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October, 2016


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FOA Newsletter - Features

In This Issue - (INDEX)

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


Let's Talk Hiring And Training
Evaluating Job Candidates
How AT&T Views Training
Why Employers Can't Find Enough Candidates
Visiting a "State of the Art" Training Facility
WBMMF Has A New Name - OM5
KY Wired Moving Forward In Eastern KY
PA Turnpike Plans 550 Miles Of Fiber
Where Are FTTH Networks In America
178 Communities Building Broadband Networks
How Do You Identify A Counterfeit Cleaver?
A Better MPO Connector?
Why You Should Inspect All Connectors
Need A Secure Network - Make It 1-Way
"Dig Once" Guide and Links
Educational Systems For Fiber Optic Fundamentals


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


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

DIG SAFE - Call 811 before you dig!


JobsCurrent openings for Cable Techs, Fiber Splicers, etc.
Also see FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
The FOA Jobs Web Page has been updated and a new page added on Using your FOA Training/Certification to Find the Right Job in Fiber Optics

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

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The Archives: Past Issues.
Use these links to read past issues or use FOA's Google Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
1/16, 2/16, 3/16,  4/16, 5/166/167-8/16, 9/16, 10/16,      
1/15, 2/15, 3/15, 4/15, 5/15, 6/15, 7/15, 8/15, 9/15 , 10/1511/15 , 12/15
1/14, 2/14, 3/14, 4/14, 5/14, 6/14, 7/14, 8/14, 9/14, 10/14, 11/14, 12/14 
1/132/13, 3/13, 4/13, 5/13, 6/13, 7/13, 8/13, 9/13, 10/13, 11/1312/13 
1/12 , 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12   
1/11 ,  2/11,  3/11,  4/11,  6/11, 7/11, 8/11,  9/11, 10/11, 11/11,  12/11,  
1/10 ,  2/10, 3/10,  4/10,   05/10,  07/10, 08/10,  09/10,  10/10, 11/10 
1/09 ,  2/09,  3/09, 04/09,  05/09,  07/09, 08/09, 09/09, 10/09, 11/09,  12/09
1/08 , 2/08, 3/08, 4/08, 5/08,  6/08, 7/08, 8/08, 09/0810/08, 11/08,  12/08 
12/07 , 11/07, 10/07, 09/07, 08/07, 07/07, 06/07, 05/07, 04/07, 03/07, 2/07, 1/07
12/06 , 11/06, 10/06, 09/06, 8/06, 7/06, 6/06, 5/06, 4/06, 3/06, 2/06, 1/06,
12/05 ,11/05, 10/05, 09/05, 08/05, 07/05, 6/05, 5/05, 4/05, 2/05, 01/05,
12/04 , 10/04, 9/04, 8/04, 7/04, 6/04, 5/04, 4/04, 3/04, 1/04,
12/03 , 11/03 10/03 9/03, 8/03, 7/03, 6/03, 3/03, 10/02 , 8/02, 5/02
Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

CFOT®  and Fiber U® - The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA, as is the FOA logo.

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.

 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

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

FOA Videos on videos

Use our "Google Custom Search" to look for specific topics on our website.
FOA Home Page
Contact the FOA 

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Looking for information on a particular topic?

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To keep your FOA certifications and membership active, you need to renew every year (or two or three - longer times save you money.) Now we have a new more convenient way to renew - Paypal - where you can quickly and conveniently use your PayPal account or your credit card.

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Like Crossword Puzzles? Here's Some On Fiber Optics

EP crossword

You can have fun and study fiber optics at the same time! Here are 4 crossword puzzles

Download the crossword puzzle on  "Optoelectronics and Splicing."
Download the PDF file of the crossword on "Light and Fiber".
Download the PDF file of the crossword puzzle on "Cables".
Download the crossword on "Connectors & Splices."

Let's Talk Hiring And Training

Last month in the FOA Newsletter we had a lead article "Growing Pains"  that discussed some of the problems we've seen recently in fiber optic installations, many of which were problems caused by untrained, inexperienced fiber optic installers. Since the FOA was founded to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education and certification, we believe that such problems are avoidable if workers are properly evaluated as hires, then trained and supervised.

This month and often in the future we will look at training issues and feature some of our innovative schools to show how training is keeping up with technology.

Evaluating Job Candidates

Ideally, you could hire qualified employees every time, but we all know that's unrealistic. The first problem is finding the qualified person and the second is verifying their qualifications. There are plenty of people looking for jobs on online sites, but how do you evaluate them in a timely fashion? Of course you look at a resume to evaluate their job history, experience, skills, education and references. But when it comes to skilled workers in a technical field like fiber optics, how does an interviewer with human resources skills evaluate the candidates technical knowledge and skills?

Many big companies are using online screening for their potential employees before job interviews. Looking for a software job? You might have to take a online course and write a short program or play a technical game. There is a way that potential fiber techs/installers can be qualified in the same way that the big high-tech companies evaluate job candidates - online.

How do you evaluate a fiber tech online? Simple. If they are not yet FOA CFOT certified, just have the job candidate  take the Fiber U Certificate of Completion exam (their cost $20), then show you their certificate. That certificate shows their completion of the exam and their score, a perfect way to evaluate the technical knowledge of a job candidate. Of course
, if they think they need to study to get up to date, they can complete the Fiber U Basic Fiber Optic Course (it's free) and they have refreshed their knowledge at no cost to either them or the potential employer. And this process allows the tech who is not yet FOA CFOT certified to apply for FOA certification directly through the
FOA's "Work To Cert" program.

It's also a good way to evaluate current employees' strengths and weaknesses and
identifying areas where training would be beneficial.

How One Company Views Training - AT&T

AT&T has 280,000 employees who have been at the company for an average of 22 years, excluding the large number of short term people working in call centers. As a company that once claimed to be the company "where the future was invented," it now finds itself struggling to compete in a fast changing technology market. There is not just competition for customers or keeping up with technological changes, there is fierce competition for finding the highly trained talent necessary to allow the company to keep up.

Rather than just trying to hire new people and integrate them into the company, AT&T has chosen to present it's current employees, most of whom were trained years ago in different technologies, with a challenge: learn new technologies and learn to live in a culture of constantly changing technology. It's part of a program called Workforce 2020.

Since 2013, AT&T has spent ~$250million on employee education and $30million on tuition assistance annually (almost $1,000/employee).
Employees are being required to invest their own time and sometimes their own money in these training programs.  About half the AT&T employees are involved in educational programs aimed at developing new skills identified as essential for future technologies.

By May 2016 AT&T employees had taken more than 1.8million emerging technology courses, the majority of which were online. Many are taking FOA certification courses through their union, the Communications Workers of America, given by FOA approved schools. Half the tech management jobs and half the promotions have gone to employees who have been involved in retraining programs. And product development cycles have been cut in half.

Progress in online courses is monitored by employees earning "badges" (think electronic certificates of completion) for completing courses and "nanodegrees" for completing a series of related courses in a subject area. Georgia Tech and Udacity (one of the pioneers in MOOCs - massive open online courses) were AT&T's partners in these programs.

AT&T is trying to avoid the fate of other companies like Kodak, Digital Equipment Corporation and hundreds more who failed to survive technological change. The goal is to retrain employees in new technology and create a corporate culture that acts more like a tech startup than a century old utility.


You can read more about AT&T's WF2020 program in an article that appeared in the October 2016 issue (pp.68–73) of Harvard Business Review.

Why Can't Employers Find Enough Candidates To Hire?

National Public Radio In The US has a daily radio show called "Marketplace." Marketplace reports on the economic situation in the US and often focuses on the stock market. Recently they had a report by Chris Farrell, a senior economics contributor for Marketplace, called "Why can't employers find enough candidates to hire?"

Here are two quotes from that broadcast:

"And then of course, we need to put a lot more resources into training and re-training programs. "

"I've talked to a lot of community colleges. And you call them up because they had this wonderful training program, and it really worked. And then you say, 'Well, how's it going?' And they go, 'Well, we ran out of funding.' ...What we need is more resources put into training with employers, community colleges, nonprofit organizations and government, and to say, 'Look,  we're gonna have to invest in people and we may have to reinvest in people as time goes on.' But this is a way of keeping people prepared for the labor market and the opportunities that are out there."

Visiting A "State of the Art" Training Facility

FOA recently visited one of our schools, Northern California Sound & Communication Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee in San Leandro, CA, part of the IBEW/JATC apprenticeship training program. We were very impressed with their new facility and thought our readers would like to see what "state of the art" looks like in training today.


FOA picked up the term KSAs - knowledge, skills and abilities - from the JATCs because it summed up what techs need to be successful in their jobs. The NorCal JATCs added another "A" as you can see in the photo of the lobby below:


Yes, attitude, an important factor in the success of any person in their job. If you remember in the report about the FOA KY Wired Workforce Summit last summer, contractors made a big point about "soft skills" - the employee's ability to fit in the company workforce, cooperate and learn from OJT with supervisors - and "Attitude" is a big part of the soft skills they expect from employees.

The instructors at the
San Leandro JATC are Basil Romero (R) FOA certified fiber instrucotr and Chris Cowan (L) curriculum development - not sure who the guy in the middle is -


The San Leandro JATC facility is filled with tech - networked computers and touch screens, video, CCTV and more. The screen you see in the back of the lobby is a touchscreen that shows a slide show of the student activities in classes here.


This touchscreen allows manipulation of the slide show like a tablet. It's a great way to introduce you to the work at this training center.

There's more below....

The classrooms have new interactive projectors that have inputs from PCs and finger-touch recognition that allows writing on the board with your finger - none of those messy markers required.


 NorCal has a small studio that allows making their own videos for training.


But they don't abandon older methods. Basil shows us drawings used to train apprentices on reading and interpreting standard paper drawings used on projects.


The most impressive part of the tour of this JATC facility is the "Data Center."


Rather than hiding all their LAN, video and phone hardware, they built it in a glassed-in room in their break/lunch room for everyone to see. They have another touchscreen panel with a digital version of the data center that allows virtual tours of the equipment so visitors and students can see how all the equipment fits into the high tech learning environment.

We won't show you the more conventional stuff - classrooms and labs with equipment for training apprentices on voice, data and video cabling and equipment - but it's equally impressive.

San Leandro JATC is, of course, located in Silicon Valley where keeping up with technology is a full time job. The facility provides a learning environment that allows students to see what is being done in tech and takes them "backstage" to learn how this technology is connected using fiber and copper cabling and wireless.

