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August 2020

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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
Projects For Teachers, Kids and Parents
Winter Installations
Mystery Connectors
The Cost of Connectivity
Replacing A Utility Pole

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

News   Training Adapting To Pandemic, Google Fiber is back, Verizon to retire copper, aerial install messes
Technical    Total internal reflection , the mystery of loss in dB solved, splices on OPGW, manufacturers of prepolished connectors, more

Worth Reading    Connectivity is a necessity, NYTimes, more

Q&A    As usual, new questions

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


FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

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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.

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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

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FOA Newsletter - Features

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 create a short history of the organization and how it has developed  to help the fiber optic industry. We also wanted to recognize the contributions many people have made to the organization over the years that made FOA what it is today.

The FOA history is now archived on the FOA website where you can read it anytime or link to it.
Updated info - dB, total internal reflection and science projects,

Updated And Expanded Fiber Optic Projects For STEM Teachers, Kids and Parents

Many people are now working from home or are attending online classes for their schools. Many parents are also helping their children with their schoolwork as well as doing their own work. We've heard from parents and teachers who are looking for projects that will keep their kids interested as well as help them learn.

FOA has always had free esources for STEM teachers in the K-12 range as well as our certification curriculum for technical colleges and professional training. The current need for more online information for students has led us to make some major changes recently to our support programs for teachers.

POF demo

Several of our fiber optic classroom projects  use plastic optical fiber (POF) like this one, which uses a regular laser pointer and a sample of POF available from FOA to show how fiber optics  communicates using pulses of light. To add to the technical aspects of fiber optics and help teachers create lesson plans that include more theory, including math, we've added sections on the speed of light (how long does a pulse take to go from New York to London?), wavelengths of light, total internal reflection and even wavelength division multiplexing.


While many of the projects we suggest for teachers are good for grades K-12, these new projects are mainly aimed at Grades 7-12 and some even require math like trig.

As always, FOA is glad to support teachers. They can contact us for samples of POF and a kit to help them use it for class projects. FOA also provides videos just for classroom use. We are also ready to help students with their science projects.

If you have kids at home, these projects may be perfect for parent/student projects and/or recommending to your kids teachers.

Fiber Optic Resources For STEM Teachers.

Time To Talk About Winter Installations

We know it's midsummer, but a FOA newsletter reader inquired about a plan for installation of fiber optic cable in a far North region. The area involved was around the Arctic Circle in Canada, so we called upon FOA Director Bill Graham from Canada who has extensive experience training in the cold regions. He often sends us photos of his travels to the North. Doesn't this look cold?

Frozen North

Bill responded to the installer's inquiry with an extensive set of advice and instructions for installation in very cold climates. We thought these were particularly useful and should be shared. Many of these are not specific to fiber optic installations but simply cold weather survival. The focus is mostly on aerial cable as installing cable in frozen terrain can be very difficult.

Hints For Installing cable in cold weather:

Safety overall is the biggest concern with your cold environment and additional risk due to mechanical failures is a factor to contend with in your situation. Make sure your crews are safety trained and ready for any contingency.

Some guys used chemical heating pads in their glove bases and have the best thermal gear affordable.

Additional equipment such as line trucks, winches, etc. should be part of your plan.  Bring lots of additional mechanical capacity to pull out stuck vehicles, etc. with chains and tow straps. Make sure you use lubricants that will not freeze up. Always have several extra torches.

Keep the block heater in your diesel engine cycled on the generator using a timer  so it occasionally keeps the engine heated up. The biggest failure factor in winter is bad fuel or fuel gel. Fuel system maintenance and fuel additives need a lot of attention. Know your fuel sources all it takes is one bad tank to ruin your day. Keep a couple of metal trash can lids and some bag charcoal that you can light, and slide the hot ashes under an axle to thaw brakes or lines when necessary.

