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March 2014

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In This Issue - (INDEX)

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


FTTH Is Becoming A "Grass Roots" Movement
Colombia’s Plan To Lift Millions Out Of Poverty - With Fiber
April Fool Jokes?
March Is Women's History Month
New OLAN Case Study: Marriott Hotel New York City
Expanding Internet Coverage - First Google And Now Facebook
4D - The Future Of Training and Tech Work?
FCC Head Wheeler Says No More Copper In Schools
Want To Buy A Contracting Company?
OTDR Problems Just Won't Go Away!
Datalink News - Competing Technologies
UL Warns of Potentially Hazardous Communications Cable
Real Feedback On A FOA Member's Work
How Do You Clean A Really Dirty Ruggedized Outdoor Fiber Optic Connector?
FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook and Web Pages In Spanish

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


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

DIG SAFE - Call 811 before you dig!


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

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

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CFOT Renewals
Renew your FOA certification online - plus get a discount on the new FOA books and an extra month free. Details here.

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

It's CFOT®  and Fiber U® The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA. With over 43,000 fiber optic techs holding CFOTs (July 2013) 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?
Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

New FOA Reference Books (Available Printed or eBooks)
The fiber book is available in Spanish

All books were updated for 2014!

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

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

FOA Videos on videos

Use our "Google Custom Search" to look for specific topics on our website.
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Looking for information on a particular topic?

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FTTH Is Becoming A "Grass Roots*" Movement

While we can't keep track of every FTTH development, we try to visit groups who we think are doing innovative things that can influence others to do something similar. We visited Chattanooga and Clarksville,
Tennessee , where the electrical utilities offer Gb FTTH installed along with smart grid systems. Tennessee now has a number of cities which have created their own systems and now they are banding together to share experiences and maybe just do a little pushing toward being allowed to expand their networks.

Tennessee is one of those 20 states where the lobbyists for incumbents have gotten laws passed that make it more difficult for cities to create their own networks even if they have no intention of building fast broadband themselves (this Ars Technica article on the subject is worth reading just for the South Park cartoon!)

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has expressed his opinion after the FCC’s open meeting on February 20 that “the operating hypothesis” regarding municipal networks “is that if local communities say they want more competition and want to work through their locally elected officials” to accomplish that, they should be allowed to do so. (See Section 6 in this statement.)

TN Broadband Providers
The Tennessee Association of Broadband Providers has a number of members from the industry as well as the local providers with the goal of "uniting our leaders and workforce to discuss projects, infrastructure, business models and future industry outlook." FOA is developing a partnership with the group to promote their cause.


C Spire Offering Fiber To Mississippi Cities
FOA recently visited C Spire headquarters in Ridgeland, Mississippi, near Jackson, to talk to Senior VP and technologist Gregg Logan about their program to offer FTTH in Mississippi cities. C Spire began years ago as "Big Creek Telephone Company," an independent telco with 17 central offices and fewer than 20,000 subscribers. They were an early entrant in cellular and have grown rapidly in the cellular area, becoming a major provider with retail stores seemingly everywhere in the region.

C Spire has lots of fiber experience, connecting central offices, cellular towers and data centers. They did their first FTTH system in Roxy, MS back in 2005 with 297 customers.

But last year, C Spire showed you did not need to be a Google to offer FTTH. They invited 
Mississippi cities to submit applications to become C Spire fiber cities and 33 cities responded. Of these, 9 finalists were chosen, more than C Spire had planned but the applications and enthusiasm were too great to ignore.

More on C Spire's FTTH Projects 

There have been several failures of these kinds of "grass roots" programs to offer broadband, but most were started long before Internet access became as popular as it is now - most consumers today consider it a necessity - and before the option for high speed would open up opportunities for OTT (over the top Internet downloads of entertainment without the restrictions of a typical CATV system.) Perhaps the climate has changed.


*For our international readers not familiar with American slang, "grass roots" means something done at a local level by and for the people who benefit from it.

Colombia’s Plan To Lift Millions Out Of Poverty - With Fiber

The small South American nation of Columbia is poor and not exactly known for high technology. But the government is planning to provide fiber-optic Internet access to 96 percent of the country's cities and towns. If all goes as planned, soon all Colombians will even have their own storage space in the cloud — a little piece of digital real estate provided by the government.

Unlike in the United States, where technology has helped create new divisions between rich and poor, Colombia wants to use the Internet to close the wealth gap. Its program appears to be working,  according to Diego Molano, Colombia's minister for information and communications technology. In the last three years, he says, the program has helped lift 2.5 million people out of poverty. But there's still an international digital divide, Molano says, because the majority of the world's apps and services aren't built with poor people in mind. They're built for the rich.

"When we connect, for example, a rural school to Internet, when we connect a small school in the middle of the jungle to Internet, those kids in the middle of nowhere have effectively the same opportunity to access the whole of information society — just like any kid in New York, London or Paris."

Read the interview with Minister Molano In The Washington Post.

April Fool Jokes?

April 1 is the traditional date for bad jokes. Remember Google TISP where they said you could flush a fiber optic cable down your toilet to get FTTH? (FOA Newsletter April 2007) Well here are some stories this month that look like candidates for April Fool's jokes, but may not have been intended that way!

AT&T complains it needs more money for infrastructure upgrades. Washington Post 

This discussion was posted on the FOA Fiber Optic Training Group on LinkedIn (it's true!)

Paul Thomen has started a discussion: Dietary Fiber Market Expected to grow 216,000 metric ton by 2017
"The global dietary fiber demand is expected to grow from 96,400 metric ton in 2011 to 216,000 metric ton by 2017, at an estimated CAGR of 14.0% from 2012 to 2017. As of year 2011, North America leads dietary fiber consumption with a share of 36% in terms of value, followed by Europe (31%), and Asia-Pacific (17%). Many of the Asia-Pacific companies are now building up their share in the market with the advent of soluble novel fibers across the globe. Single User Price - US$4650 Corporate User Price - US$7150 Get a Sample copy of this report @"

Needless to say, we removed it!

 March Is Women's History Month

And what better time than now to recognize one of the women who helped develop fiber optic technology at Bell Labs.


Dr. Suzanne R. Nagel, an engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, working on TAT-8, the first transatlantic submarine fiber optic cable. Nagel was elected President of the IEEE Lasers & Electro-Optics Society, Chairman of the Glass division of the American Ceramics Society, and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America. By the time she retired, she had received two patents and was the first woman to be named an AT&T Bell Laboratories Fellow, the highest technical level of recognition in Bell Labs.

