In many cases, the primary focus of a fiber network simulation platform is on the electro-optical equipment at both ends of the fiber optic link. Since the purpose of network simulators is to evaluate the DUT (Device Under Test) equipment, it only makes sense that this is where the attention will be. However, it is a crucial mistake to forget about both the stability and consistency of the test fiber because the DUT test results (performance, pass/ fail, etc) totally depend on knowing that the optical fiber characteristics are consistent and very reliable.
As a provider of test fiber, we often hear statements such as “if we can get light through, it’s good enough” or “new fiber is too expensive, so we’ll just buy a used spool on EBay” or “the shipping package our fiber spool arrived in provides enough protection”. Unfortunately, the reasoning behind these comments has everything to do with saving a very small amount of money and nothing to do with the expectation of being able to provide reliable test results that can confidently be presented to a customer or included on a data sheet.
As many times as we hear the statements above, we also often hear “the fiber I am using is not providing consistent results”, “the second-hand fiber I purchased arrived damaged”, and “our fiber was broken accidentally while exposed on the bench.” Fiber network simulation platforms are designed to resolve all of the potential issues arising from mishandling of fiber spools, including damaged connectors, pinched or bent fibers, and fiber movement on the spool due to improper storage. By using these platforms, the risk of damage and breaks to fiber and connectors is greatly minimized, while protecting it from dust and debris. In addition, connector interfaces (adapters) are secured, cleanable, and replaceable. Lastly, only new fiber is used in these platforms to assure the quality of performance, so users do not have to worry about any issues with the fiber that might lead to poor performance and test results.
If you do not take the appropriate measures to build a reliable test platform, you run the risk of inconsistent or marginal results which can lead to more serious issues down the line. A small investment into a quality network simulation platform is an important, yet simple way to ensure the accuracy and performance of your equipment.