FOA has been a training partner with the JATCs from our beginning. Today 30 JATCs in the US use FOA programs to certify students and the FOA has been training JATC instructors at their annual summer National Training Institute for 20 years. They even print their own version of the FOA textbook. We often point out to people who call FOA asking about careers in fiber optics that the JATCs offer an apprenticeship program that allows you to learn the technology of voice, data and video cabling while getting paid to work in the field.

We've visited many of the JATCs over the years and they all have impressive training facilities, but the
San Leandro JATC is the most high tech, at least today!

Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF) Has A New Name - OM5

We have discussed wideband multimode fiber in the FOA newsletter several times in the last two years, This is a modified OM4 fiber that has been modified to allow wavelength division multiplexing with VCSELs in the range of 850 to 950nm. Recently the ISO/IEC standards committees agreed to call it OM5 fiber. Next up is the discussion of whether it gets a special color instead of using aqua like OM3 and OM4 fiber. The current proposal is to use "lime green" - that should make it stand out in cable trays!

Kentucky Wired Moving Forward In Eastern KY

The Kentucky Wired broadband network is moving forward in eastern KY with two new partners announced recently. The Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA), the entity overseeing KentuckyWired, entered into strategic agreements with Cincinnati Bell Telephone System (CBTS) and most recently with East Kentucky Network LLC (EKN) to partner on broadband network construction in north/central and eastern Kentucky.

KY Wired

The EKN partnership covers 21 counties in eastern Kentucky and will tie into the main trunk line from northern Kentucky. The Cincinnati Bell partnership is critical in that Cincinnati is one of two key gateways—along with Louisville—to the worldwide web points of presence. A presence in both Cincinnati and in Louisville provides redundancy in case one site has issues. Without these links, KentuckyWired would just be a network within the state with no connections to the high-speed, high- capacity Internet.

“Cincinnati Bell is pleased to partner with the State of Kentucky on this important initiative,” said Gary Peddicord, General Manager, Carrier Services, for Cincinnati Bell. “Cincinnati Bell has a long history of supporting economic development efforts in the communities we serve, and broadband connectivity is a key part of creating jobs and opportunity in Kentucky.”

“EKN partner companies have been in business more than 60 years,” said Allen Gillum, CEO and General Manager of EKN. “We are happy to be a part of KentuckyWired and to bring our experience and resources to this important project.”

These agreements highlight KCNA’s ongoing commitment to work with existing infrastructure companies to efficiently and economically improve broadband services in the Commonwealth. Additional strategic partnership discussions are currently underway throughout the Commonwealth.

The KentuckyWired middle-mile network, a public-private-partnership with the Macquarie Group, will consist of more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable and more than 1,000 government and post- secondary education sites that will be connectivity points in communities for local internet service providers to tap into for last-mile service to customers. Preparation work has already taken place at nearly 100 government, university and community college sites in eastern and northern Kentucky.

“The KentuckyWired project levels the mountains and the playing field for the people of eastern Kentucky to compete in the global, data-driven economy,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College. “This is the single most important investment in economic and workforce development that will have a profound impact on the entire Commonwealth, from Pikeville to Paducah.”

FOA is a training partner with KY Wired project through the Kentucky Community And Technical College system. Big Sandy is one of the 5 schools in eastern KY already offering FOA training and certification in support of the project. More schools will be coming online as the project expands.

Read the KY Wired press release here.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Plans To Install 550 Miles Of Fiber

PA turnpike

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans to develop a fiber-optic cable broadband internet network along the 550 miles of turnpike.The network would replace the turnpike’s microwave-radio system, whose capacity to carry data from toll plazas, camera systems and road sensors to centralized computers will eventually reach its limit, turnpike officials said.

Turnpike chief information officer Scott Fairholm envisions a system that transmits traffic, road and weather conditions directly into car and truck dashboards outfitted to accept the information, a feature future vehicles will certainly have. Consultants will help choose private contractors to build the system at their own expense, operate it and sell excess network capacity to other state agencies or private businesses. The public-private partnership means construction and operations won’t cost the turnpike anything and could produce some revenue from selling excess capacity

Scranton Times-Tribune October 17, 2016

Where Are FTTH Networks In America?

A good place to find out is the "National Broadband Map" maintained by NTIA, the US National Telecommunications And Information Administration. The map below shows the FTTH map, but you can also see maps for DSL, cable modems and wireless. You can also read broadband news here.

NTIA Broadband Map

178 Communities In America Are Building Broadband Networks

Community fiber networks

Broadband Communities Magazine has counted 178 Communities in 38 US States And American Samoa that are at some stage in developing or operating municipal owned broadband networks. This article is a very good read if you are interested in developing a muni broadband network because it shows the numerous ways these operations can be structured. Some are public owned, many by electrical companies, some public/private partnerships and some started public but have been sold to private operators. Some only offer services to businesses, others to consumers. Some are their own ISP, others offer a distribution network for ISPs. The article includes a table of all the systems and the way they are structured.

Mandatory reading if you are considering such a move.

Read more in Broadband Communities Magazine  

How Do You Identify A Counterfeit Cleaver"

FOA Master Instructor Bill Graham sent us this photo of two cleavers , one a real Sumitomo and one counterfeit. Can you tell the difference?

Counterfeit Cleaver

#1 is the real Sumitomo cleaver which sells for about $800 and #2 is a counterfeit that sells for about $85.
The first thing to note is the poor quality of finish of the metal and the roughness of the cast in logo on the top. It's also missing the hold-down (round black plastic piece.)
In use the operation is not as smooth, especially the cutter blade sliding to scribe the fiber.
The cleaves are not as good or consistent, not adequate for critical work.
As they say, you get what you pay for.

Is This A Better Idea For MPO Connectors?

As you can see below (next article) MPO connectors have a large area that can get dirty. They also depend on the polishing process leaving fibers protruding from the ferrule surface to ensure physical contact for low loss and reflectance. A typical MM MPO looks like this on an interferometer:


Polishing the connector so that all fibers protrude equally is not easy, but is mandatory to get consistent loss on all the fibers. You might remember an article in this newsletter that quoted a study about the MPO claiming that the outer fibers had higher loss. That article prompted feedback from a cable manufacturer who said it appeared to be an artifact of the polishing process and that another brand of polishing machine gave results where the inner fibers had higher loss. Puzzling!

Another option is the termination process developed by Arrayed Fiberoptics Corp. that polishes the MPO ferrule so that the fibers are undercut slightly, then the ferrule is coated with an anti-reflection coating like the coatings used on photographic lenses. The Arrayed MPO looks like this:


You can see the fibers do not protrude but are just slightly below the surface of the ferrule (just microns below). Generally this would cause high reflectance (~ -20dB) if there were an air gap between the fibers, but the ferrule ends are coated as you can see in this photo:


The ferrule on the right has an antireflection (AR) coating that reduces loss even with non-contact fibers. The manufacturer claims that this provides more repeatable loss on the line of fibers and reduces potential damage to the fibers. Although not one of their claims, AR coatings are often harder than glass and certainly the glass-filled plastic ferrule, so this should be a much more durable MPO.

For more information, go to
Arrayed Fiberoptics Corp.

Why You Should Inspect ALL Fiber Optic Connectors And Clean ALL of Them

Dirty MPO

"Contamination on the end face is 'job-1".  However, while this is a dramatic image, there can be contamination on other aspects of the connector.  My point in all of this is that cleaning the end face is critical...but also understanding there are potential "soil points" from other areas can/will/may save lots of frustration.   "What if dust in an alignment port is causing misalignment of fibers 2-6-8?"     Right now we are teaching to clean the most important sectors...and that must not stop...but teaching awareness of other aspects is the essence of "Best Future Proof"." Image and comment from Ed Forrest.

Need A Secure Network But Want Data From It - Make It "One Way"

Recently an IT person called FOA with a question. They wanted to be able to transfer information from a remote site to a corporate network but did not want to risk the site being compromised if the corporate network was hacked. The solution was to make the fiber link one way - only allowing transmission from the remote site to the corporate network. This is not as easy as it sounds since most fiber links are designed to be full duplex and many will stop transmitting if there is no return signal. Plus, there needs to be additional safeguards against data corruption.

It turns out the US Government has worked out the details and conveniently patented it so we can find our how they did it. It's Patent US7260833 and you can read the entire patent application here.

One way

This implementation uses hardware to simulate the return link but a media converter company should be easily able to make a one way link. Anybody know if such a thing exists?

Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free

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

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

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

You Should Worry About Static Electricity When Cleaning Connectors

We all know the problems with dirty connectors but keeping connectors clean, even after just cleaning them, can be a problem. The Microcare Sticklers people have been talking about the problem of static electricity for some time. When you clean a connector with a dry cleaner, you may cause a static charge on the connector ferrule that will attract more dirt from the air.


Sticklers solution is a cleaning fluid that is conductive and prevents static. Used with their cleaning tools, it reduces the static problem and helps ensure clean connectors. Watch their video here.

The Microcare Sticklers people tell us they working on a series of five training videos about how to clean various connectors by application and should have the videos done by the end of September. We'll update you on those next month.

Useful Online Resources

We often have contacts give us online links for useful information which we like to share with our readers. Here are two:

Electrical/Low Voltage Workers in Wisconsin
Casey Healey, Business Agent for IBEW Local 159 in McFarland,WI suggested a link to the Wisconsin Electrical Workers on the FOA jobs website. They have nine IBEW locals that cover the entire state of Wisconsin. All nine locals use this website in search of low voltage technicians that are certified in copper or fiber. After an individual fills out the employment opportunities form on the website a representative from that person's area would be in contact with them to discuss job opportunities within the IBEW as a low voltage apprentice, trainee or a technician. In Wisconsin they teach the 3 year NJATC Voice Data Video apprenticeship program. WI JATCs use the books that FOA has written for the NJATC in their curriculum

Finding Legal Information
As the two articles above illustrate, sometimes you get involved in a situation where you need local legal information or assistance. When you need legal information around the US, it can be very frustrating to find the right contacts. A friend of the FOA, Debbie Mayer, sent us this lead:

"I came across a site that has alleviated my frustrations and has proven to be rather accurate for my own purposes. The site, seems to have a complete database of listings for all emergency, legal and law enforcement government offices in the country – with working phone numbers (at least for the ones I’ve tried!). I wanted to share the site because it has saved me a few headaches and I’m sure it would be useful to others as well."


