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July 2020

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FOA Newsletter - Features

July 1995-2020 - FOA's 25th Anniversary!

As part of celebrating 25 years of serving the fiber optic industry as its primary source of technical information and independent certifying body, FOA thought it appropriate to provide a short history of the organization and how it has developed the programs we have today to help the fiber optic industry. We also want to recognize the contributions many people have made to the organization over the years that made FOA what it is today.

In This Issue
Note we have changed the format to place articles in sections on one topic and all articles are dated so you know if we repeat one - whcih we often do when we think it's very important!


FOA Turns 25
FOA History

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

News   Google Fiber is back, Verizon to retire copper, Low prices on media converters, Rural broadband only discriminates, Construction worker killed on fiber install site, aerial install messes
Technical    The mystery of loss in dB solved, splices on OPGW, manufacturers of prepolished connectors, more

Worth Reading    New Pearson handbook, 600G, cabling in the data center, NYTimes gives infrastructure some respect, more

Q&A    As usual, new questions

Training/FiberU   Making training classroom safe, onine training, materials, more
Resoures Safety  


FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

Certification Renewals
Renew your FOA certification online - plus get a discount on the new FOA books and an extra month free. Details here.

See FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
The FOA Jobs Web Page has been updated and a new page added on Using your FOA Training/Certification to Find the Right Job in Fiber Optics

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the qualifications for the workers in the field in this YouTube video.

Join The FOA eMail Newsletter List
Want to be notified when the FOA Newsletter is updated? Sign up for the FOA eMail Newsletter. You can also sign up from your cell phone: text "FOA" to 22828 (usual text message charges apply)

Trademarks: The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA.
FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide  Lennie Lightwave

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.
Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos on videos

FOA is a member of:

TIA Online
FTTH Council

The FOA Newsletter is edited by Jim Hayes - send your stories, leads, ideas, comments to <jim @>
Jim Hayes

Search the FOA Website With DuckDuckGo

The Archives: Past Issues.
Use these links to read past issues or use FOA's  Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
1/20, 2/20, 3/20. 4/205/20, 6/20, 7/20,   
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1/132/13, 3/13, 4/13, 5/13, 6/13, 7/13, 8/13, 9/13, 10/13, 11/1312/13 
1/12 , 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12   
1/11 ,  2/11,  3/11,  4/11,  6/11, 7/11, 8/11,  9/11, 10/11, 11/11,  12/11,  
1/10 ,  2/10, 3/10,  4/10,   05/10,  07/10, 08/10,  09/10,  10/10, 11/10 
1/09 ,  2/09,  3/09, 04/09,  05/09,  07/09, 08/09, 09/09, 10/09, 11/09,  12/09
1/08 , 2/08, 3/08, 4/08, 5/08,  6/08, 7/08, 8/08, 09/0810/08, 11/08,  12/08 
12/07 , 11/07, 10/07, 09/07, 08/07, 07/07, 06/07, 05/07, 04/07, 03/07, 2/07, 1/07
12/06 , 11/06, 10/06, 09/06, 8/06, 7/06, 6/06, 5/06, 4/06, 3/06, 2/06, 1/06,
12/05 ,11/05, 10/05, 09/05, 08/05, 07/05, 6/05, 5/05, 4/05, 2/05, 01/05,
12/04 , 10/04, 9/04, 8/04, 7/04, 6/04, 5/04, 4/04, 3/04, 1/04,
12/03 , 11/03 10/03 9/03, 8/03, 7/03, 6/03, 3/03, 10/02 , 8/02, 5/02

Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?

To keep your FOA certifications active, you need to renew them when they expire. Now we have a new more convenient way to renew - an online store at Paypal - where you can quickly and conveniently use your PayPal account or your credit card to renew your certifications.

You can now renew with PayPal or a credit card
PayPal is available worldwide

Join FOA On  Social Media

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has four LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official page on LinkedIn
FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)

SPECIAL OFFER - Save 1/3 On Your Certification Renewal Cost

In the near future, there will be a requirement for continuing education to renew your FOA certifications. FOA is testing an option for renewals where you take a short Fiber U online course. 

If you would like to help FOA test this option, you can save 1/3 the cost of your renewal.  Go here to take the Fiber U CFOT Renewal Course:

The Fiber Optic Association


The Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA) is an international non-profit educational association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. FOA was founded in 1995 by more than a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and leaders from education, industry and government as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

Founded soon after the initial commercialization of the Internet, the FOA became a "virtual organization," perhaps one of the first organizations so created. There is no FOA headquarters building or any "brick and mortar" presence - appropriate to its technology, FOA exists on the Internet and in the work of its people. Those who run the organization live and work all over the world, using modern communications to communicate and collaborate. The network of experts working to create the FOA knowledge base and programs include our technical advisors who average more than 20 years experience in fiber optics. Their experience ensures FOA curriculum and certifications are the most comprehensive and up to date available.

The Beginning

The Fiber Optic Association Inc. was created by the instructors and participants of the 1995 Fiber U training conference held in Boston. Fiber U was a week-long fiber optic training event with mornings devoted to classroom courses and afternoons to hands-on training by numerous vendors of fiber optic equipment.

EP at Fiber U 1994 Eric Pearson teaches a class at Fiber U 1994 in Long Beach, CA

Fiber U was the creation of a company called FOTEC Inc. of Boston, MA. FOTEC was started by Jim Hayes (founder and current FOA President) in 1980 and began manufacturing test equipment for fiber optics in 1981. By 1982, FOTEC began to start training courses for its customers who were all new to fiber optics. Throughout the 1980s, FOTEC ran short courses in fiber optics around the US and eventually in many other parts of the world. FOTEC was only in the test equipment business, so it invited other manufacturers in areas like fiber optic cables, connectors, splicing equipment, etc. to participate in these courses.

Dan Silver 3M Founder Dan Silver (R) of 3M demonstrates how to dress cables in a splice closure at Fiber U 1994 in Long Beach (more Fiber U photos)

In 1992, Dan Silver, the fiber optic trainer for 3M Corp. who was a regular participant in these courses, suggested that FOTEC expand the program to become a full week conference. That seemed like a good idea, so the first Fiber U was held in Nashville, TN in 1993. It was a good idea - over 200 students came from the US, Canada, Mexico and several other countries and 40 vendors joined to offer training. Fiber U became an annual event with international participation.

During a meeting of instructors at Fiber U 1995, the discussion focused on the need for a vendor-independent certification for fiber optic technicians. Manufacturers had contractor/installer certifications, but they were primarily aimed at marketing the vendors products. Over lunch, the decision was made to start a professional society for fiber optic personnel and offer an independent certification for techs. All the Fiber U instructors volunteered their services to build the organization.

The instructors decided the industry was mature enough to support a professional society and needed to create industry-wide certifications. The founders included experienced instructors from industry (3M, Siecor, Panduit, FOTEC), government (US Navy and Air Force), education (Lincoln Trail College and Wentworth Institute) and private trainers (Pearson Technologies, Conquest Communications) who were teaching fiber optics and who provided the expertise in management, technology and education needed to create a new professional society.

In July of 1995, The Fiber Optic Association was incorporated in Massachusetts and was recognized as an educational non-profit corporation, 501(C)(6), by the IRS. The FOA charter was (as it still is now) to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards.

The FOA decided to use the new communications medium, the Internet, to create an international professional society that would utilize the expertise of the Fiber U participants without the financial overhead of a traditional organization. The FOA website, created at the beginning, was one of the earliest websites for an organization.

FOA web FOA website ca. 2000 (view here on the WayBack Machine Internet Archive)

Who Were The FOA Founders?

Those listed below in BOLD are still active teaching and working with FOA. See Profiles below.
Jim Hayes, President of FOTEC Inc. Pioneering fiber optic entrepreneur in test equipment and trainer who was trained in physics/astronomy. Author of many EIA/TIA standards and the instigator of the NBS/NIST fiber optic calibration program. Creator of the Fiber U training conferences. Author of ten textbooks, hundreds of technical articles. Current FOA President. See Profiles below.

Eric Pearson, Pearson Technologies. Trained by Corning in the 1970s, considered an industry expert on termination and splicing, training since the early 1980s. Respected expert witness in legal cases. Active FOA Instructor. See Profiles below.

Dominick Tambone, Engineer, Automatic Tool and Connector, fiber optic termination and installation, training since the early 1980s. Contractor and Active FOA Instructor.

Bill Graham, Mississauga Training Associates, Toronto, ON, CN. Background in utilities, military, metropolitan fiber optics, training since the early 1990s. Current FOA Director. See Profiles below.

Prof. Elias Awad, Wentworth Institute, Boston, MA. Started one of the first fiber optic academic programs in the engineering department in late 1980s. Creator of NSF program “Fiber Optics For Engineering Technology” (NSF#9353997).

Prof. John Highhouse, Lincoln Trail College, Robinson, IL. Head of telecom training program, started teaching fiber optic outside plant construction in late 1980s. Masters in Education, specialty testing. See Profiles below.

Paul Rosenberg, writer and technical trainer
Dan Silver, Product Specialist, 3M Fiber Optics, trainer and applications. The man with the idea to create the Fiber U training conferences and active FOA member.

Eric Loytty, Field Engineering, Corning/Siecor, applications and training.

Bob Mason, Product Manager, Network Systems, Panduit, applications and training.

Doug Elliott, IBEW Instructor, Toronto, ON, CN. One of first IBEW apprenticeship instructors to teach fiber optics.

Tom Collins, Northern Kentucky Technical College, Professor. Techtricians, Owner/instructor. Current FOA Director. See Profiles below.

Dan Lyall, Project Engineer, Lockheed Martin, applications and training.

Jim Davis, Program Director, U. S. Navy Navsea 56ZC, Navy fiber optic standards.

Dave Chaney, Disney, Network Manager

Tony Beam, Tyco/AMP, Product Manager

Richard J. Smith, FOTechnologies, Technican/Instructor

Profiles Of FOA Founders Still Active

Jim Hayes, FOA#1, Founder and President, and Karen Hayes, VP Administration

JH Jim Hayes working with IMSA Instructors on lab techniques

Jim Hayes was recruited into the fiber optic business by the scientists at Bell Labs who were developing the technologies in the late 1980s. They wanted the company he worked for to build test equipment for AT&T. When his company declined the opportunity, Jim and his wife Karen, now FOA VP Administration, started one of the world's first fiber optic test equipment companies in 1980, called FOTEC for, simply enough the Fiber Optic Test Equipment Company. FOTEC quickly became involved in training people in this new technology, inviting other manufacturers to participate, leading to the Fiber U training conferences. FOA evolved from Fiber U as a certification body for the fiber optic industry. Jim has remains active in FOA, serving as President, writing and editing the FOA textbooks, newsletters and online Guide, while Karen manages daily operations as she has done since the beginning and generally avoids the limelight. 


