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Last Updated: September 15, 2022

Mario Goduco

Part 4: Introduction to Fiber Optic Cable Assembly Manufacturing


The fiber optic assemblies - patch cords, pigtails, and terminated truck cables - have a series of standards to comply with today’s installations into high-speed networks and telco applications.

From an industry standpoint, there are a series of requirements and procedures to meet at a minimum for quality, reliability and intermate-ability with other suppliers of similar products.

Quick Overview of Industry Product Standards Organizations

  • TIA/EIA - TIA/EIA Engineering Standards and Publications are designed to serve the public interest through eliminating misunderstandings between manufacturers and purchasers, facilitating interchangeability and improvement of products, and assisting the purchaser in selecting and obtaining with minimum delay the proper product for his particular need. The existence of such Standards and Publications shall not in any respect preclude any member or nonmember of TIA/EIA from manufacturing or selling products not conforming to such Standards and Publications, nor shall the existence of such Standards and Publications preclude their voluntary use by those other than TIA/EIA members, whether the standard is to be used either domestically or internationally.
  • IEC - Founded in 1906, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”.  IEC provides a platform to companies, industries and governments for meeting, discussing and developing the International Standards they require.  All IEC International Standards are fully consensus-based and represent the needs of key stakeholders of every nation participating in IEC work. Every member country, no matter how large or small, has one vote and a say in what goes into an IEC International Standard.
  • Telcordia - Effective January 2012, Telcordia Technologies, Inc., was acquired by Ericsson providing vendor-neutral services to the industry, including GR development services. Generic Requirements (GRs) provide the industry view of proposed generic criteria for telecommunications equipment, systems, or services. These criteria consider a wide variety of factors, including interoperability, network integrity, participating-client expressed needs and other inputs.
  • Mil DoD - A United States defense standard, often called a military standard, “MIL-STD”, “MIL-SPEC”, or (informally) “MilSpecs”, is used to help achieve standardization objectives by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).   Department Of Defense is a military branch of the U.S. government, which is under the direction of the Secretary of Defense, the primary defense policy adviser to the President.
  • Commercial Aerospace - The United States Department of Defense Standards include product qualification, design, coatings and product validation which are to be applied to products based on the program requirements. Aerospace and commercial standards are applied in a similar manner.  CVG Strategy experts can help you with their interpretation, use, application and preparation of test plans.

Commercial Standards:

  • ASTM B117-03 Standard Practice for Operating Salt Spray (Fog) Apparatus
  • ASTM D1149-07 Standard Test Methods for Rubber Deterioration—Cracking in an Ozone Controlled Environment
  • ANSI/IEC 60529-2004 Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures (IP Code) (identical national adoption)
  • ANSI/NISO Z39.18-2005 Scientific and Technical Reports –Preparation, Presentation, and Preservation

Note: These standards are licensed.  This is a small subset of the US Military and Commercial Standards that are available only by licensed subscription.

  • Broadcast - In the United States, Standards and Practices (also referred to as Broadcast Standards and Practices) is the name traditionally given to the department at a television network that is responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that the network airs. Standards and Practices also ensure fairness on televised game shows, in which they are the adjunct to the judges at the production company level. For more than a century, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE) have developed thousands of standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines.  SMPTE is shaping the next generation of standards and providing education for the industry to ensure interoperability as the industry evolves further into IT- and IP-based workflows.  This includes standards on connector choices and requirements for geometry and IL/RL specs.

Different organizations and companies have specific markets they target and sell into.   Considering an all-encompassing standard, such as IEC (offers information and resources related to IEC technical work for the standards development process, as well as a brief explanation of IEC International Standards and other types of publications specific to electrotechnology), would satisfy most product requirements from mechanical, optical, environmental and reliability attributes.

During the Manufacture of Fiber Optic Assemblies

One of the only real “tests” of the product, during the manufacturing cycle, are the optical test results, where optical loss is measured with

  • light source
  • power meter

There are minimum standards to meet prior to shipping to customers. Unlike electrical assemblies that undergo a variety of tests from:

  • voltage
  • cross-talk
  • conductor resistance
  • insulation resistance
  • and others

Fiber Optic Assemblies have additional optical tests that qualify prior to releasing to installation.  Some of these tests include:

  • Optical Back Reflection
  • Polarization
  • Extinction Ratio

For the most part, applications such as high-speed data networks, telco and CATV require optical loss and return loss measurements at different wavelengths of the spectrum.

Establishing a Fiber Optic Assembly Operation

When establishing a fiber optic assembly operation, it is recommended, that the manufacturer

  1. review the available documents and
  2. select a standard to produce in compliance to

    This could easily be initiated with EIA/TIA specifications ( that are readily available for reference. If starting to provide to other markets, then following EA/TIA specifications will be a good foundation to get to IEC and Telcordia requirements ( ), which have a little more stringent requirements in specific tests.


    EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth article in an ongoing series, “Introduction to Fiber Optic Cable Assembly Manufacturing.”:


    From the FOC Library of Blog Articles on Connectors: 


    Additional Resources:

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