In This Issue
Report From OFC
Why Is The FOA Creating Standards?
Two New Fiber U Courses: Design and FTTx
FOA Starts New LinkedIn Group On Fiber Optic Training
Communities That Have Their Own Broadband Networks
Google Patents Lawn Edging Fiber Ducts To Simplify FTTH Installation
Ship's Anchor Breaks East African Submarine Cables
Free NECA/FOA-301 Installation Standard for FOA Members
2012-Year of the OTDR, OTDR Tips, OTDR iPhone APP
The Secret To Wireless Bandwidth Demands?
YouTube: More New Lectures
Two FOA iPad Apps Now Available - Free Loss Budget Calculator

New @ FOA  
US Dept. of Labor Recognizes FOA Certifications, FOA Corporate Memberships  
Fiber U -
two new free online self-study courses
Publications: NECA/FOA 301 Installation, eBooks
videos: New FOA Lecture Series
Online Reference Guide: Many new pages 
Tech Topics: More online information
Certification: New FOA OSP Certification
FOA Schools
New schools and programs

FOA Jobs Web Site  

Jobs Current openings and Jobs Blog.
Also see FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn

Events: Conferences and Shows of Interest To Fiber Techs  
FOLS Webinar
AFL to Host "Traveling" Advanced Splicing Seminars
Free Corning "See the Light" Seminars
JDSU Testing Webinars

Q&A: What you are asking the FOA?
Product News - OTDRs, More New stuff
Worth Reading: News from around the world

Want to be notified when the FOA Newsletter is updated? Sign up for the FOA eMail Newsletter. You can also sign up from your cell phone: text "FOA" to 22828 (usual text msg charges apply)

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Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

It's now CFOT®  and Fiber U® The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are now a registered trademark. With over 33,000 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 and Fiber U required trademark protection. Now it's official!

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

New FOA Reference Books 

(Available Printed or eBooks)
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos Now on videos

FOA Home Page
Contact the FOA  

Renew your FOA certification online - plus get a discount on the new FOA books and an extra month free. Details here.
Find us on Facebook            FOA on LinkedIn       videos

Report From OFC

The Optical Fiber Communications Conference was held earlier this month in Los Angeles. We attended the exhibition and the conference Executive Forum session on marketing and technology for executives. Last year the big news was the rollout of 40Gb/s systems for long distance links and Google's commitment to singlemode fiber in the data center to support 100G. We talked to the Google people again and they reiterated their commitment to singlemode for 100G, except instead of using 1010G WDM, they now are moving on to 4X25G WDM at a lower cost. Facebook also made a presentation and they are almost the opposite of Google, preferring to use the least expensive commercial solutions for their data centers rather than develop proprietary equipment. Two different approaches, both valid.

While the data people are looking at short 100G links, telcos and long distance providers are looking at long 100G links. In order to get reasonable performance, they are having to use much more complicated (and expensive) coherent transmission systems. These systems are so complex and expensive, some users are saying they are only cost-effective for long haul links and too expensive for metropolitan usage. Others, Verizon included, say they will use 100G coherent systems in metro as early as next year. It's something to watch.

On the more mundane level, there were what seemed to be hundreds of exhibitors offering connectors, patchcords and other passive components, but we saw nothing outstanding. We did see this neat gadget from FiberLaunch, a launch cable for OTDRs on a portable reel.


FOA Standards: Why Are We Creating Standards?

Since the FOA announced that we were creating standards, the response has been very positive to the idea, but we have gotten a few comments like "Why does the world need any more standards?" That's a good question.

Here at the FOA, we get calls and emails all the time with technical questions. Most questions concern problems with fiber optic installations. Some questions are about how to design or install networks, but the majority are about testing. Most of the questions can be answered by referring the caller to an industry standard or helping them interpret them. But that is becoming more difficult as standards are always changing.

Discussions regarding the need for these standards led us to conclude that our members, mainly contractors, designers, installers and network users, were often not the audience for most standards. The most common standards are written by manufacturers of communications and cabling equipment for themselves, to ensure interoperability of their components and ensure acceptance in the marketplace. Installation of these products is covered briefly, if at all, in most standards, being left to the manufacturers making the products to explain installation to their customers. And most manufacturers do that well.

A second and sometimes bigger problem is that standards are written for future products and applications, sometimes years in the future. A recent comment on LinkedIn by the 10G Ethernet Alliance noted that it has been two years since the ratification of 40G and 100G Ethernet and 10 years since 10G was approved, yet wide scale deployment of 10G still hasn't happened. The new version of the standard for testing multimode fiber cable plants approved several years ago was aimed at supporting cable plants for 10/40/100G networks, but in a rush to publish the standard, an unproven technology was included that may not be applicable to all networks. Recent reports say new cable plant standards may drop OM1 and OM2 fibers saying they are inadequate for future networks.

Certainly standards are the best guide to understanding how to design and install new networks with maximum future capability. But what do you do about network users with lots of fiber who just need to expand their systems, or applications not demanding of the highest performance cabling like CCTV video cameras, security systems or industrial networks using low speed hardware that can run on any fiber. These networks are not likely to be torn out to replace cables with state of the art fiber that is unnecessary. Fiber and cable manufacturers tell us there is still strong sales of OM1 (62.5/125) fiber, so it's certainly not obsolete!

In developing the FOA standards, we took the viewpoint of contractors, designers, installers and network users dealing with today's networks. We wrote the standards based on general usage and leave it to those using them to establish any special conditions necessary to deal with legacy or future fiber networks. And of course, we welcome technical questions regarding how to use these standards.

FOA Standards

FOA now offers standards for testing the installed fiber optic cable plant, patchcords and cable, optical power from transmitters or at receivers and OTDR testing. Look for the "1 PageStandard" web page and in the FOA Online Reference Guide.

Download the FOA 1Page Standards to your tablet or smartphone!

