Since fiber optics is growing in market share for all kinds of applications, I am hearing more stories about problems with installations. At The Fiber Optic Association, I handle most of the technical inquiries, so I tend to see the trends develop.
Optical local area networks (OLANs) have been the subject of these columns for several months, and before that I discussed networks. This month’s column ties together some loose ends to help you understand the OLAN concept better.
Optical local area networks (OLAN) will cause you to rethink practically everything you have learned about LANs and LAN cabling. Of course, any major change in technology like this causes FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), just like voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) and Wi-Fi have already.
Optical fibers transmit data in the form of light pulses, and they are becoming a go-to solution for transmitting data thousands of miles at incredible speeds. Proponents would have you believe they are the apex of modern telecommunications technology.
Last month, I covered the challenges to traditional structured cabling from multimode optical fiber and wireless. Multimode fiber became the favorite cabling for the backbone but never made it to the desktop because every connected device already had a free Cat 5 port.
Before I write this column each year, I contemplate the events of the past year and try to determine the direction of the market. The previous year seems to have been one of new challengers to traditional technology.
Last month, I discussed the evolution of PC networks to Ethernet over twisted-pair cables. Toward the end of the 1980s, the IEEE created a new standard for Ethernet called 10Base-T, which means 10 megabits per second (Mbps), baseband (AM, not FM) over unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper cable.
The runaway success of PC sales in the 1980s led to the development of today’s computer networks, what we now call local area networks (LANs) or enterprise networks. The need for allowing PCs to communicate quickly followed their sales success.
When we discuss copper, fiber and wireless, we focus on the media, often without regard to the networks for which the media are supposed to provide connections. To better understand the role of the media and the selection of the best choice, it helps to understand networks.
This is the first in a series of columns on networks and cabling—media, really—as we explore the nature of networks, their cabling needs and how they have evolved to provide for today’s “always connected” society.
Recent columns have focused on tools and test equipment and how to use them, but what about taking care of them properly? This point was brought home to me recently when I spent two days training instructors to help them get started with their Fiber Optic Association (FOA) certification classes.
Now that we’ve covered the test equipment and learned how to estimate the measured loss using a loss budget, it’s time for one more related topic: creating the test conditions to get the “right answer.” And what, you might ask, is the right answer?
Termination of installed optical fiber cables has always been perceived as a difficult, expensive, time-consuming process that discouraged some contractors from developing in-house capability for fiber installation.
The last two columns covered fiber optic power meters, test sources and the reference cables you need to test the loss of installed fiber optic cable plants. This month, I discuss using these instruments properly and how to determine if a tested cable plant passes or fails the test.
Copper remains a primary carrier for integrated building systems, but fiber optic cabling is assuming an increasingly important role in data, telephone, access controls, security cameras, fire and security alarms, sensors, and other signaling-dependent systems.
Last month, I discussed one of the most important tools in the fiber tech’s toolbox: the fiber optic power meter. This month, let’s examine the other tool that is equally important: the test source used with the power meter to measure the loss of the cable plant.