Optical Connections Magazine Spring 2023


The need for reliable fibre optic networks has never been more important. 5G networks, along with rapidly developing new era 10G technology, must have the power to support millions of devices with superfast internet speeds and higher data volumes than the generations before. A more stable, speedier all-fibre infrastructure is quickly replacing coaxial or copper core cables to support the increasing traffic, higher numbers of devices and larger data volume. But for today’s 5G and tomorrow’s 10G networks to effectively handle the increased demand, network providers must ensure the fibre is installed and maintained correctly. This includes ensuring all fibre connections or end faces are pristinely clean and contamination-free, writes Rick Hoffman , Commercial Sales Manager for the Sticklers™ Fibre Group, a division of MicroCare™. CLEAN UP YOUR FIBRE… AND KEEP THE NETWORK RUNNING

CONTAMINATION: A NETWORK FAILURE THREAT Although contamination can be as small as 1/10th the width of a human hair, it is the number one cause of network failure. Contamination blocks the light flow through the fibre and can cause back-reflection (the signal is diverted back to its source) or insertion loss (a weakened signal). If the contamination is very heavy, the signal path, or refraction angle, can change enough that the signal is completely lost, causing a total system shut down. This is especially true with today’s 5G and the future’s 10G networks, including those with hollow-core fibre construction. The newer generations’ higher frequency of light makes them extremely sensitive to refractive angle changes. They also require every milliwatt of power available to ensure uninterrupted connectivity and top-speed performance. THE MANY SOURCES OF CONTAMINATION Fibre contamination comes from a variety of sources. Vehicle emissions, HVAC outputs, plant pollen, cardboard box particles, construction dirt, and human fingerprints. Even the contact friction generated by unplugging an end face pair creates wear debris that can quickly migrate to the end face, forming an air- gap between the connectors, resulting in back reflection, signal attenuation or network instability.

EVEN NEW FIBRE NEEDS CLEANING Even brand-new fibre cables need to be cleaned and tested to ensure any contamination is removed. Jumpers and patch cords, even those direct from the factory, do not guarantee cleanliness. End caps are not cleaned at the factory before packaging, so dust and other leftover manufacturing debris could be trapped inside the sleeve and migrate to the end face. Some cable manufacturers use release agents to pop the end face cap or housing from their moulds during manufacturing. Leftover release agent inside the end caps can transfer to the connectors. Outgassed plasticisers from the protective plugs on the end caps can also leave an oily haze on the end faces. Even putting the protective plugs on at the factory and removing them out in the field can create wear debris dust. Today’s fibre networks will require thousands of new fibre cables and millions of connectors, but they often are not ready to use straight from the box. Installers should always thoroughly clean both ends of the connector pair before mating them to help ensure good fibre connections and reliable network performance.

contaminants into the contact zone of the end faces and locks it in place. Fibre end faces are typically made from dielectric materials, so they act as electrical insulators, preventing the static charges from dissipating while continuing to indefinitely draw more dust to the end faces. One of the best ways to combat static build-up and remove dust contamination from charged end faces is to replace dry wiping with ‘wet-to-dry’ cleaning using a high-purity fluid and a lint-free wipe, click-to-clean tool or cleaning stick. Wet- to-dry cleaning is an effective, industry best practice cleaning method and meets strict fibre industry standards including IEC 61300-3-35. Wet-to-dry cleaning uses an engineered


Wet-Dry Cleaning: Wet-to-dry cleaning uses an engineered cleaning fluid to increase the humidity on the end face and dissipate the surface static.

Static makes end face cleaning more difficult because it pulls dust and other


| ISSUE 32 | Q1 2023


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