In This Issue
The Changing Nature of Internet Connectivity
What's Next? IOT?
The FOA Visits New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia
Learn More About Australia's National Broadband Network
FOA Has 10 New Premises Cabling Lectures as well as 25 Fiber Optic Lectures on YouTube (plus 28 more hands-on videos)
Telecom Industry Veteran Named to Head FTTH Council
New Eric Pearson's Books: Professional Fiber Optic Installation
Wireless Impacting The Structured Cabling Market
Two FOA iPad Apps Now Available - Free Loss Budget Calculator

New @ FOA  
FOA Corporate Memberships  
Fiber U - two new free online self-study courses
Publications: NECA/FOA 301 Installation Revised, eBooks
videos: New FOA Lecture Series - 25 lessons online already!
Online Reference Guide: Many new pages 
Tech Topics: More online information
Certification: New FOA OSP Certification
FOA Schools
New schools and programs, Training in Hawaii

FOA Jobs Web Site  

Jobs- Fiber Optic Instructor more -- Also see FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
Events: Conferences and Shows of Interest To Fiber Techs  
FOLS Webinar
AFL to Host "Traveling" Advanced Splicing Seminars

Free Corning "See the Light" Seminars
JDSU Testing Webinars

Q&A: What you are asking the FOA, including who owns the conduit?
Product News - New stuff
Worth Reading: News from around the world
Can You Tell Anything About The End Of A Fiber From An OTDR Trace?
Should You Use Dry Water-Blocked Cables Near Salt Water?

This Month there is no "Tech Puzzler
Recently In The FOA Newsletter:
Encircled Flux in Flux
More Ways To Spot Counterfeit Cable (updated)
Update Report on Broadband in America
We covered these important topics in detail last month. If you missed them, you can read the articles in the archived July FOA Newsletter.

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

The Archives: Previous Issues:
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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 now CFOT®  and Fiber U® The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are now a registered trademark. With over 33,000 fiber optic techs holding CFOTs and the CFOT being recognized worldwide as the foremost certification in fiber optics, the FOA realized the value of the CFOT and Fiber U required trademark protection. Now it's official!

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

New FOA Reference Books 

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

Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos Now on videos

FOA Home Page
Contact the FOA  

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

There is a new free FOA app for iPhone/iPad/iPodtouch users - a loss calculator app. More details here.

There is another new FOA YouTube video, this one is on FTTH. Go to the FOA channel to view it.

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

The Changing Nature of Internet Connectivity
Recently, The Economist ran an article called Beyond The PC. This article looked at the changing markets for the "gadgets" we use to communicate, create, read and manage documents, surf the web, etc. We're all aware that the desktop PC has been replaced by the laptop PC for most applications, as laptops became more powerful and WiFi became more capable, so "computing" became mobile. In the last few years since the introduction of the first Apple iPhone, smartphones have grown to where they represent the majority of all phones sold in most markets and they are displacing even laptops for many uses like email and even web surfing. Sales of tablets, still about 90% iPads but the Amazon Kindle Fire is growing in popularity, are even more disruptive to the market, growing at incredible rates.
In the first 3 years of iPhone sales when it was an AT&T exclusive, data traffic on AT&T's wireless network increased 7000% - that's 70 times - and increased an additional 10 times in the first six months of sales of iPhone 4. That was about the same time the iPad was introduced and iPad users (including us at the FOA) are even bigger data users than smartphone users.

From The Economist

The second issue is what are users downloading? The graph below shows the Internet traffic in the US in August 2011. Half the US Internet traffic is downloading entertainment, mostly from Netflix. Netflix alone represented almost 1/3 of all US Internet traffic at this time. Most of this was downloaded for viewing on a non-PC device, e.g. a smartphone, tablet or Internet-connected TV according to another report.

Internet US 8-11

What speeds are users actually seeing? Since Netflix can monitor how long downloads take, they can calculate download speeds and this is what they find:

real speed

Even FTTH, generally specified as 15 Mb/s to the user, sees only  a fraction of that speed. That means that the network behind the subscriber connection is overloaded by a combination of too many users and too many big files being downloaded. Another way of looking at it is the Internet is overloaded. And remember this ignores cellular wireless, which is offloading as much traffic as it can to WiFi to keep traffic down on its own overloaded cellular networks.

What's the lesson here?
First of all, users have embraced mobility, expecting it from their laptops, smartphones or tablets, with WiFi as their connection method of choice (since it's often free and faster than their cellular connection.) But the service providers need to not only provide better connectivity to the end user link (wireless tower or access point to the user) but they need to enhance their network to hand the increased traffic load.
All that means more fiber and more network hardware.

US FCC Creates $4.5B "Connect America Fund"
The US Federal Communications Commission has created a new
$4.5B "Connect America Fund" to expand broadband. It will replace the obsolete  USF (Universal Service Fund) that dates back to 1996 and was intended to make "telecommunications services" more widely available. The concept of universal service goes back to the Communications Act of 1934 which established the FCC and placed a levy on long distance communications to help pay for expanding telecom service to all parts of the country. What exactly is in the FCC order is not yet clear, since the document totals 759 pages! It is assumed that it replaces the desire to make telecom available everywhere with expanded access to broadband.