Dig Once

The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. It helps that the current Administration is trying to convince cities of the advantages of installing ducts or conduits when they dig up a street so they don't have to do it again. Here are some links for more information.

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:
From the Council of State governments:
From the city of San Francisco:
An article about Dakota County, MN:

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

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides Are Updated And On The FOA Website

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

ennie and Uncle Ted's Guides have moved  to the FOA website. Lennie is the place where many if not most fiber techs begin their education. FOA has just updated the two guides to ensure they stay relevant - more than 20 years after they were first written.

Lennie goes all the way back to 1993 when he was created as the mascot of the original "Fiber U" conference - the same Fiber U that is now the FOA's web-based training site. Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics was created as a beginner's introduction to fiber optics. Over 60,000 printed version of Lennie's Guide were given away and it became one of the first commercial web pages in 1994. Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling was written a few years later to introduce techs to "Cat 5" - UTP wiring - that had only recently been standardized in TIA-568.

Lennie and Ted's Guides are used in the current Fiber U online self-study programs and are still the best place to start learning about fiber optics.

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online at the links here, can be downloaded as printable PDFs and are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.

Articles Worth Reading On Pinterest

FOA has been posting articles "Worth Reading" on our Pinterest board instead of including them in our monthly newsletter. If you subscribe to our board, you get notified when the articles are posted instead of waiting until the end of the month. Recently postings include:

Sign up at the FOA  Pinterest "Worth Reading" board

Two New Books From FOA - Not Just For Installers - Their Bosses Need To Read Them Too!

These books should be on the bookshelves of network owners or managers, facilities managers, supervisors of the installers and anyone else involved with fiber optic networks.

FOA has published two new books that provide useful information for those involved in fiber optic projects, and not just for installers. The latest, the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design, is a comprehensive guide to designing fiber optic networks of any type, from concept to completion. This book looks at design from the initial need for communications through the process of setting the route of the cable plant, choosing components, finding a contractor, planning the installation and documenting the process from beginning to end.

While one might think the focus of the design book is on the person actually designing the network, it is also aimed at those for whom the network is being designed - the network owner or manager, facilities manager, supervisors of the installers and anyone else involved in the process. We especially think that everyone who contracts for fiber optic installations should have a copy of this book on their bookshelf as a reference for when they are involved in a project.

The second book which we released recently, the Outside Plant Construction Guide, is another book aimed at a wider audience than installers. Certainly it's of interest to installers, being the only book we know about the actual construction process of installing fiber optic cables, but it is also useful to the designer of the network and those who contract for fiber optic cable plant installation, especially if they are involved in getting permits and easements or having to explain to others the process of installation.

Both books, like all FOA books, are inexpensive and available in paperback or Kindle formats.

FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design And FOA's Outside Plant Fiber Optic Construction Guide

FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design  FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

Read More about the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optic Network Design  and More information on the FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

Want To Learn More About DIY FTTH?

SW Southern Fiberworx is a DIY FTTH Project in Georgia

It seems like every week FOA gets another call from a town, real estate developer or utility wanting to start a FTTH project for their area. FOA has created several videos and a a web page on this topic to help anyone get started.

FTTH Case Studies: Do-It-Yourself FTTH

FOA has a series of videos on do it yourself (DIY) FTTH. The first three videos are online now:

FOA Lecture 45 Do It Yourself FTTH (Fiber to the Home)  What's involved in building a FTTH network of your own.

FOA Lecture 46 Do It Yourself FTTH (Southern Fiberworx)   (FOA Newsletter November 2015) How one company, Southern Fiberworx in Cordele, GA did it themselves.

FOA Lecture 46 Do It Yourself FTTH (Southern Fiberworx)   (FOA Newsletter November 2015)

Another Source Of Articles On Fiber

FOA President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been writing a column in Electrical Contractor Magazine for more than 15 years now. Electrical contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered some toics they are interested in including installation processes, network design, fiber applications and in the last year, a lengthy series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to and you can see all of them.

Keep Up With Google Fiber News

Google is moving ahead in Austin and starting in the SE building Google Fiber networks. They just announced projects in San Diego and Irvine, CA and Louisville, KY.  Here is where to keep track of what is happening with Google Fiber - the Google Fiber Facebook page!

Fiber Optic Education For Students At Any Age 

We hear about fiber optics all the time - it's in the news whenever we hear articles about high tech, the Internet and communications, and many communities are getting "fiber to the home." But few people really understand fiber optics or how it works. FOA is focused on educating the workforce that installs and operates these fiber optic networks but we're always getting inquiries from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers who want to introduce fiber optics to younger students in K-12 grades or technical schools.

Teachers for fiber optics
Using red laser light (a VFL here but a laser pointer works also) to show how fiber guides light.

FOA has begun developing a series of YouTube videos intended for teaching students in elementary, middle and high schools about fiber optics. The first FOA video is titled "Fiber Optics For Teachers." With this video, we show teachers how fiber works and carries signals and then explains simple experiments to demonstrate how fiber optics works in the classroom using some plastic fiber and a laser pointer. Since many teachers do not know where to get the fiber, the FOA offers to send them a sample for use in demonstrations in their classroom (USA only right now.)

At the end of the video, teachers are given directions on how to request samples of the plastic fiber from the FOA.

This video joins the "Fiber Optics Live" series How Light Travels In A FiberFiber Attenuation and Connector Loss that show how fiber works using simple experiments that can be duplicated in any classroom. More videos will be coming soon.

If you have kids or know some teachers who would be interested, please send them to the introductory video Fiber Optics For Teachers  and we'll be glad to help them get started with some entertaining programs for their classrooms.

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.


If you have kids in school or know teachers who are interested, send them to the FOA page Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.

Ruby Opto Systems (India) Offers Educational Systems For Fiber Optic Fundamentals

The present technological advancements in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education have evolved through research on basic experimentations. Optical fibers applications are no exceptions.

RUBY OPTO SYSTEMS in India has developed a series of educational apparatus to help demonstrate fiber technology and help students understand the theoretical and experimental aspects of optical fiber technology and optical fiber sensor applications.


The design of experiments comprises of losses or attenuation due to bending (total internal reflection), misalignments (through beam) and sensing (reflective beam) apart from losses due to optical fiber end preparation, optical fiber lengths, source and detector coupling and the numerical aperture of an optical fiber.

The optomechanical components are ergonomically designed for the purpose of hands-on experience. The methodical procedure of conducting the sequence of experiments substantiate towards the understanding of basic principles and further basic computation of power budgeting, the fundamental criteria of an optical fiber network. The seamless integration of modules/ components based on the design of the experiment make s it versatile and not a mere plug and play monotonous activity.

For more information, see the Ruby-Opto website  or email the developer, Parimal Kowtal at <parimal.kowtal @>

Should Your Company Become An FOA Corporate Member?

As all FOA individual members know, they join the FOA by becoming certified, mostly taking their CFOTs but some CPCTs,  either by attending a FOA approved school or joining directly based on field experience (our "work to cert" program.) Over the years, we've been contacted by manufacturers, contractors, consultants, and other types of organizations who ask about becoming members.

We don't certify companies or organizations, we told them, so we were not sure what we could offer as a benefit of membership. But then, companies asked about using our educational programs to train employees, how they could get listed on the FOA website as service providers or if they could get a quantity discount on membership or certification for all the FOA members working for them. That began to sound like a benefit for being an FOA corporate member. And providing a list of useful suppliers to the market could be a benefit to the industry as a whole.

So FOA has quietly been letting companies and other organizations join the FOA to take advantage of those benefits so we now have several hundred corporate members. We've put then into a database and listed them on the FOA website in map and list form. Here's the map.

FOA Corporate members

The online
map and list can be used to find suppliers and service providers.

The map, like our map of schools, lets you find the FOA corporate members close to you.  The table form lists them by category: Installer/Contractor, Component Manufacturer, Installation Equip. Manufacturer, Transmission Equipment, Services/Consulting, Distribution and Users of Fiber Optic Networks. You can sort the tables to find members meeting your needs, e.g. by location, certifications offered, etc. Click on any column heading to sort that column; click twice to sort in reverse order.

How Does An Organization Become An FOA Corporate Member?

Simple, just fill in the online application form. When your application is accepted, you will be asked to pay the membership fee -  $100US first year, $50US/year or $100US/3years to renew. You will then be listed on the online  map and list, have access to exclusive FOA educational materials for your employees and get discounts on certifications and renewals. 

EXFO Offers Super Posters And More


EXFO offers some super posters, guides and books. The FTTx and OTDR posters are really useful! Look at the whole selection here

MPO Connectors

There are numerous polarity options for MPO connectors and adding the options for breakouts on each end, you can see how it's easy to fill 23 pages of the TIA-568 standard with diagrams. We've tried to simplify it on an expanded MPO page on the FOA Guide which we recommend you read.

There is a new YouTube video on this part of the MPO polarity also.

FOA YouTube Channel

New FOA YouTube Videos - Focus On MPO Connectors - Prefab Cabling With MPOs, Testing MPOs and MPO Polarity
We continue to get inquiries about MPO connectors, especially testing them. A continual concern is the variability of loss when testing them. It seems they are not all that repeatable, making testing confusing. We've tried to create materials that explain them and their use. We've recently added three more videos - all focused on the MPO array connector - to the FOA YouTube channel.

Panduit Pan MPO connector
The Panduit PanMPO Connector

FOA Lecture 41 Prefabricated (Preterminated) Fiber Optic Cabling Systems
FOA Lecture 42 MPO (Multifiber, Array) Connectors and How To Test Them
FOA Lecture 43 Managing Polarity of MPO Connectors (using the PanMPO Connector)
FOA Lecture 44 MPO Connector Fiber Polarity

Safety On The Job

bucket truck job  Pipeline explosion

Safety is the most important part of any job. Installers need to understand the safety issues to be safe. An excellent guide to analyzing job hazards is from OSHA, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Here is a link to their guide for job hazard analysis.

FOA also has lots of information on safety: FOA Guide, YouTube video and a Safety Poster

"Worth Reading" Is Now OnPin

Join FOA on Pinterest. We have been posting links to pages "Worth Reading" on a special FOA Pinterest page. You can join and keep up to date with the news on our industry which we put there.

Recent posts cover utilities using new generation telecom, India's plan for 100 smart cities, Cincinnati Bell bets on fiber, various opinions on the US battle over net neutrality, etc.


Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free

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

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

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

Events of Interest

Don't Miss These Seminars and Webinars:


TIA FOTC offers regular webinars and archives them here so you can watch anytime.


Installation and Management of Customer-Owned Outside Plant Cabling by Hubbell and Clearfield

The specification, design, installation and management of customer-owned outside plant cabling systems require knowledge, tools and systems that often differ from those used for in-building communication systems. The physical conditions are less benign, which affects everything from installation techniques to the equipment that houses and protects the cabling. This web seminar hosted by Cabling Installation & Maintenance addresses several aspects of customer-owned outside plant cabling administration, emphasizing the capabilities and physical requirements of products and systems deployed in these environments.

Watch anytime  -  sign up here.

Fiber Testing - Presented By Jim Hayes, FOA

This webcast seminar, presented by Jim Hayes, examines several ways in which fiber testing- both insertion loss and OTDR testing - has evolved. The seminar will begin with a basic tutorial of fiber-transmission principles and test fundamentals. It will then discuss the uncertainties of each fiber-optic measurement method. The seminar will then address some of the developments that have served to improve the certainty of test results, as well as how technicians can use their instruments more effectively to reduce measurement errors.

Watch Anytime - Sign Up Here 


LogoNew local programs for fiber installation training

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

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



FOA LogoWhat's Happening @ FOA

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has three LinkedIn Groups

FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

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

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)

FOA Standards:

FOA now offers free standards for datalinks and testing the installed fiber optic cable plant, patchcords and cable, optical power from transmitters or at receivers and OTDR testing.

What Is A Fiber Optic Cable Plant?

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

Available also is a new standard for Datalinks.

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

View the  FOA YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

Go to the FOA "1 Page Standards"

NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

NECA 301
Standards cover components and systems and how to test them, but rarely get into installation issues. The FOA NECA 301 standard which covers installation of optical fiber systems has been revised for the second time, adding considerable new materials. This standard is derived from FOA educational material put in standards form and approved by ANSI as an American National Standard. It's specifically written to be used in contracts to define "installation in a neat and workmanlike manner." The standard is available from NECA.   FOA members can go here for instructions on how to download your free copy.

Application of Standard Project Management Processes in Fiber Optic Cable Plant Project Management

By Alfred Sankara, PMP, CFOS/D – Telecommunications Project Manager

Organizations in the communication industry are proving that adopting proven project management practices reduces risks, cuts costs, and improves success rates of projects. The present article demonstrates how standard project management processes apply to fiber optic cable plant project management.

The article compares the Project Management Institute (PMI)’s standards and guidelines to the FOA’s best practices in terms of fiber optic cable plant project management.  PMI is the world's leading not-for-profit professional association for the project, program, and portfolio management profession. PMI strives to mature the profession of project management through standards, certifications, resources, tools, academic research, publications, professional development courses, and networking opportunities.

The PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) defines the project lifecycle as a combination of the following three (3) main phases: Project Initiation, Project Execution, and Project Closing. This article shows that the FOA’s fiber optic cable plant project management lifecycle phases, which include the Design, Installation, and Testing, fit with PMI’s recommended project lifecycle.

Alfred Sankara is a telecommunications specialist who has been active in the planning, deployment, and operations of telecommunications infrastructure since 1999.In the United States and Africa, Alfred has been involved in the execution of various telecommunications projects, including plans and specifications development, fiber optic network deployment (FTTH, SONET, DWDM, Carrier Ethernet, and OTN) and wireless network implementation (WiMAX, Wi-Fi, UMTS, and LTE).Alfred co-founded DigiBridge TelCo to contribute to reduce the digital divide in emerging countries by assisting governmental entities to deploy state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure.

 Download a copy of Alfred's article on project management for fiber optic construction.


Fiber U

Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs

FOA's "Fiber U" free online self-study programs help you learn about fiber optics, study for FOA certifications or use them to help create "blended learning" classes. There are two new free online self-study programs on Fiber U. Fiber Optic Network Design is for those interested in learning more about how to design fiber optic networks or studying for the CFOS/D certification. FTTx is for those wanting to know more about fiber to the "x" - curb, home, wireless, etc. - or studying for the CFOS/H certification.
Got to Fiber U for more information.

Fiber U Online Self-Study Programs Offer Option Of Certificate of Completion

FOA has been offering quite a few free online self-study programs on Fiber U, our online learning site. We are always getting questions about getting a certificate for completing the course online, so we have setup an option to take a test online and get a certificate of completion for these online courses.

Fiber U certificate

While it's not FOA certification, FOA will recognize a
Fiber U Certificate of Completion as background experience to qualify for applying for FOA certifications. We also intend to expand the program to more specialized topics as preparation for FOA specialist certifications.

If you have associates that want to get started in fiber, have them take this course online to get started. Go to  Fiber U and get started.

Lennie & Uncle Ted Now Available As Free Books on iTunes

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

Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling   are now available free to iPad users who can download them from the Apple iTunes store. Of course they are still available online or for download.

Lennie's Guide has always been the world's favorite introduction to fiber optics. It was first published in the mid-1990s by Fotec, the fiber optic test equipment company famous for its "Fiber U" training conferences and more than 60,000 printed copies were distributed. Lennie was one of the earliest commercial webpages and is still online today (and as popular as ever) at Uncle Ted's Guide was created at the request of Lennie readers who wanted a similar simple introduction to "Cat 5" wiring. This latest version of Uncle Ted's Guide covers the all premises cabling topics - wiring, fiber and wireless.

You can find these free guides on Apple's iTunes Store or on the FOA website - go here for all the links: Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Communications Cabling  

FOA Textbook Now Available in French / FOA manuel disponible en français

FOA Text in French

Available from / Disponible sur

And from Createspace / Et à partir de Createspace

FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook In Spanish

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

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

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


FOA iPad Apps

FOA LossCalc
FOA Loss Calculator AppFOA LossCalc estimates the optical loss of a fiber optic link. This will save time for the installer of a fiber optic link needing to know whether test results are reasonable and/or make a "pass/fail" determination. It can also help the designer of a link to determine if communications equipment will operate over this link.
By choosing the type of link (singlemode or multimode) and specifying the length of the fiber and numbers of connections and splices, it will calculate the end to end loss of the link. The app has default specifications for singlemode and multimode links or the user may create custom setups with specifications appropriate for any application.

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



The FOA has many videos on videos, including two Lecture Series (Fiber Optics and Premises Cabling), Hands-On lectures on both and some other informational and instructional videos. For all the videos, go to the FOA Channel "thefoainc" or use the direct links below.

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

For End Users - Who Think Fiber Needs Maintenance

FOA Lecture 39 Maintaining Fiber Optic Networks  

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

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

New FOA Lectures - Jargon and Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

Prepolished/Splice Connector Termination (Panduit OptiCam) 

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

Hazards Of Counterfeit Cable

You may have read the stories we have written about the counterfeit "Cat 5" cable made from copper-clad aluminum rather than pure copper. Recently we tried an unscientific burn test on the cable compared to a known good UL tested cable and posted a video on YouTube. You can see the results below.

Counterfeit cable flame test

Counterfeit Cable     Real UL-rated cable

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

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

View all the FOA Channel  on YouTube.  


FOA Guide

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

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

FOA Guide page on Metrology- the accuracy of measurements
Fiber For Wireless: FTTA and DAS

Updated page on Data Centers

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

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

Updates for new FOA certifications in FTTA and Data Centers

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

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

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

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

We have updated the "Datalinks" page.

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

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

More New Info:

Links to manufacturers and distributors of fiber optic lighting products.

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

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

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.


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

Owensboro Community and Technical College, Owensboro, KY, USA. School # 358

Ashalnd Community & Technical College, Ashland, KY, School # 359

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

Find An FOA-Approved Training Organization

Most inquiries we get regarding finding a FOA-Approved training organization want to know two things: what school is closest to me or what school offers the certifications I need. The FOA has about 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide so finding the right one can be difficult! We've been looking at ways to make it easier, and we think we've got a good solution. In fact we have two solutions.

First we have added a sortable table of all the FOA-Approved schools.

You can also use our FOA Google Map to find FOA-Approved schools.


What Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do They Need?
FOA certifications are based on our KSAs - the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that techs need to succeed. Read the FOA KSAs for fiber and cabling techs.

School News


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

"I took your fiber optics certification courses this past March. I just wanted to let you know that in two weeks I start working as a fiber optic technician with ___ up in ___. You mentioned on the first day of the course that there is always one guy in class who had rubbed his last two nickels together to be there and, in that instance, I was that guy. Now I'm going to be able to provide for my family like never before and I owe it to the certification that I received from you and BDI Datalynk. I just wanted to thank you again."

"Thanks to our tremendously knowledgeable and patient instructor Thomas Rauch, who was not only generous in sharing his wealth of information, but he did so with ease, humor and in a way that invited curiosity and participation. He was encouraging and proud of our accomplishments and helped us learn from our mistakes in a way that did not break our confidence, rather it pushed us to better results the next go around. The hands on labs were just AWESOME!" Just thought you should know what a class act you have representing you in his travels..... but then again you probably already knew that! : )

In almost 19 years at Verizon and having held numerous positions, I have gone through many training sessions. I cannot remember ever having been actually looking forward to coming back to class quickly after lunch, to get back to the hands on activities, and walking away with the sense of empowerment that the information presented was not only relevant but dead on point accurate! I will be signing up for the Outside Plant class on March! I can't say enough good things about Tom and his impact! Feel free to quote me, I can only imagine that he will open so many doors and change so many lives in the years to come, with his style of teaching! Great experience, awesome job!

IBEW and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association(NECA) through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) in a partnership with the FOA has published a new textbook for training IBEW apprentices and journeymen in fiber optics. The new textbook uses the material from the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics with new material and photos from other NJATC training partners.

NJATC FOA Textbook

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

Quote from one of our certified instructors: I want to thank you and your organization for all the resources you provide for the students and the opportunity to offer the certification to the students. The fact that you published the book yourself to get the cost down and the unlimited free resources on your website shows a commitment to the public that is second to none. I let it be known to the students that the FOA is the best in the industry at supplying knowledge and resources related to the communication industry. I look forward to passing on the information that you provide for the industry.

