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HOTS 07/2000

Issue: July 2000

By: Frank Bisbee


Featured Story


The electrical contractors are rapidly moving into the installation of data communications cabling. The Affiliated Distributors, North America's #1 Distributor Network (electrical) are leading the procession into these new profit potentials. On June 11-13, in Chicago the Affiliated Distributors, King of Prussia, PA held their A-D Data Comm Conference 2000. The agenda was filled with valuable information to assist their membership in becoming more successfully competitive. Graybar and Anixter have recognized this group as a significant new competitor in distribution.

Affiliated Distributors since 1981, A-D has been a "Win-Win-Win" proposition for Affiliate Members and Supplier Partners. A-D is the largest distribution network in North America comprised of 267 independent distributor companies with over $13.4 billion in sales.

A-D's mission is to increase the market share and profitability of its Affiliate members and Supplier Partners.

Founded in 1981, A-D calls itself The Marketing Group™ and is comprised of over 267 local market leading independent distributors of electrical, industrial and industrial PVF products with collective sales volume over $13.4 Billion.

A-D's Electrical Supply Division (ESD) consists of 170 independent electrical distributors (called Affiliates) with 1,651, locations. 149 of its electrical Affiliates are established in 50 United States, and 21 Affiliates with 206 locations are established in 10 Canadian Provinces. A-D's electrical Affiliates are doing an aggregate volume in excess of $9.4 Billion, which represents over 20% of total U.S. and Canadian electrical equipment sales through distribution. No single electrical supply chain or group in North America approaches A-D in size, scope, or geographic market coverage.

In addition, A-D now has 60 full-line industrial Affiliates with 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada and over $1.6 Billion in annual sales. Industrial Supply (ISD) Affiliate membership continues to grow.

In February of 1995, A-D launched its Industrial Pipe, Valves and Fittings Division (PVF) which today consists of 48 distributors doing over $2.4 Billion in sales through 707 branch locations in the U.S. and Canada. This division consists solely of mid-to-large size industrial PVF specialists or similarly capable plumbing wholesalers with a dedicated industrial department and a sophisticated MRO service program. PVF membership is also expanding.

Each of A-D's three divisions is comprised of leaders in their respective markets in terms of customer service, quality of products, local technical support, inventory and financial strength. Given this position, A-D Affiliates also have strong Supplier relationships based on the desire to provide the best products and services to their mutual customers.

At the recent ITEC trade show in Jacksonville, FL we interviewed John Clifford, VP of Rexel Datacom. He told us about Rexel Datacom's newest program in support of their customers, contractors, and vendors. The Rexel Engineered Project Program (REPP) is a value added program that allows endusers to select the products and services they require for their particular job.

Rexel customers can select from a menu any services required from project designs, specifications and documentation and material logistics and delivery.

Some recent projects completed include; Tropical Shipping, Memorex, and Stiles Construction. Enduser customers can select the services and support they require from Rexel Datacom and couple them with the contractor of their choice to complete their project.

If you would like to receive more information on this program contact Kay Eisenhower in the Ft. Lauderdale office at 954-975-7100.

Once vigorous competitors are now becoming strange bedfellows. GTE and Bell in the same sentence and the same business as partners? Well it could happen sooner than you think. USA Today reported June 12 that the FCC was close to approving the Bell Atlantic, GTE merger.

"Bell Atlantic and GTE appear close to winning the Federal Communications Commission's approval for their proposed merger, which they hope to close by the end of the month. The companies have been tinkering with a complex proposal to keep GTE's Internet unit, Genuity, which is planning an initial public offering, from bringing the combined company into conflict with a law that bars Bell Atlantic from offering long-distance service in every part of its home territory except New York. The companies appear to have solved the problem, analysts say, by agreeing to forsake gains in Genuity's value in states where Bell Atlantic can't offer long-distance. Bell Atlantic must show regulators its markets are competitive before it can offer long-distance. Once it has done that and is selling long-distance throughout its region, Bell Atlantic and GTE plan to raise their stake in Genuity to 80%."

2nd Century brings outside services closer to matching inside LAN speeds. Hang on to your hat….If you feel the need for speed . . .

