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HOTS 02/2000

Issue: February 2000

By: Frank Bisbee


 

Featured Story

 


Draka USA (Franklin, MA) is celebrating a decade of exciting growth. Formed in 1990 to oversee and coordinate the activities of the operating companies of the Draka USA Group, Draka USA has the capability of producing Power, Control, Instrumentation, and Data cable for every application. The Product Development Center in North Dighton, MA has a new Compound Mixing Facility, as well as a Laboratory which is CSA category certified. Draka USA, as a member of the Draka Holding Group, can draw on the worldwide capabilities of Draka Holding in Amsterdam and has 6 operating companies.

Draka Holding, established in 1986, is the parent company for numerous operating companies active in the development and dedication to the production and sale of wire and cable products. The worldwide organization of Draka Holding includes over 40 individual operating companies and approximately 7,000 employees spanning over 16 countries in North America, the European Community, the Middle East, and in Asia Pacific. Since the beginning of Draka in the Netherlands, the organization has been led by the two co-chairmen of the Board of Management: H.L. Gorissen and S.J. van Kesteren. Their remarkable leadership has been reflected in an ever-increasing and expanding spiral of successes. Some companies struggle with the international differences and culture clashes. Draka USA has thrived in the USA market and the American culture. Other Draka Holdings have flourished in their respective markets.

1999 was a very active year for Draka. They quietly acquired NKF Holding N.V., Delta plc in the United Kingdom (staff: 956) and the wire and cable divisions of ABB Ltd. (Swedish/Norwegian) They have also completed the acquisition of Republic Wire and Cable (RWC), a division of Siecor. RWC (Rocky Mount, NC) employs 156 people in a 150K-sq. ft. facility. RWC specializes in industrial and traveling cables. The Draka Holding NV is listed in the Dutch Stock Exchange and is doing very well. In 1998, Draka had $1.3 billion in turnover. This year, with the above referenced acquisitions, as well as internal growth, Draka may expect to exceed more than $2 billion in turnover.

On the local front, Helix/Hi-Temp and Chromatic Technologies continue to post outstanding sales results on their family of high-performance copper and fiber cables. The Helix/Hi-Temp Harmony Plus™ is an impressive program to coordinate cable and connector technology. Check out their website, www.drakausa.com, for more information about this quiet giant. We have used the Helix/Hi-Temp cables and the fiber optic cables by Chromatic Technologies. The quality was "top-drawer".



HarmonyPLUS™

Guaranteed Total System Solutions


A new level of performance assurance of end-to-end structured cabling solutions, launched under the name HarmonyPLUS, is being offered by Helix/HiTemp, Inc.( Franklin, MA ) and Chromatic Technologies, Inc. In addition to a comprehensive end-to-end, applications warranty, the HarmonyPLUS program includes 3rd party link and channel verification as well as interoperability assurance testing at an independent lab.

"The HarmonyPLUS program goes far beyond commonly offered link and channel verifications. We are testing our cabling with the connectivity systems of our partners in actual network environments with the latest network protocols and bit-error-rate testing systems to assure that our cabling solution will support the latest applications," states Harry van der Meer, Marketing Manager for Helix/HiTemp Cables. "With HarmonyPLUS, we are providing our customers with a thoroughly tested end-to-end system solution, giving our customers the peace of mind that our system will provide them with long term assurance that today's and future standards based technologies will be supported 100%. We are currently focussing on Category 5e, and will be expanding to Category 6 and fiber based solutions within the next few months".

The HarmonyPLUS program includes all cable and connectivity components, packaged as a single system offering, including link and channel verification, interoperability test data, application assurance and component warranty as well as an Installer Certification program.

Helix/HiTemp Cables, Inc., a manufacturer of data and specialty copper cables and Chromatic Technologies, Inc. a manufacturer of data and specialty fiber optic cables are Draka USA companies. Draka USA is a subsidiary of Draka Holding Group, an international group of cable manufacturers, sharing the mission to provide appropriate cabling solutions for energy and data transmission and communications, to customers around the world.