Nagel credited her career success to establishing a mentor system, and she set out to use her visibility to help create mentoring opportunities for other women in science, speaking to organizations across the country, serving as on the Board of Directors of the Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network (WEPAN) and moderating sessions at WEPAN’s yearly Women in Engineering conferences.

You can read more about Dr. Nagel in Holly Martin's article about her.

New OLAN Case Study: Marriott Hotel New York City

65 floors, 650 rooms, 54 wireless APs, triple play in every room, with costs <1/2 a traditional network. The case study was written by Vision Technologies, the contractor. A MUST READ!

All FOA Guide Books were updated for 2014!

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

   FOA Newsletter - Features

Expanding Internet Coverage - First Google And Now Facebook

We've covered Google's efforts to enhance Internet connectivity many times in the FOA Newsletter, mostly with Google Fiber cities and the wild idea of using balloons in the stratosphere for wireless. But now Facebook is getting involved too, creating a a coalition (and website "") with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — to develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. 

Partners will collaborate to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. Potential projects include collaborations to develop lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in under-served communities. One of those projects combines solar-powered drones, low Earth orbit satellites and lasers to provide low cost Internet connections to under-served areas.


We don't think this is an April Fool's joke like Google TISP (see above) and it's certainly no more far-fetched than Google's balloons, and anyway, a few years ago, who would have believed that Google would build FTTH in many cities. Technology works that way!

(Visit their website "" and watch the videos)

4D - The Future Of Training and Tech Work?

FOA recently attended a conference on what is called "4D" run by DAQRI, a company that is involved in "augmented reality." What is 4D or "augmented reality?" It's lots of things, probably best understood by illustration, but think of using a tablet computer , holding it over a real object and seeing specific data on the object like specifications or directions on how to use or fix it. Yes, the software can be programmed to identify an object and then bring up the correct information.


The technique has been used for entertainment and art as well as training, but since many of the training applications have been developed for people who do not want their secret applications revealed, you have to use some imagination. Our imagination was working overtime - think about using this to teach fiber optic termination, splicing or testing, especially troubleshooting. 

We suggest you look at their website, read the explanation of augmented reality and see the examples in their portfolio.

The DAQRI website.

FCC Head Wheeler Says No More Copper In Schools

The head of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is calling on US lawmakers to change the way internet connectivity is funded and deployed in schools.

Speaking at a legislative conference, Tom Wheeler – chairman of the watchdog – said the E-Rate program that supplies communications gear to schools and libraries in America should focus on replacing wired Ethernet in classrooms with Wi-Fi setups.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

"So for the most recent funding year America’s largest program for connecting schools spent less than half of its $2.4 billion providing 100 megabit-per-second capacity, and nothing for Wi-Fi. Why do we spend over a billion dollars per year on things that don’t enhance the high-speed broadband connectivity our teachers and students need?

For some reason, this showed up in a UK website!

Want To Buy A Contracting Company?

Available for sale, Southern Nevada Electrical Underground Utility Company, In business for many years, Turn key operation, Super equipped outfit, several aspects of installs, Strong sales and heavy back log, $4m or better.

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OTDR Problems Just Won't Go Away!

Two years ago (2012), we ran monthly tutorials in the FOA Newsletter on OTDRs, hoping to teach a few more techs how to use these complicated devices and reduce the number of problems created by their misuse. But OTDRs still are the largest source of user problems and the calls to the FOA for help!

In just one week, we received calls on two problems that turned out to be the same exact issue. The tech connected the OTDR with a launch cable, hit the autotest button and, well, you can guess the rest.

Here is a representative trace from the first inquiry:

trace 1

Fortunately, we know a little about the test to make it easier to understand. The OTDR was set up with a ~500 foot launch cable (distances are in feet, 500 feet = ~152m) and the cable under test has fairly long pigtails spliced into an underground cable with mechanical splices which were suspected of having failed in the brutal cold of this last winter.

But the traces show little useful information. The connector reflectance overloads the OTDR and makes finding close objects impossible. You get big confusing ghosts at twice the length of the launch cable.

Here's why - for some reason, the autotest setup chose a pulse width of 100ns even on this short cable setup.

trace setup 1

Here is example #2


The traces were submitted to FOA Certified Instructor Terry O'Malley for advice. (Terry developed and gave AT&T's OTDR course for many years.) Here are his comments he shared with FOA:
  • The contract required OTDR testing from one end only.
  • No launch or tail cord was required. A launch cable was used however.
  • Many fiber links were less than a couple of hundred feet (not shown on these traces)
  • The OTDR was in auto mode for the first couple of traces and the contractor was told by the test set manufacturer that the software would set all the correct parameters for the fiber under test.
  • The use of auto mode at 100 ns and expert mode at 1000 ns were both inappropriate.
  • The range settings were mostly inappropriate.

After submitting the traces to the OTDR manufacturer, they were told there was a glitch in the software.

Here is Terry's recommendations for OTDR setup he shared with his customer:

OTDR set up parameters suggested for testing ---- cable system.
  • If possible, select a range approximately one and a half (1 ½) times to two (2) times longer than the fiber to be tested.  Example:  fiber on records indicate 1200 meters; select at least 1800 meters but not more than 2400 meters.
  • Select 10ns pulse width for any trace with less than 5 dB total loss. This total loss would include a launch cord if used and all in line connectors. Based on the length and calculated expected loss 100ns should not be needed.
  • Average trace until the trace of backscatter from the fiber at the far end is relatively straight with low noise. A minute or two, maybe more.
  • The A cursor should be presicisly placed immediately before the connection of the launch reel to the cable under test, but not on any rise of that  Fresnel  (rise/spike) generated by the launch reel to the fiber under test connection.
  • The B cursor should be presicisly placed on fiber backscatter just before the Fresnel rise at the end of the fiber, but not on any point of the Fresnel (rise/spike)

Now do you see why we say "don't use autotest unless you know what you are doing and have checked the trace setup manually first"!

OTDR Issue #3 For The Month

We received a call from a contractor who had a customer who required OTDR testing of installed cables, including measuring the attenuation coefficient of the fibers in the cables. His problem was he was getting fiber attenuation readings well above the expected values and those required by the contract with the user. Under some questioning, we found out the cables were very short, so the traces looked like this:

OTDR trace

The problem was the recovery from the reflectance overload at the connection between the launch cable and the cable under test was not recovering quickly, so there was not enough usable fiber trace to get a valid reading of the slope of the fiber which is the attenuation coefficient. When the marker is placed on the tail of the recovery pulse (the red arrows), the slope of the measured trace is much higher than the actual slope of just the fiber attenuation, leading to values that cause the fiber to fail testing even if it is good. To get a valid reading the pulse must fully recover to the baseline of the fiber as shown by the black arrows and then the markers can be placed as shown in the blue arrows to make a fiber attenuation coefficient measurement.

