The importance of fiber cabling testing for high-speed optical applications
Twenty years ago, when I began working on communications infrastructure projects, testing equipment was simple and had limited functionality. Screens were monochromatic, the battery did not last long, and there was no software to manage reports. Performing tests was really a challenge: not only the test itself, but interpreting the results to detect and solve network problems. Today the story is quite different.
Modern testing equipment is not only able to provide professional reports to deliver them directly to the client, but they can also have specific functionalities for troubleshooting, including reflectometry in the time domain, to display a very clear map of the NEXT and RL behavior along the link. Additional functionalities include a sophisticated interchangeable copper and fiber optic modules, full color touch screen and detailed graphics of each parameter to be measured.
However, there are still many technicians who do not know much about testing theory or best network certification practices, added to the inconvenience that the end customer trusts a "pass” in the delivered reports as the ultimate proof, deems it as sufficient evidence of network’s performance and that mission critical applications will work.
Following a partial list of possible causes for a "fail" test:
The testing equipment is not calibrated
The field reference has not been made
The battery is at a very low level
The optical modules have not reached their operating temperature
The equipment configuration is incorrect
The testing methodology is incorrect
The chosen standard is incorrect
Cables and connecting modules are worn out
There is dirt in the connectors
The connectors are damaged, scratched
There is excessive bending or compression in the cable plant
The fiber optic is broken (eg., patch cord)
The patch cord fiber is different to the type of fiber plant installed
The Restricted Flow (EF) modules are not being used
Modules are multimode but singlemode fiber is being tested or vice versa
And clearly, poor quality or low performing components ...
Of course, products acquired through authorized distributors assure you peace of mind. In addition, our high-performance solutions are installed by our PartnerPro Network, partners who are required to pass a strict training program in our Infrastructure Academy.
However, will everything be alright if there is a "pass" in the report? We have found that a false “pass” when measuring an optical link is much more frequent, since fiber testing requires the knowledge of additional equipment configurations, detailing the characteristics of the link and the network technologies the client needs to run.
So, what would you rather have for the operation of your network? Knowing the link fails, or being certain that the link report reads "pass", but the truth is the test was inappropriately executed? What would happen if the optical link is deployed in a data center, where applications assurance is required: not only a test with a "pass" of TIA or ISO standards, but also the certainty that the application can run without errors through the communications channel?
If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic, we invite you to attend our next webinar in Spanish (May 10th) where we will deal with the key aspects of fiber optics cabling testing, the correct use of the fiber performance calculator, and the configuration of the most sophisticated equipment in the market, with the co-participation of our partner Fluke Networks.
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