Innovations in Fiber Testing
There has been no doubt that fiber networks ensure the viability of smart-device applications, video streaming, and business requirements. However, with a demand increase, it only makes sense for service providers to continue striving for improvements in broadband access networks, which will require several tests on different network parameters, namely insertion loss, distance, and optical return loss.
This article discusses an all-in-one test solution that combines the three main tests, such as bidirectional insertion loss (IL), optical return loss (ORL), and optical time-domain reflectometry (OTDR). These solutions will perform automatic measurements through a single connection port, which significantly helps the technician perform all the tasks needed to install, turn up, and maintain metro and access point-to-point (P2P) and point-to-multipoint (PON) networks with more efficiency than before.
A subsequent advantage of this is the decrease in capital expenses (CapEx) as technicians can carry fewer instruments into the field. In addition to that, operational expenses (OpEx) will be greatly reduced as there will be less need for training times, testing time, and a more optimized workflow.
The Mechanisms Behind an All-In-One Tool
Without the all-in-one tool, fiber tests need to be conducted at different stages of the network lifecycle, such as during construction, acceptance, and maintenance. This simply means that multiple test sets are required. However, with the presence of an all-in-one tool, such as FiberComplete™ from VIAVI Solutions, IL, ORL, and OTDR tests can be done by pressing a single button.
To conduct the full set of tests from both ends, one technician can use the all-in-one tool as a one-ended tester to do OTDR, power level measurement, video inspection, and source provisioning. Another technician will pair their all-in-one tester and start a complete fiber-link acceptance testing, confirming continuity and allowing the devices to perform the full set of tests.
Construction Splicing Phase
OTDR is highly crucial to ensure the construction phase of optical networks runs smoothly, and issues that arise along the way can be promptly dealt with. By utilizing an integrated testing function that provides both averaged and real-time results, splice loss, connectors’ loss, reflectance, and bends can be detected, validated, and fixed.
Construction Acceptance Phase
After a link has been spliced and connectorized, a report must be completed to validate fiber-link performance. A loss test set (a light source and power meter) is needed to ensure the overall link loss meets the network equipment operational specifications. For links that are expected to operate at a high-speed data rate (10 G+) or with high-power RF video transmissions, an ORL meter is normally required. Depending on the situation, ORL can affect the transmitted signal, which creates a high rate of bit errors (BER) as well as creating damage to the transmitter itself. This is precisely why installers need OTDR traces at 1310/1550 nm to capture a “picture” of the network and prove proper cable installation.
In cases where an OTDR trace may not be required, it will still be beneficial to use an OTDR/fault finder to determine how and where a problem or failure occurs, especially when the results of IL or ORL tests do not meet specification standards. The tester’s OTDR or fault-finder launches as soon as an IL and/or ORL value reaches a predefined threshold and will provide a detailed view of the link with a table of all events. A fault-finder will also be able to identify the worst issue, such as bend, connector, splice, and reflectance. This process provides instantaneous troubleshooting without having to disconnect and reconnect the network.
It is imperative to note that IL and ORL references need to be taken to ensure accurate link measurements. A reference wizard in an all-in-one tester is also ideal, as it can guide the technician through the process onscreen.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Traditionally, a power meter needs to check a transmitters’ output power and validate whether the light at the receiver side is strong enough for the system to function properly. In cases of high-BER issues, ORL needs to be measured from a central office or head end. An OTDR can locate and determine the severity of the problem when the power level at the receiver side and/or the ORL value is too low.
An all-in-one tester, a power meter, ORL meter, and an OTDR are combined into a single port, enabling single-connection, one-button troubleshooting, which simplifies and speeds up the network recovery.
Compiling all test features into an all-in-one solution can improve the construction splicing, acceptance, maintenance, and troubleshooting phases by speeding up the fiber testing process while improving the productivity of both the network and technicians. As a result, CapEx and OpEx will be greatly reduced, which makes an all-in-one tester, such as FiberComplete™ from VIAVI Solutions, a great investment for today’s and the future’s requirements.
VIAVI Solutions’ industry-leading offerings deliver complete 5G solutions for validation, verification, and visibility. Learn more about 5G Validation, 5G Test & Verification, and 5G Visibility on our website.