Light loss in fiber cable is a serious issue because it can hamper or completely stop data transmission. With so many communications networks dependent on fiber optic cabling to transmit data, having a way to quickly diagnose problems means repairs can occur much more rapidly leading to less network downtime.
An OTDR works by injecting a series of optical pulses through the fiber which are reflected back to the injection point and measured for deviations or aberrations in the light wave. Based on the measurement of the deviation the trouble spot can usually be precisely located.
Some critics of OTDR systems point out that they can produce inaccurate measurements if two faults are located close to each other. There is also the potential issue of faulty measurements which can sometimes occur if the optical pulse has to travel a great distance. However with the proper training a technician can compensate for these issues and interpret the readings correctly.
All things considered when used correctly an optical technician will find an optical time domain reflectometer to be an invaluable instrument in the daily course of troubleshooting, repairing and maintaining fiber optic networks.
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