More manpower greatly decreases risk. Invest in high quality headset radios. Backup radio systems and a good buddy system for crews is also important. Also, plenty of battery lights.

Preheat cables on the spool prior to pulling. The stiffness of OSP cable at extreme cold temperature is a real problem . Use preheated trailers during the aerial pulling process because it just became too stiff for working bends and expansion loops. Just an enclosed trailer with propane heat source (very basic) will help you out. Sometimes you might set up tents. Pay strict attention to the aerial lasher mechanisms and cable rollers and keep them in a heated environment when not in use.

Hopefully you are splicing in a heated trailer!! I can’t imagine making an osp splice in winter up there in that cold country without lots of heat for you and the equipment. Plenty of propane with lots of reserve for every crew.

Placing aerial anchors and down guys in the frozen soil (or tundra) is tough and  always used a punjar (drill) to make sure the anchors were set deep and were tension tested before transferring the anchor load.

In that cold environment it would be a good plan to place additional expansion loops at poles due to longer spans with plenty of contraction. Spans that are longer have more clearance issues with trees and terrain.

Paying strict attention to pole condition is critical. If you are hooking poles then you may have to deice a few for safety. Wood rot is accelerated in extreme climates.

Thaw the ground under your  outriggers and spiked in wheel chocks because there is no feeling like having a truck slide down the hill with you in the bucket.

Stay warm!

Mystery Connectors No Mystery At All

Twice in the last month, FOA received calls from puzzled contractors wondering what a type of connector was the ones they were being asked to repair. Coincidentally, both were working on wind farms where fiber optic cables were used up the towers of the windmills. One described it as having a screw-on nut like an FC but the ferrule was too large to fit in a 2.5mm ferrule adapter. Another installer sent us this photo:

SMA from windfarm

Do you recognize this connector? It's a SMA, a fiber optic connector design from 40+ years ago developed by Amphenol and still in production and use. The SMA name comes from the nut, the same as a microwave connector called "Sub-Miniature A," a coax connector developed in the 1960s and perhaps the most widely used microwave connector.

SMA's are one of the oldest connector designs and are still widely used in military, high reliability and high power applications, The all metal design is really reliable and handles high power easily since the design is all metal and can withstand high temperatures. It is still used in many process control applications where a rugged  all-metal connector is preferred, like in the equipment used with wind power generation controllers.

SMA 905-906

Two styles of SMA ferrules were available, SMA 905 with a straight ferrule and SMA 906 with a smaller diameter at the end that used nylon alignment bushings to get more precise alignment.
The SMA 905 fiber ferrule is 1/8 inch diameter (specified in English units - 0.125 inches but ~3mm) and the 906 ferrule has a smaller 0.085 inch (~2mm) tip to fit the nylon alignment bushing.

The SMA ferrule was originally a metal machined part, drilled for the fiber size being terminated.
SMA connectors were available for lots of fiber sizes, since the holes in the ferrules were drilled. Holes up to 2mm for plastic fiber are possible. One of the cables in a wind farm used 200-240 PCS fiber - plastic clad silica step-index fiber. Stainless steel and aluminum were mainly used for SMA ferrules but now you can get ceramic or plastic ferrules.

The SMA locking nut has a small 1/4-36 UNS thread. Nuts with hex or knurled forms have been available and hex versions are available drilled for safety wires for use in high vibration environments like military platforms (aircraft, helicopters, ships.) Military connectors also have available a special torque wrench to tighten the SMA nut precisely.


The SMA design is not a keyed connector, so the ferrules can rotate in a mating adapter , shown above. As a result, the ferrule length must be tightly controlled to prevent the two mated ferrules from touching, rotating against each other and scuffing the fibers. As a result, the SMA is an "air gap" connector with resulting higher loss and reflectance than ceramic ferrule PC (physical contact) connectors. The SMA therefore is not considered an acceptable connector for most singlemode applications.