Karen (R) inspects a traffic management system during a training program in Mesa, AZ.

Eric Pearson, FOA #5, Pearson Technologies

Eric Pearson Training
Eric (back row, right) shows students how to interpret their work.

Eric Pearson and Jim Hayes are probably the two FOA Founders with the most years in fiber optics, both started in the late 1970s and are still active today. Eric began in the fiber optic cable business, then transmission systems and designed field installation equipment. He began training more than 30 years ago and has published his workbooks and manuals as what we like to call the "cookbooks" of fiber optics. Eric may be the world's top expert in the process of fiber optic termination and his books certainly are the best manuals for termination.  Eric still travels the world doing training courses, finds time to continue writing and updating his books (See note below on the new Kindle version of his installation handbook) and consulting as an expert witness in legal cases.

Eric Pearson, Pearson Technologies

Bill Graham, FOA #168, Director, Representing FOA In "The Frozen North"

Bill Graham

Bill Graham (second from left above with the white beard) lives near Toronto and has probably trained half of Canada in fiber optics. Bill sold his company, Missisauga Training, several years ago to another active Canadian who took over the training but Bill is still active as a FOA Director and promoter in Canada. Bill is famous for training in the Frozen North, still in competition with Ian Gordon Fudge of Fiber DK in Denmark to see who has trained closer to the North Pole. Bill always sent us photos from his trips, like these:

Tom Collins, Director, FOA's IBEW and IMSA Liaison

Tom Collins at NTI 2016

Tom Collins joined the FOA while a teacher at Gateway Community and Technical College near Cincinnati, OH. Tom has about 40 years of experience in the electrical and voice and data fields.  He is a master electrician, voice and data technician, fiber optic technician, contractor, and a technical instructor. His experience as an electrician and apprenticeships has proven invaluable for FOA as Tom has become FOA's liaison to the IBEW apprenticeship program and has trained numerous IBEW  apprenticeship instructors at their National Training Institute (Tom's at NTI 2016 above).

Tom became a FOA Director almost 20 years ago and we've benefited greatly from his experience. He and John Highhouse created the FOA Train-The-Trainer program and FOA's unique in the industry instructor certification program. Tom has helped us understand technical training issues, online training and testing and a lot of other educational topics.

Tom has a training partner too, his wife Donna, a FOA CFOS/I instructor herself. Together they have been instrumental in helping the FOA develop and manage its certification programs.

John Highhouse, FOA #2, Retired, Still Influences FOA Activities
John Highhouse John Highhouse teaching a FOA Train-the-Trainer Course

John Highhouse started the first OSP/telecom college program for fiber optics at Lincoln Trail College in Southern Illinois. John was a  Fiber U instructor and FOA founder. He participated in the development of FOA technical materials like our original textbook and the CFOT certification. One thing John brought to the group was his background in education with a specialty in testing. He taught us how to test properly and fairly: have definitive reference materials for the test that can be also used for developing curriculum and develop test questions that determine if the applicant's knowledge is adequate. FOA still uses the test methodology that John taught us before he retired.

Certification Program Development

FOA Board 1997
FOA Advisors Meeting in 1997.
From left around the table: Eric Pearson (Pearson Tech), Bob Mason (Panduit), Dominick Tambone (Automatic Tool & Connector), Dan Silver (3M Fiber Optics), Elias Awad (Wentworth Institute of Technology), Doug Elliott (IBEW Toronto), John Highhouse (Lincoln Trail College), Dan Lyall (Martin Marrietta) and Eric Loytty (Siecor), photo by Jim Hayes

This group of FOA founders began meeting quarterly and collaborating via email while working to analyze the job tasks of the fiber optic technician and creating a list of knowledge, skills and abilities(KSAs) that such a technician should have. It was an excellent group for this task as they represented many aspects of the fiber optic field and all had many years of experience. New recruits joined also. Tony Bean, an applications engineering manager at AMP who had previously worked at Siecor, Paul Rosenberg, a trainer for electrical trades and author who with Hayes had written the Data Voice and Video Cabling textbook and Dave Chaney, a contractor who became network manager for Disney Corp. also joined FOA to assist in the development of FOA programs.

The FOA Board of Advisors 20 years ago, meeting to work on FOA certifications.

FOA Directors 1999

One aspect of the creation of a general fiber optic certification was the different types of applications that fiber optic technicians were involved in. Technicians working for phone companies building long distance or metropolitan networks (OSP or outside plant networks) had different job tasks that those working on premises cabling for LANs (local area networks), or those in the military building tactical systems or cabling on platforms like ships, helicopters or airplanes.

The group was able to define the basic knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) expected of all fiber optic technicians, no matter their specific applications or jobs. In addition, the group identified three areas of skills that were often jobs done by fiber optic specialists: splicing, termination and testing. These were also identified as subjects for specialist training and should be considered for specialist certifications.

It became obvious that FOA was not going to be a training organization; that would be impossible in light of the international scope of the organization. Training would be the duty of the schools, manufacturers and independent trainers who had been training fiber optic technicians for over a decade. The FOA would set the standards for certifications and manage the certification programs and leave the training to others.

Then the task of creating a certification program began in earnest. At this stage, the academics became the group leaders, offering their expertise in development of educational programs. Professor Highhouse became the project leader. He created the checklist of requirements for a certification: KSAs from job task analyses, reference materials for trainers to use to develop curriculum and for students to study, criteria and procedures for certification examination and the examinations themselves.

Developing Reference Materials

The first task for the advisors was to identify reference materials. A problem was immediately identified. Textbooks on fiber optics were too theoretical and none dealt with the installation processes. Materials on installation were available from manufacturers but were all specific to their products. There were no reference materials deemed acceptable, so the decision was made to create a proper textbook for fiber optic technicians.

The task of editing the book was accepted by Jim Hayes who had already created a self-published a book on fiber optic testing for his company FOTEC. The material in that book became the chapter on fiber optic testing for the new technician book. Others contributed their expertise. Everyone contributed to the chapter on applications. Prof. Awad had created a curriculum on basic fiber optics under an NSF grant and it was adapted to become the chapter on the basics of fiber optics. Eric Pearson and Dominic Tambone created on the chapter on termination and splicing. Professor Highhouse, Dan Silver and Eric Lloytty wrote sections on installation.


The material for the textbook was produced quickly as the authors were all experts in their field and created chapters on their expertise. Delmar, the publisher of technical books, became the publisher and the first edition of The Fiber Optic Technicians Manual (ISBN 10: 0827374267) was released in 1996. The book was described by Delmar thusly: “This book is intended for training installers of fiber optic networks. Technicians and electricians eager to learn more about fiber optic design, installation, and troubleshooting will find this book a practical and comprehensive source, useful in both training and self-study situations.”

At the same time, FOA began creating a website with the basic fiber optic information contributed by the advisors made available to everyone online. That website, the FOA Online Guide, has been expanded and updated continually until today.

Creating A Certification Exam

With the job analysis and KSAs as a reference guide, Professors Highhouse and Awad and their collaborators began creating criteria for classroom and laboratory training and an exam of the knowledge of certification candidates. The training aspects were covered in an Instructor’s Manual created by the FOA that described the classroom and hands-on labs expected for certification. In the process of creating an exam covering the knowledge part of the exam, Professor Highhouse created guidelines for creating tests and test questions still in use by the FOA today.

The first FOA exam for certification was made released by the Board in 1997. The certification by that time had a formal name, Certified Fiber Optic Technician, CFOT. The certification was first offered by the founders of the FOA to their own students to verify the program before expanding to other training venues. The examination process involved the instructors who were tasked to verify that students showed appropriate skills and abilities during hands-on activities before taking the examination given at the end of the course.

Expanding The Scope Of The FOA

During this development process, the FOA had been introduced to the world as the international professional society of fiber optics. Interest in the FOA certification program was high and trainers around the world began asking to become part of the program. When the FOA advisors agreed that the CFOT was ready to be offered by more trainers, applications were accepted from trainers and training organizations.

Criteria for potential trainers were established by the advisors that included requirements for curriculum in the classroom and hands-on labs, including required training equipment. Educational institutions, commercial trainers and fiber optic manufacturers or vendors made applications. The advisors realized that to maintain the integrity of the certification, it was necessary to create an agreement with the schools or trainers that covered all aspects of the certification process and included regular reviews of their performance.

Some applicants, especially in the academic world, had little or no practical knowledge in fiber optics, so it was necessary to help them learn the knowledge and recommend to them venues to acquire the hands-on skills necessary. Many used the Fiber U conferences which had partnered with other organizations like the National Electrical Contractors Association, the COMNET conference, etc. to offer training at many conferences and meetings. Others used other FOA-approved trainers or vendors for training. To provide a guide to skills training, FOA personnel led by Pearson, Tambone and Hayes developed a Fiber Optic Lab Manual that described in detail the processes used in fiber optic installation and how they should be taught in labs.

TTT John Highhouse conducts class at FOA TTT 2002

FOA began planning its own Train-The-Trainer program to be held at Gateway Community College where Professor Tom Collins taught. Prof. Collins had joined the FOA advisors after attending Fiber U and creating his own program at Gateway and the IBEW apprenticeship program in Cincinnati. The first FOA T-T-T was held in 2002 at Gateway, run by Professors Collins and Highhouse and introduced the FOA certification for instructors, CFOS/I, Certified Fiber Optic Specialist in Instruction. After several years of T-T-T classes, the instructor training was primarily moved online.

Meanwhile, advisors Pearson, Tambone and Hayes were heading a group working on skills specialist certifications in splicing, termination and testing. Job analyses were done and KSAs created for CFOS/S, Certified Fiber Optic Specialist, Splicing, CFOS/C, termination with connectors and CFOS/T for testing. These skills-based certifications had greater requirements for hands-on labs, with more equipment and time for hands-on activities required. Exams were developed with Professors Highhouse and Awad using the criteria they had created. Instructor manuals were developed to assist instructors in setting up appropriate training. FOA schools were then authorized to offer these specialist certifications.

A Virtual Organization

As mentioned earlier, the FOA was a professional society of the Internet age. There was no physical presence, per se, and no employees, just a few contractors and many volunteers. Income from certifications, initial and renewal, and book royalties was sufficient to pay outside services like administration and accounting. By 2002, the daily operations required more time and attention, so Jim Hayes and Karen Hayes, having sold their company FOTEC, were contracted to manage the organization and provide technical leadership, a role they still fulfill today. FOA also has contracted administrative, bookkeeping/financial, software, media and legal services as needed. In 2003, the FOA was legally moved to California when the Hayes’s moved to Southern California.

