My first thought in writing this column was that the title was wrong.It should be “Why Do People Still Install Copper?” In the fiber optic business, we’ve suffered from the copper industry’s harping that fiber is fragile because it’s made of glass, hard to install and too expensive.
Whenever tests are performed on fiber optic networks, the results are displayed on a meter readout in dB. Optical loss is measured in dB while optical power is measured in dBm. Loss is a negative number (like -3.2 dB), as are most power measurements. Confused? Many fiber optic techs are too.
In outside plant fiber optic installations, every cable installed will be tested for end-to-end loss with a source and power meter and an OTDR trace will be taken of each fiber. Yet OTDRs—optical time domain reflectometers—are rarely used in premises applications. Why is that?
Look for a new fiber test bulletin (not a standard) from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA ) in 2003. We all know fiber is looked at as more difficult to work with, so maybe that is why a new guidance bulletin is coming out that better describes fiber testing in the field.
Two measurements of optical power required Compared to Category 5e or Category 6, fiber optics wire is easy to test. A “flashlight test” can make sure the fiber has continuity and is correctly identified.
A good cleaver helps cut out costly mistakes To get good fiber optic splices or terminations, especially when using the pre-polished connectors with internal splices, it is extremely important to cleave the fiber properly.
Making the smart decision Before upgrading a copper plant to fiber optic cable, evaluate the alternatives. Fiber is great, but expensive. Any time a contractor is asked to pull new cable for a low-voltage installation, there are alternatives the client should hear.
It’s obvious that fiber optics is not copper wiring. Advantages of fiber include the capability of going longer distances at higher speeds, plus immunity to electromagnetic radiation. These advantages overcame its cost disadvantage and made it the cabling choice for telecommunication and CATV.
It’s possible to terminate fiber optic cable in two ways––connectors or splices. Connectors install on fiber ends that mate to other fibers creating a temporary joint, or connect the fiber to the transmitter or receiver of a piece of network gear. Splices are used for permanent joints.
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.