SMA connectors were originally used with epoxy/polish terminations, but crimp/polish, crimp/cleave and a unique swaged termination have been offered. The swaged version in quite unique. A
tool impact impacts the ferrule around the fiber and swages the fiber in place, ready for polishing. From our experience, it works quite well.

Strangely enough, for a connector with such history and longevity, there has never been a TIA standard FOCIS document (Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standard) for it.

You can find photos and descriptions of many fiber optic connector types on the FOA Guide page "Connector Identifier."

The importance of Internet connectivity worldwide has never been greater than now, with business depending on online meetings and conferences in addition to the usual communications, schools learning how to use online learning and applications like citizen participation in government and telehealth actually becoming commonplace. That makes this report even more important.

The Cost of Connectivity 2020 (Worldwide)

This report just published by the Open Technology Institute looks at the cost of Internet service around the world. The report is an eye-opener, especially for Americans. When it comes to Internet service, America has the most expensive service in the world, like our healthcare, and like healthcare, we have among the worst service. The report blames "the collective prevalence of monopolies and oligopolies," "where ISPs (internet service providers) face little to no competition, consumers are the ones who suffer—they’re forced to pay higher prices, penalties for exceeding data caps, and, if they’re lucky enough to have more than one option for internet service, high switching costs."

We will quote the executive summary here but suggest you read the whole report.
Executive Summary
In this year’s Cost of Connectivity report, we find further evidence that people can expect to pay more for internet service in the United States than in Asia or Europe. Our previous studies—published in 2012, 2013, and 2014—consistently showed that U.S. consumers paid higher costs for slower speeds than consumers abroad. Some of these trends continue in the 2020 report. Our research has additional urgency this year, as many people rely on the internet to navigate new realities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s report is also our most extensive to date, examining 760 plans in 28 cities across Asia, Europe, and North America, with an emphasis on the United States. In our dataset, 296 plans are located in the United States and 462 plans abroad.

  • Across North America, Europe, and Asia, we find the highest average monthly prices in the United States. Fiber plans are the most expensive option in all three markets, with the United States being the most expensive.
  • We find substantial evidence of an affordability crisis in the United States.  Based on our dataset, the most affordable average monthly prices are in Asian and European cities.
  • Consumers must navigate a maze of additional fees and hidden costs to determine the total price of internet service. These ancillary fees create complicated pricing structures that make it difficult for consumers to compare plans and understand the total price they can expect to pay.
  • Municipal networks appear to offer some of the best value in the United States. A growing body of evidence indicates that these locally-owned networks yield significant cost savings for consumers, yet at least 20 states restrict or outright prohibit these networks from existing.
  • The U.S. market suffers from a lack of competition. This lack of choice directly affects the cost and quality of internet service.
  • ISPs are not transparent with consumers, the government, or researchers.  ISPs do not disclose accurate data about their networks, so it is difficult for researchers to determine where service is even available.

Read the entire report here.

How Many Cranes/Bucket Trucks Does It Take To Replace A Utility Pole?

Note - you can click on any photo to see a much larger version for more details. Use the back arrow to return to the FOA Newsletter.

Replace Utility Pole  Replace utility pole   Replace utility pole

Note - you can click on any photo to see a much larger version for more details. Use the back arrow to return to the FOA Newsletter.

We've published a lot of photos in this Newsletter from the work we've seen being done here in Santa Monica, but last week had some really interesting work being done in the alleys. Workers from Southern California Edison were replacing old wooden utility poles with new, bigger ones.

We first discovered this by hearing noise and seeing the top of a pole being lifted by a crane, shown in the photo on the left above, viewed between two apartment buildings looking toward the alley. Needless to say, the alley was blocked off so we circled the block to get a better view. From one end of the alley, we could see 3 booms. The one in the center was a bucket but with brackets to grab the high voltage lines on top of the pole and support them while the pole was replaced. The wires can be seen by the orange insulation around the wires  to protect the workers - they did not turn the HV off !(~14KV)

In the photo on the right, you can see the new pole waiting for installation with all the hardware already installed.

