You are on page 1of 24

White Paper

Manufacturer-Neutral Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors

Manufacturer-Neutral Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. 2. Introduction.............................................................................................................................................. 3 Requirements for fibre-optic plug-in connectors ...................................................................................... 4 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. 2.7. 3. General............................................................................................................................................ 4 Common connector types ................................................................................................................ 4 Return loss ...................................................................................................................................... 7 Insertion loss ................................................................................................................................... 8 Extrinsic losses................................................................................................................................ 9 Calculation of the loss depending on concentricity and angular pointing error............................... 10 Summary: Reducing losses and loads........................................................................................... 11

Standards and quality grades ................................................................................................................ 12 3.1. New catalogue of requirements ..................................................................................................... 12 3.2. Each-to-each values ...................................................................................................................... 13 3.3. Mean values .................................................................................................................................. 13

4.

Manufacturing........................................................................................................................................ 15 4.1. Connectors .................................................................................................................................... 15 4.2. Assembly ....................................................................................................................................... 16 4.2.1. Adjusting / Tuning.................................................................................................................... 16 4.2.2. Interferometry .......................................................................................................................... 17 4.2.3. Surface inspection ................................................................................................................... 19 4.3. Insertion loss IL ............................................................................................................................. 20 4.4. Return loss test.............................................................................................................................. 21

5.

Consequences from the application of quality grades............................................................................ 22 5.1. Implementation at R&M ................................................................................................................. 22 5.2. Manufacturer specifications and real usage conditions.................................................................. 22

6. 7.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) ....................................................................................................... 24 Sources and Additional Information ....................................................................................................... 24

© Copyright 2009 Reichle & De-Massari AG (R&M). All rights reserved. Dissemination and reproduction of this publication or parts hereof, for any purpose and in any form whatsoever, are prohibited without the express written approval of Reichle & De Massari AG. Information contained in this publication may be altered without prior notice. This document was produced with the greatest possible care; it presents the state of the art at the time of preparation.

White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann

2

The driving factors for this development are the foreseeable limits of copper networks and not least the great societal and economic importance of a widely available. and usage of high-quality fibre-optic plug-in connectors is therefore to eliminate the causes of losses at the fibre junctions to the greatest possible extent. purchasers. The highest priority in the development. future-oriented (ultra-high speed) IT/TC infrastructure. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. At the same time. insertion loss IL. fibre-optic technology involves entering a new world. As with every other temporary connection in electronics and telecommunications.Quality grades for fibre-optic connectors provide more security for users World-wide. communication of expert knowledge on ensuring the quality of plug-in fibre-optic connections Planers. The determining factor for longterm achievable performance and reliability is the weakest and simultaneously most stressed link in the transmission chain – the plug-in connection. Despite the many differences between copper and fibre-optic networks. IEC 61753. For many network planners and installers. entering with their processes the realm of micro systems technology. This white paper provides information about current standards and elaborates on their relevance for product selection. to backbones and the local loop. basic knowledge about quality grades for fibre-optic plug-in connectors is indispensable for planners and installers. fibre-optics naturally also experience loss during signal transmission.10 µm (much smaller than a grain of dust). makes it possible to achieve the highest transfer rates and continuous availability. installers. In this context. You are strongly advised to avoid cheap products – a single failure or a single additional measurement in the field makes up for the price difference to brand-name products. each to each / random Introduction of grades / classes according to IEC 61753. measurement best case / worst case. This can only be achieved with expertise and long experience in the fields of optical signal transmission and high-precision production processes.5 to 0. to metropolitan area and campus networks. Application: Technology: Format: Topics: Fibre-optic cabling Fibre-optic plug-in connectors White Paper Grades / classes.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 3 . the construction and expansion of highperformance optical networks is in full swing. the importance of plug-in connectors as key components of the passive fibre-optic infrastructure also increases. With tolerances of 0. manufacturing. adjustment. from WAN. The extremely small core diameters of optical fibres demand the highest mechanical and optical precision. Here there can be no compromise. planning principles and product selection and implementation are new ground in many respects. the age of fibre-optics has finally begun in Europe. those responsible for networks. tuning. one analogy still holds. Decades of experience and cherished habits from the copper age can now only be applied in a limited way. The use of high-quality plug-in connectors in all areas. Introduction After a long period of discussion about the pros and cons of optical networks. return loss RL Quality assurance. users of fibre-optic cabling Daniel Eigenmann August 2009 Target: Target group: Author: Published: 1. manufacturers operate at the limits of precision engineering.