Growing Into The 21st Century

The early 2000s were a development time for the FOA and its network of schools expanded worldwide. Although the fiber optic industry in the US experienced a severe recession in 2001-2 as the large Internet growth of the late 1990s turned out to be a bubble, the FOA continued to grow, particularly overseas. Programs and operations were continually improved and updated as technology and applications evolved.

With the internationalization of the FOA, the advisors expanded to include some very qualified people. Joe Botha, owner of Triple Play Fiber Optics in Durban South Africa was training fiber techs throughout sub-Saharan Africa and working with governments and telecom companies on manpower development. Ian Gordon Fudge of Fiber DK in Copenhagen, Denmark was a consultant and authorized trainer for many fiber optic and communications companies working an area from the Arctic to the Middle East. Bee Suat Lim of 100G Training and Consultancy in Singapore was involved with projects in Southeast Asia. These three have been major contributors to the development of FOA technical resources and certifications, as have many others involved in the FOA organization.
Like all organizations, the FOA's development was dependent on a group of highly competent, highly motivated individuals devoted to educating the fiber optic community. Some of the instructors and training organizations that were instrumental in FOA's growth deserve special recognition.

Bob Ballard  BDI class Bob Ballard of BDI Datalynk and one of his classes

Bob Ballard started BDI Datalynk, a training organization with a unique approach: Make the classroom look like the real world then pack it into the back of a van. Carry it around the country and partner with the continuing education departments of colleges to offer FOA certification classes. Bob sold BDI and retired in 2018.

Joe Botha Joe Botha of Triple Play in his element, teaching in Zambia
Joe has been instrumental in training techs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Joe is also creator of the FOA OSP Construction textbook.

FiberDK Ian Gordon Fudge of Fiber DK teaching students how to splice OPGW in Greenland. Ian and FOA Director and Canadian Bill Graham have a friendly competition to see who has trained more places in the far North.

100G  Bee Suat Lim, Director (R) and Isaac Yeo Hock Lai (L) of 100G in Singapore with Karen and Jim of the FOA during a visit to SE Asia. Bee was instrumental in creating the FOA textbook on Fiber Optic Network Design and training techs in SE Asia. 

Morla Jerry Morla, 2nd from R, at a meeting of FOA instructors in Atlanta, is the latest FOA Director to join us. Jerry, who came on board in 2008, is FOA's ed-tech person, looking at new methods using technology to make learning better and more efficient, a valuable asset in these times of social distancing and isolation.

Partnering and Promoting FTTH Since 2006

In 2006 when FOA was approached by Verizon to assist them in recruiting and training personnel for a new program of fiber to the home expansion called FiOS. FOA advisors worked with Verizon technical personnel to understand the new passive optical network technology (PON) being used, the installation practices they were developing and create reference and educational materials to support training. In addition, In 2007 FOA and Verizon did several seminars together on both coasts to educate trainers and contractors and help Verizon’s recruiting efforts. This work led to the new FOA specialist certification in FTTx or Fiber to the Home/Business/Curb, etc., FOA’s first application certification. This certification was uniquely structured to be appropriate for both technicians who would be installing FTTx and managers who needed to be trained in the new technology that their company was promoting and installing.

FTTX summit 2007 FOA and Verizon ran this FTTH Summit in LA in 2007

The success of the FTTx certification program encouraged the FOA to create several new certifications. Professor Tom Collins worked with FOA to develop a certification in premises cabling based on standardized structured cabling for LANs (local area networks for PCs), but expanded to include copper and fiber cabling and the rapidly growing WiFi wireless technology. Several schools wanted a specialist skills certification for outside plant technicians which was also developed, then later updated with material from advisor Joe Botha’s construction course to include aerial and underground construction. Other certifications were created at the request of instructors, schools and industry groups, including optical LANs and fiber optics to support wireless networks.

FOA As A Publisher

As the FOA grew, the FOA Guide’s online technical material became a trustworthy resource for people looking for answers about fiber optic topics. But the FOA textbook was a preferred resource for those who still liked their information on paper.

While FOA was regularly updating its online technical material and exams to keep up with technology, the textbook publisher was much slower to update the textbook which became a problem. In 2008 as the world entered another recession, the publisher postponed an update and raised the price of the book to a point the FOA schools objected. FOA did a survey of publishing, decided that publish-on-demand technology was a more acceptable alternative and began creating its own textbook, The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics, based on the online technical materials on the FOA website. The FOA Online Guide had grown to hundreds of pages of technical materials and became the most popular reference for fiber optics online, with over one-half million visitors downloading about four million pages of the FOA Guide in 2018.

FOA Reference Guide To Fiber OpticsFOA's self published fiber optic textbook for CFOT certification

The new self-published FOA textbook was an immediate success. It was more up to date, better organized for both teaching and reference and, even at about one-fourth the price of the previous book, contributed more royalty income to the FOA. In addition, it could be updated anytime, so the FOA has since combined the textbook review with the annual review of the CFOT certification program, updating them in concert.

FOA Textbooks

The ease and success of self-publishing encouraged FOA to expand its offering of books. The original book was translated into Spanish and French for our schools who taught in those languages. Additional books were introduced to support FOA certification programs in fiber optic network design, outside plant installation, premises cabling and fiber optic testing. FOA also printed the textbook created by one of our advisors, Joe Botha in South Africa, for outside plant construction.

FOA Became A Resource For The Industry

FOA began an online newsletter in the early 2000s, covering news of the industry, interesting applications, new components and what became a favorite section, “Good Question.” The FOA had been getting calls and emails from people looking for advice which we were able to answer by using the broad expertise of our advisors. This column in the newsletter gave the FOA an indication of what people wanted to know and insight into issues in the industry. Those questions led to new pages in the FOA online Guide to expand on the answers and have been archived on the FOA website. Today the newsletter has about 20,000 readers per month and the questions keep coming, several every day.

FOA Guide

As the FOA Guide grew to nearly 1,000 pages of technical information and was used more and more, it rose to the top of web searches, increasing its audience even more. After twenty years of growth, the FOA Guide has nearly a half-million visitors each year downloading almost 4 million pages of technical information.

As the Internet became capable of supporting video, FOA offered tutorials online on many aspects of fiber optics. With the advent of YouTube, FOA created a YouTube channel, thefoainc, that hosts over 100 videos, including 50 lectures and an equal number of hands-on tutorials. The FOA YouTube channel has almost 20,000 subscribers and over 3 million views.

Online Education For Free

Fiber U

Along with the Fiber U technical material, the FOA obtained the name “Fiber U”, and used it to create an online self-study website,, inspired by the original Fiber U online created in 1997. Fiber U was one of the first online learning sites based on the work of a Boston school teacher who had developed it for Boston teachers. While he was a summer intern at FOTEC, he created Fiber U online based on the FOTEC/Fiber U online technical website, and it became an immediate success.

Since the FOA Online Guide was so extensive, FOA used Fiber U as a way to assist anyone wanting to learn about fiber optics and for experienced fiber techs to study before challenging the FOA CFOT exam without taking a training class. Several instructors, led by Professor Tom Collins, used Fiber U as part of a blended learning program for their college students, with online study replacing some classroom lectures, allowing in person classes to be primarily devoted to hands-on labs. While Fiber U has been a valuable way of assisting people learning about fiber optics and preparing for FOA certification, it is not used for direct certification, only as a learning aid. Actual certification requires training and/or taking an exam while proctored.

FOA Assistance With Fiber Optic Projects

Quite a few inquiries the FOA gets are about fiber optic network projects. The projects vary from metro traffic and surveillance networks, independent fiber to the home (FTTH), industrial (oil and gas, chemical, automotive, etc.), government/military and much more. FOA provides free advice on a technical level and contacts needed for the projects.

FTTH has been a popular topic and FOA has assisted in projects as diverse as Southern Fiberworx, a FTTH project done entirely internally by a real estate developer and Anza Electric Cooperative’s project in the CA mountains that became known as “fiber to the ranch.” Other FTTH projects have been in areas as diverse as Lebanon and South Africa. FOA has also been involved in optical LANs based on FTTH technology that has become very popular in the government, medical and hospitality fields.

FOA provides this assistance at no cost, considering it part of our original charter as a professional society. Of course, all the projects require qualified technicians to design, install and operate them, thus promoting the FOA and its certifications, Many of the projects also require training personnel which benefits the FOA network of approved schools and its certification programs. And the FOA network of advisors often take over to provide assistance to the projects locally.

All of this work, the free technical reference materials and online training, assistance in answering inquiries and providing contacts has made FOA the center of fiber optic activity and a trusted source of information.

Partnerships And Affiliates

FOA’s expertise in the fiber optic field has led to partnerships with other organizations wanting to provide their groups with that training. Several members of the FOA founders and early advisors (Hayes, Elliott, Graham, Collins) were involved with the IBEW/NECA NJATC telecom/low voltage apprenticeship program, the largest technical apprenticeship program in the US. FOA became a partner with the NJATC to assist them in developing their program in fiber optics, participating in their annual National Training Institute for instructors, and has trained hundreds of JATC instructors who teach for the FOA CFOT at over 30 local union apprenticeship training centers.

FOA works with IMSA, a century-old professional society for traffic control engineers to provide CFOT certification. The Communications Workers of American Alliance uses FOA certifications to ensure competence for their workers. FOA is now assisting IPC, a trade association for manufacturers of hardware primarily for aerospace industry, create a fiber optic certification program. FOA has worked with EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, to create a Strategic Guide To Fiber Optics for their member utility companies.

Fiber optic manufacturers like Corning and Clearfield, telecommunications companies around the world like Cincinnati Bell and Etisalat in UAE and many more use FOA programs for training and certifying employees and customers.

Hundreds of companies, agencies and organizations worldwide use FOA certifications as a measure of competence for employees and contractors. FOA-certified techs build telecom landline and wireless networks, CATV systems, utility networks, data centers, explore for oil and gas, operate remote-operated vehicles for undersea exploration, build military strategic and tactical networks and hundreds of other applications, literally from pole to pole.