We recently had several meetings with the staff of the Jacksonville office of 2nd Century Communications. They have a very unique and interesting family of services to offer the information market place. From an April 4, 2000 issue of VARBusiness magazine, writer Joseph Villarosa summarized this new "player" in an article titled "One-Stop Voice and Data Bundle for SMB?" Mr. Villarosa wrote, "There's a new kid on the block and you'd be well advised to watch this one closely because they aren't your typical telco. 2nd Century Communications represents an exciting new breed of CLEC meets ASP, meets outsourced IT provider, called an "e.L.E.C." So "what's an "e.L.E.C." you ask?

2nd Century is the nations first e.L.E.C. focusing exclusively on the small to mid-size business (SMB) market while targeting companies ranging in size from 10 to 250 employees. Think of the "e" as a variant of the traditional xLEC in that it symbolizes 2nd Century's "e-communications" business model. Under this strategy, 2nd Century is striving to become an outsourced "oasis" for all SMB IT and telecom needs by forming a strategic partnership with them. What differentiates 2nd Century from other telco's is that they are providing a comprehensive, packet-based array of voice/telephone, data (high-speed Internet connectivity), networking, IT outsourcing, Web-based e-business solutions, and desktop management services. By comprehensive, I mean a single monthly bill for all services and one point of contact for all technical and customer support. Hence, 2nd Century offers a curious blend of services normally provided to SMB's on an al carte basis by hodgepodge of interconnects, system integrators, ILECs, IXCs, ISPs, CLECs and ASPs.

Tampa, FL-based 2nd Century, was founded in 1998 by Charlotte Baker and Vince Rocca, and thanks to generous venture capital (VC) funding---by Accel Partners, MeriTech Capital Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and Venrock Associates---the company has rapidly grown to more than 400 professionals working out of 11 cities; Austin, Texas; Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Jacksonville, FL; Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa, FL. But 2nd Century isn't stopping there, as they have plans to expand nationwide to 48 cities and will be in 35 markets by the end of 2000."

Lucent spinoff ready to go with the most aggressive plan for connectivity that the market has seen in quite some time. The spinoff, which will be named in late June, will have a sharp focus on SYSTIMAX cabling and LAN-based data businesses and their connectivity requirements. The new group will be headed by CEO Don Peterson and the VP/General Manager of Connectivity will be Steve Clark. One of their first objectives is the development of a low fuel, plenum-approved high performance cable offering. We understand the design may utilize FEP insulation and FEP jacketing for a winning combination of safety and speed.

After the spinoff the new company will have its own brand, board of directors and R&D organizations. The new enterprise business will maintain all of its customer relationships and partnerships, and it will have approximately 34,000 employees worldwide. It is anticipated that the new enterprise company will take a one-time charge for restructuring expenses.

LightNetworks, Inc. (Atlanta, GA), a next-generation communications company offering Voice-Over-DSL (VoDSL) services to businesses, recently announced that it is the first service provider in the southeastern United States to deploy the PathStar® Access Server from Lucent Technologies into a production environment.

LightNetworks is already carrying voice and data traffic over the PathStar Access Server in the Atlanta metro area, and is quickly building out its advanced network throughout the Southeast.

LightNetworks' VoDSL-based solutions provide an integrated product set of voice, Internet access, data services and applications to meet the unique demands of small- and medium-based business customers. Using the PathStar as the foundation of its network, LightNetworks will be able to offer these services quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively.

The Atlanta-based company will initially offer its competitive telecommunications services to business customers in Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, Nashville, and Memphis.

"I am very excited to announce the first production implementation of the Lucent PathStar into the public switched telephone network in the Southeast," said Jeff Smock, CEO and President of LightNetworks. "We are proud to be among the first companies in the United States bringing this revolutionary new technology to market. Our IP-based network architecture will allow us to provide our customers with carrier-grade-quality voice and high-speed data services at significant cost savings."

"LightNetworks is breaking new ground by building its network from the ground up using PathStar," said Mark Wilson, Vice President of Sales for emerging service providers at Lucent Technologies. "We're delighted they chose the PathStar platform to offer the kinds of services and features now being demanded by small and medium sized businesses across their markets."