But to make this measurement, the fiber must be long enough and the OTDR resolution high enough.

Datalink News - Competing Technologies

Intel vs. IBM (and Maybe Cisco And Others)

Last September in the FOA Newsletter, we told you about the Intel "silicon photonics tehnology" and a promised product for data centers. According to the CIO Website (CIO = Chied Information Officer), U.S. Conec is now shipping MXC parts, paving the way for distributors to sell cables to server makers and data center companies. Corning, Tyco Electronics and Molex will sell MXC cables perhaps as soon as later this year.

MXC uses multimode fiber and a cable can have up to 64 fibers, with each fiber transferring data at 25Gbps. The fastest cable that can transfer data at 1.6Tbps (that's "marketing speak" - if one assumes 32 fibers in each direction, it's 800Gb/s full duplex) will have 64 fibers. The pricing will depend on the number of fibers in a cable and the distance. For technical details see the September 2013 FOA Newsletter.

Meanwhile, over at IBM, they have their own silicon photonics projects, but according to Lightwave reports from the OFC show this month, IBM is using the technology to develop links using CWDM for 4-8 channels of 25 Gb/s over duplex singlemode fiber good for over 500m links. IBM is also targeting data centers for its products. IBM offers this graphic (below) which is either a highly complex integrated circuit chip or an apartment building from the movie TRON. And this is not the only technology IBM is exploring - read the story below this one.


Is this an IBM integrated circuit or a building from TRON?

All this activity in silicon photonics (read the overview by Stephen Hardy of Lightwave here) is being led by giant companies with big R&D budgets and lots of clout in the marketplace. But will all their efforts actually lead to viable (both technically and economically) products?

University Lab Shows Terabit+ Switch
Both the Intel and IBM links use external modulators on the lasers - that's the focus of their silicon photonics. But researchers at Vanderbilt University, University of Alabama-Birmingham and Los Alamos National Laboratory have used nanotechnology to create optical switches that operate at terabits/second. That's ~1000 times faster than the Intel and IBM links. The devices use some innovative technology that offers promise for fiber optics. Here is the article about them.

CalTech Claims Laser With 4X Bandwidth
Using hybrid silicon photonics, researchers at CalTech hav produced lasers with much narrower line widths that offer tighter spacing for DWDM. Like the other R&D projects, the question is commercial feasibility. Abstract of announcement.

Experiment Shows New Way (Using Old Technology) To Expand Multimode Fiber Speed

Demonstrating that multimode fiber is not quite dead yet, researchers at IBM have set a new record for data transmission over a multimode optical fiber. The achievement demonstrated that the standard, existing technology for sending data over short distances might be able to meet the growing needs of servers, data centers and supercomputers for a while longer.

But the demonstration also shows how limited multimode fiber is. The demonstration was only capable of sending data at a rate of 64 gigabits per second (Gb/s) over a cable 57 meters long using a special vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) and receiver chip,  a rate that was about 14 percent faster than the previous record and about 2.5 times faster than the capabilities of today's typical commercial technology. Actually it’s more like 6 times the 10Gb/s max used in today’s multimode systems but they can operate up to 300m.


The researchers used VCSEL lasers developed at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden (see arrows above) and custom silicon-germanium chips developed at IBM Research. "The receiver chip is a unique design that simultaneously achieves speeds and sensitivities well beyond today's commercial offerings," Kuchta explained. "The driver chip incorporates transmit equalization, which widens the bandwidth of the optical link. While this method has been widely used in electrical communication, it hasn't yet caught on in optical communication," he said.

Equalization is widely used in electrical communications circuits to compensate for the frequency response of the circuit or copper cables. Most high speed fiber links do not require it, especially those using singlemode fiber, but the much lower bandwidth capacity of multimode fiber has been its limitation. It will be interesting to see if this gets commercialized.


IEEE Interest In 25GbE Low, Proposal Tabled

At the recent IEEE 802.3 meeting, there was little interest in developing a 25Gb version of Ethernet. While work continues on a 4X25 version of 100GbE, companies at the committee meeting showed little interest in another standard, even if it was simply one of the 45 Gb lanes of the faster standard. This shows what many are discovering in the marketplace - that users want faster links but in big steps, not little ones, which are easier for manufacturers but offer little cost advantage to users.

UL Warns of Potentially Hazardous Communications Cable (Release 14PN-04)


There is a notification from UL that this communications cable bears a counterfeit UL Mark for the United States and may pose a hazard. The communications cable has not been evaluated by UL to the appropriate Standard for Safety, and is not authorized to bear the UL Mark or any reference to UL. This cable is known to be sold at NewEgg ( and may have been sold at other locations.
Here are more details from the UL announcement.

Real Feedback On A FOA Member's Work

Mike Yager, FOA CFOT and CFOS/I (certified instructor) received an interesting letter from a customer that he shared with us:

Thank you for the testing results.  I've been to all the termination sites and have to say I am extremely impressed with your work.  The fiber boxes are as they should be.  You've straightened out preexisting (former contractors') sloppy work, verified all terminations were within spec and provided consistent and comprehensive reports and feedback. It's a real pleasure to work with an adamant professional and it reflects in your work.

FOA is always proud of its members and really enjoys feedback like this.

Mike also sent us an interesting photo of one of his students.


The point is that the angle of the scribe being used to cleave the fiber at the connector ferrule end needs to be appropriate for the scribe used. Some scribes, like this one, have flat blades while others are round and thicker. The fiber needs to be cleaved just a millimeter or so above the end of the ferrule, so the angle of the scribe is critical. You also need to do this gently and precisely to prevent breaking the fiber, so holding the connector and scribe like this, with the fingers from each hand touching, can help steady the hands to work more precisely.

How Do You Clean A Really Dirty Ruggedized Outdoor Fiber Optic Connector?

Dirty fiber optic connector

 Like This! (Fischer Fiber Optic)

FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook and Web Pages In Spanish

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

FOA text in Spanish

Guía de estudio para la certificación de la FOA

Este libro es una guía de diseño e instalación para redes de cableado con fibra óptica. Fue escrito como un libro de referencia para los instructores y estudiantes en clases para certificación CFOT FOA, así como una referencia para cualquiera que trabaje en el campo. Este libro ofrece una cobertura amplia de los componentes y procesos de fibra óptica que se utilizan en todas las aplicaciones y prácticas de instalación.