FOA Standards For Contractors, Designers, Installers and Users

Read more about them here. And above.

View the YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

Go to the FOA "1 Page Standards"

Two New Fiber U Online Self-Study Programs: Design and FTTx

Fiber U
FOA has added two new free online self-study programs to our Fiber U web-based training site. The new programs cover topics that have been requested often: "Fiber Optic Network Design" and "FTTx." The Design course leads you through lessons on fiber optic network design and planning, then concludes with several online design exercises to test your understanding. The FTTx course has lesson plans covering what the "x" in FTTx means, network architectures, installation and testing, then concludes with a design exercise. Both use the FOA Online Guide or our textbooks and our YouTube videos as study materials. If you are interested in the FOA Specialist Certifications in Design (CFOS/D) or FTTx (CFOS/H), these are excellent study guides. See Fiber U for links to the new courses.

We are considering using these self-study courses as part of online instructor-led courses using Linked-In. We have a new LinkedIn group, "Fiber Optic Training" (see below) which will be used for this. Join now for these courses.

FOA Starts New LinkedIn Group On Fiber Optic Training
Linked In Training Group
FOA has started a new LinkedIn group called "Fiber Optic Training" dedicated to discussions on fiber optic training, postings of training courses and even hosting a new experiment, online instructor-led courses. Anyone can join our new Linked In fiber optic training group. Take a look and join the group.

New: Read the new  FOA "Jobs Blogs" by Scott Coulter of APSI.

Where Are The Communities That Have Their Own Broadband Networks?
Many communities in the US have decided to create their own broadband networks, usually because their telco or CATV service providers decided not to offer broadband services. There is a website for the "Community Broadband Network" that has a great map showing where these networks are being built. They also have a very useful report "Breaking the Broadband Monopoly" that is good reading for those planning building their own community broadband network.

Broadband Communities

More on The Community Broadband Network website

Google Patents Lawn Edging Fiber Ducts To Simplify FTTH Installation
Google is progressing on its Kansas City Gb/s FTTH project and has applied for a patent on a device which could help installers of FTTH everywhere. Instead of digging up the yard to install fiber, Google has devises a device based on lawn edging that includes a duct for fiber. Imaging it simply being pushed into the ground beside a sidewalk.
fiber edging

The edging can be made in many colors and patterns to allow it to be decorative or blend into the scenery. Clever! Read more.

Ship's Anchor Breaks East African Submarine Cables
Cable break in East Africa
A ship waiting to enter the harbor at Mombassa, Kenya, anchored in a restricted area in late February. Dragging its anchor caused a break in a major submarine cable linking East Africa to the Middle East. This is the submarine cable equivalent of "backhoe fade" but is much harder to fix. A similar break occurred off the coast of Egypt in 2008. Read More.

Free For FOA Members: NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

NECA 301
Because of its importance to users, contractors and installers of fiber optic networks, The FOA and NECA have agreed to make the NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard available free to FOA members.
Standards usually cover components and systems and how to test them, but rarely get into installation issues. 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."   FOA members can go here for instructions on how to download your free copy.

2012: The Year of The OTDR

Most of the technical and testing questions we get here at FOA involve misunderstanding of OTDR testing. A number of FOA master instructors have suggested we focus on OTDR training, both in our schools and online, to minimize the problems, so we have declared 2012 "The Year of The OTDR." Look for special articles, a new  "1pStandard" and other information that will make these instruments less enigmatic!

What Does A PON Network Look Like On An OTDR?
Take a look at these two traces from the same fiber link in a real PON network.

Confusing isn't it? The top trace is downstream from the central office to the user(s), while the bottom trace is upstream from one user to the central office. The top trace is magnified to show the detail from the end of the link, with the location of the PON splitter marked, followed by the traces from each of the connected homes. As you can see, looking downstream, after the coupler, all the traces are superimposed, making any kind of analysis almost impossible. When two traces are overlaid, you cannot determine if a feature is in one of the fibers or the other. Looking upstream from a user, you have a much clearer picture of the link, including the fiber to the home you are testing. Thus FTTx networks are generally tested with an OTDR looking upstream.
More on using OTDRs on FTTx networks is on our page on testing FTTx.

Three Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free
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.

AFS OTDR Online Demo
AFS OTDR Simulator

AFS has an online interactive demo of their new OTDR that allows you to see how an OTDR makes measurements. You use the yellow buttons in the center of the OTDR to set the markers to make measurements. Very well done. Go to for the demo.

"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.

OTDR Tip Of The Month:
The reflection from the connector on the OTDR can overwhelm nearby features on a trace, so you need a launch cable. But wear on that connector can make it worse, If possible use APC connectors on SM OTDRs. And if you attach a short 10-15m cable to the OTDR and leave it there, attaching your launch cable to the end of that short cable, you can reduce the wear on that connector and keep it in better condition.

Many of the technical questions we get here at the FOA deal with OTDRs and many are problems caused by untrained operators expecting the OTDR to do the trace interpretation for them. That is almost always a recipe for disaster! If you are going to use an OTDR, learn how to use it first. Start with the new Fiber U OTDR self study course, "Understanding OTDRs".  You can also download the Free FOA  OTDR Simulator to practice analyzing traces.

The Secret To Wireless Bandwidth Demands?
Fiber has practically unlimited bandwidth but wireless has limited bandwidth. As you know from our articles in the FOA Newsletter, they work well together, with fiber to the tower or even up the tower to the antenna. Well, this Bell Labs cellular wireless innovation is becoming available from parent Alcatel-Lucent and may be the solution. It's designed to cover small areas which means fewer users and less overall data demand. Hook lots of these up on fiber (they only need a fiber and some power) and you can provide much more wireless bandwidth.
This article from MIT Technology Review has some other interesting facts - like the usual coax connecting antennas on towers to amplifiers on the ground loses half the power just going up the tower!