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



Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Real Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

MPO Connector Loss
: Is there a current standard, for maximum allowable loss, for MPO fiber connectors? If so… what is the standard # from EIA/TIA? (Was it amended in 568B, since they were introduced?) Would it be similar to standard connectors @ 0.75dB Max allowable loss?
A: The MPO is covered under the TIA 568 standard. All fiber optic connectors are the same - 0.75dB.
There are discussions being held at TIA and ISO/IEC on using a different method of specification, statistical in nature, that says X% would be less than YdB in several stages from 0.1-0.2 to over 1dB, but it’s led to some headed discussions.
MPOs for MM are probably no less than 0.5dB and SM are near the 0.75dB mark. At least the SM ones are APC (usual 8 degrees, but still a flat polish).
I’ve recently learned that MPOs are polished for fiber protrusion to try to get fiber contact, but the evenness along the line of fibers is harder to control.

image from SUMIX showing protruding fibers in MPO connector

Reflectance and OTDR Measurements

FOA often gets questions from the field that are complicated technical issues compounded by misunderstandings of product performance and testing limitations. Here is an example from recent conversations about a real world problem.

Here's The Question:

In a project, the customer is requiring a contractor to test connector reflectance and requiring -55dB for each connection.  They are using fusion spliced pigtails with UPC factory connectors.  They are measuring with an OTDR, but they can’t seem to meet the -55dB reflectance requirement on the connectors.  They are getting (-51dB – (-54dB) on a consistent bases and continually cleaning and inspecting.

I told them going into this that on the lengths of fiber they are measuring they will have a hard time getting individual reflectance measurements to meet the -55dB value unless they use angled polished connectors.  The lengths are 2,000’ – 9,000’+ and the way OTDRs measure reflectance will make it hard to get that precise. 

I am having them take the OTDR out of “auto” mode and shorten the pulse width and increase the averaging time to try and get a little more accurate measurement, but still not sure that is going to fix the problem. 

Any suggestions? 

Background: How an OTDR Measures Reflectance



In this case, we’re looking at UPC connectors. They are generally specified as ~ -45 to -50dB reflectance, and that can be +/-5dB because the reflectance can’t be measured that accurately, especially at that level.

A reflectance of -55dB means that a few parts per million of the incident light is being reflected. To make the measurement, you have to measure that reflected light against the backscatter level. Both are low level, in this case -55dB reflectance level and ~ -75 to -77dB backscatter level. The OTDR is basically trying to measure a few PPM compared to a signal 100 times smaller!

If you reduce the pulse width the amount of power in both decreases significantly making the signal/noise ration worse. With signals this small, you are working near the noise level of the instrument and no amount of averaging can improve the signal/noise ratio enough to get an accurate measurement. I’ve never done actual tests with an OTDR myself to get statistics, but I’d bet the measurement has an uncertainty of much more than +/-5dB.

Furthermore, you must be cautious with selection of pulse width. In a Corning document on reflectance, they say the amplitude of a reflective feature on an OTDR trace appears larger when measured by shorter pulse widths and therefore are often misinterpreted as a cause for concern during cabling or installation measurements.

If the customer really wants or needs  -55dB, they really need to use APC connectors where the angle polish all but eliminates reflectance. That’s what we’re seeing in most short SM applications today (FTTH, pas

How Long Does It Take To Transfer Data Over Fiber?
Have there been any studies that show how long it takes for data to travel over a fiber cable where the point of origin is 500 miles away vs. a point of origin that is 5000 miles away?
A: There are several parts to the answer, including travel time in the fiber, the length of the data packet and processing time in the transceiver:
1. Distance  = velocity X time
Light in a glass fiber travels at the speed of light (c=299 792 458 meters/s) divided by the index of refraction of the glass (1.4677 @ 1310nm, 1.4682 @ 1550nm). For long distances, 1550nm is used, so the speed of light in the fiber is about  204,190,476 m/s - “about” because of some secondary factors, so let’s say 204,000 km/s.
That’s about 4.9 ns/km or 4.90 ms/1000km from point A to point B.
2. Then the speed will depend on the data speed of the network. Obviously a system at 1Gb/s will take ~10 times longer to transmit a packet of data than a system at 10Gb/s and ~100 times longer than a 100G system. This speed also depends on the protocol of transmission which determines the overhead of transmission. Thus a 1000 byte packet has 8,000 bits and will equal about 10,000 bits with overhead.
To transmit a 1MB file, it requires 1000 packets and will take ~10Mbits of data, equalling 10milliseconds at 1Gb/s, 1millisecond at 10Gb/s, and 0.01 ms (10microsec) at 100Gb/s.
3. Processing time in transceivers and multiplexers. Data is usually processed in parallel but transmitted in serial. The conversion takes some time. Some transceivers also do some pulse shaping which may take time. Then there are transit times to get parallel data transmitted throught amps, lasers, (then the fiber link) to a detector and amps and demultiplexers on the other side.
This is hard to predict times, but it’s ~nanosecs to microsecs. Lets say 1microsecond
For your comparison of 500miles vs 5000miles, for convenience, lets say 1000 and
10,000km,  in transmitting our 1MB file

at 1Gb/s
1000km -  4.9ms on the fiber + 10ms + 1microsec = 14.9ms
10,000km  - 49ms + 10ms + 1us = 59ms
at 10Gb/s
1000km -  4.9ms on the fiber + 1ms + 1microsec = 5.9ms
10,000km  - 49ms + 1ms + 1us = 50ms
at 100Gb/s
1000km -  4.9ms on the fiber + 10microsec + 1microsec = 4.91ms
10,000km  - 49ms + 1microsec + 1us = 50.002ms

More Than “Single” Mode?
We're now using SM fibre so it looks like we don't need mandrels in the Ref Lead at the Light Source.  The info I have is that we need to make a couple of air coils 35mm to 50mm in diameter.  Why? 
A: When you launch from a pigtial laser source through a connector into a reference cable, you do have several modes being propogated. It usually takes 100m or so for the second or third order modes to attenuate. So the coil causes them to be attenuated by the stress enough to no longer be significant - it’s a mode filter just like MM. If you do not do this, you will measure higher loss in the fiber and at connections near the source. Since most SM has traditionally been long distance, the effect was small or ignorable, but with short links, it can be significant.
Followup Q: But how do we explain multiple modes in Single Mode fibre?
A: When you get the core of the fiber down to ~5-6 times the wavelength of the light, it no longer acts like geometric optics (like MM fiber). Some of the light can travel outside the core (see the note on “waveguide dispersion”here At launch, significant amounts of power are at higher angles creating short lived modes that are highly attenuated.

Replacing OM1 MM Fiber
We are an automation system integrator in South Africa. We have a client that has multimode 62.5/125 fibre optic plant wide. None of the runs between components are longer than 2km. We intend to upgrade the technology from a proprietary communication protocol to a standard ethernet protocol at 100 MHZ. The fibre to copper convertors we will be using are using 1300nm light source and have a Fibre Optic Link Budget of 12.8dB for 62.5/125 um and 9.8dB for 50/125 um. The client has been advised to replace the multimode 62.5/125 with multimode 50/125 cabling and we need to know if this is really a requirement.
A: Do you know how old the fiber is? It should be what we called FDDI grade 62.5/125 fiber with a loss of ~1dB/km and a bandwidth of  500MHz-km at 1300nm. A 2km link should have a loss of 2dB for the fiber and ~0.5dB/connection - well under the power budget of the link. 100Mb/s Ethernet variants were designed for 2km or more on this fiber. There is no reason to upgrade at this time, 50/125 fiber would not be needed until Gigabit Ethernet was desired.

Bi-Directional OTDR Testing
Should the testing be done with the same piece of equipment from both ends then merge the results or does that not matter - can you use traces from two OTDRs as long as the test equipment is compatible and settings are adjusted properly.
A: Yes, you should use the same test set from each end but this way - take a trace, disconnect the OTDR from the launch cable and go to the far end of the receive cable and connect it there to take the second trace. The usual way people do bi-directional tests is to disconnect the launch cable and take it to the far end and shoot back up, often not using a receive cable at all, figuring they get the far end connector on the second test. But when you disconnect the launch cable (and/or the receive cable) you lose the connection you want to test in the other direction! As for using the same OTDR, every OTDR is different and the results you get may be significantly different, esp. if they are not calibrated recently - and few OTDRs are ever calibrated.

Tracing Fibers
I’m looking for an inexpensive, but reliable method to quickly and easily identify terminated and unterminated SM and MM fiber, perhaps something similar to a tone and probe used for copper cabling.  For example, I found a unterminated coiled fiber cable and would like to use it, but there are several unlabeled, terminated and unterminated fiber cables at the other end.  Is there an inexpensive universal tool to simply and easily find the cable/s I’m looking for?
A: Your best bet is a visual fault locator (VFL) but you do not need a bare fiber adapter, just a unterminated connector. You will need to strip the fiber and preferably cleave it, but that can be done off the end of the connector. Just scribe the fiber and pull straight away from the connector. That should give a cleave good enough for using a VFL to trace fibers.

conn  conn

Equipment Specified At 1310nm and 1300nm Compatible
Can a switch or SFP module specified at 1310nm GBIC connect to another switch or SFP that has is specified at 1300nm GBIC?
A: No problem - there is no material difference in 1300nm and 1310nm -  it's just jargon. The 1300/1310nm confusion has been part of fiber optics for 30 years. Basically, there is no real difference in the wavelengths except for traditional nomenclature.  The nomenclature evolved to this - if you said 1310nm, it was assumed you were talking about lasers, but if you said 1300nm, it was assumed you meant a LED!

Color Code For Hybrid Cables
Is there a standard color code for the jacketing of a hybrid all optical cable, one that has both single mode and multimode optical fibers in it?
A:  No, it has to be spelled out on the cable. We could use a standard however. We know plenty of people who got SM and MM confused in a hybrid cable.

Passive OLANs in Hotels And Resorts
Are passive OLANs a good choice for hotels or resorts?
A: Passive Optical LANs are enterprise networks based on fiber to the home (FTTH) technology not Ethernet over structured cabling. The FTTH network is usually using GPON standard equipment over one singlemode fiber with passive optical splitters that provides basic Level 1 and 2 network functionality. This is not Ethernet but carries Ethernet over the GPON protocols at 2.5G downstream and 1.25G upstream.
Passive OLANs offer several advantages over conventional Ethernet switches and structured cabling, including much less cost  (~50% capital expense and ~20% operating expense), much lower space requirements (see the link to the library photos below and note the two racks of equipment that support 4000 drops), longer distance requirements (to 20km), easy expansion (these are systems designed for hundreds of thousands of users) and easy management (when you have hundreds of thousands of users, that’s important.)
For hotels, convention centers and similar facilities, the ease of upgrading to a passive OLAN is a big advantage - one fiber goes from the computer room to a splitter where it can serve 32 switches of 4 ports each. That’s right, one fiber can support 128 users! It can support anything that a network can - wireless access points, security cameras, secure entry systems, VoIP phones or POTS phones - anything that will run over a conventional network.

