Fibre optic cables are high-quality cables that transmit data at high speeds by using fast-moving pulses of light. It is made out of a plastic core and glass cladding that reflects the pulses of light, resulting in data being carried along the fibre optic cable. While they were earlier used for high-performance purposes, these cables have become a norm in all kinds of networks, whether commercial or domestic. 5G companies have replaced copper cables with these almost everywhere, which has resulted in greater data transmission speeds and the blazing-fast internet that we know today.
When it comes to installation, optic fibre cables are more complex and advanced than regular copper cables, which means that their troubleshooting and diagnostics are also quite challenging. First of all, fibre cabling is more fragile than copper cable, so it can cause a lot more trouble when it comes to fixing fibre cable faults.
Here are some of the most common faults that you should know about, and how to fix them:
Common Fibre Cable Faults
Several faults or issues can arise when you get a fibre optic connection installed. These issues may also arise at any time during the operation of your connection. Here are some of the faults you can diagnose early on:
One of the most common fibre cabling faults is caused due to external damage. As they are quite fragile, they can get damaged due to scratches, splits, or bends. Even the slightest scratch can damage the performance of these cables. So, if you notice any scratches on the cables, you will have to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
While internal damage is quite rare and unheard of, it can occur when the cable is being prepared for splicing or termination. While removing the cable jacket, improper or rough handling can cause one, more, or all of the fibres to get damaged, and this can be quite catastrophic for your connection. Therefore, it is best to get expert technicians for the job, who have steady hands and ample experience.
Another common problem with fibre optic cables occurs when they are being installed. Connectors are used to join two cables together or to connect the cables to devices. If the technicians are not careful while installing connectors, it can lead to weak transmission or even a lack of connection. If you have a complex network design, it will be a nightmare for you to find out which connector needs to be fixed, so it is better to have an expert and qualified technician to install the connection for you.
Twists or Bends
Another key issue that you can encounter in your connection has to do with the length of the fibre cabling. Fibre optic cables come in various lengths and sizes, but longer cables tend to get wound up around themselves, which eventually tampers with the connection. This also hampers the quality of your connection, and it can damage the cable permanently. To prevent this, you should measure the distance you have to cover and determine the size of the cables accordingly.
Another issue with these cables has to do with stretching, which also occurs in cables that are either too long or too short. Such cables are prone to overstretching, and since fibre optic cables are sensitive to the most minor damages, stretching can severely impact the quality of your cables. Therefore, it is wise to choose the cables with a nominal length.
Keeping the connectors clean at all times is very important for a seamless and efficient connection. If for any reason, you have to remove a plug from the adapter, it has to be thoroughly cleaned before re-inserting it. Cleaning can be done with a clean microfibre cloth, or you can use a non-residue solvent like Isopropyl alcohol. Cleaning is always important, otherwise, it can damage the connection.
It is also important to keep the dust caps on the connectors when the fibre isn’t plugged in. The connectors have an internal alignment sleeve that needs to stay clean at all times, otherwise, the connector plug can push dirt further into the barrel and thus hamper the connectivity.
Tools and Equipment Needed for Diagnostics
The following tools and test equipment can be used to diagnose any fibre cable faults that can’t be detected otherwise. They are more suitable for testing cables and connection in large setups and are typically used by 5G companies for testing cables after installation, but they can also help you detect faults in smaller connections or networks:
Optical Loss Test Set
The Optical Loss Test Set, or power meter, is used to test the power readings and also detect any cable loss in your system. It also measures transmission and receiving power, which helps indicate whether there is a loss anywhere in the connection or everything is working perfectly.
Reference Test Cables
Reference Test Cables are important for diagnosing a fault in any of your optic fibre cables. You can replace the suspected cable with a reference test cable and check if there is any difference in data transmission. These cables should be accompanied by proper sized fibre and connectors, as well as compatible adapters.
Visual Fibre Tracer
This is a device with a visible red laser that injects light energy into a cable. If there are any sharp bends, faulty connectors, or any other common fault, the red light with start to “leak” and therefore pinpoint the exact location and nature of the fault. This device can be used to detect faults in longer cabling as well.
And that is all you need to know about diagnosing optic fibre cable faults in your connection or network. While you can detect most faults yourself, it is wise to enlist the help of a professional or technician if you are not getting proper data transmission speeds and suspect an issue in your connection.