From the August, 2014 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine
By Sean Sheedy
Using a medium only slightly larger than a human hair, fiber-optic communication has transformed our world. Not only have fiber-optic communications eliminated the vast majority of previous network limitations, but this technology also has expanded the capabilities of networks far beyond previous expectations. Today’s world of mobile communications and video downloads is a direct result of the rapid and affordable deployment of powerful, reliable fiber-optic networks. If anyone ever develops a roster of “disruptive technologies,” (as Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen did in their 1995 Harvard Business Review article titled “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave,”), then fiber optics should be number one on that list.
Amazingly, the signal carried by the fiber is astoundingly fragile and becoming more so. After more than 20 years in the industry, I can confirm there really are only two threats to a fiber signal: too much bending and too much dirt. At a BICSI Conference in 2008, JDSU stated, “Contamination is the number-one reason for troubleshooting optical networks.” A major telecom company, rolling out a new fiber-to-the-home service, found that 16 percent of all their connectors on their expensive new network were sufficiently contaminated to cause performance problems. Cleaning is not merely important; it is critical to the long-term reliability of any network, and at the heart of the profitability of a successful fiber deployment. Field techs must be taught, and must be provided the right tools, to clean every endface, both sides, every time they are installed, tested or reconfigured. Continue reading