Besides changing how these cables are handled, one thing will be lost - the ability to print ID info on the ribbons so matching fibers to splice will be more difficult.

Autonomous Vehicles in San Francisco Disabled By 5G Congestion

Autonomous vehicles have been having troubles in San Francisco. There were protests because the state of California approved expansion of robot taxi service by Cruise (General Motors) and Waymo (Alphabet/Google) in spite of problems with the autonomous cars interactions with emergency vehicles.

Almost immediately after the state approved expansion of the robotaxi service, bad things began happening.

A Cruise robotaxi ignored construction signs and cones and drove into a section of street just repaired by concrete, sinking into the wet concrete and getting stuck.

Cruise robotaxi stuck in cement 

Another Cruise robotaxi collided with a fire truck at an intersection in San Francisco. The robotaxi had a green light but failed to yield a fire truck on an emergency call with lights flashing coming into the intersection. The fire truck struck the robotaxi, injuring the passenger who had injuries that required an ambulance to a hospital. (The Verge)

But this is not about robotaxis, it's about 5G. San Francisco’s North Beach streets were blocked as a long line of approximately 10 Cruise robotaxis come to a standstill together for no apparent reason. The cars sat there motionless blocking the intersection for about 15 minutes before driving off. (Autotour)

robotaxis clog SF streets

Cruise blamed cellphone carriers for the problem. "A large festival posed wireless bandwidth constraints causing delayed connectivity to our vehicles. We are actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again. We apologize to those who were impacted," said a statement put out by Cruise on social media.

Remember the hype about 5G? It has so much bandwidth it would make autonomous vehicles be able to talk to the infrastructure and to each other. In fact 5G can become congested in a city easily. The blame for this incident was said to be a large crowd attending an event at Golden Gate park.

When large crowds gather and attendees use phones to share or watch video, it can require massive bandwidth to accommodate the thousands - or tens of thousands - of simultaneous connections. Typical wireless systems are designed for about a hundred users or less. In large stadiums or buildings used for events, large numbers of DAS nodes (distributed antenna system) are used to provide sufficient bandwidth. City parks generally are served by only a few small cells that can be easily overwhelmed by large numbers of users.

If autonomous vehicles must depend on 5G networks, a more extensive 5G network with the ability to assign priority to critical users (as is done with fire and safety services) is probably required.

(More information on how networks share networks and can become congested.)

You Will Now Be Recognized As A Telecom Tech

The New BLS "Telecommunications Technician" Website Will Be Available September 6

For two decades, the FOA has worked with the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to help define the job of fiber optic technicians. When we began, the BLS had put fiber optic technicians in a category with "Lineman," a term from a century ago that referred to installers of aerial electrical transmission and distribution cables. When telephone technicians were added, they went into that category since most cables were installed up in the air on poles too. Fiber installers just followed the copper telephone techs since fiber was replacing copper wires.

Around 2000, BLS contacted FOA to help define the job of a fiber optic tech and we began what became a long term project to define the jobs. From the beginning, we worked to help identify the differences between fiber techs and electrical lineman, something we knew well because of our close relationship with the IBEW, NECA and their apprenticeship training programs, JATCs. But the combination of these two groups made getting good statistical data on the different jobs difficult.

Over this long time period, FOA has had many conversations with BLS personnel and helped to refine the job descriptions, but always quietly emphasizing the need to separate them. Finally this year, we had a new analyst contact us and we had new ammunition - the IIJA/BEAD programs - which was already on their minds. Everybody has been talking about the shortage of fiber techs needed to build out the broadband networks that are being funded (see below) so the importance of this job category was finally being recognized.

FOA submitted proposed revisions to the BLS job definition and had several long phone conversations. We explained that fiber techs were involved in several different parts of a project, designing, installing and operating the network. We explained the dependence of wireless on fiber and their dominance in modern communications. In these calls, the conclusion was that a new category would be for communications workers so we invited the CWA (Communications Workers of America) to participate. Together we worked out the details for a new category of Telecommunications Technicians that would include fiber optic and wireless techs working in a broad spectrum of jobs in communications.

Last month we heard from our BLS contact: 
We received approval on the title of “Telecommunications Technicians” for the new combined profile. My updates and revisions are going through the review process and the new profile will be released with our updated employment projections data on September 6th. I have to give you credit for this. Your comments prompted BLS to consider the change and to add the additional occupation.

Going forward, we should be able to point people to the BLS website to explain what jobs are like in fiber and wireless and soon have better jobs data from the Department of Labor. Having a unique job category will also help organizations like the workforce and broadband agencies in each state to define training programs when applying for broadband grants.

FOA is proud to have been able to get these changes made. It will make a real difference.

Fiber Optic Sensors Integrated Into Fabrics Track Movement

Researchers from the Federal University of Espirito Santo (Brazil) have developed a completely noninvasive way to track a person’s physical activity—fiber-optic smart pants. Fiber-optic sensors provide information about its wearer’s types of movement and how it’s impacting their health.

The development is “part of a larger project related to the development of photonic textiles for low-cost wearable sensors,” says Arnaldo Leal-Junior, a professor with the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, who leads the work. The fabric is equipped with transparent 1-mm-diameter polymer optical fiber (POF) sensors based on the multiplexed intensity variation technique, which involves side coupling between the POF and light sources with controlled modulation. This sensor system is integrated into the pants, which look much like athletic tights.

Fiber Optic Sensorssmart pants
Read more in Laser Focus Magazine  

It's Finally Illegal To Sell Counterfeit Cables (And Anything Else) Online

FOA has been reporting about counterfeit cable, mostly "Cat 5" UTP, since 2011* we first showed photos we took of fake Cat 5 made with copper-clad aluminum wires instead of solid copper wires. We've taken photos of the counterfeit cable and even did a video showing how it could not meet UL specs due to the way it burned. Eventually UL responded (the counterfeiters learned to make fake UL holographic labels) as did some cabling organizations, but that has not stopped the sale of these products online.

Finally the US Federal Trade Commission has a law to use to prosecute these online fakes. Congress passed the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act – or the INFORM Consumers Act – effective as of June 27, 2023. The Federal Trade Commission and the States have authority to enforce the new statute and online marketplaces that run afoul of the law could be subject to steep financial penalties. Violations could result in civil penalties of $50,120 per violation for online marketplaces.

Read more on the FTC website.

* Contractors Discovers Why "Cat 5E" Cable Has Problems - It's Not Copper!, FOA Newsletter, March 2011.

Scouts send Morse Code messages using light through plastic optical fiber (POF) cable

Tom Scheffelin

I do volunteer STEM education and outreach with the Boy Scouts, SPIE, Optica, IEEE, NASA, and other organizations, and I wanted to do something with fiber optic cable. 

Sending a Morse Code message is requirement 3a of the “Signs, Signals and Codes” merit badge. This summer at our Council’s summer camp (Camp Winton) scouts used plastic fiber optic cables to complete the merit badge’s Morse Code requirement. Scouts set up a gray electrical pvc “path” in the woods for the 25 meter plastic fiber optic cable. (I wanted the cable to be protected.) One end was terminated and connected to a pvc cap, the other end was “as-is”.

fiber optic more code

fiber optic more code

fiber optic more code

The scouts also had fun experimenting with different colored flashlights that were provided. One group of scouts decided to send the dots and dashes using the green flashlight, then flashing the red flashlight to indicate a new letter was about to begin, then flashing the blue flashlight to indicate a new word was about to begin. Other scouts combined two different colored flashlights to make a new color on the other end of the cable (simulating multiplexing).

I made a YouTube video of the Morse Code fiber optic cable.

FOA provides directions on how to use POF for demonstrations like this and provides free sample kits of fiber and connectors with directions for STEAM teachers and others interested. Details are here.