Free FOA iPad App Calculates Loss Budget

The FOA has just released its second APP for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, a free "loss budget calculator," FOA LossCalc.

FOA LossCalc
FOA Loss Calc App Screen

FOA 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.
FOA Loss Calculator App

More New Lectures on videos
About The FOA  Who we are, what we do.

FOA Standards  What are standards and why is the FOA creating their own?
10 new lectures on premises cabling have been added to the FOA YouTube channel along with lectures on fiber to the home - FTTx - and Loss budgets, making 26 fiber optic lectures total.

Here  is a list of the current lectures (plus there are 28 hands-on videos too!). We're looking for ideas for topics for future lectures. Send your ideas to <>.

Events of Interest


 FOLS Webinar

LAN Standards, News & Trends: 2012 Update 
Presented by Pete Pondillo, Standards Chair,  TIA's Fiber Optics LAN Section
Available Online, Register Here



Fiberfest is the one day conference/trade show run by the New England Fiberoptic Council. This year the event will be colocated with a FTTH Council meeting in Boston. Watch for details here or on the NEFC website.

AFL to Host "Traveling" Advanced Splicing Seminars
AFL has launched advanced splicing seminars intended for engineers and professionals, as well as university students, engaged in fiber optic activities involving non-standard and specialty fusion splicing activities. Typical applications for these advanced splicing needs are often in the Medical, Oil and Gas, Fiber Lasers, Optical Manufacturing, and Aerospace markets. These seminars will cover a wide range of applications and solutions for difficult and challenging applications using advanced fusion splicing platforms.
Seminars will be held in around the US and Canada.
There is no charge for attending; however AFL will be conducting pre-registration in order to ensure availability of a proper facility depending upon the number of attendees. 
Details on the seminar, a current schedule and signup form are at

Free Corning "See the Light" Seminars
Corning Cable Systems' See the Light team is coming to a city near you!  Receive Free fiber optic training on a variety of topics including Termination Technology, Testing and Trouble Shooting, Fusion Splicing, and Preterminated Solutions. These interactive three-hour sessions provide students with a comprehensive overview of the latest technology. Fiber optic BICSI (CEC) credits apply (3). 
Here is the current information and schedule.

JDSU Testing Webinars
You are invited to join JDSU for a complimentary series of educational webinars in early 2012. Each webinar, presented by a JDSU subject matter expert, occurs on the same day and time of the week and will last approximately one hour, including Q&A.
Go here to see the seminars offered and dates.  IMPORTANT: use registration password: FONA1.

Don't forget to download your copies of the JDSU Testing Textbooks.

FOA LogoWhat's New @ FOA

FOA Standards For Contractors, Designers, Installers and Users

Read more about them here. And above.

View the YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

Go to the FOA "1 Page Standards"

FOA Certifications Recognized By US Department of Labor

DoL logo
All FOA Certifications have now been recognized by the US Department of Labor. The DoL reviews certifications and how they relate to job opportunities and training. The DoL Career OneStop website helps individuals explore career opportunities to make informed employment and education choices. The Web site features user-friendly occupation and industry information, salary data, career videos, education resources, self-assessment tools, career exploration assistance, and other resources that support talent development in today's fast-paced global marketplace.

FOA Certifications Listed By US Department of Labor - Career OneStop

FOA Corporate MemberNew Corporate Memberships
FOA is now offering corporate memberships to companies involved in fiber optics as manufacturers, contractors, installers, etc. Read more. Among other benefits, Corporate Membership gives companies access to special FOA materials for educating customers and employees.

Fiber U
Two New Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs on Design and FTTx

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 ot 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.

FOA Certification On Outside Plant Fiber Optics
The FOA CFospT outside plant certification focuses on OSP fiber optic network design, installation and maintenance. A CFospT certified tech must know the ways that fiber is used in the OSP, how it is installed, tested and maintained. While a CFOT might only have a basic knowledge of fusion splicing and OTDR testing, for example, a CFospT will be knowledgeable and skillful in those areas - and more. Reference materials for the new CFospT are the printed textbook, the FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics (right) as well as eBooks from Amazon for the Kindle or Apple for the iPad/iPod/iPhone and the OSP reference section of the FOA Online Reference Guide which now includes a self-study guide to the CFospT exam.
More information on the FOA 
Outside Plant Fiber Optic Technician (CFospT) certification.

Reference Books for FOA Certifications are now available on Kindle and iPad/iPhone
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
The FOA has just released its second APP for the iPad, a free "loss budget calculator," FOA LossCalc.

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.

NECA/FOA 301 Installation Updated
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.

2 New Lectures: About The FOA and FOA Standards, plus 26 Fiber Optic Lectures, 10 Premises Cabling Lectures Plus 28 More Hands-On Videos

FOA YouTube Lecture 11 - Fiber Optic Network Design

Below is a list of the current lectures (plus there are 28 hands-on videos too!). We're looking for ideas for topics for future lectures. Send your ideas to <>.