What's Next? IOT?
IOT - the "Internet of things" is the latest idea to use even more Internet bandwidth. Just imagine everything connected to the Internet. Here's the blurb from a recent webcast:
"From the enormous and complex urban transportation system to the mundane bedside reading lamp, every object and system in the world has a story to tell. Now, imagine the globe cloaked by a pervasive electronic nervous system bringing all those stories together so they can be sifted, sliced, diced, aggregated, analysed and acted upon (perhaps all at the same time). It could represent the biggest and most transformational development in IT yet. It's called the Internet of things (IOT) and it's being imagined right now!"
Careful, your bedside reading lamp may be spying on you....

Counterfeit "Cat 5" May Be Worse Than We Thought
We've run several articles on counterfeit Cat 5 made with copper-clad aluminum wires. We ahve mainly focused on its brittleness which makes it hard to install, it's questionable performance and perhaps most importantly flammability. Now a report from the FIA in the UK indicates there may be yet another problem if you try to use this cable with PoE - power over Ethernet. Aluminum wire has higher resistance than copper wire so if you try to use PoE with this cable, the voltage drop will be higher and the losses in heat may cause problems. Read the FIA report here.

Free FOA iPad App Calculates Loss Budget

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

FOA LossCalc
FOA Loss Calc App Screen

FOA LossCalc estimates the optical loss of a fiber optic link. This will save time for the installer of a fiber optic link needing to know whether test results are reasonable and/or make a "pass/fail" determination. It can also help the designer of a link to determine if communications equipment will operate over this link.

By choosing the type of link (singlemode or multimode) and specifying the length of the fiber and numbers of connections and splices, it will calculate the end to end loss of the link. The app has default specifications for singlemode and multimode links or the user may create custom setups with specifications appropriate for any application.
FOA Loss Calculator App

The FOA Visits New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia

FOA Visits TM R&D Labs
FOA President Jim Hayes at the Telecom Malaysia R&D Labs - More photos here.

The FOA presented its “What’s New In Fiber Optics” seminar in New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia in November, 2011. Jim Hayes, President of the FOA, presented the seminars. The meetings were arranged by FOA schools ETEC in Auckland, NZ, Conquest FO in Sydney, AU and SigTech in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Several other FOA schools, including FTTX Services in NZ and 100G in Singapore joined us at the seminars. In each country, the FOA met with local researchers such as the MIMOS labs and TM R&D labs in Malaysia, manufacturers, instructors, installers and service providers to get more information on their work and local needs. FOA also made agreements to share its reference materials and standards for training and certification with national groups involved with skills training and certification.
The FOA seminars reviewed what is happening in communications worldwide and how fiber is a primary component of systems that now include more wireless and fiber to the home.

You can download the FOA PowerPoint presentation and view it here:
What's New in Fiber Optics:

FOA President Speaks At NZ "Rural Broadband Symposium"
While in New Zealand for the FOA
“What’s New In Fiber Optics” seminar, FOA President Jim Hayes spoke to the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand's symposium on bringing broadband to rural areas in NZ. The presentation was titled Rural Broadband In A Changing World: Every country is trying to bring broadband to rural areas where technology and economics collide. What's feasible? What is happening. There were more than 200 attendees representing Chorus, the company who owns the national fiber network, Vodaphone supplying the rural wireless service as well as other suppliers and many users who described projects in rural areas that depend on expanding NZ's broadband network.

You can download the FOA PowerPoint presentation and view it here:
Rural Broadband In A Changing World:

More photos from the FOA trip here.

Learn More About Australia's National Broadband Network
Here is a YouTube Video of a lecture Peter Ferris, GM Network Planning & Design, NBN, gave recently at MacquarieUniversity in Sydney.
Peter Ferris is the man responsible for the design and planning of the network for the National Broadband Network (NBN). Ferris describes NBN's plans to connect 93 per cent of all Australian premises with broadband services with speeds up to 100 Mb/s, and all other premises in Australia with next generation wireless and satellite technologies that will deliver speeds up to 12 Mb/s.
It's almost an hour long, but well worth a view!  

More New Lectures on videos
New Lecture Series on Premises Cabling - 10 Lectures Posted Already
New Fiber Optic Lectures Covering
FTTx, Testing, Total Internal Reflection, Modes, VFLs And That Old Favorite "Fiber Or Copper" (With A New Twist: Wireless!)  

3 new FOA lectures on YouTube

A new FOA lecture on fiber to the home, etc. - FTTx - is now online, making 25 lectures total. The lectures added last month include nine lectures covering all aspects of fiber optic testing plus lectures
with visual demonstrations on Total Internal Reflection and Modes in Multimode Fiber (with a demonstration of the effects of a mandrel wrap mode conditioner and use of a Visual Fault Locator.

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

Coming next - premises cabling.

View the FOA YouTube video Lectures.  