version A. Requirements for fibre-optic plug-in connectors 2. one can determine on the spot if a connector is correctly snapped in and locked.2 010. SC is also wide-spread in a duplex version. they can still be found world-wide in LAN networks (primarily industrial). 010. The compact design of the SC allows for a high packing density. Common connector types Sorted according to IEC 61754-x: ST connector (also known as BFOC. ST is the designation for “straight” type. the SC continues to gain in importance. Thanks to this fact and the extremely robust design. Naturally. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 4 .3 µm for single-mode or 50/62. IEC 61754-2) These connectors with bayonet-lock were the first PC connectors (1996). Core diameters of 8. only well-known in German-speaking countries. due to its excellent properties. To this day it is the most important WAN connector world-wide. thanks to excellent optical properties. particularly in local area networks. General In contrast to their electromechanical counterparts. DIN 47256) Compact connector with threaded coupler.2. A complete plug-in connection consists of the combination connector/coupler/connector. The determining factor is the geometric orientation and workmanship of the fibre in the connector. SC connector (IEC 61751-4) This type of connector with a quadratic design and push/pull system is recommended for new installations (SC stands for Square Connector or Subscriber Connector). The two ferrules with the fibre ends must meet each other so precisely inside the connection that the least possible amount of light energy is lost or reflected (return loss). Although among the oldest connectors.25 mm diameter make a visual inspection of the connector condition without special equipment impossible. IEC 61754-3. For all other characteristics – the “intrinsic values” – for example insertion loss. users must be able to rely on the manufacturer's data.2.5 µm for multi-mode fibres and ferrules with 2. return loss. 2. or mechanical stability.1254.1.0800 DIN/LSA ([German: fibre-optic cable connector]. with fibre-optic connectors no differentiation is made between plug and jack.5 mm or 1. It can be combined to duplex and multiplex connections. Fibre-optic connectors contain a ferrule for the accommodation and exact positioning of the fibre end and are attached to one another via a coupler with a sleeve.

2998 FC (Fibre Connector. but has disadvantages in optical performance and reliability.090. and it is therefore not popular in modern racks with high packing density.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 5 . In the mean time. 030. The connector is distinctive due to its compact design and simple handling. connectors with up to 72 fibres are in development.0632 30. Its threaded coupling makes it disadvantageous in cramped circumstances. its appearance and functionality is similar to the SC at half the size. The first true WAN connector and still in use in millions of applications. 090. MPO (IEC 61754-7) The MPO (multi patch push-on) is based upon a plastic ferrule in order to hold up to 24 fibres in one connector.25 mm ferrule.2360 090. IEC 61753-13) A robust and proven connector of the first generation.2724 MU connector (IEC 61754-6) Arguably the first small form connector. Based on a 1.0635 White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.

It is used as a duplex connector. The optical and mechanical performance is below the level of an SC-RJ or E-2000™. 030. IEC 61754-22) Threaded connector without physical contact between the ferrules. It was developed by the company Lucent (LC stands for Lucent Connector). IEC 61753-15) This connector is a development of Diamond SA. which focuses on LAN and CATV applications. It is produced by three licensed manufacturers in Switzerland.5196 F-3000 (IEC 61754-20 compatible) LC compatible connector with dust and laser cap. but also against laser beams. It was the first standardized fibre-optic connector.0634 090. This allows very high packing density. making its usage in data centres attractive.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 6 . Its appearance matches that of the RJ45 commonly found in copper networks. The connector has a locking latch retention mechanism that is coded both mechanically and according to colour. The duplex coupler matches the size of an SC coupler (SC footprint). It is the first connector to achieve Grade A* performance.25 mm diameter. Its construction is based upon a ferrule with 1. F-SMA: (Sub-Miniature Assembly. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. which also results in an unmatched standard of quality.E-2000™ (LSH.3178 MT-RJ (IEC 61751-18) The MT-RJ is a connector for usage in LANs. today it is only used for PFC/HCS or POF. The integrated protective shutter protects against dust and scratches. 090. LC connector (IEC 61754-20) The connector belongs to a new generation of compact connectors.2427 090.