FOA Lecture 1: Fiber Optics & Communications 
FOA Lecture 2: Safety When Working With Fiber Optics 
FOA Lecture 3: Optical Fiber 
FOA Lecture 4: Fiber Optic Cables 
FOA Lecture 5: Splices and Connectors 
FOA Lecture 6: Fiber Optic Splices 
FOA Lecture 7: Fiber Optic Connectors 
FOA Lecture 8: Fiber Optic Installation 
FOA Lecture 9: Fiber Optic Network Design, Part 1
FOA Lecture 10: Fiber Optic Network Design Part 2 
FOA Lecture 11: Fiber Optic Network Design Part 3 
FOA Lecture 12: Fiber Optic Testing Overview 
FOA Lecture 13: Testing Fiber Visually 
FOA Lecture 14: Testing Optical Power 
FOA Lecture 15: Five Ways To Test Fiber Optic Cable Plants 
FOA Lecture 16: Insertion Loss Testing 
FOA Lecture 17: OTDR Testing 
FOA Lecture 18: OTDR Setup 
FOA Lecture 19: OTDR Measurement Uncertainty 
FOA Lecture 20: Other Fiber Optic Tests 
FOA Lecture 21 Visual Fault Locator Demonstration 
FOA Lecture 22 Mode Power Distribution in Multimode Fibers Demonstration 
FOA Lecture 23 Total Internal Reflection in Optical Fiber Demonstration 
FOA Lecture 24 Copper, Fiber or Wireless? 
FOA Lecture 25 FTTx 
FOA Lecture 26: Loss Budgets  

New: Ten More YouTube Videos – Lectures On Premises Cabling
The FOA has added 10 more videos to our YouTube Channel, thefoainc. These are an introduction to premises cabling, covering applications, types of cabling, standards and installation practices for copper (UTP and coax), fiber and wireless. Like our lecture series on fiber optics, these provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject in short videos, typically 5-10 minutes in length, on each subject. Watch for more.

Here is a list of the Lectures now on YouTube.

View the FOA YouTube video Lectures.  

What's New  in the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide
We have been updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information.

FTTx and Design Pages Updated
As we developed the new Fiber U self-study courses, we updated the FTTx and Design pages and added a FTTx installation section.


Including FOA Master Instructor Terry O'Malley's 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  

Testing FTTH
Basic guidelines for testing FTTH PON networks  

Measuring Reflectance or Return Loss
It can be important but it's not so easy to test.

Encircled Flux
What does this new method of measuring mode power distribution in MM fiber mean to testing standards?

Fiber Optic and Premises Cabling Project Paperwork
Covering what are SOW, RFPs and RFQs and how they are created for a project.

Effects of Alignment and Fiber Geometry on Fiber Optic Connector Loss
With all the controversy about connector loss due to modal distribution, we sometimes forget the effects of component variations.

Fiber Optics For Wireless Networks
How wireless is not wireless - it needs fiber.

Premises Cabling Installation
Installing copper/fiber/wireless for premises networks.

Web Page on Bend Insensitive Fiber
Bend-insensitive fiber is a "hot topic" now - we try to explain how it works and what it means for installation and test. 

Basic Fiber Design Section Updated
Lots of new materials added to this introduction to fiber optic network design.

Web Page on Data Centers
Data centers are the heart of the Internet, storing and supplying data for user requests. Needless to say, high performance cabling is needed to move the data between storage, servers and routers. We've created a new page in our Online Reference Guide on 
data centers - how fiber and cabling are vital to their performance.

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 w
e 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.

School News
Wallace in Phillipines
Wallace Allen, FOA Master Instructor, (center), has moved - all the way from New York City to the Philippines where he's teaching for Nexus-Net. This is his first class in Cebu City.

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

#643- Madison Area Technical College

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

It's Now A Lot Easier To Find A FOA-Approved Training Organization
FOA-Approved School Map Zoom to CA
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.
ou 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.

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.

Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Tech Hint: Did You Know You Have A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?
Yes! The camera in your 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 sent us some photos showing how this works. See below or the video now on YouTube.

Burying Fiber Ducts Below Frost Line (3/12)
Should fiber ducts in northern regions be laid below frost line. Frost line in some areas of Canada is typically 8 feet.
A: Normally telecommunication conduit should be place below frost line when ever possible. Cost is always a factor, in most cases frost line does not exceed 36" (1 meter aprox). Northern Canada is an exception. Depending on the strength of the conduit/cables to resist the crushing force of ice frozen in place around cables (see manufacturer). Ice has been know separate conduits from itself, frost has crush conduits/cables. The following designs have been used:
1) Use schedule 80 conduit/ GIP conduit (threaded pipe).
2) Design each conduit section so that it will drain down hill.
3) Keep water out off handholes/manholes. This can be very difficult & costly.
4) Ensure that cables can maintain frost crushing (see manufacturer).

Companies like Bell /AT&T have been placing conduit below or at 3' to 5' in Canada.
Companies like CATV have been placing conduit below or at 2' to 4' in Canada.
In the US most conduits are placed 24" to 60" for communication.
Each situation will need to be reviewed on a case by case bases.

Municipal Fiber Network Advice (2/12)
I am charged with researching a municipal requirement to install fiber optic infrastructure in new development--this could either be for active development or dark fiber for future connection.  Any pointers as to where to look?  Have any communities done this well....  done this poorly....  have good examples of policy, legal code or standards?
A: Municipal networks are becoming very common. The best example I know is Santa Monica, CA Citynet  and we've interviewed them on the project.
Santa Monica built a citywide network to combine connections to all the city offices, public safety offices, libraries, etc. plus added numerous CCTV surveillance cameras, smart traffic signals and muni WiFi. They installed lots of fiber - fiber is cheap but installation can be costly, so they built a big network with lots of dark fiber in the beginning. Then they leased fiber to the local CATV company, Verizon for FiOS fiber to the home, and connected up dozens of tech companies to high speed Internet access (Google, Yahoo and dozens of movie production houses are located in Santa Monica.)
The really good deal was it paid for itself. Federal money helped with the initial installation (DoTransportation, DoEducation, Homeland Security) and leased fiber keeps the income coming.
As  a big college town already involved with "Gig U" (, you should contact the people at the University to see what they have planned that may be able to be combined with your work.
I suspect that every town has its own issues with policy, codes and standards. We've discussed some of the issues with other towns and one thing that comes up regularly is that at a minimum, the town should own the conduits even if the fiber is private. If a private contractor digs up the streets to bury cables they should be required to install many conduits for whenever another company wants to pull cable, the conduit is ready and no digging will be necessary. We also suggest talking to the local telephone and CATV companies. In the past, many have fought muni fiber but now many cooperate with the city and lease fiber from them.