POF (Plastic Optical Fiber) Conference In Cork City, Ireland 17-20 September 2023

POF Conference 2023
The 31st annual Conference on Plastic Optical Fibers is coming this month. The International Cooperative of Plastic Optical Fibers (ICPOF) and the IONS Student Chapter (International OPTICA Network of Students) will be holding POF2023 from the 17th through 20th of September at Tyndall National Institute in Cork City, Ireland.

For more information

Infrastructure Resources Is Now "Excavation Safety Alliance"

Infrastructure Resources has changed its name to Excavation Safety Alliance (ESA) to better reflect their role in the industry. ESA believes that a focus on safe excavation education initiatives helps prevent damage to buried facilities. Focusing on safe excavation spotlights the importance of safety for the people doing the digging, and helping keep people safe is the top priority of both damage prevention and safe excavation efforts.


ESA sponsors the annual Global Excavation Safety Conference which will be held in New Orleans in 2024.

Excavation Safety Show 2024

Global Excavation Safety Conference will be held in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 19-21, 2024. This is an opportunity for damage prevention & excavation safety professionals from all over the world to come together and learn, network, and share their knowledge and expertise in this vitally important field.

More info on Global ESC 2024

Looking for a good online fiber optic course? The FiberWizards Essentials - CFOT Prep Course could be a solution

How do you get new hires up to speed quickly? Continue training current employees and prepare them for the certification your customers are requiring? OJT - On-The-Job-Training. - is the usual answer, but an OJT program like the FOA's OJT-To-Cert program - requires a commitment from experienced techs and supervisors to ensure the techs stay on course.

FiberWizards Fiber Optic Technician OJT Course

FOA Master Instructor and Director Jerry Morla has a solution that can work for most companies, the "FiberWizards Essentials - CFOT Prep Course."  Students will get lots of flexibility to learn on their own terms with a very tailored and personalized experience including one-on-one coaching, virtual presentations, online modules, and access to a private Slack channel for support.

Students will get a lab kit when they join, to explore behaviors of light in fiber on their own. If the students need equipment to complete the hands-on part of the course, FiberWizards  offers rentals of equipment and consumables kits for students within the Continental US.

For companies who need to train their fiber techs but lack the time commitment needed from their top techs, which is practically all of them, the FiberWizards course could be a very good - and cost effective - solution.

FiberWizards Essentials - CFOT Prep Course 


Fiber optic technology, standards, equipment, installation, etc.

The FOA Update Page covers the new technology and applications we covered in this newsletter recently. Now you can review all that new tech at once.


Cross Reference To FOA Technical Reference Materials

The FOA has almost 1,000 pages of technical information on the FOA Guide, 100+ videos and two dozen online courses at Fiber U, all this can make it difficult to find the right information.

Cross Reference To FOA Tech Materials
To help this, we have created a cross reference guide to the textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U courses, all the FOA technical information. Besides the textbooks, online Guide and Fiber U, each section of the Guide also includes links to the 100+ FOA videos available.
Cross Reference Guide to Textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U

FOA Videos
We have also rearranged the 100+ FOA videos in similar categories on the Contents Page of the Online Guide, making the videos, especially the lectures, much it much easier to find a video on a particular topic. 
FOA Videos Guide.

Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on Fiber U®

Sponsored Content

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We have partnerships with industry leading manufacturers to support your installation, splicing and testing needs. Our goal is to guide, support and recognized our client’s requirements.

Learn more about OptConn  

Insider Info

From a reliable source within the industry: Within a couple of years, the old inflexible  hard ribbon cables will be extinct. Everything will be flexible ribbons and mostly 200 micron fibers and BI (bend insensitive) fibers (G.657). Besides changing how these cables are handled, one thing will be lost - the ability to print ID info on the ribbons so matching fibers to splice will be more difficult.

Proposal For "Modernizing" the National Electrical Code Is Creating Controversy

NEC 2023

The National FIre Protection Association, the organization that produces the National Electrical Code (NEC), is proposing modernizing the NEC. The NEC is the foundation of the electrical installation regulatory infrastructure for the US and numerous other jurisdictions around the world. Beside electrical transmission, distribution and premises wiring, the NEC also includes information on fiber optics and communications cabling, but currently only limited coverage of POE uses like lighting.

Here are some what NFPA says that applies to fiber optics and cabling:

"The structure of the NEC plays a critical role for personnel in learning, understanding, applying, and enforcing the requirements established within this regulatory code. While the current structure, first introduced in 1937, has provided tremendous success and stability and continues to be used by engineers, contractors, electricians and training programs, the ability to efficiently learn and quickly apply and inspect advancing technologies and uniquely configured electrical systems is a challenge for all electrical professionals."

"Historically, the NEC was written based on a serving utility providing electricity to a premises with conductors, overcurrent devices, and loads. While this theme has held true for a majority of the NEC’s lifespan, technology changes over the past two decades have challenged this theme. New and evolving technologies along with novel concepts have been “force fit” into the existing structure due to the structural constraints that impact overall usability."

"Limited Energy
The installation of communications systems is no longer limited to traditional telephone and cable utilities. Telecom utilities have been replaced with the term service provider and the installing contractor can be anyone. What was once separate and distinct data systems in Chapter 7 and communication systems in Chapter 8 are being morphed into one overall electrical system complete with communication, signaling, and power, all wrapped into one cable. NEC users can be confused when trying to determine the applicability of requirements. It is important that NEC users be able to easily understand and apply the provisions for limited energy circuits.
The usability of the NEC will be enhanced by moving limited energy and communication code requirements in order to recognize these systems as general installations instead of unique or special systems."

This proposal is causing much discussion. There are many people who depend on the NEC, not just designers and contractors, but those who help them understand and interpret it. If you want to join the discussion, here are some links.

NFPA announcement of project to modernize NEC  

Comments submitted by the National Electrical Contractors Association which discuss the issues with making substantial changes to the NEC rather than the current 3 year revisions.

Fiber Optic Sensors Monitor Water And Sewer Pipes


Xylem’s SoundPrint Acoustic Fiber Optic (AFO) monitoring system detects and locates breaks in Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP). With this advanced warning system, utilities can take preventive action to avoid large-scale failures. Globally, Xylem has monitored more than 830 miles (1,340 km) of pipeline and recorded over 85,600 wire breaks. Xylem offers a dedicated long-term support team with extensive monitoring experience.

When PCCP water and wastewater transmission mains fail, it is often catastrophic and expensive for utilities and surrounding communities. With SoundPrint AFO technology, a fiber optic cable installed inside the pipeline detects wire breaks, offering real time information on pipe condition. Xylem analysts review acoustic data collected by the platform and provide actionable information to clients in near real time through alerts and a secure online portal.

Read more about XYLEM SoundPrint here. Infographic showing system features here.

Drop Cables For Customer Premises FTTH Installation

The last optical segment of the FTTH cable plant is the drop segment. The drop optical cable is located between the optical access point and ONT. The optical access point is usually an optical splitter in the optical distribution box. At this point, the drop cable must be connected to the distribution network with fusion/mechanical splice or optical connectors. On the other side, near customers, there is ONT, which requires only an optical connector.

In this tutorial on drop cables, Vladimir Grozdanovic continues his tutorials on FTTH cabling with a comprehensive article on FTTH drop cables and how they are installed.

Vladimir Grozdanovic is a graduate electrical engineer for telecommunications with more than 10 years of experience in access networks (HFC and FTTH) in large cable operators in Serbia (SBB and Jotel).

Read the article here.

Learning Important Information From A Found Cable Scrap

While walking down the street near the FOA office, we found this cable laying in the gutter. What a find! A short length of Corning Rocket Ribbon 864 fiber cable left over from an installation by a contractor.

Corning RR Cable

We brought the cable back to our office with the intention of opening it up and creating a video about the construction of this modern high fiber count cable, but something got our attention first. The cable had a very long line of printing on it with lots of interesting and useful information. So before we started deconstructing it, we decided to photograph the printed information and interpret it. That turned out to be an important part of the information we learned from the cable. Then, as you will see below, we dissected the cable and learned even more.