Disponible desde CreateSpace, y muchos otros libreros

Available from CreateSpace, and many other booksellers

Plus, FOA Now Offers Its Basic Fiber Optic Online Guide Website In Spanish

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

La guía básica de fibra óptica de la FOA ha sido traducida al español. Es la versión completa de la FOA Guía básica Online traducido por especialistas técnicos, incluyendo todos los dibujos. Por favor, lea o comprar una copia del libro impreso y nos dan su opinión sobre cómo podemos mejorarlo!

Léela aquí.

Si usted está enseñando a la fibra óptica, póngase en contacto con nosotros ya que estamos ahora traduciendo el programa de formación FOA CFOT también.

If you are teaching fiber optics, contact us as we are now translating the FOA CFOT training curriculum also.

New Free Fiber U Optical LAN (OLAN) Self-Study Program

Lennie - Fiber U

FOA has added a new Fiber U self-study program on Optical LANs (OLANs). As you know, this is a hot topic in the IT world, so FOA has created an online course that allows you to study about OLANs (FOA includes fiber to the desk, fiber to the office and passive optical LANs) on your own time and schedule. You will be guided to material to read, videos to watch and even have quizzes to check your comprehension.
All Free!
OLANs on Fiber U

FOA Guide

New Pages in the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide

The page on Optical LANs (OLANs) has been expanded to 5 pages with new material and links - and a Fiber U self-study program.

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

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

Tapping fiber has become a big topic in the news. How do you tap fiber?   

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

We have updated the "Datalinks" page

OLANs - Optical LANs

New Case Study: Marriott Hotel New York City

65 floors, 650 rooms, 54 wireless APs, triple play in every room, with costs <1/2 a traditional network. The case study was written by Vision Technologies, the contractor. A MUST READ!

FOA OLAN Certification Released

OLANs are probably the most important new technology for enterprise networks since the introduction of structured cabling standards 22 years ago. For the last few months, FOA has been working with companies and groups interested in OLANs to create a certification for techs designing and installing them.

With OLANs, FOA has worked with leaders in the field to create technical materials on our FOA Guide website, Fiber U self-study program and YouTube channel already. We now have a curriculum ready our FOA-Approved schools which will make OLAN training available for those interested. Read More.

New Photos: San Diego Opens New Central Library With Optical LAN

What's NewWe've added more photos of the San Diego Library and its OLAN 

Tellabs has also posted a number of very interesting videos on the library.

SD Library

OLAN Resources

Over the last couple of years, we've written a lot about Optical LANs, either based on FTTH passive optical network (PON) or point-to-point (P2P) Ethernet architecture. The more we see of these types of networks, the more we appreciate their design and economy. But how about scale - how big can they get?
In November, we ran a picture story about the new San Diego Central Library which is using a Tellabs optical LAN using PON technology that was using about 1000 4 port drops. Now we hear another Tellabs customer has over 16,000 users. That must make it one of the biggest LANs in the world.

Here are more sources of information on optical LANs - BTW, they need a name - let's start calling them OLANs!

FOA Guide Page on OLANs and FOA YouTube Video



Cliff Walker's FTTO paper  

3M on POLs 

TE Connectivity 

APOLAN, trade association for Optical LANs website


New FOA YouTube Videos

Fiber Optics "Live"!

Working with fibers the size of the human hair and light invisible to the human eye makes fiber "mysterious" and hard to understand. Drawings on how things like fiber work can provide a level of understanding, but nothing beats seeing it for yourself. After a lot of experimenting, we have come up with one solution that allows us to demonstrate how fiber works via "total internal reflection," how fiber attenuation is caused by scattering and how it is dependent on wavelength and how connector loss happens.

Want to see how fiber works? Look at this:

How fiber works

The secret to making it visible is to use a green laser pointer instead of the more common red one. In the plastic rod we used to simulate optical fiber, the scattering of the green laser pointer is much higher than the scattering of a red laser pointer, making it much more visible. This is, of course, exactly what we teach students - longer wavelengths of light (redder, right?) have less scattering and therefore less attenuation.

Using this simple idea, we have created three new YouTube video demonstrations we call "Fiber Optics - Live." You can view them here:

How Light Travels In A Fiber  
Fiber Attenuation  
Connector Loss   

If you teach communications or IT to high school or younger students, you can use these videos to show how fiber works and, if you are interested, duplicate these experiences in your classroom.

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

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

Fiber Optic Installation Banner

FOA gets lots of calls and emails from our members looking for information about where the jobs are and how to train for them. FOA has created three ways to help you find jobs, train for them and apply for them.

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

FOA has these pages on jobs, how to get trained and how to find them:

FOA's guide to jobs

What Training And Certifications Are Needed For Jobs In Fiber Optics? 

Cabling Project Management - FOA has created a new YouTube video on what's involved in a cabling (copper/fiber/wireless) project with advice for both the customer and the contractor involved in a cabling project. The intent of this video lecture is to help customer and contractor communicate effectively on a new project.

Read more 

Three Good Practice Tools For OTDRs, All Free

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

AFS OTDR Online Demo
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 OTDR App Available Free as "Cloud Service"
Fiberizer Cloud – fiber optic testing data management solution in the cloud. 
The new web service Fiberizer Cloud was developed from the view point of ordinary fiber optic engineers and their businesses. Now engineers have no need to store multiple copies of their OTDR traces on different PCs in tremendous number of nested folders; or to order expensive custom software. Fiberizer Cloud allows to store and analyze fiber optic testing data directly from the browser .

Currently Fiberizer Cloud registration is free and available here:

YouTube video on Fibrizer: (

"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.

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  


Events of Interest

Don't Miss These Webinars: 


Deploying Indoor Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) Effectively
Free from JDSU
Date and Times: Tuesday, April 15
Americas: 1:00 PM ET

DAS provide indoor capacity and coverage for stadiums, major venues, offices, airports, and more. DAS consist of multiple solutions that operators use to optimize the customer experience and to ensure mobile apps and phone calls work. However, DAS is not without its challenges; optimal positioning, interference, fiber testing, and service degradation represent just a few of the pain points. Join JDSU for this event to gain new insight on:
  • DAS architectures
  • Challenges with DAS environments
  • How to maximize the customer experience when deploying and maintaining a DAS installation
Register for this webinar (EMEA and Americas)



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

LAN Standards, News & Trends: 2014 Update 
Standards are quite literally the backbone of the structured cabling industry. Understanding how standards have evolved, and how they impact your business, is critical. Here's your chance to stay current with evolving requirements and ask questions that you might have on how to interpret them for your network.
This webinar will summarize activities in TR-42 and IEEE task forces. 