Benchmarking Fusion Splicing
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 analysis.  (PDF, 350 kB)

Telecom Industry Veteran Named to Head FTTH Council
The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council has named telecommunications executive Heather Burnett Gold to serve as its new full-time President.  Gold, who has worked for more than 27 years in the telecom industry, was until recently Senior Vice President of External Affairs for XO Communications, where for seven years she guided the $1.5 billion company's regulatory and public policy strategy.

New Eric Pearson Books

EP Book  EP Connector book  EP OTDR Book

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

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

Events of Interest


FREE Webconferences hosted by the TIA's Fiber Optics LAN Section:
Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 11:00 - 12:15 EST
From Green to Sustainable Electronic Information Technology Systems - How the STEP Rating System Can Get Us There
Presented by: Allen Weidman, Executive Director, The STEP Foundation, Scott Walker, Board Member, The STEP Foundation, and developer of the STEP ratings system, Moderated by Rodney Casteel, Chair Fiber Optics LAN Section
Register Now  

Fiber Trends, Standards & Applications 

Thursday, Dec. 8th, 11:00 - 12:15 EST 
Presented by: Ravi Yekula, Corning Optical Fiber, Adrian Amezcua, Draka Communications and Tony Irujo, OFS
Register here.   Available on demand after the live conference.

OFC 2012
Technical Conference March 4-8, 2012 • Exposition March 6-8, 2012
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

OFC/NFOEC is the #1 fiber optic conference and show in the USA if not the world, with more than 500 companies displaying the cutting-edge products and technology that will define next generation networks. The ONLY place you can see and meet with all the major players in one location. Where is the optical communications market going? Attend Market Watch sessions and gain insight into the latest system and component drivers and uptake, and roadmaps for this market. FREE Admission to the exhibits and extensive business programming in three show floor theaters. More information.

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

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

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

FOA LogoWhat's New @ FOA

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

Fiber U
Two New Free Fiber U Self-Study Programs on Outside Plant Fiber Optics and OTDRs
There are two new free online self-study programs on Fiber U. "Outside Plant Fiber Optics" uses the new FOA textbook and online reference guide to OSP to help you learn about OSP fiber networks. The "Understanding OTDRs" self-study program will help you learn how to properly use these complicated instruments and there is a free OTDR simulator you can download to use for practice.

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

Reference Books for FOA Certifications are now available on Kindle and iPad/iPhone
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book

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

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

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

Self -Study in Fiber Optics

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

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

Lectures: 25 Lectures Now Available Plus 28 More Hands-On Videos

FOA YouTube Lecture 11 - Fiber Optic Network Design

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

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

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

Here is a list of the Lectures now on YouTube.

Premises Cabling Lecture 1: What Is Premises Cabling?
Premises Cabling Lecture 2: Applications
Premises Cabling Lecture 3: Standards
Premises Cabling Lecture 4: Cable Types
Premises Cabling Lecture 5: Installing UTP
Premises Cabling Lecture 6: Terminating UTP
Premises Cabling Lecture 7: Testing UTP
Premises Cabling Lecture 8: Coax Cable
Premises Cabling Lecture 9: Fiber Optics
Premises Cabling Lecture 10: Wireless

View the FOA YouTube video Lectures.  

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

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

Testing FTTH
Basic guidelines for testing FTTH PON networks  

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

Frequently Asked Questions About OTDRs
When do you use them, how to find distance to fault, what effect does end preparation have on traces, more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OSP Reference Section on the FOA Online Reference Guide website
Joining our basic fiber optics and premises cabling sections on the FOA Reference Guide website is a new outside plant reference section that covers materials like that in our new textbook. The material is ready for use and will be followed shortly by a self-study guide.
Both the OSP textbook and website are references for the new FOA CFospT outside plant technician certification.

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 270,000 users downloading about 1.6 million pages in 2010! We continue updating materials regularly, keeping it as up to date as possible.

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

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

School News

FOA Trains JATC Instructors For 15th Year
NTI 2011 FOA NTI 15 years
Jim Hayes, Tom Collins and Karen Hayes at the JATC National Training Institute Trade Show.

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

#325- The Urban League of the Central Carolinas
#636- IBEW Local 117

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

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

Most phone calls we get regarding finding a FOA-Approved training organization want to know two things: what school is closest to me or what school offers the certifications I need. That can be difficult, since the FOA has almost 200 training organizations we have approved worldwide!
We've been looking at ways to make it easier, and we think we've got a good solution. In fact we have two solutions.
First we have added a sortable table of all the FOA-Approved schools.
ou can also use our FOA Google Map Application to find FOA-Approved schools.

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

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

Good Question! Tech Questions/Comments Worth Repeating

Tech Hint: Did You Know You Have A Fiber Optic Tester In Your Pocket?
Yes! The camera in your cell phone is sensitive to infrared light - lots more than your eye - and can detect light in an optical fiber or from a transmitter.  Chris Hillyer,
CFOT/CFOS/I, Master Instructor, Northern California Sound & Communication JATC sent us some photos showing how this works. See below or the video now on YouTube.