Corning RR Cable

Click on the photo above for a bigger photo. Or read on.

Corning RR Cable

The text on the cable starts with the Corning product name "Corning Rocket Ribbon (TM) Optical Cable," date of manufacture "01/2022" and a serial or build number. The phone handset graphic denotes this as a telecom cable.

Corning RR Cable

Here is the most important information:
  • 864F means the cable contains 864 fibers
  • SM means singlemode fiber
  • 250 means the fiber has a 250 micron buffer coating
  • 0.89IN means the cable has a diameter of 0.89 inches (metric would be in mm)
  • 206 LB/KFT means the cable weighs 206 pounds per 1000 feet (metric would be kg/km)
  • MBD 27IN means the minimum bend diameter is 27 inches (metric would be in mm or cm)
  • 600LBF means the maximum pulling tension is rated at 600 pounds (metric would be in Newtons)

There is a lot of information in those few inches along the cable, information that every installer needs to know.

Since it is an OSP cable, we assume it is singlemode fiber, of course.

When you are fusion splicing this cable you need to know the coating diameter for choosing the proper fixturing for your fusion splicing machine.

The weight of the cable is important if the cable is being lashed to a messenger because it is used to calculate loading on the messenger and can determine the size and tension on the messenger.

minimum bend diameter is important if the cable is being coiled or pulled over a capstan, sheaves or blocks. And the pulling tension applies if the cable is pulled, not in the case of aerial installation like this one.

Corning RR cable

The next text is the cable model number and the length.
"SR-5B9MR-864" is a Corning SST (Single tube) UltraRibbon Gel-Free Cable with low water peak fiber.

And finally, the cable has distance marked - "00030 FEET" - on this cable it's updated every 2 feet. knowing how much cable is on the reel or the distance at the other end of the cable on the reel allows keeping track of how much cable was used and how much was left.

Here is an excellent example of why you need to learn to read cables. There is a lot of useful information and some is critical for proper installation of the cable. On the next job, take a minute and read the cable you are installing; you might learn something interesting and useful too.

Note: This is an outside plant cable. Indoor cables should have similar information but also include some note of being tested for flammability such as a UL registration.

Next we continued examining and dissecting this cable.

When you look at the end of the cable, you understand how dense it is. There is no internal strength member; the arrow on the right points to a foam plastic filler that spaces the 6 bundles of ribbons. The arrows on the right point to the strength members - 2 on each side of the cable embedded in the jacket.

The cable is only 0.89 inches (22 mm) diameter but was too large for our cable jacket cutter so we used a knife to split the jacket to expose the 6 color-coded bundles of ribbons on the inside.

Rocket Ribbon Cable

The directions on the Corning website said to use a fingernail to strip the coating on the ribbon bundles and it works since the coating was soft plastic. Below you can see the 12 ribbons from the white bundle.

Rocket Ribbon Cable

Here is a close-up of the ribbons and you can see each ribbon is marked for identification. That is a feature of these hard ribbons lost when you convert to the flexible ribbons now being widely used.

Rocket Ribbon Cable

As we note above (Insider Info) this cable is likely to disappear in favor of flexible ribbons inside regular buffer tubes. And identification will be using some sort of codes marked on one of the fibers.

New Tool For Wet/Dry Cleaning

QuickClean by Optix

Optix QuickCleans clean fiber  faster and also avoids skin exposure to repeated use of cleaning solutions
The QuickClean tweezer design includes lint free pads for superior cleaning and a loop tie down on end to prevent from getting lost. They can be used wet or dry and are made of non-woven, high density, hydro-entangled, 45/55 cellulose/polyester blend for optimum purity. High strength with excellent absorbency, these QuickCleans are tested to over 100 uses each before they can be discarded. Ten QuickCleans per pack plus one fluid bottle (1 ounce).

More information and a datasheet.

Problems With Old Cables And New High Fiber Count Cables?

A FOA CFOT reported that they have been doing fiber characterization testing on cable plants that include both old and new fibers, a common result from building out from a legacy cable plant. One surprising result was that some relatively short links are showing CD and PMD problems even when only short segments of the cable plant are older fibers. PMD has become an issue as speeds increase but earlier fibers we not optimized to prevent PMD. This is just another reason to do fiber characterization before trying to upgrade network speeds. (There is more information on Fiber Characterization in the FOA Guide and a fiber characterization course on Fiber U.

We're also hearing rumors that the new high fiber cables are getting fibers broken during installation with the possible cause(s) being exceeding bend radius or pulling tension, using improper installation equipment or maybe even the cable designs. We're investigating this and will report back in the near future. But please ensure installers follow manufacturer's recommendations carefully. Check out the information on cable specs in the article in this issue and the article on Bending Diameter in the FOA Guide.

Special For High Level Techs And Engineers:

Standards and Testing Photonic ICs  

Point to Multipoint Networks at Infinera  

Managing Fiber Optic Projects - The Gantt Chart

(With An Excel File To Make Your Own)

The most common way to track projects is the Gantt Chart, a chart of activities that tracks the progress of projects along a timeline. each activity is represented by a bar and the position and length of the bar represents the starting date and duration of the activity. This allows you to see what activities are needed for the project, when the activities start and end so it can be used to track the progress of the project visually. Here is what a Gantt Chart for a fiber project might look like:

Fiber Optic Gantt Chart

You might remember an article in the FOA Newsletter in April 2022 or the FOA Guide page on Project Management about the timing of a fiber optic project where we showed the progression of steps in a project like this:

The Gantt Chart above is simply this list converted to a Gantt Chart using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. You can download a copy of the FOA Gantt Chart spreadsheet (xlsx file - 16kB) and use it to create your own Gantt Chart for any project. All you have to do is to input your own data and change the activity names as necessary. You can also follow the directions from Microsoft to create your own version.

More Help On Color Codes (Including Copper Cabling And Fiber Optics)

The FOA has created a print-your-own pocket guide to fiber optic color codes. It has color codes for fibers and buffer tubes, connectors and premises cables inside and on the back, QR codes to take you directly to the FOA Guide and Fiber U. The FOA Guide page on Fiber Optic Color Codes is one of the most read pages on the FOA website and the Fiber Optic Color Codes minicourse on Fiber U very popular also.

Color codes U-print  FOA Color Code Card  color code card UTP

Here's a do-it-yourself FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Color Codes card. Just download the PDF file, print it on a color printer and fold it up as shown. Then you have your own pocket guide to color codes. Make a bunch for your co-workers too.

color codesThen we realized that many of your also do structured cabling work, so it was a natural to add a Color Code Guide for UTP copper cabling in printable (below) and electronic (above) versions.

But we did not stop there. We know how many of you use your mobile devices on the job, so we created a version of the Color Code Guide you could download and use on your smartphone or tablet. It's a PDF file, so you just download it and save it on your device and it will be with you always.

Here are the links to download your own FOA Guides to Fiber Optic Color Codes
FOA Guide to Fiber Optic Color Codes (print your own version) PDF  
FOA Guide to Fiber Optic Color Codes (electronic version for your smartphone, tablet or PC) PDF  

And For UTP Cabling

FOA Guide to UTP Cabling Color Codes (print your own version) PDF  
FOA Guide to UTP Copper Cabling Color Codes (electronic version) PDF

Warning For Techs Doing OSP Restoration


FOA received an inquiry about whether techs working on restoring OSP links should be concerned about eye safety if the link used fiber amplifiers. To answer this question, we had to do some research on fiber amplifiers. The short answer is YES, you should be concerned. The long answer is more technical and includes details that every OSP tech needs to know.

See "Fiber Amps And Restoration" in the FOA Newsletter Archives..