Standards And Technology

FOA has been involved with standards programs for many years. FOA is a member of the TIA and ANSI and a participant in the TIA TR-42 committee on fiber optics and cabling. Jim Hayes is the usual FOA representative in the standards committees as he has been involved with developing fiber optic standards since 1983 at TIA, ANSI and several military standards groups. While at FOTEC, the fiber optic test equipment he founded in 1980, he convinced the US National Bureau of Standards that a standard was necessary for fiber optic measurements leading to the NBS/NIST program for calibrating optical power. He is the original author of EIA/TIA standards FOTP-95 and OFSTP-7/14 and a contributor to numerous other standards dating back to the 1980s. Other FOA members have been actively involved in standards, including founding member Jim Davis who was the project leader of the military standards group NAVSEA-56ZC until his retirement.

FOA partnered with NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) in their NEIS (National Electrical Installation Standards) program to create ANSI/NECA/FOA-301, a standard for the installation of fiber optic cable plants. Today FOA maintains an active role in the TIA and monitors other standards groups for information important to the fiber optic field. FOA helps explain their meaning and importance to the readers of its technical materials. FOA is considering becoming an active ANSI standards member and creating standards for fiber optic network installation.
FOA has worked with organizations like the US Department of Labor to create job descriptions for fiber optic techs and assist in standards for workplace certifications.

FOA advisors had a long history participating in industry standards and co-operative R&D projects. The organization has taken on several technical projects itself in topics of interest to the fiber optic industry, many in the field of testing. Pearson and Hayes investigated the correlation of optical loss test sets (OLTS) and optical time domain reflectometers (OTDR) in multimode tests with mode conditioners. Terry O’Malley, an FOA advisor who created and gave training at AT&T on OTDRs has done several projects to show how OTDR traces show events of interest such as low reflection APC connectors and the condition of the end of an optical fiber that is broken. Joe Botha in South Africa did projects with his students on splicing dissimilar singlemode fibers. Two FOA advisors, Bill Graham and Ian Gordon Fudge, have a ongoing contest of who can do training closest to the North Pole and they share their experiences in cold-weather applications through the FOA newsletter and website.

As a certifying body, FOA has been following the guidelines of ISO/IEC 17024, the international standard for certifying bodies, following its guidelines to create a better certification program.



As of July 2020, our 25th Anniversary, FOA has certified more than 81,000 technicians who have achieved over 110,000 certifications. FOA has approved schools offering FOA certifications in more than 40 countries around the world. Besides the US, FOA instructors teach in locations as varied as First Nation villages in the Canadian Arctic, villages in Greenland, the Middle East, most countries in Africa, South America and Asia. FOA’s Advisory Board has members in the US and Canada, Copenhagen, DK, Durban, SA, Singapore, Nairobi, Cairo, and more, assuring the FOA maintains an international perspective on the fiber optic field.

This section has been archived on the FOA website to cover FOA History.

FOA's Longest Active CFOTs

As part of our 25th anniversary, FOA tracked down the earliest CFOTs still active in the industry - many more than 20 years. Those marked * are still active educators!

We are probably missing some that did not respond to our emails or are not listed as active in our certificants list, so it you think you belong in this group, please email us!

*Jim Hayes #001
*Eric Pearson #005
*Peter Olders #013
Bruce Trefethen, CFOT #017
Ron Blanding #106
Craig S. Danielson #107
*Bob Kinney #115
*Bill Graham #168
Dominick Tambone #237
*Milt Murry #545
Michael L. Masucci #737
Ron Hanes #752
David Engebretson #773
*William “Van” Ewert #1076
*Tom Norwood #1125
*Guy Sanford #1177
*Ron Szpila #1253
*George Lister #1684
*Leonard Wasser #1685
*Levi West #1821
Julie K #2035
Juan D. Hinojosa #2122
*Tom Collins #3368
*David Schaefer #6800
*Anthony Flaris #
*Jimmy Franko #1000052

Paul Jimenez #138000
Robert Dancy #1420015

Comments From Some Of The People Who Helped Build The FOA

John Highhouse: I just remember us at our first meeting discussing the importance of putting together a certification program that had real standards and not just some "mail order certification".  I believe it worked quite well as evidenced by the high regard people have for the FOA name.  Thanks for all you've done for the industry.  I honestly think that you got the ball rolling and kept it straight down the alley.  Congrats for 25 excellent years.

Joe Botha: An educational association reputation is something that you should consider when choosing a place to study. You should focus your attention on those that have name recognition and are known the world over for being “good”. The FOA embodies “good”. FOA is particularly known for its more than ample online resources. Access to approachable, helpful, and passionate about their subject matter experts. And you will be able to find amongst a wide selection, the right course or mix of courses to suit your interests and career ambitions.

Bob Ballard: Happy 25th Anniversary to the FOA - my past business "partners"!  I would like to say, "thank you" for your many years of dedication to the fiber optics industry and may it continue its growth in the future - especially during these uncertain times.  You have provided this industry with an endless supply of professional guidance, course curriculums, and market knowledge. 

I would like to offer a very special "thank you" for allowing me to be a part of your organization for the past 17 years.  Now, in my retirement from the fiber optics industry, I look back on the extremely successful opportunities your organization allowed me to be a part of.  The overall growth and success of my company can only be attributed to your efforts to provide only the best and most current fiber optics training curriculums available anywhere in the world.  Thus, the FOA allowed me to use these materials, its guidance and its website to build one of the largest and most successful fiber optics training companies in the world.  Unfortunately, times, circumstances, and opportunities have changed and, while the current road is not as clear as it was in the early days, the FOA is there to assist and, hopefully, will be there for many more years to come.

Thank you FOA for many past years of success in this great industry.

Bill Graham: While Fiber Optic training was my main occupation, I found myself involved in many other industries such as mines, nuclear, aviation, industrial machines, homes and many places using optical fiber, in many case of odd types and sizes of fiber. Work in this field took me to the USA, Europe, Caribbean, Baffin Island and the furthest First Nation reserves in Northern Canada.

I joined the Fiber Optic Association and became a Director.  I found myself part of a group of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. The original group represented many facets of the industry. Jim and Karen Hayes took the lead and have to be credited with the original organization of the FOA as well as their dedication bringing the FOA to the present state. The industry owes them a debt of gratitude.
The rest of the years to this date have been terrifically exciting, learning new technics in an ever changing, life-long learning industry and meeting great people as students and as vendors. All in all, it has been an exciting trip and I am eternally grateful to all the great people with whom I have been associated with over the years.

And from FOA Director Jerry Morla, a relative newcomer to FOA (2008): Over the last 25 years, the FOA has incessantly worked to deliver on its mission of professionalizing the fiber optics industry. After over two decades, de FOA has achieved to contribute to the development of hundreds of thousands of fiber optic technicians and industry professionals around the world, resulting in direct impact and quality gains for stakeholders at of levels of the telecom industry. We are extremely thankful with everyone that has contributed to these achievements, especially our instructors and schools that have partnered with us throughout this endeavor. As the world goes through unprecedented times and increasing reliance on broadband networks and fiber optic professionals for ensuring continuance of services, overcoming global challenges, and continue improving our way of life, the FOA will continue to illuminate the way by sharing knowledge, skills building, and professional development opportunities with colleagues and apprentices from all over the world.

And from Bee and Isaac at 100G:


Want to add your comments? Send them to jim @


What Does This Mean?   7/2020

Google Fiber To Expand - First New City In 4 years

Google Fiber is in the news again, agreeing to become a user of West Des Moines, Iowa's conduit system to install a FTTH system. This will be the first system GF has announced in 4 years after some difficulties in other cities. There should be fewer problems with installation here since fiber ill be pulled in the conduits owned by the city but not yet built. GF will cover part of the construction cost and be the first tenant but others may use the conduits also, paying the city a leasing fee. The city estimates it will take 2.5 years to install all the conduits.

Read more from the City of West Des Moines.

You Knew This Was Coming!   7/2020

Verizon wants to retire copper facilities in parts of Virginia, Maryland and New England

Verizon is asking the FCC for permission to retire copper networks throughout its service territory in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Some of these filings can be found in this FCC notice.

Verizon will no longer support copper in these exchanges and will stop doing any maintenance on copper. The company intends to move people who still are served by copper over to fiber and is not waiting for the FCC notice period to make such conversions.

Read more on POTS and PANS  

Fiber Optic Association schools work with their communities    7/2020

Techtricians, a Fiber Optic Association School owned by a FOA Board member Thomas Collins, has donated snacks and cards to two essential worker Hospitals. 


We salute all essential workers who are all heroes in our eyes.

Incredible Prices On Media Converters    7/2020

An unsolicited email from a supplier - printed without comment:

10/100M Fiber Media Converter, 20km, SC port, Single Mode, 1310nm
4.3USD/PC  (That's $4.30 each)

10/100/1000M Fiber Media Converter, 20km, SC port, Single Mode, 1310nm
(That's $8.50 each)

Limiting Broadband Investment to "Rural Only” Discriminates Against Black Americans and other Communities of Color - NDIA    7/2020

The federal government’s existing broadband programs target tens of billions of dollars to expand broadband availability for residents of “unserved and underserved” rural areas, while studiously ignoring tens of millions of urban Americans who still lack high-speed internet service.

Internet By Income - NDIA

Nevertheless, other than limited use of federal COVID-19 emergency funds in the last two months to help provide connectivity for unconnected students in urban schools, all federal dollars appropriated to bridge the digital divide among U.S. households since 2013 have been devoted to rural broadband infrastructure deployment.

National Digital Inclusion Alliance

A Danger You Should Think About   7/2020

Fiber construction worker killed, 3 others seriously injured by driver in Fort Collins, Colorado

One construction worker was killed and three others seriously injured after a driver veered off the road and hit the men Friday morning, according to a release from Fort Collins Police. The driver of the truck was arrested and is facing charges including vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

The men were working for AEG Construction, a contractor for Connexion, the City of Fort Collins Broadband provider.

More from The Coloradan, Ft. Collins, Colorado

What Were They Thinking?   7/2020

Aerial messes on Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA. July 2020. That must be 2-300m of cable! They were only there a month but really?

PCH aerial

PCH aerial

Recycling Fiber Optic Cable - Contact:
Steve Maginnis
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit website)


On fiber optic technology, standards, equipment, installation, etc.

The FOA Update Page covers all the new technology and applications we covered in this newsletter recently. Now you can review all that new tech at once.

FOA Guide

Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

dB Update - Mystery Solved!   7/2020

Executive Summary: IEC changed the definition of attenuation to make it a positive number in defiance of mathematical and metrological standards, centuries of mathematical history and common sense.

To Change The Negative Sign For Loss, Just Change The Definition! Who Cares If Everybody Else Does It Differently....

