Fiber Testing Made Easy

Our CommScope link loss calculator is a great tool for us. So many of our customers use this easy instrument. Now there’s another one at our disposal from our partners at Fluke Networks. In this guest blog post, Jim Davis talks about a tester that goes even further.

Fluke BICSI 360x203(Note: The following has been submitted as a guest post to CommScope Blogs by Jim Davis, regional marketing engineer for North America and Latin America for Fluke Networks. Opinions and comments provided in this guest post, as with all posts to CommScope Blogs, are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CommScope.)

Exploding demand for bandwidth is pushing teams to rethink their network infrastructure as they look to support faster data speeds, lower latency requirements and future changes that are hard to predict. The good news? Even with different fiber applications, it’s easier to calculate link loss. One less thing to worry about!

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that different network applications have different maximum insertion loss requirements. If the loss is too high it will prevent the signal from properly reaching the far end causing the link to fail. Designing link performance early in the design stage allows users to make sure their cable plant will support the applications they plan to run. Loss budgets are calculated based on the length and type of fiber as well as the number and performance of connectors and splices. Unfortunately, contractors report that only 30 percent of their technicians are proficient in doing so. Not surprisingly, Fluke Networks research concluded that more than a quarter of contractors reported having fiber test results rejected for testing against incorrectly set fiber limits in the six months before they were surveyed.

To address this issue, CommScope developed its SYSTIMAX link loss calculator that accurately predicts end-to-end link performance and the application support that this performance delivers. This PC-based tool establishes loss targets for the high-performance links that define what ultra-low loss systems will deliver far better performance than standards require. The user simply enters the type of link and then fills in the link length, number and types of connectors and splices and the calculator provides the loss limit.

CLICK TO TWEET: Different applications mean different insertion loss requirements for fiber. Now there's testing made easy. Read more in this CommScope blog from Jim Davis, a guest author from Fluke Networks.

A key value in calculating the loss is the length of the fiber. However, this seemingly simple step can create a lot of complexity. Every link with a different length would require calculating a unique set of limits, even if the links were identical in every other way (type of fiber, number of splices and connectors). Installers certifying in the field would need to carefully select the right test limit based on the length of the link being tested. This might mean a job with a single link configuration could require dozens of separate limits, increasing job complexity and expense, while greatly increasing the chance of mistakes.

Fluke Networks CertiFiber Pro Optical Loss Test Set can measure the length of the fiber when testing, offering a solution to the problem (see the photo of our team showing this off in the CommScope booth at BICSI earlier this year). With support from CommScope, the calculator has been integrated into the CertiFiber Pro. The operator sets up a test by selecting a fiber type and then entering the numbers and types of connectors and splices into the tester. Then, each time a test is made, the tester automatically measures the length and feeds that to the built-in calculator to generate the exact loss limit for that link. This eliminates the need for multiple limits based on length. With less data to enter, this process is even simpler than the PC-based calculator, and further eliminates the chance of errors when transferring the limits from the PC to the tester.

Once the correct limits are in the tester, CertiFiber Pro makes the testing fast and easy. CertiFiber Pro prevents the common problem of incorrect reference setting by leading the customer through the process. From there, the user pushes TEST to measure the loss of a pair of fibers at two wavelengths, compare them against the required limits and display a PASS or FAIL – in just three seconds.

CommScope installers can be confident in the results generated by CertiFiber Pro, as it has been evaluated by CommScope engineers and found to demonstrate a high degree of correlation with their laboratory tests. As a result, CommScope accepts CertiFiber Pro test results for warranty purposes.

Bottom line – while the future of data centers is somewhat uncertain, the ease of link loss testing doesn’t have to be. It’s a great partnership between CommScope and Fluke Networks that will serve our customers for years to come.