Need to test MPO cabling? No problem. -New MultiFiber Pro Optical Loss Tester reduces test time by 95%

July 19, 2012 / General, Installation and testing

MPO cabling used to be a royal pain to test.  Traditional cable testers just couldn't make the complexity of testing 12 fibers and managing a variety of polarity schemes easy. The technician had to use expensive fanout cables, and manually keep track of which fiber of which fiber was which.  Some network engineers I have spoken with in the healthcare industry had even decided not to use MPO cabling because testing was so hard to do in the field. But this is a tough position to take as the need for bandwidth drives the use of 40Gbps which standardizes on the use of MPO cabling to facilitate parallel optics.  The good news is that there is a new tester available called the MultiFiber Pro that eliminates the pain.  I think its going to change the industry's experience and improve our collective attitude toward MPO cabling.  Here is a little background:

Enterprise data centers have an insatiable appetite for bandwidth.  This is being driven by virtualization, cloud computing, storage area networks and a host of other factors that are causing a steady proliferation of fiber connections and ever-faster links. 

Up until recently, 10 Gbps was considered a top-end connection; now 40 Gbps is gaining traction, and some are even starting to look at 100 Gbps.   In fact, according to a recent Cisco report1, shipments of servers with 40 Gbps Ethernet interfaces are expected to grow by more than 40 percent in the near term.  

Multi-fiber Push-On (“MPO”) fiber trunks have become the default cabling solution to these ever-increasing data center bandwidth requirements. Because they are a natural fit for parallel optics, these fiber links are compact, pre-terminated, able to handle bandwidth all the way up to 100 Gbps, and even plug-and-play by design. 

What could go wrong? Well, it turns out that this type of MPO cabling can create a testing, certification and migration nightmare.  The standard testing process – and you are testing your pre-terminated cables, right? – can be time consuming, error prone and, once you throw polarity of 12 fibers connections into the mix, almost a hit-and-miss manual affair. 

And, if you migrate from 10 Gbps to 40/100 Gbps on the same cable, you need to test and validate performance all over again. So what would a proper MPO test look like?  

The answer is simple: test all twelve fibers – the whole cable – simultaneously and comprehensively (including loss, polarity, etc.). Fluke Networks is allowing customers to do just that with the launch of its new MultiFiber™ Pro Optical Power Meter and Light Source. It is the industry’s first MPO (Multi-Fiber Push On) fiber trunk tester that validates the performance of all 12 trunk fibers in a single test and reduces testing time by nearly 95 percent.2

In today’s market, few MPO fiber trunks are tested in the field, given it takes an average of 6.5 minutes to set up and test each of the 12 fibers in an MPO trunk.3  The MultiFiber Pro reduces that time to approximately 20 seconds (14 seconds for set up, 6 seconds for testing).4  For the average data center with 1,600 MPO trunks,5 the MultiFiber Pro tester can save contractors more than 155 hours of labor and $17,000 USD in costs, assuming an average burdened labor rate of $55 USD.6  

Before you challenge these assumptions on labor rates, just go online to the configurable ROI Calculator and plug in your own assumptions.  It will help you calculate the potential impact this tool can have over traditional test methods base on your own rates. 

Regardless of the savings,  you can now say goodbye to costly-fan out kits and time-consuming fiber testing. Say hello to the first tool to automate loss measurement of all 12 trunk fibers in a single test. 

The MultiFiber Pro is a single tester that provides all the necessary testing results needed including loss, power, polarity and limit.  It verifies both MPO permanent links or channels, and it tests trunk cables, patch cords and cassettes. The MultiFiber Pro includes the following features:      

“Scan All” test function that automatically tests all 12 fibers in an MPO connector.  
Built-in polarity verification for end-to-end connectivity of MPO trunk cables.
Innovative, intuitive user interface to display all 12 fiber test results.
An on-board MPO connector that eliminates the need, cost and complexity associated with a fan out cord.
A “Select Individual Fiber” function that allows the user to troubleshoot a single fiber with more precision.
Shuttered fiber connector ports that eliminate the need for dust caps and increases reliability by reducing contamination.
Integration with LinkWare 7 for seamless results management and reporting.

Whether you are an installer, network owner, designer, or cabling manufacturer, there is a lot for you to love about this!  Please visit the website for more information about Fluke Networks’ MultiFiber Pro or Fluke Networks’ industry leading suite of data center solutions.  1. Cisco Market Need for 40 Gigabit Ethernet Report, 2012.2. According to Fluke Networks research of standard competitive products and processes.3. According to Fluke Networks research of standard competitive products and processes.4. According to Fluke Networks research of standard competitive products and processes.5. According to a leading cabling manufacturer.6. According to an average burdened labor rate of a national installation contractor (