Optical fiber refers to the technology associated with data transmission using light pulses travelling along with a long fiber, usually made of plastic or glass. Transmission using fiber optic communication is preferred to use metal wires as signals are able to travel with less losses. Optical fibers are also unaffected by electromagnetic interference. The fiber optic cable uses the application of Total Internal Reflection of light.
The fibers are designed such that they facilitate the propagation of light along the optical fiber depending on the requirement of power and distance of transmission. A single mode fiber is used for long distance transmission while a multimode fiber is used for shorter distances. The outer cladding of optical fibers need better protection than metal wires.
The traditional method of laying optical fibers still used in most developing countries is Ducting and Trenching. This involves creating a trench through manual or mechanized soil excavation. This approach is preferred in countries where manual labor is cheap.
Trench specifications are normally defined by local authorities and could be specified for each operator in countries with multiple operators.
The trenching process needs careful control to make sure the trench floor does not have any kinks and is uniform, and trenches do not have major bends.
Ducts are placed in the trenches and fiber is then blown through the ducts with specialized fiber blowers, using water or air. In Air Assisted Fiber Blowing, the blowers use compressed air to push fiber through ducts.
Mechanized equipment is used to create mini trenches in many different surfaces. This technique can be used on routes that contain asphalt surfaces such as sidewalks and roads. The technique is however not suitable for soil with cobbles or gravel, or sandy soil. This technique has an advantage over conventional cable laying methods in that it is much faster to execute. The cross-section and depth of the trench will depend on the number of ducts to be laid. While the cross-section varies between 7 and 15 cm, the depth is typically between 30 and 40 cm.
Trenching, ducting, backfill operations and cleaning are all performed simultaneously when the fully automated method is used. When the standard and semi-automated methods are however employed, the operations are not done at the same time.
Micro trenching does not create a deep trench in asphalt as does conventional trenching, but creates a shallow trench, typically 2 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Special micro tubes are then placed in the grooves and it is filled, typically with a cold asphalt. The fibers are then blown into the tubes.
When using fiber blowers, you're combining a pulling force of compressed air and a pushing force hydraulically driven tracks during the installation. During the process, the blower operator has the control and ability to monitor the forces exerted on the cable. Because every application is different and presents its own challenges. Using blowers rather than fiber pullers is the preferred installation method for several reasons. During a pulling operation, the cable travels in a straight line until a bend or curve. Ultimately, the cable rubs at any bend or sweep and can touch the duct hundreds of times if there are undulations, typically caused by plowed or trenched duct. Friction is created each time there is contact with the duct.
Rather than using optical fiber connectors, it is possible to splice two optical fibers together. An fiber optic splice is defined by the fact that it gives a permanent or relatively permanent connection between two fiber optic cables.
Testing is used to evaluate the performance of fiber optic components, cable plants and systems. As the components like fiber, connectors, splices, LED or laser sources, detectors and receivers are being developed, testing confirms their performance specifications and helps understand how they will work together. Designers of fiber optic cable plants and networks depend on these specifications to determine if networks will work for the planned applications.
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