Developed by Lucent's Bell Labs, the PathStar Access Server is an IP (Internet Protocol)-based, converged voice and data switch that provides services like high-speed Internet access, as well as traditional CLASS 5 telephony features such as call waiting and call forwarding, without the requirement of an additional voice gateway interface. The PathStar Access Server combines the functionality of a digital loop carrier, a Class 5 telephony system, a voice-over-IP gateway, announcement servers, and an edge router into one single network element. This combination significantly lowers costs, saves space in the central office and reduces the complexity of the integrated data and voice over DSL service delivery.

Alcatel's Board of Directors has approved a project to study an Initial Public Offering, between now and the end of the year, for a significant part of its cables and components business, which would include power cables, telecom cables, data and cabling systems, equipment and special cables, and metallurgy.

The objective of this project is to provide the autonomy and resources necessary to put into place a new, aggressive strategy, at the moment when a rebound is occurring in the industrial sector, particularly in Europe.

Alcatel (Paris, France) will keep those businesses that are key to its strategy, in particular fiber optics and submarine network equipment, as well as components mainly used in telecommunications systems.

This project will be submitted to labor representatives for consultation in the coming weeks. The new company will employ 18,000 people in 18 countries, with its principle operations in France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Benelux, Canada, and the U.S.

Randy Osler, Sprint North Supply President, has announced that the TekNet and TeleServices organizations at Sprint North Supply will transfer from the Logistics division to Sprint Products Group.

TekNet manufactures a video and data system that combines more than a dozen school communications functions into one integrated solution. This solution includes a video distribution and control system that allows the integration of media into school classrooms, brings video programs from remote locations and broadcasts electronic bulletins. This product is primarily sold by the Sprint LTD BMO Group.

TeleServices serves as a repair facility and a national return center for single line telephones and public pay stations. TeleServices primary markets are Sprint affiliates, which require repair and refurbishment of this equipment.

"It's almost a perfect fit," said Flem Cheatham, Vice President - Logistics. "If you look at the core capabilities of Sprint Products Group, coupled with TekNet's assembly skills and TeleServices' repair and return skills, this alignment creates value."

Cheatham adds the transition will be beneficial to Sprint North Supply as it moves toward offering greater value and services in the supply chain.

"Sprint Products Group is very excited that TekNet and TeleServices are combining with us," said Dick Summers, Vice President - Sprint Products Group. "There are a great many synergies to capitalize on and provide the foundation to develop new products and services. Additionally, we will be able to offer a new value platform to our customers from both the product and service perspective."

Osler said the move will help drive growth as well as promote new product development at Sprint Products Group. "This is a move we think will help leverage future growth for SPG, which will only enhance its value in the competitive marketplace," he said.

Broadband Innovations, Inc. (San Diego, CA) has signed an agreement with Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. to incorporate Broadband Innovations' unique technology within Scientific-Atlanta's new UC-4 Universal Upconverter product.

"The Universal Upconverter delivers a new generation of capabilities in a very small package - half the size of other upconverters," said Dean Rockwell, Director and General Manager of Scientific-Atlanta's Headend Systems division. "Broadband Innovations' ASIC-based technology is a key component in making the UC-4's small size and advanced capabilities possible."

The UC-4 module accepts both analog or digital intermediate frequency (IF) signals. An on-board microprocessor automatically compensates for any differences in input level or IF frequency that can occur between the two formats. This high-performance, economical frequency translation makes the UC-4 an ideal solution for new multimedia and data applications over Hybrid Fiber-coax (HFC) networks.

The UC-4 combines smaller size, lower power consumption, and premium performance for maximum versatility. ASIC technology enables the UC-4 module to consume approximately half of the power of other upconverters, without sacrificing performance.

"We're very proud that Scientific-Atlanta - an acknowledged market leader in advanced headend products - has chosen to incorporate Broadband Innovations technology in this important new product," said Stephen Stuut, Broadband Innovations, President and CEO. "We've long been known as an excellent R&D firm, now our research is coming to fruition as part of leading-edge products like the UC-4."

