Network Communications News (NCN) NCN-Sept2017 - Page 32

FIBRE OPTIC & COPPER CABLING rendering, multi-modal local and wide area wireless connectivity, internal memory capacity, powerful operating systems with elaborate application software ecosystems, etc.), it is compelling for suppliers to utilise these devices to augment the fibre inspection system user experience. Self-contained inspection probes with integrated screens, and internal image storage and processing functions can utilise either Bluetooth or WiFi to connect to smart devices and the inspection apps they run. Bluetooth has sufficient over-the- air bandwidth to support the rapid transfer of end-face still images and analysis overlay graphics (typically GIF files). However, Bluetooth does not have sufficient bandwidth to support the real-time ‘streaming’ of full resolution end- face motion images (MJPEG format typically). So headless inspection probes without integrated image storage and pass/fail analysis processing must use WiFi (typically 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.11b/g/n) to preserve a responsive and interactive user experience. While wireless connections to smart devices running apps is here to stay in the fibre inspection world, there are relative merits to probes with integrated displays versus headless probes that rely on external ‘smarts’. For example, ‘The future is bright for inspection system end users and their service provider customers.’ An example of an early digital fibre scope probe with external screen and control unit. some data centres and other fibre facilities prohibit any radio frequency (RF) transmissions, making the use of Bluetooth and WiFi impossible. A n d b e c a u se sma r t d ev i c e s d o n ot a l wa y s i m p l e me nt t h e h o st t y p e US B i nte r fa c e ( t h e y m a y o n l y i mp l e me nt t h e d ev i c e t y p e US B i nte r fa c e) , a n d p ro b e s a l so i m p l e me nt t h e d ev i c e t y p e US B i nte r fa c e , w i re d o r tet h e re d US B co n n e ct i v i t y to a sma r t d ev i c e ma y n ot b e p o ssi b l e . S o me su p p l i e r s n ow of fe r ‘ n o w i re l e ss’ se l f- co nta i n e d p ro b e s t h at c a n b e u se d i n R F se c u re n et wo r k fa c i l i t i e s. The other challenge with smart device paired probes is the fact that these systems tie up both hands of the operator: one hand to hold the probe and the other hand to hold the smartphone or tablet. When climbing ladders, for example, many technicians appreciate having a hand free, and will thus prefer self-contained inspection probes. Of course, one advantage of tetherless RF connectivity is that the smart device may be located many meters away from the probe, enabling the potential for much higher mobility. Finally, an advantage of headless probes with no display is that their form factor (length, width, height and weight) can allow much easier access to densely populated fibre distribution frames or transmission equipment with high front panel port density. Some headless probes include four colour LEDs to indicate power state status, inspection pass or inspection fail status, and “no fibre detected” status. Headless inspection probes are an excellent match with cloud-based workflow management solutions, since cloud infrastructure provides unlimited storage with incorruptible inspection report security, plus the ability to flexibly rerun pass/fail analyses in th e future as international end face cleanliness standards are updated. There are some convenience and usability features to consider when purchasing a fibre inspection probe. Can the probe or supporting software generate PDF file inspection reports and make the export of these reports easy for novice users? Can the inspection probe resolve end face debris particles down to one micron feature size using magnification power of 400x or higher? Does the probe field of view dimensions support the single mode and multimode fibre types to be used in the targeted application? Are the inspection apps compliant to the iOS and/or Android operating system revision in use by your organisation? Does the inspection probe meet all required safety and compliance certifications? Is the probe battery removable if needed to meet air transport safety requirements? Does the supplier provide a device warranty that meets your organisation’s expectations? With data rates in data centre optical Ethernet links looking forward to 200G, 400G and even 600G, there is a great deal of interest among Internet Content/ Service Providers to assure their facilities have microscopically pristine optical connections, to guarantee network reliability and performance. The fibre inspection equipment suppliers have responded to this demand with innovative new products, some of the characteristics of which have been covered in this short article. Combined with an array of specialised and efficacious fibre connector cleaning products, the future is bright for inspection system end-users and their service provider customers. For further information visit: www.AFLglobal.com 32 | September 2017