Try The FOA's Online Loss Budget Calculator

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We've created a online Loss Budget Calculator that does the work for you. Just input your cable plant data and it calculates the loss budget. It works on any device, especially smartphones and tablets for field use and even allows printing the results.

                        Loss Budget Calculator

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

Worth Reading

Each month we read hundreds of newsletters and online articles. These are the ones we think you will find "worth reading."

FOA  has a web page with resources on fiber broadband networks and the IIJA/BEAD funding programs.

Cross Reference Guide to FOA Textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U

FOA Timeline of Fiber Optic History  and the new FOA video "The History Of Fiber Optics"

Fiber or copper?  AT&T PR photo from the mid 1970s

The FOA's History

Worth Reading (And Watching):

August 2023

Content Providers Are Still Hungry For Bandwidth, Telegeography

The Hottest CommsUpdate Stories of 2023 (So Far), Telegeography

Tempo Communications Acquires Kingfisher International, Tempo Press Release

U.S. Department of Labor to recognize Telecommunications Technician job category, Cabling Installation & Maintenance

State of California Five-Year Action Plan (BEAD Program) -
good reading if you state has not finished your five-year plan.

NTIA Public Notice Posting of State and Territory BEAD and Digital Equity Plans/Proposals For all States.

Kansas builds middle mile with cost effective program - $63,000/mile.  Governor's office.

Developing a Fiber Workforce Really Does Take A Village - FOA President Jim Hayes' May/June column in ISE magazine looks at the role of manufacturers' training in developing the fiber workforce.

We need more people learning trades. Something is finally being done about it. If you’re able to work with your hands, you’ll never be out of work. Washington Post Editorial. Statistics show that for every five baby boomers retiring, there’s only one person to take their position.

Watch cable installers use a train to place duct underground - CIM Magazine 

July 2023

Can Our Industry Develop Fiber Talent?, FOA President Jim Hayes' May/June column, ISE magazine.

Why the U.S. Electric Grid Isn’t Ready for the Energy Transition NYTimes, Electric vehicles, heating, etc. are being promoted as climate friendly alternatives to fossil fuels if the eelctric supply is from renewable sources, but can the grid handle that?

Tech majors are booming, but rural students stuck in the digital divide, The Hill. Rural students face two pressing issues: the digital divide of internet reliability and technology access and education opportunities.

Skills Based Hiring, Southland Data Processing, Skills based hiring involves screening job candidates based on whether or not they possess the necessary skills to accomplish job requirements.

In U.S. cities, residents are paying $84/mo. for 365 Mbps on average, ALLCONNECT

Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth,  2022 ANNUAL REPORT. U.S. Department of Commerce.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Cable Gore REDDIT Will make you groan....

And a number of articles on 5G:

The Tech Friend: 5G is a dud Washington Post

Ericsson Slashes 5G Outlook by 400M Subscribers. 

The challenges of 5G monetization: Is enterprise the answer? 

June 2023

Bringing FTTH Broadband to Remote and Rugged Areas - Broadband Properties - By Michael A. Solitro, CEO of Sertex Broadband Solutions.

NTIA Says State Muni-Bans Won’t Delay BEAD Funding - ILSR says "Maybe"

AT&T claims satellite-direct-to-phone deal with AST SpaceMobile in FCC waiver filing -

AFL Creates Video Classroom Online The AFL Classroom showcases products, solutions and AFL value propositions

Treasury Department Announces Approval of Federal Funding to Connect 127,000 California Homes and Businesses to Affordable, High-Speed Internet 

US Proposes Designating Portion of Radio Spectrum for 5G in the Americas If approved, the proposal could enable countries in the Americas to use the band to deploy 5G mobile services.

Significant progress reported on California middle-mile network - CA Dept of Technology

Recent Case of Severe Microwave Syndrome Reveals Problems With 5G - Epoch Health -
One woman's recent illness highlights the issue of only considering radiofrequency radiation's thermal effects

The Summer edition of Excavation Safety Magazine is online  

May 2923

Do You Believe In Magic? Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Jim Hayes's column in March/April ISE Magazine.

Special For High Level Techs And Engineers:

Standards and Testing Photonic ICs  

Point to Multipoint Networks at Infinera  

From Past FOA Newsletters

Telegeography Submarine Cable Map 2023  - 
You can also buy copies - Telegeography

Telegeography Submarine Cable Map 2023

serves the business needs of the Broadband industry (including traditional cable TV, fiber, telecom and satellite providers) with employment listings, classified ads, discussion forums, and more. A contractor told us it's where they find lots of opportunities for subcontracting.

The Secret to Future Proofing,
by Jim Hayes, FOA President,  ISE Magazine

The 45 Year Old Overnight Sensation - article by FOA President Jim Hayes in ISE Magazine
(Read the complete Nov/Dec issue of ISE Magazine here.

Fiber optics take the pulse of the planet It’s like radar, but with light. Distributed acoustic sensing — DAS — picks up tremors from volcanoes, quaking ice and deep-sea faults, as well as traffic rumbles and whale calls. Knowable Magazine++++++

ESRI has created an ebook on GIS location technology for telecom. Use the link to download the book.

The First Transcontinental Telephone Line  began operation on  July 29th in 1915 - 3400 miles between New York and San Francisco - required over 100,000 telephone poles! Wonders of World Engineering

Conocimiento Esencial: ¿Por qué la fibra óptica?  creado por FiberWizards 

Recruiting And Training Today's Fiber Optic Workforce - Learn the fundamentals to recruit and train new fiber optics - by FOA's Jim Hayes in ISE Magazine.

Explosive Fiber Broadband Expansion Drives Need for Fiber Technician Training Programs - Telecompetitor - As fiber sees record-setting deployment levels, the demand for fiber optic technicians is stronger than ever.

Google Video On Their Undersea Cables YouTube Slick but interesting video on how undersea cables are designed, built and used.

Construction Without Disruption - FOA President Jim Hayes' column in ISE Magazine

Fiber Optics Installed By The Lowest Bidder  - ISE Magazine - by Jim Hayes, FOA President.

Building Broadband During Component and Worker Shortages - Broadband Communities - Completing broadband builds requires competent fiber optic techs, but training them requires understanding how they learn - by Jim Hayes, FOA President.

Worth Reading - Magazines, Websites and Newsletters

CABL® ( serves the business needs of the Broadband industry (including traditional cable TV, fiber, telecom and satellite providers) with employment listings, classified ads, discussion forums, and more. A contractor told us it's where they find lots of opportunities for subcontracting.

New Fiber Optic Magazine In Spanish

Todo Fibra Optica is a new digital magazine in Spanish for fiber optics in Latin America and South America. Jose Enriquez, editor of  Todo Fibra Optic magazine has many years experience in the fiber optic industry so he knows the industry well. FOA will be working with him to share our extensive technical materials in Spanish.

Read their newsletter here. It is now available online in English and Spanish.


All issues and subscriptions.

José Manuel Enriquez Mora, Editor
Todo Fibra Optica LLC
+52 222 302 8224

RTI Telecom Magazine from  Brazil, in Portuguese
. A revista RTI do mês de abril já está disponível online e recomendo a leitura de alguns artigos: 

1995-2020 - FOA's 25th Anniversary!

As part of celebrating 25 years of serving the fiber optic industry as its primary source of technical information and independent certifying body, FOA thought it appropriate to create a short history of the organization and how it has developed  to help the fiber optic industry. We also wanted to recognize the contributions many people have made to the organization over the years that made FOA what it is today.

The FOA history is now archived on the FOA website where you can read it anytime or link to it.
Updated info - dB, total internal reflection and science projects,

Worth Reading - News Summary - More Past Links Worth Repeating

1983 Video of AT&T's First Test Of A Submarine Cable System From the AT&T Tech Channel archives (worth exploring!)

Richard Epworth's Optical Fiber History from his work at STL from 1966 with Charles Kao.

