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September 2020

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

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!


3 New Fiber U MiniCourses.
5 New FOA YouTube Videos
Installing FTTH in Beirut
Another Mystery Connector. 
The 5G Lie  

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

News  5G lie, AT&T Plans, Tight Cable Fit, Broadband Study, New Products  
Technical    Total internal reflection , the mystery of loss in dB solved, splices on OPGW, manufacturers of prepolished connectors, more

Worth Reading    Damage Protection, Passive Optical LANs, more

Q&A    As usual, new questions

Training/FiberU   New school, making training classroom safe, onine training, materials, more
Resoures Safety  


FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?
Special offer - 1/3 Off Renewal

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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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

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Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

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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
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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:

FOA Newsletter - Features

New Fiber U MiniCourses

Got An Hour? Learn Something New About Fiber Optics.

Online learning has been growing even more popular during the pandemic, and FOA's Fiber U free online courses have certainly been popular. We've just introduced a new type of short course, one you can finish in an hour or less, that covers a specific topic. The topics were easy to pick; they are ones we're asked about often.

The courses have two components, video lectures and readings, that are complementary. As usual there is a self-test to allow you to check your comprehension. As with other Fiber U courses if you desire, you can take a short test for a Fiber U Certificate of Completion that costs
only $10.

The three new courses now available are "Fiber Optic Restoration,' Connector Identification" and "The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics."

Fiber Optic Restoration

Fiber Optic Network Restoration MiniCourse 
Every fiber optic network is susceptible to outages, either by damage to the cable plant or problems with the communications equipment. This Fiber U MiniCourse covers what kinds of damage occurs to a fiber optic communications network, how to plan for outages and restoration and how to troubleshoot and repair problems. This course is aimed at managers and network owners as well as contractors and installers.

If you are interested in restoration - aren't we all? - you should also read this article in dpPro magazine by FOA President Jim Hayes:
Damage Protection Requies Looking Overheas As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - about the problems with aerial cables.

Fiber Optic Connector Identification

Fiber Optic Connector Identification MiniCourse
Over the history of fiber optics, there have been more than 100 unique designs for fiber optic connectors. Fortunately only a few have become widely used, but field techs often encounter connectors they are not familiar with and call FOA for help. This Fiber U MiniCourse covers the most popular connectors today and some that have been widely used in the past that techs often contact FOA asking for help in identifying them.


The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics MiniCourse
Fiber optic measurements of power and loss are made in dB, a mysterious unit of measurement that confuses many people. This MiniCourse helps you understand what dB and dBm are, how they are defined and measured. The course also explains how small change in an international standard created confusion and misunderstanding of dB. Even if you aren't a math whiz, this FOA MiniCourse can help you understand dB.

All these free courses and many more are available at Fiber U.

5 New FOA YouTube Lectures

FOA Lecture 51

FOA Has been adding new lectures to our YouTube channel while we're developing new reference and training materials. In the last month, we've added 5 new lectures in the FOA Lecture Series on Fiber Optics:

FOA Lecture 51 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 1 - Causes of Damage To The Network  
FOA Lecture 52 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 2 - Planning For Restoration 
FOA Lecture 53 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 3 - Troubleshooting And Repair
FOA Lecture 54 Fiber Optic Connector Identification - New and old
FOA Lecture 55 The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics. - Understanding dB 

Lectures 51, 52 and 53 are about fiber optic network restoration, broken into 3 parts: what causes damage, how to plan for restoration and finally troubleshooting and repairing a network outage. Lecture 54 is a short history of the development of fiber optic connectors and a overview of the ones most used today. Lecture 55 will teach you about dB, it's origin, an explanation of the math behind it and why standards can make it confusing.  Like all our YouTube lectures, they are short and easy to understand.

Classroom Training Offered By More FOA Schools

FOA has been collaborating with our schools that are offering classroom training with Covid precautions and have created guidelines for offering in-classroom training for schools. We're happy to share that information with anyone - email us.  More schools now offering classroom training with Covid precautions. See Training, below.

Installing FTTH In Beirut - And Then...

FOA has been corresponding with Omar Rawdah of T-Grid in Lebanon who is involved with installing FTTH in Beirut. He sent us a very interesting PPT presentation regarding his work which we can share with our readers. It shows how FTTH installs in a very old city like Beirut are similar - but different - from other cities. Here is the PPT on the T-Grid Beirut installation in PDF format.

