Which connector is best?

Questions have arisen recently on the ability of field-terminated

no-epoxy/no-polish (NENP) connectors to support high-data-rate digital

systems and analog video systems. These questions have resulted in a

number of businesses and campuses installing factory-terminated fibers

through the use of fusion splicers instead of field-terminated fibers.

In tests to judge the ability of field-terminated single-mode NENP

connectors to reliably support high-data-rate (10 Gbps, 40 Gbps) and

analog video systems in a manner equivalent to fusion-spliced,

factory-manufactured connectorized pigtails, four backbone architecture

scenarios were evaluated. These included point-to-point and mesh at

distances of 300 meters to 12 kilometers to compare the high-data-rate

and analog video performances of the single-mode NENP SC connector to a

spliced single-mode SC connector pigtail.

For each scenario, the single-mode NENP SC connectors had -40 dB

reflectance and the single-mode SC pigtails had -55 dB reflectance.

Single-mode NENP SC connectors with -55 dB reflectance were also

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included for the analog video system evaluation. Each connector utilized

a flat polished ferrule end-face.

NENP SC connectors and fusion-spliced pigtails were installed on

each backbone cable, while factory-manufactured SC jumpers with -55 dB

reflectance were used for patch panel cross-connects and interconnects.

A certified contractor installed each connector to represent actual

field-deployable conditions.

Testing of 10 Gbps was performed at the 1,310-nm wavelength in

accordance with the IEEE-802.310GBASE-LR physical media dependent, using

a standards-compliant transceiver. A minimum average receiver power

level of -14.4 dBm is specified for a bit error rate (BER) of 10^-12. A

stringent pseudorandom binary (bit)sequence (PRBS)of 2^31-1 was used to

generate receiver BER waterfall curves for the comparative analysis.

Testing of 40 Gbps was performed at 1,550 nm using four

time-division multiplex 10-Gbps electrical data signals, with a PRBS of

2^31-1 to generate receiver BER waterfall curves for the comparative

analysis. Analog testing was performed across the 55- to 550-MHz

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frequency range using 77 multiplexed RF channels with transmission at

the 1,550-nm wavelength. A 6-MHz band pass filter was used to isolate

channels 2, 9 and 78 to perform the carrier-to-noise ratio (CNR)

comparative analysis using an electronic spectrum analyzer.

BER waterfall curves express the BER response to decreasing

received power. For each test scenario, a variable optical attenuator

was used to attenuate the receive power to derive the BER waterfall

curve. Each test scenario easily conformed to a BER of 10^-12 at the

minimum average receiver power level for 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps. The NENP

connectors exhibited equivalence performance for each test scenario when

compared to the spliced factory-terminated pigtails.

RF CNR analysis is the common metric for evaluating analog video

system performance. CATV standards define a minimum 43 dB for video

transmission. Three discrete channels were monitored to compare the CNR

performance for each scenario. Reference CNR measurements were made for

a back-to-back setup with transmission through a short fiber jumper and

compared to each tested scenario to derive a delta CNR. As with the

10-Gbps and 40-Gbps test results, the analog video test results for each

scenario showed that the NENP connectors give equivalent performance to

the spliced factory-terminated pigtails.

High-data-rate digital and analog video testing was performed to

evaluate the system performance difference between backbone single-mode

fiber cables terminated with NENP SC connectors and fusion-spliced

factory-polished SC connector pigtails. Test lengths simulated typical

distances and architecture topologies used in LANs. Test results showed

the NENP SC connector to have equivalent performance to a spliced SC

connector pigtail for 10-Gbps and 40-Gbps digital signals and analog

CATV signals.

Doug Coleman is manager of technology and standards for Corning

Cable Systems, Hickory, N.C.

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