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Hots 11/1997

Issue: November 1997

By: Frank Bisbee


Featured Story


Cable Design Technologies (CDT - Pittsburgh, PA) announced that it has acquired Barcel Wire and Cable Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Santa Fe Textiles, Inc. Headquartered in Irvine, CA, with 1996 sales of approximately $13 million, Barcel is a leading manufacturer of high performance specialty wire and cable for the commercial aerospace, military, and satellite industries. Barcel will become a part of CDT’s electronic specialty products operations headed by group vice president, George Graeber. CDT’s remarkable growth is supported by a solid customer base and high quality products. The product mix continues to shift to the high performance cabling products. The new emphasis on 100BaseT, ATM, and Gigabit Ethernet has moved the market to these new products.



October was a very busy month for expos, tradeshows, and association meetings. The BIGGIE was Networld Interop in Atlanta, GA. This tradeshow is focused on networks and the terminal gear associated with the new high-speed demands. All of the halls in the convention center were filled with this show. Internet, Frame Relay, and Gigabit Ethernet were the HOT focus of this extravaganza.

This show also saw the major presence of the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance ( 408-241-8904 - www.gigabit-ethernet.org - Cupertino, CA ). The GEA is an open forum whose purpose is to promote industry cooperation in the development of Gigabit Ethernet.

The Primary Objectives of the Alliance are:

    • Fully support the Gigabit Ethernet standards activities being conducted in the IEEE 802.3 working group.

    • Contribute technical resources to facilitate convergence and consensus on technical specifications.

    • Provide resources to establish and demonstrate product interoperability.

    • Foster two-way communications between potential suppliers and consumers of Gigabit Ethernet products.

There were only a few cable vendors at the show, however, they certainly will play a major part in connecting today’s hardware and tomorrow’s networks. Accu-Tech, Mohawk/CDT, and Ortronics had a strong presence. The real gems that we uncovered were:

    • IEC-Interface and Cable Solutions ( www.iec.net - Commerce City, CO ) is a manufacturer and distributor of networking products including cable and test equipment.

    • Major Custom Cable, Inc. ( 800-455-6224 - Jackson, MO ) is a manufacturer and distributor of virtually any type of connector cords or cable assemblies that you can imagine. The past few years has seen an impressive growth by this company. The quality of their products is exceptional. The assembly of all of their configurations are done in-house. No off-shore stuff from this bunch. We compared their price and quality with a few other sources. The price was competitive and the product was always equal to or better than the competition.



NASTD (National Association of State Telecommunications Directors) held their annual meeting at the Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA. The conference was well attended and the exhibitors kept in step with the theme focus on networks (for government, education, and medical). At the same time, NASIRE (National Association of State Information Resource Executives) met in Williamburg, VA. Their theme was also focused on networks. This is the best place to meet and interface with the leaders of communication technology for all of the state governments. These members are charged with the awesome responsibility of implementing the advances of the information age industry. www.csg.org/nastd. Council of State Governments - Lexington, KY (606) 244-8000.



BICSI had their fall conference in sunny California. The shaking turned out to be a codes & standards meeting instead of the typical earthquake tremor. The EIA/TIA discussions focused on rushing through some standard for CAT 6 & CAT 7. The Anixter Levels ‘97 Program is sweeping the market and this group is left to play catch-up. In this business, you either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Hats off to Anixter for their guiding influence in the copper-based communications cabling business.



The Cable Expo was held in Charlotte, NC. BICSI has pushed this show as another RCDD focused event and even offered RCDD credits for attendance. So much for the focus on the Installer.



ACUTA (Association of Colleges and Universities Telecommunications Administrators) Fall Conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have no report on that conference yet.



NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association - Bethesda, MD) held their 43rd Annual Meeting and Conference in Miami, FL. This show was focused on the installer. The electrical contractors are waking up to the huge opportunities in the communications cabling business. We will see much more activity from this organization. www.necashow.org



The roller derby for the new "industry standard" fiber optic connector has begun. Right now it’s a field of 5 skaters... some of the biggest players in the cabling industry. Lucent, IBM, 3M, Panduit, AMP. Look for a lot of elbows and muscling in the turns and some late entry wannabes. Some of the product promotions we’ve seen on these new connectors would shame some Hollywood productions. We wonder where all that money comes from?

A recent demo of fiber optic cable from Remee Products and Panduit’s Fiber Jack connector combination was impressive. This combo looks like a winner. The RJ-45 "foot print" gives new flexibility for modular wall outlets and higher density termination.

While glass is still the king of the fiber optics world, we see more than 22 companies and 34 universities and research institutions working on practical technologies utilizing plastics as the light guide. Light-Emitting Polymers may offer the technology and opportunity to make fiber optics a reality in terminal hardware . . . in eight or ten years, longer if the "glass guys" have anything to do with it.



To paraphrase Shakespeare. "A rose by any other name is still a rose". Not so in the cabling business. Ask 10 people what is meant by Category 5, Enhanced Category 5 and Next Generation Cabling and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Throw in the Anixter Levels ‘97 Program and you have a crisis in definitions. For clarity on the subject, check out the recently issued White Paper by Remee Products on their web site, www.remee.com. It clearly and concisely defines these terms according to the current state of standards evolution in TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) and ISO (Industry Standards Organization).

Things may change as standards evolve, but for now the Remee White Paper will serve as a single and useful guide through the maze of new terminology.



The fire safety concerns of plenum cable made with insulation substitutes for FEP fluoropolymer, have been confirmed and are being addressed by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL). UL appears to be on top of the situation and is taking corrective action. We, and others have reported on this important life safety issue in Cabling Business Magazine and on the Association of Cabling Professionals (ACP) web site: www.wireville.com. The DuPont web site also provides a good status report and has been updated with some additional information and articles. It’s worth a visit to www.dupont.com/teflon/datacomm.



