Fiber U 

Outside Plant Fiber Optics

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Lesson Plan: Outside Plant Fiber Optics, Introduction and Overview - Online Course With Certificate of Completion

Intended For:
  • Those already working in or just getting started in fiber optics
  • Designers, contractors and installers of fiber optic cable plants
  • Users of fiber optic cable plants and communications systems involved in designing and managing outside plant networks
  • May be used as preparation for the FOA Outside Plant Specialist Certification (CFOS/O) Exam which covers the same basic material in this course 

  • Novice - wanting to know about outside plant fiber optics
  • Technician - enhancing their knowledge, preparing for FOA CFOS/O exam
  • CFOT - enhancing and updating their knowledge

What You Will Learn In This Self-Study Program:

  • What is fiber optics and how is it used in the outside plant?
  • How is it used in communications?
  • How does a fiber optic link transmit signals?
  • What components are used in fiber optic cable plants?
  • How are fiber optic cables spliced and terminated?
  • How does one test a fiber optic cable plant or network?
  • What is involved in designing a fiber optic network?
  • How are fiber optic cable plants installed?

This self-study course may be used as preparation for the CFOS/O Certification Exam

This lesson plan is designed to familiarize anyone just starting in fiber optics with the technology and processes involved in installation of outside plant (OSP) networks and improve the knowledge of the individual with some training and/or experience, such as FOA CFOTs. It is strictly focused on the practical aspects of fiber optics, not intended to try to teach the theory, just the things one needs to design, install, test and use OSP fiber optic networks. We also try to explain the variety of the components and technological approaches used and how to choose among them.

One of the most important points of this program is to include the latest technology. Too many courses teach obsolete theory and practice, out of obsolete textbooks! This course is intended to be kept up to date and will teach differences between applications (telco/CATV/LAN, etc.) so the student can intelligently work in today's environment. Many courses are criticized because they are too specific or prejudiced to one application, technology or manufacturer. We will explore the spectrum with you and tell you where to go to find out more.

This program has been developed as a cooperative effort of many volunteers from the FOA. If you have comments or suggestions on how to improve it, please contact us at

How This Self-Study Program Works:

This Fiber U self-study program will divide the basics of fiber optics into a number of smaller topics. Each topic will have a brief introduction to the subject, telling you what you should learn from that lesson, and will then link you to FOA YouTube videos,  several pages on the FOA Online Reference Guide to Fiber Optics,
the FOA OSP Fiber Optics Civil Works Guide or chapters/sections in the FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics printed textbook for you to study. Most of the pages will have online quizzes for you to test your comprehension, as will each chapter in the textbook. For each section, you should take the quiz and check your answers, returning to the study materials to find out why you missed any questions. When you finish all lessons, you will be well-versed in the basics of fiber optics and ready for more!

If you already have a CFOT, several sections of this online course will be a review of material you have already covered. We recommend you review those sections briefly before going to the next Lesson.

Learning More and Developing Skills

If you are just getting started, you should consider attending an FOA-Approved school where you will be trained in hands-on labs to develop the skills needed to be successful in fiber optics.

Fiber U certificate

Get a "Certificate of Completion" When You Complete The Course
After you complete the Fiber U Basic Fiber Optics online self-study course, you can now take an online exam and, when you pass the exam, get a "Certificate of Completion" for this course. You should complete all lessons including taking the quiz ("Test Your Comprehension") at the end of every lesson. When you think you are prepared, you can take an online exam for a nominal fee ($20) which will give you
a "Certificate of Completion" for this course.

Please note: receiving this Fiber U Certificate of Completion does not include FOA certification or membership but it does become documentation of your knowledge of fiber optics and should be part of your portfolio of documented knowledge, other training and work experience that can qualify you to apply for FOA direct CFOT certification through the FOA "Work to Cert" program.

More details on getting a Fiber U Certificate of Completion are on the last lesson. Read more about the Fiber U Certificate of Completion program.

For more information on the FOA and its certification programs, go to the FOA page on certification.

For information on the FOA "Work to Cert" direct certification program for those with industry experience, go here.

Reference Materials:

You can take this Fiber U Online course using either of these online or printed reference materials.

FOA YouTube Videos  
YT video
All lesson plans include FOA YouTube video lectures on the topic.

FOA Online Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics

FOA Online Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics

FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics textbook

FOA OSP Construction Guide

FOA OSP Cicil Works Guide

Lennie Lightwave
 Let's get started!

Lesson Plan:
Read the materials linked on each lesson plan and take the quiz.

If you already have a FOA CFOT Certification, Lessons 1-5 of this online course will be a review of material you have already covered. We recommend you review those sections briefly before going to the next Lesson.

Lesson 1: Introduction, The Basic Overview Of OSP Fiber Optics, Standards, Safety  
Lesson 2: Fiber Optic Jargon - The Language of OSP Fiber Optics     
Lesson 3: Fiber Optic Communications   
Lesson 4: Fiber Optic Transmission Systems and Components   
Lesson 5: Optical Fiber    
Lesson 6: Fiber Optic Cables  
Lesson 7: Splicing and Termination  
Lesson 8: Fiber Optic Testing  
Lesson 9: OSP Fiber Optic Network Design  
Lesson 10: OSP Fiber Optic Network Installation 

How To Get Your Certificate of Completion For This Course 

When you finish all lessons, go here to take the Fiber U OSP Certificate of Completion Exam  

This information is provided by The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. as a benefit tothose interested in teaching, designing, manufacturing, selling, installing or using fiber optic communications systems or networks. It is intended to be used as aoverview and/or basic guidelines and in no way should be considered to be complete or comprehensive. These guidelines are strictly the opinion of the FOAand the reader is expected to use them as a basis for learning, as a reference and for creating their own documentation, project specifications, etc. Thoseworking 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 ofthis material.


Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

(C)2015, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.