Todd A. Roth
The article "Mechanical splices hold their own" (January 1996, page 8) was informative but failed to accurately address some considerations when weighing the various splicing methods. In my field experience with fusion and mechanical splicing in multimode environments, where reflectance and return loss are not governing factors, the most important criterion for choosing a splicing method is fiber count--which impacts cost. For example, automatic fusion splicers rent for $150 to $190 per day, and a technician can perform between 50 and 70 fusion splices in a day. The same number of mechanical splices would cost $500 to $700 per day.
In a singlemode environment, however, fusion splicing is still preferred over mechanical splicing. With greater sensitivity surrounding return-loss issues--and generally more stringent splice-loss budgets of less than 0.1 decibel--only fusion splicing offers unmatched accuracy and consistent repeatability.
Whether your customer chooses fusion or mechanical splicing, the crucial factors affecting splice loss are the precision of the cleaved endface, the quality of the product used and the craft practices of the technician.