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HOTS 04/2001

Issue: April 2001

By: Frank Bisbee


 

Featured Story

 


There is a new gun in town. Perhaps I should say there is a new gun on the net. PennWell's "Cabling News" electronic-mail newsletter is a summary of the most important developments over the last week in the voice-data-video and low-voltage cabling industries, prepared by the editors of "Cabling Installation & Maintenance" magazine. PennWell's "Cabling News" electronic newsletter is delivered weekly at no charge to subscribers. PennWell Corp. invites you to forward this newsletter to colleagues and associates who might be interested in its weekly news summaries. If you have any questions, hot news contributions, or comments, send mail to StephanieL@pennwell.com or call Stephanie Levy, Web Editor (603) 891-9212.




DO YOU KNOW WHAT CABLE

IS BEING INSTALLED IN YOUR BUILDINGS?

There are many changes ahead for the communications cabling infrastructure in buildings. The required removal and disposal of abandoned communications cable may pose significant environmental and health problems in the months and years ahead. Also, there is a new classification of fire safety cable (Listed as "Limited Combustible CMP-50") available from the major cable suppliers... Mohawk/CDT, AVAYA, Belden, etc. This cable is safer due to less flame spread and far less smoke generation than conventional plenum cable (CMP). We hope you specify it to protect lives and equipment. A building cabling standard or policy, particularly for multi-tenant buildings and data centers, is a prudent business decision.



Strasbourg, April 3, 2001 - Greenpeace welcomed the vote by the European Parliament in favor of the substitution of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic because of concern over its hazardous properties.

"The European Parliament has recognized the dangers associated with PVC production, use and disposal and voted in the interests of the environment and public health. This is an important step towards effective action against the many hazards of PVC plastic and the use of safer materials. Evidence that PVC harms the environment and human health is overwhelming and, as today's vote reflects, there is now only one way forward: PVC has got to go," said Greenpeace campaigner, Maureen Penjueli. www.greenpeace.org

The European Parliament voted in favor of introducing a substitution policy, starting with the replacing of soft PVC, used to make children's toys and medical devices, amongst other products. Soft PVC contains phthalates, which are toxic and can leach from the product. Phthalates have been linked to damage to the kidneys, liver and testicles in animal experiments.

The vote also called for the banning of lead additives in PVC, and for compulsory marking of PVC products and separate collection of PVC waste. Moreover, the Parliament accepted that incineration and landfill are unsustainable options for the disposal of PVC and voted for hard PVC waste to be diverted from incineration. Combustion of PVC leads to hazardous emissions in the atmosphere, such as dioxin, and produces toxic ash that has to be land filled.

Since the EU Commission's Green Paper on PVC was released last year, criticism of PVC has been voiced at every step, including the Public Consultation hearing, and the vote of the EU Parliament Committee for the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy. This confirms what environmentalists, health groups and consumer groups have been saying for several years - that PVC has got to go.

"Concern over the hazards of PVC plastic is widespread. Local communities, health groups, consumer groups and industry have all been calling on the EU to phase out this dangerous plastic," said Penjueli. "It's heartening that finally their concerns have been validated and their voices heard. Now it is vital that the European Commission proposes a Directive to act on today's decisions," she added. www.plasticsnews.com

On March 26, 2001, PBS aired a special report, "Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report". This informative and emotionally moving report generated a huge volume of e-mail responses at the PBS website. This report was noted by many of the viewers as "just the beginning". The cabling industry uses a great deal of PVC, and PVC was a featured item in this two-hour report. This Bill Moyers report is a MUST SEE program.

Innovations in chemistry over the past 50 years have produced thousands of man-made chemicals. The majority of Americans believe that the government is making sure that they are protected from any harmful substances, but are they right? In this report, Bill Moyers sets the record straight, drawing on documents never before published and interviews with historians, scientists, and physicians who explore the effect of chemicals on the public's health and safety. www.pbs.org/cgi-bin/tradesecrets/



TEKNOR APEX NOW HAS LEAD-FREE VINYL COMPOUNDS

Teknor Apex is one of the industry leaders which has developed a safer product to address the hazardous material - lead. Teknor Apex now has lead-free vinyl compounds.

Although PVC resin is inherently flame retardant because of its halogen content, Teknor Apex developed the Fireguard product line because of the very high levels of flame resistance and smoke suppression required in plenums.

