The Ripple Effect: How Poor Connector Polish Hurts Your Fibre Optic System

Fibre optic networks thrive on clear, efficient light transmission. Yet, a seemingly minor detail, the polish quality of connector ends, can have a significant impact. Let's delve into the domino effect of Insertion Loss (IL) / Return Loss (RL) caused by poor polishing, especially when multiple such connectors are used in a system.

Posted by Gavin On 29 May 2024

The Chain Reaction: Poor Polish = Poor IL / RL

Imagine a bumpy road with potholes. That's what a poorly polished connector looks like to the light travelling through it.

Poor Insertion Loss (IL): Light scatters off imperfections, leading to higher IL readings during testing. This translates to weaker signal strength when the connector is installed.

Poor Return Loss (RL): Poor Return Loss per connector means increased reflection thus causing more signal interference between the light going through it and the light reflecting back.

The below shows what the trace of a poorly polished connector may look like:

Below is what the trace of a well polished connector may look like.

The Domino Falls: Multiple Poor Connectors and System Loss

Now, imagine a network with several poorly polished connectors:

  • Individual Connector Effect: Each connector with poor IL/RL contributes to the overall signal loss.
  • Cumulative Knock-On Effect: Accumulating IL can significantly weaken the signal by the time it reaches its destination, potentially exceeding the system's loss budget, causing:
  • Degraded Network Performance: Slow data transfer speeds and unreliable connections.
  • Increased Errors: Data corruption and transmission failures.
  • System Inoperability: In extreme cases, the signal may become too weak to function.

Investing in Quality: Avoiding the Chain Reaction

Proper polishing techniques and rigorous inspection ensure:

  • Lower Insertion Loss (IL) per Connector: Minimised scattering leads to lower IL readings and strong signal transmission.
  • Return Loss (RL) per Connector: A higher return loss signifies a weaker reflected signal and more efficient transmission.
  • Reduced System-Wide Loss: By keeping individual connector IL low, the overall network loss stays within budget.
  • Reliable Network Performance: A solid foundation for a robust and dependable fibre optic system.

Don't Let Poor Polish Derail Your Network

Prioritising proper polishing and inspection of your fibre optic connectors to prevent the domino effect of rising insertion loss, to ensure your network operates at peak performance.

For better control of your network, wherever possible, factory-controlled components should be used as these provide more consistent results. It is recommended that networks are installed with factory-made pigtails, that are fusion spliced into position, which give known losses to the overall system, which makes it easier to plan and budget for prior to installation.

Additionally, don’t forget to Inspect Before You Connect as connector cleanliness is essential housekeeping.

How Poor Connector Polish hurts your fibre optic system

pdf, 1.358 MB

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