Presented by  
Cindy Montstream, Legrand/Ortronics and Adrian  Young, Fluke Networks   
Thursday, April 3rd, 11:00 a.m. - 12: 15 p.m. EDT
 Register Here     

Successfully Deploy Fiber-Based Wireless Systems
Join EXFO's experts for this seminar that will use a combination of theory and practice to explore the best testing practices and methods for detecting issues during the construction and turn-up phases.
Topics for discussion include how to be more effective in the field by making better, more informed decisions. The concepts taught during this session cover the physical and service transport layers, and primarily apply to distributed antenna systems (DAS) and fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA) deployments, but can also be applied to most short-distance fiber deployments.
Seminars are being held in locations around the US. April seminars are in NJ, NV and IL. Register here.



Passive Optical LANs - Now available for viewing on demand
By Patrick McLaughlin, Chief Editor. This webcast, produced and delivered by Cabling Installation & Maintenance, will go into depth on the practicalities of deploying a POL. In addition to discussing the technology’s history as a FTTH architecture and its applicability to enterprise environments today, the seminar will address considerations that must be made when an organization decides to implement a POL.
 Register Here.



Designing Secure Passive Optical LAN
Wednesday, April 16, 2014,  11:00:00 AM PDT - 12:00:00 PM PDT
Learn how to design Secure Passive Optical LAN architectures by adding optical network monitoring products and secure layer-one products. Secure PON delivers unparalleled performance and security.
Register here


Lightwave Says "Passive Optical LANs Catch Fire*", Offers Free Webinar - WATCH ANYTIME
Here is the announcement and link to sign up.
With bandwidth demands on enterprise networks increasing, network managers have begun to rely more heavily on fiber. Passive optical local area networks (LANs) have emerged as a particularly strong option for building and campus applications as a future-proof way to meet very high bandwidths today or to ensure an smooth evolution toward future all-fiber enterprise networks.
This special webinar by Lightwave again confirms the rising popularity of Optical LANs (OLANs) based on FTTH technology and emphasizes the importance of the new FOA OLAN training and certification.
*If you are not fluent in English slang, that means it's "hot" or very popular!

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


You are invited to join JDSU for a complimentary series of educational webinars. Each webinar, presented by a JDSU subject matter expert, lasts approximately one hour, including Q&A. Seminars are on Connectivity (May 23), Testing Fundamentals (June 20) and OTDRs (July 11)
Go here to see the seminars offered. 

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


FOA LogoWhat's Happening @ FOA

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has three LinkedIn Groups

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

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

FOA School Instructors - a closed group for instructors and administrators at FOA-approved schools

FOA Corporate MemberCorporate Memberships

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

FOA Standards:

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

Available for comment is a new proposed standard for Datalinks.

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

View the  FOA YouTube Video On FOA Standards 

Go to the FOA "1 Page Standards"

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

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. 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.

FOA is a member of:



NECA/FOA 301 Installation Standard

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


Fiber U

Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs

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

Lennie & Uncle Ted Now Available As Free Books on iTunes

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

Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Premises Cabling are now available free to iPad users who can download them from the Apple iTunes store.
Lennie's Guide has always been the world's favorite introduction to fiber optics. It was first published in the mid-1990s by Fotec, the fiber optic test equipment company famous for its "Fiber U" training conferences and more than 60,000 printed copies were distributed. Lennie was one of the earliest commercial webpages and is still online today (and as popular as ever) at Uncle Ted's Guide was created at the request of Lennie readers who wanted a similar simple introduction to "Cat 5" wiring. This latest version of Uncle Ted's Guide covers the all premises cabling topics - wiring, fiber and wireless.
You can find these free guides on Apple's iTunes Store: Lennie Lightwave's Guide to Fiber Optics and Uncle Ted's Guide To Premises Cabling  

What's New

FOA Now Offers Fiber Optic Textbook In Spanish

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

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

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


FOA iPad Apps

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.

More "Quickstart Guides"

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

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants And Patchcords  

Testing Fiber Optic Cable Plants With An OTDR  

Measuring Optical Power In Communications Systems 



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

New FOA Lectures And Hands-On Videos

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

Networks - we mostly focus on cabling but need to understand the networks that use it!

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

Prepolished/Splice Connector Termination (Panduit OptiCam) 

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

Hazards Of Counterfeit Cable

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

Counterfeit cable flame test

Counterfeit Cable     Real UL-rated cable

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

2 New "Hands-On Hints" Videos:

Using an OTDR  
Visual Inspection of Connectors With A Microscope 

Below is a list of all the current lectures and hands-on videos. 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  
FOA Lecture 27, Fiber Optic Datalinks 
FOA Lecture 28, Fiber Characterization  
FOA Lecture 29, Plastic Optical Fiber (POF)  
FOA Lecture 30, OLANs, Optical LANs
FOA Lecture 31, Wavelength Division Multiplexing  
FOA Lecture 32, Fiber Amplifiers  

FOA Lecture 33, Cabling Project Management 

FOA Lecture 34, Networks  
FOA Lecture 35 Network Architectures  
FOA Lecture 36 Network Bandwidth  

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

Hands-On Fiber Optic Videos show how it's actually done
Using an OTDR  
Visual Inspection of Connectors With A Microscope 
Fiber Optic Connector Polishing Technique 
Prepolished Splice Connector Termination (Unicam)  
Prepolished/Splice Connector Termination (Panduit OptiCam) 
The Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket (Cell Phone)   
Insertion Loss Testing   
Fusion Splicing  
Mechanical Splicing   
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 1, Setup & Tools  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 2, Jacketed Cable Prep  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 3, Adhesive Prep  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 4, Stripping Fiber  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 5, Connector Attachment  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 6, Polishing  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 7, Inspection  
Fiber Optic Termination, Part 8, Distribution Cable Termination   
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 1 Introduction  
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 2, Zipcord
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 3 Distribution Cable
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 4 Breakout Cable
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 5 Loose Tube Cable
Fiber Optic Cable, Part 6, Armored Cable

Lectures On Premises Cabling
The FOA has added 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.

Premises Cabling Lectures  on YouTube

"Hands-On" UTP Cabling Videos show how it's actually done
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 1, Tools
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 2, The Training Board
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 3, UTP Cable
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 4, 66 Block Punchdown
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 5, 110 Block Punchdown
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 6, Jacks
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 7, Testing
UTP "Cat 5" Cabling, Part 8, Plugs and Patchcords 
Lectures On Instructor Training
A new section of the FOA YouTube channel is all about teaching fiber optics and premises cabling. It's designed to help instructors working toward FOA CFOS/I instructor certification but is also useful to anyone teaching fiber or premises cabling.