It is expressed in decibel. the ferrule is polished to a convex end to ensure that the fibre cores touch at their highest point. R&M has released a white paper covering the SC-RJ ("SC-RJ – Reliability for every Category"). 2. 090. It is an allrounder – usable from Grade A* to M.5 mm ferrule sleeve technology is used. 60 to 90 dB for APC and 20 to 40 dB for multimode fibres. The higher the RL value in decibels. Typical RL values lie between 35 and 50 dB for PC. SC-RJ (IEC 61754-24) As the name already reveals. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. but also with optical and mechanical performance. from WAN to LAN. The term HRL (High Return Loss) is frequently used. Return loss The return loss RL is a measure of the portion of light that is reflected back to the source at the junction. the developers at R&M oriented themselves on the RJ45 format. This is more robust and reliable when compared to the 1. Two SCs form a unit in the size of an RJ45. the IP67 version of the SC-RJ is recommended. but it has the same meaning as APC.3. PC (Physical Contact) APC (Angled Physical Contact) In PC polishing. In the early days of fibre-optic plug-in connectors. the lower are the reflections. from laboratory to outdoors. This reduces the occurrence of reflections at the junction. while current standards require PC (Physical Contact) polishing or APC (Angled Physical Contact) polishing.2740 090. For the latter usage. The SC-RJ impresses not only with its compact design. This is equivalent to the SFF (Small Form Factor).LX.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 7 . Developed by ADC.5 (IEC 61754-23) Similar in size and design to the LC and F-3000 but with only limited compatibility with these due to variations in ferrule spacing as duplex.2730 2.25 mm ferrule. the abutting endfaces were polished to an angle of 90° to the fibre axis. from single mode to POF.

different refractive indexes or eccentricities of the core. 14. the influence of fibre tolerances and fibre-optic cable quality are not considered. Insertion loss For losses at the connection point of two optical fibres. The advantage: these modes are not carried back in the fibre. portions of the light or modes are diffused at the coupling point (red arrow). and contaminants.652 D = sin Θ ⇒ Θ = sin −1 ( NA G .0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 8 . a distinction is generally made between “intrinsic” losses due to the fibre and “extrinsic” losses resulting from the connection. the better the signal transmission in a plug-in connection. Here. SC connectors are also sold with a 9° angle. By comparison: The fibre itself has a return loss of 79. They possess IL and RL values identical to 8° versions. Losses resulting from the connection occur due to. although modes are also reflected. due to the 8° or 9° angle they occur at an angle greater than the acceptance angle for total reflection. 81.4 dB at 1310 nm.4. A well-polished and cleaned PC connector exhibits approx. and for this reason they have not established themselves worldwide. for example.652 D ) = sin −1 (0.7 dB at 1550 nm and 82. The following notes and information refer to connection losses. among other things. From the calculation of the acceptance angle according to NAG . the convex end surfaces of the ferrules are polished to an angle (8°) relative to the fibre axis.13) = 7. with different core radii. scratches. eccentricities. The technical transmission grade of a fibre-optic plug-in connector is primarily determined by two characteristics: the insertion loss IL and the return loss RL.A further improvement in return loss is achieved by using the APC polishing technique.5° are decoupled after only a few centimetres and therefore cannot reach the source and interfere. Return loss due to reflection As a result of the junction between two fibres. The smaller the IL and the larger the RL value.7 dB RL against air and 45-50 dB when plugged in. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. pointing errors or radial misalignment. reflections and roughness on the endfaces.2 dB at 1625 nm (all values at a pulse length of 1 ns).47 ° it follows that all modes possessing an angle greater than 7. A good APC connector exhibits at least 55 dB RL against air and 60-90 dB when plugged in. 8° With the APC connector. 2. Losses due to the fibre occur.

roughness on the endfaces. the less light energy is lost. the physical loss is identical. For this reason. angular errors (angular pointing error) or radial misalignment (concentricity). Primary causes are misalignment and pointing errors. Extrinsic losses The more precisely the fibre cores meet.5. between 1. specifications with the designation -dB and +dB are also used. It is calculated from the ratio of the light power in the fibre cores before (PIN) and after (POUT) the connection and is expressed in decibels. Dämpfung [ dB] = −10 ⋅ log( [Loss] POUT ) PIN The smaller the value. R&M uses a positive loss declaration because a negative loss can be understood as an amplification and which is not logical.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 9 . for example. depending on grade.3°.1 to 0. As explained at the outset.Insertion loss is a measure of the losses that occur at the connection point.6 µm (measured from the fibre axis to the ferrule exterior diameter).1 dB or 0. In both cases.0 µm and 1. Typical IL values lie in the range from 0. Angular pointing error: The so-called angular pointing error should be <0. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.5 dB. 2. Concentricity: According to IEC 61755-3-1+2. but also a pointing error. Greater pointing errors cause stress on the fibre that can lead to fibre breakage. the fibre always has a certain clearance in the bore. If two ferrules or plug-in connectors are plugged together without taking additional steps. The different definitions result from the calculation formula with -10xlog or 10xlog. Reflections and roughness play a subordinate role in the loss.1 dB. This causes additional concentricity. As a result. high-precision fibres are glued in no less precise ceramic ferrules. the lower are the signal losses. In the marketplace. the connection-dependent extrinsic losses result from reflections. The ferrule bore must be larger than the fibre to allow the fibre to be inserted. the risk exists that the concentricity and angular pointing error add up and thus increase the loss. the maximum concentricity may be. a patch cable could be specified with -0.

