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Labeling Cables

When installing multiple cable, it’s important to label each one. Labeling each cable will help with locating and testing without any confusion. This will cut your time on site and be organize for any maintenance in the future. If cables are being ran to a new construction area, make sure that your label is eligible and protected so that it won’t be lost or cover by building material (debris, paint, etc.).

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Changing Floorplan

A customer of ours had ask us to come in and pre-run cables for them. They handed us a floorplan to follow and to have everything ready so once the cubicle is installed, we’ll just come in and drop them to each cubicle. The problem came when we arrived the day to drop the cables and the customer had changed the floor plan. This had cause 50% of the cables that was original ran to now being too short and unusable. We had to spend another couple day of work to sort what is useable and running new cables for the remaining amount.

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Fiber Optic Splicing

One of the major benefits of fiber splicing is a lower insertion loss when compared to terminating a connector. There are two ways to splice fiber, mechanical splice, or fusion splice.

Mechanical Splicing

Mechanical splicing doesn’t require any expensive equipment. This splicing method is a junction of 2 or more fiber to hold them in place once it has been aligned. The cover can be a snap on or contain adhesive to permanently hold the splice. Now this doesn’t mean that the fiber is bonded but just precisely aligned so that light can pass from one fiber to the other. Mechanical splicing is a fast and quick solution to repair any damage fiber. The only downfall is that mechanical splicing has a high insertion loss when compared to fusion splicing

Fusion Splicing

Fusion Splicing will require a fusion splicer. These splicing equipment can be expensive. The fusion method will align two ends of a fiber and permanently bond the end using an electric arc. This is the absolute best method for the lowest insertion loss and low back reflection.

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Fiber Optic Termination

There is only two ways to terminate fiber optic using either a connector or splicing. Each method has its own pros and cons. Depending on your situation one method might be more beneficial than the other. Here are a list of pros and cons of each method.

Connectors Termination

  • Pro
    • This method doesn’t require expensive equipment. Multiple personnel can terminate simultaneously due to the inexpensive tools and parts.
    • All handheld tools make it easy work in any space.
    • Terminating a connector in some case can be faster than splicing.
    • Easy to coil up the slack once termination is completed.
  • Con
    • The insertion loss is higher than splicing.
    • Some connectors termination methods are more time consuming.

Splicing Termination

  • Pro
    • The insertion loss is less than terminating a connector.
    • Splicing is typically faster than terminating connect depending on your work area and how much room you have.
    • Can re-bond a broken fiber vs re-running a new cable.
  • Con
    • Expensive equipment.
    • Requires a little bit of space in the work area.
    • Operating a splicer without a surface for the equipment to sit on will be a difficult task.
    • Not an appealing look when coiling up the remaining slack once termination is completed.
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Cable Management and Clean Workspace

Having a well-kept data area will make your life easier. Here are some listed benefits that I have discover.

  • Easier to calculate space for future equipment
  • Easier to locate and trace for troubleshooting
  • Creates space to work comfortably
  • Reduce overall time on site

These are a list of benefits that I have experience in this industry. Once a customer contract us as their IT provider, the first action we’ll take is cleaning up their current setup. We’ll remove all unused equipment to create space. Then we’ll plan what is need in the area that will help (rack, patch panel, etc.). The most time-consuming work is cable management but the most beneficial. Working on the physical side is just the beginning to improving your IT infrastructure.

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Outdoor Rated Fiber

Fiber has many different types of cables to choose from when planning an installation. The two major question to gather is:

  • How many fibers is required from point to point?
  • The locations of where the fiber is going to be placed.

Cables that contain one of these components gel, powder, or absorbent tape are commonly used for outdoor situation. Those components play a role of defending off water from entering the cable and affecting the fiber. Loose tube and Ribbon will be your commonly use fiber for most outdoor installation. Then you’ll have your armored cable for direct burial and aerial cable that has it own steel messenger to be strung overhead.

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Singlemode vs Multimode

Singlemode (SM) generally cost cheaper than multimode (MM). The main question that we will typically ask our customer if they don’t know which fiber optic cable type to choose from is:

  • What is the distance from one end to the other?
  • What is the bandwidth that they require?
  • Is it compatible with their equipment?

Once they are able to answer these questions, we’ll be able to determine what is suitable for their current situation. Singlemode core is 5-6 times smaller than MM. This causes SM to have less light reflection and allowing SM to travel much further distance while carrying higher bandwidth. MM large core causes more light reflection and degrades over distance. An advance MM has is the ability to pass more data at a shorter distance.

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Fiber Optic vs Copper Against Lightning

Most fiber optic cables does not contain metallic components making the cable non-conductive. This gives the cable an advantage towards protection against interference such as EMI, electrical noise, and lightning strikes when compared to copper. A non-conductive fiber cable will not pass an electrical spark through its cable and causing potential damage on the other end. This will protect your equipment from being damage and possibly stopping an outage to occur.

A new customer of ours is currently having issue with their switch constantly being damage from lightning strike. The port that is constantly giving them issue is the port that ties both of their building together. Their current setup is an outdoor rated CAT6 cable that runs underground through conduit to tie both building together. They originally called us for the cable to just be replace but we discover that this is not their first switch to have gone out. We came up with a solution to run a fiber optic cable instead of rerunning a conductive cable.

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Fiber Cleaning

It’s important for your fiber to be cleaned before connecting it. This will reduce some signal quality degradation cause by obstruction debris. Also cleaning your connectors before connecting it to a mating adapter will prevent transporting any contamination to your mating adapter.  A unused connectors or mating adapter should always have a cap at the end. Fibers should be stored when possible in a dry and clean area with low traffic to not risk the fiber from being damage. Clean clickers are really compact tools use to clean fiber and inexpensive to own.

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Visual Fault Locator (VFL)

A VFL is extremely useful when troubleshooting fiber. They are the first tool to start any installation and most troubleshooting. They’re compact tools and very affordable so that every employee should be equipped with one. Before starting any installation, begin with confirming that your fiber is good. By using a VFL prior to installation, you’ll be able to verify if the fiber that you were provided or purchased has continuity from one end to the other end. If you are not receiving continuity from one and to the other, it will save you time from installing something bad to begin with and realizing after the installation is completed or even being accused of damaging the fiber during installation. It’s good practice to use a VFL as soon as you received fiber from your vendor to save you the time and trouble of having to return or deal with the headache on whose fault it was on damaging the fiber. VFL are helpful during troubleshooting. It can help locate cable, identified polarity, and some cases locate fault (tight bend, breaks, and bad connectors).