March, 2010

In This Issue
New FOA Premises Cabling Book Now Available
"Fiber U" Offers Free Online Training
Broadband News: Follow Funded Projects
 - Where is The US Stimulus Money for Broadband Going?
The Fastest Broadband Counties in the U.S.
Smart Grid is Fiber-Enabled
Bend-Insensitive Fiber Becomes Corning's Standard 50/125 Fiber - But it means changes in the way you test with it!

FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide

New Schools

Tech Topics

Q&A: Questions we've answered recently. 

Product News

Worth Reading:  Interesting things we've read.
Looking For Jobs  - LOTS THIS MONTH!
This Month's "Tech Puzzler"
FOA Home Page
NEW: Sign up for the FOA eMail Newsletter

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Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

It's now CFOT®  The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) is now a registered trademark. With over 25,000 fiber optic techs holding CFOTs and the CFOT being recognized worldwide as the foremost certification in fiber optics, the FOA realized the value of the CFOT required trademark protection. Now it's official!

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

Contact the FOA  

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

New From The FOA!

New FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cabling Textbook
FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cabling Now available from the FOA eStore or for only $19.95.

Free Self-Study Program on "Fiber U"
Lennie LightwavePlanning on taking a FOA Certification course and want to prepare for it? Want to refresh your knowledge of fiber optics? Take our free online courses at Fiber U

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.

FREE Web conference hosted by the TIA's Fiber Optics LAN Section!

Multimode Fiber Trends

Presented by Ryan Chappell, Draka Communications
In this presentation, Chappell will look at the evolution of multimode fiber, examine its current usage and share predictions based on research by CRU, IEEE, Penwell, Cisco, IBM, Mathew Burroughs, and Alan Flatman.

The Web conference will be held: 

Thursday, April 22 from 11:00 a.m.
to 12:15 p.m. EDT.

Register for the Web conference today!

Stimulus Funds Continue To Flow to US Fiber Projects
See what's being built on network maps!
Millions more are being awarded to broadband projects in the US. They offer lots of potential for contractors and installers looking for work, but a new report should be interesting to everyone - it gives maps of all the projects funded so you can see what they are actually doing and where they are doing it. It's highly interesting to just scan the projects and see what's getting built, but even better to click on the links to the fact sheets and see the details. (

More information about projects funded by the Recovery Act is available at,, and
Looking for a job? These projects should keep many fiber techs employed! Hint: search the sites, esp. this page on, for fiber or fiber optics and/or your local state/city.

The Fastest Broadband Counties in the U.S.
Who has the fastest internet access. You'll be surprised! From Connected Planet.

Maine Was Always Independent
And they continue their ways - with broadband:

Report From OFC - The Optical Fiber Communications Conference
OFC was in San Diego again this year and we spent a day touring the exhibits and a day at the Executive Forum. The Executive Forum was focused on 40 and 100 Gb/s transmission and while new technologies are always exciting, listening to more than a dozen companies tout their companies and technologies can get really boring. The most interesting presentations were from non-traditional companies, Google, with Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, doing the keynote, and a tech staff member discussing data centers. Facebook also sent along a staff member to discuss data center needs. Bottom line: telco applications of 40/100G hinge on financial analysis while the data center types want it yesterday.
From the exhibits, we learned that the majority of suppliers were from the far east and everybody offered connectors, patchcords and maybe couplers. A few even had media converters and fiber amplifiers. Most interesting was a giant trailer from Huawei, the giant Chinese telecom (and lots more) company, who is now actively soliciting business in the US. New products of interest: more fusion-splice on prepolished/splice connectors. Oh, and all the VCSEL vendors assured us that 1300 and 1550 VCSELs were coming "next year" just like every year before when we asked. Must be a very difficult technology!

Smart Grid is Fiber-Enabled
No other subject is getting more press than the SMART GRID. Smart Grid is discussed in the White House, Capitol Hill, utility boardrooms, and now even the classrooms. Every Utility is in the race for the completion of its smart systems and to implement its technology. We all read about the industrial revolution and how it changed the production floor. Most of us remember the start of the computer revolution, and now we are starting a new page in history called the energy revolution.  I will be posting articles on the developments of the Smart Grid program on the FOA newsletter.
I have been in meetings with the local utility company for about three years preparing to train the present and future workforce on the smart technology. I am amazed at the similarities to the earlier days of the internet and the  development of other new technologies. Utilities have installed and used   smart meters for quite some time, but the meters are just one small part of the complete system. A complete Smart grid system will monitor electricity from the power generation plants, power line distribution system, transformer banks, metropolitan distribution systems, and to each customer. Not only will the system will monitor but also adjust to more efficient methods of delivering electricity. Some utilities are using similar programs for their natural gas distribution systems.
Where did we start in training techs? First, we have implemented a pre-lineman program that includes introduction to computers and systems, electrical/electronic circuits, and lineman training on poles and line trucks. They will complete their apprenticeship training at the company locations and be offered an Associate degree with completion of the general education studies. This fall semester we will be offering a Smart Grid Communication System course covering the transmission requirements. The company will provide instructors to teach the smart components and the college will provide an Outside Plant Fiber Optic Installer class. The Smart Grid systems will utilize workers from every trade. Network specialist with power specialty, line workers with telecommunication specialty, meter installers with telecommunication specialty, and the list is endless. Job titles are being developed as we speak.       
There is just too much information for just one article. The next Article will focus on the technology involved in the Smart Grid systems. 