Angular pointing error > 0.2.6.Angular pointing error > 0.3° play a subordinate role in loss calculation.7° begin of glass breakage .4° increasing loss . For larger angular pointing errors.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 10 . Angular pointing errors below 0. Calculation of the loss depending on concentricity and angular pointing error EN 50733-8-3 stipulates the following formula for the calculation of the loss resulting from concentricity and angular pointing error: η combined = − 10 ⋅ log ⎢ Where: ⎡ 4 A2 2 ⎣ B ⎡ 2 ⋅ l 2 C ⋅ A2 2 ⎤⎤ ⋅ exp ⎢ − ⋅ (sin Θ ) ⎥ ⎥ B ⎣ B ⎦⎦ 2 2 2 n0 A = ω1 ⋅ ω 2 . C = 2π ⋅ 2 2 λ l= Ө= Λ= lateral misalignment between fibre cores pointing error between the fibres wavelength (in vacuum) n0 = ω1 = ω2 = refractive index of the fibre core mode-field radius of transmitting fibre mode-field radius of receiving fibre The following diagram shows the loss curve for various angular pointing errors and concentricities. B = ω1 + ω 2 . the following critical effects occur: .Angular pointing error > 1.95° certain glass breakage White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.

Stress loads reduce the service life and optical properties of the fibre – particularly BER (Bit Error Rate). Summary: Reducing losses and loads To minimise insertion loss of plug-in connections. If two tuned connectors are connected to each other.3° should be avoided to prevent stress on the fibre. modal noise and high-power tolerance.7.2. Connectors which can be tuned offer the ability to turn the ferrule in 60° or 90° steps. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. An angular pointing error >0.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 11 . the radial misalignment of two connected fibres must be as small as possible. the deviation of the core position is reduced in the ferrule – which leads to significantly better performance when compared to untuned connectors. This is achieved by defining a quadrant of the ferrule in which the core must lie.

for >97% of samples ≤ 1. They define geometric parameters for fibre-optic plug-in connectors. for >97% of samples Return Loss Grade Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Return Loss Random mated IEC 61300-3-6 ≥ 60 dB (mated) and ≥ 55 dB (unmated) ≥ 45 dB ≥ 35 dB ≥ 26 dB Overview of performance criteria of the new performances grades for data transmission in fibre-optic connections according to IEC 61753.07 dB mean ≤ 0. a Grade A*/4 would not make sense. and for this reason the following common combinations have established themselves: Grade A* Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade B Grade C Grade D ( ) ( ) White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. the IL grades (A* to D) can be mixed at will with RL grades. Data centres and telecommunications companies can determine the fibre-optic assortment according to usage and make faster and more targeted purchasing decisions.25 dB max. patch cables. Theoretically.50 dB max. for >97% of samples ≤ 0. New catalogue of requirements Approved in March 2007. for >97% of samples ≤ 0. However. the standard IEC 61753 describes application-oriented grades for connection elements in fibre-optic networks (see table). They also avoid the purchase of over-specified products which in service potentially do not deliver the expected loss values. The current requirements catalogue is based in part on IEC 61753.50 dB mean ≤ 0. and pigtails. Additionally.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 12 .00 dB max.3. This standard defines loss values. Criteria for multimode fibres are still under discussion. Standards and quality grades 3. The interaction of these three standards creates the basis for the compatibility of fibre-optic plug-in connectors from different manufacturers and for the determination of manufacturer-neutral loss values.25 dB mean ≤ 0.12 dB mean ≤ 0. The definition of Grade A* has not yet been finalised. The clear identification according to grades and the test method required by the IEC help planners and those responsible for networks during the needs-based selection of plug-in connectors. Attenuation Grade Grade A* Grade B Grade C Grade D Attenuation random mated IEC 61300-3-34 ≤ 0.1.15 dB max. the standards IEC 61755-3-1 and IEC 61755-3-2 play a role.