Which Adhesive For Termination?
Expoxy, Hotmelt, and Anerobic
Adhesives - why each is used in in what situations. 
A: Epoxy/polish are used where highest yield, lowest cost and max reliability are needed. They are used for all factory made patchcords and a reasonable percentage of field terminations. The downside is they require an oven to cure the epoxy quickly. I actually invented a AC/battery-powered oven for use in the field that is still available - to simplify the field use of epoxy.
Anaerobic adhesive is used when you are looking for low cost and fast field termination. You can use it with an "accelerator" solution that gives practically an instant set to the adhesive but with some loss of strength/reliability. We developed a method with no accelerator that the Navy uses because it's more reliable. The big difference with epoxy is the cured adhesive does not have a drop (epoxy bead) on the end of the ferrule that makes polishing virtually foolproof.
HotMelt (a 3M product) has the adhesive already inserted in the connector, so you just heat the connector up, take it out of the oven and insert the fiber. As soon as it cools, it's ready to polish. It has the adhesive bead on the end of the ferrule so polishing is easy. Against it is cost ($5/conn vs $1/conn for epoxy and anaerobic connectors) with essentially the same labor cost, a very hot oven (twice as hot as epoxy) and the need for AC power on site.

Some years ago, we did a study of termination times and here are the results:

Who Owns The Conduit?
I have a question as to whether there is anything customary in the fiber optics industry about conduit. I see that service providers who are installing conduit and fiber optics seem to be careful to say in their contracts that they retain ownership of all fibers, but no attention is paid to the conduit which is installed to house such fibers.  Who typically is deemed to own the conduit?  Is that just a consumable that the service provider deems used in the course of installing the fiber optics and it is deemed owned by the customer after it is provided?  Or is it also something which they service provider deems they retain title to? What is customary in the industry?
A: Not much is "customary" here. After the towns in MA got tired of digging up the streets to install conduits for every new company, they required the next company to install lots of conduit which belonged to the city and which they could then lease out for future cable installs.
The same think happened on the MA Turnpike. Santa Monica, CA used conduits already owned by the city to install cables, but they kept ownership of the cables and leased dark fiber. So I think if anything is customary, the city owns the conduit and the cable company keeps the ownership of the fiber, but all is subject to negotiation.

More On "Encircled Flux" - Maybe The Mandrel Wrap is "Good Enough"
IEC 86C/1004/DTR is our for comments and due to be be voted on next Spring, which by standards time is pretty quick! Here is the official description:
"IEC/TR 61282-11 Ed. 1.0   Fibre optic communication system design guides - Part 11: Multimode launch conditions
This technical report is intended to show the background of encircled flux for the characterisation of multimode launch conditions. This includes the selection of the encircled flux and the definition of the encircled flux requirements in conjunction with the implied variation in attenuation measurements."

Lines 490-492 from the draft document say it matches VCSEL launch conditions considered in 10 GbE. Lines 493-395 say it is close to the mandrel wrap mode conditioner used in TIA standards for many years.

That is a very useful conclusion.

ISO Mandrel Wrap OK

Who Determines The Length Of Fiber A Network Supports?
A fiber manufacturer tells me their fiber will support Ethernet over a longer length than the manufacturer of the Ethernet electronics. Who's right?
A: Over the last several years, there has been controversy over claims from fiber companies that their fiber will support some network over longer distances than the network standard specifies. It has happened that real world applications have failed to work over these longer distances and the network equipment manufacturers have refused to be held responsible, saying the customer (or the fiber company they trusted) is at fault. When in doubt, we advise users to not exceed the limits of the network standard.
An old friend from who later  the Ethernet committee at IEEE, used to say that standards are "mutually agreed-upon specifications for product development." It's a quirk of standards that they are "minimum" specifications, so manufacturers always provide product that exceeds the minimum specs of the standards. However, some judgement is required when one ventures outside the limits set by the standards because it may not be acceptable to others building products closer to the minimum specs set in the standards.

Separating A Meter And Souce To Test A Cable Plant
For a fiber link to be tested between Station A and Station B, you need to position for e.g Light Source at Station A and Power Meter at Station B. Before that both Power Meter and Light Source need to be calibtrated either at Station A or Station B . After successful calibration then you need to carry over Power Meter to Station B. The question is can the Light Source be turned off while waiting for someone to carry over Power Meter to Station B?