Just recently FOA was reviewing a new proposed update for FOTP-78 IEC 60793-1-40 Optical Fibres - Part 1-40: Measurement Methods and Test Procedures - Attenuation. This FOTP might be the most-referenced FOTP since it deals with measuring attenuation, something that dozens of FOTPs use in their testing of components. I started reviewing this document by skimming the Terms And Definitions, where I was stopped by Section 3.1 which defined attenuation.

The classic attenuation equation was different.
Attenuation equation chagned
where (quoting from the standard)
  • A is the attenuation, in dB
  • P1 is the optical power traversing cross-section 1 (e.g. before the attenuation you are measuring - what we would call the "0dB" reference in testing cables)
  • P2 is the optical power traversing cross-section 2. (e.g. after the attenuation you are measuring - what we would call the measurement of loss in testing cables)
Note 1 to entry: Attenuation is a measure of the decreasing optical power in a fibre at a given wavelength. It depends on the nature and length of the fibre and is also affected by measurement conditions.

As we traced this definition in other IEC standards, we find they are variations of this, and one specifically states that it expresses attenuation as a positive term. 

So there you have it - why attenuation is positive - and therefore gain - like a gainer on an OTDR - is a negative number. The IEC standards just turned the measurement upside down - reversing "Measured Power" and "Reference Power" to get the term to become a positive number in dB when it's attenuation.

And I might add, they are unique. See
References below. Undoubtedly some instrument manufacturer wanted the definition that way and had no broad knowledge of measurement convention. Nor did they understand fiber optic power meters.

At least now we know where the confusion lies.

Three issues:

There are several reasons to object to this from a mathematical and measurement standpoint. When you measure something against a reference, it's common to divide the measured value by the reference. Thus if something is getting smaller, like attenuation, and the change is the measured value decreases by 50% or half, you expect the ratio of powers to be a number less than 1 because the value has decreased, in this case the ration would be 1/2 or 0.5 0r 50%.

Consider what happens when using the equation above. If P1 is the reference and P2 the value after it decreases, the ratio for the example above would be 2. Wouldn't anybody assume that the measured value had increased instead of decreased it the ratio was 2? 

Second: There are several reasons to object to this from a mathematical and measurement standpoint. When you measure something against a reference, it's common to divide the measured value by the reference - like we do defining dBm where the reference is 1mw.

dBm definition
We checked and the TIA and IEC standards for measuring power, FOTP-95, still defines dBm this way. That's good, because we're used to negative dBm being power smaller than 1mW and positive dBm being power larger than 1mW.

However if one makes an attenuation measurement using a fiber optic power meter calibrated in dB and you used the "Zero" control to set the reference
, the resulting measurement of loss will be a negative number. Likewise if you measure the two powers in dBm, the resulting measurement of loss will be a negative number, if you understand negative numbers.

Remember dBm is defined as Power(measured)/Power(1mw) (see FOTP-95, Sec. 6.2) and if dBm were defined in this upside down manner, power levels below 1mW would be positive numbers, not negative as they are now, and power levels above 1mW would be negative! How's that for confusing.

Third: The definition assumes you are making measurements in linear units - Watts, milliwatts or microwatts, then calculating dB. Does anyone do that anymore? We don't think so. Instruments measure in dB and dBm. Recognizing that, some standards actually tell you how to calculate using simple subtraction of dB or dBm measurements but reverse the values so loss is positive and gain negative.

Maybe it's time to drop the definition from the standards or at least provide descriptions of how one makes measurements in dB.

References: The method for calculation of attenuation in dB IEC uses in these fiber optic standards is definitely not how measurements are normally defined. In fact we looked at several dozen websites and the result was 100% - attenuation is a negative value.
Rapid tables  
Wikipedia- If P is greater than P0 then LP is positive; if P is less than P0 then LP is negative.  
Wikipedia - definitions of the International Systems of Quantities - If P is greater than P0 then LP is positive; if P is less than P0 then LP is negative
TonTechnik-Rechner - see Electric Power (telephone)  
UC San Diego Neurophysics - they get it! - (-3dB = half power)  
UC Santa Cruz - with the measured value less than the reference, we get a negative dB value 
Henry Ott Consultants -  The unit can be used to express power gain (P2>P1), or power loss (P2<P1) -- in the latter case the result will be a negative number.
Electronics Notes - Where there is a loss, the deciBel equation will return a negative value  

dB or dBm -Still Confusing 4/2020 -


The second most missed question on FOA/Fiber U online tests concerns dB, that strange logarithmic method we use to measure power in fiber optics (and radio and electronics and acoustics and more...). We've covered the topic several times in our Newsletter but there still seems to be confusion. So we're going to give you a clue to the answers and hopefully help you understand dB better.

These are all correct statements with the percentage of test takers who know the answer is correct.

The most answered correctly: dBm is absolute power relative to 1mw of power (78.8% correct. Does "absolute" confuse people? It's just "power" but absolute in contrast to "relative power" which is loss or gain measured in dB.)

This one is answered correctly less than half the time: dBm is absolute power like the output of a transmitter. (41.5% correct, see comment above.)

This one does often get answered correctly: The difference between 2 measurements in dBm is expressed in dB. (23.8% correct)

Here is an example of a power meter measuring in dBm and microwatts (a microwatt is 1/1000th of a milliwatt.)

Watts to dBm

Here is an example of the conversion of watts to dBm. This meter is reading 25microwatts - that's 0.025milliwatts. If we convert to dBm, it becomes -16.0dBm. We can easily figure this out using dB power ratios. -10dBm is 1/10 of a milliwatt or 0.100mW. -6dB below that is a factor of 0.25 so 0.1mW X 0.25 = 0.025mW or 25microwatts. The other way to figure it is -10dB is 1/10 and -6dB is 0.25 or 1/4th (remember 3dB = 1/2, so 6dB = 3dB + 3dB = 1/2  X 1/2 = 1/4) so -16dBm is 1/40milliwatt or 0.025milliwatts or 25microwatts.

Read a more comprehensive explanation of dB here in the FOA Guide.

Ever Wonder What Splices For OPGW Look Like?    7/2020

FOA Instructor and full time installer Jane Bailey sent us this photo of some recent work splicing OPGW. Very interesting! Note the incoming cables and the rugged fiber tubes in the closure.

Splicing OPGW

Splice-On Connector Manufacturers and Tradenames   7/2020

Eric Pearson shared a list he has researched of prepolished splice connectors with mechanical splices and SOC - splice-on connectors for fusion splicing. This list shows how widepread the availability of these connectors has become, especially the SOCs and low cost fusion splicers.

Mechanical Splice
1.    Corning Unicam® (50, 62.5, SM)
1.    FIS Cheetah (???)
2.    Panduit OptiCam® (50, 62.5, SM)
3.    Commscope Quik II  (50, 62.5, SM)
4.    Cleerline SSF™ (50, SM)
5.    LeGrand/Ortronics Infinium® (50, 62.5, SM)
6.    3M/Corning CrimpLok (50, 62.5, SM)
7.    Leviton FastCam© (50, 62.5, SM)

Fusion Splice
2.    Inno (50, 62.5, SM)
3.    Corning FuseLite® (50, SM)
4.    FORC (50, 62.5, SM)
5.    Siemon OptiFuse ™ (SM, MM)
6.    Belden OptiMax?? FiberExpress (SM, MM)
7.    AFL FuseConnect® (SM, MM)
8.    OFS optics EZ!Fuse ™ (50, 62.5, SM)
9.    Sumitomo Lynx2 Custom Fit® (50, 62.5, SM)
10.    Commscope Quik-Fuse (50, SM)
11.    Ilsintech Pro, Swift® (50, 62.5, SM)
12.    LeGrand/Ortronics Infinium® (50, 62.5, SM)
13.    Greenlee (50, 62.5, SM)
14.    Hubbell Pro  (50, SM)
15.    Easysplicer (SM)

Note: There are additional manufacturers from the Peoples Republic of China, which advertise on Amazon and eBay.

The Times They Are A Changin' (fiber optics, that is) 6/2020

(With kudos to Bob Dylan who is releasing a new album this month at the young age of 79!)

What we mean by that title is that in technology things change. In recent times we've seen a lot of change in fiber optics and recent standards meetings and discussions with some of the FOA technical advisors have amplified some of these changes, as we report here, such as the issue of mulimode vs singlemode fiber above and the topics below.

Connectors: Nobody ever wanted to polish fiber optic connectors in the field - ever - and that only worked with multimode fiber anyway - singlemode polishing was too critical to be done in the field. Long ago, factory made terminations with a mechanical splice in the back of the ferrule became available. We called them prepolished/splice connectors. But they were tricky. The secret to a good termination was a good cleave and good cleavers were expensive.

Over time, better termination kits made the connectors lower loss and easier to install. Now the inexpensive cleavers reviewed above make these connectors work better, but the combination of a connector and a mechanical splice mean they are still expensive. And mechanical splices generally work better with multimode fiber than singlemode fiber.

More recently, fusion splice-on connectors (SOCs) have become available. Instead of a connector plus mechanical splice, you have a connector with a pigtail that you fusion splice on to a fiber to terminate it. Eliminating the mechanical splice reduces the cost considerably. The fusion splicer has also become much less expensive also, making this a very popular choice for singlemode fiber where you must have a fusion splicer anyway. They are available for multimode and singlemode, but the big price advantage is with singlemode.

Testing Multimode Fiber and Bend-Insensitive Fiber: A decade ago when bend-insensitive multimode fiber (BI MMF) first became available, it was not well understood. Since this was the era of the adoption of "encircled flux" as a new method of specifying mode control for MM testing, the unknown effects of BI fiber on modes was not well understood.  As a result, BI MMF was prohibited for use in reference test cables when testing, even if testing BI MMF in most standards for testing. That prohibition made little sense since no fibers were marked as BI or non-BI and since most MM fiber was BI, finding non-BI fiber for test cables was problematic. And nobody really knew about this issue anyway.

FOA has been asking questions about this issue regularly in standards committees. At a TIA meeting held online recently, Fluke presented data that showed only minor differences between tests made with reference test cables with regular (non-BI) and BI MMF.  This realization is making its way through standards committees now, so this issue is going away.

OLTS vs OTDR Testing: This is a bit of a bigger issue than the one above and the subject of many discussions and articles over the years. In recent discussions with Eric Pearson and some other FOA advisors covering the OLTS/OTDR issue as well as the issue of loss budgets, the consensus was this should not be a issue, either OLTS or OTDR data should be acceptable if the testing is done properly.

"Done properly" means OTDR testing uses both a launch and a receive reference cable, meaning it is not a single-ended test.