The latest innovation in this product line is development of the Fireguard 910 NL Series, which, like many other Teknor wire and cable compounds, is free of the lead-based additives that have been the dominant heat stabilizers in PVC cable compounds. The seven compounds in the series process at the same high rates as established Fireguard plenum-cable products, exhibit similarly high levels of end-use performance, and cost only slightly more, according to Donald Ouellette. They exceed all applicable performance specified in UL Subjects 13, 1424, and 444 while exhibiting heat stabilization comparable to their lead-containing counterparts.

Cable manufacturers have long relied on lead-stabilized PVC compounds because they resist polymer degradation - during high-speed extrusion and after prolonged heat aging - better than compounds with conventional non-lead heat stabilizers. Recent regulations, however, mandate extremely low levels of lead extractables in finished products. "Anticipating the effect of these regulations on cable manufacturers, we set out to develop alternative formulations that eliminate lead without the conventional sacrifice in heat-stabilizing efficiency," Ouellette says. www.teknorapex.com/vinyl/newsletter.html



GRAYBAR RECOMMENDS INTERTEK'S ETL TESTING SERVICES

FOR FIRE SAFETY TESTING OF CABLING PRODUCTS

The ETL SEMKO (Boxborough, MA), Americas division of Intertek Testing Services (ITS), the world's largest product and commodities testing organization, has announced that Graybar, a leading national independent distributor of communications and data products, is recommending ITS's ETL fire safety testing services to the manufacturers of cabling products that the company distributes.

ITS ETL SEMKO is a strategic partner of Graybar's VIPSM (Verified Independently for Performance) program. As a strategic partner, ITS ETL SEMKO conducts and manages all the initial and follow-up performance testing on cabling products for Graybar's VIP1000 and VIP2000 programs.

"Our VIP program is very successful in providing customers the value-added service of independent verification that cabling systems meet the more demanding transmission requirements necessary in data communications today," said Jeff Craig, national market manager for Graybar. "ITS ETL SEMKO's work on this project is a key element to its success, and as a result we recommend its fire safety testing services to our suppliers who need to have their cabling products fire safety tested."

As part of the VIP program, ITS ETL SEMKO conducts additional testing of manufacturers' products based on random inventory samplings from Graybar's 260 U.S. locations - products that have already been tested to industry standards and national product performance and safety standards using the latest equipment by ITS ETL SEMKO's Wire and Cable laboratory. Additionally, for its cabling products manufacturing clients, ITS ETL SEMKO provides the performance and fire safety testing and certification services that its clients require based on the latest industry standards (IEEE, TIA/EIA, NFPA, etc.).

"When a manufacturer's product earns the right to bear the ETL Verified and/or ETL Listed Marks, they prove to their customers that the cabling products being purchased meet the performance and/or safety standards requirements," said Don Nicholson, General Manager, ITS ETL SEMKO. "For Graybar's customers, its VIP program goes above and beyond the call of duty to assure that they receive the highest performance cabling products. It's truly an honor to be such an integral part of Graybar's VIP program, and we greatly appreciate their recommendation of our fire safety testing services."



COMMSCOPE ANNOUNCES WORK FORCE REDUCTIONS

CommScope, Inc. (Hickory, NC) has announced that it has eliminated approximately 500 permanent positions or about 13% of its workforce and cut temporary workers in response to the ongoing economic slowdown. As of December 31, 2000, the Company employed approximately 4,000 permanent employees.

"In response to market conditions, we have managed cost carefully and utilized mandatory, rotating layoffs over the past few months as a first step in balancing the work force with business levels," said Frank M. Drendel, CommScope Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Unfortunately, permanent workforce reductions were a necessary next step for us to prudently manage our business and to remain competitive in this challenging economic environment. Our number one priority is to maintain production flexibility and service capabilities while aligning our cost structure with our customers' priorities and plans."

The Company expects to incur charges related to the layoffs of up to $0.02 per diluted share during the first quarter. However, prior to one-time charges, the Company continues to expect first-quarter earnings to be consistent with its previous guidance dated March 7, 2001. CommScope plans to release first quarter results and review its outlook in the earnings release and conference call scheduled for April 24, 2001.

"Despite difficult current market conditions and uncertainty for the remainder of 2001, we remain confident about the market opportunity ahead of us over the longer term. This confidence is based on the global acceptance of Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) networks and the belief that much more work needs to be done before the majority of the world's countries have experienced the power of broadband wired and wireless networks. While we are evaluating the timing and location of some capacity additions, we have not fundamentally changed our long-term, strategic plans to expand our worldwide capabilities," Drendel added. www.commscope.com



MORE JOBS MOVING TO MEXICO?