We are beginning to believe in reincarnation. The reason for our new found spiritualism is L. Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco's Chairman and CEO, who we've become convinced is carrying the soul of Alexander the Great . . .

When Tyco International (Hamilton, Bermuda) struck a deal in September 1999 to buy Siemens AG's electromechanical unit, it sparked speculation among industry insiders as to how the company would integrate its fourth acquisition of an electronics unit in less than a year.

The acquisition candidate, Siemens EC, makes components ranging from telecommunications relays to multi-chip modules. The $1.1 billion purchase would add to the fast-growing portfolio available through the Tyco Electronics Group. Starting with AMP, Inc., Tyco's $11.8 billion purchase in April of 1999, Tyco progressed to Raychem Corp., bought in August for $3 billion. Tyco then moved to Elcon Products International Co., a small power-connector maker based in Fremont, CA that was bought for an undisclosed amount.

But Tyco didn't stop there. There was a fifth company to fall before the mighty Tyco in 1999. Praegitzer Industries, Inc. was bought for $5.50 per share cash in December of 1999. "The acquisition of Praegitzer will enable us to continue building the momentum of our Tyco Telecommunications Group and extending our leadership in this area," said L. Dennis Kozlowski, "The transaction will also be immediately accretive to earnings and provide an expanded platform for long-term growth." Mr. Kozlowski added, "We are very pleased with the strong business growth we have seen thus far in the quarter across the full range of our operations."

We bet. But there are others out there raising a questioning eyebrow at all of this activity. Tyco was advised, shortly after their announcement of the Praegitzer announcement, that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a "nonpublic, informal inquiry" relating to charges and reserves taken in connection with the company acquisitions. Pursuant to this inquiry, Tyco will be providing information and documents to the staff on a voluntary basis. "In light of the recent market activity in our stock, which is not justified by any development at the company, we welcome the opportunity to respond to this request. We remain confident of our accounting methodology, our public disclosures and the continuing strength of our business," said L. Dennis Kozlowski. www.tycoint.com



Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA), an Alcatel company, has followed up its recent introduction of upgraded GIGAlite™ 62.5 micron fiber with an upgraded version of 50-micron GIGAlite fiber. This new fiber will offer users the ability to support Gigabit Ethernet installation distances up to 1000 meters using 50 micron GIGAlite fiber.

William D. Charuk, Berk-Tek's Fiber Optic Group Business Manager, said the "enhanced 50 micron GIGAlite fiber offers the maximum distance guarantee for Gigabit Ethernet systems in the market. Using the new fiber also eliminates the cost associated with purchasing a mode conditioning patchcord."

He also said that the fiber has been specifically designed and manufactured to take advantage of VCSEL technology, similar to the enhanced 62.5 GIGAlite fiber. GIGAlite fiber offers an improved index profile, which means that in the fiber manufacturing process, the glass imperfections were minimized and the index of refraction profile optimized. "This will be an important factor in the future because tomorrow's demanding data communications applications will use laser transmitters instead of LEDs. This will require improved index glass profiles such as GIGAlite fiber technology," he said.

Charuk also said Berk-Tek would continue to specify the Overfilled Launch (OFL) bandwidth for GIGAlite fiber of 500 MHz-km in the 850 and 1000 MHz-km in the 1300nm windows. "By continuing to specify this, our customers will be able to determine the complete capability of this fiber, no matter what type system is employed."

In addition, Charuk noted, Berk-Tek has also upgraded their standard fiber offering. Berk-Tek is now offering a standard 50-micron fiber for which the OFL bandwidth has been increased to 500MHz.km/500MHz.km.



Cable U, the training conference on data, voice and video cabling installation, will be held in conjunction with the new NECA Voice-Data-Video Expo in Las Vegas May 19-23, 2000. The Cable U program offers "hands-on" training for those interested in installing copper and fiber optic cabling for computer networks, telephones, CATV, CCTV, security systems, etc.