Lucent has rolled out a complete channel system of cable and connecting hardware for Gigabit Ethernet. We haven’t seen the hard numbers on transmission performance, but it appears to track Anixter Level 7. Even though there are no EIA/TIA industry standards yet for Gigabit Ethernet cabling systems, this may be a market that won’t wait. Check out Berk-Tek’s LANmark™-1000 cable for 1000Base-T and 622ATM.



Culture shock or culture clash.... that’s what often happens when the MEGA corporation bureaucrats rise to officialdom in trade associations whose sole purpose is to serve the smaller companies. The smaller companies are the backbone of our industry. These are the companies and people who put in long, hard hours to provide value to customers and employment opportunities. We’ve seen some strong arm tactics and nepotism used by some who are "in power"... and it ain’t pretty. No, we’re not going to name names. Just be sure you know what’s going on and remind the offenders who it is they are supposed to serve and why they were elected to the position.



Here’s a question to ponder. If industry standards are designed to assure interoperability between cable and connectors, regardless of manufacturer, why is it "necessary to match connectors with specific cable from those who offer specific system guarantees? With the major standards organization for communications cabling and connectors bogged down by a few players with their own agendas, many companies are setting up proprietary product systems in order to create a defacto standard above the worn-out CAT 5 game. Hats off to Prestolite Wire Corporation for their RDNP Program, Berk-Tek’s for their Oasis Program, Mohawk/CDT for their Systems approach, and a host of other fine manufacturers with the same type of quality assurance packages.



Communications Systems, Inc., also known as CSI-Suttle of Hector, MN - has formed a working partnership with CDT/Mohawk (Leominster, MA) to supply total network systems for LAN, WAN, and MAN architecture.

CSI/Suttle is an ISO 9001 communications company that designs, manufactures and markets a full line of copper, coaxial and fiber optic connecting devices and wiring systems for the worldwide voice, high-speed data and cable television markets. Under the new "Partnership in Performance" banner, CSI/Suttle will be able to offer Mohawk’s advanced cable technologies and worldwide resources to provide a global answer to tomorrow’s network needs.

Another change at Mohawk: Joe Flynt is handling the tradeshows and conventions for all of their appearances. That means Joe is on the road . . . all the time. Now his family calls him "Uncle Daddy" and the dog doesn’t know him either. Mohawk has got the right person for this position.



Dan Kennefick, former Market Manager for DuPont, has moved to Berk-Tek, where he will manage Berk-Tek’s growing copper cable product line. Berk-Tek is seeing a strong increase in demand for their highest performance copper cabling products. This shift in product mix has caused some changes in plant output. Helping the end-users and the distributors to match the proper product to the right application is a crucial part of Mr. Kennefick’s new responsibilities. You can’t sell solutions to someone who doesn’t know they have a problem. Berk-Tek believes that an educated customer is a very valuable commodity.



Prestolite Wire Corporation, a privately held company based in Southfield, Michigan has announced the second largest multimillion dollar expansion of its Sidney, Nebraska voice and data communications wiring plant this year. This Phase III expansion is being undertaken while Phase II concludes in December.

The Phase III expansion increases Prestolite’s capacity to produce the leading edge data communications wiring products by 50% and positions Prestolite as one of the leading manufacturers in the fast growing premise marketplace.

Preston Speers, Vice President and General Manager, Telecommunications Products Group, commented "that this expansion is designed to support our successful marketing efforts in both the North American and Asian data communications markets. This comes as we announce another significant event . . . the opening of our sales office in Singapore and the formation of Prestolite Pacific Rim PTE LTD. We are already enjoying success in the Asian market and feel that establishing a local presence will increase our market penetration."

Tim Ryder, Plant Team Leader, for the Sidney, Nebraska facility, was quoted as saying that, "we are very excited about this accelerated phase of growth as Prestolite. It is a clear indication of the strength and dedication of our work force in this facility."



Miller Freeman has made its biggest U.S. acquisition, paying $130 million for New York-based Telecom Library and its two subsidiaries. The deal brings four new magazines and a major trade show into the Miller Freeman stable of nearly 100 U.S. magazines. The key title is Computer Telephony magazine, with a circulation of 90,000. About 90 staffers will be added to Miller’s 600-employee U.S. payroll. Miller Freeman is the San Francisco-based subsidiary of England-based United News & Media.

The deal is significant because it positions the company in new telecommunications growth markets that include computer telephony, call centers and document imaging, said Don Pazour, President of Miller Freeman. "We are sort of the mutual fund of the publishing world and we must continue to diversify to grow," Pazour said. "Advertising in the magazine business has been flat and its cyclical, so we must continue to identify new markets. We are looking at the entertainment-technology market next."



Area Communications Company, the Leading cabling contractor in North East Florida has opened it’s new 12,000 square foot corporate headquarters in Orange Park, Florida. Due to extremely high growth over the past four years, (1150%) the new facilities are necessary to house its 54 employees and to facilitate it’s ever expanding service offerings. Area Communications has stayed high on the list of the fastest growing Florida based companies for the past several years. It was ranked number 4 on the list for 1996 and number 1 (for the Jacksonville area) for 1997 by the Florida 100, a study done by the University of Florida and Published by Florida Trend and the Wall Street Journal. Area’s service offerings include: telephone systems, Automated Attendant/Voice Mail, Networking services (LAN & WAN), Cabling services (Fiber & Copper), and computer telephone integration equipment and services. Area plans to open a new training facility for cabling technicians by January 1998. Additional course offerings will include both LAN administrator and end user courses for Microsoft and Novell.

 

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