Help On Termination 2/12
I'm working as an user and sometime I install connectors on fibers. Most of the time I work with ST connectors. Do you have a small guide how to prepare, and polish the fibers ? Is it possible to use ST single mode connector on Multimode fiber and viceversa ?
A: We have several links that help you:

YouTube Videos:
Step-By Step Virtual Hands-on Termination:  Epoxy/Polish, Anaerobic, Hot Melt
Singlemode fiber termination, Hands-on SM termination
Even more from the FOA Online Reference Guide:

Singlemode connectors have tighter tolerances and a slightly smaller hole in the ferrule. Generally speaking, you can use SM connectors on MM fiber, except when the fiber diameter is on the high side of tolerance but you should never use MM connectors on SM fiber as the fit will be sloppy and the resulting core offset causes high loss.

Removing Unused Cables 2/12
Can you point me in the direction of information on how to properly and safely remove 50 Micron Multi-mode Fibre Optic Cable from a data center?  My company would like to remove their old FOC when they upgrade to 10g cable fibre and were considering cutting the LC connectors off the cables to make it easier to pull through the rats nest of cables under the floor.  Is this a safe method?
A: There is not standard way to remove cables, as it will depend on the installation. Cables in underfloor (or overhead) trays tend to be enmeshed in other cables unless they are in separate ducts. Under any circumstances, the best way to remove them is to cut off connectors, locate the cables and cut into lengths that are easily removed (just make sure you are cutting the right cables - a installer doing this with some cables in Newark, NJ once cut the wrong cable and put Wall St. out of business for a day!). Once they are cut into short lengths, it should be easy to remove them.
After removal, the cable can be recycled for the plastic - connectors are trash. Or if they are long enough, I may know some schools who would like them for their hands-on labs!

Higher Loss At Long Wavelengths? 1/12
Q: I have a tech in the field that has installed a piece of single mode fiber approx. 650’ long. He is testing it with a source and meter. The fiber is passing the 1310 loss test but failing the 1550 test. What could be causing this? He has put new ends on the fiber already and is getting the same results.
A: This sounds like a classic problem of cable stress. Singlemode fiber is much more sensitive to bending stress losses at 1550nm than 1310nm. If there is a stressed area in the cable installation, it's easy to get >3dB loss from a tight bend or kink, even near the connectors. There should be no difference with the connectors themselves. Telcos test links at 1625nm for stress testing.
Followup: The tech went back to the job site with an OTDR and found there was a spike in the reading about 120’ from one end which is where there is a pull box up in the ceiling.

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

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

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:

A good snapshot of the fiber optic technology/industry is the paper "Optical Communications in 2012" paper from the organizers of the OFC conference.

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.

Videos on Firestopping: These free videos from UL and the International Firestop Council are good tutorials on firestopping. Go here to view the videos.

Micro-Trenching, Cable Removal (3/12)
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!

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 Crossword Puzzles For Entertainment And As A CFOT Certification Study Aid (2/12)

Pearson Technologies Inc., a 32-year fiber optic training, technical and marketing consulting firm, announces availability of a free training and certification tool. This tool is a free set of crossword puzzles on the terms of fiber optic installation and products. This set assists those studying fiber optic installation or planning to take the Fiber Optic Association (FOA) Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) certification examination. The four puzzles are for: light and fiber terms, cable terms, connector and splice terms, optoelectronics and testing terms.

The puzzles can be viewed and printed from: or Individuals can receive the answers by email request.

For additional information, contact Pearson Technologies Inc. at: 4671 Hickory Bend Drive, Acworth, GA 30102, at (770) 490-991, or via e-mail at

New Eric Pearson Books (2/12)

EP Book  EP Connector book  EP OTDR Book

Pearson Technologies Inc. announces the release of three new books, Professional Fiber Optic Installation, The Essentials For Success, Mastering Fiber Optic Connector Installation and Mastering The OTDR.
Based on 31 years of experience, laboratory testing, development, and training of more than 8000 installers, these books is suitable for training, installation, personnel certification, and reference. Eric's books are perhaps best described as fiber optic "cookbooks," full of detailed directions that reflect many years of tesing in his courses. They are valuable references for the fiber optic tech.

For additional information. contact Pearson Technologies Inc.,,, 770-490-9991

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.

Wire & Cable Asia
A new newsletter about the wire and cable (and fiber optic) industry in Asia is available online. See for more information.

Corning Has Translated Training Documents and Videos Into Spanish
Check with Corning for availability.

Smart Grid
The National Association of Electrical Distributors has created a nice overview of "smart grid." It covers a brief overview of the US electric power system, an understanding of why the smart grid has become a national priority, a snapshot of the various electrical components and concepts that are part of the smart grid, advice on how your business can get involved and a look at some key players who should be on your radar if they aren't already.
Go to the NAEC Smart Grid website and download their Quick Start Guide.

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.

Searchable IGI Publication Archives Now Available as Google eBooks
Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI), a leading international supplier of information on fiber optics and telecommunications markets and technology, has entered into an arrangement with Google to make its archives available as Google eBook.
Since 1977, IGI has been publishing newsletters, conference proceedings, market research reports, and other publications focused on worldwide markets in telecommunications and fiber optics. With Google eBooks , all of these publications and studies — including previously unavailable earlier works — are now available in searchable, electronic format to market researchers, financial analysts, lawyers, governments, university researchers, libraries, and all other interested parties. Please search our new archive by visiting or entering search terms in the box below.
The new Google eBooks of IGI publications are also the best available for reading on mobile devices. Google eBooks can be read on the Web, Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and supported eReaders. Learn more about our supported devices.
For more information on the new Google eBooks of IGI publications please visit You can search Google Books for IGI publications directly - Go here.

