Autumn 2021 - Optical Connections Magazine


For 5G to effectively expand connectivity to manage IoT, reliable all-fibre networks must be updated or installed. And for these upgrades and new installations to perform at their peak, the fibre connections must be perfectly clean. This requires strict cleaning regimes. But are today’s technicians knowledgeable enough to ensure cleaning is done correctly? A skilled workforce is critical to the success of 5G and the deployment of the fibre update. Without specific training in fibre cleaning and inspection processes, IoT and 5G networks have a reliability risk which could affect performance, writes Jay Tourigny , senior vice president at MicroCare, LLC. CLEANING OF FIBRE NETWORKS THE FUTURE OF IOT DEMANDS SKILLED

THE EXPANSION OF IOT IoT technology allows networked devices to connect to the internet and collect and share data. IoT is used in every area of life from home assistant automation, to the control of domestic appliances, to sensors and apps used within connected cars. It is also impacting other sectors. Healthcare is benefitting from IoT technology with enabled devices, like blood pressure or glucose monitors, allowing patients with long-term and chronic illnesses to incorporate convenient health monitoring into their daily lives without having to attend medical facilities. Industrial IoT is another area increasingly influenced by 5G connectivity. It is a driving force behind the manufacturing sector’s Industry 4.0 goal which is enabling enhanced automation, data collection and analytics to improve production processes and increase output. These examples demonstrate just how important IoT is to the way we live and work, but they require massive data capacity. IoT is adding to network demands and highlighting the importance of reliable high-speed connections in both the home and business environments. This calls for reliable 5G connectivity that can carry a greater amount of bandwidth. Well maintained and deployed fibre optics can drive the networks needed for the ever-increasing number of IoT devices used throughout the world. For

WHY IS CONTAMINATION A THREAT TO CONNECTIVITY? To understand why it is crucial to train technicians in ‘best practice’ cleaning, it is important to first understand the effect of contamination to a network. A contaminated fibre end face or splice can block the light through the fibre changing the index of refraction or the path of the signal. If the contamination is very severe, the refraction angle can change enough that the signal can be completely lost. Faster 5G networks, with their higher light frequency, are more sensitive to changes of the refractive angle, making them more vulnerable to contamination. Connectors and splices can be contaminated from a variety of sources. This includes simple dust, fingerprint oils, lint, exhaust fumes, construction dust, moisture or pollen found in the air. A common cause of dust-based contamination is connector wear debris. Wear debris dust is created by contact friction when connectors are mated. Dust particles can be ground into the ferrule surface, resulting in pitted, scratched or scarred end faces. Therefore, all fibre end faces must be thoroughly cleaned before installation or during maintenance operations to prevent 5G

this very reason technicians who are installing the new 5G fibre, or maintaining it, must understand how to keep the network reliable through proper cleaning. Contamination is a substantial threat to optical networks and so cleaning fibre is an important task to help a network achieve its performance goals. For data optimisation to be met, effective technician training in cleaning processes should be a priority for network providers.

End face contamination is a substantial threat to optical network performance


| ISSUE 25 | Q3 2021

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