FOA Instructor Training and Certification Playlist (all videos)  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 1 -Introduction   
FOA Instructor Training - Part 2 - About The FOA  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 3 - FOA Approved Schools  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 4 - Instructors  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 5 - Curriculum  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 6 - Teaching A Course 
FOA Instructor Training - Part 7 - Hands-On Labs  
FOA Instructor Training - Part 8 - FOA Resources  

View all 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.

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

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

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

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

We have updated the "Datalinks" page.

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

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

More New Info:

Links to manufacturers and distributors of fiber optic lighting products.

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

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

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.


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

Northwest Washington Electrical Industry JATC
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
CFOT, FOA Approved School # 647

Cabling Technologies Institute
Mooresville, North Carolina 28115
CFOT, CPCT, CFOS/O, CFOS/C, CFOS/S, CFOS/T, FOA Approved School # 336

Metacom Centro De Entrenamiento Technologico
Santiago, Chile
CFOT, FOA Approved School # 761

Fibre Zone Inc.
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
CFOT, CFOS/O, CFOS/T, FOA Approved School # 333-02

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.
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.

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.

School News

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

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

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

IBEW and FOA Partner on Fiber Optic Training

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

NJATC FOA Textbook

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

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

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



Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Real Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

Getting Started
I have been asked internally what I would do and how I would start a data division. I know from looking at your website that you understand it and I was hoping you could give me some bullet points on how I would get a Tele/Data division started up from its infant stages. Any advice you could give me would be appreciated.
Basically, the cabling installation is similar to electrical, just the termination and splicing are different and testing is specialized. All these are easily learned. FOA has Fiber U free online training in both fiber and structured cabling ( and 80 YouTube Videos on this subject (FOA channel "thefoainc" you can use to become more familiar with the topics. Through the FOA we have approved schools that offer training and certification, courses you can take at scheduled locations or have brought to your facility.

OTDR Calibration
I read on your website information about ODTR, and I'm curios if you could offer some more information. I am interested in all compatible standards considering OTDR Calibration. So far I managed to find out that there is IEC 61746-1 standard for Calibration, and also TIA/EIA-455-226 wich is adoption of IEC 61746-1. And I concluded that those 2 are surely internationally approved and do the same thing. I found in some website the offer for calibration performing both NIST traceable, and TIA 455.
I could not find out what is relation between TIA and NIST traceable calibration standards ( if there are any), is it the same or  those 2 are compatible (if u use one of those for OTDR calibration  it is enough)or those 2 are different and you need to perform both.
A: NIST was approached for OTDR calibration in the 1980s and considered making a transfer standard for use in calibrating OTDRs. It was intended to be a sample fiber of known index of refraction and length with splices and connectors of known loss. However the project was never completed as it could not be made agreeable to all parties. Many thought a calibration based on a device that would simulate the return from a cable was more accurate. Both these methods have been used since, but NIST never produced an OTDR calibration system like they did for optical power meters (I worked on that one myself.)
Other than the IEC document, I know of no other standards or traceable calibration by a national standards lab.

Is A Flashlight Test Adequate?

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

Mismatched Fibers Working
I have an existing light blue, 50 micron, armored fiber cable, with 3 pairs, between data closets. The first pair is used successfully with my 10 GB data network, using all 50 micron patch cables and connectors to Dell Force 10 switches.
My issue is with a secondary network.  I would like to utilize a second pair on the 50 micron riser.  But, the patch cables from each side will be 62.5 microns (orange) cables that go into my HP switches, with 1GB connectors. I know mixing 50 to 62.5 is NOT best practice according to your site (, but I have tested the connection from 1 HP switch to the other, utilizing the 62.5 micron patch cables, into the 50 micron uplink, with success.
Should this even be working?  Is it strange that it works at all?  If not, should I be even more concerned, if I connect 48 people using this same scenario?
A: This is a common problem. There is an explanation and two solutions.
Explanation: Every link has some margin for optical power - that is it has more power at the receiver than the minimum required. The link where you have Trans>62.5>50>62.5>receiver  fiber will has a higher loss at the 62.5>50 connection near the transmitter and a lower loss (even than connections of two fibers the same size), since the larger fiber on the receiver end negates the losses due to most alignment factors - big to small means very low loss. Since the link works, the excess loss at the 62.5>50 connection near the transmitter is compensated by the lower loss of the 50>62.5 connection near the receiver and is within the original margin of the link. Thus it works.
Solution #1, document the mismatch and leave it alone - it works
Soution #2, replace the patchcords with 50/125 patchcords, since there may be a slightly lower coupled power from the transmitter, but not much since both are VCSELs* with similar power outputs, and the receiver will pick up all the light. In other words, using 50/125 patchcords will probably have higher margin.
* Since fiber networks moved to gigabit speeds, the old LEDs used at 100Mb/s were unable to cope, so everybody switched to an inexpensive laser a VCSEL - vertical cavity surface emitting laser - that launches power in a very narrow beam in the center of the fiber, smaller than a 50 micron core and way smaller than a 62.5 micron core. Thus there is no penalty to using the smaller fiber at the transmitter end.
We recommend you try #2.

Fiber IN The Home?
I am or was about to run Cat6 Ethernet cable through my house.  Granted it would do the job.  Having come across your organisation and brilliant website, I have started to think about a fibre install.  Could you help with some suggestions as I find the difference between cables confusing.
A: Certainly you can install fiber in your home. See Fiber Optics in Premises Cabling. Best choice would be 50/125 multimode fiber, type OM2 or OM3. But to connect devices you will need media converters (Media Conversion) which will convert from fiber to the Ethernet ports designed for Cat 6. Fiber makes a nice showcase but is overkill for most homes.

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

Time Of Flight Testing
Is there test equipment in the market that can do latency test (time of flight) on fiber optic cable? I have the formula for the calculation, Distance x Refraction Index / Speed of Light. Is there test gear to prove that we have met or are close to meeting the specs?
A: Use an OTDR. Measure the distance and use the index of refraction programmed into the OTDR to make the calculation of time of flight.