Understanding the combined measurement uncertainty has made this a non-issue. For multimode fiber, the total loss of a typical link is only 2-3dB since premises cabling networks are short and multimode fiber loss is lower than in the past - nearer 2dB/km than 3dB/km on modern fibers. The uncertainty of such low loss measurement with either instrument is small enough that either measurement will give a good indication of the quality of the fiber. The same is true for premises SM fiber in a data center or passive optical LAN.

The same is true for OSP singlemode fiber where the OTDR loss measurement is going to be made anyway to verify splices on concatenated cables. Longer cables are probably be tested for fiber characterization also, so lots of data will be available for judging the condition of individual fibers.

Eric Pearson makes another good point. His experience is that fibers are either good or bad, usually really bad, not just slightly so. If the tech doing the testing has good cleaning discipline, the connectors are cleaned and inspected, so a failure might be a poorly installed prepolished/splice connector, and that's likely to be quite bad. If the connectors are field-polished on multimode fiber, careful inspection is extremely important to insure connectors were installed properly.

We'll finish with Eric's conclusion: And if reasonable care is taken, both LSPM/OLTS and OTDR tests will give “useful" results. The purpose of measurements is to accept or reject the installed products. With that understanding, the explanations of the subtleties are not critical to the installers, for whom I write. That being said, the key qualifier is 'if reasonable care'

Conclusion: Technology changes but one thing does not. With all the topics above, the results are all dependent on the knowledge and skill of the technician. Experienced technicians need to stay up to date and novices need to be trained correctly. That's the focus of the FOA. When founded almost 25 years ago - next month is our anniversary - the charter was to "Promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards." Still is.

But then, another mystery shows up:
Eric Pearson brought up a new issue with standards. This concerns the use of a singlemode mode filter; a small loop to remove higher order modes from singlemode fiber for testing. When a laser source launches into a singlemode fiber, the fiber may carry more than one mode for a short distance, say up to 100m. To prevent this affecting measurements, standards have generally specified a mode filter in the launch cable created with a small loop in the fiber, around 30mm.

Back in the 90s, the standards had a 2” loop and referenced FOTP-77. FOTP-77 was allowed to expire in 2003 and sometime later the loop became 30mm/1.3”. Now it seems to have disappeared from some international standards (Eric says IEC 61280-4-2 has no requirement for the loop) but remains in some US standards like FOTP-171, sec 3.3. Phil Irwin of Panduit, head of the TIA TR42.11 standards committee, noted that FOTP-34, the standard for measuring components loss, e.g. connectors, and FOTP-171B (patchcords) include this mode filter before and after the component under test.

Another topic for another time. We will continue investigating this.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator On A Web Page 5/2020

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We recently discovered how to get a spreadsheet ported to a Web page, so we created this web page that calculates loss budgets. We have an iOS loss budget app, but with this web page, you can calculate loss budgets from any device, smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that has web browsing capability.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator 

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

Worth Reading

Each month we read hundreds of newsletters and online articles. These are the ones we think you will find "worth reading."

Worth Reading: The Role Of Cooperatives In Connecting Rural America 7/2020

Kindle version of Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v10,


Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies announces availability of an Kindle version of Professional Fiber Optic Installation, v10, his training, certification and reference manual. With 35 chapters and 609-pages, this well organized, easy-to-read and convenient-to-use kindle-book is good study material for 11 Fiber Optic Association certification examinations.

If the internet was a utility, could more cities provide it? Marketplace on NPR interviews Katie Espeseth, the vice president of new products for Chatanooga's EPB. She says that internet access is a utility.

Infinera explains why 600G is here and saves service providers money. Worth reading just to find out that coherent transmission can go 5,000-7,500km at amazing speeds!

Make or Break: How Cabling is Key to the Future of the Data Center - To cope with bandwidth demand over the next couple of years, operators need to look at technology that can successfully implement 400G optics, enabling market trends to be adopted with ease.

Infrastructure Get Some Respect, NY TImes "On Tech"   "The magic of the internet requires a lot of very boring stuff behind the scenes. "

Adams Fiber Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Expansion Grant - Adams Fiber (Illinois) has been awarded over $4.9M from the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program. This broadband access deployment is slated to begin in Spring of 2021 and will serve approximately 1,106 households, businesses, farms, and anchor institutions in rural areas

Cullman Electric Cooperative to Grow Connectivity in Rural Alabama With Sprout Fiber Internet - Alabama-based Cullman Electric Cooperative recently launched its new Fiber-to-the-Home network Sprout Fiber Internet. The first phase of the co-op’s project will extend the Sprout Fiber Internet network to 12,000 of those members, making gigabit Internet access available to both residents and businesses.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) Newsletter. (Don't miss their rant about AT&T and other monopoly service providers.)

From the June FOA Newsletter, but worth repeating:

“For nearly 100 years, cooperatives have been the most successful model for connecting rural Americans to the utilities they need to keep their homes, businesses, farms and schools running,” said Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).

From Cooperatives Essential to Bringing High-Quality Fiber Internet Access to Rural America

Read the ILSR report on coops here:
Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era

A few important takeaways:

  • More than 210 cooperatives across the country offer gigabit Internet access to residents and businesses.
  • 82% of North Dakota and 53% of South Dakota landmass is served by fiber from cooperatives, and residents enjoy some of the fastest Internet access speeds in the nation.
  • Since 2017, some states have eased restrictions on cooperative broadband networks, while others have gone even further by enacting legislation to facilitate the deployment of cooperative broadband networks. 
  • A series of local stories highlights how broadband has changed lives by improving access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. 
  • Cooperatives have proven that this is a model that works. With increased support from federal and state governments, they will continue to connect Americans in rural areas to economic and educational opportunities otherwise denied to them.

Read the full report here.

Look at the ILSR Newsletter too - it covers rural broadband projects well.

Worth Reading - News Summary - Past Links Worth Repeating

Next Generation PoE (Nexans) The New Power over Ethernet Standards Deliver More Power, Speed, and Efficiency

Demystifying 5G (Corning):  Do you know 5G’s 3 major benefits, 8 technical goals that deliver those benefits, and 4 technology building blocks that meet the technical goals?

Pentagon official: FCC decision on 5G threatens GPS, national security

Smithville Communications and SCI REMC have begun building a fiber-optic project that will deliver high-speed broadband Internet to residents and businesses in Monroe, and Owen Counties, Ind. The first phase of the project will be completed in 2023 and will serve 3,400 residents and businesses in the region. “This joint project will help both companies move forward in closing the digital divide in rural areas by providing high-speed, highly reliable fiber-based Internet connectivity,” said Darby McCarty, Chairman and CEO of Smithville.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has awarded $5.1 million to improve high-speed Internet access in 15 areas throughout the state. The grant money comes from the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which was created to help broadband providers extend service into unserved areas of the state.

3 Good Articles This Month in CI&M - Cabling for Wireless and POE

Internet Statistics and Facts, 2020: Interesting, easy to get lost here!

Understanding The True State Of Connectivity In America - 65% of US counties receive broadband speeds below industry reports.

Why Businesses Need Fiber Connectivity, from Spectrum CATV. Yes, it's a sales pitch, but they make good points and it indicates they are serious.

DIRT Report On Damage To Utilities Common Ground Alliance (CGA) annual DIRT report provides a summary and analysis of the events submitted into CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) for the year 2018. The complete report is available for download here. In addition, there is an interactive dashboard that allows users to filter the data more  by factors contributing to damages.

Structured Cabling News - a website and weekly newsletter about cabling.

The Internet Master Plan for New York City. The New York City Internet Master Plan is a comprehensive framework for the infrastructure and services that provide connectivity to New York City residents and businesses. This Master Plan will guide City actions and public-private partnerships to transform New Yorkers’ access to this essential infrastructure for generations to come.

Corning Has Removed The "Dust" from "Dust Caps."
Corning "CleanAdvantage(tm) Edge cables have factory cleaned connectors and caps to keep them clean.

Fiber Trivia From Corning.

Why understanding PoE now is crucial for electricians - To ring in the new decade, IDEAL Networks is urging today's electricians to master new skills and equipment to cope with the growing use of PoE in intelligent lighting applications.

Smart City Projects: Smart city initiatives are underway across the country. But they face funding and technology challenges. Many cities want to upgrade infrastructure to improve resident experience, safety and to generate revenue.

The Future Of Work Is Skills - So Stop Worrying About Degrees - The reality is the future of work is about skills, not just degrees. (FOA Newsletter Feb 2020)

Want a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an Apprentice (NYTimes)
Apprenticeships probably began with the first jobs, where young people work under experienced craftspeople to learn a trade. In the last century, they became more organized under labor unions like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the FOA's oldest and biggest approved school systems. Today, apprenticeships are expanding as young people look at viable alternatives to loading themselves with debt while attending college.

The job market is hot. So why are half of U.S. grads missing out?  

VIAVI Books On Fiber Optic Testing (2 volumes) - They're back!

books  book 2

Besides the FOA reference materials, two JDSU/VIAVI textbooks, Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Testing, Volumes 1 and 2,  were used as references for some of the FOA courses and are recommended for instructors and students. The books are available from VIAVI as eBooks and the everyone should download them and recommend them to others.Download yours now. Volume 1. Volume 2. Viavi Books

50th Anniversary of The Development of Low Loss Fibers
A history of the development of low loss fiber, a fascinating story by Jeff Hecht on the OSA (Optical Society of America) website.

How OFS Makes Fiber

Interesting YouTube video on how fiber is made. Perhaps a little too much "show biz" but fascinating. If you have ever seen fiber manufacture, look at this video. You will be amazed at how big preforms have become!

How Nexans Makes Copper Cables - compare the process to fiber - don't most of the machines look similar?

The True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or target practice can cost)

Rural Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues, June 2019.

Ckearfield-FOA Certification Training Clearfield is now offering their customers an FOA CERTIFICATION course. This course provides a basic understanding of fiber optic technology, as well as Clearfield product knowledge and how Clearfield’s integrated product systems work together in a fiber network.

Substandard Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle Down  (EC Mag)

Another Source Of Articles On Fiber

FOA President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been writing a column in Electrical Contractor Magazine for almost 20 years now. Electrical contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered some topics they are interested in including installation processes, network design, fiber applications and a lengthy series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to and you can see all of them.


Tech Questions/Comments From FOA Newsletter Readers Worth Repeating

The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQs = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general interest.

Good Question!

The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQ s = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us and adds tech topics of general interest.