Thomas Collins
Gateway Community and Technical College      
Member of FOA Board of Directors          

Bend-Insensitive Fiber Becomes Corning's Standard 50/125 Fiber -
But it means changes in the way you test with it!
Corning announced that effective April 1, 2010, ClearCurve® multimode optical fiber will become its standard 50-micron multimode fiber product offering. "ClearCurve multimode fiber is the world’s first laser-optimized, high-bandwidth, multimode fiber to withstand tight bends at 7.5 mm radius with substantially less signal loss than traditional multimode fibers. ClearCurve multimode optical fiber was first introduced by Corning in Jan. 2009 and has been validated through broad customer acceptance of the product.
Traditionally, when an optical cable experiences tight bends, some of the light can escape from the fiber core and part of the signal can be lost.  Corning ClearCurve multimode fiber is designed to keep the light in the fiber core, even under tight bends, and better maintain the integrity of the optical fiber signal.
“Corning’s 50-micron multimode fiber customers will now benefit from superior bend performance. This will result in faster and more efficient optical cable routing and installation, and significantly higher spare operating margin, at no additional cost,” said Martin J. Curran, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Optical Fiber.
Corning ClearCurve multimode fiber meets or exceeds the OM2, OM3 and OM4 industry standards for high-bandwidth, laser-optimized multimode fiber. Corning will demonstrate the performance of ClearCurve multimode optical fiber from March 23-25, 2010, at OFC/NFOEC in San Diego. Detailed product specifications are available at"

When You Test...
Most standards call for a "mandrel wrap" mode conditioner on your launch cable. The Corning announcement made us wonder what happens with this bend-insensitive fiber if you wrap it around a standard mandrel - it should not act the same as regular 50/125 fiber. We contacted our friend the Marketing Manager for the product at Corning and he confirmed our suspicions. The difference in the bend sensitivity of the fiber requires a much smaller mandrel, only 6 mm in diameter, to have the same effect.
This is detailed in Corning Application Engineering Note "Multimode Fiber Considerations for Test Jumpers,  AEN 131, Revision 2" available from Corning.

What Should A Fiber Optics or Cabling Tech Know and What Skills Do They Need?
The FOA has been updating its lists of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities) for fiber and cabling techs. The updated list is now on the website for your information and comments - as fiber and cabling KSAs evolve as new technologies develop.
KSAs for fiber and cabling techs.

FOA-Approved School Map Zoom to CAIt's Now A Lot Easier To Find A FOA-Approved Training Organization
Most phone calls 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. That can be difficult, since the FOA has almost 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide!
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 Application to find FOA-Approved schools.

Here are links to the sortable table of all the FOA-Approved schools and  FOA Google Map.

New FOA Book Available from for only $24.95. FOA book
That's FOA President Jim Hayes, the guy behind the new book, reading a copy.
The new FOA book, the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics, is finished and available from for only $24.95.
The  book  is intended to be used in training for FOA certification and as a reference book for everybody interested in fiber optics: contractors, installers and end users of fiber optics. It's complemented by our Reference Website and complete curriculum materials for teaching fiber optic courses.
This book, which benefits from 12 years of experience with our previous book, The Fiber Optic Technicians Manual, is more comprehensive on many important topics and better organized for use both as a reference and as a textbook. It's developed from our Reference Website which complements the  book and covers many subjects in greater depth. And since we are self-publishing the book using more modern "publish on demand" technology, it will be easier to keep up to date and much cheaper - as you can see from the price!
The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics and The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide website will be the official reference for the 2010  CFOT exams.

Here is more information on the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics. Order  from the FOA eStore or for only $24.95.

And The New FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cabling Textbook
FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cabling Now available from the FOA eStore or for only $19.95.

FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide

The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide has become very popular - perhaps the most popular technical website ever, typically with over 30,000 users monthly! We continue updating materials regularly, keeping it as up to date as possible.
We already updated the Premises Cabling sections in preparation for the next FOA Textbook and are now focused on outside plant applications (OSP.) We've already added a new page on chromatic dispersion (CD) and polarization-mode dispersion (PMD). Next we're working on cables for OSP applications and splicing.

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.

Featured Schools:

New Outside Plant Emergency Restoration Training Course
The Light Brigade announces a new two-day technical training course for Outside Plant Emergency Restoration. This course, which is available only as a custom course, places heavy emphasis on fault location, troubleshooting, and test equipment. It culminates in a second day of hands-on practices that simulate actual field restorations for retrievable and non-retrievable slack scenarios.
Whether the fiber cable network is above or below ground, inside or outside a building, the words “emergency restoration” strike fear in any network or outside plant manager. Network outages can cost ten of thousands of dollars every hour your system is offline. When (not if) a problem occurs, it is critical not only to have a recovery program in place, but to have staff that is trained to deal with the emergency in timely, cost-efficient manner.

The Light Brigade - FOA Approved School #241

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

Good Question! Tech Questions Worth Repeating

Why Won't My Cable Work? (Posted April 1, 2010)
A contractor installed this cable but it won't connect to my equipment. What's wrong?