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

US Broadband Coverage By Service Provider from the FCC

How To Build Rural Broadband, Learning From History

In the August 2021 FOA Newsletter, we published a lengthy article on rural broadband and compared it to rural electrification in America in the last century. Much of the comparison was based on an article written in 1940 by a USDA economist, Robert Beall, called "Rural Electrification." 

If you are interested in or involved in rural broadband, we recommend you read the article "How To Build Rural Broadband, Learning From History" in the August 2021 FOA Newsletter and read the Beall article also.

Recycling Fiber Optic Cable -
Steve Maginnis
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit website)

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

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

This long and well-researched and annotated article in American Affairs Journal should be mandatory reading for every high level manager in a telecom company - or any other company for that matter. To summarize the article, today, America has no major telecom equipment company and fears the major suppliers of equipment who are all foreign, especially the Huawei from China. This article explains how America got into this deplorable state.

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

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

If you are interested in restoration - aren't we all? - you should also read this article in dpPro magazine by FOA President Jim Hayes: Damage Protection Requies Looking Overhead As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - about the problems with aerial cables. His previous article for the magazine was New Techniques for Fiber Optic Installation.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance weekly newsletter has lots of interesting articles and links.

Universal access to broadband is a cornerstone to a strong economy, Achieving universal access will require community partnerships. by
Alfreda B. Norman, Sr. VP,  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

FIBER TO THE FARM: The co-ops that electrified Depression-era farms are now building rural internet. Be sure to check out the high-tech equine installation equipment.

Next Century Cities Newsletter - News from cities around the US including Detroit and New York plus small

Infrastructure Get Some Respect, NY TImes "On Tech"   "The magic of the internet requires a lot of very boring stuff behind the scenes. "

DIRT Report On Damage To Utilities Common Ground Alliance (CGA) annual DIRT report provides a summary and analysis of the events submitted into CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) for the year 2018. The complete report is available for download here. In addition, there is an interactive dashboard that allows users to filter the data more  by factors contributing to damages.

Structured Cabling News - a website and weekly newsletter about cabling.

Fiber Trivia From Corning.

The Future Of Work Is Skills - So Stop Worrying About Degrees - The reality is the future of work is about skills, not just degrees. (FOA Newsletter Feb 2020)

The job market is hot. So why are half of U.S. grads missing out?  

VIAVI Books On Fiber Optic Testing (2 volumes) - They're back!

books  book 2

Besides the FOA reference materials, two JDSU/VIAVI textbooks, Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Testing, Volumes 1 and 2,  were used as references for some of the FOA courses and are recommended for instructors and students. The books are available from VIAVI as eBooks and the everyone should download them and recommend them to others.Download yours now. Volume 1. Volume 2. Viavi Books

Ciena's Submarine Cable Handbooks (4 to download)

Guidebook To MPO Testing OptoTest offers this complete guide to MTP®/MPO testing. In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about the different test methods, equipment options, troubleshooting, and best maintenance practices to ensure that you have the best testing experience. Go here to download the book.

50th Anniversary of The Development of Low Loss Fibers
A history of the development of low loss fiber, a fascinating story by Jeff Hecht on the OSA (Optical Society of America) website.

How OFS Makes Fiber

Interesting YouTube video on how fiber is made. Perhaps a little too much "show biz" but fascinating. If you have ever seen fiber manufacture, look at this video. You will be amazed at how big preforms have become!

The True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or target practice can cost)

Rural Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues, June 2019.

Clearfield-FOA Certification Training Clearfield is now offering their customers an FOA CERTIFICATION course. This course provides a basic understanding of fiber optic technology, as well as Clearfield product knowledge and how Clearfield’s integrated product systems work together in a fiber network.

Substandard Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle Down  (EC Mag)


When readers ask us questions, we genrally refer them to FOA resources where they can find the answer to their question and many more. We first send them to the FOA Guide which is the table of contents for the FOA technical resources. There they can find pages indexed by topic and a search engine for the FOA website. It also links them to FOA videos and courses on our free online learning site Fiber U.

The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQs = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general interest.

Good Question!

Tech Questions/Comments From FOA Newsletter Readers 

More Q&A in the FOA FAQs Page  

August 2023

Maintaining Fusion Splicers
What are the best practices for the preventative maintenance of splicers, cleavers, and thermal strippers.
A: Because of the large number of manufacturers and variety of models and applications, The FOA generally tells people to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use and be especially careful about keeping the splicer unit, cleaver and stripping tools clean, then having it serviced regularly by the manufacturer or an authorized service facility.

Differences Between OM4 and OM5 Fiber
What is the main difference between OM4 and OM5 cable in premises cabling??
A: OM5 is wideband multimode fiber optimized for wavelength division multiplexing with VCSELs in the  850-950nm range. This is a proposed application that has not become very popular. See:

Rural FTTH
What does A Rural FTTH Connection Cost?
A: That's a very complicated question, because "rural" has a lot of meanings. Is it a small town where building a FTTH Network is easy or remote users in Alaska? An interesting set of data was made available this month from the US Department of Agriculture, announcing $700 million in grants and loans in the 4th round of the ReConnect Program

Splicing Dissimilar FIbers
Recently I came across a new problem while splicing optical fiber cable.  Splicing of 2 Fujikura fibers was done but loss was observed. Initially, we felt that it is due to splicing but upon resplicing the loss was still the same i.e. 0.3db at the splice point. Both the cables were checked again and observed that both cables were from different manufacturers. My question is that if different manufacturer's cables are spliced, will it give loss? Note: Both fibers were Fujikura but had different IOR.
A: The difference in IOR tells the reason. The loss at the joint between the two fibers when measured by an OTDR depends on the optical characteristics of the fibers. A difference in the fibers IOR and backscatter coefficient will cause the loss measurement to be affected. In one direction it measures too high, in the other direction too low or even shows a gain. That’s why some measwurements are called gainers. If you measure it in the opposite direction you should see low loss or a gain. It’s explained here in the OTDR page on the FOA Guide in the section “OTDR Measurement Uncertainty.”

Testing FTTH Networks
I work on FTTH projects that utilize 1x32 and 1x64 splitters that do not have any active light on the fibers. Is there a mobile source that can be used in the field to simulate active light through splitters and still provide enough power to travel 20km?
A: Any 1310/1490/1550 test source should have adequate power to test them with a regular power meter. A 64 port splitter has only 18dB+any excess loss- so 20dB or so - and any power meter can measure that with a ~0dBm to -6dBm source.

July 2023

Transmitting Multiple Data Types
How do you integrate fiber optic digital communications with other sensing and control systems and platforms?
A: Fiber optic networks generally have lots of bandwidth and sensors and control systems generally do not require much bandwidth. The mixing of data streams is generally done by multiplexing the data using electronics on each end, but one can also do it with wavelength division multiplexing.

OTDR Dead Sone
Q: What is dead zone when using OTDR?
A: The "dead zone" is the length of fiber near the OTDR that is blanked out by the overload from the test pules. See this page on OTDRs in the FOA Online Guide:

Using A Visual fault lOcator
What are the best practices for using a VFL to locate fiber faults?
See in the FOA Online Guide

Distances Between Manholes
Q: W
hat is the standard or max distance between manholes and handholes for fiber optic cable?
There are no hard rules, but the distances are determined by a number of factors. In populated areas, the manholes or handholes would be situated where you need drops line in front of a building or a splitter pint for FTTH or conversion from underground to aerial or underwater cables. From a viewpoint of how far you can go, it’s determined by: 1. The length of cable on the reel (typically ~5km max, maybe further for smaller cables, shorter for higher fiber count cables.  2. The type of the duct, cable and method of installation for underground. That includes the type of duct, lubricant used, the number of corners passed, pulling equipment (pulled or blown)  and the tupe of cable - most limited to 600 pound tension. Cable manufacturers and American Polywater (lubricants) are good sources of information here. 3. Aerial cable can have quite long spans, esp. using the moving reel method, which can be limited by the length on the spool.

