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Optical power loss issues dwindling

By Donna Donnawitz
March 11, 2013

Calculating the optical power loss budget is one of the most challenging, and annoying parts of installing a short-wave fiber-optic network. The challenge is the same whether the network is designed for campus deployments, retail warehouse systems or another setup where data has to travel over 300 meters or less of optical cabling. The problem, however, is simple - the light that makes up optical signal can lose its strength over distance, disrupting data transmission to such an extent that the network doesn't function properly.

According to a recent Cabling Installation and Maintenance magazine report, recent innovations across the optical cabling industry as a whole has made it much easier to calculate optical power loss in short-wave setups.

Understanding the challenges of measuring optical power loss
The report explained that the IEEE standard for short-wave optical networks puts acceptable signal loss at 2.6 dB. While that is a fairly decent allowable loss, the rating includes connectors. A network with just two connectors would only have approximately .75 dB of available loss per connector remaining in the optical power loss budget. That amount of optical signal disruption can happen easily, especially considering historic deficiencies in evaluating modal launch conditions. Small issues in modal launch conditions can create several tents of a dB worth of loss that would vary from one transmission to another because of inconsistency.

This problem made it extremely difficult to properly evaluate the optical power loss of a network because one optical light burst may lose as much as one tenth of a dB more or less than another within the exact same configuration. The report explained that while this problem has been a major network installation barrier, it is one that is being overcome by industry-wide efforts. A variety of stakeholders in the optical network sector have been working to improve equipment consistency across the sector, leading to an environment in which maximum discrepancies of 0.08 dB are now possible, making it much easier to make accurate calculations.

Taking full advantage of fiber
Organizations considering fiber for short-wave networks now have an easier path to deploying the technology. However, many companies still cannot afford to deploy an all-fiber network. One solution is to use fiber where it is needed and maintain copper Ethernet systems in other parts of the network. Fiber to Ethernet media converters make such an option possible, giving companies a cost-effective solution to their need for more optical cabling.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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