Dirt can be a death sentence

What happens
Soon, every house will have a fiber optic connection. For this reason, a great number of installation companies are now getting themselves up to speed on how to handle them properly. The most important thing is exercising great care. Cables, and above all the fibers themselves, must be kept clean and handled gently. The perpetual increase of data rates is making transmission quality more sensitive to dirty connections – even with multimode!

Good to know
The performance of a fiber optic system depends heavily on how clean the interfaces are. Dirt particles, grease, dust etc. can negatively impact transmission characteristics. They can even destroy a fiber optic connection in some circumstances. The connector can “burn” as they say in the trade.

If the connector is plugged in without first being inspected, it could well be too late. The high pressure in the connection means that particles are immediately pressed in and this causes irreversible damage.

This is why it is becoming increasingly important to test all connectors and adapters, and, if necessary, to clean them before they are mated. This even applies to new products that are taken directly out of their packaging.


Most connectors actually arrive at their place of deployment in the pristine state in which they left the production facility of conscientious manufacturers such as R&M. In such cases, the installer can actually only make the quality worse by cleaning the connector. Therefore, R&M recommends this simple rule: Always check first, then clean if necessary, then connect. For this reason a microscope or a similar test tool should always be available when carrying out installation work.

A recent white paper by R&M explains why the purity of the fiber stubs is of such great importance for signal transmission. The document provides information on test criteria and cleaning methods. In the specialist magazine CONNECTIONS No. 51, further important issues are covered on page 14.

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Daniel Eigenmann

By Daniel Eigenmann

Product Manager