June 2023

PON Testing with a 2Xn Splitter Instead of 1Xn
When testing upstream back to the CO on a PON, how can we get a good OTDR trace if the primary splitter (nearest one to ODF) has a 2:8 split ratio rather than the usual 1:8?
It's just like looking at a 1X2 downstream - you will see the combined traces of each fiber. If the second port is for testing, it may be short and connector, so it will not affect the longer trace very much. If it's the same length and used as a spare, you need to test each fiber downstream to the splitter. Nothing is easy with OTDRs and splitters!

Fiber Splicing Cost
What is the standard of costing for fiber splicing and terminations? Is it per core / per splice or per each cable end irrespective of the number of cores?
That is a very hard question to answer, other than to say ”it depends. ” The number of fibers is definitely a factor because each fiber must be stripped, cleaned, cleaved and spliced then placed in the splice tray.
It also depends on:
  • Single fiber or ribbon splicing?
  • Type of splice closure
  • Type of cable (loose tube, ribbon, flexible ribbon, high density, armored, ADSS, etc.)
  • Installation: aerial or underground
  • Location: urban or rural
  • Set up time (same for low fiber count cable as high fiber count cable)
Most contracts will be considering the number of fibers but also these factors, and probably they want to price by the number of fibers, but the price per splice will vary accordingly. We've seen quotes in the US for prices varying over a 10X range.

FTTH Network Design Course
I would like some advice on how to develop a responsive curriculum involving FTTH network design.
FOA has lots of free resources you can use. Fiber U offers free online courses in FTTH and Fiber Optic Network Design that can be used to develop your courses using blended learning - online and classroom work blended. The courses cover all aspects of these topics and include lesson quizzes. The Design course includes a dozen case studies ideal for student assignment, including one on FTTH. You can also begin with other courses like Basic FIber Optics and Outside Plant Fiber Optics and Outside Plant Construction. The Fiber U courses draw on material in the FOA Online Guide where you will find many other pages of useful information.
Teaching a course on FTTH and FTTH Network Design is easy using this material. The Design labs don’t require equipment; just use the case studies we provide and develop more of your own.

Color Blind Fiber Tech
Can someone who is color blind become a fiber tech? Aren't all cables color coded?
A: There are various types of color blindness (remember all the charts with different dots at the eye doctor’s?) that don’t necessarily mean you cannot distinguish the color codes used in fiber. Only a test with actual components would really tell that - and remember that colors are different from some processes - some are faint and some brilliant - that may affect how they are perceived. The variation among colors can often still be distinguished by color blind people depending on the situation.  I personally would not discourage anyone from taking a course because they are color blind. They can check their ability to distinguish colors used in fiber optics here.

Markers Required For Underground Fiber Optic Cables?
Q: Are signs required for underground cables like fiber optic cables? Are they required to have signage so people don’t dig them up or damage them?
A: In the US the answer is NO. There is no Federal or State law which requires marking anything other than hazardous liquids and gases. It is purely a business decision or a moral decision to invest in signs/markers to protect buried fiber. If a fiber gets cut it can disrupt 911 service and all kinds of vital communication related to hospitals, air traffic control, etc.

Fiber Optic Color Codes Reference Chart
Q: Has anyone made a fiber optic pocket reference chart that has cable color orders, frequencies, or other commonly used info on it?
A: The FOA has a page on its Online Guide that covers color codes ( It is the most popular page in the FOA Guide! It works great with a smartphone.

More Q&A in the FOA FAQs Page  



The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. Here are some links:

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:

And the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative:

Is There A Standard For Fiber Optic Installation?

Another question we get often is "Is there a standard for fiber optic installation." The answer is yes, but not from the usual standards groups you might expect. Over 20 years ago, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) asked FOA to help create a standard for installation. That standard, ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 has been updated three times already and is about ready for another update.

Unlike most of those groups who charge you a fortune for standards, FOA covers the cost so
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 is available free from FOA.

                        301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

Download your free copy of
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 here (PDF)

Older questions are now available here.

/ FiberU

News and resources to help you learn more and stay updated.

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

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.
Free online training at Fiber U

The FOA has >100 videos on videos 

FOA School News

 FOA's roster of approved schools is growing as more organizations recognize our expertise in workforce development and our comprehensive support for getting new schools started. FOA has over 25 years experience and nearly 90,000 certified fiber techs (with ~120,000 certifications). As a non-profit organization founded by the industry specifically to develop a competent workforce, FOA provides the consultation, curriculum and contacts to get schools started as a free service to new schools.

Complete listing of FOA Approved Training Organizations 

Need A Fiber Optic Course Onsite? Invite an FOA School To Come To You

FOA often gets inquiries from an organization that has personnel that needs training in fiber optics. Recent inquiries have included contractors, a manufacturer of high-reliability products using fiber optics and a cable manufacturer. In many cases, where there are several people needing training, FOA can recommend a FOA Approved School and Certified Instructor who will come to their location to teach a class. The advantage  is of course the savings in travel costs if the class comes to you, but it also offers the opportunity to customize the course to fit your needs, even use your equipment or work on your components, so the training is more relevant to those taking the class.

Contact FOA to discuss the idea of a custom, on-site class to see if it will better meet your needs.

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

The FOA Fiber U OJT program for novices combines online study at Fiber U with OJT with mentoring by experienced co-workers and their supervisor to help new employees develop into FOA-certified technicians in only one year. 

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

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

To explain how OJT works and FOA's OJT-To-Cert program, FOA created a short video: Lecture 62: On The Job Training For Fiber Optics Using Fiber U     

FOA Direct Certification Program For Experienced Fiber Optic Techs

Experience Plus Online Study At Fiber U = FOA Certification

Experienced fiber optic technicians can become FOA Certified using their experience in fiber optics and study for the FOA certification exams online at Fiber U. Thousands of industry professionals have applied to the FOA directly for certification without the need for classroom training, based on their knowledge and skills developed working the field. Since FOA certifications are based on KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities), current techs can show the skills and abilities required through their field experience. FOA provides free online self-study courses at Fiber U for the knowledge part to prepare you for FOA certification exams which you can also take online.

If you are an experienced field tech interested in certification, and FOA is the internationally recognized certifying body for fiber optics, you can find out more about the FOA Direct Certification Program here.

If you are already a CFOT, FOA also offers many specialist certifications you can obtain based on your experience as a field tech. See what's available at
Fiber U.

Fiber U "Basic Fiber Optics" Online Self-Study Course Now In Spanish

El curso de autoaprendizaje en línea "Fibra óptica básica" de Fiber U ahora en español

El sitio de aprendizaje en línea de FOA, Fiber U, tiene más de dos docenas de cursos de autoaprendizaje gratuitos sobre fibra óptica y cableado de instalaciones. Como era de esperar, el tema más popular es el curso "Fibra óptica básica", que se utiliza para iniciarse en la fibra óptica y como curso de preparación para realizar el examen de certificación FOA CFOT.

Ahora el curso básico de fibra óptica está disponible en español, utilizando el libro de texto FOA en español, la sección de la Guía en línea en español y la capacidad de YouTube para traducir subtítulos de video al español. El curso funciona exactamente como la versión en inglés con 10 lecciones, cada una con cuestionarios y una opción para tomar un examen de Certificado de finalización.

Para presentar el nuevo curso de español Fiber U, el examen Certificate of Completion es gratuito, así que dígaselo a sus contactos.

Curso Básico de Fibra Óptica de Fibra U en español.

New Fiber U Course: Fiber Characterization 

FOA has added a new course at Fiber U on Fiber Characterization. Fiber characterization is the process for testing long fiber cable plants for its ability for carrying high speed communications. With so many networks now operating at 100, 200, 400 or even 800 Gb/s, fiber characterization is important, especially on older fiber optic cable plants.The free Fiber U Fiber Characterization course is available in two forms, as a standalone Fiber U fiber Characterization Course with its own Fiber U Certificate of Completion and as a separate Lesson in the Fiber U Fiber Optic Testing course. This course is recommended for those studying for the FOA CFOS/FC Fiber Characterization certification.