The Fotec S660 fiber tracer and continuity checker is now adaptable to all the small form factor fiber optic connectors, including the MT-RJ, LC, MU, Fiber-Jack and Volition. The S660 uses the same modular connector adapters as Fotec power meters, making it the only visual fiber tracer that is compatible with all the small form factor connectors.

The small form factor connectors are becoming very popular because of their small size and low cost. Most are duplex connectors, making it necessary to carefully distinguish between the two fibers. The Fotec S660 allows one to visually identify and trace fibers to simplify installation and troubleshooting. www.fotec.com



BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Services International) presented its BICSI Mexico District Conference on Nov. 18-19, at the World Trade Center in Mexico City. Two-thirds of the 204 conference attendees became new members of BICSI Mexico, and will now receive the benefit of discounts on BICSI technical publications and educational programs.

The conference offered 17 seminars and interactive workshops on the newest products for telecommunications cabling design and installation. Topics included fiber optic cable; CAT 5, 5e, and 6; loose tube plenum cable; copper cable; connectors and solutions; and infrastructure design techniques. Conference PowerPoint presentations are available at no charge on the BICSI Website at www.bicsi.org.



In an effort to meet the needs of members more efficiently, the BICSI Board of Directors approved changes in BICSI's two main newsletters, BICSI News and the BICSI MemberLetter, at its November meeting.

Beginning in January 2000, the BICSI News will expand to 16 pages and will regularly include information currently published in the MemberLetter such as exam schedules, what's new on the Web, and listings of new RCDDs and RCDD/LANs. Position wanted and available, now found in the MemberLetter, will be published on BICSI's Website and reprints will be sent to members on request. The BICSI News will be mailed to members and registered Apprentices, Installers, and Technicians. The MemberLetter will no longer be published. The Region News will be included in the BICSI News on a quarterly basis.



RiT Technologies (Mahwah, NJ), a regular provider of professional seminars around the globe related to BICSI curriculum, now provides installer seminars that entitle participants to receive 12 hours of BICSI Continuing Education credits for RCDD and/or installer certificates.

RiT Technologies designs, manufactures and markets a comprehensive range of real-time physical layer management software and hardware, as well as high quality premise wiring and networking products. An ambitious research and development program is key to the company's strategy of maintaining a continuous flow of new products to the marketplace. www.rittech.com



Panduit Corp. (Tinley Park, IL) has announced that Panduit Can Do It. For the rest of the story, see their website or contact their distributors. www.panduit.com



Vatar is a fluoropolymer resin designed to offer the plenum premise cabling market with a superior jacketing material alternative. Vatar provides an economical jacketing solution for dependable performance cable designs. Attributes compared to highly filled PVC jacketing materials include the following:

  • Dependable performance in a temperature range of -40 degrees Celsius to +125 degrees Celsius (PVC, 0 degrees C to 75 degrees C). No cracking in low temperatures.

  • Two times superior moisture permeability resistance.

  • Superior mechanical properties that protect from tearing during installations.

  • Lower dielectric constant that allows for a thinner wall primary insulation thus reducing the overall size of the cable.

  • Superior chemical resistance over a wide range of applications.

  • Excellent flexibility and slicker surface for easier installations with no kinking.

Check Ausimont's website at www.ausiusa.com



About Harbour's Cat5e Extreme, Harbour's VP of Engineering, Bruce Debree, tells us "the cable exceeds all electrical requirements for TIA/EIA 568A's current proposal. It was developed for "demanding" environments while most other plenum rated data cables are designed for an air-conditioned environment. We also find it easier to install, as the cable is more resistant to kinking and less likely to catch on sharp corners." Harbour's Extreme cable is ideally suited for applications within chemical and fertilizer plants, oil refineries, various marine applications and "factory" floor processing environments just to mention a few.

