Those of us who have been in fiber optics for a long time have gotten tired of hearing about the “advantages of fiber optics,” e.g., higher bandwidth, longer distance capabilities and immunity to electrical interference.
While most of the talk about expanding broadband access for the American public has focused on rural customers, much of the activity is in metropolitan areas. Metro networks are expanding rapidly because they encompass many types of networks, not just broadband Internet.
Around the world, billions of dollars are being spent trying to bring “broadband” to everyone. However, broadband is defined loosely. Some say anything over 1 megabit per second (Mbps) is broadband, while others are looking at much higher speeds.
As networks get faster, cabling to support them needs upgrading. Outside plant networks, most of which run on single-mode fiber optic cable with its almost infinite bandwidth, are rarely in need of upgrading. On the other hand, premises cabling usually needs to be upgraded.
Every fiber optic installer should have familiarity with basic fiber optic testers and their proper use. Here are some basic test situations. Can you pick the right tester from the fiber optic toolbox for the job? Correct answers and explanations are in red. 1.
In order to install a cable plant that will meet industry standards and work with communications systems designed for using that type of cabling, it’s necessary to pick the right parts for the system. Each year, it seems the questions remain the same, but sometimes the correct answer changes!
In fiber optics, there has been a lot of discussion about encircled flux (EF), much of it more confusing than clarifying. EF is simply a new way of looking at an old, well-known problem, defining mode control for multimode (MM) fiber testing.
Fiber optic advocates used to point to the copper types and snicker. They’d note that, while copper cabling went through eight or nine generations of coaxial and unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cables, one fiber would have sufficed.
Contractors who do fiber optic projects should be familiar with most of the usual applications, such as telecom, cable television, local area networks and closed-circuit television (CCTV), but may not have much experience with the more unusual or newer applications.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” Shaw’s feelings aside, those in the fire alarm system installation business now find themselves knee-deep in new communications systems installations.
Two different instruments that are often described as “works like radar” can test copper and fiber cabling. For copper, it is a time-domain reflectometer (TDR). For fiber, it is an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR).
Last month, I mentioned the poor quality of some fiber optic patchcords I tested. This month, I examine the subject of cable quality, both fiber and copper. The old saying goes, “a chain is only as stong as its weakest link,” and that is especially true for cabling.
With the available infrastructure already in place, it is reasonable that a utility could partner with its local telecom company to deploy new smart grid technology. After all, it wouldn’t be a smart grid if the delivery weren’t intelligent. Wisely, in Indiana, local grid masters get it.
Some years, it seems That little changes in fiber optics, but 2010 certainly was not one of those years. Last year brought new components, applications and standards, all of which can affect this work in the short term. Let’s start with what may be the biggest news: bend-insensitive fiber.