Fiber U MiniCourses: Got An Hour Or Less? Learn Something New About Fiber Optics.

FOA has introduced a new type of Fiber U course, the MiniCourse, a free online course you could take in a short time, perhaps as you ate lunch at your desk or took a coffee break. The topics of these courses should explain what they are about, and these are all very important topics to fiber optic techs.

New Fiber U MiniCourse - Fiber Optic Jargon
There is a new MiniCourse at Fiber U - Fiber Optic Jargon. Jargon is the most important thing you need to learn when you learn about a new technology. This short Fiber U MiniCourse is intended to introduce you to fiber optic jargon and make learning about fiber much easier. It's aimed at novices but is a good refresher for even experienced techs.

Fiber Optics In Communications  

Fiber Optic Jargon

How Optical Fiber Works 

Fiber Optic Network Restoration 

Fiber Optic Connector Identification

Fiber U Color Codes 

The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics

Fiber Optic Cable Bend Radius

Fiber Optic Link Loss And Power Budgets

Fiber Optic Connector Inspection And Cleaning

Fiber Optic Media Conversion  

Fiber Optic Cable Midspan Access  

Reading An OTDR Trace  

Reference Cables For Testing

Fiber Optic Attenuators

The courses have two components, video lectures and readings, that are complementary. As usual there is a self-test to allow you to check your comprehension. As with other Fiber U courses if you desire, you can take a short test for a Fiber U Certificate of Completion that costs
only $10.

All these free courses and many more are available at Fiber U.

What Fiber Techs Don't Know -

What We Learn From FOA Certification Tests

As FOA moves more testing over to our digital online testing system at ClassMarker, we have access to more data about our testing, including what questions and topics on the tests are answered incorrectly most often. Having this data gives us an opportunity to evaluate the questions and how they are stated, but more importantly it allow us to help our instructors teach the subjects and us to change our curriculum and online courses to emphasize these particular topics. These are some of the topics that we have noticed are answered incorrectly more often in FOA and Fiber U tests.

Most of the questions missed are on testing.

1. OTDRs - particularly what information is in the OTDR trace.

2. The difference between dB and dBm

3. Loss budgets - both the concepts and doing the math

4. Insertion loss testing - single-ended or double ended for testing patchcords or cable plants, how to set 0dB references

5. Units of measure - fiber is measured in microns, wavelengths in nanometers, etc.

At FOA, we're working to add Fiber U MiniCourses on these topics and working with our schools to emphasize these topics in their classes.

If you are going to be taking a FOA certification course or test in the near future, these topics should be on your final exam study list.

What We Learn From Hands On Labs
We learn about students performance in hands-on labs from the feedback of our instructors and our own experiences too. One big problem is the use of hand tools. Growing up today, you learn how to use keyboards, mouses and touch screens, but decades ago, you also learned how to use basic hand tools. This is big enough of a problem that we're considering adding some video lessons on basic hand tools to prepare students for cable prep, termination and splicing that require the use of hand tools.

FOA Guide "Basics Of Fiber Optics" Now Available Online in Portuguese (6/2020)

                            Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book

FOA has now translated the Basics of Fiber Optics textbook in our Online Guide into Portuguese, joining Spanish and French translations. For those speaking Portuguese, we have the technical information and for schools we also have curriculum available.

Here is the FOA Guide in Portuguese, Spanish and French translations.

Time To Learn - Online

Some schools have been closed during the pandemic, so FOA has been working with them to create new online learning experiences that can in some cases lead to certification online. FOA certifications are still based on the KSAs - knowledge from the classroom, skills from the labs and abilities judged by instructors or proven by actual experience.

Much of what we're doing benefits from the capabilities of "Zoom." Others have created videoconferencing apps, but none work so well, especially with limited bandwidth. We've seen remote labs that have an instructor showing students how to use the tools they were sent then watching them duplicate their actions. We have worked out methods to use Zoom to proctor FOA's online certification exams.

Blended Learning
While most FOA schools have suspended in-person training during this period, some are offering a "blended learning" option. That means that students sign up for a FOA certification course, take the classroom sessions on Fiber U with the assistance of a FOA certified instructor. Now online instruction can include reviewing the labs using the
Fiber U Basic Skills Labs, then when it's possible to attend classes at the school, complete the hands-on labs and take the FOA certification exam.

Online Remote Labs
Alternatively, some schools are experimenting with "remote labs," where the students get sent tool kits and components and labs are conducted by videoconferencing. Before the labs, the students may watch demos by their instructor on videoconferencing and/or review the relevant "virtual hands-on" lessons in the Fiber U
Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs  so they will already know the steps in the exercises.
And Fiber U has the new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Videoconferencing allows the instructor to remotely monitor their work and provide help as needed. Contact the FOA for more information.

FOA Zoom Exam Proctoring

Online Certification Testing
FOA has all its certification tests available online, both for use by our schools and by our direct "Work to Cert" applicants. All FOA certification tests require a proctor to oversee the applicant taking the exam. In this time of social distancing, getting a proctor can be difficult, so FOA now has procedures for online proctors administering the exam.
Contact the FOA for more information.
OJT - On-The-Job-Training
Many novices get a job and learn on the job. They usually have an experienced tech who helps them gain the knowledge and  learn the skills they need to perform their job. Thinking about this in relation to the 
FOA KSAs, the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by a fiber optic tech,  the tech will learn skills but not the basic knowledge that helps them understand the processes involved. FOA can offer help here with our
FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program, using our Fiber U online self-study programs. While the tech learns on the job, they become a Fiber U trainee, getting the knowledge they need, while working under their "mentor" at work. This is particularly good for contracting companies who need techs but do not have the usual training courses available. Interested in OJT programs? Click on the link below or contact FOA for more information.

FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program

FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber U. Many users are preparing for FOA certification programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert" program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more time on hands-on activities.

FOA School Offers Toolkit With Online Training

Slayton tool

Slayton Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic connectors and test optical power. You can contact them for more information at or

/ Resources


Cross Reference To FOA Tech Materials
FOA has so much technical reference material, we created a cross reference guide to the textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U courses, all the FOA technical information. Besides the textbooks, online Guide and Fiber U, each section of the Guide also includes links to the 100+ FOA videos available.

Cross Reference Guide to Textbooks, Online Guide and Fiber U

FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Workforce Development

To help those new to fiber optic workforce development, FOA has created a web page we call  "Fiber Optic Workforce Development."  In this page, we share what we have learned about the fiber optic workforce, who they are and how they learn their trade. We discuss what defines a fiber optic tech and how they should be certified.

Read the FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Workforce Development online.

Latest FOA Book: Fiber Broadband (Paperback and Kindle)

FOA Guide To Fiber BroadbandIn less than half a century, fiber optics has revolutionized communications and to a large extent, society in general. Broadband, what many today call high speed Internet access, has become a necessity for everyone, not a luxury. The technology that makes broadband possible is fiber optics, connecting the continents, cities, and just about everybody. Even fiber to the home (FTTH) brings broadband to hundreds of millions worldwide.

How did we get from an era when communications was making a telephone call or sending a telegram to today’s world where every piece of information – and misinformation – is available at the click of a mouse or touch on a screen? How did we get from a time when a phone was connected on copper wires to being able to connect practically anywhere on a handheld device with more computing power than was available to scientists and engineers only decades ago?

How does broadband work? Without fiber optics it would not work.

This book is not the typical FOA technical textbook - it is written for anyone who wants to understand fiber broadband or fiber optics or the Internet. It's also aimed at STEM teachers who want to include communications technology in their classes. This book will try to explain not only how fiber broadband works, but how it was developed. It is intended to be an introduction to communications technology appropriate for a communications course at almost any level (junior high, high school or college,) for managers involved with broadband projects, or for anyone who just wonders how all this stuff works.