When you specify an "all fluoropolymer" cable, don't sell yourself short. Be specific to include the overall outside jacket as part of the specification. To get the optimum protection for your cabling infrastructure investment, all plenum cable components should be specified to be fluoropolymers. This includes the primary insulation, the outside overall jacket insulation and in the case of some high-bandwidth cables the center member being used to dampen the effects of crosstalk (crossweb insulation). Also, when an all fluoropolymer cable is used, you can rest assured that contribution to fuel loading is minimized. www.harbourind.com



NEW TESTS BY ANIXTER VERIFY

SIGNIFICANT VARIANCES IN CABLING SYSTEMS

Anixter, (Skokie, IL) the world's leading distributor of cabling and communications products, reports that advanced procedures in its product testing laboratory verify Anixter's long-held concern that many cabling systems are operating inefficiently, even though the components comply with industry standards. Anixter says measurable errors-as many as 2,609 in less than an hour in one study-are resulting in lost or corrupted data, slower network response time and decreased productivity.

"The industry has been conducting static, megahertz-based testing of the electrical attributes of cable, but at our Anixter Levels Lab, we can now conduct live, or active, megabits-based testing of data transmission from one end of a cabling system to another," stated Pete Lockhart, Anixter's vice president of technology, at the January BICSI convention in Orlando, Florida. "Testing megabits means testing data, so we are significantly increasing the ability to determine if a cabling system can reliably transfer data."

Lockhart noted that existing industry standards for characterizing cabling fall short by setting forth only the minimum performance requirements. Anixter established specifications in 1989 for rating the cable it purchases from manufacturers, but it was six years before the TIA/EIA used Anixter's specifications as the model to create and ratify the current industry category rating system.

The industry is now considering Category 5e with more stringent requirements for cabling. However, in 1997, Anixter introduced Levels 5, 6 and 7 for rating cable, all of which meet or exceed the proposed Cat 5e. The following year, they introduced specifications for rating the entire channel, from PC to the hub, called the Anixter Levels Channel (ALC 5, 6 and 7).

Anixter has been conducting extensive testing on how cabling interacts with network interface cards (NIC), hubs and switches. In one active study released at the January 2000 BICSI convention, Anixter used a cabling system labeled and sold as Cat 5e compliant with hubs and NIC cards that complied with IEEE specifications. Running on 100Base-T, the Anixter Levels Lab noted 2,609 errors within 56 minutes.

"We conducted the same test using a cabling system that met our ALC 6 specifications and then our ALC 7 specs," said Lockhart. "With ALC 6, there were only seven errors in 56 minutes. With ALC 7, we experienced no errors, no retransmissions and no dropped or corrupted data. We had 100 percent throughput. Even with the variations and marginal performance of the transmitter and receiver electronics, the ALC systems extra bandwidth held the data signals nearly error-free while the channel labeled as Cat 5e was getting hammered!"

Lockhart pointed out that eliminating errors not only increases productivity and reduces maintenance costs, but also reduces the frustration and bottlenecks caused by retransmissions.

Anixter Plans to Share Information with the Marketplace. Anixter's director of marketing, Frank LaPlante, said that the results of further testing will be published in white papers and lab reports to educate contractors and end-users on the importance of using the appropriate cabling systems. He noted that the demands of advanced applications such as Fast Ethernet, CDDI, ATM and Gigabit Ethernet require better methods of determining if cabling systems can reliably transfer information.

"For customers planning new installations, we won't recommend Cat 5e or even our own Level 5 cabling if they are planning to use Fast Ethernet or greater," said LaPlante. "Cabling solutions that we have rated ALC 6 should be the minimum."

LaPlante said Anixter plans to fill a void by taking on the role of educating the industry on variances that can be found in cable and in the many active and passive components that must work together for maximum data transfer.

"The rapid advances in high-speed access technology demand that the pipelines for information keep up, but the committees that establish cabling standards have been slow and cumbersome because they meet infrequently," LaPlante explained. "Our newest method of defining network efficiency probably won't result in industry standards for at least three years. Consequently, we feel an obligation to continually educate companies so that they can make informed decisions."

