Cabling. Part 2, Fiber-optic cabling and components by Bill Woodward

By Bill Woodward

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Absolute Power 29 Absolute Power Taken by itself, the decibel is only a relative number, and it has meaning only when it is referenced to a known input or output power. In many cases, however, it is important to have an absolute value to use for comparison or for equipment specifications. When such a value is required in fiber optics, the decibel is referenced to 1 milliwatt (mW). When the decibel is referenced to 1mW, a lowercase “m” or sometimes “mW” is inserted after dB. The decibel referenced to 1mW is written as 0dBm.

They then sawed the sealed portion in half, leaving the fiber ends bonded in exact alignment. The image transmitted with this arrangement was clearly an improvement, but the brightness degraded quickly since the fibers were unclad. Extending Fiber’s Reach In January 1954, the British journal Nature chanced to publish papers on the findings of van Heel as well as Kapany and Hopkins in the same issue. Although their placement in the journal was apparently coincidental, the two advancements were precisely the right combination of ideas for Professor Basil Hirschowitz, a gastrosurgeon from South Africa who was working on a fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Curtiss’ fibers were well suited for medical applications, but their ability to carry light was limited. Suffering a signal loss of one decibel per meter, the fibers were still not useful for longdistance communications. Many thought that glass was inherently unusable for communications, and research in this area remained at a minimal level for nearly a decade. In the meantime, the electronic communications industry had been experimenting with methods of improving bandwidth for the higher volumes of traffic they expected to carry.

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