Fiber U Self Study 

Lesson # 1: What is an OLAN?

Level: Technician

Objectives: From this self-study lesson you should learn:
  • What is an OLAN?
  • How does an OLAN differ from a LAN using copper cabling?
  • Why are some OLANs "passive" OLANs?

Optical LANs are LANs built using fiber optics instead of UTP copper cabling or combinations of fiber backbones and copper to the desktop. OLANs may be a centralized fiber technology (fiber to the desktop) from structured cabling standards or new passive networks based on the fiber to the home (FTTH) technology now used to connect over 100 million subscribers worldwide. FTTH uses networks based on splitting optical signals in a passive optical network (PON) to share one set of downstream electronics among up to 32 work areas connected on a single fiber each, significantly reducing the cost per user. OLANs require no electronics – or power - between the main equipment room and the end user. At the user end, an Ethernet switch with POE allows connection of 2-4 or more wired devices or wireless access points with regular “Cat 5” patchcords.

The most appealing feature of OLANs is the cost. The installed cost per user is much less than traditional structured cabling, especially if one can work with building architects and engineers to take advantage of the space savings of OLANs. The operating cost is even lower with easy centralized management and lower power consumption. Upgrades are easy – the equipment is designed for 10G+ incoming and 2.4G to the users. OLAN users are even bragging about the money they make by recycling all that copper they pull out to install OLANs!

Many large LAN users have already adopted OLANs. Government agencies and military bases were the first, but airports, college campuses, hospitals, libraries, even the TIA headquarters are using OLANs.

What’s Different From Typical Premises Cabling Fiber Networks?

•    OLANs require no electronics between the computer room and the user work area.
•    OLANs use all singlemode fiber and have splitters in the cable plant that effectively replace electronic Ethernet switches in the telecom closet/room.
•    Special small cables can be used with bend-insensitive fiber. The difference between the masses of cables used in traditional structured cabling and OLANs is amazing.
•    Connectors are generally SC-APCs and are not field polished. Prepolished/splice connectors or prefab cable assemblies are used.

However, OLANs use cable plant that is fully compliant with TIA-568 and ISO/IEC 11801 structured cabling standards.

The course leads you to read online or printed materials (with an emphasis on the online using the FOA Guide), watch FOA YouTube Videos, complete some activities and take the quizzes. Each lesson plan will be self-contained. Lesson plans open in new pages so the course overview page stays open to lead you to the next lesson or you may use the link at the bottom of the page.


Read the references, watch the videos and take the quizzes (Test Your Knowledge)

Overview of Premises Cabling with History  

Reading: Introduction
Introduction To OLANs  (Also see Lecture 30 video, below)

FOA YouTube Videos on Premises Cabling, Lecture 1, What is Premises Cabling?  
FOA YouTube Videos, Lecture 30, Optical LANs 

Reference Textbook
FOA Reference Guide Premises Cabling (2014), Appendix B 

Extra Credit Reading
Assignments beyond the basics required for the course will be listed as extra credit.

Test Your Knowledge
Online Quiz

Next Lesson:
Lesson Plan No. 2, Centralized Fiber Networks

Lesson Plans

FOA Fiber U Self-Study - OLANs - Home Page 
Lesson Plan No. 1: What is an OLAN?  
Lesson Plan No. 2, Centralized Fiber Networks  
Lesson Plan No. 3, Passive Optical LANs   
Lesson Plan No. 4, Installing OLAN Networks  
Lesson Plan No. 5, Testing OLAN Networks  
Lesson Plan No. 6, OLAN Design, Case Study  

Fiber U Certificate of Completion
When you finish, you can take an online exam on this course to qualify for a "Fiber U Certificate of Completion."


Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

(C)2014, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.