Ensuring Distance Accuracy On OTDR Measurements

Broadband Properties Webinar Archives
Broadband Properties Magazine
Lots of interesting webinars, mostly on FTTH. Go here.

FTTX Networks
An ADC white paper on how they work and how networks are upgraded to FTTH.

JDSU Application Note On "Qualifying FTTH Network before Equipment Installation"
Another great paper from JDSU covering FTTH PON networks is available for downloading. It gives an overview of FTTH architecture, cleaning connectors then testing the cable plant with OTDRs and OLTSs. This paper will help you understand why OTDRs can be confusing on PONs! 

Best Practices For Wireless Backhaul Network Upgrades
Joan Engebretson, Contributing Editor of Connected Planet has written a very good overview of how fiber is essential to the operation of cellular wireless systems. Everybody probably knows that fiber is used to connect towers into the telecom network - they call it backhaul - but her article also covers the new appliations to replace bulky, heavy, lossy coax up the  tower to the antennas.

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.

Corning now offers videos on Corning on YouTube. Lots of interesting videos, some technical, some sales, but all good information.

US Conec's videos on cleaning fibers - show's the results of proper cleaning.

Webinars of Interest

Broadcast Engineering Magazine - Fiber Optic Testing
FOA President Jim Hayes presents an overview of fiber optic testing for all applications. Available on Demand. Sign up here.

Multimode Fiber Trends from TIA's Fiber Optics LAN Section
Ryan Chappell, Draka Communications, looks at the evolution of multimode fiber, examines its current usage and shares predictionson its future
Available on-demand at:

OSP Magazine Webinars

OSP Magazine (OSP as in outside plant telco) is now offering a number of interesting webinars that cover fiber topics, including network design and specialized components.

Multimode Fiber Characterization Launch Condition Considerations - new ap note from JDSU  

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).

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.

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.

US Conec's videos on cleaning fibers - show's the results of proper cleaning.

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, 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 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 sent us some photos showing how this works and the following description.
IR Viewer 850 nm  IR Viewer 1300 nm
"Your cell phone camera's image sensor can read IR light. It uses this technology to help take pictures at night.
In the advanced audio and CCTV field they have been using the smart phone camera to trouble shoot problems in IR communications. The human eye cannot see the IR light emitted by let’s say a remote control.  Well up until now we would always say that the remote is out of batteries, or either the IR transmitter or IR receiver was not working properly. Now we can use your smart phone camera to see the IR light emitted by the IR transmitter. All you have to do is turn on your camera function on your smart phone and hold it up the remote control and push any button. The cameras screen will show the IR light.
Now back to Fiber Optics. If you follow the same principals of the last paragraph, let’s say you wanted to check if a fiber port was energized. You can either use the card that is supposed to show you in a few seconds that the port was hot. Or you could plug in your meter, in this case it takes some time to find the card or if you don’t have your meter handy.  Just pull out your smart phone turn on the camera and hold it over the port. If it is hot you will see a bluish white dot in the fiber bulk head (see attached pictures)."
We tried this ourselves and found our camera phone very sensitive at 850 nm but as expected less so at 1300 nm, like all semiconductor detectors. Our phone could still see 1300 nm sources at around -20 dBm, making it very useful even for LED sources, and of course, perfect for lasers.

If you have an old cell phone, try it too. 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 phone into the toolbox.

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 10/40/100G Ethernet.

Product News

OTDR Software for Standardized Cable Plants

Noyes OTDR

Noyes has introduced new software for their OTDRs called Test Results Manager which helps viewing and analyzing OTDR traces. In addition, it can compare results to required performance for networks like 10G Ethernet and certify the fibers for those networks. There is an interesting note on standards here. The standards for the fiber optic cable plant required to support IEEE 802.3ae 10G Ethernet are specific to the network (see here for a list of most network fiber cable plant requirements) and if testing is being done to determine if the cable plant will support this network, testing must be done to the network standards not the generic cable plant standards to ensure proper operation. This is another common misconception of standards.  Read more on the Noyes TRM(r) software.

Restoration Kits

TriNet Communications offers restoration kits for field emergencies (e.g. backhoe fade), covering both temporary and permanent repairs. Kits include cable with a specified number of fibers, splice cases and mechanical splices. Here are links to specs on both temporary and permanent repair kits.
Temporary Restoration Kits
Permanent Restoration Kits

Handheld OTDR
Advanced Fiber Solutions has introduced a new compact portable OTDR that offers high resolution (to 1m) and light weight (1.6 pounds, 0.72 kg) plus numerous wavelength and range options. Here is more information.

Magnetic Cable Management Hardware
Mounting hardware for cable management in equipment or telecom rooms can be difficult - what do you attach things to? But RES has a unique idea - use magnets to hold the hardware on racks or any metal parts. Neat idea, see their products here.

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.

A Cable Tie That's Fiber Friendly
We're always warning installers not to tighten cable ties too tightly around fiber optic cable (or UTP copper cable either!) A better choice is the hook and loop fastener ties (Velcro is one trade name), but there is another type, the Mille-Tie. It's an open tie that can be used at any length, then cut off and the remainder used also. Take a look a the video to see how it works.
Mille-Tie Video:  

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:

    Google Map Shows Worldwide FTTx Projects

    One of the better sites to track FTTx projects is this Google maps application that shows projects on a world map with details on the project.

    FTTx Map of the world

    Click on the map above or here to view the interactive web map.

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

    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 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:


    New: Jobs Blog

    Employability Branding for Telecom Professional
    The telecommunications industry is no longer the blue collar market for professional workers. Technology has evolved and requires advanced expertise, even at the installation level. Ten years ago, you would have one inside plant tech, one central office tech and one network or desktop tech in one environment. We are now in a Lean Sigma era and it has a profound affect on every professional, including telecommunications technicians.
    Thatʼs why you must have a solid “employability brand”. This is your report card, but it outlines who you are and how you are perceived. You “MUST” spend time developing your employability brand. Your career sustainability depends upon a strong brand and you can build one in a short amount of time. I have 10 brand tips that can help you get started. Work on these 10 areas and you will see your employability brand increase in a short amount of time.

