The following is fact: fiber connectors represent the weakest link of any fiber-optic network and, if contaminated or defective, may affect the performance. For this reason, best practices call for correct connector inspection and cleaning procedures on every fiber connection, and during any manipulations. Although most will agree with this statement, this critical inspection step is often neglected. As a result, bad connectors that have been left behind still account for a large percentage of network failures.
One of the main reasons this critical step is overlooked stems from the fact that fiber inspection, even if considered a basic and simple test process by many, is in fact much more complex than it seems, therefore requiring very precise manipulations, in addition to a high level of skill and fiber expertise.
It is with this in mind that EXFO participated as a sponsor in the Cabling Skills Challenge, which was part of the 2014 BICSI Winter Conference & Exhibition held from February 2 to 6 in Orlando, Florida. The event took place in the form of a speed challenge, where the main objective was to share knowledge and expertise on connector inspection and maintenance best practices, in addition to demystifying fiber inspection by showing how EXFO’s fully automated test approach can easily turn this arduous test sequence into a simple, one-step process.
Highlights of EXFO’s Speed Challenge
Using the new FIP-430B fully automated fiber inspection probe and the MAX-FIP test unit, each participant had to certify five UPC connectors from a patch panel as quickly as possible while following best practices (inspect, clean if dirty, re-inspect and certify the pass/fail results).
Everyone was invited to take part in the challenge, from students who had never touched a fiber in their lifetime to senior technicians with over 20 years of fiber-testing expertise. Regardless of individual skill level, all participants succeeded in inspecting, cleaning and performing the complete five-connector certification procedure in less than two minutes as per IEC standards, with the average test time being one minute and fifty-four seconds. For all the details, check out the video below.