The beginning of the year is always a good time to reflect on the past and contemplate the future. Except in fiber optics. It is hard to get people to look back, as the last year and a half has been pretty painful for many in fiber.
By Rick Laezman Like many high tech products over the last few years, fiberoptic cable has experienced a roller coaster ride of extreme highs and lows. 2001 was a peak year for installations of single- and multi-mode fiberoptic.
Fiber optic cable has typically been categorized as fragile,like glass, which the actual fiber is, of course. But unlike drinking glasses that break when dropped or windows that lose every battle with a kid's baseball, glass optical fiber is incredibly strong and flexible.
Your mother was right--dirt is bad. Cleanliness can be next to impossible on the jobsite, but when it comes to fiber optics, it's mandatory. The problem is simply that fiber itself is small, about the size of a human hair.
The fiber optic cable you just installed failed testing. What do you do next? How do you find the problem and fix it—fast? Fortunately, fiber optics is easy to install and experienced installers generally find that about 95 percent of all fibers they install will test good.
Previously, I informed you about ongoing activity concerning 10 Gbps Ethernet and a new multimode fiber. In March 2002, TIA approved the standard for this new multimode fiber and probably by the time this article is published, IEEE will have approved the 10 Gbps Ethernet specifications.
When fiber was introduced,its enormous bandwidth and extremely low attenuation made it the No. 1 choice to replace copper in long-distance telephone networks. Once the telcos switched from multimode to single-mode fiber in 1984, they found almost boundless bandwidth.
Choosing the right fiber optic cable is extremely important for any installation. The purpose of the cable is to protect the fibers during installation and the service lifetime. Several types of cable are available.
Fiber optics is full of jargon but it’s important to understand it. One of the more confusing terms to many is “wavelength.” It sounds very scientific, but it is simply the term used to define what we think of as the color of light.
Regarding safety in fiber optic installations, the first thing that comes to mind is usually eye damage from laser light in the fiber. People imagine a laser burning holes in metal or perhaps burning off warts.
Well, we’ve heard it all before—fiber to the desktop (FTTD) is on its way to becoming the power source of choice. While unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling has been dominant, there is reason to think fiber will be a true competitor soon.
It seems as if it was only a decade or so ago when “migration” refered only to birds (or perhaps retired people) heading south for the winter. Now, the term “migration” has taken on a whole new meaning.
It may seem unbelievable, but fiber optic links and networks have been used for over 20 years. The first telco networks were installed in the late 1970s and data links were already in use by 1980, when there were few personal computers (PCs) and computer networks.
After a fiber optic cable plant is installed, it may be used with several different types of fiber optic networks. Computer networks, telephone signals, video links, and even audio can be sent on the installed fibers. Each network type has a performance requirement for the fiber optic cable link.
There are many instances where converting from copper to fiber is necessary or more cost-effective. Sometimes it’s done just to showcase new technology. But whatever the reason, making the conversion has become simple and inexpensive. Converting to fiber is sometimes the only technical solution.
Practically everything I know about estimating fiber optic jobs I learned from Doug Elliott. Doug is a well-known instructor who learned fiber optics from me at the first Fiber U in 1993 and is a full-time installer in the Toronto area.