Updated: November 20th, 2019

In the latest installment of our “Connector Basics” series, Randy Manning of APEX explains basic single-mode connector attenuation estimation using Monte Carlo simulation. 


fiber optic connectorsAn optical fiber connector is a mechanical component that transfers light between two fibers or between a fiber and an active device such as a transmitter or receiver. A connector is intended to easily mate and un-mate repeatedly over its service lifetime. A permanent or semi-permanent connection between two fibers is called a splice.

Electrical connectors and fiber-optic connectors both perform the same function, transmitting a signal between two components and mechanically interconnecting them. In the case of an electrical connector interconnecting two wires, the electrical signal, in the form of electrons, is transmitted through both the wires and the connector itself. However, in the case of an optical connector interconnecting two fibers, the optical signal, in the form of photons, is transmitted only through the optical fibers and not the actual connector, with the exception of an optical connector containing an optical element such as a lens. An optical connector is, therefore, only a mechanical device, whereas an electrical connector is an electromechanical device.

Electrons can follow a rather winding path through electrical conductors and connectors without significant losses, so long as sufficiently good electrical contact is made at all permanent and separable interfaces. Electrical connectors require a relatively low level of precision to effectively transmit a signal. Photons, on the other hand, travel in a straight line and when unconfined, radiate and spread, reducing op