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HOTS 08/1998

Issue: August 1998

By: Frank Bisbee

Featured Story

The cable product is the end result of a corporate culture for quality and performance. The benchmarks which signal these important corporate culture capabilities are important indicators to the buyers and distributors.

Prestolite Wire's Paragould Facility Awarded QS/ISO 9000 Certification

Prestolite Wire Corporation, (Southfield, MI) announced today the certification of their automotive and industrial bulk wire facility in Paragould, Arkansas to the QS 9000/ISO9001 - quality standard. The registration is the culmination of an eighteen - month effort to refine Prestolite's manufacturing and management systems to meet the stringent requirements of this internationally accepted standard.

"Prestolite Wire is committed to continuously improving the quality of our Automotive, Industrial and Telecom products and support services. Industry experts will see this certification as validation of Prestolite Wire's total quality control program," said George Joeckel, President and CEO.

The registration was achieved after the completion of a thorough audit and review by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. The UL in-depth review examined all of the major areas of Prestolite Wire, including their Research & Development center in Port Huron, Michigan.

With this accomplishment, all of Prestolite Wire's manufacturing facilities in North America have been registered to these quality standards. In an industry where differentiation is important, this benchmark elevates Prestolite Wire to a position of leadership in the quality of their products and services.

NEXTplus Connection System

If you think Category 5 standards are the industry's highest, you're only half right. If there were a Category 6, this is the only connection system that might qualify. It's true that EIA/TIA Category 5 specifications are highest yet issued, but one connection system far exceeds those specs: it's Porta's new NEXTplus line of LAN connection products.


Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA), an Alcatel Company and a recognized leader in high-performance copper and fiber-optic structured cabling solutions, now offers the data communications market the ultimate open architecture channel solutions: OASIS-350 and OASIS-1000 (Open Architecture Systems Interconnect Solutions).

Current and future industry standards are based on the advantages of multi-vendor structured cabling systems. This open architecture approach gives network designers the ability to select the highest performing individual components and incorporate them into a seamless end-to-end solution with unmatched performance.

Berk-Tek has designed OASIS channel solutions to meet most customer requirements. OASIS channel solutions have been developed by Berk-Tek in partnership with a select group of connectivity partners. OASIS connectivity manufacturers were selected based on their proven copper and fiber technologies and design support capabilities.

Berk-Tek has limited their partners to an exclusive list. All OASIS solutions have not only been extensively tested by Berk-Tek and its connectivity partners, but also by an independent testing laboratory.

AT&T buying TCI for $48 Billion

AT&T Corporation (New York, NY) announced June 17, 1998 that it will buy cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. for stock valued at about $48 billion. The deal will fuse each company's Internet holdings, AT&T's long-distance and wireless services and TCI's cable and telecom business in a new subsidiary call AT&T Consumer Services. The move sets the stage for AT&T to become a premier Internet player and offer local telephone service widely for the first time in more than a decade.

"Today we are beginning to answer a big part of the question about how we will provide local service to U.S. customers," AT&T Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Michael Armstrong said. The telephone giant could reach almost immediately the 21 million cable-ready homes TCI serves. Some costly system upgrades will let AT&T use those cable lines to crack the local telephone monopolies of the so-called Baby Bells.

Cable designers pay very close attention to this technology marriage. This combination of network services signals a higher performance demand for the cabling infrastructure.

The 27th Annual ACUTA Conference (The Association for Telecommunications Professionals in Higher Education) in San Diego was a huge success on all fronts. Over 600 ACUTA members attended the wide variety of information packed conferences and trade exhibits. Highlighting a series of full day pre-conference seminars was "Cabling and Infrastructure Standards and Design", conducted by ACUTA in association with the ACP (Association of Cabling Professionals).

Each year we see more emphasis on cabling and infrastructure with growing participation and support from cabling system vendors as evidenced by Mohawk/CDT's well attended breakfast. Belden, Lucent, Anixter, Graybar, Superior Cable, DuPont Teflon®, Optical Cable Corp., Panduit, Superior Modular Products, Helix-Hitemp and Champlain Cable also exhibited. The ACUTA staff is first class, friendly and helpful, they work hard to make the whole conference experience enjoyable for everyone. Put ACUTA in your plans for next July in Nashville.

Hats off to Ruth Michalecki (University of Nebraska). She is a former President and extremely active ACUTA committee member. This year, Ruth assumes the top slot of ICA (International Communications Association - Dallas, TX) where she has served for many years as a Board Member. When it comes to handling the cabling challenge for a major university, Ms. Michalecki is a pro. The program that she instituted at the University of Nebraska was effective, economical, and a real study in vendor cooperation.

Last year about this time, fire safety became a "hot issue". Maybe it's the hot summer weather but look for more reportin' and debatin' on how to assure and preserve long-term fire safety performance in plenum areas. Make sure you arm yourself with all the facts before you consider changing insulation systems. ACP continues to support 4x0 100% FEP constructions for plenum applications.