"Connector Loss" or "Connection Loss"

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

Changing From OM2 to OM3/4 Fiber
We have a system currently that is comprised of OM2 fibre with LED transceivers. There is a proposal to change the fibre to OM3 and I have been asked to look at how the change will affect the transceivers currently fitted which will remain the same until a later upgrade.  From looking around on various forums I can see that OM3 is optimised for lasers, however the existing hardware will remain as LED. My understanding is that OM3 is simply fibre manufactured to a better standard than OM2 with significantly less internal defects. This leads me to think that switching from OM2 to OM3 fibre would not have any negative effect on the existing hardware and would probably reduce the overall link loss.  I am also looking at whether we can use the same connectors, again looking on the internet I can see that the physical dimensions are the same, however are some connectors only certified to OM2?
A: The difference between OM2, OM3 and OM4 fiber is the "modal" bandwidth potential of the fiber at 850nm. OM2 and OM3 fiber is optimized for bandwidth with 850nm VCSELs and has no bandwidth advantage with 1300nm LEDs. The optimization is done by more careful manufacture of the graded index profile of the core of the fiber, nothing else. There is no reason to use OM3 or OM4 fiber with an LED transceiver as the LED cannot be modulated at high speed and the LED bandwidth in any of these fiber is limited by chromatic dispersion which is not significantly different in any of the higher grade fibers. The attenuation coefficient of these fibers is not enough different to justify replacement either. See for more info on fiber. They all use the same connectors. Fiber optic connectors are not a factor in the bandwidth of the fiber.

Fiber Optic Connector Ferrule Materials (12/13)
Q: Recently my Company is working on a Project with the need to install Fiber optic cables for our customer. May I know if your Organization has any comparison chart/table for the different types of ferrule used? If yes possible to send it to us? We are looking at the comparison between metal and ceramic in particular.
A: Practically all fiber optic connectors today use ceramic ferrules for a number of reasons:
1. They have about the same expansion coefficient as glass so they work better over temperature changes
2. They adhere well to the adhesives used for termination so the bond to the glass fiber is better
3. They polish easily and provide a better finish.
Metal connectors are mostly used for very high power systems like laser surgery or cutting. In fact one of the most popular one uses no adhesive - it crimps to the fiber.
FOA has lots of information on connectors in our Online Guide: - see the “Connectors and Termination” section. Note particularly the information on the different methods used to attach the connectors.

Testing Bare Fiber (11/13)
Q: How Do You Test Bare Fibers or Unterminated Cables On A Reel Before Installation?
A: There are two ways to test the loss of fiber on a reel without connectors. See the FOA page on Testing Bare Fiber.
One is to do a "cutback test" using a light source and power meter. It is shown here (  in the section "Testing Fiber Attenuation." You also need "bare fiber adapters" which are available from many distributors.
The second way is to use an OTDR, a long pigtail (a cable with a connector to adapt to the OTDR and a bare fiber on the far end. It should be fairly long, `1km) and a mechanical splice to temporarily connect to the fiber to be tested. Then just take a regular OTDR trace (see and look for the attenuation and any faults in the fiber.

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

Testing MM Fiber For 10G Networks (11/13)
Is testing 10g MM fiber is different than testing regular MM fiber?
A: Assuming it's OM3 or OM4, it should be tested like other 50/125 fibers - insertion loss. Theoretically, that means that it should be tested with sources or mode conditioners that create a EF launch according to the current TIA OFSTP-14 standard.
At the TIA meeting in Philadelphia in October 2013, the TR-42.11 committee responsible for OFSTP-14 agreed to modify the document to require EF only for that case and at 850nm only, not for any other multimode fiber type nor at 1300nm. Data was presented by Fluke that showed that mandrel wrap conditioning would bring most sources into EF compliance. The committee is working toward a solution that calls for a mandrel wrap tested by HOML - higher order mode loss. HOML measures the power before and after the mandrel wrap and looks for a specified power loss due to the mandrel wrap.

Bi-directional Testing
Q: I am wondering why you would need to perform bi directional insertion loss testing? I would assume that you should get the same results testing from either end?
A: That's an interesting question when you are talking about insertion loss.
For OTDRs, the answer is obvious - the differences can be quite large due to the different backscatter coefficients of fibers which causes joints to be gainers as much as 1/3 of the time.
For insertion loss, the likely directional measurement errors are generally smaller, primarily due to the different conditions of the connectors on the reference cables and the variations in the diameters of the fibers at joints.
Those errors may be smaller than some simpler issues like source wavelength, a major contributor for loss variations in long singlemode and most multimode cable plants. By source wavelength, we do not mean 1310nm vs 1550nm for singlemode or 850nm vs 1300nm for multimode, we mean that international specs for test sources allow significant variations, e.g. 1310nm lasers can have wavelengths from ~1280-1330nm and 850nm LEDs can vary from 820-880nm. If you look at the loss variation due to the variation of attenuation coefficient of the fiber, the potential for error is large.
In my 30+ years of working with standards committees, I've found that they tend to focus on certain issues and ignore others when writing standards. The committees have, for example, focused on mode-power distribution in MM testing but ignored issues like source wavelength and core diameter (which I have been adamant at presenting data to TIA committees here in the US to point out the real world issues.) Strangely enough, long SM runs are sometimes not even tested for insertion loss.
So to finally answer your question, you will likely not get the same result when testing insertion loss in the opposite direction, but the measurement uncertainty due to direction is only part of a larger number of potential errors that probably do not justify the time and cost of bidirectional testing.
One could probably argue the same way on OTDR testing, but many people are confused by the large numbers of gainers one sees in a long concatenated link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiber Support For Small Cells
Small cells are becoming very important for cellular coverage. Read this JDSU report published by Lightwave.

Networks Today: 80% on cable, 20% wireless, Networks Tomorrow: 20% on cable, 80% wireless
Dimension Data this week released its annual Network Barometer Report 2013, which evaluates the readiness of enterprise networks to support critical business operations. The announcement, made during the Cisco Live user conference in Orlando, Fla.

(The gentlemen looking at a bundle of copper cables must be illustrating the industry's nostalgia for old copper technology!)

You can download the Dimension Data report here.

How Is Fiber Manufactured?

Manufacturing fiber at OFS

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

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

The August, 2012 FOA Newsletter presented a review of where we see the most active areas in fiber optics now and where the jobs seem to be most available. You can read this article here.  If you are looking for a job, the FOA also has a web page on looking for jobs and a LinkedIn group for CFOTs where jobs can be posted,plus a jobs section in this newsletter.

More On Fiber Use In Wind And Solar Power

Craig Bowden, FOA Master Instructor at FiberNexxt in NH, presented a program at the New England Fiberoptic Council recently on fiber in wind power. His presentation is available for downloading here. It's full of good illustrations and photos that tell the story.

Want To Know Where Submarine Fiber Optic Cables Run?

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

Confused By Standards?