A: Sources have warm-up times and coupling variability (especially if you change launch cables), meters usually do not. Some sources may vary output with battery condition, so may need to be left running on AC power to be stable. So leave the source at one location and carry the meter to the far location. Test your source for warm-up and variability this way:
Set up with a launch cord attached to the source. Let the source warm up for 5 minutes and use the power meter to set the "0 dB" reference. After setting reference for "0 dB," do not remove the launch cable from the source as the coupled power may vary each time a cable is inserted.
To see if the source returns to the same value each time, connect a power meter to the end of the launch cable (or leave it connected after setting the "0 dB" reference) and turn the source off, letting it cool down for ~30 minutes, and turn it back on. Take readings with the power meter at turn-on, 1 minute, 2 min, etc until the reading stabilizes. Does it still read the same "0 dB" reference?
If it does return to the same value for "0 dB" reference, turning the source on and off is OK. If it takes a few minutes to return to the same value, just note that time and always allow the source to warm-up for that time.
If it does not return to the same value, you can either leave it on while you carry the meter to the remote location or use a separate meter to check it (and if the source can be tweaked, change the output value to the level it was at when you checked the "0 dB" reference.)
Most crews leave their source on (with AC power connected) all the time when testing. It just sits on a bench and the tech plugs the launch cable into the appropriate ports for testing (being careful to clean and inspect the connector regularly!) while the tech at the other end makes measurements and records the data. Cell phones are good for communicating here - before they became available, we built FO talk sets that used the fibers being tested.
If you have 2 meters and 2 sources, you can cross-calibrate them, note the output levels of the source in the other set's meter and work in two locations in two directions. If you have two sources that have adjustable output power, set them to the exact same value before doing your "0 dB" reference calibration.
The FOA Online Reference Guide has lots of info on topics like this in the test section:

Q: Can You Tell Anything About The End Of A Fiber From An OTDR Trace?
FOA Master Instructor Terry O'Malley can and he did tests on what the end of a fiber trace looks like with broken and cleaved fibers to illustrate his point. A broken fiber will produce only a small reflectance while a cleaved fiber will show a large one. Knowing the difference can help you tell if what you are looking at is a break in the fiber or the prepared end and help determine if you have a problem with ghosts. This information is so useful, we added it to a new page on OTDR FAQs (frequently asked questions) and added it to the FOA Online Reference Guide.
Frequently Asked Questions On OTDRS And Hints On Their Use  

But What WON'T The OTDR Tell You?
Terry tells another harrowing story about a search for a fiber break. While testing newly installed cable run along a subway line, techs found a cable that was only 4200 feet long, only half as long as the 8000 feet distance to the next station. They thought the cable was broken at 4200 feet. They checked multiple fibers in the cable and all were the same length. They searched the  route where the cable was buried and even excavated several points but found nothing. After two months and about $200,000 in cost, someone finally realized that the distance to the station in the other direction was - guess what - 4200 feet. For all that time, they had been testing the cable in the wrong direction! Documentation and marking on the cables was wrong, so they had been testing the cables in the wrong direction.
In the absence of good documentation, the OTDR cannot tell you that you are looking at the wrong fiber! But I wonder if the hint above could have told the operator of the OTDR that the far end was a good end, not a break!

Fiber Optic Safety
Are you  able to tell me if there has been any reports of accidents with fibre optics e.g. someone getting shards in the hand and then the shard being taken up in the blood stream or people with vision loss due to working with fibre optic?
A: The two you cite are the classic myths of fiber optics.
Eye safety is covered in the US in an ANSI standard document, Z136.2, a subset of laser safety. Since fiber output is divergent, not collimated like a laser pointer, and at infrared wavelengths, the safety concerns are less. Laser pointers you can buy at a stationery store are more dangerous. Most fiber systems with high power automatically shut down if the connection is opened also. Techs are always taught to not look into the fiber without checking if power is present. You can do that with a cell phone camera:
The fiber shards in the bloodstream story has been around as long as I've been in fiber (>30 years) and I have no idea how it got started! I've had shards stuck in my fingers and they create a spot that first infects, then becomes hard before the fiber is ejected. Getting them into your eye is a bigger problem because the tears make them practically invisible. Safety glasses are mandatory.
Bigger problems have been digging up hazardous electrical or gas lines or electrocution when working near high voltage aerial lines, plus the usual hazards of working with cable and machinery.
More on safety. Did you download the safety poster we offer? Download a safety poster from the FOA!  

IR/UV Eye Protection
I was given your information from a vendor who sells safety glasses, with the recommendation that someone with your organization might know the names of providers of safety glasses which protect from infrared in the 1310-1550nm range.  I read through some of your literature online, and I see that it states that injury is unlikely to occur at those wavelengths; however I believe that better safe than sorry and so would like to find a provider of such glasses.  Any information which you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
A: While it is highly unlikely to incur eye damage, it is good practice. Lab suppliers like this offer UV/IR protective eyewear.

Standard For Installation?
Q: Is there a standard for testing and certification of installation in an industrial environment?
A: The FOA has worked with NECA to create ANSI/NECA/FOA 301, an installation standard for this purpose. It's intended use is to be used as a document defining proper installation for contracts. I can send you a copy if you like.
You might also find these pages on our reference website useful:
Section for users of networks:  PDF to print:
Section on project paperwork:
Designing fiber optic networks:

That's Why They Call Them "Dust Caps"
Q: We clean a connector, inspect it to ensure it is clean then put the dust cap on. If we inspect it after we remove that dust cap, it's dusty again, we assume from dust in the cap. I have tested different types and makes of dustcaps for the LC and clean ones are rare. If you only push them on half way it helps.....sometimes, but not always.  Does any company make clean (guaranteed) ones?
A: I've been saying for years that the reason they call them "dust caps" is they contain lots of dust. I know of no clean ones. Think about how they are made in millions and dumped in big bins in a factory! You just have to clean connectors when you remove them. Have you tried some of the dry cleaners? They seem to work well.