Max ≤0.25 dB Mean ≤0. Particularly in large networks. Eachto-each means that the loss of a connector to a reference connector is not measured. are based upon a best-case measurement under laboratory conditions.3. The rational for this model: The loss values generated according to the IEC specification for random connector pairs is much closer to actual operating conditions than manufacturer-specified loss values that. which as already noted had low reliability for each-to-each connections.2. 0. unclear range of tolerance ≤2. every planner can use the proper class to meet existing needs – which guarantees an optimal cost/benefit ratio. This is an optimal basis for the calculation of link attenuation.3. Example: Specification 0.2 dB (possibly higher if different manufacturers are combined or unadjusted connectors are used) Mean ≤0. Max ≤0. the reference cable is selected so the measurement in the factory results in the lowest possible value [lower than can be achieved later in practice (also see 4.12 dB. in many cases.2 dB ≤0.1 dB connector Grade C Grade B Grade A* Each-to-each values approx.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 13 .25 dB. Now the stated mean values can be used for calculation. Max ≤0. 3.50 dB Mean ≤0.07 dB. every connector of a lot is connected to every other connector once and the loss of the combination connector/sleeve/connector measured. but rather that for testing purposes. the connector is measured against a reference cable. Here. 2 dB. In best-case measurements. it was previously necessary to calculate with the maximum value.12 dB Budget for 10 connections approx.3)]. In this way. Each-to-each values The loss values specified in IEC 61753 are also referred to as each-to-each (or random mate) values.5 dB ≤1.70 dB White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. Mean values One new development resulting from grades is the call for mean values.

5 mm ferrule) Grade B Minimum H: F: G: Grade C Minimum 0 0 0 Maximum 50 0. mm Maximum 50 0.0003 0 0 0 Geometric parameters for fibre-optic connectors according to IEC 61755-3-1 and 61755-3-2.0015 0.0014 0.0003 0 0 0 IEC 61755-3-2 (APC connector. mm Radius. F.0012 0. 2.The causes of loss detailed in Chapter 2 are known to the IEC standardisation committees. and G presented below.0003 Grade D Minimum 0 (⇒NA) 0 0 (⇒NA) Maximum 0 (⇒NA) 0.0010 0. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. mm Radius. For this reason they defined the parameters H. mm Maximum 50 0.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 14 . 2.0015 NA Remarks Degrees Radius.0003 Grade D Minimum NA 0 NA Maximum NA 0.5 mm ferrule) Grade B Minimum H: F: G: Grade C Minimum 0 0 0 Maximum 50 0.0016 0 (⇒NA) Remarks Degrees Radius. Grades B and C Grade D IEC 61755-3-1 (PC connector.

products are constructed for a service life of 200. At the highest quality level. The bond must remain reliable for many years. but also chemical. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. This is done fully automatically in the Wetzikon factory to maintain the balance between cost and precision and to guarantee perfect replication. The ferrules in which the fibres are later embedded pass through a rigorous incoming inspection before entering production. performs one-off testing. first-class materials and total quality control are required for the manufacture of reliable highperformance fibre-optic plug-in connectors. For patching.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 15 . R&M requires a precision of 0. Using tweezers.000 hours. depending upon requirements.2 µm and. for example. This machine applies adhesive between the ferrules and inner connector enclosure. The stresses that the tiny components of a fibre-optic connector are subjected to could hardly by more demanding. Precision – not only mechanical. A needle gauges the bores and checks their concentricity. Actual production begins when the ferrules and springs are placed in the Alberino – the inner connector enclosure – and the ferrules are glued in place. They should be able to easily withstand 500 to 1000 plug cycles.000 to 250. Manufacturing 4. or 25 years. the connectors must also withstand high sheering forces.4.1. they are carefully placed in a special measuring device and rolled along their longitudinal axis. Connectors Precision work. The incoming inspection – strict hurdle for the ferrules. At R&M. Precise concentricity is a critical factor for the later light transmission in the connector.

