To help cable installers and maintenance technicians select the correct fiber optic testing equipment, IDEAL Networks has published a new, free white paper that offers guidance on the different tiers for certifying fiber optic cabling.
“Unlike copper cabling, there are two tiers available when certifying fiber optic cabling and these dictate which type of tests must be performed, and therefore which testers should be used,” said Dan Payerle, business unit manager for IDEAL Networks. “To remove confusion around which type of test should be used, and whether performing Tier-2 certification also meets the requirements of Tier-1 certification, the white paper clarifies the different requirements in detail as well as looking at the advantages of different testers and how they work.”
Tier-1 certification is a measurement of the total insertion loss (or attenuation) of cabling from one end of the link to the other and either uses an optical power meter and optical light source (PM/LS) or an optical loss test set (OLTS) for testing. Tier-2 certification provides loss information about each component of the link and uses an OTDR (optical time domain reflectometer) to perform certification, providing a useful graphical representation of each connection, splice, and cable segment in the link and their performance.
When certification is required, it is good practice to perform a Tier-1 test, and optionally conduct a Tier-2 test. Although an OTDR can show the total link loss like an OLTS does, Tier-2 certification cannot replace Tier-1 certification as there is a subtle distinction between the total link loss reported by the two devices.
An OLTS, such as the IDEAL Networks OC I Tier-1 fiber cable certifier, measures the true optical loss of the link, which makes it the most accurate way to determine end-to-end loss of a link and a requirement for Tier-1 certification. However, an OTDR, like OTDR II from IDEAL Networks, characterizes the link under test and can offer additional advantages, such as advanced troubleshooting for faster repairs.
“Ultimately the required testing is an agreement between the cabling contractor and their customer,” Payerle said. “However, in order to provide customer satisfaction, it is essential that fiber optic installers understand the different tiers and therefore which certification reports will provide the necessary assurance.”
To learn more, installers and technicians can download the full White Paper “Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 Fiber Optic Certification” here.