OLTS tests 12 MPO fibers at once

July 19, 2012
The MultiFiber Pro boasts a 14-second setup and 6-second test to decrease MPO-trunk testing time by 95 percent. It also recognizes and indicates the polarity method used on MPO trunk cables.

The MultiFiber Pro Optical Power Meter and Light Source from Fluke Networks tests all 12 fibers in an MPO-connected fiber trunk cable at one time. Fluke Networks says the ability to test all MPO fibers at once reduces testing time by nearly 95 percent.

Fluke Networks researched standard competitive products and processes for fiber-optic testing and determined that on average, it takes 6.5 minutes to set up and test each of the 12 fibers in an MPO trunk. "In today's market, few MPO fiber trunks are tested in the field," given the time it takes to conduct such tests, the company said. MultiFiber Pro reduces the test time to approximately 20 seconds - 14 seconds for setup and 6 seconds for testing - the company says. "For the average data center with 1,600 MPO trunks, the MultiFiber Pro tester can save contractors more than 155 hours of labor and $17,000 USD in costs, assuming an average burdened labor rate of $55 USD," Fluke Networks said.

This page on Fluke Networks' website allows individuals to calculate their own savings by inputting customn information for number of fiber trunks and hourly labor rate.

Jason Wilbur, vice president of datacom cabling and installation tools at Fluke Networks, said, "With rates of 40-Gbits/sec in data centers expected to grow by more than 175 percent by 2016 [according to Cisco Market Need for 40 Gigabit Ethernet Report, 2012], it's critical that we provide our customers with a solution that makes the MPO testing process both easy and cost-efficient. That need is compounded by the fact that preterminated MPO cables can be damaged or contaminated during transport and installation, and industry best practices dictate that validating performance is a critical step in ensuring data center performance."

The MultiFiber Pro OLTS includes the following features and functions.

  • A single "Scan All" test function that automatically tests all 12 fibers in an MPO connector
  • Built-in polarity verification for end-to-end connectivity of MPO trunk cables
  • An interface that Fluke Networks describes as innovative and intuitive, displaying all 12 fiber test results
  • On-board MPO connector that eliminates the need, cost and complexity associated with a fanout cord
  • A "Select Individual Fiber" function that allows the user to troubleshoot a single fiber with more precision
  • A shuttered fiber connector that eliminates the need for dust caps and increases reliability by reducing contamination
  • Integration with LinkWare 7 for results management and reporting

Fluke Networks has discussed the concept of testing preterminated MPO-connected fiber trunks in its Fiber Truths awareness campaign. When launching the campaign last summer, the company said, "The installation process exposes the cable to stress and potential damage that is beyond the scope of any factory test." It pointed out three real-world factors that can harm a trunk cable that passed performance testing in the factory: 1) Pulling the cable through a rack or down a tray, which can break the fiber; 2) The installation process itself creates a risk to the cable through microbending and macrobending; 3) The high likelihood of connector contamination or damage.

Next, Fluke Networks offered up three pre-emptive steps that can be taken to futureproof fiber trunks. They are: 1) Visually inspect each fiber endface; 2) Certify that the overall optical loss meets or exceeds standard requirements; 3) Certify the optical reflection loss of each individual connection.

Of course, achieving steps two and three was a more-cumbersome process at that time.

This video on the Fluke Networks website (3:35 in duration) demonstrates the MultiFiber Pro in use. It also briefly includes footage of a traditional fiber-trunk test setup with breakout cable, as a contrast in complexity.

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