The Fiber Optic Association Guide To Fiber Broadband  

Paperback ($12.95) and Kindle ($9.95) versions available from Amazon or most booksellers. Kindle version is in color!

More Translations of FOA Textbooks

Guia de Referência sobre Fibra Óptica da FOAFOA is a very international organization and it works hard to accommodate the language needs of everyone. We have been translating our books and website into the languages most requested, and this month, we add two more textbook translations. We also want to thank Jerry Morla, FOA CFOS/I instructor and Director who has been doing the recent translations into Spanish, his native language.

Here is a listing of all the FOA textbook Translations

Spanish Editions:

Guía de Referencia de la Asociación de Fibra Óptica (FOA) Sobre Fibra Óptica: Guía de estudio para la certificación de la FOA  Amazon
La Referencia de Cableado para Predios de la FOA: Guía para Certificación de la FOA   Amazon
La Asociación de Fibra Óptica Manual de Fibra Hasta el Hogar : Para Planificadores, Gestores, Diseñadores, Instaladores y Operadores De FTTH  Amazon
Guía de Referencia de la FOA sobre Diseño de la red de fibra óptica: Guía de Estudio para la Certificación de la FOA Amazon

And the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics:
French Edition: Le Guide de référence de la FOA pour la fibre optique et et guide d'étude pour la certification FOA: Guide d'étude pour la certification FOA  Amazon
Portuguese Edition: Guia de Referência sobre Fibra Óptica da FOA : Guia de Estudo para a Certificação da FOA  Amazon

The subject matter of these books is also translated in the FOA Guide online.

Planning A Fiber Optic Project?

The FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Projects includes this timeline and comments on project planning and implementation.

More New FOA Video Lectures On YouTube

Did you know YouTube will close caption videos in many languages? Here are directions.

FOA Lecture 73, The History of Fiber Optics - A Timeline fiber optics from the beginning.

FOA YouTube Video Describes On-The-Job Training (OJT) 

FOA Lecture 67 Fiber Optics At Electrical Utilities  

More New Videos Including FTTH Series

Like all our YouTube lectures, they are all short and easy to understand.

Did you know YouTube will close caption videos in many languages?

Sign in with Google to get translations for closed captioning. Click on the settings icon (red arrow.) Choose "Subtitles".  English is the default language. Click on the arrow after "English (auto-generated) >". In the new window click on "Auto-translate" and choose the language you want. 

FOA Loss Budget Calculator On A Web Page 5/2020

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We recently discovered how to get a spreadsheet ported to a Web page, so we created this web page that calculates loss budgets. We have an iOS loss budget app, but with this web page, you can calculate loss budgets from any device, smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that has web browsing capability.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator 

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

                      Guide We are continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information. When you go to the FOA Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look for New.

Recent updates:

FTTH Updates: Added a section on FTTH Network Design, updated Architecture and PONs (10G)
Color Codes For Fiber Optics   Includes print your own pocket guide and versions for your smartphone.

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

Coherent Communications Systems in the FOA Guide.

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

FOA Reference Books

FOA FTTH                          Handbook

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

FTTH Handbook in Spanish

Sitio web y manual de FTTH ahora en español

Sitio web y manual de FTTH ahora en español - FTTH Website And Handbook Now In Spanish

El Manual FOA FTTH se ha convertido en el libro FOA más vendido y tiene una calificación de 4.7/5 por parte de los compradores en Amazon.

FOA ha notado mucho interés en FTTH en otras áreas del mundo, especialmente en América Central y del Sur, por lo que tradujimos el sitio web de FTTH y el Manual de FTTH al español.

Available in paperback from Amazon or ebook on Amazon Kindle.
Disponible como libro de tapa blanda en Amazon o como libro electrónico en Amazon Kindle.  
El sitio web de FOA FTTH ahora en español.  

El Manual FOA FTTH se ha convertido en el libro FOA más vendido y tiene una calificación de 4.7/5 por parte de los compradores en Amazon.

FOA ha notado mucho interés en FTTH en otras áreas del mundo, especialmente en América Central y del Sur, por lo que tradujimos el sitio web de FTTH y el Manual de FTTH al español.

Disponible como libro de tapa blanda en Amazon o como libro electrónico en Amazon Kindle.  

El sitio web de FOA FTTH ahora en español.  

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

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

Click on any book for more information about it.

FOA has reprinted

Lennie Lightwave
Lennie Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special print edition.
Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online or as free iBooks on iTunes.
                        Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle
                        Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.

Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

Resources For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools
Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their classes. Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.



On Safety

The FOA is concerned about safety!
FOA considers safety an integral part of all our programs, curriculum materials and technical materials. We start all our textbooks and their online versions with a section on safety in the first chapter, like this: Before we get started - Safety First!
There are pages on the FOA Guide on Safety procedures Including Eye Safety  and. Digging Safely 

And a YouTube lecture: FOA Lecture 2: Safety When Working With Fiber Optics
In our OSP Construction Section, these pages cover many safety issues including those related to the construction of the cable plant: Project Preparation And Guidelines, Underground Cable Construction, Underground Cable Installation and Aerial Cable Installation.
There is even a safety poster for the fiber activities: PDF Safety Rules For Fiber Optics
Other Safety Resources:

There is a toll-free "call before you dig" number in the USA: Dial 811. See for more information in the US. Here is their map of resources by states.

In Canada, it's "Click Before You" They also have a page of resources by US states and Canadian provinces.

The Common Ground Alliance has an excellent "Best Practices Guide" online

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

Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
fiber in
Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultantcy

2023 Conference On Damage Prevention In Tampa
Safety Conference

Global Excavation Safety Conference

Tampa, Florida
February 14-16, 2023


The magazine, dp-Pro, sponsor of the conference, has also published it's latest issue with an article by FOA on "New Construction Techniques in Fiber Optics" and a overview of the FOA. You can read the magazine here.

When You Bury Marker Tape, Bury One That Will Work (July 2021)


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

FOA Corporate Program - Products & Services

Search for products and services offered by hundreds of fiber optic companies worldwide.

List of corporate information  on the FOA website.

FOA Corporate Program is available to companies involved in fiber optics as manufacturers, contractors, installers, etc.  Read more.


About The FOA

Contact Us: or email <>

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has a company page and four LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official company page on LinkedIn
FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)  

What is The FOA? 

The FOA is a, international non-profit educational association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. 

Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and  leaders from education, 
industry and government as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

Read More  

FOA History  

FOA Timeline of Fiber Optics  

Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <> or email <>
Telephone/text: 760-451-3655

The FOA Home Page

FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.


Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc.
The FOA Home Page

Fiber Optic Timeline  

(C)1999-2023, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

 FOA Logo Merchandise

New FOA Swag! Shirts, Caps, Stickers, Cups, etc.
FOA T Shirt
The FOA has created a store on offering lots of new logo merchandise. It has lots of versions of shirts and other merchandise with "FOA," "Fiber U," "Lennie Lightwave" designs and more so you should find something just for you! See FOA on Zazzle.

Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

The FOA encourages CFOTs to use the logo on their business cards, letterhead, truck or van, etc. and provides logo files for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

Feel free to use the logo and designations to promote your achievements and professionalism!

Contact FOA at to get logos in file format for your use.

Privacy Policy (for the EU GDPR): The FOA does not use cookies or any other web tricks to gather information on visitors to our website, nor do we allow commercial advertising. Our website hosts may gather traffic statistics for the visitors to our website and our online testing service, ClassMarker, maintains statistics of test results. We do not release or misuse any information on any of our members except we will confirm FOA certifications and Fiber U certificates of completion when requested by appropriate persons such as employers or personnel services.
Read the complete FOA Privacy Policy here.