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Common Fiber Problems
(Tuesday, January 17, 2012)
L-com Global Connectivity
Common Fiber Problems
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Examples of dust on fiber connectors

Because fiber optics use light instead of electricity, there are several new problems that technicians need to take into consideration.  One of the top is connector cleanliness.  Dirt and debris within a connector can cause the scattering of the transmitted light which increases attenuation.  What's more, particulates can cause permanent damage to the connector face by creating pits in the glass.  The result is intermittent connections and network downtime. Fortunately, L-com carries many convenient solutions to aid in fiber connector cleanliness:

FiberClean by Hellermann/Tyton

Hellermann/Tyton’s Fiberclean- Fiber Optic Connector Cleaning System
This convenient and economical solution uses a hand-held device with a “cleaning window” to clean most fiber connectors.  View a pdf  or video of how it works!

SC, FC and ST cleaner

Senko’s Fiber Optic Cleaner for SC, FC and ST simplex connectors
This Smart Cleaner is a high-performance device designed for cleaning the ferrule end faces of SC, ST and FC connectors with UPC and APC polishes. See the User Manual.

LC and MU Cleaner

Senko’s Fiber Optic Cleaner for LC and MU simplex connectors
This Smart Cleaner is a high-performance device designed for cleaning the ferrule end faces of LC and MU connectors with UPC and APC polishes.  See the User Manual.

Other Fiber Optic Cleaning Products

If you are working with fiber cables, it is a good idea to stock up on a few of these items:

Fiber Core Sizes

When you use fiber optic products, it is important to know the core size diameter that you are working with.  See a helpful video here. Multimode fiber cables include 62.5/125 (OM1), which is the most commonly installed but has limited support of modern Gig speed networks, and 50/125 (OM2, OM3, OM4), which is not backwards compatible with 62.5/125 but can accommodate 1G and 10G networks. L-com can help with selecting the cables you need and custom manufacturing cables to suit your application.

Connector Choices

Another confusing point about fiber optics is the connectors available.  There are a few options:

Closeup of an LC Connector

LC Connectors
These are useful for high density patching and are becoming more popular.  LC connectors can come simplex, like in this picture, or they can be clipped together either with a plastic clip or a "uniboot" to simplify patching.

Closeup of a ST Connector

ST Connectors
These connectors are rugged and provide a reliable connection especially where vibration might be an issue.  The round connector “locks down” to create a tight fit.

Closeup of a SC Connector

SC Connectors
These connectors are common on network switches, especially those that are a few years old.  LC connectors are gaining in popularity now as they are similar to SC connectors but smaller. SC connectors can be clipped together similar to LCs.

Closeup of an MPO male connector

Other Common Fiber Connectors
If you’re working with fiber optics and need help identifying connectors, L-com has great resources for you!  Check out our connector chart, a helpful fiber tutorial and even a video tip! Remember: L-com custom manufactures most fiber optic cables not available online.

Fiber Connector Polish Types

A last concern of fiber products that doesn’t occur with electrical connectors is the polish type.  Most fiber connectors can have PC, UPC, or APC polish types.  In general, UPC will have less back reflection than PC, and APC will have less back reflection than UPC. APC polish, because it is angled, requires special adapters when mating cables to align the connectors together correctly.  L-com can custom manufacture cables in any of these polish types.

A view of the three most common fiber polish types
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