    Visit my blog at for the 10 tips and more about Employability Branding for Telecom Professionals.

    Scott Coulter is the founder and Chief Executive of APSi.  Mr. Coulter is an Author, Entrepreneur and Leader with over 20 years of experience in IT Staffing, writing curriculum and providing consulting services to clients around the U.S. and internationally.

    FOA Jobs Website

    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.
    While the overall economy is pretty bad - you've probably heard that there are 5 times as many people unemployed in the US as there are jobs available, telecom is a bright spot - broadband is a major focus of stimulus spending in the US and countries around the world are building fiber networks as fast as possible. Even wireless companies have to build fiber for their backhaul. Cities are installing fiber linked surveillance cameras and smart traffic lights. Fiber is the link making Smart Grid possible. Companies like Allied Fiber are building large private networks. Telecom is one of the fastest growing businesses worldwide.

    If you are looking for a job in fiber optics, here is the FOA's guide to jobs.

    The FOA has created a group on
    FOA on LinkedIn  expressly to help our CFOTs find employment and contracting opportunities. If you are a CFOT and are interested in participating, join us on FOA on LinkedIn. If you have job openings, let us post them on FOA on LinkedIn.

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

    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.

    One of the projects funded by stimulus money is the 1100 mile network of
    Maine Fiber Company Inc. which has selected nextGen Telecom Services Group Inc. as the installation contractor. CFOTs: NextGen has a link on their website for applying for jobs

    Job Openings

    FOA Instructor

    Certified Fiber Optic Instructor to teach CFOT, Oklahoma City, OK

    Date posted: February 27, 2012

    ERI seeks immediate part-time contract instructor to teach 40-hour Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) certification course to adults in the Oklahoma City workplace. Adult teaching experience required. Hands-on experience involved. The course has two components: A theory component and a hands-on component where emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of working with fiber optic cables, including connectorization, fusion splicing and testing. Hourly instructional rate plus paid preparation time.

    Contact Heather Blake,

    Educational Resources, Inc.
    45064 Underwood Lane, #200
    Dulles, VA 20166
    Tel: 703-904-1800
    Fax: 703-904-1856

    Recruiter Looking For Fiber Techs

    Seeking Fiber Analyst for long term role based in Mountain View, CA.

    Excellent pay and benefits, GREAT team and work/life balance.

    Job Summary
    Industry Test Standards/ Protocols/Methods:  Telcordia SONET OC-48/192/768, GR-468-CORE, GR-1209, GR-1221; ITU G.709, ITU G.651, ITU G.652, ITU G. 653, ITU G. 654, ITU G. 655 LAN/WAN, GigE, MIL-STD-217 & 883, ISO-9001, SCSI, Fiber Channel, Telcordia SR-332 Reliability, FMEA, RoHS, DWDM
    Strong technical knowledge of DWDM based optical transmission systems design (Networks, Devices, and Technology), component qualifications, system simulation and link budget analysis.
    Good OTDR/PMD/CMD/ORL/Insertion Loss/Attenuation test experience skills
    Fiber testing, CD, PMD, OTDR, ILM.
    Fault finding.
    Analysis of Fiber Optic Test Results.
    Design and execute system test plans.
    Survey existing fiber networks to enable the production of new fiber designs.
    Implementing engineering scope of work.
    Perform formal and informal training on solutions and technology as required.
    Document results of tests and system designs. Communicate results, issues, next steps, etc. to partners, customers, and management as needed to resolve problems.
    Acceptance Testing.
    Perform other duties as required.
    Bachelors degree in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or equivalent work experience referred.
    Three to 5 years DF testing, Fiber Analyst.
    Excellent communication skills.
    Strong customer support skills.
    Ability to troubleshoot complex FC issues to resolution.
    Knowledge of ODF, Patch Panels.
    Knowledge of DF types.
    Eligible to work in the US without sponsorship.
    Accreditation/certifications/licenses       SCTE
    CCNA, CCIE, etc.
    Working Conditions/Travel Requirements          
    Normal office environment.
    Travel to other locations as required.  Travel 80 to 85%.

    Plan, facilitate and manage expansion work in Data Centers, POP’s.

    It’s long term (couple of years), about $45 per hour, maybe a bit more for the right person.
    Plan, facilitate and manage expansion work in Data Centers, POP’s. Work closely with the technical negotiation team to understand terms of existing and new contracts and arrangements including delivery targets and specific technical requirements related to space, power, cooling and rack build out, DF, OSP, ISP. Communicate target completion dates and ensure that all internal requirements are being met in a timely manner.
    Strong project management skills to serve as primary vendor contact for the delivery of space, power, HVAC, racks, cabinets, dark fiber for new builds and expansion of existing sites.
    Technical knowledge of DWDM based optical transmission systems. Strong knowledge of  Telcordia GR 1275, 1502, 2981, NFPA requirements.
    Strong understanding of interconnectivity requirements within carrier hotels including LOA/CFA, physical interfaces, cable types, connector types. Strong understanding of risers and all aspects of ISP.
    Strong Experience with planning and delivery of space, power, cooling and inside plant fiber, risers, routes and documentation of same. Strong Experience with AC Power, UPS, Rectifiers, DC Power, Battery Plant, HAVC, Grounding.
    Strong skills in development of Statements of Work (SOW), MOPs  and an understanding and managing vendor provided handover packages – project managing internal teams to qualify handover packages
    Hands On background in proper fiber cleaning procedures, radius bend and fiber running procedures. Connector types, fiber management, understanding, use of light meter, light source,  understanding of OTDR shots.
    Good understanding of OSP and interconnection hand off between OSP and ISP.
    Demonstrated organizational project tracking and communications skills.
    Proficient with laptop and Windows applications.
    Strong Telco background
    80% travel required.
    BS Degree in a technical discipline or 6 years in a telecom related field.
    Strong Project Management, Communications Skills along with Strong Personal Relationship
    Ability to read and understand engineering provided drawings and wire list. Visio, Excel,
    Working Conditions/Travel - Indoor and outdoor environments. 50% - 80% travel required

    More Jobs For Techs

    I’m looking for a couple of techs for a 2+ year project that’s based in NorCal doing trace analysis and audits nationwide. As the pay range is between $35-40 per hour, this would be a good opportunity for someone who has the training and experience and is certified.