April FOol!

April Fool!

Obviously, the contractor was using the wrong connectors! Try one of these:  

Troubleshooting a Short SM Network
Q: We are trouble shooting a 10 gig network. So here is the gist!
Single mode 10 gig network.
The MDF is pint a at the main building of the school.
The net work ends in an Identical switch 3222 ft  at the student center
from each switch, the connection is an LC UPC and an SC APC meets the distribution box and connects the 3162ft backbone.
The problem is that after 2 years the users suddenly complained of masive problems with the net work. Users going down, or unable to access, etc.
The IT manager isolated Masive collision activity as the problem.
Sounded like dirty connectors so we went in and cleaned everthing and the problem seemed to go away. Except school was out and when everyone came back the problem still existed.
We went back and found a kink in one of the jumpers showing a slight crack or fracture ( with a VFL) and replaced it.
The system still exhibits the simptoms but to a far less degree and is manageable.
Oh! and yes the laser modules were replaced.
The bit errors are only in the outbound direction but not on the return path. ( MDF out)
This is a redundent back up system and the problem is on both outbound paths. No issues on the return.
I am going back with a new jumper and move everything over to a set of spares on the backbone.
However I believe the problem points to this. Since the problem exists only on the outbound path of both lines there may be a problem with power distribusion to the laser module or voltage stability to the module. Dirty connectors only exasperated the problem.

A: We've seen a number of instances of similar problems to this on short SM links.
On short SM links like this, the problems are typically 1) Reflectance or 2) excess power at the receiver.
Have you checked the power at the receiver? It may be overloading the receiver on such a short link and it may need an attenuator. You can test this by making a stressed-fiber attenuator near the receiver. Wrap 5-10 turns of a patchcord around a pencil and see if the transmission improves. That is typically 3-6 dB added loss with no reflectance. If that helps, find some non-reflective attenuators.
Reflectance causes several problems. It can interfere with lasers causing distortion if it's close to the transmitter, as in a patchcord connecting to the system. But a more complex problem is now getting attention in international standards groups - multipath interference. This is caused by a large reflectance sending a substantial amount of light back up the fiber which is then re-reflected back to the other end and  may repeat several times. Think of ghosts in OTDR traces. In the best case, it adds to the background noise (yep, optical noise) which can affect BER (digital) or S/N (analog). Worst case is the reflectance is high enough to distort pulses.
We HIGHLY recommend APC connectors on short SM links or at least UPCs. And all terminations must be made by fusion splicing on pigtails (or the new fusion splice prepolished connectors from AFL or Corning.)
Cleanliness is obviously very important but may not be enough!

Update: Sometimes you find really unusual problems. Power  testing showed the receiver power was low, not high. After inspecting and cleaning all the connectors, special cleaning swabs were used to clean the laser module receptacles and the power was back at spec. Several the laser modules came from the manufacturer with dirt in them - even though they all had dust caps. As we often say, dust caps are called dust caps because they often contain lots of dust!

Converting MM to SM Fiber and Vice Versa

Q: We have two sections of fiber cable:
1. Building A to Building B: 5000 ft multimode fiber
2. Building B to Building C: 1000 ft singlemode fiber
We need to send voice & data signals from Bldg A to Bldg C. If we put equipment at bldg A & C, do you have any equipment/material suggestion to tie SM & MM segments together at bldg B and to interface MM fber with SM modem?

A: You can get MM><SM converters from many sources (google SM to MM Media Converter) and one I found was from TC
Be careful with SM on short lengths as reflectance can be a big problem.

Back to Basics -
Q: What is the difference between dB and decibels?

A: dB is relative and dBm is absolute power. Here's a website that explains more:

Mizing APC and UPC connectors?
Q: I'm doing hd sdi video using single mode upc connectors. Can I use upc on the fiber/rx and apc on the patch panel?

A: You can use APCs for patching as long as both connectors are APC. So make the patch panel APC and use a hybrid patch cord, APC on the patch panel end and UPC on the equipment end. Since they are color-coded, the APCs are all green, you can keep the ends straight.

1550 nm On Multimode Fiber?
Q: Is it possible, or even advisable, to use the 1550 nm wavelength on multimode fiber cable?

A: Traditionally multimode fiber has been optimized for 850 and 1300 nm and SM for 1310 and 1550. The reason is MM is distance-limited by bandwidth and used for shorter lengths, so the higher attenuation at shorter wavelengths is acceptable. SM - with virtually infinite bandwidth -  is used for longer links so the fiber is optimized for use at longer wavelengths where attenuation is much lower.
In part because of these characteristics of the fiber - and some semiconductor physics - fiber links have been like this for years. The two biggest developments affecting these application guidelines is the development of inexpensive 850 nm VCSEL lasers for high speed systems on MM which has caused MM fibers to be optimized for 850 nm bandwidth (OM3 and OM4 fibers Optical Fiber ). In SM it's DWDM (Wavelength-Division Multiplexing ) that has affected fiber designs to reduce attenuation, especially water peaks, over the range of 1260-1660 nm.
I remember a few instances where 1550 has been used on MM. One of the earliest big private networks was at Kennedy Space Center. They were using 1300 nm LEDs for the network and needed even lower attenuation for some very long links - maybe 15 km at low speeds. They were willing to pay suppliers to convert electronics to 1550 LEDs - which were available in those days - but wanted to know if their fiber would have sufficiently low loss. I believe we (Fotec, our fiber optic test equipment company then) built them some test sources which proved the concept.
One could also use 1550 lasers on MM but there would be some issues, including modal noise from the highly coherent 1550 lasers and attenuating the high power levels.

