08 Jun Fiber Optic – Testing and Maintenance

Internet today has bought the world closer than ever. With recent developments in the internet technology, the speed at which the world browses for content has increase. This is possible due to the use of Fiber Optic Cables which are made up of Glass Fiber and carries information in the form of light, a signal converter is used to convert digital data into light and vice versa. Internet connectivity throughout the world is via miles of overland and undersea fiber optic cable networks. These networks need constant maintenance and need to be tested frequently.

In case of any type of damage to these cables, the fiber optic cables have to be fused together at the point of damage. This process of fusing a fiber optic cable is called Fusion Splicing. This technique minimizes the loss of signal and maintains the efficiency of the cable to carry data. To perform such splicing one needs to have special equipment like a Fusion Splicing Machine. A splicing machine uses electric arcs to fuse two ends of a fiber optic cable. The point where the cable was spliced has to be protected with a splice protector sleeve which is a plastic sleeve with pin rod metal support. Correct Fusion Splicing of a Fiber Optic cable ensures uninterrupted and efficient flow of light through the cable.

Along with Splicing Machines other equipment like Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR), Optical Power Meter and Optical Light Source are frequently used for testing and maintaining fiber optic cables.
OTDR models range from full-feature OTDRs to hand-held OTDRs that are used to test the integrity, Splice loss, measure length and find faults. This testing is done by injecting series of optical pulse from one end and measuring the light that is scattered or reflected back from point along the fiber.

An Optical Power Meter is used for testing the average power carrying capacity of a fiber optic cable. It usually has a calibrated sensor, measuring amplifier and display. The sensor primarily consists of a photodiode selected for the appropriate range of wavelengths and power levels. On the display unit, the measured optical power and set wavelength is displayed. Power meters are calibrated using a traceable calibration standard such as a NIST standard. It responds to a broad spectrum of light. An Optical Power Meter usually coupled with a Visual Fault Locator (VFL). A VFL works emits a laser that runs through a Fiber Optic cable to find a possible breakage, and bends in cable line.

A Fiber Optic network breakdown results in huge losses to both the service provider and end users. Often the service providers solve smaller technical issues at the service provider’s end within no time. When a bigger challenges like physical damage happens, it takes a skilled technician and professional equipment to resolve these issues. Fiber Optic Testing and Maintenance Equipment is used under various conditions as the cables are usually laid underground, overhead or undersea. The build quality and technical capabilities of these equipment are put to test hence, it is important for such equipment to be rugged and weather-proof.

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