Beirut FTTH

While we were corresponding with Omar, Beirut suffered a massive explosion on August 4th caused by materials stored in a warehouse on the waterfront. He posted photos of some of the damage on the Facebook page Fibre Optics Lebanon including these before and after shots of one telecom company building.
Beirut damage

And these damaged cabinets from the Beirut City CCTV surveillance system.

Beirut damage

Privately he shared this photo of his office, with all the glass from the windows broken on the floor. Fortunately neither he nor his family were harmed.

Beirut damage

You can find many more photos online of the damage in Beirut. These show graphically how much rebuilding is needed to a large section of the city that was essentially destroyed.

Another Mystery Connector


A reader sent us this photo of a connector they found in the field, connected to a Cisco Catalyst Router.


It's a MT-RJ, circa 2005, still in use. The MT-RJ was a highly-touted "small form factor" connector introduced around 2000 for higher density applications, but it had problems and faded from the marketplace fairly quickly.

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,

In Case You Missed The Last FOA Newsletter

You can still read these feature articles in the last issue:

FOA Turns 25
Projects For Teachers, Kids and Parents
Winter Installations
Mystery Connectors
The Cost of Connectivity
Replacing A Utility Pole

FOA Newsletter Sections

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


Headline That Got Our Attention:

"The 5G lie: The network of the future is still slow" (Washington Post, Sept 8, 2020)

"The Washington Post speed tested 5G phones against 4G ones. America’s new nationwide 5G networks weren’t much faster — and in some places they were slower."

The Post reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler carried 6 phones, a year old 4G/LTE phone and 5G phones from the major carriers around the San Francisco Bay Area and ran speedtests on each phone, over 4000 tests in total. He found 5G speeds were roughly the same as 4G/LTE and some places slower. AT&T speeds were about the same, as was T-Mobile speeds, but Verizon coverage was not available in the Bay Area where he tested the phones.

"AT&T and T-Mobile both market their 5G networks as “nationwide,” though they carefully dance around speed claims. AT&T says 5G means “improved speed” and T-Mobile says “faster speed,” without many specifics. Verizon does make extreme-speed claims about its 5G network — it’s “25x faster than today’s 4G” — but it is, as of this summer, available in less than 1 percent of the country."

Fowler went on to say "When I asked executives at the networks about speed, they acknowledged a truth their advertisements carefully omit. “Our 5G experience initially is as good or better than our 4G LTE experience,” said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s executive vice president for technology operations. Let that sink in: At least for now, 5G is … only as good as 4G.

T-Mobile is equally circumspect, highlighting the range of its coverage, not its jaw-dropping speed. “We’re not claiming that this is where the story of 5G ends. It’s very much a beginning,” said Mark McDiarmid, the senior vice president for radio network engineering and development. He said right now T-Mobile’s 5G network is “two times as fast” as its 4G LTE nationwide average."

"When PC Magazine challenged AT&T about shortcomings of its low-band 5G network in January, the company downplayed speed. “We’ve been pretty vocal that early on there’s no tremendous difference,” AT&T vice president Gordon Mansfield said at that time."

"Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, has announced it also will launch a low-band 5G network by the end of the year. And at least to investors, Verizon’s CEO also has been blunt about the incremental improvements nationwide 5G will offer over 4G. “In the beginning, it’s going to be small,” Hans Vestberg told a JPMorgan conference in May."

"I told AT&T about both of our cases. It sent me a different phone to test, but the result was the same. “You are two data points,” said AT&T’s Sambar. “We’ve done a lot of internal testing ... [and] we’re seeing our that our 5G network is showing speeds that are at least at parity with LTE, if not better.”

"But for everyone else, waiting will bring down the cost of great 5G phones. The extra time also will allow handset makers to improve their hardware and software — and let networks figure out how to make sure 5G phones don’t actually feel like downgrades."

Back in 2019, FOA ran several articles on 5G "hype."

AT&T CEO John Stankey Lays Out the Company’s 4 Priorities

AT&T’s focus is on investing in its wireless and wired networks, adding content to HBO Max, maintaining its dividend, and paying down debt.

AT&T’s top priorities are investing in its wireless and wired networks, adding content to HBO Max, maintaining its dividend, and paying down debt, CEO John Stankey said on Tuesday. The telecom and media company’s stock has been a laggard in 2020 as investors fretted over its portfolio, which is more-cyclically exposed than those of peers, and its hefty debt load.