Equal Fiber Lengths in Duplex Links
In a fibre system using separate cables for receive and transmit, do the cables need to be the same length. Do the patch leads need to be the same length?
A: The answer is “no” within reason. Duplex signals are asynchronous by design so a small difference should not cause problems. For some protocols, very large differences might be a problem, but certainly not the small differences in fibers in a cable or patch cord variations.
Even in a long OSP loose tube cable, there are variations in the length of fibers, as much as +/-1%, because the fibers are loose in the cable to prevent stress, so at 100km, the difference could be significant. Networks allow for this.

Mixing OS1 and OS2 Fibers
Can I splice OS2 pigtails to OS1 fiber?
A: OS1 and OS2 are identical geometrically (same core and clad size) but OS2 has been processed to remove more OH+ (water ions) to reduce the attenuation at the water peaks for use with coarse wavelength division multiplexing. See
There is no problem mixing them in a system because other than the reduction of the water peaks, the fibers are the same and can be joined with no excess loss.

Testing Attenuators
How do I test an inline attenuator (receptacle on one end and connector on the other)?
A: Here is the procedure to test an attenuator:

This attenuator only works properly between two cables to add attenuation so if you test directly connected to a power meter it may not be correct. Here is how it is used:


Where C is a connector, -AAAAC is the attenuator with a receptacle on the left and a connector on the right, and = is a separate mating adapter or receptacle. C———————————C is a cable with connectors on each end. Source- is a source and -Meter is a meter

Test it like this:

First  measure the output of the source with a cable as the  “0dB” reference. Use at least a 2m cable and put a 50mm loop in the cable. Remember you need SC/APC connectors on the cables mating to the attenuator.

Source-C——————50mm loop———————C -Meter 

Attach the receptacle end of the attenuator to the cable, then use a mating adapter to attach a second cable to the attenuator. Attach the meter to the end of the second cable to measure the loss.

Source-C——————50mm loop——————C-AAAAC=C————————————C-Meter

Be sure to put the loop into the cable attached to the source. Be sure your two cables are low loss and everything is very clean.

And here is the photo the person asking sent us when they did the test:

testing a fiber optic attenuator

Calibrating An OLTS
I have a question about the OLTS - do you have to recalibrate it every day ?
A: Any optical loss test set needs to be calibrated for “0dB” whenever anything changes - the launch cable - source output - or even every few tests to ensure the connector is clean and undamaged - plus they wear out. See 5 different Ways To Test Fiber Optic Cables.

Index Of Refraction For Unknown Fibers
I inherited some old fiber to characterize. How do I set the IOR in the OTDR?
The index of refraction is the spec the OTDR uses to calculate length. If you refer to the data sheets of fiber manufacturers like Corning ( and Prysmian ( you will find that G.652 fiber has similar index of refraction among most manufacturers - 1.467 @1310nm, 1.468 at 1550/1625nm. If you do not know what the index of refraction is, using those is probably a very good estimate. Remember the measured length of fiber will be ~1% longer than the cable and you may have ~1% uncertainty in the instrument measuring length.

Insertion Loss
I have not been able to find a good definition of “optical insertion loss” or “insertion loss” or “optical loss.”
A: Insertion loss was the term originally used for the loss of a connector tested by a manufacturer. They would set up a source and length of fiber connected to a meter, measure power, insert a pair of connectors and measure the loss. Since it was an inserted connection, it became known as insertion loss.
Over time, the term insertion loss became more widely used to contrast with the loss measured by the OTDR, an indirect measurement using backscatter that may not agree with the loss with a light source and power meter.
Insertion loss, therefore migrated to meaning a loss measured of a cable or cable plant inserted between the launch and receive cables attached to a light source and power meter for double ended testing used with installed cable plants. For patch cord testing, you do not use a receive cable attached to the power meter but connect it directly to the cable under test, making the test just include the one connection to the launch cable.
Two other terms often mixed up are attenuation and loss, which are essentially the same, except when discussing a fiber. In fibers, attenuation is often used instead of attenuation coefficient. Attenuation is the absolute loss i dB while attenuation coefficient is the characteristic attenuation of a fiber expressed in dB/km.
Here is probably the best explanations:

Adhesive/Polish Connectors
If a connector is designed for heat cure epoxy adhesive, can I substitute anaerobic adhesive?
A: Any ceramic ferrule connector can be used with either heat-cure epoxy or anaerobic adhesives.

Old Fiber
We are looking at a company’s fiber network which has been laid at various points in time over numerous years.  In this process, we are trying to identify the changes that were made to either/both the glass fiber and the cladding.  Are there different generations of what was industry standard in creating the fiber?  For example, are you able to identify the difference in a fiber that was laid in 1980 versus one laid today?  Was the cladding the same size/thickness etc. in 1980 as it is today or has this been modified/improved upon over the years?  In all, we are trying to find what modifications have been over the years and how this may improve the life of the network and its capabilities. 
A: This is a common problem today. Many network operators are evaluating their fiber networks for upgrades, hampered by the fact that few are properly documented. Below is a timeline that should answer your questions. What many network owners are doing now is testing their cable plants - a process called Fiber Characterization.  There are contractors who do this service.
Fiber Tech Timeline
1976 - First field trials, US and UK, using multimode fiber at 850nm
1980 - First long distance networks still using multimode fiber at 850nm, planning to upgrade with wavelength-division multiplexing at 1310nm
1984 - singlemode fiber becomes feasible, telecom drops multimode fiber, all future installations are singlemode - this first SM fiber with a 9 micron core and 125 micron cladding is still available today but with better specifications. Really early fiber may not have good environmental protection and degrades over time. Early speeds were 145-405Mb/s, up to 810Mb/s by the end of the decade.
1990 - around this time, modern fiber begins - better performance and environmental protection. Fibers for wavelength-division multiplexing in the 1500nm range appear allowing multiple signals on a single fiber and fiber amplifiers allow long spans.
1995-2000 - massive build-out of fiber backbone leads to glut of fiber - WSJ ~2001 says 93% of all fiber is dark. Speeds grew from 1.2-10Gb/s over the 90s decade
2000-date - massive Internet growth and mobile device growth eats up glut of fiber and demands many times more. Dense wavelength-division multiplexing becomes the norm. Speeds began at 1.2/2.5Gb/s, upped to 10, 40 and are now at 100Gb/s.
So most fiber installed after 1990 has the possibility of being used at 10Gb/s, after 2000, it’s probably OK for 40Gb, and since 2010, you are probably OK for 100G and maybe more.  To verify performance, you test each fiber for connector condition, loss, spectral attenuation, chromatic dispersion and polarization mode dispersion. There are test sets that will do
Fiber Characterization in basically one step.

Splicing The Right Fibers
I have been given a job that will require me to cut an existing 6 count cable in two and splice in a new piece. My problem is that this cable was installed in 1987. From what I have been told there is a good possibility that this cable does not follow present day color codes. Rumor has it that this cable has 3 pairs of Red/White fibers. I was wondering if those pairs are separated by a string or what? Otherwise I will be guessing as to what fiber I am working on. Any information you have on this old fiber type would be greatly appreciated.
A: Color coding for optical cables is unpredictable except for the 1-12 color codes adopted from electrical standards.
I suggest you head to one end of this cable or the other and look at the ends where it’s terminated - you may be able to see how it’s color-coded there. If not, you have two ways to identify fibers other than color coding. 1. Use a visual fault locator if the cable is short enough from the end to the splice point - about 4-5 km is the max. 2. There is a gadget called a fiber identifier that can clip on a fiber and see if there is traffic or 2kHz tone from a test source. Both instruments are described here: Fiber Optic Test Instruments

Ethernet Switches In A Passive OLAN
I’ve design a POL (passive optical LAN) for a 39 level building for renting office area to enterprises. The owner will provide “ONTs” to office area where the renters should prepare network switches by themselves. Two questions pop up in my mind:
1.     If the renter buys an Ethernet switch, can this switch be directly pugged onto POL’s fiber terminals?
2.     Or this L2 should be plugged onto ONT of POL?
A: If I understand the question correctly, you are asking if you can connect a L2 switch with an Ethernet port directly to a OLT. If the OLT uses GPON and does not have Ethernet ports, the answer should be no, GPON and Ethernet are not compatible so the Ethernet switches should be connected to the Ethernet ports on the ONT.

Fusion Splicing Live Fibers
Is it safe to fusion splice a live fiber, or is there a chance that
the light from the arc will damage the detectors in the modules at the end (20km-rated SM for us).
A: I have never heard of this being a problem. The amount of light coupled into the fiber from the splicing would be very small compared to a properly coupled laser. When a cable is broken you might be splicing the fibers that are live without knowing which are live and not caring. On your newer splicers this is not a problem. On the older splicers with the LID system you would have to reduce the power to get a good splice which they would do by putting a bend in the Fiber.

I need a source for estimating the cost of fiber optic cable installations. Direct buried, in PVC pipe, Jetting into existing pipe, etc.
A: FOA has a tutorial on estimating fiber optics here: Estimating Fiber Optic Installations
If you are looking for a consultant to do the estimates, I suggest contacting a local contractor, distributor or consultant who can do estimates.

Armored Cable In Conduit
We will be pulling inside of an underground 2" plastic conduit a 144 Strand OSP corrugated armored (coated steel tape) fiber cable Corning 144EUC-T4101D20. The client is asking what we are going to pull along with the fiber to allow - if it is needed in the future-  to locate the fiber. Does an additional cable (like tracer wire) need to be pulled if the fiber has already the coated steel tape ?
A: It is very unusual to pull armored cable in conduit - that’s usually a direct-buried cable laid into trenches or plowed in. The heavy weight will make for a lot of friction and may create problems pulling the cable. The armor on the cable should be suitable for later cable location. It’s conductive and would be detectable with many locators.