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:

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.

New Website Launched
AFL has launched its newly redesigned website at Enriched with features, the website includes improved content, better navigation and functionality plus search capabilities designed to enable visitors to quickly get to the information they need with just a few clicks.

Fiber Switching WIth A Few Photons
The passage of a light beam through an optical fiber can be controlled by just a few photons of another light beam, new research at Cornell University  demonstrates. All-optical control is the idea behind photonics, where beams of light replace electric currents in circuits, yielding faster and more efficient consumption. Just as a transistor can switch an electric current on or off, photonic circuits need a way for one light beam to switch another. Researchers say the new technology, reported in Physical Review Letters, is one step closer to the holy grail of single-photon switching and could have applications in quantum computing where single photons act as qubits—the quantum equivalent of ones and zeroes. Read more at

Should You Use Dry Water-Blocked Cables Near Salt Water?
Here's another controversy in the fiber optic business. It seems that some dry water-blocked cables have problems with salt water affecting the speed and amount of water absorption by the super absorbent powder (SAP seems to be a new industry TLA - that's "three letter acronym" - for super absorbent powder) used in these dry water-blocked cables (DWB?). It seems that salt water performance has caused some users to not use this cable anywhere that it may encounter salt water. But according to an article by Ryan Chappell of Coats, a manufacturer of the yarns used in fiber optic cable manufacture as well as SAP, there are big differences between the absorbency of materials from different suppliers. We suggest you 1) read the article in Lightwave, 2) check out the Coats website and 3) ask your fiber optic cable manufacturer about their cable before installing it in a salt-water environment.

We're Part of A $trillion Industry in the US
A TIA commissioned report on “The Contributions of Information and Communication Technologies to American Growth, Productivity, Jobs and Prosperity,” (written by Robert J. Shapiro and Aparna Mathur, August 2011) finds that “ICT companies accounted for 3,535,000 jobs in 2009.” The report states that “in 2009, ICT firms contributed about $1 trillion to U.S. GDP, or 7.1 percent of GDP.  This total includes nearly $600 billion in direct contributions from their own operations and more than $400 billion in indirect contributions through the benefits other sectors derived from the use of ICT.”
Other highlights from the report include:
“The President’s proposal to fund the development and initial deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband data and communications network for public safety agencies would lead to the creation of an estimated 100,000 new jobs in ICT industries and, over time, produce indirect or spillover benefits of an estimated $4 billion to $8 billion per year.”
“Investments of $3.4 billion in a “Smart Electricity Grid” under the 2009 Recovery Act should directly produce nearly 30,000 new jobs.  If the funding becomes seed money and an ICT-based Smart Grid is developed and deployed, analysts estimate the net economic benefits could range from $48 billion to $76 billion per year.”

From the TIA PR. You can download the entire report at TIAonline.

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

Fiber Optics In WindPower
Fiber is an important communications tool for wind farms. In this webinar, you will learn some of the driving forces behind the evolution of wind power systems as well as the design challenges, specifically in the area of data communications. Solutions for high-reliability communications links using optical fiber technology will be presented. These solutions offer the galvanic isolation and electrical noise immunity required to address wind power system needs. Avago Technologies products meeting the needs of wind power system designers will be profiled.
Download it for viewing.

IGI Consulting Plans New Series of Government Telecom, Fiber Optics and ICT Marketing Guides
IGI Consulting has initiated a project to develop a series of ten Marketing Guides to assist companies in accessing the military and government telecommunications, fiber optics, and information technologies markets. The government represents a major large and stable market. Despite pressure to reduce the government budget, there will still be a need for government to use technology to improve productivity and provide services and security. IGI Consulting has analyzed all the major government agencies responsible for buying, specifying, and investing in telecommunications, fiber optics, and information technologies. This provides the marketing manager with an independent view of the government market and saves time searching the web for the information. Here are the ten volumes:
More Information.

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

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

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

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

Ensuring Distance Accuracy On OTDR Measurements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webinars of Interest

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

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

OSP Magazine Webinars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Technical Websites

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

OFSTP-14 Update

OFSTP-14 is the TIA standard for testing installed multimode fiber optic cable plants which has been around more than 20 years and is the one TIA standard probably most familiar to contractors and installers.  The TIA has adopted IEC 61280-4-1 as the replacement of OFSTP-14. Most of the two documents is the same, with some important exceptions.
  • For insertion loss, three reference methods are are still approved, but the nomenclature is different.
  • OTDR testing is now an approved test method as long as you use launch and receive cables.
  • Reference test cables with "reference grade connectors" are recommended.
  • Methods are given for testing and verifying the loss of reference test cables.
  • CPR with a mandrel wrap is gone, replaced by "Encircled Flux," a complex - and not completely debugged - method of measuring the source output. See our explanation of EF here.

