Last week, we attended the Best Practices in Network Test webcast on Wednesday, which discussed some important practices and new trends that will help you test to optimize your network performance. Here are some of our key takeaways from this informative session.

  1. Know Your Devices!
    As you identify your testing needs, make sure you have everything you need on hand. Examples of applications and test functions are shown in the chart below:

Fortunately, new test sets are integrating more of these functionalities into single instruments, e.g., installation test sets (IL/ORL) with OTDR functionality or modular tests set that allows you to mix and match different test functions in and out of a single chassis so you have exactly what you need for your application.

2. Recording results is getting easier.

Keeping precise and accurate records of your tests is a critical conclusion to your tests. New tools including automated PDF generation, cloud connectivity, and test equipment with larger onboard storage all help keep more detailed records with reduced manual effort.

3. Test End-to-End During Installation.

This is particularly important if you’re installing an FTTx network, i.e., performing a test through any splitters in your network design. Optical spectrum analyzers are particularly useful here.

4. Characterize Fiber for Coherent Applications.

Despite coherent’s DSP technology, which is designed to clean up impairments from chromatic and polarization mode dispersion, it is still generally a good idea to perform a fiber characterization test anyway, especially if you’re going to run coherent and non-coherent (i.e., NRZ) traffic on the same fiber.

5. OSNR Before BERT!

Since optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) testing takes far less time to perform than bit error rate testing (BERT), it’s advisable to perform OSNR first, as it will speed up the discovery of issues and thereby reduce time to resolution before turning up new services.

6. QoS or QoE?

While quality-of-service testing is relatively straightforward and well-established, increasing attention is being paid to quality-of-experience testing. QoE testing validates if network performance is matching its end user’s perceived expectations, as when an end user performs an internet speed test.

7. Inspect, Clean, Reinspect, Connect!

The simplest, but perhaps most important lesson on network best practices. Anywhere from 70%-90% of network issues experienced in the field can be attributed to dirty connectors or fiber endfaces. Double-check to make sure every cable and connector is clean before performing any test.

For more information on the importance of testing new products before deployment, check out our recent discussion of lab evaluations.

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