TSB 140 Nears Approval With Changes
TSB 140, the TIA/EIA 568 addenda intended to explain fiber optic testing for premises installations is nearing a vote in the TR 42.8 committee, but has been modified to keep it realistic. (See FOANL 8/03) This standard offered two "tiers" of testing, with tier 1 being normal testing (continuity, polarity and insertion loss) and tier 2 was OTDR testing. Since OTDR testing was called for in the standard, many thought it would be interpreted as mandatory for premises installations, which it certainly is not, nor in fact, is it even appropriate in many premises installs. So the standard has been reworded to make certain users know OTDR testing is OPTIONAL! It also adds an "annex' to clarify the TSB, which is itself a clarification of 568, on detailed test procedures.
Low Cost Bandwidth Tester Debuts
Advanced Fiber Solutions of Milton, MA has started shipping a low cost bandwidth tester for multimode fibers. This tester uses time-domain techniques with DSP (digital signal processing) and sophisticated FFT analysis, combined with a PC as a controller to reduce costs. It can test 50/125 and 62.5/125 fibers at 850 and 1300 nm up to 10 km long and has a frequency range of 2.5 GHz.
Bandwidth testing of MM fibers was a big issue 20 years ago, before SM fiber became available for long distance telecom networks. It resurfaced with gigabit networks (Ethernet and Fibre Channel) in the last few years, where the useful length of cable plants was limited by the fiber bandwidth. Work by your editor (JH) and Eric Pearson using a prototype of this instrument has also shown bandwidth is affected by termination processes, and information on this will be published in the near future.
Is Cat 6 Dead? Already?
An editorial by Donna Ballast, a telecom engineer at UT Austin and BICSI's standards laison, in the latest Cabling Installation and Maintenance magazine, seems to be the epitaph for Cat 6. The article says it's acceptance in the marketplace is disappointing and the move to create an "augmented" Cat 6 capable of 625 MHz bandwidth for 10 gigabit Ethernet dooms current Cat 6. Her conclusion is a "must read."
And a report from Europe says Mysticom was able to transmit 10G Ethernet over Nexans Cat 7 cabling - a whopping 25 meters in an "enhanced mode" and 20 m in standard mode. Doesn't look good for Cat 7 either!
More on "Holey Fibers" ?
Last month, we mentioned "holey fibers" that transmit light in voids in the fiber instead of using solid optical materials. A new application for this technique has been proposed, using it for wafer-level integration of optical integrated circuits. Creating optical paths in most IC substrates is difficult due to the high index of refraction of the materials and high attenuation. But if nanotechnology can be used to create "bandgap" structures, like holey fibers, in the substrate, high quality optical interconnections are possible.
Want to know more? Here are some links from the MIT website. Another way to find articles is to Google "holey fibers."
A new section of "Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics" covers OTDRs. It tells how they work, what they measure, how (and where) to use them and describes the measurement errors. A good read!
New Tech Topics
Plastic Optical Fibers (POF)
Eric Pearson's Newsletters - with some tests on connectors.
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