Corning Cable Systems has opened its new telecommunications hardware products manufacturing facility in Guadalajara, Mexico. The facility will manufacture small fiber count cable assemblies and initially will employ roughly 70 people. Bill McVay was promoted to Director of Mexico Operations. Dick Boucher was promoted to Plant Manager of the Reynosa facility and Peter Leon was promoted to Plant Manager of the Guadalajara facility. www.corning.com



Learn more and earn more. Get it: The Training Dept. has just announced a new video training course in the Home Technology Series titled "Residential Retrofit Wiring." The two-tape set covers: basic principles of house construction, house framing types, retrofit tools, and retrofit installation techniques. The course comes with a workbook that contains all graphic and reference material and an examination so installation companies can test how well employees understand the material. This course and other training materials can be ordered directly from the company web site, by phone, or through distributors. www.trainingdept.com



It is time to smell the coffee. The state governments are moving ever closer to the requirement of a license to install cable for voice and data.

The only two groups which appear to be close to addressing the challenge are NECA - Natl. Electrical Contractors Assn. and BICSI - Bldg. Industry Consulting Services International. The IBEW - The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has a good program already underway to only allow electricians to install communications cable, and they have an active training program to back it up.

That is just the tip of the educational story. More to come in HOTS. We are going to peel this story like an onion.



Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine (PennWell Publishing, Nashua, NH) did publish two fantastic issues in March 2001: the regular issue and the 2001 CI&M Buyer's Guide. Both are very helpful and filled with great information tools for the cabling contractor and end user. The 2001 Buyer's Guide belongs on every cabling contractors library shelf.

LIGHTWAVE Magazine (PennWell Publishing) released a real blockbuster issue for March 2001. It was almost 400 pages of informative articles, advertisements, and help tools to find the answers to your questions.

The contributors to all three publications have made our jobs much easier with educational articles. Chuck Siebuhr of CBM is a good writer, great artist, and a terrific instructor. CI&M magazine also has some terrific staff writers (Patrick McLaughlin, Arlyn Powell, Steve Smith, and many other). LIGHTWAVE likewise has an impressive stable of writers headed up by Stephen Hardy, Ron Karjian, and Kathleen Richards.

Have you checked out www.cable-install.com, www.light-wave.com or www.bicsi.org? Those three sites are awesome!



Anixter Inc. (Skokie, IL), a leading distributor of data communications products, is sponsoring a new series of networking excellence awards. The "2001 Anixter Awards" is an international competition recognizing companies that have either solved a networking challenge or illustrated a unique vision by installing an outstanding network infrastructure for future high-bandwidth applications.

Anixter initiated the Anixter Awards to highlight the critical role that data cabling plays in delivering reliable, consistent network performance. According to Pete Lockhart, the Anixter Awards Committee Chairperson, data cabling is becoming increasingly important. "As existing and new network applications evolve to embrace high-resolution graphics, video and other rich media data types, pressure is growing at the desktop, the server and the switch for increased bandwidth. The Anixter Award serves to stimulate dialogue, enabling companies to discuss problems and share solutions," Lockhart said.

Submissions will be reviewed, and the Anixter Award Winner will be selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts from several leading businesses and organizations including: IBM, Intel, Wells Fargo, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Communications Design Corporation (CDC).

The Anixter Award Winner will be selected based not just on what type of cabling was installed, but why it was installed. Were there problems with data cabling? Were computer downtime or slow file transfers over the network an issue? Was the introduction of new network applications or an anticipated increase in data traffic demands a factor?

Entries may be submitted online at anixter.com/awards or sent to the attention of:

  • Brian O'Connor
  • 2001 Anixter Award
  • Anixter Inc.
  • 4711 Golf Road
  • Skokie, IL 60076
  • Telephone: (847) 715-2610
  • Facsimile: (847) 715-7608

All entries must be received by July 15th, 2001. On September 15, 2001, Anixter will fly the award winner to a special presentation ceremony. At the ceremony, the winner will receive a $5,000 donation in their name to the charity of their choice. www.anixter.com



"TYCO MOVE OVER!"

Platinum Equity (Los Angeles, CA), a leader in acquiring and growing technology companies, announces today that it has acquired Staples Communications, a telecommunications services subsidiary, from parent company, Staples, Inc. A leading provider of bundled telecommunications services, Staples Communications has an employee base in excess of 850 and an active customer base of 45,000 located in 38 major metropolitan markets. Additionally, the Company has revenues of more than $175 million for the year 2000. Terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.

