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Testing explores optical network troubles

By Max Burkhalter
October 25, 2013

Testing network infrastructure, especially fiber cabling, is an essential part of operations, whether installing new cabling, upgrading the network or performing routine maintenance.

According to Cabling Installation & Maintenance, loss budgets are getting smaller and the demands that businesses put on their networks are increasing, requiring more frequent improvements and minimal latency. This, along with improving technology, is a key reason to invest in network testing, simply to ensure they can sustain the demand being placed on them. It can also pay to identify leading causes of loss early in order to combat them and minimize downtime.

In a report from NTT Advanced Technology, contamination of the network endface was listed as the highest cause of optical network failure. Followed by mistakes in labeling, damage to media converters and defective splicing, physical technology issues are often the leading causes of loss. This means that firms have to focus on actually inspecting cabling, rather than digital testing methods. The new source recommends several methods.

Link insertion loss
Testing attenuation is a critical part of fiber optic cabling testing because it checks for insertion loss - power loss that occurs between two ends of the network.

Certification testing
Beyond attenuation, businesses also have to test fiber length, continuity and polarity to ensure the quality of the network. Certification testing allows them to check two fibers at once in both directions, expediting the testing process and ensuring that the cabling meets industry standards.

Inspection testing
Digital fiber inspection focuses on connector ends to eliminate contamination - one of the leading concerns for loss. This involves checking end-to-end continuity and connector polarity, which firms accomplish by use of a visible light source.

Beyond testing, firms should also ensure their fiber to Ethernet converters are up to spec, optimizing bandwidth and minimizing signal loss across different cabling types. With loss, the fault doesn't always lie in one type of cabling, and companies have to ensure every piece of hardware that makes up their network infrastructure is optimized. Ultimately, this will ensure quality and allow for less time spent on maintenance - without increasing the risk of network downtime. Fiber converters are an essential part of any fiber optic network and businesses need to make sure they are using top quality hardware at all times.

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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