Adjusting / Tuning One of the most important steps in production is the adjustment of the fibre-optic connector (also called tuning). Typical arrangement of fibre axes after tuning. [Diagram: Max Versatz justiert = Max misalignment.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 16 . The components are subjected to enormous stress and designed for decades of service life. Effects that result from Hertz'ian contact pressure theory are used. The coiled spring that presses the ferrule against its mate must also meet the highest standards. the contact pressure is non-isotropic due to the surface at the fibre end.4. Anti-twist protection on the connector. Sector in which the fibres must be located. adjusted Max Versatz nicht justiert = Max misalignment. To minimise attenuation due to extrinsic losses. Its tension must remain over years so that the fibre ends are pressed together with a constant force of about 10 N. the resulting concentricity in the ferrule must be turned to the sector specified by the standard. excepting SMA. Contact pressure is the force per unit contact area of two solid bodies. According to IEC 61755-3+-2 all connectors Grade C and higher must be tuned. 4. it has a direction and is not necessarily constant across the contact area. and inner connector enclosure together are never allowed to fail. This means that like a voltage.1. In contrast to area pressure. all types have a defined insertion orientation.2. unadjusted] White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. That requires a perfect bond and form-fit. ferrule. Assembly The glued areas holding the fibres.2. View inside the high-performance connector E-2000™.

The exemplary excerpt from a measurement protocol below shows the parameters and calculations. one value alone cannot be considered.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 17 . Interferometry The surface quality of the fibre end is of great significance for the transmission characteristics and the service life of a connector.3 µm. Instead. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. the complete geometry must be examined within the framework of production and quality control.Tuning does not change the fibre in the ferrule. Tuning minimizes fibre misalignment and the angular error remains under 0.2. This means: It lies without any disturbing force effects in the ferrule. The ferrule itself (or the ferrule holder) is turned in the connector and brought to the correct position. Here. 4.2.

the larger the contact pressure and vice versa [see fibre height (planar fit)]: for APC 5-12 mm. In the representation above. The polish of the fibre is measured. For clarity. Fibre Height (Spherical Fit): Fibre Height (Planar Fit): Apex Bearing: Angle Error: Key Error: Fibre / Ferrule Roughness: White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. The smaller the radius. Apex Offset: Position of the fibre axis measured relative to the axis of the radius or the highest point of the polished ferrule in µm (0. Modern interferometers take this formula into consideration and calculate the acceptable values for PASS/FAIL criteria. 6 o'clock = 180°. Angle or pointing error of the APC plug endface measured to the antitwist protection.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 18 . For this. See also IEC 61300-3-23. A calculated line to the radius of the polished ferrule.The parameters in detail: Ferrule Radius of Curvature: Radius of the convex-polished surface. represented in the diagrams of the measurement protocol by a dashed line. it should be mentioned that negative values indicate a protrusion and positive values an undercut. in the example above by -39 nm. the fibre may be polished further. In our example 8° ±0. the red cross is the fibre axis. the blue cross the highest point of the polished ferrule. the undercut may be up to 580 nm.3° according to R&M specification. A calculated value. etc. The fibre is somewhat softer than zirconia ceramic and is therefore generally somewhat undercut. Arithmetic average roughness value of the ferrule or fibre in nm. for PC 5-25 mm allowed. If the apex were 70 µm. 3 o'clock = 90°. The value depends strongly on the radius and apex.5° according to standard or ±0. Example: With a radius of 5 mm and apex 0 µm. the curve is translated into a line and the protrusion or undercut is represented.001 mm) Position of the fibre axis as angle. Angle of the plug endface. the undercut could then be 100 nm (see also IEC 61755-3-2 Annex A). 12 o'clock = 0°. Since a small radius means more contact pressure.

White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. all zones must be absolutely free from contaminants. and therefore this zone must be specially inspected. This involves inspecting the surfaces of the fibre ends for scratches. 25 µm represents three times the core diameter of the fibre. This zone is also important because the interferometry check measures up to ø250 µm. • Zone D: Although this is already the area of the ferrule.2.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 19 . pitting. this zone must be inspected since through the contact pressure of the connector it is also part of the junction. Surface inspection The optical surface inspection must still always be performed despite the interferometry test. But here too there is zero tolerance for contamination. even here a minimum of 100x is recommended. To achieve the defined optical characteristics of the connector. A distinction is made between four zones (see diagram): • Zone A: No scratches or pitting allowed. A lower magnification may be used for simple contaminant inspection in the field. • Zone B to C: Small scratches and some pitting may be allowed. Cleaned connector Water residue Dust particles Exemplary results of a surface inspection. adhesive residue and contamination.4.3. However. The visual surface inspection requires a minimum of 200x magnification.