Platinum Equity's acquisition of Staples Communications includes the company's three primary businesses: Claricom, Inc. providing hardware sales and services, Claricom Networks, Inc. and Clarity Telecom Local Network Services, Inc., providing long distance and local network services. The acquisition of the two network divisions is subject to regulatory approvals being obtained. The Company's headquarters will continue to be based in Shelton, Connecticut. It will operate under a new name to be announced at a later date.

Tom T. Gores, President and Chief Executive Officer of Platinum Equity commented, "The acquisition of Staples Communications builds upon our strategy to increase our presence in the telecom space. As usual, we will apply fundamental business principals along with our understanding of the space to create new energy and enhanced value for the company."

Staples Communications is a nationwide advanced integrator of communications solutions, offering a full portfolio of business communications systems and software, voice, data and network solutions. The Company has built a strong national franchise by providing packaged telecommunications solutions to small and medium-sized business customers. Staples Communications offers a full spectrum of network services, such as local and long distance, internet access, paging, data and other related network services, as well as a full portfolio of business communications solutions including voice, data, and video hardware and software from some of the worlds leading manufacturers: Nortel Networks, Iwatsu, Executone, Active Voice, and Sony.

Platinum recently announced its acquisition of Williams Communications Solutions, renamed Nextira, from Williams Communications Group. Nextira is a leading communications network solutions operation with combined revenues of $1.5 billion and more than 6,500 employees. Nextira includes the integrated operations of Platinum-owned, Milgo Solutions.

Platinum Equity is one of the largest and fastest growing, private equity firms in the United States. Platinum is a multi-billion dollar organization specializing in the acquisition and operation of global, mission-critical technology companies. Based in Los Angeles, Platinum is a unique company recognized as a hybrid financial and strategic buyer with deep financial resources and broad operational expertise. Since the company's founding in 1995, Platinum has acquired more than 25 technology-driven companies and several billion dollars of revenue from leading Fortune 500 Corporations including WorldCom, AT&T, Viacom, Dow Jones & Company and IBM. Platinum has an established infrastructure in North America, Europe, Asia and South America and a workforce of more than 10,000 employees serving tens of thousands of customers throughout the world. All Platinum companies operate as stand-alone entities and are lead by their own management teams. www.peh.com



Welcome to Eye on Networks! Now get all the Fluke Networks news you can use delivered monthly, to your inbox. From new solutions and product updates to on the job tips and product demos, go to Eye on Networks for the full story at www.fluke-net.com/nettools/eyeonnetworks.



The growing demand for communications in all forms is much greater than ever anticipated. The integrity of wireless LANs is under attack with the revelation of several holes in the WLAN security protocol. As a result, IT managers and security experts are scrambling to find a solution. In spite of some serious questions about security in the wireless world, the TIA requests additional spectrum for 3G wireless services. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the Commission's proceeding aimed at making available additional spectrum for third-generation (3G) wireless services. TIA continues to urge the FCC to make available additional spectrum that is suitable for advanced services, including 3G. www.tiaonline.com



Do you remember the first time that you rented or purchased a video and it started with 15 minutes of advertising for other video products? Did you find yourself asking why you were paying to get an advertisement? Well, the spin-doctors are hard at work convincing us that they are welcome to push their message anywhere and anytime. According to a recent survey conducted by Telephia, Inc., more than half of the individuals who use wireless devices express some degree of interest in receiving advertisements for products or services on their devices. Many of those who are initially not open to accepting ads change their minds when presented with the opportunity to obtain some sort of compensation and/or control of the advertisements in exchange. www.telephia.com



A recent survey by Cahners In-Stat Group finds that the base of home network owners is not only growing, but also expanding. The home network owner is much more likely to have broadband, always-on Internet access. Home network households are much more likely to own other technology devices such as video game consoles, CD ROM Recorders and digital satellite. A higher percentage of telecommuters live in networked homes than non-networked homes. The primary purchasing decision for home networking equipment was to share an Internet connection, PC resources such as printers and, surprisingly, to share digital music around the home. www.instat.com



Today, more professionals are mixing office time with on-line time from home and on the road. This new flexibility is being well received by corporate America. New research on U.S. telecommuters indicates that in 2001, roughly 24% of the U.S. workforce is estimated to telecommute some time during the week. Cahners In-Stat Group expects this percentage to increase to 28% in 2004. The SOHO business market supported an estimated 6.6 million Internet-accessing telecommuters in 2000, and the small business market was home to more than 5.3 million Internet-accessing at-home workers in 2000. The enterprise market supported roughly 5 million Internet-accessing at-home workers, with these telecommuters making up 10% of its total workforce. The middle market is the smallest employer of online telecommuters, with these at-home workers estimated to account for 11% of the middle market workforce last year. www.instat.com



Three Rivers Community College (Norwich, CT) is offering a 15.5 credit certificate in Fiber Optic Technology beginning this spring. The purpose of the certificate is to educate entry-level workers in photonics/fiber optics. For the spring semester 2001, certain courses will be offered only through distance learning (web based), with a four-day residency required for the Fiber Optics course. www.neca.com/~donnelly/tech/certificate.html



FLUKE NETWORKS ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF FOTEC, INC.

