DSM and Telcordia to Drive Microbending Specification for Optical Fiber

Press release from DSM Desotech: In light of growing broadband bandwidth demand and increased deployment of optical fiber networks worldwide, DSM Desotech, a global leader in the development and supply of UV-curable fiber optic materials, announced today an agreement to work with Telcordia Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of telecommunications network software and services to the global telecom market, on driving standardization for the characterization of microbending performance in optical fiber and cable products.

Microbending occurs when numerous random microscopic bends develop along the optical fiber axis. The cumulative effect of these very small fiber axis perturbations can lead to increases in attenuation and may ultimately result in the loss of signal transmission. Microbending-induced attenuation can result from non-uniform external loads, such as a fiber being forced onto cabling materials, fiber-to- fiber contacting points, or fiber being pressed on any rough surface.

Optical fiber can be particularly vulnerable to microbending-induced attenuation at low temperatures. The current Telcordia Generic Requirements for Optical Fiber and Optical Fiber Cable (GR-20) does not specifically address either low-temperature microbending performance or test methods.  DSM Desotech and Telcordia aim to remedy this by defining performance specifications and promoting standards development and adoption.

―As FTTx networks continue to expand at greater investment costs than ever before, we believe there is a benefit to adding requirements to GR-20 to more fully characterize and address the issue of microbending induced transmission loss in optical fiber and cable, said Dr. Osman Gebizlioglu, Principal Consultant, Telcordia.  ―We hope to drive a more in-depth assessment, measurement, and understanding of this issue and, ultimately, to arrive at specification(s) for low-temperature microbending performance that will enhance the performance and reliability of optical fiber networks being built for the future.

―DSM’s focus in fiber coating innovation is to improve microbending performance without sacrificing production line speeds and to minimize signal attenuation over wider temperature extremes, said Rob Crowell, Vice President Fiber Optic Materials, DSM Desotech. ―We look forward to working with Telcordia to educate the marketplace about microbending and to assist in the development of an industry specification for microbending performance in an optical fiber that will provide true investment protection for network operators.  In addition, we are excited about the possibilities of leveraging superior microbending performance to lower energy requirements necessary for operating optical fiber networks, leading to greener systems with lower carbon footprints. This Telcordia study will assist to uncover the full potential.”

As part of the agreement, Telcordia will document the current state of low-temperature microbending performance and the various test methods that can be used to characterize microbending performance in optical fiber and cable products. This information will be included in a new Issues List (ILR) for GR-20-CORE along with other issues that are not currently addressed in GR-20-CORE.

This ILR document will be used to inform the fiber optic communications industry of developments in product performance and measurement methods. Telcordia will also prepare and issue a Special Report (SR) to present an assessment of the current state of understanding of the low-temperature microbending performance of optical fiber coating products, as well as conduct an independent third-party evaluation of DSM’s third-generation DeSolite Supercoatings™ products.  This assessment will ultimately present service providers with a realistic analysis of the benefits that DeSolite Supercoatings™ will offer in their networks.

DSM’s newest generation of fiber coatings, DeSolite Supercoatings™, has been engineered to significantly improve microbending sensitivity at the fastest processing speeds, ensuring the best economy of high speed production and superior attenuation performance. In standard basket-weave testing, DeSolite Supercoatings™ display 90% less sensitivity to microbend attenuation—a performance advantage critical for today’s new FTTx designs, especially at the longer wavelengths of 1625nm.

In addition to improved microbending sensitivity, DeSolite Supercoatings™ demonstrate high reliability in temperature extremes, ensuring a robust solution especially in low temperature environments. Other enhanced performance properties include reduced volatility, faster cure speed, and advanced mechanical properties.

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