If you've been a long-term subscriber to Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine, first and foremost please accept my thanks for your continued support. We're honored to have provided you with industry information over the years, and look forward to doing so for a long time to come. Of course we appreciate all subscribers, new and long-term, but those of you who've been around a little while may remember that every now and then I unapologetically get on my soapbox and talk about the way things should be. So for some of you, this is another installment of Patrick's Soapbox. For those of you about to endure ... I mean, umm ... enjoy ... my preaching for the first time, thanks for considering my viewpoint.
And my viewpoint is this: Fiber cleaning and inspection are fundamental practices that, without fail, should be carried out whenever a fiber-optic cabling connection is made. The feature article leading off this month's issue discusses fiber-cleaning tools and practices, as well as the IEC 61300-3-35 specification, which addresses the negative effects that ferrule-endface defects can have on fiber-system performance.
The article was contributed by a company that provides fiber-cleaning tools and devices, so it might be easy to write it off as an article that just props up the company's interest in selling more of its stuff. But I look at it a little differently, and ask you to do so too. To me, cleaning fiber is like brushing and flossing your teeth. It simply has to be done if you want to avoid the dangers and pains that result from being lax. Yes, there are several providers of brushing and flossing accessories, and some advocate slightly different approaches or techniques than others. And sure, they're going to do what they can to earn your trust and then your loyalty, because they will benefit commercially if you choose to use their products. But the bottom line for users is pretty straightforward: You have to brush and floss. The combination of correct method and tools will get the job done.
Every six months (or year, or so) a dentist or hygienist will take a close look and either commend you or correct your course. But it's up to you, and me, and anyone who has teeth, to do the necessary work every day. With fiber-optic connections, the inspections can and should be made every time a circuit is plugged in. Problems can be addressed immediately, and the potential for harm eliminated.
And I can promise you, more than four out of five network operators recommend clean fiber interfaces.