Estimating Fiber Jobs
Q: We're working on a network design and need information on estimating fiber optic jobs, including estimates on the time or cost of processes like splicing fiber. What information is available?
A: We have a page on the FOA website that explains the process of estimating and has a table of labor time estimates that can help you.  Estimating.

Termination of Twisted Pair Cabling
(Since the FOA expanded to cover the entire topic of premises cabling, including copper and wireless, we get questions on topics outside fiber optics!)
Q: We are terminating 25 pair buried cables between our power houses; however this cable is 19 gauge and I am not sure what IDC block would be best. Currently we have some old (very old) AT&T threaded termination blocks but I believe it would be best to use IDC’s.
A: The difference between 22 and 19 gage is only 0.01 in ( so I think a 66 block can handle it. The 66 block is rated for 22-26 gage solid, 20-24 gage stranded. A 110 block might be harder to set the connecting block with the larger wire, but you can see the results easier on a 66. Just make sure you just put one wire in each IDC contact and it will probably work. 

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! See Product News below for links to vendors of fiber cleaning products.

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:

Testing FTTH
JDSU shows how to test a PON with an OTDR:

Data Centers: Preparing for 40/100 Gb/s
Data centers are probably the fastest growing application for fiber. Many are already using 10 Gb/s links and 40/100 Gb/s is in the planning stage. Read Corning's article on what this means for cabling.

Fast Optical Switching
We often quote science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke's "sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" to describe some of the developments in our field. Here's a good one: Molecules that allow lasers to switch fiber optic signals. Read it at MIT Tech Review:

The lost souls of telecommunications history
If you like techie history, you will enjoy this one. Arstechnica  

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

Top 10 Telecom Forecasts for 2010
Download the Forecast for Free!
Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI) has just announced the availability of its forecasts for 2010.  Every year, Clif Holliday, author of IGI’s Lightwave report series, prepares his view of the most significant events likely to underpin telecommunications for the coming year. While Clif likes to take a somewhat lighthearted approach to this forecast (its title is “Holliday’s Holiday Horoscope,”) his accuracy has been exceptional! He is one of the few New Year’s prognosticators who always precedes his new forecast with a review of the accuracy of last year’s forecast. This gives the reader a sense of how much creditability to put in the forecasts for the coming year.
We are also offering you a similar opportunity to comment on the upcoming 2010 forecasts.  Click here to download the Top 10 Telecom Forecasts for 2010 now.

Careers in Fiber Optics: Brian Smith. A 1998 book on fiber optic jobs is a bit dated, but a free overview is on Google Books and worth a look at it online.

2009 sets new record for malware with 25 million new strains, 92% of emails are SPAM. (eChannelline)

Managing the Wireless Data Deluge (Business Week)
The surge in data usage on cell phone networks (AT&T has reported a 7000% increase - 70X - since the introduction of the iPhone) has created a giant market for fiber optics!

Tellabs Joins Motorola, Verizon and SAIC is offering Passive Optical Lans ( POLs.)
Passive Optical Lans (POLs), based on FTTH PON networks are getting more interest in enterprise networks. (Lightwave)

New IGI Active Optical Cables Market Report Forecasts 48 Million Units by 2014
AOCs (electrical-fiber link-lectrical) cables are expected to grow fast as computer peripherals require higher bandwidth connections. (IGI)  

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

Tanks And Ships
GB Ethernet and fiber Upgrades. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms got a contract to supply a custom version of its Gigabit Ethernet switch to rumble around inside the US Army's Abrams tank. The US Navy recently awarded Boeing contract to upgrade and support the Gigabit Ethernet networks it is building on its guided missile destroyers.   From Network World.

Good Technical Websites

American Polywater ( has one of the best technical website for cable installers. Here is a rundown on some new material on their site.

Cable Installation using "Push" or "Push/Pull"
Polywater's new Pull-Planner™ 3000 Software allows a "pushing force" variable in pulling tension calculations.  Read a White Paper that quantifies the push contribution and compares calculation results to field experience. --

Pulling Cable Through Water?
Read a Product Spotlight on Polywater® + Silicone™, Polywater's new generation underground lubricant.  Continued reduction of friction when pulling through water is only one of the unique features of this lubricant. --

Check out their website, especially “Videos,” “Engineer’s Corner” and  “Calculators.”


