What Is the Difference Between OTDR and OLTS?

Posted by Kevin Miller on Fri, Mar 18, 2022 @ 16:03 PM

What Is the Difference Between OTDR and OLTS?

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Topics: optical fiber, otdr

How to Calculate Fiber Latency

Posted by Kevin Miller on Thu, Mar 10, 2022 @ 11:03 AM
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Topics: optical fiber, latency

Fusion or Mechanical: Which Is the Best Splicing Method?

Posted by John Kornegay on Wed, Feb 2, 2022 @ 09:02 AM

The act of joining two individual lengths of optical fiber to create a secure connection is called splicing. There are currently two common splicing methods that can be utilized - fusion splicing and mechanical splicing. While both processes share similar initial steps, the differ substantially thereafter in terms of the approach and necessary materials, while producing different results.

With this being the case, how might one choose which path to take? Is one method considered better than the other? In this brief article, we take a closer look at both the fusion and mechanical splicing methods to provide some clarity on the subject. At the conclusion, you should have better idea about how each method works, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and which uses cases or applications are more suited to one or the other.

Figure 1: Fusion Splicer machine close-up

Defining Mechanical & Fusion Splicing

The ultimate goal of cable splicing is to create a secure connection between two or more sections of fiber in a way that allows the optical signal to pass through with minimal loss. As we mentioned already, both mechanical and fusion splicing achieve this goal, but they do so in very different ways.

Fusion Splicing

Fusion splicing involves heating the ends of each fiber that are being joined and fusing them together permanently. Because this process requires near-perfect alignment of the fibers and their respective cores, along with fusing the glass together in a precise manner, this is accomplished using a fusion splicer device. The device effectively aligns the two fiber ends, melts the glass via an electric arc, then fuses them together. Because of the resulting splice point in the length of fiber, either a heat-shrinkable protective splice sleeve or a coating material is typically placed over the splice point to give the splice more strength and durability.

Mechanical Splicing

The primary way that mechanical splicing differs from fusion splicing is that it is a manual process that does not permanently fuse or join the fibers together, instead it locks and aligns the fiber ends together with a screw mechanism in a splice case. This method requires no heat or electricity and is performed manually by a technician using the required tools and components.

Fusion Splicing Steps - A Quick Overview

For both fusion and mechanical splicing techniques, there are four distinct steps to the process. The first two steps for each are virtually identical which are covered in this section, but the final two are where the differences come into play.

Fusion Splicing and Mechanical Splicing Step 1 - Fiber / Cable Preparation

To prepare the end of a fiber cable for splicing, a few inches of the protective jacketing, buffer tubing, and coating must be stripped away in order to access the bare glass fiber. After using a handheld stripping tool to remove these layers, the bare fiber is now accessible, which should then be cleaned quickly with an alcoholic wipe to remove any dirt or dust.

Fusion Splicing and Mechanical Splicing Step 2 - Cleaving

Once the bare fiber is prepared, the next step involves cleaving the end fiber, which shouldn’t be confused with cutting. Cleaving is when the fiber is lightly scored with a sharp blade and then flexed until it naturally breaks. To create an ideal connection point for a fusion or a mechanical splice, a clean and smooth cleave that is perpendicular to the fiber is absolutely necessary. The example image below shows examples of poor cleaves on the left and good cleaves on the right:

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Topics: optical fiber, mechanical splice, fusion splice

Optical Fiber - A Source of Revenue for Energy & Utilities Companies

Posted by Kevin Miller on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 @ 10:10 AM

Along with being highly regulated, energy and electric utilities companies have faced a transitioning business model with declining electricity use resulting from increased competition, distributed generation, and growing use of renewable sources like solar and wind. Consumers ultimately have more choices now than in past years, making it more challenging for these companies to achieve their revenue growth and profitability goals.

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Topics: optical fiber, fiber monitoring, electric utilities, broadband service, gas and electric

Radiation Hardened Optical Fiber

Posted by Gary Miller on Wed, Aug 18, 2021 @ 09:08 AM

Radiation hardened fibers are designed to handle applications and environments where there is greater exposure to radiation and the need for reliable data transmission in those settings. Circumstances where the potential of high levels of radiation exist include nuclear power plants or other nuclear-powered apparatus such as submarines, along with space applications, and high energy physics facilities. Optical fiber plays a critical role in each of these environments providing data transmission, gyroscopes, temperature sensing or diagnostics.

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Topics: optical fiber

Practical Applications of Graded Index Multimode Fiber

Posted by Jonathan Benfield on Tue, Aug 3, 2021 @ 09:08 AM

Communications engineers face many complicated decisions when selecting the most appropriate type of fiber optic cabling for their specific needs. Should the fiber be single mode or multimode? If it is multimode, should it be step index fiber or graded index? Those are just two of the multitude of questions that need to be answered when selecting the best fiber solution.

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Topics: optical fiber, multimode fiber

Understanding Submarine Optical Fibers

Posted by Kevin Miller on Tue, May 11, 2021 @ 08:05 AM

We’ve recently written about the importance of simulating submarine fiber networks in a lab environment for testing and training purposes, while highlighting the history and shifting investment dynamic in this arena.  A visit to Submarine Cable Map offers an interactive view of the breadth of fiber cabling crisscrossing the oceans of the world, demonstrating its critical importance to global communications.

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Topics: optical fiber

Key Differences Between Single Mode and Multimode Optical Fibers

Posted by Kevin Miller on Mon, Apr 26, 2021 @ 08:04 AM

When utilizing optical fibers for high-speed communications applications, there two primary categories that fibers are grouped into, based on their construction and intended applications. In this article, we will review both Single Mode and Multimode optical fiber classifications, providing a quick introduction to both types and their key differences.

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Topics: optical fiber, multimode fiber, single mode fiber

Hollow-Core Optical Fiber - A Potential Game Changer

Posted by Gary Miller on Thu, Apr 16, 2020 @ 16:04 PM

OFS recently made a splash when they announced a new hollow-core optical fiber optimized for low latency transmission.  While hollow-core fibers have existed for about 20 years, it is exciting to see such an innovative and promising fiber technology being more broadly applied to commercial applications. 

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Topics: optical fiber, latency, hollow-core optical fiber

Packaging Optical Fiber Spools to Optimize Space in the Test Lab

Posted by Kevin Miller on Tue, Feb 4, 2020 @ 08:02 AM

This year’s OFC conference in San Diego will be another showcase of innovative new and future technologies.  With fiber optic communication and networking equipment continuing to evolve, testing procedures and setups must also grow and change as part of the process.  Engineers are then often faced with a challenge - how can they continue to add and integrate new systems and the appropriate connectivity infrastructure in a finite amount of lab space?  While some may benefit from new facility expansions, the luxury of additional square footage and rack space isn't often the case for most.

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Topics: fiber optic testing, optical fiber, optical time delays