On the telecom side of the portfolio, laying fiber-optic cable is first on the list for AT&T. It is killing two birds with one stone, Stankey said at Goldman Sachs’ annual Communacopia media and telecom conference on Tuesday. Next-generation 5G wireless networks are built on a fiber backbone, with the wireless part being just hundreds of yards between a customer’s phone and a cell tower. The bulk of the traffic on the network travels over fiber-optic cable. 5G-capable antennas and other network equipment are also an investment focus.

Read in Barron's - s
hared from Apple News

Tight Fit: 6912 Fiber Cable Pulled in 1.25 inch Conduit

Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. (FEC) conducted an experiment in its Mie, Japan facility to demonstrate the installation of a 6912-fiber optic cable with an outer diameter of 1.14 inches (29 mm) in a 696 foot (200m) long conduit with three 90 degree curves and an inner diameter of 32mm. The conduit used was a standard product installed in conventional data center campuses. Engineers confirmed a maximum pulling tension of 84 pounds (372N), well below the maximum pulling tension of 600 pounds (2700N) specified for the cable.

FEC Cable  FEC Cable

The cable was installed in a 1.25 inch (32mm) conduit with a maximum length of 1,411 feet (430m) in a North American data center campus in 2020 to support live traffic. The high fill ratio in this application is not typically recommended for Outside Plant (OSP) cable installation. However, in this application, the end-user was willing to accept the installation risk in return for maximum fiber density. The installation demonstrated that FEC’s 6912 fiber optic cable can be successfully installed into 1.25 inch (32mm) conduit using appropriate tools, work procedures, and optimum installation conditions.

“The FEC 6912 fiber optic cable at least doubled the fiber count possible in a 1.25 inch conduit, compared to competing available designs,” said Ichiro Kobayashi, General Manager of optical fiber & cable engineering department, FEC.

Furukawa PR also on OFS Website. OFS is a FEC company.

New Study Shows State Barriers to Community Networks Decrease Broadband Availability - Community Networks

That community networks act as a positive force in the broadband market is something we’ve covered for the better part of a decade, but a new study out in the journal Telecommunications Policy adds additional weight (along with lots of graphs and tables) which shows that states which enact barriers to entry for municipalities and cooperatives do their residents a serious disservice.

State Broadband Policy: Impacts on Availability” by Brian Whitacre (Oklahoma State University) and Robert Gallardo (Purdue University), out in the most recent issue of the journal, demonstrates that enacting effective state policies have a significant and undeniable impact on the pace of basic broadband expansion in both rural and urban areas, as well as speed investment in fiber across the United States.

The authors zero in on three particular policies that they say have among the most significant impact on whether a community has broadband or not: whether or not the state has passed laws restricting municipalities and cooperatives from building and operating broadband networks; whether or not the state has a broadband office devoted to expansion and staffed by full-time employees; and whether or not the state has a funding program dedicated to expanding broadband networks. Each of the above is considered against general broadband availability at the national level, but also for counties classified as rural.

Read more: Community Networks

What happens when you remove state barriers:

Mississippi Electric Co-ops Kick Broadband Projects Into High Gear

Less than two years after Mississippi lifted its ban on electric cooperative broadband networks, at least 15 of the 25 co-ops in the state have announced plans to provide Internet access to members, with more on the way.

Read more 

Klein Tools’® Scout® 3 Pro Line Expands with New Feature: POE Testing

Klein Tools expands the Scout® Pro 3 line of testers with the addition of a new tester that includes Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality. The unit can detect, identify and test Power over Ethernet (PoE). POE testing has become more important as applications proliferate but standards are not always followed.

The Scout® Pro 3 Tester with Test + Map™ Remote Kit is a versatile cable tester that locates and tests voice, data and video cables. Use the self-storing remote and Test + Map™ remotes #2 - #6 for fast, accurate identification. Identify POE, POE+, A wiring, B wiring and voltage. This tester also measures cable length.

More on the Klein Scout 3 Pro

Industrial Networking Media Converter/Switch Designed For reliability

Phoenix Digital’s OCR communication module functions as a 100M/1G fiber media converter and multiport network switch to provide the multi-fault tolerant, redundant Ethernet communication network that your operation demands. Available as a DIN-rail mounted unit, the OCR communication module works with any variation of Ethernet or other protocols and is compatible with the control platform of any automation vendor.


Using redundant ring-based technology, the OCR fiber SM or MM PhoenixOCRmedia converter is designed specifically for industrial I/O peer to peer networks. It features an industrial hardened case, sets up simply with no configuration and never requires a software update.

More information from Phoenix Digital. 

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 as was done by some committee rewriting international standards some years ago 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 -

We wanted to show a power meter that reads in both watts and dB so you can see the correllation, so we found a 20+ year old meter that still had a scale reading in watts.

