EXFO turns smartphones into wireless fiber inspection tools

Test and measurement company EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO; TSX: EXF) has unveiled the FIP-435B Fully Automated Wireless Fiber Inspection Probe. The product enables technicians in applications such as fiber to the antenna (FTTA) installations to feed fiber inspection data from a wireless probe to their Android smart devices, including smartphones.

Test and measurement company EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO; TSX: EXF) has unveiled the FIP-435B Fully Automated Wireless Fiber Inspection Probe. The product enables technicians in applications such as fiber to the antenna (FTTA) installations to feed fiber inspection data from a wireless probe to their Android smart devices, including smartphones. It also enables operators to perform fiber inspections with one hand.

Technicians can enable the feature by downloading the ConnectorMax2 Mobile application from Google Play to their smartphone or tablet. In the field, users connect the FIP-435B to the connector port, and the probe will automatically detect the connection, locate and center the fiber image, adjust and optimize the focus and capture, run the pass/fail analysis per the selected standards, and then save and report the results.

The application enables technicians to complete full fiber inspections without any compromise on functionality or accuracy, EXFO asserts. Since the inspection process takes just slightly longer than cleaning a fiber-optic connector port, installers will find it difficult to justify overlooking a step as critical as fiber inspection, the company adds.

EXFO believes the automation the FIP-435B provides will prove particularly useful in FTTA applications in which tower crews are more familiar with copper or RF technology than with fiber-optic network technology. The LED indicator on the probe (which the company asserts is an exclusive feature) immediately provides pass/fail information for the connector endface. This means tower technicians can reach the top of the towers with their smartphone in their pocket and with only the FIP-435B in hand. The one-hand operation means faster, more secure installations, EXFO says.

The FIP-435B is self-powered via an on-board rechargeable battery that lasts for a full day on the field. This feature prevents the unit from draining the smartphone's charge.

"By introducing a fully automated wireless inspection solution compatible with smart devices, EXFO is making this critical tool completely accessible to all field personnel involved in fiber networks. Now equipped to perform first-level troubleshooting tasks, we've empowered them to remove the most common source of issues," said Étienne Gagnon, vice-president of EXFO's Physical-Layer and Wireless Division. "Users can also benefit from smart device connectivity to sync results and reports to cloud servers from any location via e-mail or other communication means available through the mobile device. This enables contractors to integrate and comply with current workflow and processes in the case where operators already made the switch to smart devices."

In addition to the fully automated FTB-435B, EXFO also offers a semi-automated version, the FIP-425B, which has the same features as the FTB-435B with the exception of the autofocus function.

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