Here's a simple test that brings the message "home": Take a piece of 4x0 FEP plenum and a piece of 0x4 Polyethylene plenum and a candle. Go outside so you don't stink up your office. Strip off the jacket and hold the twisted pairs over the candle flame. It's not the official test, but it sure is impressive. Our 0x4 poly sample burned as well as the candlewick and the FEP did nothing. One of the technicians who observed our sidewalk burn test compared the plenum grade polyethylene cable to "napalm on a rope". TRY OUR SIMPLE TEST.

The flaming cable signals an alert to the users and to the testing methods. We feel the intent of the fire safety codes would be better served by improved testing procedures that would plug the technical loopholes that may exist at this time. One of the test observers commented in defense of the polyethylene cable, "From a technical point of view, if the cable fails, you can always use it for sending smoke signals."

TIA bashing may be in vogue in some corners, but not in the ACP. Some have criticized TIA for being too slow on standards and too quick to dance to the tune of the big vendors. Nobody's perfect, but until you've walked in someone else's moccasins, it's best not to comment. We can and do comment because several ACP members are very active in TIA. The standards development process is built on consensus and, by nature, it is a slow one. Some of the best engineers in the country work hard at moving things along as quickly as possible while keeping rigorous attention to good science. Industry standards have to be right and they have to be accurate.

Yes, we have challenged TIA to move faster, but only as a supporter looking to make things better. And when they haven't been able to respond, we've supported Anixter's Levels Program initiative. TIA standards are "open", meaning anyone can attend meetings and contribute. So if you feel strongly about TIA, pro or con, we'll expect to see you at the next meeting. Otherwise... well, I think you get the message.

ICC (International Connectors and Cable Corporation) Premises Wiring Division continues to grow. A big part of their success is innovative design and their keep it simple approach of high performance connectors and terminating hardware at very competitive prices.

Two new creative products from ICC are "hot off the press" making things easier for the cabling system designer and installer. Their patent-pending Hinged 110 Wiring Block greatly simplifies installation by providing easy access to the cable channel after installation, along with other craft-friendly features. ICC's new Eliteä Series Multi-Media Box (MMB) is a versatile mounting fixture ideal for a multi-user telecommunications outlet assembly (MUTOA). It can accommodate a mix of fiber and copper media and has a variety of routing and strain relief options. These are unique, well designed products to check out first hand.

Remember the 1988 Hinsdale, Illinois central office fire that knocked out communications in the Chicago area? Much fire science research has been done to better understand this disaster and to prevent similar occurrences. UL's "WIRETALK" Newsletter and a joint technical paper presented at the National Fire Protection Research Foundation by Lucent, UL and DuPont report on how cable combustion products affect corrosion and current leakage in electronic equipment. The articles are very informative and definitely worth reading. UL sums it up as follows, "Simply put, this effect occurs when smoke particles from burning wire or cable settle on electronic equipment, especially circuit boards, causing a reduction in impedance or a circuit to be completed between components that shouldn't be completed". More work needs to be done but it looks like finely dispersed carbon particles from even small fires can wreak havoc. For more information or to obtain reprints, contact UL, Lucent or DuPont through their web sites. Don't forget to check the Wireville router page.

Patch panels with front termination would be very nice and handy. Network connectivity maintenance requires modifications and updates to existing patch panels. Their wiring is usually located in the rear of the panel, which normally involves unmounting it, making the task a bit burdensome. UNICOM (City of Industry, CA) has a better idea!

UNICOM's new Front Termination Panels for Category 5 provide a simple solution for smaller installations and expansions of existing networks, allowing front termination of the 110-type connectors by removal of a front cover. Once the snap-on cover is re-installed, the termination area is protected and not visible. The cover can be removed for additions and changes. Available in Flush Mount or Wall Mount with stand-offs.

AMP is on the road again . . .

AMP (Harrisburg, PA) has kicked-off its Roadshow schedule in 19 major cities throughout the United States starting August 19, 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts. The last Roadshow will wrap up on November 17, 1998 in Raleigh, NC. These innovative mini-tradeshows will not only offer industry and competency product displays but also include informative technical presentations.

AMP® product managers and technical personnel will be on hand at the technical presentations to answer questions. The technical presentations cover topics such as:

    • Faster Designs with the AMP Internet Catalog

    • The "Need for Speed" and Signal Density

    • CompactPCI® Technology

    • Fibre Channel and Other High Speed Serial Data Technologies

    • Basics of Fiber Optic Theory

    • MT-RJ Fiber Optic Transceiver and Connector System

AMP is the a leading supplier of connectors and interconnection systems and serves customers around the world in a wide range of markets, including communications, consumer/industrial, personal computer, power technology and automotive. Employing 46,500 people in 53 countries, AMP achieved record sales of $5.75 billion in 1997. To receive a registration form to attend the Roadshow, call (800) 521-4781.

American Access Technologies, Inc. (Altamonte, FL) reported that the Independent School District of Richardson, TX in metro-Dallas has fully adopted the company's Zone Cabling Termination Cabinet (ZCTC) technology as the solution to E-RATE, the federal mandate to provide Internet access to public school classrooms by the year 2000.