Untuned connectors are always tested using the best-case method. a reference connector is used that is intended to result in the lowest possible insertion loss value with all parts from the lot. Since the reference connector is centred. The focus is thus on the lowest possible value that can be determined in the factory. on average it will exhibit a smaller misalignment than in the case of each-to-each. To check the values at the factory and still guarantee the each-to-each values. the insertion loss values can be good compared to the reference. The blue area in the diagram on the right shows the area of the reference connector. the manufacturer must periodically perform each-to-each tests to verify and demonstrate compliance with the max and mean values. Worst-case test (R&M method): The tuning of the connector to be checked must be absolutely reliable. A connector would therefore already be worn by the test. and therefore the each-to-each values are smaller than or equal to the reference. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. and therefore the determined values should be considered more as a guideline. However. but each-to-each may be up to twice as high (note once again the diagram from Chapter 4. For adjusted connectors.). The majority of all connectors thus has a smaller misalignment between each other than to the reference connector. etc.1. 100 patch cables result in 9900 measurements. these cannot be checked at the factory since for 10 patch cables this would entail 90 measurements. values are used as a basis at the factory that are the same or higher as the each-to-each values. adjusted Max Versatz nicht justiert = Max misalignment. unadjusted] Best-case test: A majority of manufacturers use best-case testing.4. Here. This means: All fibres must be located in the defined zone (red area). For untuned connectors. Reality. the model described above does not work.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 20 . If this is not the case. Insertion loss IL The IEC 61753-1 (see also Chapter 3) specifies each-to-each (random) values. is ignored. [Diagram: Max Versatz justiert = Max misalignment. Despite the worst-case measurement method. that is: each-to-each. R&M uses the worst-case testing method.3.2.

Due to the risks in practical usage that accompany the manufacturer's specifications derived under laboratory conditions.1 dB assemblies on the market do not effectively achieve the performance in practice of a Grade A* or at least Grade B. since no PC connector can achieve such a high RL value against air. together with the insertion loss values. Likewise. Grade 1 is first specified as mated (plugged-in) and unmated (against air). Recommendation: During the evaluation of a manufacturer. Furthermore. 4. With the grades defined in IEC 61753 on the basis of each-to-each insertion loss values. the Grades 1 to 4 are specified as the allowable return losses (see also Chapter 3). Values >55 dB unmated are only permitted by APC connectors. planners and installers have a guideline available for product selection. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. it should be enquired if the connectors are adjusted. with the introduction of IEC 61753.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 21 . Return loss test In IEC 61753-1. no additional requirements – when compared with existing standards – have been defined.From this comparison it is obvious why the 0. Otherwise. Designations such as SPC or UPC are not defined in any standard and should therefore not be used. users should pay attention to transparent grade specifications when purchasing. Grades 2 to 4 correspond to the PC connector.4. questions should always be asked regarding the measurement methods used in quality assurance. in practice twice the specified value should be assumed.

1 dB Grade C Ceramic 0. R&M has also adopted the grade philosophy for couplings.75 dB (100%) ≤ 0.35 dB ≥ 26 dB ≥ 35 dB IL test according to IEC61300-3-34.12 dB ≥ 65 dB ≥ 85 dB ≤1W Grade B/2 ≤ 0. Performance according to the definition of R&M Definition IL/RL at R&M Insertion loss (IL) 97% Insertion loss (IL) typical value Return loss (RL) Typical Laser power. the patch cables "suddenly" exhibit values between 0. For this reason. even the best connector is worthless when it is inserted into a bad coupler. Since the prescribed minimal RL requirements are not sufficient for high-performance connectors.2.25 dB ≥ 45 dB ≥ 55 dB ≤ 300 mW Grade D/3 ≤ 1.5.07 dB ≥ 50 dB ≥ 55 dB ≤ 300 mW Grade B/1 ≤ 0. IL Sleeve Material Insertion Loss (IL) Delta IEC61300-3-4 Grade B Ceramic 0.2 dB Grade N Phosphorous bronze 0. 23° C Definition IL/RL at R&M Insertion loss (IL) 97% Insertion loss (IL) typical value Return loss (RL) Typical Grade A*/1 ≤ 0. RL test according to IEC61300-3-6. They are always at least as strict as required by the standard – or better. Where do these serious discrepancies originate that often occur in practice? White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1.25 dB ≥ 60 dB ≥ 80 dB ≤ 500 mW Grade C/2 ≤ 0.3 dB. Consequences from the application of quality grades 5.2 dB Grade D Phosphorous bronze 0. Manufacturer specifications and real usage conditions An example from real life demonstrates why the use of grades is so important: A network operator uses patch cable with an insertion loss specified by the manufacturer of 0. During measurements on the ground. R&M has set the following values for its products.50 dB ≥ 35 dB ≥ 45 dB Grade M/4 ≤ 0.3 dB 5.3 dB Grade M Ceramic 0. in some aspects R&M exceeds the requirements of IEC 61753.00 dB ≤ 0.07 dB ≥ 80 dB ≥ 90 dB ≤2W Grade A*/2 ≤ 0.15 dB ≤ 0.50 dB ≤ 0.15 dB ≤ 0.25 dB ≤ 0. However.2 and 0.1. 500h. inserted IEC61300-2-14. R&M began with the use of quality grades and since then has incorporated the associated standards step-by-step into the production process.12 dB ≥ 45 dB ≥ 55 dB ≤ 300 mW Grade C/1 ≤ 0. To properly portray technical advances.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 22 . Implementation at R&M As early as 2005.25 dB ≤ 0.50 dB ≤ 0.1 dB. The following values were used as a basis: Optical characteristics.