Questions From FOA Newsletter Readers

July 2020

Kinking Cables
Q: i was pulling some MM fiber in pipe today and i had to go to a different riser a few floors below so i taped the fiber to a near by pipe to stop it from free falling. When my coworker a floor below took my remaining slack i went back to where i tied the fiber to the pipe and i noticed it was bent sharply going into the pipe but luckily i did not pull the cable hard once i felt it get tight. I pulled slack back and inspected the cable but there was no indentation or sign of a kink. Is this cable completely ruined,should i be concerned??. Its a multimode corning fiber.
A: The key is if the fibers in the cable test OK. Corning MM fiber is bend-resisitant fiber and is immune to most abuse. If it tests OK, you probably don’t need to worry about it.

Rodents Chewing Cables
Q: I wonder what you can tell me, or point me to, regarding rodents and optical cables. I know that rodents go for electrical cables, even low voltage. von Siemens had to dig up the first underground distance telegraph cable because they chewed through the gutta percha. And I know that their teeth keep growing, and chewing hard stuff, I guess including wire but not armor, apparently is part of what they're designed to do. But why fiber?
A: The issue with most cables, fiber or copper, is the plastic used for the jacket is soft and tastes good to rodents. The solution is to add armor over the first hacker and add another jacket to that. Or put the cable inside ducts. There have been attempts to make the plastic taste bad that as far as I know failed. In vaults underground, they put material in the bottom of the vault to prevent rodent entry.
I remember a great joke in the standards committees in the 80s was a description of the test for rodent penetration - probably from AT&T who had most standards before EIA/TIA or ISO. It was something like this - tow cages, one with standard-sized rodent, other with cable and door between. Rodent was starved for certain period and then released to chew cable for fixed period of time to determine cable’s vulnerability. The joke centered on the “standard rat."

June 2020

Multiplexing Signals
If a network has 4 10gig could they or can these be "bundled" into 40 gig??
A: You multiplex the signals - send one source of data as a packet in a time slot, then the next 3 in order. At the other end, you separate them into the original packets and send diverse ways. Of course, multiplexing the 10G signals into 40G requires speeding up the clock 4 times.

Installation Costs
Do you have any information regarding the cost of installing the fiber underground?
A: There is no one answer to your question. The cost of underground construction is a complex function of:
Geography: costs are like salaries, they vary depending on the locale, NY is much higher than Cordelle, GA for example), it’s cheaper where the ground is soft dirt vs rocky, not near wetlands, etc. Urban, suburban and rural areas are vastly different.
In addition, the cost of all the permits, getting “call before you dig” assistance and even police details during construction will be determined by the locale and can vary widely.
Installation type: trenching and burying conduit or ducts, trenching and direct burial, microtrenching with microducts and blowing in cable, directional boring or just pulling cable into existing ducts.
If the property owner or permit issuer requires “dig once” where the contractor installs a number of ducts (a very smart idea), the first installation costs more but later installs cost much less.
Then there is the cost of the cable, a function of cable construction, fiber type and number of fibers, number of splices or drops, etc.
The SOW (scope of work) should call for documentation and testing. If the SOW requires GIS data and comprehensive testing - and it should - the cost will reflect that.
So underground installation can cost perhaps as little as $15-20/ft to as much as $100-200/ft or more. Or as Google Fiber found in Nashville, underground is not possible when a town sits on bedrock.

May 2020
Lashing Aerial Cable With Cable Ties?
I am considering an electrical job installing fiber optic aerially on a messenger cable.
I have seen the cable tie method of lashing the fiber to the messenger. Would you recommend this method considering the cost of a lashing machine for a single project and if so what would be a good distance between ties for the proper support of the fiber to the cable.
A: The normal way to attach an aerial cable to a messenger is lashing the cable with stainless steel wire. If you use cable ties, you would need ensure the cable doesn’t droop and the cable ties are designed for outdoor use in the sun over a long time (stainless steel ones are available). How long is the span? If it’s more than 100 feet, I think I would go with lashing. If you don’t have a lasher, you can rent one. You will need a bucket truck anyway.

Power Budget For PON
Do you have any information on guidelines for avoiding over saturation in a PON network? Our ONTs have a power window of between -8dBm and -27dBm.  OLT transceivers transmit at around 4dBm.  So our designers budget for no more than 28dB of loss. However, some ignore the -8dBm maximum power spec.  With a short run from OLT to ONT and a small splitter, installers are sometimes seeing light levels at the ONT at around -6 to -7dBm. What would you recommend as a minimum loss budget in this case?  Do we need margin?
A: The GPON spec does have a max power at the ONT generally expressed as a minimum loss in the cable plant - 13dB for GPON. There is a graph about halfway down this page ( that shows a graph of BER vs Receiver power. To have a link work properly, it must have sufficient power to be above the minimum S/N - signal to noise - ratio for the link but not so much power that it saturates the receiver.
This is a very common situation in telco networks where links are designed for relatively long distances but may be used on short ones - e.g. a 40km link being used over 10km in a city. Their solution is simple - add an attenuator ( Lots of these links use attenuators.
In a PON, there are several ways to go. 1) Brute force - test each ONT and add attenuators as needed. Techs could carry a selection of 5dB or 10dB attenuators to get at least to the 13dB minimum needed. 2) Rather than require testing at each ONT, have the designer do a loss budget based on the link length and specify a minimum splitter in the link (8:1 would probably work well) which would probably be cheaper than testing and adding lots of attenuators.
Midspan Drop Cables
I am working on a project that has 5 sections, consisting of 5 miles each section, CCTV, detectors, DMS connected by 192 count fiber.  We were directed to use the consultants plans from the first section as a guide for uniformity for the remaining contracts.  The attached fiber detail shows a 4 fiber drop cable going to the ITS device.  I was thinking to take all 12 fibers to the device and back for redundancy?  Also, if we did use the 4 fiber drop cable, I didn’t understand why they would splice the other 10 thru cables and instead leave them intact? Is there a preferred method for a drop cable to a device or just preferences?
A: We are not sure why they do it the way they do. Perhaps the designer was not familiar with midspan access which would preclude having to make the other splices. Using a 12 fiber drop cable would be more expensive and perhaps unnecessary unless the device being connected is in a location where a small cell site might be located. They may also have uses for those other fibers that require a connection through the drop point.  We”d suggest to the designer that midspan access might allow saving the 10 splices at each drop.


Dig Once

The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. Here are some links:

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:
From the Council of State governments:
From the city of San Francisco:
An article about Dakota County, MN:

And the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative:

Fiber Optic Cable Plant - The Finished Product 4/2020
In April, FOA received inquiries from several sources that all deal with the same subject - what is involved in the specification and acceptance of a cable plant at the end of a installation project. And what are reasonable specifications for a cable plant.

FOA has a lot of documentation on a project involving  designing and installing a cable plant in the FOA Online Guide and our Textbooks, but the acceptance process has usually been relegated to a few paragraphs. We decided to add a page on project "Deliverables" in the FOA Guide that covers this topic in more depth. This page looks at a project, goes into some depth on loss budgets and includes links to FOA tech documents to help you investigate further.

Correction: In the article, the original list of fiber specs for G.652 was wrong. It should be 0.4dB/km @ 1310nm.

Deliverables in the FOA Guide

Is There A Standard For Fiber Optic Installation?

Another question we get often is "Is there a standard for fiber optic installation." The answer is yes, but not from the usual standards groups you might expect. Over 20 years ago, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) asked FOA to help create a standard for installation. That standard, ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 has been updated three times already and is about ready for another update.

Unlike most of those groups who charge you a fortune for standards, FOA covers the cost so
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 is available free from FOA.

NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

Download your free copy of
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 here (PDF)

Older questions are now available here.

/ FiberU

News and resources to help you learn more and stay updated.

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.
Free online training at Fiber U

The FOA has >100 videos on videos

Welcome To A New International School

Natech Training, Tunisia, FOA Approved School #771

Training Is Back - Made Safer (6/2020)

FOA schools are starting to offer classes at their facilities again to provide the personal interaction with an instructor and hands-on labs, but some things have changed to provide social distancing. Serge Rodrigue at Fibre Zone in Quebec, Canada sent photos of his new lab setup that includes individual lab stations with plexiglass barriers.

safe lab at Fibre Zone

Students are following safe working protocols - masks and gloves - to make classes safe and meet local government requirements for social distancing.


Fibre Zone in Quebec, Canada for more information on their classes.

FiberNext in New Hampshire has also rearranged classrooms for safer classes and has begun training in their facilities in Concord, NH.


Contact FiberNext in Concord, NH, USA
or more information on their classes. Also ask about joining their CFOT Club for savings on products and training.


Fiber Optic Training Online - Simulations and Do-It-Yourself Hands-On Training (6/20)

Over the last few months, FOA has been very actively working on ways to deliver fiber optic training and perhaps even certification online. Along the way, we have evaluated new tools and components from non-traditional sources and made some interesting discoveries.

Online activities are nothing new to FOA, we've been online and a totally virtual organization since we were founded in 1995. (Watch for the 25th Anniversary coverage next month.)

Fiber U has been offering free online training based on the FOA knowledge base since 2008 and online Certificates of Completion tests for the courses since 2014. The challenge has been the hands-on labs. FOA certifications are based on our KSAs - the knowledge, skills and abilities defined as requirements for FOA certifications.

Online courses generally focus on knowledge; learning skills requires hands-on labs and that has been difficult to do online. But the FOA has some very creative instructors who have been actively working on this challenge and experimenting with some possible solutions. We've been evaluating these options ourselves and are ready to offer an option for our schools and Fiber U direct students.

Simulating Optical Loss Testing
FOA has been experimenting with simulations, especially for testing since test equipment is generally not inexpensive and requires a selection of cables for reference test cables and cables to test. We have had an OTDR Simulator based on the software for an OTDR and a selection of traces for analysis. Now we've created an optical loss simulator that uses some web programming to allow stepping through the process of setting up and testing a cable with a light source and power meter.

meter zero

The simulation provides virtual meter and source, inspection microscope, cleaners and a selection of cables needed for testing. In the animation above you can see one of the user interactions - the student must use the proper button to set the "0dB" reference.

The loss simulator also requires the student use the FOA Loss Budget Calculator to calculate the expected loss of a cable under test, compare it to the measured loss and make a Go/NoGo decision.

We even provide two versions of the simulator - singlemode and multimode. The singlemode version tests an OSP cable and then has the student compare OTDR traces to troubleshoot problems. The multimode version shows the effects of modal conditioning on multimode measurements.

At the end, we've even added a wrap-up of the techniques of loss testing and a quiz.

We added the loss simulator in the new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab for a virtual hands-on testing lab.

