AFL Blog - The Best Medicine for Network Outage Headaches

By Barbara Shea
Product Market Lead, AFL Test & Inspection Division

Dirty or damaged single-fiber connectors have caused enormous headaches for service providers. Some studies have traced up to 85% of network outages to damaged connectors. Today, many providers require 100% connector inspection, along with proof, from their technicians and contractors to avoid costly downtime and unhappy customers.
If a dirty single-fiber connector is a headache, then a dirty MPO connector is a migraine for enterprises. The higher broadband speeds of the multifiber cables found in most data centers came at a price, they are extremely sensitive to attenuation and reflection and subsequently have dramatically lower link loss budgets. This means that multifiber connectors, commonly referred to as MPO (multifiber push on) connectors, must be pristine to avoid catastrophic consequences. These connectors are often in trays in ceilings or tightly packed into racks. Most are plugged in without inspection, or even cleaning, because of the time required and the assumption that new connectors are clean connectors. Legacy manual mechanical scanning tools, which took around 60 seconds per fiber, drove this behavior. Imagine trying to get a data center owner to pay $160,000 to spend 2,000 hours inspecting 10,000 12-fiber MPO connectors (using $80/hr). Now imagine selling that job to a hyperscale data center with tens of thousands of MPO connectors.
Obviously, there is a need for a faster MPO inspection solution. AFL’s FOCIS Lightning is an example of a new class of multifiber inspection probes. It is a hand-held, compact, self-contained unit that requires just a single button push to auto-focus, center, capture, analyze and store the entire MPO end-face. It takes just 10-seconds to inspect a 12-fiber connector. That same 10,000 connector example above can now be done in 28 hours for $2,220. Considering that the average cost of a data center outage is almost $750,000, according to a study from Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power, FOCIS Lightning is a great insurance policy.
Beyond the cost savings and peace of mind, FOCIS Lightning is also the top choice of technicians:
• Weighing just 9 ounces, its small size ensures it will not damage delicate bulkhead connectors. 
• The integrated LCD screen, rechargeable battery and onboard intelligence means it is not tethered to another device – freeing up one hand to move cables, etc. 
• Single pushbutton operation is much easier than squeezing a trigger 10,000 times – OUCH!
• For a limited time! Now includes single-fiber adapters making FOCIS Lightning an all-in-one solution
Now both Service Providers and Enterprises can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with fast, easy 100% inspection of both single-fiber and multifiber connectors.