Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why would you need training in Fiber Optics?

Education is essential for those interested in entering the ever-changing world of fiber optics. Proper training will increase your knowledge base and give you the skills needed to perform professionally in the field. With fiber optic skills in high demand, now is the best time to consider training.

If you’re beginner or intermediate level installer, the Certified Fiber Optic Installer course is a great place to start. CFI students receive the best technical training in the industry and gain hands-on experience working with equipment from the world’s top fiber optic manufactures.

Upon completion of a four day course, students will be ready to install, splice, terminate and test optical fiber. They will also gain an internationally recognized certificate from the Electronics Technician Association(ETA) to prove it. offers training through The Fiber School. We have a training facility here at our headquarters in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania and we also take our courses to several different cities all over the world throughout the year!

We strive to maintain a 10:1 student to instructor ratio to ensure each student receives individual direction from our experienced educators. Students are provided with all the tools and equipment needed, and our instructors are readily available to demonstrate correct, time-saving techniques.

The Certified Fiber Optic Installer course is being held in Orlando Florida, on March 7-10. If you would like to register, please email, or call toll-free (877) 529-9114.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Community for Fiber Optic Professionals

I’ve been scouring the internet looking for a place for fiber optic professionals to meet and discuss our industry. The sad truth is, most of what is out there is abandoned, dated, or so choked with spam that it can no longer be used. There needs to be a place to go where people can ask questions and have questions answered. With so many talented people out there, there’s a real chance to make a solid contribution in our industry.

Fiber Optics covers such a wide swath of telecommunications that our community knowledge is spread out all over the place. A fiber optic blog could help to slowly reel some of that back in so that you can have the resources that so many other niches of the telecommunication sector have. 

Actions speak louder than words. I’m going to make a commitment to you to try to provide the best blog content around. Some of the existing blogs were so possessive of their outgoing links that it made it impossible to get any kind of community interaction going. I’d like to change that, but I need your help.

Ordinarily our newsletter blasts are committed to providing you with the latest and greatest (and best priced) in fiber optic equipment and services, but this month let’s try a little community building. There are over 10,000 of you out there that we know about and that’s no small sum. Get involved by:
I’ll be giving prizes out to people to contribute the best content!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Product Alert: The NEW FTB-1 From Exfo

EXFO has unleashed a new world class handheld testing platform. The system is geared for the front line technician and combines a variety of modules aimed at the FTTX and Ethernet testing market . The FTB-1 gives these technicians the ability to execute test routines, process results, and generate reports simply and efficiently. Use of the Blue tooth data mover allows users to quickly move test data from the platform to a smart phone or PCs for upload to a server or central office while still deployed within the field.

The Exfo FTB-1 interface has been designed to be simple and straightforward, whereby a user is able to pick up the unit and with the minimum of training to be able to perform tests straight away. The 7-inch (175mm) TFT touch screen is enhanced to make viewing outdoors easier. Coupled with long battery life (8 Hrs Otdr & 4 Hrs 10 GigE), the Exfo FTB-1 also features Internet Explorer for web access and a one-touch screen capture facility.

FTTH testing using the FTB-730 PON FTTx/MDU OTDR module

With a dynamic range of up to 39 dB and enabling power meter and visual fault locator functionalities, the FTB-730 PON FTTx/MDU OTDR module allows fiber installers to seamlessly characterize splitters in PON FTTx and multiple dwelling unit (MDU) applications.

Ethernet testing up to 10G using FTB-860 NetBlazer Ethernet Tester module

Offering comprehensive, yet simple test suites, the FTB-860 NetBlazer Ethermet Tester enables field technicians to quickly and easily turn up, validate and troubleshoot Ethernet services, with full EtherSAM capabilities, from 10 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s.

It’s the one—the FTB-1 Platform. Let us show you how this unit saves you time and money. Call us today if you’d like to hear more or would like to see a Demo!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 Reasons Why YOU Need Real-Time Network Monitoring, Part 1

When some people think of network monitoring, they think of the angry phone calls they get when customers lose network service. Wouldn’t it be better to find out that a system was going to fail before it becomes a PR disaster? Network monitoring systems have been around from a while for the big telecom companies but they can be very useful in any sized network. There are many reasons to use such a system, but here’s my top three:

1) Detect Damage Before Network Outage Occurs

I’m often surprised to learn that lots of companies don’t perform regular maintenance OTDR scans and only send someone out when there’s already a known problem. Simple network connectivity tests aren’t really enough to detect problems preemptively. It’s also not practical or cost effective to have a network technician scan thirty routes every hour.

