Low Quality is a Network Nightmare
Published on September 23, 2020 by Jace Waechter
If your fiber-optic network could dream, what would be its worst nightmare? It would probably dream about a total system shutdown at the very moment it needed to perform at its highest potential. This nightmare scenario should be in the back of your mind as well when selecting vendors for fiber optic products. While it’s true that there are many fiber optic cable manufacturers in the market who provide competitive, cost-effective fiber products, some products that meet the basic insertion-and-return loss metrics could break down over time. Users with these products in their network will find themselves playing “network whack-a-mole” identifying all the faulty connectors or cables that have been installed.
What customers should understand is that the ultimate worth of any fiber optic product is high-quality, long-term performance. For instance, Megladon products adhere to a strict quality standard known as the Telcordia Generic Reference-326-CORE or GR-326-CORE for short. This standard was developed by industry leaders to address the suitability of manufacturing practices as well as performance metrics and physical geometries of a fiber optic termination. Here are some quality identifiers Megladon looks for:
If a connector endface doesn’t meet the GR-326-CORE standards, fiber connections are more likely to suffer from gaps or misalignments that result in optical loss. Megladon selects connectors with the best quality ferrules (drill hole, concentricity, eccentricity) to improve the odds that the fiber core will align properly. Some projects require reference-grade performance or other standards, and for each, there is a specific connector specification that can support that performance.
The shape of the connector endface has an impact on performance. For optimal performance, each fiber core must perfectly align with its partner connector. The radius and curvature of the endface surface will determine how precisely one connector’s fiber core will align with another fiber core. For example, if the manufacturer polishes the connector improperly, the endface will have an awkward curvature. If you pair this connector with any other connector in your network, the data transmissions will not be optimized.
Best practices suggest that manufacturers remove all air bubbles from their epoxy. Some manufacturers cheat the process by using manual or cheaper epoxy prepping tools. Megladon employs a high-speed centrifuge to rotate the epoxy until it is free of any air pockets that could potentially reduce the useful life of a fiber connector. Connectors that are terminated with epoxy full of air bubbles are generally less durable and very sensitive to temperature.
Cleaving refers to the deliberate cutting of a bare fiber optic glass at the tip of the connector during the termination process. Later in the manufacturing process, the tip of that wire becomes the fiber endface. Manual cleaving requires a high level of skill acquired through years of experience and can cause micro fractures if done incorrectly. On the other hand, automated processes, like laser cleaving, can improve the durability of your fiber endface. Megladon’s patented Hardened Lens Contact (HLC) process finely cuts the glass at the ferrule endface with a laser and changes its physical properties to become scratch-resistant. These changes are proven to create an endface surface that will withstand a higher number of connections and disconnections over long periods.
When selecting a fiber optic vendor, a customer’s inquiry should always address quality standards. Not doing so puts a network at risk of a nightmare scenario. Connector and termination issues are often difficult to troubleshoot and can cause major headaches. A few pennies saved on inferior products could compound into huge losses when those poorly manufactured fiber products are responsible for your very own network nightmare.