Check out the FOA Insertion Loss Simulator here.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Labs (6/20)

Several times in the FOA Newsletter we've discussed the Fiber U Basic Skills Lab. This online DIY lab course assumes you have your own equipment to use for the labs, but most novices, unless they work for a larger company already in fiber optics, will not have equipment. FOA instructors have found a solution: purchase inexpensive equipment online. What they have found are many low cost tools and components that are perfectly suited to training.

If you do not have tools or equipment and want to purchase them, there is a new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Those tools and components are what we describe here.

For example, you need a fiber cleaver for splices and prepolished/splice connectors. A good cleave is essential for a good splice or termination with a splice-type connection. Good cleavers are now available online at prices in the US starting at $20US. 


As with all the inexpensive cleavers offered online, it's a copy of a well-known brand. What's really surprising is how well they work. Here are two cleaves made with this cleaver viewed in a fusion splicer. Note the angles shown in the display.

splicer cleave angle

We're not the first ones to discover these cleavers. Most manufacturers offering prepolished/splice connectors with mechanical splices have already replaced the "stapler" or "beaver cleaver" in their tool kits with these better versions.

Besides the cleaver, another really good tool for learning or teaching is a visual fault locator. These devices used to be very expensive, but now are available online for $10-20.


Many online sellers offer sets of these tools in a kit for very low cost.

With plenty of tools available online, the next things you need are components to practice on. No problem here either. You need a patchcord, some mechanical splices and some prepolished/splice connectors. The connectors and splices are available from online sellers for ~$1 each, easy to afford plenty to practice on.

splice and connector for training

FOA has used all these available parts together into a do-it-yourself hands-on lab as part of the Fiber U Basic Skills Lab. You can do this yourself at a very low cost. We even provide directions on how to search for suppliers of these tools and components.

FOA has not exhaustively tested these tools or components enough to recommend them for field use. The work we did with them to create teaching labs shows they are certainly good enough to use for teaching the installation processes in a training lab. We suggest read the buyers reviews and do some of your own testing before using them for anything other than training and practice.

FOA Guide "Basics Of Fiber Optics" Now Available in Portuguese (6/2020)

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book

FOA has now translated the Basics of Fiber Optics textbook in our Online Guide into Portuguese, joining Spanish and French translations. For those speaking Portuguese, we have the technical information and for schools we also have curriculum available.

Here is the FOA Guide in Portuguese, Spanish and French translations.

Time To Learn - Online - (Update 4/5/6 2020)

Schools have generally been closed during the pandemic lock-downs, so FOA has been working with some of them to create new online learning experiences that can in some cases lead to certification online. FOA certifications are still based on the KSAs - knowledge from the classroom, skills from the labs and abilities judged by instructors or proven by actual experience.

Much of what we're doing benefits from the capabilities of "Zoom." Others have created videoconferencing apps, but none work so well, especially with limited bandwidth. We've seen remote labs that have an instructor showing students how to use the tools they were sent then watching them duplicate their actions. We have worked out methods to use Zoom to proctor FOA's online certification exams.

Blended Learning
While most FOA schools have suspended in-person training during this period, some are offering a "blended learning" option. That means that students sign up for a FOA certification course, take the classroom sessions on Fiber U with the assistance of a FOA certified instructor. Now online instruction can include reviewing the labs using the
Fiber U Basic Skills Labs, then when it's possible to attend classes at the school, complete the hands-on labs and take the FOA certification exam.

Online Remote Labs
Alternatively, some schools are experimenting with "remote labs," where the students get sent tool kits and components and labs are conducted by videoconferencing. Before the labs, the students may watch demos by their instructor on videoconferencing and/or review the relevant "virtual hands-on" lessons in the Fiber U
Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs  so they will already know the steps in the exercises.
And Fiber U has the new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Videoconferencing allows the instructor to remotely monitor their work and provide help as needed. Contact the FOA for more information.

FOA Zoom Exam Proctoring

Online Certification Testing
FOA has all its certification tests available online, both for use by our schools and by our direct "Work to Cert" applicants. All FOA certification tests require a proctor to oversee the applicant taking the exam. In this time of social distancing, getting a proctor can be difficult, so FOA now has procedures for online proctors administering the exam.
Contact the FOA for more information.
OJT - On-The-Job-Training
Many novices get a job and learn on the job. They usually have an experienced tech who helps them gain the knowledge and  learn the skills they need to perform their job. Thinking about this in relation to the 
FOA KSAs, the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by a fiber optic tech,  the tech will learn skills but not the basic knowledge that helps them understand the processes involved. FOA can offer help here, using our Fiber U online self-study programs. While the tech learns on the job, they become a Fiber U trainee, getting the knowledge they need, while working under their "mentor" at work. This is particularly good for contracting companies who need techs but do not have the usual training courses available. Interested in OJT programs? Contact FOA for more information.

Can You Learn Hands-On Skills Online?

basic skills lab

Knowledge is easy to learn online, but learning skills requires "hands-on" practice and that requires tools and components to practice with. Here at FOA, we've been working on an online course that could help many techs learn new skills or improve others using an online self-study course and their own equipment.
Recently, we have updated the materials in the Fiber U Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs which includes cable preparation, splicing, termination and testing. And we have created a Basic Skills Labs - Copper Premises Cabling to cover UTP (Cat 5) and coax copper cable processes. As with all Fiber U courses, these are free.

FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber U. Many users are preparing for FOA certification programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert" program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more time on hands-on activities.

New FOA Approved School: Central Electrical Training Center, FOA School #656.

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

FOA School Offers Toolkit With Online Training

Slayton tool kit

Slayton Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic connectors and test optical power.  Information on the kit is available on YouTube. You can contact them for more information at or

/ Resources

FOA Guide

FOA Guide

We are continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information. When you go to the FOA Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look for New.

Recent updates:

10GPON on PON Protocols in the FOA Guide.

Coherent Communications Systems in the FOA Guide.

Updated (and more illustrations): Basic Fiber Optic Jargon, OSP Fiber Optic Jargon and Fiber Optic Jargon for managers.

Fiber Optic Network Restoration
Fiber Characterization goes in to more depth, why fiber characterization is important and how to interpret results.

Fiber Optic Network Management for managers

FOA has created a section on OSP Construction and a Fiber U course based on it.

FOA Guide section on inspecting and cleaning connectors.

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

FOA Reference Books

Available Printed or Kindle Books
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French (printed) and Portuguese (online). The design book is available in Spanish (online)

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide  Lennie Lightwave

FOA has reprinted "Lennie Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special print edition.
Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online or as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.

Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

Resources For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools
Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their classes. Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.



On Safety

FOA considers safety an integral part of all our programs, curriculum materials and technical materials. We start all our textbooks and their online versions with a section on safety in the first chapter, like this: Before we get started - Safety First!
There are pages on the FOA Guide on Safety procedures Including Eye Safety  and.
Digging Safely 

And a YouTube lecture: FOA Lecture 2: Safety When Working With Fiber Optics
In our OSP Construction Section, these pages cover many safety issues including those related to the construction of the cable plant: Project Preparation And Guidelines, Underground Cable Construction, Underground Cable Installation and Aerial Cable Installation.
There is even a safety poster for the fiber activities: PDF Safety Rules For Fiber Optics
The FOA is concerned about safety!

There is a toll-free "call before you dig" number in the USA: Dial 811

See for more information

The Common Ground Alliance has an excellent "Best Practices Guide" online

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   

Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
fiber in finger
Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultantcy

Safety Leader Magazine

Safety Leader Magazine

Safety Leader, a new quarterly magazine, informs and educates electrical contractors on safety from various angles—electrical, workplace, PPE, regulations, leadership, line work, NFPA 70E, and more. Safety Leader is bundled with ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR in February, May, August and November. To receive Safety Leader subscribe to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine here or subscribe to the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR newsletter here.

2020 Conference On Damage Prevention Cancelled But Goes Online
You can watch FOA's presentation "New Construction Techniques In Fiber Optics" on YouTube.
Next Conference On Damage Prevention Scheduled for 2021


Global Excavation Safety Conference & Expo, the premiere international event in the damage prevention industry, was supposed to be March 24-26 but was cancelled due to the pandemic. 2021's program will be in Tampa.


The magazine, dp-Pro, sponsor of the conference, has also published it's latest issue with an article by FOA on "New Construction Techniques in Fiber Optics" and a overview of the FOA. You can read the magazine here.

Best Practices Guide For Underground Construction
Best Practices - CGA

We assume you are familiar with the "One Call" and "Call Before You Dig" (811) program, but are you also familiar "Click Before You" and with the people behind it - the Common Ground Alliance and their Best Practices website?

Officially formed in 2000, the CGA represents a continuation of the damage prevention efforts embodied by the Common Ground Study. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and completed in 1999, this Study represents the collaborative work of 160 industry professionals who identified best practices relating to damage prevention. Any best practice or program endorsed by the CGA comes with consensus support from experts representing the following stakeholder groups: Excavators, Locators, Road Builders, Electric, Telecommunications, Oil, Gas Distribution, Gas Transmission, Railroad, One Call, Public Works, Equipment Manufacturing, State Regulators, Insurance, Emergency Services and Engineering/Design.

Read the CGA Best Practices Guide here.

Here are all the CGA resources for damage prevention.

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   


About The FOA

Contact Us: or email <>

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has a company page and four LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official company page on LinkedIn
FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)  

What is The FOA? 

The FOA is a, international non-profit educational association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. 

Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and  leaders from education, 
industry and government as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

FOA is 25 years old this July - read about FOA's history in this newsletter above.

Learn More About FOA's History.

Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>

The FOA Home Page

FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.


Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>

The FOA Home Page
(C)1999-2020, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

 FOA Logo Merchandise

New FOA Swag! Shirts, Caps, Stickers, Cups, etc.
FOA T Shirt
The FOA has created a store on offering lots of new logo merchandise. It has lots of versions of shirts and other merchandise with "FOA," "Fiber U," "Lennie Lightwave" designs and more so you should find something just for you! See FOA on Zazzle.

Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

The FOA encourages CFOTs to use the logo on their business cards, letterhead, truck or van, etc. and provides logo files for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

Feel free to use the logo and designations to promote your achievements and professionalism!

Contact FOA at to get logos in file format for your use.

Privacy Policy (for the EU GDPR): The FOA does not use cookies or any other web tricks to gather information on visitors to our website, nor do we allow commercial advertising. Our website hosts may gather traffic statistics for the visitors to our website and our online testing service, ClassMarker, maintains statistics of test results. We do not release or misuse any information on any of our members except we will confirm FOA certifications and Fiber U certificates of completion when requested by appropriate persons such as employers or personnel services.
Read the complete FOA Privacy Policy here.