Fluke Networks, Inc. (Everett, WA), part of the Danaher family of companies, and Fotec Inc. (Medford, MA) have announced the acquisition of Fotec by Fluke Networks. Fotec is a leading provider of fiber optic test equipment and structured cabling education. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but 2000 revenues were less than $5 million, and Fluke Networks will acquire all products and technology, and hire all people associated with the company.

The purchase of Fotec continues Fluke Networks' expansion of fiber-optic solutions used for testing and certification of fiber optic networks. It also incorporates Fotec's widely popular web-based "Fiber U" and "Wire U" programs and conferences with Fluke Networks' own training programs.

"Fiber is quickly becoming the leading choice for high-bandwidth backbone installations and other critical links. The growth of fiber-based LANs is dependent on having the right tools for those tasked with supporting fiber optic networks," said Chris Odell, President of Fluke Networks, Inc. "Together with the Fotec team, we will greatly accelerate the contribution that we can make to meet the evolving needs of our fiber optic customers, providing the most comprehensive line of certification, inspection and documentation solutions for the copper and fiber infrastructure."

"Fotec is pleased to join forces with Fluke Networks, a company that has a history of inventing new classes of products that network professionals depend on to meet the increasing demands of their jobs," said James Hayes, President of Fotec, Inc. "The acquisition will bring Fluke Networks' resources and technologies together with Fotec's technical depth and customer base. Fotec customers will benefit from ground-breaking product developments that we alone could never have actualized without shared resources." Hayes will continue on with Fluke Networks, taking an active part in the management of the company's fiber business. www.fotec.com



The NEMA Codes and Standards Committee approved NEMA WC 66-2001 on Tuesday, March 20, 2001. On Wednesday, March 21, 2001, ANSI approved it as an ANSI standard. Look for ANSI/NEMA WC 66-2001 to be published in April 2001. www.nema.org



If you would like a list of the winners by category of the "Mark of Excellence" Awards, which were announced March 8, 2001, go to www.hanaonline.org.



IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. (Sycamore, IL) has announced that it has expanded its DataComm business by acquiring the LAN Division of Wavetek. Wavetek is a worldwide leader in LAN certification testing of data networks and is headquartered in San Diego, CA.

"The acquisition of Wavetek, along with the acquisition of the Suretest Division of Industrial Commercial Electronics, Inc. and the major product introductions made just one year ago with our joint venture partner, A.W. Sperry, makes Ideal one of the largest Test Products suppliers serving the electrical and datacom markets," noted Robert N. Lane, Chief Executive Officer, Ideal Industries, Inc. "Additionally, it gives Ideal stronger product development capabilities and provides products with a broader reach into new distribution channels, including those outside North America." According to Lane, this acquisition adds certification testing products which strengthen their current line of datacom testers, positioning Ideal as a global leader in both in-process and final certification testers for the installation and maintenance of structured wiring.

Wavetek is a leading supplier in markets that include telecommunications and data communications. The company maintains product development, customer support and manufacturing facilities in San Diego, CA and sales and warehousing in Ismaning, Germany.

This is the second acquisition announced by Ideal within the last 60 days, the other being Anderson Power Products, a manufacturer of power connectors headquartered in Sterling, MA, and the third within the last year. www.idealindustries.com



Rexel USA (Dallas, TX) has reorganized the Rexel Datacom Division in order to maximize the service to their customers. Both the electrical and communications contractors will benefit from this new united team. Tim Copeland, President of Rexel Datacom, announced the reorganization of that division effective April 6, 2001. The reorganization will greatly improve the level of service to the markets we currently serve, as well as working more closely with the other divisions within the Rexel organization. Michael Berkman has been appointed Vice President of the Eastern Region, Jim Schwartz is now the Vice President of the Western Region, Ray Bookings is the Vice President of Sales, Brian Dean is the Vice President of Vendor Relations/Marketing, with Gary Swianiarski heading up Business Development. According to Copeland, "With this structure we feel we can meet our objective of not only being a major national player, but a world class supplier in the Datacom market by providing superior customer service."

 

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