Instructor Corner

  1. Environmental Stressors Are Real - Choose the Right Fiber Optic Cable for the Job

    There are cables designed for every environment. One might argue that there are too many options and that deciding between designs is not simple. Choosing a cable not only requires fiber type and count but also confirming that the cable will last for the expected lifetime of the application.

    Cables need to resist mechanical and environmental stresses both during the installation and where the cable is finally placed. Since installation is a significant portion of the overall cost of a cabling system, selecting the right cable will mitigate expensive replacement costs.

    Industry Standards

    From the beginning of a project, specifying the correct industry cable standard is critical to ensure the cable performance meets the demand of the application. Standards address the majority of use cases but in certain environments like mining or oil and gas applications, additional ...

    Read more »
  2. Hiring and Managing Fiber Contractors for a Successful Project

    Hiring and Managing Fiber Contractors for a Successful Project

    All communications networks experience a life cycle. They are planned, designed, procured, installed, provisioned, and maintained. Throughout their life they experience degradation, technology changes, and likely equipment/technology obsolescence. Due to these changes and others required by market forces, the cycle must sometimes be repeated from its beginning.

    While networks can be “living things” with constant provisioning and rearrangements, the installation of new network infrastructure is a process that only occurs once every number of years or even decades. It doesn't make sense for a telecommunications operator to keep staff on hand to rebuild the network infrastructure, so when these projects occur they are largely accomplished by contractors.

    Installation Goals / Selecting Contractors

    Normally, the operator or service provider has a few major goals for the ...

    Read more »
  3. Fiber to the North Pole

    Fiber to the North Pole

    Well, not exactly to the North Pole, but close! 947 miles from the pole, to be precise.

    In the summer of 1991, I was Project Manager for a 30-mile cable install at Thule Air Force Base in the Northwest corner of Greenland. We were placing submarine grade, armored fiber optic cable. The Air Force was upgrading: A new digital switch, new copper cabling on base, and new fiber optic links connecting to the two sites that are the base’s mission to support. These sites were an early warning missile radar at ”J Site” and the ”Polar Orbit Geophysical Observatory” or POGO.

    The cable itself was from Northern Telecom (remember them?) and was a loose tube design with a single armor layer, polyethylene (PE) sheath with a Jute layer over the PE, then galvanized wire wrap and finished with an asphalt impregnated jute layer over the wire. These were the same type of layers used in ‘near ...

    Read more »
  4. Chicago Deep - Installing Fiber 40 Feet Below the Streets of Chicago

    Splicing Cable Below the Streets of Chicago

    Most underground terrestrial fiber optic cable infrastructure is only several feet below grade. However, there is one network in particular that is far deeper.  Below the streets of Metropolitan Chicago is an extensive tunnel system that is about forty feet below the street level.

    Originally licensed by the City in 1899 for telephone cables, the tunnel system was mostly used to move freight, coal, and mail throughout the city by small electric narrow gauge trains.  Major commercial use of the tunnel system ended in the 1950s with the bankruptcy for the operator. Chicago’s Grant Park was expanded in the early 20th century with landfill, much of it from excavations of the tunnels.

    A new use for the tunnels was initiated in the late 1980s with the development of the Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC), a telecommunications provider company created t ...

    Read more »