Calculating the EX Series Switch Fiber-Optic Cable Power Margin


Calculate the link's power margin when planning fiber-optic cable layout and distances to ensure that fiber-optic connections have sufficient signal power to overcome system losses and still satisfy the minimum input requirements of the receiver for the required performance level. The power margin (PM) is the amount of power available after attenuation or link loss (LL) has been subtracted from the power budget (PB).

When you calculate the power margin, you use a worst-case analysis to provide a margin of error, even though all the parts of an actual system do not operate at worst-case levels. A power margin (PM ) greater than zero indicates that the power budget is sufficient to operate the receiver and that it does not exceed the maximum receiver input power. This means the link will work. A (PM) that is zero or negative indicates insufficient power to operate the receiver. See the specification for your receiver to find the maximum receiver input power.

Before you begin to calculate the power margin:

To calculate the worst-case estimate for the power margin (PM) for the link:

  1. Determine the maximum value for link loss (LL) by adding estimated values for applicable link-loss factors—for example, use the sample values for various factors as provided in Table 1 (here, the link is 2 km long and multimode, and the (PB) is 13 dBm):

    Link-Loss Factor

    Estimated Link-Loss Value

    Sample (LL) Calculation Values

    Higher-order mode losses (HOL)

    • Multimode— 0.5  dBm

    • Single mode— None

    • 0.5  dBm

    • 0  dBm

    Modal and chromatic dispersion

    • Multimode— None, if product of bandwidth and distance is less than 500  MHz/km

    • Single mode— None

    • 0  dBm

    • 0  dBm


    0.5  dBm

    This example assumes 5 connectors. Loss for 5 connectors:

    (5) * (0.5 dBm) = 2.5  dBm


    0.5  dBm

    This example assumes 2 splices. Loss for two splices:

    (2) * (0.5 dBm) = 1  dBm

    Fiber attenuation

    • Multimode— 1  dBm/km

    • Single mode— 0.5  dBm/km

    This example assumes the link is 2  km long. Fiber attenuation for 2  km:

    • (2 km) * (1.0  dBm/km) = 2  dBm

    • (2 km) * (0.5 dBm/km) = 1  dBm

    Clock Recovery Module (CRM)

    1  dBm

    1  dBm


    For information about the actual amount of signal loss caused by equipment and other factors, see your vendor documentation for that equipment.

  2. Calculate the (PM) by subtracting (LL) from (PB):

    PB – LL = PM

    (13 dBm) – (0.5 dBm [HOL]) – ((5) * (0.5 dBm)) – ((2) * (0.5 dBm)) – ((2 km) * (1.0 dBm/km)) – (1 dB [CRM]) = PM

    13  dBm – 0.5  dBm – 2.5  dBm – 1  dBm – 2  dBm – 1  dBm = PM

    PM = 6 dBm

    The calculated power margin is greater than zero, indicating that the link has sufficient power for transmission. Also, the power margin value does not exceed the maximum receiver input power. Refer to the specification for your receiver to find the maximum receiver input power.