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

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

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

FOA Tech Topics - 
The new FOA reference website is now online. New sections have been added on fusion splicing and mechanical splicing.  Check out the current Table of Contents

Coming soon to a network near you  - 40 and 100 gigabit/sec Ethernet!
The IEEE is already working on specs for 40 and 100 gigabit/sec Ethernet and have approved a number of new PMDs (that's standards-speak for Physical Medium Dependent - i.e. cabling). A summary of the proposals is on the updated list of network specs at
FOA Technical Bulletins
How do you design and manufacture fiber optic systems? Choose and install one to serve your communications needs? Troubleshoot problems? The FOA Fiber Optic Technical Bulletins will provide step-by-step guidelines to help you. All are PDF files you can download, print and use.
Testing Update
Are there really 5 different ways to test optical fiber cabling after installation? Why so many? How do the measurements - and more importantly the measurement results - differ? What are the advanteages and disadvantages of each method?
Why are there 4 ways (maybe 5) to test fiber optic cables?
Do OTDRs and OLTS tests give the same results?
New Tech Topics
Industry standards updated to include international standards
Updated link specs for fiber optic networks - now includes 10G Ethernet.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on General Topics and Testing
Reference Guide sections on fusion splicing and mechanical splicing.

  • Product News

    Another Fusion Splice-On Connector
    Seikoh Giken joins the companies offering prepolished connectors to fusion splice onto fibers for termination. They use OFS fusion splicing technology combined with Seikoh Giken connector design. This seems to be the new standard way to provide fast terminations with low loss.

    Cable Organizers
    Nothing is more difficult than organizing lots of cables. Here's a simple solution:  
    For Sale: Used Fujikura FSM-50S Fusion Splicer
    The FSM-50S Fusion Splicer sets the standard for core alignment fusion splicers. The FSM-50S is the fastest field splicer available, and completes a splice and tube heat in a total of 44 seconds. Special features include its small size and weight and the legendary ruggedness Fujikura is known for. The FSM-50S also includes user-friendly features such as calibration-free arc adjustments, automatic fiber type identification and reduced operational steps. The FSM-50S also offers increased flexibility for various splicing tasks with user-selectable front and back monitor positioning.
    This unit is the best deal I've seen in the last 10 years:
        1] it is fourth generation [FSM-50s, current generation is fifth, FSM-60s]
        2] it is the first generation with the ability to function faster than the splicing person [9 sec splice time, 35 second heating time]
        3] it has low splice count [2346 arcs and 12 since last electrode replacement]
        4] it is a profile alignment splicer so it compensates for differences in the fibers
        5] Has a CT-20 cleaver with spare blade, battery pack, spare electrodes.
    $8900 plus shipping
    Eric R. Pearson, CFOS
    Pearson Technologies Inc.
    4671 Hickory Bend Drive
    Acworth, GA 30102

    Cable Trailers Can "Figure 8" Fiber For Pulling
    Larson Cable Trailers has a Figure 8 Device that has been tested and approved by a majority of the Fiber Optic Cable manufacturers as a safe way of Figure 8'ing cable with a "machine".  Familiar with "Figure 8'ing cable? Find out about it on the FOA Online Reference Guide

    Bend-Optimized Multimode Fiber by OFS
    Aimed at dense premises applications like data centers. More.

    Cell Phones Bring Down 10Gb/s Cat 6A Networks?
    According to this Tyco Electronics report, cell phones and walkie-talkies can cause enough interference in UTP cables to bring down network transmission. Wouldn't happen with fiber, but they're also selling shielded copper.

    Add OCC to the list of cable manufacturers offering "bend-tolerant" cablesDraka too.(Lightwave)

    AFL Introduces 3 new Noyes OTDRs(Lightwave)
    Remember the SMA Connector?
    They're still being used for high power laser delivery - up to 80.100W! Seikoh Giken has even introduced some new ones.

    Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

    Have you read the FOA Tech Topics on Cleaning?

    More links on cleaning:

  • Westover 
  • AFL

    ITW Chemtronics

    Cleantex Alco Pads



    FTTH Notes:

    From John Nixon in Austraila:
    The Three Little Pigs 
    Posted: 09 Mar 2010 03:36 PM PST
    Once upon a time there were three little pigs - FTTC, Docsis 3 and FTTH.

    The first little piggy set off into the wide world of broadband and built himself a cabinet. He was pretty confident that he could do everything required from there but along came the mean old big bad wolf – the consumer - and blew all of his plans out the water with apps and services he had never even heard of. FTTC simply couldn't do what everyone needed to. He ran to his friends and told them he'd underestimated the consumer, I mean, the Big Bad Wolf. His cabinet plans were in tatters.

    Out went Docsis 3, confident he could resolve the problems and he told everyone he was doing it over fibre optics. Now, this wasn't strictly true, but to hell with truth, this is telecoms. He tried to solve the problem but once again, along came the laws of physics and consumer demand over big fat pipes, and blew his hopes away. He ran to his friends and told them that he too had underestimated the consumer.

    FTTH went out and said, “Right, lessons learned. I'm going to connect everyone to a fully articulated universal fibre network and let's see whether that solves the problems.” Lo and behold, the Big Bad Wolf never showed up. The consumer was far too busy being seen by their GP over an HD TV channel to worry about how FTTH had done it.