Luckily, in recent years companies have launched automated OTDR scanners (an example is the OTU-8000 from JDSU) to make this type of detailed analysis available. Humans can’t be taken totally out of the equation; a knowledgeable expert still needs to configure the system, (but it doesn’t take nearly as much time as manually scanning all those routes.)

This long winded introduction brings us around to the meat and potatoes of a system like this: alarms. If a human being was interpreting one of these scans they’d have to have a pretty good idea of what the graph and events table should look like and be able to spot the differences. This task naturally lends itself to computers which can compare the scan to hundreds of others stored in memory. Once a set signal degradation threshold is reached, the system can notify the network admin that a potential problem has happened.

So what does this mean for you?

The system can pinpoint where the damage occurred, right down to the nearest street address or manhole. You can drive out there and fix it on a scheduled maintenance call. Asset Management Software like FiberBase by Corridor Technologies Inc. can be used to chart the alert on a map and store information about when it was resolved, by whom, etc. It works really well when used with our own FiberSentry hosted network monitoring solution. If you’re interested in protecting your network send me an email at!

Stay tuned, in the next post we’ll go over the last two on our list!

2) Archive OTDR traces to Preserve Historical Data
3) Detect Periodic Outages without The Need for Manual Scans

Are you using a system like this to monitor your network? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Care About Fiber Asset Management Software

I'll be doing a few posts on Asset Mangement since it's a relatively small but very important part of any large fiber optic network. Before getting into the nuts and bolts (or bits and bytes, as it may be,) it's important that you realize why you should care. Aside from not burying yourself in mountains of paper (which become outdated in a matter of minutes,) preventing your truck-rolls from ending up in Boise instead of Biloxi, and opening yourself up to data loss when the disgruntled NOC burns the place down, you might want to check out these "Top 5 Reasons to Care About Fiber Asset Management Software."

1. Hierarchically List Your Fiber Assets from Map Regions to Signals on a Cable

The importance of having a complete listing of your equipment, where it is located, and what it is attached to cannot be underestimated in any size network. Regardless of whether you're talking about copper or fiber, networks can be pretty complex. Once you throw in systems like PacketLight's new PL-2000 Multiprotocol/Multirate Sub-10G Muxponder (which is a highly specialized and complex network device) these network models quickly require software solutions to be adequately mapped.

Without going into too much detail here, let's get back to our list!

2. Perform Complex Queries on Your Network Infrastructure

If you want to find out which customers are being affected by that backhoe that dug up one of your major route segments or determine how many pieces of equipment in your central office are older than 5 years you've got a lot of arduous research to do. Asset Management software makes these kinds of tasks a snap since everything in the database can be queried.

3. Reduce Paper Waste

It goes without saying that filing cabinets aren't ideal data repositories. Besides being vulnerable to fire, coffee spills, and lousy filing practices they take up a lot of space and require a lot of time to use. If you haven't already computerized your office, what are you waiting for?

4. Locate Outages Quickly and Accurately from OTDR Traces

It's fairly likely that you use OTDR traces to determine the integrity of your network. Unfortunately OTDRs don't know the difference between a cable that's running up a pole or one that's inside an underground cable run. Without properly mapping your network it's hard to find the source of a problem, even when you know how far away it is in cable-distance. Rescanning at various points to find the problem is time consuming and unnecessary. Map your network and find those problems in as little as one scan!

5. Integrate with Networking Monitoring Services

Network Monitoring Devices are the hot new item in Fiber Optics. They continuously scan your network for signal degradation allowing you to fix problems before they cause outages. I'll be doing a lot on these in future posts, but please feel free to contact me for more information.

The gist of #5 is that Network Monitoring Devices require a GIS map of a fiber network to truly be effective. Since they can tell you how far from the scan the trouble is, it's simple to plot that across your mapped route segments. Using map packages can even give you a street address or closest intersection for the damage!


There are a lot of Asset Management tools out there, but our research has shown FiberBase by Corridor Technologies (CTI, inc.) to be a robust and full featured solution. If you're not familiar with asset management, it's more than just simple tree-structure mapping and includes features such as GIS mapping, OTDR trace viewing/storage, Network Topology, etc. If you're interested in more information, please contact!

Your feedback is appreciated and we love comments from our readers. Let us know if you use asset management software in the comments below!