Fotec, Inc. has introduced a new tester for premises fiber optic cabling that is the first automated cable tester to break the $2,000 price barrier. Called the ACT2 (Automated Cable Tester No. 2), this new tester tests two multimode fibers at once for loss at two wavelengths, calculates cable length, stores data for later readout on a PC, and includes a talkset for communications between test crews.

Fotec ACT2 uses a simple and fast test technique. It tests one fiber at 850nm while the other fiber is tested at 1300nm, then the two fibers are switched at the meter and retested. The meter analyzes the loss data and calculates the length of the cable, and stores data from the tests. The data is stored in a database organized by cables and fibers, and has memory for complete test data on up to 250 cables and 500 fibers. The database can be preloaded from a PC with all cable data before testing begins.

The ACT2 is menu-driven, with four front panel buttons to allow scrolling through menus on the large graphic display and choosing the proper function. PC software is provided to input data to the ACT2 database and read out the data recorded during tests.

The Fotec ACT2 kit includes the ACT2 meter, the SOLO source which synchronizes with the meter to allow testing with only one person, a Fotracer fiber tracer, two duplex reference cables, and all accessories needed for use.

SyNet, Inc. (Warwick, RI), a Rhode Island based LAN/WAN integration firm, has announced the opening of a regional office in Portsmouth, NH.

SyNet's decision to open a New Hampshire office is in response to rapidly increasing business in the Northern New England region. Since October, SyNet has secured contracts with Raytheon facilities located in Nashua, NH and Andover, MA as well as Lowell School Systems, Amherst Computer in Merrimack, NH and Energy North located in Portsmouth, NH.

SyNet expects to add an additional 35% to their revenues as a result of new business generated by the addition of the Portsmouth office.

Jeffrey S. Deckman, SyNet's President and CEO, states "Opening the Portsmouth office will provide better service to our regional clients and demonstrates our commitment to Northern New England and the new business opportunities SyNet is pursuing."

HellermanTyton (Milwaukee, WI), a global manufacturer of cable management products, has appointed David Levine to the position of National Sales Manager - Telecommunications/Electrical Distribution. Levine will manage sales in the United States of HellermannTyton's rapidly growing segment of voice/data/video products. With a team of sales managers and telecommunications specialists, Levine will focus on specifier, end user, contractor, and distribution sales, training, and channel management.

HellermannTyton's line of voice/data/video products includes connectivity products meeting and exceeding the latest standards - all backed by aggressive product and system warranties; wire managers, racks, and shelves; raceway systems; identification products; and cable ties in hook and loop and plastic materials.

Levine started his career with HellermannTyton in 1985 as a product manager. His experience includes 8 years with Pass&Seymour Legrand as a district and regional sales manager. Most recently, Levine was Director of Sales and Marketing for Hein Electric Supply in Milwaukee, WI.

Fotec is now offering an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) module that works with any Windows™ PC to offer full OTDR functionality at about half the price of a mini OTDR. The OTDR is portable for field use, versatile for the lab and is perfect for teaching where it's display can be projected from the PC or viewed on a large screen monitor.

The OTDR comes with a software that converts the PC display into an OTDR display with the advantage of using the Windows operating system already familiar to PC users. This makes training in the operation of the OTDR extremely simple. It is available either as the module alone or in a kit which includes all accessories for field use. A self-study program to help the OTDR user learn how to interpret the OTDR measurements is included with all units.

Cablesoft is beefing up its sales support and service team in preparation for the launch of iTRACS in Q3. The enterprise and infrastructure management company recently names former Pinacor sales manager Robert MacIntosh as Project Director, and Lee Merrill as Sales Director, Western Region.

MacIntosh will focus on executing the point-to-point sales process between Cablesoft and the customer. He will oversee all business actions with the client to ensure satisfaction on installation, deadlines are met, customer service is followed up and proper training is provided. While working for Pinacor, MacIntosh managed a team of 14 sales representatives and nine field representatives servicing 60 accounts.