    And the moral of the story is......;o)

    TV broadcasters need FTTH
    One clear message to emerge from the content session this afternoon was that broadcasters and fibre network providers should be best friends.
    Digital delivery had radically changed the face of broadcasting, says Bert Habets, CEO of RTL Netherlands. In 1989 when the company started, the world was simple: there was one TV in the living room, and changing channels just meant pressing a button on the remote. Today, the number of channels has multiplied dramatically, there are different distribution technologies and different devices for accessing content. The linear model of TV delivery is giving way to a combination of push and pull: broadcast and on-demand.
    Four years ago, RTL launched a catch-up TV service in the Netherlands, which makes TV content available on demand for 7 days after first broadcast. This service grew quickly to deliver 185 million streams in 2009. Bandwidth requirements have grown in a correspondingly dramatic fashion, and now exceed 2,500 TB of data per month. Yet the service still only constitutes a small percentage of total viewing time. Imagine how much bandwidth would be required to expand the service to 10% or even 20% of viewing time, says Habets.
    "In my view, broadcasters and fibre are a great match", said Habets. "We should be long-term partners for the future in order to be successful in rolling out these services."
    Ferry Kesselaar, Technology Manager for NOS, a company that delivers a content portal for news, sport and events in the Netherlands, echoed this point of view.
    IPTV providers have a dilemma: they can deliver high-quality content but few channels, or go for lots of channels but of low quality. It's not a compromise they really want to make because it's limiting their business opportunities. "In our view the issue is the last mile," he said. "You as fibre people can help us to get there."
    Who needs super-fast broadband? 
    Posted: 06 Mar 2010 04:54 PM PST
    How fast should your next generation internet connection be?

    It's a simple enough question. In the last year I've heard answers ranging from 2Mbps right up to 1Gbps. Many people, when not burdened by the economics, seem to be in the 100Mbps camp these days. Perhaps that's because it seems like 100Mbps will be enough for the foreseeable future, but will it?

    What does history show us? In 1990 there was nothing much more than simple text flying around the internet that required little bandwidth. Back then, how many of us predicted the arrival of social media sites like FaceBook and Flickr, or the BBC iPlayer or NetFlix? Was the advent of broadband a necessity because of sites like YouTube, or was YouTube a response to the newly available bandwidth?

    In 2001 I bought a 2GB hard drive for my computer. At the time it seemed like I'd never be able to fill it. Now I'm installing 2TB drives.

    If there's one thing experience of computing and networks tells us, it's that you can never have enough capacity. What seems a lot now may be rendered inadequate sooner than we anticipate. You don't have to predict what's coming, just know that it will.

    And something is.

    NHK in Japan and British Sky Broadcasting in the UK are proposing an ultra-high definition video format that will deliver a resolution of 4000 lines compared to 1080 for HDTV. Currently it requires about 45Mbps to broadcast in 2D. If the broadcast industry is right this time and 3D is here to stay, that's be even more bits. Multiply that by the number of people in the house watching different programming at the same time. Then there's also the possibility of ultra-HD games running on-demand from the cloud. Suddenly 100Mbps doesn't sound like very much at all.

    Broadcast standards take years to arrive in the marketplace. But they will arrive. The fibre we lay now will still be there when they do. Is it time to start talking about gigabit FTTH?

    Matrixstream & mystery Aus VSP launch HD IPTV
    US firm Matrixstream has joined forces with an as-yet-unrevealed Australian fibre video service provider to  launch what it says is Australia’s first HD IPTV managed cloud service over the public internet.
    The 1080p IPTV offering is initially going out as a managed service with white label capability to allow ISPs, MDUs, hotels or other organisations to brand the service with their own logo, users and content – something Matrixstream is confident will drastically reduce costs compared to traditional IPTV deployment.

    The firm says that TV viewers anywhere in Australia with a broadband connection at 1.5Mbps downstream or better will be able to view HD 1080p VoD with 5.1 surround sound, without any buffering or jerkiness. Additionally, the mystery fibre provider will optional unbundled ADSL2+ line to stream the new IPTV services without additional bandwidth charges. New Zealand is also tipped to benefit, as are neighbouring areas such as Fiji and Malaysia.

    “This will very quickly become a... director competitor to the Foxtels, the Telstras, the Skys... this can now spread very rapidly. The IPTV head end is built, and now goes the setting up of the client,” Matrix- Stream director of marketing Aaron Keogh told CommsDay. “We are not held back by the last mile; we can stream from one end to the other in Australia... it will go all over New Zealand, and Fiji, and we have activity going on in South East Asia.”

    Matrixstream itself, said Keogh, will not ever become a reseller or direct service provider for the IPTV offering, to avoid competing with its own partners. Rather, the firm provides the proprietary MatrixCast technology that it says is key to the low-bandwidth offering, based on standard H264 codecs but using custom- built servers and encoders.

    And, while Matrixstream’s VSP partner so far prefers to remain anonymous, the two are currently in talks with a number of potential customers. “The names range from smaller telcos and ISPs to WiMAX service providers and larger carriers – anybody who can be considered a service provider. And most of them are approaching us!” said Keogh. “This is a very interesting thing, it’s going to make the big telcos, cable companies, and satellite companies a tad uncomfortable.”

    Fiber-to-the-Home Council to Offer Professional Certification
    Program to Support Growing Need for FTTH Professionals
    The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council - a trade association of more than 200 companies and organizations dedicated to expanding the deployment of all-fiber, next-generation networks - has announced that it is developing the first-ever certification program aimed specifically at professionals who design, administer, and manage FTTH systems.
    This complements the FOA CFxT Certification aimed at installers of FTTx programs and should provide a service provider with complete assurance of personnel competence. More.

