ICT Today

ICT Today Nov/Dec

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November/December 2018 I 45 Installing Optical Fiber Connectors There are four basic approaches to terminating optical fiber connections in the field: adhesive connection and field polishing, mechanical connectors with no polishing, splice on connectors and fusion splicing using pigtail assemblies: 1. Field polish / adhesive terminations Adhesive connectors are a very common option. With these terminations, adhesive is injected into the connector, and the fiber is inserted. An accelerator or "primer" can be used to cure the adhesive more rapidly. Adhesive terminations are the least expensive option to purchase. However, they are very craft sensitive, so labor costs are a consideration. Also, a word of caution: TIA has tightened its requirements for singlemode return loss (reflectance) at 35 dB. Meeting those requirements become much more challenging with field polish con- nections. Concerns over return loss are typically limited to singlemode deployments. If planning to install single- mode, the technician/installer may wish to consider one of the other three options. 2. Factory polish / mechanical connections With mechanical connectors, the end-faces are factory-polished and highly controlled, leading to better insertion loss and return loss. However, these connectors do cost more than field polished connectors and will require a precision cleaver. The upside to that investment is that labor savings can be considerable. 3. Splice-on connectors Mechanical connections have proven to be reliable over the years, but there are still skeptics in the ICT industry. Still relatively new to many, splice-on connectors are pre-polished with a very short fiber tail that is spliced directly onto the trunk cable, eliminating the need for a splice tray. It requires the investment of a fusion splicer and often the use of a specific type of fusion splicer and holder for compatibility. 4. Fusion splicing pigtails Typically found in long haul singlemode applications, but now making its way into the enterprise, fusion splicing pigtails are pre-terminated fiber connectors with typically a three-foot fiber tail that is fusion spliced onto the trunk cable. If this sounds similar to the splice-on connectors, it is. However, the advantage over splice on connectors is that it can be cut and re-fused. With the splice-on connectors, there is one shot only. Any problematic issues require a new connector assembly. Making Forward-Looking Choices for the Network Fiber optic network infrastructures and the many options available may seem overwhelming, so it is important to get assistance from ICT experts who understand the evolution of fiber for enterprise and data center networks. Be sure to reach out to network consultants or the cabling system manufacturer to help with the best possible multimode or singlemode migration strategy that meets the specific goals and requirements of each data center and enterprise project. AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Adrian Young is a senior applications engineer for Leviton Network Solutions. He has more than 30 years of experience in the ICT and cabling industry, including 20 years at Fluke Networks as a product marketing engineer. Adrian's responsibilities at Leviton include fiber design, manufacturing, testing and providing Level III support to those wishing to install fiber. He also has extensive expertise in copper applications and testing. Adrian is an IEEE 802.3 voting member. He can be reached at adrian.young@leviton.com. When looking for a migration path with fewer connectivity components to be replaced or added when upgrading, a 24-fiber MPO system can simplify migration and reduces costs for both components and installation.

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