An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) is an important instrument used by organizations to certify the performance of new fiber optics links and detect problems with existing fiber links.
The health of your network depends on the quality of your network infrastructure. This quality begins with complete certification by contractors or systems integrators that the fiber cabling infrastructure was properly installed. Maintaining a reliable fiber plant is also essential in protecting your business-critical applications. As a network administrator, it is important to understand how to get the best performance from your cabling investment and how to solve problems quickly when they occur.
Basic Certification sometimes known as Tier 1 fiber certification is required in all fiber optic cabling links. The Tier 1 tests are attenuation (insertion loss), length and polarity. When conducting Tier 1 testing, each fiber link is measured for attenuation and results are documented. This test ensures that the fiber link exhibits less loss than the maximum allowable loss budget for the immediate application.
Certification of fiber optic links requires the right test tools, detailed knowledge of installation and application standards, and the ability to document your test results. The CertiFiber is one handheld tester that quickly and easily certifies multimode networks. One button measures fiber length and optical loss on two fibers at two wavelengths, computes the optical loss budget, compares the results to the selected industry standard and provides an instant PASS or FAIL indication. Test results can easily be saved and managed using included LinkWare Software.
Extended or Tier 2 fiber certification supplements Tier 1 testing with the addition of an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) from end to end. An OTDR trace is a graphical signature of a fiber's attenuation along its length. You can gain insight into the performance of the link components (cable, connectors and splices) and the quality of the installation by examining non-uniformities in the trace. This fiber test certifies that the workmanship and quality of the installation meets the design and warrantee specifications for current and future applications.
An OTDR trace helps characterize individual events that can often be invisible when conducting only loss/length (tier 1) testing. Only with a complete fiber certification, installers have the most complete picture of the fiber installation and network owners have proof of a quality installation.
Maintaining Fiber Infrastructure Performance
OTDRs are also used for maintaining fiber plant performance. An OTDR allows you to see more detail impacted by the cabling installation. It maps the cabling and can illustrate termination quality, location of faults. It provides advanced diagnostics to isolate a point of failure that may hinder network performance. An OTDR allows discovery of issues along the length of a channel that may affect long term reliability. OTDRs characterize features such as attenuation uniformity and attenuation rate, segment length, location and insertion loss of connectors and splices, and other events such as sharp bends that may have been incurred during cable installation.
When selecting the right OTDR, network engineers should make sure the tool has certain functionality, such as loss-length certification, channel/event map view, power meter capabilities, an easy-to-use interface, and smart-remote options. In addition, the OTDR needs to provide a reliable means to document the results.
Tools such as the OptiFiber® Pro OTDR provide the ultimate testing and troubleshooting solution to ensure the health of your most critical, network cabling. With this tool, network engineers have the in-house capability to perform inspection, verification, certification, troubleshooting, and documentation of fiber cabling in a single, easy-to-use tool.