Plastic optical fiber (POF) has long been seen as a potential medium for implementing simple, very low cost optical links, but has not yet found significant application in data communication. In the near future, this situation is likely to change, as a new generation of POF with dramatically improved optical properties becomes commercially available. Unlike conventional POF, the new POF is based on amorphous perfluorinated polymers that are transparent in the near infrared. In order to develop useful fibers based on these new polymer materials, it has been necessary to better understand their fundamental optical properties, and to develop methods for manufacturing low-loss fiber. Since the available manufacturing methods typically result in graded-index POF's with very non-ideal index profiles, the possibility of severe bandwidth limitations has long been a concern. In addition, significant improvements in connection loss will be required to support high-speed systems. In this paper, we describe techniques that we and others have developed to eliminate or overcome these obstacles.