Optical Loss Budget – An Introduction

When designing a fiber optic link, how to ensure that there will be enough light for the application to work? Or, after installing the optical link, how to ensure that the material has of good quality and that the workforce used in the installation followed all the recommendations and good practices?

Each application (or physical network protocol, such as Ethernet, for example) for fiber optics establishes a maximum attenuation (or loss) in the channel for it to work without performance degradation. If the channel attenuation is higher than the expected, the bit error rate (BER) begins to increase, causing network slowdowns and eventually dropping the link.

Each optical component bought and installed must also have a maximum expected loss, defined in structured cabling standards. When acquiring and installing optical links, we should know what this loss is, so we can compare it to the measurements performed at the time of network certification. If the measured loss is greater than expected, whether the material acquired is not so good, or the manpower used in the installation did not follow the normative recommendations and the respective suppliers. In this case, the link may not be able to receive the extended warranty from the manufacturer.

It is precisely for this that there is such a thing as the “optical loss budget”, a calculation of how much loss an optical link should present, at maximum, to ensure the quality of the installation and the operation of the network.

See you next time!

Marcelo Barboza, RCDD, DCDC, NTS, ATS
Clarity Treinamentos