Upgrade Systems But Still Use 100/140 Fiber
If someone has fibre infrastructure based on 100/140um cable and wants to maintain the cable but update the components on either end…..  Do you know of a company who has some sort of converter / adaptor for this type of application?
A: 100/140 was replaced by 62.5/125 fiber in the mid 80s after IBM used it on the 3044 Channel Extender (we helped IBM on that project.) Everybody was scrambling to see if their equipment designed for 100/140 would work on 62.5/125 fiber - and it worked just fine.
The larger fiber gather more light from the LED source so it starts with more power and even if it loses a little at the receiver from a small detector, the result is about the same. I suspect the same is true for today’s equipment.
What you do not want to do is mix fiber types - there is a substantial loss with the joining of 100/140 to 62.5/125 - see Mismatched Multimode Fiber Losses Just make sure the patch cords connecting the equipment are also 100/140 fiber.

Safety Of Underground Fibre Cables
The local phone company has approached me as property owner, as they would like to lay fibre optic cables on my property. I have been doing some research in an attempt to establish the health risks involved with using fibre optics more especially as I have minor children and the cables if laid, will run along (underground - not sure how deep though) my pool area where the kids play. Are you perhaps able to furnish me with information regarding the exact health risks involved - short term and long term please?
A: Fiber optic cable is made from common plastics like polyethylene (PE) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is considered safe and used in many household products. The fiber inside the cable is made of glass, Hava purer form of the glass you use all the time. There is no electrical current flowing, so there is no danger of electrocution or exposure to electromagnetic radiation. The light is not very strong and most systems shut off if the cable has been cut. Cables are buried over 1m under the ground and the trench for the cable is usually filled with gravel or cement. For most homeowners the biggest problem is the destruction of their lawn or garden during construction, but cable owners are usually very good at fixing the problems and/or compensating the homeowner.

Duplex Communications Over One Fiber
Is true duplex over a single fiber possible, or is more like a shared time-domain technique in a quasi-duplex mode? I would guess that true duplex would lead to interference problems.
A. Bidirectional links are widely used - that’s how FTTH PONs work. They use splitters to combine/split the signals and one wavelength downstream and another upstream. See Fiber Optic Datalinks and for FTTH FTTH Architectures.

Power Wires In Fiber Cable?
I would like to inquire if there is a fibre cable combine with electrical cable to carry both data and AC/DC voltage?
A: Many cable manufacturers make so-called “composite” or “hybrid” cables that include fiber an copper conductors. For example, a cable like that is used for fiber to the antenna (see Fiber to the Antenna (FTTA)). Contact your local cable providers.

Passive OLANs For Hotels?
I would Like your opinion on a project I am  pursuing  at one of my customers, a Hotel ,where the copper analogue lines for the telephone are aging "about 30 yrs."  we would like to replace them with a PON ,and also be able to push other services over the new cabling, could you give me the names of  some PON equipment manufacturers?
A: Great opportunity for the Optical LAN.  Then your customer is future proofed and with unlimited bandwidth and an almost empty Telecom closet. Tellabs, Zhone and Calix are doing hotel installations. It’s even been done in India - see this.

Using Hybrid 2.5-1.25mm Connector Mating Adapters
Can I use the hybrid 2.5-1.25mm adapters for connecting SC connectors to LCs or MU connectors. It would make testing much more convenient.
A: We do not recommend them for most uses, especially testing, as they can be highly unreliable. Reserve them for emergencies and use hybrid patch cords instead.

Test MM Fiber @ 1300nm?
Q: What is your opinion about the need for testing at 1300 nm on OM3 and OM4 fiber especially now that bend insensitive multimode fiber is taking over?
It’s unnecessary and costly. It’s rooted in the FDDI/100M days 25 years ago when 1300 LEDs were used and is now obsolete. The only actual uses at 1300nm I know are the extremely rare systems using 1310 lasers which may be standards but simply don’t seem to ever be used. As you say, BI fiber makes the issue of finding stresses moot.

Index Matching Gel In Connectors And Splices
Q: I
would like to know if anyone has heard of or knows of any issues pertaining to the Index Matching Gel in prepolished splice connectors or mechanical splices getting cloudy over 5-7 years and failing?
We have not heard of any problems with the index matching gel failing over time. That gel is usually a silicone compound that is highly stable and even if it were to cloud there is only a few microns between the fiber ends, hardly enough to cause a problem. There have been many papers written on this topic and long term tests by manufacturers that show no problems.

Fiber In Service Loops
We designing a rural utility system that will be expanded to FTTH (or FTTR - fiber to the ranch in this case). We're wondering how much excess fiber in service loops to add. One software package is asking for 12% but that seems excess.
I have typically seen 100 feet on straight through boxes (reserves), 35-50 feet on cut ends for splicing and anywhere from 15-25 feet at the premise depending on how much is required for the termination device, positioning, etc. When rough estimating we have typically used 10% over linear distance.

Cable For High Or Low Temperatures
When manufacturers specify cable for -30 - +70 deg C, are they talking operating or just installation temperature for handling? Here the temperature can go as low as -70 deg C.
A: The manufacturer will specify a temperature range for the cable environment, but the usual expectation is the install gets done in the summer when it’s warmer. A plastic jacket at cold temperatures is very stiff and hard to work with. Special cables for low temperatures are available. We helped plan an install at Scott-Amundsen base at the South Pole during the FOTEC days and they are able to get special cable from most manufacturers to test. It worked well.

Maintenance of Fiber Networks
Can you guide me how to prepare Optical Fiber Cable Annual Maintenance Proposal?
A: Basically, the network needs to be installed properly, fully tested and everything carefully documented. Then no routine maintenance is required. Most problems with fiber optic networks occurs when techs are working with it, e.g. damaging cables or getting connectors dirty when testing, so leaving it alone is the best plan.
Electronic transmission equipment can be tested anytime to ensure proper data transmission, but that does not involve accessing the fiber.
We have several things which may be of help:
You Tube Video: FOA Lecture 39 Maintaining Fiber Optic Networks
Web page: Maintenance

I have 4 questions about OTDRs:
What is dynamic range I read many time but can’t understand yet, whether it is a range of losses can be measured by OTDR for example if an OTDR has 45 dB dynamic range, it can read the losses of point up to 45 dB or what it means.
I do not believe there is a standard definition of dynamic range, but it is generally accepted to be the highest loss of the longest cable where you can see the end of the cable. That usually means using the longest test pulse and most averaging  and assuming the end of the cable has a significant reflection.

What is dead zone is it fixed in meters mean an OTDR cannot measure up to initial 5, 10 or 20 meter
The dead zone is a function of the pulse width and speed of the OTDR amplifier. For most OTDRs it’s about 2-3 times the test pulse width.

What Type of settings needed before launching a test
See FOA Lecture 18: OTDR Setup or the section "Modifying OTDR Setup Parameters For Best Test Results” in OTDR testing. A: Basically you set up wavelength(s), test pulse width (long enough to reach end of cable but short enough for best resolution), index of refraction or group velocity (a function of the fiber type and wavelength) and the number of averages (enough to mitigate noise but not take too long)

Reading a test with 1310nm and 1550nm - why values different for a same length of fiber.
The attenuation of the fiber will be different at each wavelength and the index of refraction which is different at each wavelength causes a difference in length. The OTDR measures length by measuring time and then multiplying that by the speed of light in the fiber (which is the inverse of the index of refraction.)

The FOA page "Frequently Asked Questions About OTDRs" answers these questions and more.

Getting Old Cables Out Of Conduit
How do you get old cables out of a conduit when they are stuck?
Usually we are concerned about reducing friction when pulling cables through conduit, but sometimes you need to get them out. Here is a page from American Polywater the leading lubricant company with advice on the subject.

Manufacturing Guide?
Is there a guide published by FOA that provides insight as to the process of fiber optic manufacturing? It's my understanding that the guide stresses quality and controls to ensure performance and reduce product loss?
A: We do have a guide for manufacturers. It is mostly aimed at communications systems and components manufacture. Here is a link to download it.

How Long Does Termination Take?

FOA received a request from a consultant recently wondering if we had information on the termination times for fiber optic cables. After some looking in our archives, we realized we had a document online that compared times for various fiber optic termination processes. The paper was written after several FOA instructors did a comprehensive time and motion study on termination processes. The document is about 15 years old but still relevant.

You can read it here in the FOA Online Guide.

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

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

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

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

Is A Flashlight Test Adequate?

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

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

"Connector Loss" or "Connection Loss"

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

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

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

Tech Hint: Did You Know You Have A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?
Yes! That old mobile phone has a camera which may be sensitive to infrared light - lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical fiber or from a transmitter.  Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I, Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication JATC sent us some photos showing how this works. See below or the video now on YouTube. Update: You should check out your old cell phones before you recycle them. We've found older models use sensors which are better at infrared than the newer ones which take better pictures. This is a good use for your old cell phones hiding in the drawer!

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

Clean Every Connector - A Lesson We Learned From Creating Lessons
In creating the fiber characterization curriculum, we got inputs from many experienced techs about the testing requirements. Everyone we talked to made a big point about cleaning and inspecting connectors before testing. Dirty connectors are a major problem with errors in testing. We've also seen that many installers think that if a connector, especially new connectors, has a "dust cap" on the connector, it does not need cleaning. WRONG!

The common name for the plastic caps on connector ferrules is "dust cap" and a friend says they are called "dust caps" because they are full of dust. Those plastic caps are made by the millions, popped out of plastic molding machines into barrels and stored until put into plastic bags. Whenever you remove one of them, clean the connector before testing or connecting it.
More on connector cleaning is here and here

More on cleaningSee Product News below for links to vendors of fiber cleaning products.

What You Need To Know About Fiber Optic Cleaning And More
Ed Forrest, one of the industry experts on cleaning fiber optic connectors, retired about a year ago. We encouraged him to put down on paper what he knew about fiber cleaning and he took our advice. He's now created 4 books on cleaning topics that cover just about everything you need to know. And he added another volume that's also important - maintaining fusion splicers. We recommend these books highly.