Merrill will be responsible for establishing key relationships with industry leaders to further develop new business within the western territory. He will also oversee the day-to-day management and training of the regional team. Prior to Cablesoft, Merrill worked as director of sales for Richardson, TX-based and spent seven prior years with Vic/Tal Sales, Inc.

"The launch of iTRACS marks the beginning of a new era for Cablesoft," said Pete Pela, CEO and President of Cablesoft. "We are targeting established industry players to help iTRACS' sales and marketing. Both Lee and Robert have the expertise we are looking for in building a diverse and knowledgeable sales staff to support our future."

"Cablesoft's reputation as an industry leader says a lot about the company and the technology it develops. My role will be to ensure Cablesoft has the best customer service and support team in the business," said Robert MacIntosh, Project Director at Cablesoft.

"iTRACS is a groundbreaking solution that will change the network management industry. We have had a very positive response from out OEM partners and it is exciting to be able to push such a revolutionary product," quoted Lee Merrill, Sales Director, Western Region, at Cablesoft.

RiT Technologies (Mahwah, NJ) has agreed to join forces with Ruric, Inc. (RBI - Douglasville, GA) in a new marketing initiative that will bundle hardware and cabling into a unique intelligent cabling infrastructure to provide customers with an end-to-end cabling system for easier integration, installation, and management. The initiative, called SmartNet, bundles RiT's PatchView Intelligent Cabling System with advanced cabling systems from leading cable manufacturers.

"We are very excited to be part of this new distribution and marketing initiative that RBI has developed because it provides customers with a high quality, high performance end-to-end cabling infrastructure without a lot of hassle," said Motti Kleinmann, President of RiT Technologies, Inc.

"Our goal with SmartNet is to provide the cable, connectivity, electronics and installation guidelines required for the enterprise network under one product and performance warranty which gives our customers piece of mind," said Ruric Brandt, President of RBI.

By combining the products from RiT, and utilizing high grade CAT 5e cabling, many companies may be able to centralize much of their MIS support. For some, this would conveniently allow them to outsource their MIS support and concentrate of their core business, according to Gardner Smith, RBI's Integration Director.

Leading cable manufacturers have agreed to participate in the initiative to provide a complete real-time on-line cabling management system and cabling infrastructure. There are several benefits of utilizing the SmartNet plan from RBI. It helps to locate your network assets, recovers unused network assets, increases network security, provides a global view of your cabling infrastructure in real-time, manages local and remote sites as well as provides a web-based interface.

"The SmartNet Solution allows us to offer our clients a powerful cabling management tool with the ability to position ourselves in the forefront of a state of the art network wiring technology. SmartNet differentiates us from our competitors," Mark Shockley Installation Supervisor, Tek Systems EF&I (Norcross, GA), a reseller of the SmartNet initiative.

Lancast Inc., a provider of telco-grade fiber optic connectivity solutions, has joined the Cisco New World Ecosystem Partner Program. The Cisco New World Ecosystem is a community of technology partners working together to enable service providers to rapidly develop and deploy innovative telecommunications services. These technology partners support open, standards-based architectures and a shared commitment to interoperable, multi-vendor implementations.

Lancast is an internetworking partner focusing on optical data networks. The Lancast optical connectivity and management solution addresses the growing demand for high availability in the "last mile" or local look, CO (central office), POP (point of presence), CPE (customer premise equipment) and NOC (network operating center) as well as granular high performance for MTU (multi tenant unit) designs.

As an example, Group Telecom, a Canadian next-generation telecommunications service provider offering data, applications and voice solutions, has implemented this solution in conjunction with Cisco's Catalyst line and Lancast's intelligent fiber optic connectivity and management software to connect private networks to their central office. "Lancast's manageability allows us to remotely monitor and configure the fiber optic connections at the demarcation point. This has not only reduced installation time but also helped us to troubleshoot problems remotely," said Ashok Bhatt, Senior Vice President, Engineering, Group Telecom.

"Lancast's fiber optic connectivity and management solutions assist service providers in addressing today's high speed data access requirements," said Steve Hoch, Director, Service Provider Marketing at Cisco. "We are pleased Lancast has joined the Cisco New World Ecosystem Partner Program to enhance capabilities in the critical internetworking arena."

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