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HOTS 10/1997

Issue: October 1997

By: Frank Bisbee

Featured Story

Ortronics Corporation (Pawcatuck, CT - 860/599-5555), a manufacturer of flexible networking solutions for structured cabling systems worldwide, has a new website starting in September. Visitors will find an innovative design that accents the Ortronics 1997-98 Full Line System Solutions Catalog. Navigation around the site is fast and user-friendly. Visitors to the site can easily locate a product by name or part number. The site will include corporate information, new product releases, press releases, custom capabilities information, training courses and schedules, calendar of events, system solutions, full-line product catalog and a two-way communications form for a quick and easy answer to any question.

If a man speaks in the forest and a woman is not there to hear him, is he still wrong?

The Cabling Standards UPDATE is pulling out ahead with new ways to help readers survive in the cabling industry.

Look for their new columns covering:

COMPARISONS between existing standards and new ones under development. Just where are they going?

INTERVIEWS with industry leaders on what they see as important. See for yourself what features they are selling versus what has been proven as minimal qualifications today . . . and why are they moving ahead?

And, last but not least, a section called WHAT IS STILL "IN THE WORKS" tells you where some once visible issues are now sitting in the "process." Are they issues to be concerned about . . . or nothing at all?

Now the UPDATE covers the industry end to end . . . starting with the Standards "hot" today, those still in the mill, and bringing you up to what the industry is saying and doing!

Marilyn Michelson, Publisher of the Cabling Standards UPDATE (quarterly), TEL: (800) 492-8422 or

If Only You Knew . . . The copper based cabling manufacturers are driving towards much higher quality and performance products. This requires massive commitments for dollars to finance the R&D, new production equipment, additional training, and testing. High performance doesn’t come cheap. Belden, Berk-Tek, and Prestolite Wire Corporation are all driving towards a new set of products which will meet and surpass the market requirements. Today’s end-user demonstrates a much higher level of knowledge in the arcane cabling industry. The smart buyers are demanding a higher level of performance than the outdated Category 5.

We continue to be surprised by the rapid acceptance of the new Anixter Levels ‘97 Program. This gold rush speed certifies the end-user’s and contractor’s demands for a new set of standards. You will pay more for the product and you will enhance your investment at the same time. Regarding plain old Category 5, and to roughly quote Henry Ford, "When you need a new machine and you don’t buy it, you will end up paying for it without ever getting it."

Mohawk/CDT has developed a brochure for their MegaLAN 500 and 600. These new high-performance products may be available at your distributor within weeks.

NEW PRODUCT! Prestolite Wire Corporation has announced a new product named OUTBACK FROM SIDNEY™ Cable. This is not a plenum approved Bloomin’ Onion. This product is a CAT 5 outdoor cable designed for connecting that temporary building that never moves. This product will certainly fill the niche for connecting trailers and temp buildings like we see in schools and government installations. These non-connected, close-by structures will no longer be a thorn in your side. The core contains a heat and water-blocking tape, which will isolate the core from the extreme temperature and moisture.

Communications Supply Corporation (CSC - Stanford, CT - 800/243-2995) has recently announced their acquisition of Southwest Wire and Cable, Inc., a leading specialist in the sale and distribution of alarm, security, control, and communications products. Southwest is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jim Klabunde, one of the original founders of Southwest, will remain as Vice-President, General Manager of Southwest. Jim’s extensive communications background also includes ten years with Anixter International.

This acquisition will provide CSC with a significant market position in the burgeoning alarm and security market. The addition of Southwest will enhance and expand CSC’s customer base, geographical market presence, and product offerings.

This strategic combination of forces presents opportunities for both companies. Southwest’s extensive experience in the alarm and security field will be marketed through the CSC national distribution network while CSC will provide Southwest with a strong market position from CSC’s core voice and data communications business.

CONGRATULATIONS! Communications Systems, Inc. ( Hector, MN - NASDAQ NMS: CSII - 320/848-3142) announced on August 21, 1997 that it has achieved International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001 certification of its quality systems for the design and manufacture of its connectors and connecting devices for the worldwide voice and high-speed data communications.