LaPlante said Anixter is qualified to take a leadership role because it is a distributor that services thousands of customers, sells more than 54,000 products and operates the premier testing facility in the network cabling industry.

"We have always helped our customers make objective and wise choices, and now we want to share our knowledge and information more broadly for the protection and advancement of the industry," said LaPlante.

Anixter recently expanded its Web site, www.anixter.com, which includes white papers and the results of ongoing studies at the Anixter Levels Lab. The company conducts seminars throughout its sales regions and participates in trade shows, and will also be sharing information through a new advertising and media relations program. In addition, Anixter will be releasing a network cabling hand guide that offers suggestions and recommendations for specifying and installing data cabling systems.



If the BICSI Winter Conference (Orlando) had a color theme, it would have been GOLD, GOLD, GOLD. Conference attendees were buzzing over launch of the new DuPont Teflon® FEP GoldMark and Gold Rush programs for plenum cable. The GoldMark is only for cables that offer advanced electrical performance, outstanding fire safety and are insulated 100% with Teflon® FEP.

Belden and Mohawk/CDT are licensed to use the GoldMark for their top performing plenum cables, MediaTwist™ and GigaLAN™, respectively. Both companies featured their GoldMark status and cables at their exhibits. Other leading cable manufacturers are expected to qualify for the GoldMark in the near future.

Larry Campbell, DuPont's Cabling Materials Market Manager boiled it all down. "The GoldMark identifies premium plenum cable and state-of-the-art technology. It means that network managers, designers and contractors can be assured their cable will deliver speed, fire safety and future-proofing. To put it simply, the GoldMark means peace of mind."

DuPont's Gold Rush 2000 Challenge is designed to develop case histories using cables from GoldMark Partners. The Challenge is open to end-users, system designers, distributors, reps and cabling contractors. Eyes will be on the prize. Entrants, whose project is selected for publication, will win an American Eagle Gold Coin valued at over $300.

More information on the new Teflon® GoldMark and entry forms for the Gold Rush 2000 Challenge can be found on DuPont's updated website at www.teflon.com/cablingmaterials.



Did you know?

  • Up to 50% of network problems are caused by cable and connectors.

  • 57% of all LAN cable will be upgraded by the end of 2001.

  • Cable is only 2% of your IT cost.

  • Specifying ANIXTER LEVELS assures peak network performance.

  • ...and 100 other things we couldn't fit in the Heard On The Street column.

This valuable information is yours FREE in Anixter's Network Performance Guide. Call them today at 888-269-4736 to get your copy or access it online at www.anixter.com/npg, because when it comes to your network, what you don't know will hurt you.



BICSI in Orlando, Florida was terrific. The opportunity to interface with the exhibitors under the "big top" and the hospitality suite hosts was well worth the cost of the trip, and the hike around the lake. If you dropped your gold coin at the DuPont hospitality suite, let me know.

COMNET in Washington, D.C. was another story. To quote the headlines in the Washington Post, "Blindsided and Snowed Under: A fierce storm that struck suddenly before dawn on January 25th, ambushed much of the East Coast, burying an unsuspecting Washington under more than a foot of snow and catching the federal government on its heels." The exhibits at COMNET opened with a quiet thud as the exhibitors sat, stood, and shuffled as they waited for the crowd that never came. The next day, the crowds did appear, but on a much smaller scale. The attendees we spoke with were very pleased with the reduced pressure and added attention from the exhibitors. Like the ads on the SuperBowl, virtually everything was punctuated with the new brand of ".com".



Be sure and check the class schedule for Cabling Business Institute in Dallas. CBI has also added the ACP certified 200 course to their offering. www.cablingbusiness.com The have a world-class training facility with regular classes on installation, structured wiring with Category 5 certification, LANs, fiber optics and design.



Cabling Business Magazine is ALMOST FREE. You have to fill out a subscription renewal every 6 months. If you haven't been doing this, start NOW. Subscription forms are in the magazine and on the website www.cablingbusiness.com or call (214) 328-1717. This is a small sacrifice for such a big value.

 

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