For years, copper and fiber have battled it out over which should be the cable of choice for local area networks (LANs). Mostly, it has been fiber backbones and copper to the desktop, with wireless needed everywhere. Centralized fiber has been around for almost 15 years but has gained little traction. However, new technologies for optical LANs (OLANs) appear to be making a breakthrough. Have you been keeping up with OLAN news?
Polishing Fiber Optic Connectors
With the rising popularity of prepolished/splice type fiber optic connectors, you sometimes hear “Nobody polishes fiber optic connectors anymore.” However, many contractors know that a properly installed adhesive/polish connector is much cheaper and has lower loss. Do you know how to properly install them?
Fiber Optic Connector Acceptance Testing
Three times in one recent week, I heard from contractors and network owners who were having problems with networks. The problems were traced to improperly installed connectors. Obviously, the installer was not properly trained, but neither their supervisors nor the customers understood how to inspect and test connectors to approve their work. Do you?
Patchcords: Expect the Worst!
It’s the little things that count—or, in this case, the short things: patchcords. Copper or fiber patchcords used in connecting network gear are generally purchased in bulk, often at the lowest price. Based on comments and questions I’ve received recently, they are the weakest link in the cabling system. Remember, a bad patchcord can make that great cabling system you installed look terrible—or not work at all.
We would never try to find our way to an unknown place without street signs and a map or, more likely today, a navigation system or Google Maps on a mobile device. So why wouldn’t we expect a cabling system to have street signs and a map, too?
Mixing and Matching Cables
It’s obvious we have a lot of choice in cables: fiber and copper, new ones and those already installed. But variety can create problems because they are not all compatible. How well do you understand some of these compatibility issues?
What Causes Cabling Problems?
Cable is not invulnerable. It can be damaged during and after installation. Some simple precautions and advanced planning can mitigate most problems. Do you know what to do?
OTDR—The Right Setup for Premises Fiber
More contractors have been sold optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs), and more users have been convinced OTDRs are needed for premises cabling testing. However, many do not know when OTDR use is appropriate or how to set the instrument up for testing short premises cables. How well do you know how to use your OTDR?
Identifying Fiber Optic Connectors
Since the beginnings of modern fiber optics approximately 40 years ago, about 100 different fiber optic connector designs have been marketed. Every one has promised better, cheaper and easier installation, but only a few have survived the test of time. How well do you know these fiber optic connectors? Match the connector in the photo by number to the questions below.
The Language of Fiber Optics
Every technical subject has its own set of special terms and abbreviations. Unless you understand them, you will find it hard to read about or discuss the technology. Most people know the basic “language of fiber optics,” but some common terms, like dB, are often confused.
The Language of Fiber Optics—Think Metric
The United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not use the metric system, but many technical fields, like fiber optics, use it exclusively. Well, almost. Some U.S. telcos still measure cable length in feet. How well do you understand the metric system as we use it in fiber optics?
The Language of Fiber Optics—Making Connections
All good things must come to an end, including an optical fiber cable. At that point, it needs to be spliced or terminated. Fiber splicing and termination has its own language, and that’s what our quiz is about this month.