How to Precision Clean All Fiber Optic Connections
Understanding Cross-Contamination Points on Fiber Optic Inspection & Test Equipment
Maintaining a Fiber Optic Fusion Splicer
Comparison Study of Precision Cleaning Methods for All Fiber Optic Connection

Whitepaper: The Significance to Optical Internconnect: Properly Cleaning a Fiber Optic Connection

Information on Ed's books is at

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

Fiber Optic Cleaning Videos on YouTube 

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

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

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


Worth Reading or Watching:

We are moving most of the articles in this section to the FOA's Pinterest Page "Worth Reading" - Go there for the latest links

Sign up at the FOA  Pinterest board Pinterest

FOA "Quickstart Guides"

In our continuing quest to help people understand how to test fiber optic cable plants and communications systems, we've created two more "QuickStart Guides to Fiber Optic Testing." They are simple, step-by-step guides on how to test fiber optic cable plants, patchcords or single cables using insertion loss or OTDR techniques and optical power from transceivers. It's as straightforward as it can get - what equipment do you need, what are the procedures for testing, options in implementing the test, measurement errors and documenting the results.
It can't get much simpler.
Send anybody you know who needs to know about fiber optic testing here to learn how it's done in a few minutes.

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords  

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR  

Measuring Optical Power In Communications Systems 

New Edition Of Eric Pearson's Fiber Optic "Cookbook"

EP book

Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies Inc. announced the availability of Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v.9. This recently updated training, field, and reference text is a comprehensive presentation of the information essential to successful fiber optic installation.  This text assists the installer in achieving the three elements of success: low power loss, high reliability, and low installation cost. This text is the ideal tool for three types: those who wish to become professional fiber optic installers; for instructors who want to use the most comprehensive training manual available; and for those who want to pass the Fiber Optic Association CFOT and CFOS/C/S/T certification examinations. Continuously developed and tested over the last 24 years during both fieldwork and training presentations, this text includes both the information essential to understand the reasons for the installation rules and detailed procedures for installation, inspection, certification, and testing of cables, connectors, and splices.

The new edition, #9, is available on

Like Crossword Puzzles? Here's Some On Fiber Optics

EP crossword

Do you like crossword puzzles? How about one on fiber optics - or maybe a half-dozen of them? FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies has created a series of crossword puzzles on fiber optics that are keyed to the FOA CFOT reference materials and his book Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v.9. You can have fun and study fiber optics at the same time!

This months crossword puzzle is on "Optoelectronics and Splicing" - Download the crossword puzzle on 
"Optoelectronics and Splicing."

If you missed the earlier puzzles, here they are:
Download the PDF file of the crossword on "Light and Fiber".
Download the PDF file of the crossword puzzle on "Cables".
Download the crossword on "Connectors & Splices."

Older Fiber, Do You Know How Good It Is?

There's millions of miles of long distance fiber installed around the world and most of it likely to see an upgrade of the systems operating on it, probably in the near future. Twenty years ago, most of it was probably running at ~1Gb/s, ten years ago it was probably 2.5 Gb/s, recently it was likely to be 10Gb/s but now many are being considered for 100Gb/s or beyond. Can the fiber support such speeds? Can it be "repaired" or "modified" to make it possible to use it at higher speeds? If you own that fiber, can you say what it is worth without knowing its future upgrade capability.

In order to know the potential for upgrades on your cable plant, you need to test it. This process involves a number of tests and is called "fiber characterization." Greg Stearns of TTP-US, an FOA Corporate Member, performs these tests and has written a short article on why you need to characterize fiber and how its done. Read about fiber characterization from someone who does it often and can explain it well.

Download the paper here (PDF, 80kB).

Demystifying Singlemode Fiber Types

Singlemode fiber has a lot of names and users are confused by the different names depending on the standards organization you refer to IEC, ITU or TIA designation. Most widely used are the ITU G65X designations but even there we find many designations. Shaun Trezise of M2FX has posted a simple explanation on the company blog that helps explain the different types and where they are used.  Read more on the M2FX blog 

There is a cross reference to the IEC, ITU and TIA designations on the FOA Guide.


NEXANS UK has published a FAQ guide explaining the benefits of a "Fibre To The Office" (FTTO) solution as an alternative to traditional structured cabling installations.

Download the guide here.

Gig Fiber

Want to keep up with gigabit FTTH, try reading or subscribe to the GigCommunities Newsletter.

EXFO Offers Super Posters And More


EXFO offers some super posters, guides and books. The FTTx and OTDR posters are really useful! Look at the whole selection here.

Getting Cables Out Of Conduit

Usually we are concerned about reducing friction when pulling cables through conduit, but sometimes you need to get them out. Here is a page from American Polywater the leading lubricant company with advice on the subject.

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

New Textbook On Cleaning Fiber Optic Connectors

Cleaning Book EF

As fiber optic networks become faster and link margins lower, cleaning fiber optic connectors has become more critical. Now there is a book that gives really good information on cleaning from a real expert.

Ed Forrest retired from ITW Chemtronics recently after many years of being their expert on cleaning fiber optic connectors. Ed has been one of our best contacts on the subject because his knowledge is both broad and deep. When he retired, we suggested he write a book on fiber optic cleaning and he took our advice.

Ed's book is like a cookbook, looking at specific cleaning recipes, plus evaluating the tools commonly used for cleaning. It's also in color which makes it easier to see what is being done, although it makes the book a bit more expensive.

Now you can buy The Need to Precision Clean Fiber All Optic Connections, A study of the 'sciences of cleaning', contemporary cleaning products, methods and procedures by Edward J Forrest Jr. The book is available online from CreateSpace, the same publisher FOA uses. Go here for more information on the book:

What Happens To Old Fibers?
In a recent web search, we found this article from Corning, reprinted from a IWCS presentation in 1995. It discusses extensive tests on a 1984 cable installed in the northern US to see how it had degraded in almost 10 years. It is interesting to see how the fiber survived OSP exposure. Read it here.

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

AU Std

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

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

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

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

How Is Fiber Manufactured?

Manufacturing fiber at OFS

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

Adding Cables By Recovering Conduit Space

Maxcell has been a pioneer in the field of fabric innerduct to expand capacity of typical fiber ducts by replacing rigid plastic innerduct with flat fiber innerduct. (See FOA Newsletter July 2014) Now they have a method of removing current innerducts without disturbing the live cables in them and adding fabric innerducts to double or triple the capacity of the conduit. They have special gear to pull out the current ducts leaving the cable in place and split the duct to remove it from the cable and prepare it for chipping for recycling.

Maxspace tools

All the plastic ducts in the conduit are removed (above) and multiple fabric innerducts are pulled in by the last innerduct as it is removed (below). (From Maxcell video)


After all the old rigid innerduct is removed, you can pull additional cables into the fabric ducts immediately.

The advantages are obvious - getting space for additional cables without installing more conduit - no more construction, no additional cost beyond the simple - and quick - process of removing the old innerduct and pulling in the new.

Watch the Maxcell video on YouTube here.

Interesting Video On Directional Drilling For Fiber Optic Cable Installation

CI&M magazine has posted an interesting video about how Time Warner Cable installs underground fiber optic cable by directional boring. It's a good look at how directional boring works. Watch it here on CI&M's website.

CI&M Editor also does a good review of alternative cable installation methods in an article on the magazine website. Read it here.

Want To Know Where Submarine Fiber Optic Cables Run?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download yourself a copy and read it

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

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


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

IGI, a major market research and technology reporting company (the "Active Optical Cables" below)  is offering a a free one year subscription to one of our fiber optics newsletters to FOA members.  All they have to do is to send IGI an e-mail stating which newsletter they would like to get. See for a listing of IGI Newsletters.


FOA Tech Topics - 

A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?  (See the video on Corning on YouTube )
Yes! The camera in your old cell phone is sensitive to infrared light - lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical fiber or from a transmitter.  Chris Hillyer,CFOT/CFOS/I, Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication JATC brought this to our attention.
IR Viewer 850 nm  IR Viewer 1300 nm

If you have an old cell phone, try it. Our experience is that older cell phone cameras have better sensitivity at IR wavelengths than newer phones, so you may want to toss that old flip phone into the toolbox.


Product News

3M FTTH Drop Cable

A new 3M drop cable for FTTH has a 90 micron buffered fiber inside to allow more rugged terminations directly on the fiber. It's part of the "ClearTrack System" for easier FTTH installs.

Drop fiber



YOKOGAWA OTDR Has Extended range, High Resolution And Multitasking

Yokogawa OTDR

One OTDR manufacturer you don't hear as much about is YOKOGAWA (formerly ANDO) which is too bad - they make some of the best OTDRs, exemplified by this new model AQ7280. Need long range - how about 50dB. High resolution - 0.6m dead zone. Like touch screens, but for some functions want hard buttons, it's got that. Options for VFL, microscope, light source and power meter, etc. - it has that too.
But the unique aspect of the YOKOGAWA AQ7280 is it offers multitasking - you can let do a trace with long averages while you inspect connectors, make power readings, use the VFL or other functions.
More info on the YOKOGAWA AQ7280.

FOA thanks Yokogawa for a gift of an OTDR to use for R&D and teaching!

Recycling Communications Cable

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

Contact Steve Maginnis
803.371.5436 (cell)

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

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

Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

Have you read the FOA pages on cleaning?


FTTH Notes:

Want To Learn More About FTTx? Try our free online self-study program at Fiber U.


 Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

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

See for more information

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

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


Employment/Job Listings

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

Fiber Optic Installation Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join FOA on 
FOA on LinkedIn

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

Voice/Data Technicians For Mpls/St. Paul, MN Metro Area (9/2016)

Work in the Voice/Data installation industry as a Low Voltage technician. Spend your day installing voice/data lines, terminating and testing connections, reading blueprints and see the reward of building a Voice and Data network! Receive medical, dental, life insurance benefits and enjoy a great work environment.

Interested technicians can respond with a resume to

Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer 

Broadband America Corp
1772 Stieger Lake Lane • Victoria, MN 55386

Job Openings  - NOTE: Job openings are posted immediately on FOA's Linked In and Facebook pages! (07/2016)

Splice Tech
Experienced fiber optic splice technician with a minimum of three years
experience. Must be familiar with indoor/outdoor fusion splice of fiber
optic cable. Knowledge of OTDR/Power Meters required. Must be willing to
work weekends and nights.
Location: San Jose
Open to US Citizens
Salary negotiable.

Send resume to  <>

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

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

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



 FOA Logo Merchandise

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


FOA Certification Top Choice

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


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

Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

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

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

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


Remember To Renew Your Certification !

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

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



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

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

Time To Renew Your FOA Membership/CFOT?

To keep your FOA certifications and membership active, you need to renew every year (or two or three, longer times save you money.)
You can now renew with PayPal
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Want to write for the FOA Newsletter? Send us articles, news, anything you think might be interesting to the rest of the membership!

Return to The FOA Home Page

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