if the patch cables are connected each-to-each.15 dB.The manufacturer had determined the value found in the product specification in a best-case environment. it is important to note the following: The installation of fibre-optics and the handling of connectors in daily practice require special expertise and a great deal of training. instruction. and certification. However. as well as long-term guarantees. Delays in initial start-up and expensive replacement purchases are unavoidable. White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. R&M has adopted the IEC 61753 grades and additionally uses an infactory worst-case quality check. R&M offers all those who take part the necessary support. network planners often purchase expensive and over-specified products only to then discover to their surprise that the calculated insertion loss budget cannot be met. Then he could have counted on a maximum insertion loss of ≤0. it lies significantly above the best-case measurement result.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 23 . This unrealistic – but unfortunately still common – measurement method has consequences: Unaware of the precise measurement conditions for manufacturer's specifications. The network operator in the example above would have done better with patch cables according to IEC 61753 Grade A*. For this. In contrast to other manufacturers. particularly low-loss reference or master cables are used to achieve the lowest possible value during insertion loss measurement. It is therefore recommended to consider the appropriate certification of the specialist firm or personnel. With the Qualified Partner Program (QPP). In this context. this value can no longer be reproduced.

IEC standards are valid world-wide. with grades he can ensure the compatibility of all connectors. 2. what advantages do I have from the usage of quality grades? 1. Then place an additional cable between them to generate the first value (measurement at a connector since one is already referenced). As shown. Depending upon the application and environmental influences. Although no one is harmed if one does not comply with a standards – in contrast to fire classification of cables. Can I verify compliance with the grades? There are two possibilities: 1.rdm. Worth a special mention are the categories C for interior applications (controlled environment) and U for exterior applications (uncontrolled environment). You know what you are getting. since values achieved in the field are not disclosed. Mean test: The serial patching of several cables is somewhat less meaningful but simpler to perform. and mechanical stresses.4 dB/km. Sources and Additional Information For more information to the products and solutions from R&M please visit www.com White Paper | Quality Grades for Fibre-Optic Connectors | v1. variations in temperature. the more significant is the measurement. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) As a customer. The effort is substantial but indispensable for a supplier evaluation. by using quality grades it is possible to precisely specify what is delivered. but also testing conditions. since it is <0. 7. patch cables must meet the values under vibration. Such tests can also be commissioned with a laboratory. Max and Mean test: Take a number of patch cables and check all connectors each-to-each. Additionally. What risks exist if I do not work with grades in my network? IEC61753-1 not only defines insertion loss values. The number of patch cables represents the number of measurable junctions. Note: The costs for tests generally lie below the cost for the troubleshooting and repairs that must be performed in an already installed network. Calculate the loss obtained divided by the number of connections. The availability of the network is not guaranteed in the same way. For 10 patch cables. The more patch cables are used. Proceed identically with the second. Use two patch cables from the lot as a reference and use them to zero out the measuring device. and then additional cables. 2. If a user has several locations and/or several suppliers. For example. This produces a typical value per connector.0 | en | Daniel Eigenmann 24 . Other specifications are unclear or potentially even misleading. The fibre attenuation can be neglected. 90 measurements are necessary. it is easier to compare offers and network planning is simplified since all parameters are defined. various environmental categories and environmental situations are specified.6.