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.

Splice-On Connector Manufacturers and Tradenames   7/2020

FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies 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: 9/2020

If you are interested in restoration - aren't we all? - you should also read this article in dpPro magazine by FOA President Jim Hayes: Damage Protection Requies Looking Overheas As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - about the problems with aerial cables. His previous article for the magazine was New Techniques for Fiber Optic Installation.

Damage Protection Requies Looking Overheas As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - FOA President Jim Hayes writes about the problems with aerial cables.

APOLAN claims passive optical LAN trims costs 56% over traditional enterprise networks - CI&M

Fiber Cleaning & Inspection--Best Practices by Optotest

Break Through Network Capacity Limits - Expand WDM or Faster Speeds? - Lightwave

5 rules for placing fiber-optic cable in underground plant - A new OFS technical guide covers comprehensive steps for installation of fiber-optic cable in underground plant. CI&M

New Study Shows State Barriers to Community Networks Decrease Broadband Availability - Community Networks

Connecting Residents in Boston, MA Next Century Cities

Rural Telecom Funding Model Must Change ISE Magazine

Three Applications Guides from Siemon: DAS, WiFi and AV

Lightmatter - First Optical Processor Chip? - Lightwave


“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.


 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

September 2020

Fiber Optic Regulations for Cable Markers
I wanted to inquire on any federal regulations there may be on Cable Markers to alert citizens of fiber optic conduit underneath the ground. We have had conflicts with installers placing vertical white and orange markers in right-of-way in residential areas
(Fron Scott Landes, Rhino Markers and dp-PRO magazine) There are no regulations on communications markers. Gas/Oil pipelines must be marked and there are specifications for those markers. Curb markers can be effective in residential areas. However they often do not have a warning message telling people to call 811. They are not as effective as marker posts, but if they are used along with soil markers, which can be mowed over, you can create an effective system.

Replace Coax With FIber
I read some of your interesting articles on network upgrades and I was wondering if you can spare some suggestions.
I might be able to purchase an old non-pressurized underground coaxial network, basically an old coaxial cable inside a conduit. Is there any ‘cheap’ way to replace the old coaxial cable with a new optic fiber cable, perhaps simultaneously pulling out the old coaxial cable and pulling a new fiber tube inside the old conduit?
A: If you own the conduit, it should be relatively easy to remove the coax and replace it with fiber optics. Our advice would be to pull the coax, pulling in a pull tape as it is pulled out, clear the conduit and pull in the largest microduct assembly you can - 6-7 12mm ducts is usually only 40-50mm in diameter. Then you can blow in a number of microcables. A 288 fiber cable in each duct adds up to a lot of fiber or a lot of leasing to service providers.
We also ran an article in a FOA Newsletter "New Way To Install Fiber In Old Coax” that describes how to replace the center conductor and dielectric of the coax with fiber.

Testing Bare Fiber
Q: I was wondering if there’s an equipment for a visual fault locator but on a bare fiber cable. I know there’s a bunch of VFL that needs an ST connector or LC connector to use. I’m just wondering if there’s one for bare.
A: You can get a gadget called a “bare fiber adapter” that allows you to strip the fiber, cleave it and clamp it in a connector - then attach to a VFL or other source. If you only have short lengths of fiber, you can probably get by without cleaving the fiber as enough light will be captured with a broken fiber.

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 California School

Baseband U, Corona, CA - FOA Approved School #384

Jim McConnell, FOA Certified Instructor, at the new school Baseband U.

For Schools and Instructors, Program Managers at Large Organizations Requiring Training

FTTH Council MENA and Corning Webinar On New Training Methods

This webinar will share lessons learned from award winning training programs delivered by Corning for Tier 1 operators and government organizations in the MENA region, and present how integrated approaches to training programs managed as projects, combined with educational technology and leadership development methods, have produced highly desirable outcomes and supported fiber optic workforce development objectives for the region. This, including programs for diverse audiences, including learners and stakeholders from different cultural backgrounds, functional roles, and levels in their respective organizations.

The seminar will be given by Jerry Morla of Corning, FOA Master Instructor and Director

Thursday, 24th September at 4:00 pm UAE Time, 8:00 am EDT

Register here.

FOA School BDI Datalynk is offering classroom training with Covidd precasutions and also remote classes over most of the US.

FOA Master Instructor Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologiesis now offering classroom training with Covid precautions - 9/2020

Contact Eric for details on his classes.

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.

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.