Fiber U Self Study 

Self Study Lesson Plan - Optical LANs (OLANs)
Level: Specialist

Optical LANs (OLANs)
Objectives: From this self-study program you should learn:

  • What is an Optical LAN or OLAN?
  • What are the advantages or disadvantages of OLANs?
  • How OLANs developed and are growing worldwide
  • Network architectures used in OLANs, specifications, advantages/disadvantages
  • What are OLAN protocols? GPON, EPON
  • How OLANs fit into structured cabling standards
  • How to plan, design, install and test an OLAN project


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."

Optical LANs or OLANs, are a new way to build LANs using an all optical fiber cable plant and electronics derived from fiber to the home (FTTH). Sometimes also referred to as fiber to the desk or FTTD, POLs, POLANs, passive optical LANs or FTTO, fiber to the office, these are LANs (local area networks) that are based on optical fiber cabling, not copper, and are of great interest to many contractors, installers and end users. OLANs have been covered extensively in the trade press and are being promoted by many vendors, so there is plenty of interest in learning more about them.

OLANs – optical local area networks – are all LANs based on optical fiber cabling and include a new type of LAN derived from FTTH architectures and components. OLANs come in three types:

  • Centralized Fiber as has been covered by LAN cabling standards since the 1990s. Also called “fiber to the desktop” or FTTD, it basically uses media converters to allow fiber usage instead of UTP copper cables.
  • FTTO or “fiber to the office” which is a simple adaptation of centralized fiber structured cabling using P2P or “point to point” FTTH architecture
  • Passive optical LAN (POL or POLAN) adapted from FTTH PON architectures.

Proper installation and use of an OLAN depends on finding or training adequate numbers of technicians. The FOA, working with companies, contractor/installers and our approved schools has developed requirements for OLAN training and certification, with the goal of providing enough qualified OLAN installation technicians to make these plans possible.
FOA certification programs are taught in many FOA-approved schools or are available to those with appropriate work experienc. Those seeking certification must complete the FOA basic certification (CFOT or CPCT) or demonstrate adequate knowledge first, then attend a short course on OLANs or take this self-study program that will prepare them for the exam exam. Those interested in learning about OLANs but are not seeking certification will find the courses good information on the current technology.

Student Assignments
Students will be instructed to read the references, watch videos and take the quizzes (Test Your Knowledge) to complete the "classroom" part of the course. A FTTx design case study is included where a typical network is described and students will design the network on paper and answer questions on the case study.

FOA Certification
FOA offers a specialist certification in OLANs (CFOS/L) that is available to those with a CFOT or CPCT or having equivalent experience. FOA also offers an application specialist certification for those involved as managers, planners, designers and end users (but not installers) that does not require a CFOT or CPCT.
Many FOA schools teach CFOS/L courses. Current FOA members with appropriate industry experience may apply to take the online course for credit toward their requirements for the CFOS/L certification and apply for the certification exam. Contact the FOA for more details and an application.

Online FOA Reference
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics( general)  and OLAN Section 

Reference Textbook
FOA Reference Guide Premises Cabling, Appendix B 

FOA YouTube Videos, with individual links as appropriate
You may, if you wish, watch the entire video and then watch the referenced sections for a second time for greater comprehension.

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

Lesson Plans

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 the assignments and case study, you can take an online exam on this course to qualify for a "Fiber U Certificate of Completion." The exam cost is $20US.

This information is provided by The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. as a benefit to those interested in teaching, designing, manufacturing, selling, installing or using fiber optic communications systems or networks. It is intended to be used as an overview and/or basic guidelines and in no way should be considered to be complete or comprehensive. These guidelines are strictly the opinion of the FOA and the reader is expected to use them as a basis for learning, as a reference and for creating their own documentation, project specifications, etc. Those working with fiber optics in the classroom, laboratory or field should follow all safety rules carefully. The FOA assumes no liability for the use of any of this material.


Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

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