Replace utility pole   Replace utility pole   Replace utility pole

Note - you can click on any photo to see a much larger version for more details. Use the back arrow to return to the FOA Newsletter.
Here on the left you can see the worker using a chain saw to cut the next section of the pole off. All the hardware has been disconnected from the pole and a crane is holding it from the top ready to haul it away. In the middle photo you can see the three booms - the top one suspending the high voltage wires, the middle one supporting the next section of the pole being cut off and the third one folted to get the worker with the chain saw near the pole. This was a very crowded alley!

The photo on the right shows the really delicate part of the operation - removing the middle section of the pole. The crane has to avoid the HV lines and the bucket supporting them, the numerous low voltage (copper and fiber) cables in the telecom space, the buildings and the trucks and workers.

Replace utility pole   Replace utility pole   Replace utility pole

Note - you can click on any photo to see a much larger version for more details. Use the back arrow to return to the FOA Newsletter.
After all the sections of the old pole are removed, the new pole is set into the ground - quite a delicate operation - and all the hardware - including a transformer - reattached. The entire process takes about 6-8 hours. While this one was done in daylight, they replaced a pole in the alley behind us in the middle of the night!

Replace utility pole

Note - you can click on any photo to see a much larger version for more details. Use the back arrow to return to the FOA Newsletter.

FOA Newsletter Sections

News     Technical    Worth Reading    Q&A    Training/FiberU    Resoures    Safety   About


Classroom Training Is Adapting To The Pandemic 8/2020

FOA Director and instructor Tom Collins sent photos of his recent IMSA/FOA CFOT class held in Florida. It shows how Tom dresses for the job and how his students are social distancing. More FOA classes are being held now using techniques like these.

TC class

Instructor Tom Collins perpared to teach in the classroom.

TC Class

Students with appropriate distancing.

See more classroom setups.

Utopia Fiber Creates Wildfire Monitor System in Rural Utah 8/2020

The EDWIN Project (Early Detection Wildfire Imaging Network) is a UTOPIA Fiber initiative that monitors high-risk wildfire areas utilizing fiber-connected thermal imaging cameras. EDWIN is still in its developmental stages as we design methods to analyze the live feeds of these cameras to detect potential threats automatically. This project began as a BYU capstone project in collaboration with UTOPIA Fiber and is now managed by the UTOPIA Fiber Smart City team.
Thermal imaging cameras have a unique ability to detect minute temperature change and developing hotspots that could lead firefighters to wildfires long before smoke is visible, significantly cutting down on response time and potentially saving lives and property. This project would not be possible without fiber connectivity, which allows immense amounts of data to move instantly and notify officials automatically.
Read more from the Utopia website.

What Does This Mean?  

Google Fiber is Coming to Millcreek, UT 8/2020

"Provo was one of the earliest Google Fiber cities — there, we built great relationships grounded in the city’s vision to connect an entire community to high-speed internet. That experience led us north to Salt Lake City, where we’ve been building, in the more traditional sense, a from-scratch fiber network to deliver gigabit internet to homes and businesses across Utah’s capital city."

"As we finally near completion of construction in Salt Lake City, we’re not ready to stop growing in Utah. So, we’re excited to announce that we’ll continue to build our network into the neighboring city of Millcreek."

From the Google Fiber Blog

Google Fiber To Expand - First New City In 4 years - 7/2020

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  

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.