    I’m also looking for a couple of FTTx Design Engineers for a contract-to-perm role in Lincoln… these are just a couple of examples of what I’m hiring for.

    Tami Brittain | Technical Recruiter | Comforce Telecom
    15305 Dallas Parkway Ste 250 Addison, TX 75001
    Phone: 972-866-5145 | Cell:  972-217-5912

    Fiber Optics Engineer/Technician (Feb 2012) 

    Are you crazy about new technology and how the communications space is changing to meet the expanding bandwidth requirements in the communication age? Have you spent five plus years in the field working directly with fiber and service providers and want to move into a product development role that solves problems up front? If working with a dynamic team and some of North America’s top triple play service providers is a direction you want to take your career, please email a covering letter stating your experience and your resume to

    A little About Us:
    Primex Telecom is a division of VPL Enterprises Ltd, a plastic injection-molding company that specializes in the manufacture and distribution of telecommunication and building products. Primex specializes in developing, producing and distributing flexible enclosure solutions for the cable and
    telecom industries. We offer turn-key and OEM solutions for CATv, Copper and Fiber termination boxes in a series of off-the-shelf products as well as ready-to-install customized enclosures. At Primex, we makeeverything fit – so you don’t have to.

    You will work collaboratively with internal teams and customers to build on product offerings using existing ideas, and will use your industry experience to prioritize and develop new features and designs. You possess a unique blend of business and technical acumen and have the ability to see the ‘big’ picture. You have the determination to make the company’s vision a reality and enjoy spending time in the market to understand customer issues and develop innovative solutions.

    General Duties and Responsibilities:
    To work in close collaboration with Telecom sales, engineering, customers and prospective clients to design and build market ready optical fiber, copper, wireless and OEM network termination, demarcationand connection enclosures. Assist in strategically sourcing specified components and alternates and follow through to completion all relevant certification processes and requirements for the Telecommarketplace. The Fiber Optics Engineer/Technician is the technical sales support resource responsible for working with front line sales teams, marketing, customers and engineering teams to conceptualize,design and execute the development and market acceptance of Primex solutions.

    Responsibilities: Capturing detailed requirements and ensuring that our internal mechanical engineering team understands all requirements & develop products that are consistent with our brand and appropriate for the marketplace.
    Direct relationship management with external customer engineering teams to develop solution- focused products.
    Building and maintaining business relationships with any partners and suppliers necessary to ensure the success of the products, including vendor selection.
    Research and analyze customer design proposals, specifications and other data to evaluate the feasibility, cost, and maintenance requirements of designs or applications.
    Assess customer network specifications and assist in procuring specified components and work towards value engineering part substitutions where possible to increase value.

    Specify system components or direct modification of products to ensure conformance with engineering design and performance specifications.
    Perform research and report on competitive products; assist Marketing and Sales with developing differentiating product positioning strategies.

    Provide technical customer service in coordination with Sales as required.
    Train internal staff on market trends, new technologies and specifically the expanding role of fiber optics in the communications space.

    Required Skills and Qualifications

    This role will require someone with extraordinary technical abilities gained through on site field experience. An academic background in Electrical Engineering would be highly relevant. Direct multi-year, OSP experience in the telecommunications, fiber optics and cable television market space.

    Solid understanding of the telecommunications market and specifically the role of fiber optics in relation to FTTx market.
    Direct experience with the last mile equipment, termination and technologies – Fiber and Copper. Thorough understanding of role and evolution of both active Ethernet and PON networking systems as well as working familiarity with RFoG systems and new triple play technology developments.

    Familiarity with compliance engineering, UL, CSA and/or Bellcore/Telecordia.
    The ability to research and anticipate technology trends is essential in addition to understanding competitors and their ‘roadmaps’.
    Strong problem solving skills along with excellent verbal and written communication skills. Intellectual curiosity, creativity and a passion for technology would be advantageous.
    Project management skills demonstrated through a PMP designation or work experience. Demonstrated ability to understand and develop plans and strategies to clearly communicate complex business issues and technological solutions.
    Fluent communication skills in English both written and oral.
    Ability to effectively work with cross-functional teams and various geographical locations. Willingness and ability to travel within North America to support Sales and Marketing efforts.

    This position will be based at our Primex Headquarters in Vancouver/Langley, BC, Canada. Check out our website at to learn more about our company and our flexible enclosure solutions for the communications space. Interested and qualified candidates should email Donovan Hammersley, VP of Sales and Marketing, at Only qualified candidates will be contacted for future follow up.

    Communications Installation Technician in Alaska (Feb 2012) 

    We have an immediate opening for a Communications Installation Technician in the Alaska market.  We are also expanding our installation crew in the PNW market and would like to interview candidates for open positions.
    Jay Lewandowski
    Install Project Manager
    Steelhead Communications Inc.
    (206) 384-5960 Cell

    28120 State Route 410 East
    Buckley, WA 98321
    (360) 829-1330 Office
    (360) 829-1320 Fax

    700 West 58th Avenue
    Unit J
    Anchorage, AK 99518
    (907) 569-0003 Office
    (907) 569-0013 Fax

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    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


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    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!

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    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.

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