We are creating a web page to explain the differences and will give you a link shortly. In the meantime, continue testing as usual.

FOA Technical Bulletins
How do you design and manufacture fiber optic systems? Choose and install one to serve your communications needs? Troubleshoot problems? The FOA Fiber Optic Technical Bulletins will provide step-by-step guidelines to help you. All are PDF files you can download, print and use.
Testing Update
Are there really 5 different ways to test optical fiber cabling after installation? Why so many? How do the measurements - and more importantly the measurement results - differ? What are the advanteages and disadvantages of each method?
Why are there 4 ways (maybe 5) to test fiber optic cables?
Do OTDRs and OLTS tests give the same results?
New Tech Topics
Industry standards updated to include international standards
Updated link specs for fiber optic networks - now includes 10/40/100G Ethernet.

Product News

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

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

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

Used Test Equipment – Buy or Sell

Have you read the FOA Tech Topics on Cleaning?

More links on cleaning:

  • Westover 
  • AFL

    ITW Chemtronics

    Cleantex Alco Pads



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

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


    What Is The FOA?

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

     Digging Safely (Read the FOA Tech Topic)

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

    See for more information

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


    Download This!
    There are tons of technical application notes and videos on the web, and occasionally we recommend some you should download. The JDSU fiber testing guide is really worthwhile, as are the ADC FTTx book and Westover video on fiber inspection and cleaning, linked below.
    JDSU Testing Book
    JDSU offers a free download of their Testing Guide from the Lightwave website. This is one great book which explains some basic fiber technology, but the real value is the last half which deals with OTDR testing. Not only does it give the usual info, but it covers important topics like measurement uncertainties and anomolies like ghosts and gainers.
    I was in the testing business for 20+ years at Fotec and think this book is one of the best fiber optic testing texts available. It's complete but comprehenisble! I used to believe that premises techs did not need OTDR training, but now OTDR manufacturers are pushing their use in premises networks. Unfortunately, the limitations of OTDRs in premises applications can cause extreme problems for those who are not aware of their limitations. So knowing hows OTDRs work is essential information to every tech. 
    Download yourself a copy and read it!
    Westover Application Notes And Cleaning Video
    Westover has several application notes on inspecting and cleaning fiber optic connectors. The video is a big file (50+MB) but a good tutorial.
    Download page:


    New FOA Jobs Website

    We get many questions from CFOTs, students at FOA-Approved schools and others contemplating getting into the fiber optic business regarding jobs in fiber optics - and
    how to find them - so we’ve created a new web page to share some information we've gathered about jobs in our industry. The information is designed to help you understand what jobs are available in fiber optics, how to find them and apply for them.
    While the overall economy is pretty bad - you've probably heard that there are 5 times as many people unemployed in the US as there are jobs available, telecom is a bright spot - broadband is a major focus of stimulus spending in the US and countries around the world are building fiber networks as fast as possible. Even wireless companies have to build fiber for their backhaul. Cities are installing fiber linked surveillance cameras and smart traffic lights. Fiber is the link making Smart Grid possible. Companies like Allied Fiber are building large private networks. Telecom is one of the fastest growing businesses worldwide.

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

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

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

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

    One of the projects funded by stimulus money is the1100 mile network of
    Maine Fiber Company Inc. which has selected nextGen Telecom Services Group Inc. as the installation contractor. CFOTs: NextGen has a link on their website for applying for jobs

    Job Openings

    Fiber Optic Instructor
    We are currently seeking applications for additional instructors in our area to enhance our teaching capabilities.  If you know of any instructors in Central and Southeast Florida seeking Part Time assignments, please have them fax their resume to me at (954) 979-0456. 
    Terry L Mrakovich
    Termark Technical Institute
    Toll Free: 855-4TERMARK
    Main Phone: (954) 979-4480

    Senior Electrical Engineer “da Vinci” Surgical Equipment,      
    (October, 2011)
    Job Location:  Sunnyvale, CA 
    Please email me directly at
    Primary Function:
    The successful Senior Electrical Engineer will lead the identification, sourcing, development, and integration of novel electro-optical sensing systems for surgical robots. The candidate must be able to identify and evaluate new candidate technologies, work with vendors to customize hardware and software to meet specific requirements, and drive robust technical solutions into production. He or she must excel in a high-energy team environment and be capable of making sound decisions when faced with the time pressures and incomplete information typical of new product development. The successful candidate must have outstanding technical depth in relevant areas, but be as comfortable leading and specifying as designing.
    Roles and Responsibilities
    This position has responsibility and authority for:
    ·         Comparing and evaluating available sensing technologies
    ·         Determining requirements for next generation sensing technologies
    ·         Developing vendor technical relationships and project managing vendors
    ·         Specifying and leading the development of additional hardware and software components as needed
    ·         Integrating, calibrating, and bench testing newly developed sensing systems
    ·         Supporting productization of integrated sensing systems on new and existing robot platforms
    ·         Documenting, preparing and reviewing patent submissions
    Competency Requirements
    Competency is based on: education, training, skills and experience. In order to adequately perform the responsibilities of this position the individual must:
    ·         Masters’ degree in EE, Physics, or related field required
    ·         Minimum of five (5) years of experience taking successful products to production
    ·         At least eight (8) years of experience with:
    ·         Electro-optical and bench instrumentation design/development
    ·         Electronic and optical test & measurement instruments
    ·         Analog and digital signal processing hardware and algorithms
    ·         Lasers, optical fibers and connectors, integrated optical devices and optical materials
    ·         Familiarity with telecom technologies and standards, particularly relating to fiber optics
    ·         Background in analytical physics/optics
    ·         Comfortable with scripting/programming in common engineering environments
    ·         Experience managing vendors and projects
    ·         A passion for creating robust and reliable products