The longer lead times we are seeing particularly on enhanced CAT 5 plenum cable are due to the fact that this cable type runs at slower production speeds than generic CAT 5. Tighter tolerances and rigorous process controls are needed. Mike Mayfield, VP of Engineering of Remee Products, gave us a short tutorial on how quality is built into their products. It’s not without added costs. Remee invested heavily in automated tensioning controllers to produce the quality demanded by today’s better informed marketplace. You have to control tension . . . even the heart doctors advise it!

The stretched out delivery dates aren’t due to a shortage of FEP. So far the supply of FEP from both DuPont and Daikin has kept up with the strong demand. The multi-stage expansion program started by DuPont a few years ago has provided additional FEP. Another major phase of the DuPont expansion is expected to start up in the first half of 1998, with more product shipping to cable manufacturers in the second half. These multi-year, multi-million dollar project decisions aren’t easy. Like someone once said, " It’s very difficult to prophesize, especially with respect to the future." At the time of this writing, we see a tight FEP market with cable manufacturers buying their full allotment, but none of the "panic buying" that sent this market spiraling two years ago.

TIA’s 41.8.1 committee which is responsible for the 568A standard has officially started work on the "next generation" cabling standard. TIA has recognized that as good as CAT 5 is, it’s a minimum requirement that is based on 5 year old technology. Futureproofing and building a barrier to obsolescence in our cabling systems will be getting some serious attention from TIA in the form of hard specifications.

Right now there’s a lot of confusion in the market about what exactly is "generation X". Just about every descriptor has been put on these beyond CAT 5 products . . . "enhanced", "ultra", "mega", "super", "CAT 5-on-steroids", "CAT 6" and probably a dozen more adjectives that will eventually converge to a common set of specifications. TIA’s first step should be to define terms. What is "enhanced" and what is "next generation" cabling? Anixter’s leadership and initiative in developing their Level 7 purchase specification will be a good base line for TIA to consider.

ACP (Association of Cabling Professionals) Training and Certification Programs are being finalized. While the comprehensive training manuals are being published, the ACP staff has begun a search for instructors and examiners for this important program. The regional requirements stipulate an organization with regional representation and availability for the courses, hand-on training, and testing for certification. If you are interested in participating in the program as an instructor or certification examiner, please send us your information for review and contact.

Training is a critical component of our industry’s technical underside and the end-user values. Just when you thought you had it all under control with Cat 5, along comes the Anixter Levels ‘97 Program!

Clearly, there is a substantial business opportunity in the training process. There is an even greater financial opportunity for the well-trained and well-informed individual. Whether it’s ACP training, or the training offered by other organizations, it is a must for survival and success in this rapidly changing technological marketplace.

Please check the links page on our website to ensure we have your site listed. Check for more news on the Association of Cabling Professionals on the internet: Remember you can download membership applications for ACP or the renewal form for Cabling Business Magazine. You were supposed to renew annually to ensure your uninterrupted delivery of CBM.

There will also be a generic Level 6 spec for 4pr UTP Plenum for your downloading convenience.

Just In . . . Mr. Fran Towey, formerly Director of Sales of Thomas & Betts, has joined Prestolite Wire Corporation (Southfield, MI - 248/386-4442) as Marketing Team Leader of the Telecommunications Products Group.

A change in the balance of power among cable supliers to RUS projects (Rural Utility Service) is under way. This branch of the federal government, which replaced the now defunct REA (Rural Electrification Authority), provides rural municipalities with low interest loans for infrastructure projects. Cable suppliers to these projects are required to meet RUS's very stringent specifications, which have also been adopted as defacto standards for some non-RUS projects. These large projects were once considered the private hunting ground for a few approved multi-national companies such as Lucent, Alcatel, and Sumitomo. Now that's changing because other cable suppliers have invested in quality and have shown that they can compete. For example, Remee Products (an ISO 9000 Company) Florida, New York has broken into this market and has been approved by the RUS for outside plant fiber optic cable.


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