    Verizon To Complete FiOS System in 2010, Looks for 40% FiOS penetration
    This year Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) plans to complete the fiber-to-the-premises network it started in 2004, and it is focusing harder on customer penetration.
    “We’re averaging just under 30% [FiOS penetration] for the whole property,” Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg told investors recently. “My people think they can get to 34%. They’re not going to get paid very much if they don’t get to 40%. The question is how quickly we can get there.” (Connected Planet)

    Consumer Reports Says FTTH Providers Top-Rated
    FTTH systems, led by Verizon FiOS, get top ratings from users over other Internet connections. (Lightwave)

    David Chaffee's FTTH Prism Newsletter is Online
    (archives are at bottom of the linked page)

    Where is Verizon offfering FiOS service? See this map.
    Want To Learn More About FTTx?
    The FOA has created a special FTTx resources section of our website with a FTTx links page with lots of links to news, market reports, technical articles and vendor technical and product information. Here is a great place to start learning more about FTTx.
    FOA's CFxT FTTx Certification Program Explained
    Read the Broadband Properties article about the FOA FTTx certification program. Read the article about FOA President Jim Hayes being honored for his work promoting FTTH.


    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

     Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

    There is a new toll-free "call before you dig" number: 811

    See for more information

    National Fiber Optic Protection Summit: By the "811" group. March, 2008 in Vegas.


    Download This!
    There are tons of technical application notes and videos on the web, and occasionally we recommend some you should download. The JDSU fiber testing guide is really worthwhile, as are the ADC FTTx book and Westover video on fiber inspection and cleaning, linked below.
    JDSU Testing Book
    JDSU offers a free download of their Testing Guide from the Lightwave website. This is one great book which explains some basic fiber technology, but the real value is the last half which deals with OTDR testing. Not only does it give the usual info, but it covers important topics like measurement uncertainties and anomolies like ghosts and gainers.
    I was in the testing business for 20+ years at Fotec and think this book is one of the best fiber optic testing texts available. It's complete but comprehenisble! I used to believe that premises techs did not need OTDR training, but now OTDR manufacturers are pushing their use in premises networks. Unfortunately, the limitations of OTDRs in premises applications can cause extreme problems for those who are not aware of their limitations. So knowing hows OTDRs work is essential information to every tech. 
    Download yourself a copy and read it!
    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:
    ADC's Book On FTTx
    ADC has an excellend book on FTTx. Here is a link to request a copy:

    Job Openings

    Jobs Created As Part of Stimulus-Funded Projects
    The federal government is spending 7.2 billion dollars on the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.  This money is working it's way into the economy and hopefully will provide jobs.  You can track recovery dollars and look for job opportunities on this website:  Go to "opportinities" link then "jobs".  You will see a section “find recovery jobs” – enter “fiber optic jobs California” or wherever you are and review what comes up.

    Cable Techs - Cat 5 - 3/22
    Retail Echelon is a small business that manages the installation and service of retail traffic counting systems.  We are the providers for several companies and cover the US and Canada.  We are also currently moving to handle sites in South America, Europe, and Asia.
    The systems consist of various sensor types installed at the entrances of retail sites.  The sensors are connected via CAT5 to a data collector.  The data collector is connected to either the network or POS.
    We are continuously seeking technicians across the country to handle our jobs.  I was wanting to inquire about joining any job placement programs that you may have or partnering with your group to get work to graduates.
    Please note that these systems currently operate with CAT5.
    Allen D. Johnson
    Vice-President of Operations
    3583 Blue Ridge Blvd.
    Blue Ridge VA 24064
    Phone:  336.404.7562
    Fax:        866.766.5720

    Splicing Contractor - 3/22
    We are looking for a company that can splice a fiber optic cable onto a connector onsite.  The cable carries both video and audio signals.  Need a company in the Los Angeles area.
    Stan Jacobs

    Network Maintenance - Fiber Optics   - 3/22
    Looking for Certified Fiber Optic Technicians for a 24/7 maintenance contract that we have. There are 48 regions spread across the United States. Can you provide me with any leads or companies that would be interested?
    Ryan Faulkner
    Intellys Corporation | Global Infrastructure Services
    Email:   |   Phone: 972.929.9000 ext 102
    Toll Free: 877.468.3559 ext 102   |   Cell: 972.741.3215   |   Fax: 817.796.1208
    LAN | WAN | DATA | Mobility | VOIP | Security
    Deploying Secure, Uninterrupted Airspace - Not Simply AP's.

    Strategic Sales - Egypt, 3/22
    One of my clients, Alcatel-Lucent, is looking for a Strategic Sales Lead (Optical) for their MEA operations. The position will be based in Egypt with travel across the MEA region. Please send me your updated CV to if you're interested and if not please recommend your friends / colleagues that might be interested.