You are not the only one! As Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet, once said at a conference "The wonderful thing about standards is we have so many to choose from!" But the Siemon Company, an active participant in standards activities for decades, has tried to give some order to this chaos with a new website Standards Informant where they cover the TIA, ISO /IEC and IEEE standards that affect cabling and networks. If you need to keep up with standards, sign up for their email newsletter too.

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

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

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

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

Ensuring Distance Accuracy On OTDR Measurements

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.


Seminars, Webinars and Websites of Interest

CI-M Logo
CI&M magazine often does webcasts on interesting topics in premises cabling. FOA President Jim Hayes has done several for them  too. Here are the archives of all recent webcasts:

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

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.

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.

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.

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 - 

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 brought this to our attention.
IR Viewer 850 nm  IR Viewer 1300 nm

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.


Product News

Design Software for FTTH

At the recent FTTH Council meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana, we talked to Tim Barron, a consultant working with Network Design Decisions, Inc. (NDDI), a subsidiary of the global IT company Velankani Communications Technologies. NDDI  provides a unique FTTx software capital planning tool called NOCPlan that allows the user to design, scope, and cost-out a new neighborhood or city-wide fiber project.  It identifies demand points, optimizes where the OLTs, splitters, and fiber should be installed, generates a Bill of Material (BOM) and produces a total project cost for equipment and fiber construction.
According to Tim, “Many large service providers I typically talk to reveal that they still do this design work manually, and that what takes them a month to do could be accomplished in two or three days using NOCPlan.”

If you are designing a FTTH system, NOCplan might be worth consideration.
Tim Barron

or Kermit Ross

High Temperature Fiber Optic Cables (>300degC)

Linden has developed a high temp version of their STFOCTM (a fully polymer cable) that has an operating temperature of >300C. A cost-effective alternative to traditional high temp cables like FIMT & PEEK, High Temp STFOC uses Linden’s existing proven and patented construction.  Linden’s LCP layer provides strength & hermeticity and is highly resistant to pressure, radiation & impact. Custom Designs Available. More info.

Cleaner For MTP/MTO Connectors

MTP Cleaner

The US Conec IBCTM Brand Cleaners MT series mechanical cleaning tools are designed for cleaning the fiber arrays on MT based connector systems. These tools are capable of cleaning MT based connector systems loaded in a bulkhead adapter, on the card edge, the backplane and on unmated cable assemblies. The IBCTM Brand Cleaners will clean both female (no guide pin) and male (with steel guide pins). These tools will clean both flat polished multimode and 8 ̊ angled singlemode MT ferrules.

More product information.

Switch For Testing MTP/MPO Cables
Fibernext has introduced a portable switch for testing multifiber MTP/MPO connectors. You can also watch the YouTube video here.


Fiber In Water Pipes
The Atlantis Hydrotec System provides an innovative and cost effective way of running fibre optic cable through existing drinking water supply pipes, making fibre to the home (FTTH) or commercial premises simple, quick, cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Fiber in water pipes
The Atlantis Hydrotec System provides an innovative and cost effective way of running fibre optic cable through existing drinking water supply pipes, making fibre to the home (FTTH) or commercial premises simple, quick, cost effective and environmentally friendly. This patented and WRAS approved system is made up of specially designed fittings which are installed into the start and end locations of the supply pipes. Microduct is then installed between the two fittings creating a gas-tight environment in which fibre can be installed without coming into contact with the water supply. Read more.

Recycling Communications Cable

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

Contact Steve Maginnis
803.371.5436 (cell)

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

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

Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

Have you read the FOA Tech Topics on Cleaning?

As much as 70% of the problems associated with deploying fiber 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.

  • Westover 
  • AFL
    ITW Chemtronics

    Cleantex Alco Pads




    FTTH Notes:

    Many States In the US Restrict Municipal Networks

    As reported in the website "Community Broadband Networks," many municipalities are creating their own networks, including FTTH like Chattanooga and Clarksville, TN, etc. But in 19 of the US states, there are laws that handicap municipalities or outright ban their offering "telecom" services. (See the list of laws compiled by Optica here.) Obviously, these laws were passed to protect the (usually monopoly) telecom and CATV providers who do not want competition. But they also make it difficult or impossible for many areas to get broadband.

    Does anybody know if these laws prohibit a municipality from building a fiber network and then leasing it to an Internet service provider? Obviously, FTTH needs good lawyers too.

    FTTH in MDUs (Multiple Dwelling Units)

    When we talk about FTTH, we often assume we are installing the fiber to a “home” where it terminates in a optical line terminal (OLT) and services (voice, data and video) are delivered inside the subscriber’s "home." But since we may have detached single-family homes, row houses or living units in a large building, the situations can be quite different, requiring different architectures and installation practices. To clarify the options for fiber in MDUs, FOA has created a new page in our FTTx section of the FOA Guide to explain the options.

    FTTH in MDUs

    FOA Guide: FTTH in MDUs   

    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.

     Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

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

    See for more information

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

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

    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:


    Employment/Job Listings

    Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics?

    Fiber Optic Installation Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join FOA on 
    FOA on LinkedIn

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

    Job Openings

    Wanted, P/T, F/T Telecommunications Instructor for our campus in downtown L.A.
    We are a 30 week college consisting of Copper and Fiber Optics as well Computer Hardware and Networking.
    Position is available immediately. Salary negotiable.
    Please contact Ali at the following:


    Applicants should have experience in splicing fiber optic cables in the air, underground, and indoors.  Additionally, experience terminating fiber with mechanical connectors, epoxied connectors, and fused on pigtails.  Must have attention to detail when setting up splice locations, termination points, and general fiber optic construction.  Prefer experience working in a production based environment for small to large projects and testing for acceptance, trouble identification, and fiber characterization.  Additional preference given to applicants with experience using the latest equipment and that can adapt their experience to Spligitty Fiber Optic Services’ preferred processes. 
    The ideal applicant(s) will have a good work ethic, be hard working, and willing to learn. Applicant must have a standard driver's license, a clean driving record, and pass a pre-employment drug test. Travel may be required in some areas.

    (Be sure to remind them if you have a CFOT!)

    Wage: DOE

    Positions available as listed:
    (2) In Washington
    (2) In Montana
    (2) In the Greater Salt Lake City area, Utah

    Apply by emailing Michael Hill at  Please provide your resume and a contact phone number.

    FOA lists jobs and contracting opportunities on our LinkedIn groups. CFOTs are invited to join.

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

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

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



     FOA Logo Merchandise

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


    FOA Certification Top Choice

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


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

    Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

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

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

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


    Remember To Renew Your Certification !

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

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



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

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

    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)1999-2013, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.