It is widely assumed that fiber optics is a new phenomenon that has recently revolutionized the communication infrastructure. Contrary to common belief, Chicago witnessed the first installation of a fiber optic link as far back as 1976. Since then, fiber optics has become widely used in telecommunications because of its large bandwidth and distance advantages over conventional copper wire.
As fiber optic communication users grow, the need to have a highly reliable system becomes more evident. By paying more attention to the design, installation and operation of a fiber optic system, it is possible to take advantage of the security, bandwidth and distance that fiber optics offers. What are some guidelines you can use to ensure proper installation and usage of your fiber optic system? The first step is to determine the distance or the range of the link that you are working with – longer links require singlemode fibers or lasers, while shorter links take multimode fibers or LED Sources.
Then consider the environment you are working with – is your installation outdoors or above the ceiling , or in an office or factory floor. These factors will help to determine how your fiber will be mounted. If you have a ceiling application, you may want to source fiberglass push and pull rods to help you with those hard to reach places.
Now it is important to plan splicing requirements, long lengths of cables may need to be spliced and the right tools go a long way to doing a great job. If you’re cutting into tight-buffered cable your best option is to use Kevlar shears because they cut the cable clean and neat which can save polishing time. Another good investment would be cable strippers and lint free wipes to clean any debris left from the glass fibers. You also want to consider the type of hardware that may come in handy, if splice closures are appropriate; these will have to be sourced beforehand.
Once your fibers have been sheared, polished, cleaned and tested it becomes important to choose a termination type appropriate for your application. Remember to clean all your connectors properly and to label all your cables to identify your fiber optic cable. There are now kits on the market that may carry everything you need, which will save you a bit of time in sourcing different tools necessary for your application. Once you have documented your entire fiber optic network you should be good to go. Remember, documentation is foresight; it will help when it comes time to troubleshoot, upgrade or restore your network.