    Hemant Harisree
    Delivery Team Leader
    SNS FZ LLC, Dubai, UAE
    (In Partnership with Networkers MSB, UK)
    Office: +971 44 291 342
    Mobile: +971 50 174 0756 , +971 50 653 9299

    Sr. Business Development Leader (1-25)

    Join Innovative Leaders in the Design, Development & Manufacturing of Electro-Optical Systems 
    Northrop Grumman Adaptive Optics Associates 
    Northrop Grumman Adaptive Optics Associates (AOA) designs, develops and manufactures a wide
    variety of standard and custom electro-optic and opto-mechanical products. Since its inception, AOA
    has steadily expanded its engineering and manufacturing capabilities to provide its customers with
    the highest quality products, systems and services. For more information on AOA, please visit:
    Job Title: Sr. Business Development Leader
    Job Description: 
    The role of Sr. Business Development Leader is to obtain new business opportunities by providing
    technical and engineering support to customers leveraging AOA’s processing capabilities and
    technical expertise. The Sr. Business Development Leader will engage customers with sound
    technical consultation and will define, support, close, monitor, and report on development-related and
    new business opportunities, programs, contracts and agreements. Through their technical leadership,
    the Sr. Business Development Leader will develop and grow the business relationship between AOA
    and our customers, increasing our revenue and profitability. The responsibilities include: establishing
    and leading a successful business development team; developing new business in Custom Electro-
    Optical (E-O) Systems Design and Mfg, and Customized Optical Measurement Solutions, focusing on
    industrial companies with significant U.S. domestic operations, defense contractors, and U.S.
    government agencies; creating marketing and sales goals, as well as developing and executing
    formal plans to reach these goals; training, and coordinating the activities of (to-be-hired) regional
    Basic Qualifications: 
    Bachelors degree in Marketing or related field (engineering degree desired).
    Minimum 8 years combined technical and business development experience required. 
    Minimum 2 years experience with electro-optical systems and/or optical systems design and
    Experience developing high-level marketing strategy and implementing Sales/Marketing performance
    tracking tools.
    Experience working with senior management to achieve results.
    Demonstrated ability identifying new business opportunities and securing profitable business
    Up to 50 percent travel necessary.
    Demonstrated written and oral presentation skills interfacing with customers.
     Assets (Preferred qualifications): 
    Existing Rolodex of pertinent industrial companies, people, and key contacts and decision-makers.
    Experience marketing to government agencies and industrial companies.
    Experience marketing customized engineering design and/or manufacturing services.
    More about Northrop Grumman AOA:
    Northrop Grumman AOA benefits are among the most competitive in the industry. While salary is a
    major component of your compensation, you also receive a competitive benefits package including:
    Medical, Dental and Life Insurance
    STD and LTD
    Purchased Vacation Program
    PTO (sick / personal time)
    Holiday Pay
    9/80 Work Schedule
    Tuition Reimbursement
    Employee Referral Program
    Professional Development Opportunities
    Employee Incentive Plan
    An Equal Opportunity Employer, M/F/D/V
    Interested applicants should apply at:

    Fiber Optic Design Engineer (1-10)
    This position is responsible for the development of custom optical fiber products, including conventional ferrule based fiber connectors and free space optical components. Industry standard product development and engineering design principles are used including simulation, analysis and phased development milestones.
    • Product design from concept through production
    • Development of optical assembly and alignment processes and tooling
    • Documentation release, and maintenance including revision control and data management
    • Coordination of projects with other facilities
    • Managing a program through a New Product Development process
    • Interface with customers, sales and tech support and outside engineering groups for product support
    • Engineering Change Notice procedures
    • BSME or equivalent with five or more years engineering experience in the design and manufacturing of glass optical or opto-mechanical products
    • Strong experience with 3D CAD software and precision mechanical design required. Solidworks preferred
    • Experience with simulation software especially Optical simulation software desirable
    • Solid understanding of free space optics and exposure to fiber optics
    • Demonstrated experience and understanding of machining, molding and other production processes
    • Project management experience preferred
    • Connector industry experience highly desirable
    • MRP system knowledge desirable
    • Good problem solving skills

    • Meriden, Connecticut area

    • $80K+ DOE

    Job Number:
    • 1805

    Interested parties may contact DRP Resource Group, Inc. at 877-857-8233.  Please forward your resume to  We look forward to speaking with you.

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

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

    David Swales, Jr.

    Also Check Recent Job Openings In Previous Issues of The FOA Newsletter


    Tech Puzzler
    What does this OTDR Trace Show?
    OTDR Puzzler

    Answer below

    FOA Logo Merchandise
    FOA has arranged with EmbroidMe to provide FOA logo merchandies. Identify yourself as a FOA-certified tech or instructor. The lab coats are super impressive for either cabling techs and instructors. Check out the selection.

    FOA Certification Top Choice

    The FOA CFOT and CFOS programs continue to gain momentum in fiber optics. Over 27,000 CFOTs have been certified by over 230 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 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've created several new 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 on this site 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!


    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. You must be a current FOA member and CFOT to participate in our online database of installers, contractors, technicians and consultants. If you forgot to renew, use the online application form to renew NOW!

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



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

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

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

    Return to The FOA Home Page

    (C)1999-2009, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

    Tech Puzzler:
    Well, this trace is a good example of why you need some technical documentation to assist in troubleshooting problems in fiber optic networks. The trace shows a concatenation point on a long link with some oddities in the trace. Is it a connector (it has reflectance) where the cables around it are stressed causing the dips in the trace? Or a stressed fiber in a splice closure which has cracked - with a 1 dB loss and some reflectance. We'll bet on the latter, but some documentation would certainly make it easier to determine the cause.

    OTDR Puzzler

     See the FOA Reference Guide for more info.