    Sales (October, 2011)

    Diamond USA, a leading manufacturer of Fiber Optic Solutions seeks a Regional Sales Representative for the New England Territory.

    Are you a highly motivated, outgoing and dynamic sales professional with the technical aptitude, to discuss fiber optic applications/solutions to meet our customer’s needs in the following markets: Medical, Industrial, Telecom, Military, and Aerospace?

    Successful candidate will be responsible for expanding our customer base as well as maintaining existing customers. This successful candidate will also evaluate customer’s applications, recommend solutions, conduct demonstrations/ presentations to end users, and close the sale.


    §  Minimum 3 year’s field sales experience in fast- paced technical components and system sales environment. Fiber optics a plus.
    §  4 year degree in Engineering, Business or Life Science.
    §  Strong presentation and public speaking skills
    §  Account planning and pipeline management experience
    §  History of exceeding sales quotas
    §  Ability and willingness to travel

    Company offers a Competitive Base Salary, Commission, Car Allowance, Health, Dental, Short/Long Term Disability, Life Insurance and a 401K.  If this is the challenge you are looking for, send resume with salary history/requirements to:

    Diamond USA, Inc.
    Human Resources
    27 Industrial Avenue
    Chelmsford, MA 01824

    Job No. 101711


    Director, Engineering, Fiber Optics (Sept, 2011)
    A major global business unit of a $12+ B has an opportunity for a seasoned engineering leader to manage the Engineering & Technical organization.  The Director, partnering with a newly hired leader of Fiber Optics, will be a key player in establishing a solid foundation of the fiber optics business moving forward.   Reporting to the Vice President for the Fiber Optics business within the $1B business, the Engineering leader will have direct responsibility for all development and sustaining engineering, for the advanced fiber optics lab, for the Manufacturing Development Engineering group including Automation, Advanced Quality, Industrial Engineering and Materials Planning and for a customer-focused engineering team.

    Qualifications and experience:
    Deep knowledge of the fiber optics industry and technology
    Subject matter expert in Fiber Optics with experience in active & passive fiber optics as well as photons, engines and fiber architecture
    Knowledge in all aspects of Opto-Electronic packaging including Designing and Manufacturing of Opto -Electronic components including Vcsels, Photo Diodes and IC's
    Global engineering leadership experience
    Strong leadership skills including communication, talent evaluation and development – an outstanding technical leader with strong interpersonal and management skills
    Bachelors degree  in engineering required, Masters preferred
    Excellent customer interface and relationship building experience with ability to identify customer needs and transform them into new product offerings.
    Willingness to travel frequently, and as necessary, to support a global engineering organization with significant presence in Harrisburg, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Den Bosch, The Netherlands; Stockholm, Sweden and Shanghai, China


    FOA lists jobs and contracting opportunities on our LinkedIn group. 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."


    Tech Puzzler:
    No Tech puzzler this month.

    Go here to answer the question. Be sure to enter the month of the quiz!
    Answer to past questions below

     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 33,000 CFOTs (March 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 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 on this site for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

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


    Remember To Renew Your Certification !

    Remember to renew your FOA certification. All current CFOTs have a ID Card with their certification data and we keep a database of current CFOTs to answer inquiries regarding your qualifications if needed. You must be a current FOA member and CFOT to participate in our online database of installers, contractors, technicians and consultants. If you forgot to renew, use the online application form to renew NOW!

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



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

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

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

    Return to The FOA Home Page

    Answer to Tech Puzzler:
    Check here next month for the answer to previous tech puzzlers.

    September 2011

    The article above covered the different OTDR traces you get with cleaved or broken fibers. What would the  end of the trace look like if the far end connector was an APC type?

    A. About the same as a cleaved fiber
    B. About the same as a broken fiber

    C. No reflectance at all - the angle of the endface of an APC connector stops reflectance
    D. None of the above

    August 2011

    What was the first application for which VCSELs were used?

    A. Video over MM fiber
    B. Gigabit Ethernet was the correct answer.

    C. Fibre Channel
    D. SANs

     See the FOA Reference Guide for more info.


    (C)1999-2011, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

      Go to the special answer form to enter the FOA Tech Puzzler monthly contest.