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Insertion loss is one of those fiber-optic challenges that follows all network engineers, no matter where they’re working. Whenever you have a connection of one fiber to another, you will incur insertion loss.
This is the ninth in a blog series, entitled The A-B-Cs of Cable Management.Our Product Manager defines insertion loss and demonstrates the difference between loss on patch connections and fiber splices.
Insertion loss and light budgets are problems every engineer works with and figures out solutions for.
Insertion loss, expressed in decibels (dB), is the loss of signal power resulting from the insertion of a device in a transmission line or optical fiber.
The increasing number of fiber connections on hyperscale fiber networks is pushing insertion loss into the priority zone for engineers.
More connections mean higher rates of insertion loss, and higher rates of insertion loss mean trouble on your network.
And then there’s the difference between patch connections and fusion splices.
Patch connections will have increased insertion loss.
Typically, the loss for a patch connection ranges from 0.05dB to 0.2dB. This may seem like a large amount of signal loss, but patch connections carry the advantage of not being permanent. Technicians can use this advantage for:
These are great advantages, even though you have the larger amounts of insertion loss.
Fusion splice connections offer their own set of advantages. Instead of 0.05dB to 0.2dB of loss with a patch connection, a fusion splice normally incurs only between 0.05dB and 0.1dB of loss.
While you have the advantages of less loss with a fusion splice, there is one large drawback. The connection is permanent … well, sort of.
Yes, you can cut a splice and re-terminate in the field, but this is much more labor intensive than unplugging even the tiniest LC connector. Splicing has its place, but so does a patch connection.
Most modern telecom, enterprise, government or CATV networks have more than just patch and splice terminations to worry about.
Our customers deal with passive optical devices that incur insertion loss all over their networks. Telecom engineers worry about devices like splitters, CPRI monitoring and TAPs. CATV engineers face concerns about WDM devices and splitters.
These different networks employ devices that have inherent insertion loss.
As a technician or an engineer, it is your duty to work with your colleagues and suppliers to develop the loss budgets for your network. There are many ways you can reduce the loss in your network, such as:
1.Cleaning and maintaining your patch connection’s end faces
2.Using high-quality passive optical devices that have low insertion loss characteristics
3.Implementing ULL connectors that have substantially less theoretical insertion loss characteristics than standard connectors
4.Ensuring you are not creating situations where micro bends, micro fractures and macro bends can hurt your signal strength
At, we pride ourselves in our ability to work with our customers to provide high-quality solutions that will reduce the insertion loss of your network and pad your loss budgets. Our high-quality passive optical devices, cables with ULL connectors and our WaveTrax fiber raceway product line are all methods you can employ to reduce the amount of light loss in your network.

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