Try The FOA's New Online Loss Budget Calculator

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've created a online Loss Budget Calculator that does the work for you. Just input your cable plant data and it calculates the loss budget. It works on any device, especially smartphones and tablets for field use and even allows printing the results.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator

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

How Fiber Works - Total Internal Reflection - For Math Lovers  8/2020

Snell's Law

FOA has always had information on how fiber works using total internal reflection, but we've recently updated our web page on the subject to include a more complete explanation using Snell's Law and the math that allows you to calculate the parameters of the fiber including NA - numerical Aperture.

snell's law

FOA Guide page on Total Internal Reflection

dB or not dB, that is the question (8/2020)

FOA has spent considerable space in this newsletter discussing the confusion of dB measurements. FOA received a comment from a very technical person we know who used to work for a major fiber optic instrument manufacturer. He tries to explain the issue thusly:

"I submit that optical LOSS can be positive or negative.  I submit that optical GAIN can be positive or negative.  I submit that the CHANGE in optical power (note that you use the word “change” in a dB question below) can be positive or negative. 
A negative Optical Loss is a gain.  A positive optical loss is  a loss.  Hence, Optical Loss can either be positive or negative." 

Redefining relative dB measurements to make them read positive is simply ignoring the scientific community and producing extreme confusion by making gain a negative number. There is no problem making “loss” just “dB” with no sign, as long as it’s known that it is represented by a negative dB number. Likewise “gain” can have no sign as long as it follows scientific and technical convention which makes it a positive number. 

We have likened this to “profit” and “loss” in our explanations. They use similar conventions. Does any company talk about a negative profit? Of course not.

The issue has always been the display of data on an OLTS or OTDR. If instrument manufacturers had wanted to do it right, instead of ignoring scientific convention and changing the definition, they would have changed displays to have no sign for loss or gain but for, example, make gain readings flash, change color or show “gain” on the display. There is a convention for doing that in scientific instruments for readings that are out of range or otherwise improper.

We cannot accept under any circumstances that “gain” is a negative number. Our scientific and technical education revolts at that!

dBm - Evidence 8/2020 -

Here is an example of a power meter measuring in dBm and microwatts (a microwatt is 0.001 or 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.

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  

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.

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: 8/2020

“An adequate connection is no longer a matter of convenience; it is a necessity for anyone wishing to participate in civil society,” wrote the New York Times Editorial Board in an opinion article published on Sunday, July 18.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance weekly newsletter has lots of interesting articles and links.
"July has seen the release of complementary reports which shed light on two of the topics we care about a great deal around these parts: availability and affordability of Internet access, and municipally-enabled networks. The Open Technology Institute at New America just published “The Cost of Connectivity 2020,” while US Ignite and Altman Solon issued “Broadband Models for Unserved and Underserved Communities

Universal access to broadband is a cornerstone to a strong economy, Achieving universal access will require community partnerships. by
Alfreda B. Norman, Sr. VP,  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

FIBER TO THE FARM: The co-ops that electrified Depression-era farms are now building rural internet. Be sure to check out the high-tech equine installation equipment.

CENIC upgrades California education network to 400G between LA and Sunnyvale. The new 460-mile route is part of an overall strategy to upgrade CalREN to 400G. From Lightwave.

Next Century Cities Newsletter - News from cities around the US including Detroit and New York plus small towns too.

The NYTimes On Tech newsletter for August 10 has a great animated graphic of the Internet connections around the world.
Graphic by Leon Demise in the NYTimes.

From the July (7/2020) FOA Newsletter, but worth repeating:

 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.

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

From the June (6/2020) 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

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.

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.

Clearfield-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

August 2020

Mystery Connector From Wind Farm (See above)

FTTH COnnections
Q: My home is current wired with coax for cable TV. Considering FIBEROPTICS but do  not want any changes/additions to the internal house wiring. Can an adaptor be installed external to the house to make the conversion from FIOPTICS to coax without any need to disturb the current wiring?
A: The adapters used for fiber to the home (FTTH) are called ONTs - optical network terminals - and they convert from fiber to coax for TV, two wires for phones and Cat 5 or WiFi for your computer. You should not need to change the internal wiring to use FTTH services.

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)

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)

Knowledge is easy to get 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.
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. 


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 fiber optic 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.

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 4/5/6/8 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 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

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.