preterminated fiber optic cables must be accounted for in these tight
pathways and spaces. In some cases, out-of-box preterminated connector
failures are causing “dark” or bad connections.
Contractors must ensure their electricians can work around the lead
times awaiting pretermination fiber and are testing the connectors at the
installation site to prevent those bad connections.
“This step may be overlooked and takes some time,” Lagana said.
“However, it will absolutely avoid downtime and re-installation charges.”
Hernberger agreed that excess lengths are a challenge for electricians
in the field. Pretermination involves less time doing hand terminations
(most terminations involve a fusion splice) and more time engineering
how to deal with the excess length of preterminated fiber.
“Ultimately, installations must be done in a clean, orderly and easy-to-
troubleshoot manner even with the excess fiber length,” he said.
DAS upgrades for cellular telephone providers offer a similar dilemma.
“The installation and testing parameters are much more stringent than
when I entered the market 15 years ago,” Hernberger said.
At the same time, installation deadlines are sometimes compressed,
especially in deployments such as retail, where it’s vital to keep stores
open and the construction out of sight for shoppers.
“Working around the neverending remodel that is a typical Las Vegas
shopping destination makes for difficult fiber optic installs and issues with
meeting the installation standards,” he said.
Las Vegas contractors have numerous fiber optic installations for road
projects related to the I- 15 Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to Salt
Lake City segments as well as the I- 11 to Phoenix projects that involve fiber
optics for safety monitoring and information displays. These installations are
typically basic, direct-burial fiber optics. The distances, protecting existing
services and mitigating the disruption of service are important considerations
when revamping the layout of interchanges and crossovers.
Other projects involve large data centers, such as Switch (www.switch.
com) centers. Las Vegas schools are in the midst of $150 million worth of
construction to build out new schools and alleviate overcrowding. For these
projects, electrical contractors typically provide a uniform design and installation solution. ECs without low-voltage experience typically subcontract out
the termination and testing for one or two projects before they inevitably
decide to make the investment in training and equipment, Hernberger said.
The local JATC offers an FOA fiber optic class about once per quarter.
“Most of the workers in our jurisdiction have been through it, as well
as meeting with technical representatives from equipment and testing
companies,” Hernberger said.
Many project managers and some instructors have advanced training
and certifications from the FOA, Corning and BICSI.
Jack Ryan, Baltimore instructor, has been teaching electricians fiber
optics at the Electrical Training ALLIANCE for years. He’s seen the transition from coaxial cable to Cat 5e to fiber for security systems at Fort
Meade, Md., as well as public places such as the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) light rail.
“We train electricians for everything,” Ryan said. “More and more fiber
In the meantime, other obstacles may change the kinds of projects
has been a natural progression.”
Power other ethernet, wireless voltage for transmitters and the Internet
of Things are the next steps in the evolution of low-voltage systems, Ryan
said. In Baltimore, fiber installers are finding work in government projects
such as the National Security Agency, healthcare and commercial buildings.
“The current generation of entrepreneurs are not technology people.
“The lesson is, if you’re going to do a project, know what you’re doing
They consider technology as a facilitator to their business ideas,” Ryan
said. “You can see that mentality [in a variety of projects]. The expectation
is that some projects will fail.”
For instance, a company such as Google can afford to support the more
successful project that proves to be feasible. Google Fiber is underway in
34 cities, however, future projects have been frozen and current projects
are taking longer than initially projected. In some cases, contractors from
outside the region come into a project only to learn that the plans for lay-
ing cable weren’t going to work.
first,” Hayes said.
A contractor with wisdom is the one who will succeed. And wisdom,
according to Hayes, is a combination of knowledge tempered by experi-
ence with “a big dose of judgement.”
S W E D B E R G is a freelance writer based in western
Washington. She can be reached at