The school district first tested the American Access ZCTC-1024HR series of ceiling-grid "phone closets" last February in Phase 1 of its twelve-phase implementation program. Phase 6, installation and retrofitting of the Zone Cabling units, is currently underway.

"Zone Cabling's total flexibility makes it the ideal solution for configuring and reconfiguring Internet access in today's classrooms, and opens up an important new market for us in education," said company CEO Richard A. Murray. "We are proud to be at the leading edge of education, helping public schools to bring the world into the classroom through the power of the Internet."

"Alien" Crosstalk Is Real . . .Or is it?

Evolving LAN protocols such as 100 Base T use bi-directional signaling on each pair of a four pair copper cable. This signaling technology imposes many new electrical requirements on systems. AN IEEE 802.3 subcommittee is currently developing 100 Base T and resolving these technical issues. They have identified "alien" crosstalk as a critical test parameter for successfully implementing 100 Base T on copper premise cabling systems.

Alien crosstalk is the data interference induced from a pair in one cable into the pairs of an adjacent victim cable. Since this "noise" is not a signal generated by the victim, transceiver cancellation circuitry can not by "trained" to cancel it out from the intended data stream. For this reason, limits have been proposed for alien crosstalk between cables in a bundle so that the noise level budgets of future protocols will not be exceeded. We have reason to believe that test results on these issues may soon by available for analysis. Like the X-files, the truth is out there.

Cable Design Technologies Corporation (Pittsburgh, PA) announced that after due consideration its NORDX/CDT subsidiary is ceasing all further development, sales and marketing activity on its DynaTraX™ product line. NORDX/CDT will continue to support the installed customer base with on-going engineering and customer technical assistance.

In line with the above decision, Cable Design Technologies will take a one-time pre-tax charge against earnings of approximately $6 million in its current quarter to provide for costs associated with the cessation of such business and the write down of inventories and other assets related to the business, as well as other NORDX/CDT restructuring activities.

Cable Design Technologies expects, based on historic costs, that the foregoing actions will benefit operating income by $5 million to $6 million in its fiscal year 1999.

In addition, Cable Design Technologies announced that its Board of Directors approved an expansion of its 480,000 square foot Kingston, Ontario, Canada facility. The expansion will accommodate a 14% increase in manufacturing capacity for its telecommunications cable product line. This is the third capacity increase of such facility in the last 2½ years.

Anicom, Inc. (Rosemont, IL), a national leader and specialist in the distribution of multimedia wiring products, announced July 1st, 1998 the appointment of Ed Goodstein, a 25-year industry veteran, as president of its Broadband division. Goodstein previously served as chief executive officer of TW Communication Corporation, a prominent company in the multimedia wiring products industry acquired by Anicom in December of 1997.

Alcatel announces an intelligent network approach

to marry the telephone network and the internet

Presenting its IN@Internet concept at ICIN+IEEE'98, Alcatel (Paris, France) announced the Intelligent Network approach to provide an optimal synergy between the Switched Telephone and the Internet.

One of the most recent revolutions in telecommunications is without any doubt the explosive growth of the Internet and other TCP/IP based networks and services. Today, Alcatel is offering a wide range of products, solutions, and services that focus on the Internet, while capitalizing on Alcatel's experience with first generation on-line services (video-tex and minitel). Alcatel is also offering a structured cabling solution system to carry their customer's from the new millennium to the desktop. Alcatel is best known in the USA through their subsidiary, Berk-Tek. We expect an enhanced and integrated offering through Berk-Tek and Alcatel Cabling Systems.

Although there is a tendency to consider the 'traditional' Switched Telephone Network (fixed and mobile) and the 'emerging' Internet as two separate worlds, the Intelligent Network plays an important role in gluing them together, bringing enhancements for both network types.

Alcatel's IN@Internet approach is to gradually increase the role the IN is playing with regards to the access to and offering of services on IP based networks.

The communications industry is besieged with new products to support the demand for "bigger, faster and better" information technology. The market demand for more bandwidth and better designs is unstoppable. Last week, we spent several hours throwing out the old reference materials and filing the new catalogs. A complete and current catalog for data and telecommunications materials can be worth its weight in gold. As an example, we just received (hot off the press) the newest release of the catalog for Rexel CCW (formerly Cable & Connector Warehouse) and Rexel Datacom (formerly Consolidated Datacom). They have facilities in 10 states and may be opening new locations in 9 additional states. Contractors: Get a copy of this one!

On July 16, 1998, Metromedia Fiber Network, Inc. (New York, NY) announced plans to expand its intra-city dark fiber network infrastructure to a strategic West Coast corridor, adding the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to the growing list of Tier One markets in which the Company plans to offer local fiber optic infrastructure. The planned network is intended to cover an excess of 150 route miles, ringing the Bay Area, including many vital Silicon Valley cities, such as San Jose and Santa Clara, and encompassing key areas in downtown San Francisco. The Company has recently signed a conduit agreement within the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) right-of-way for a portion of the network and plans to start the fiber optic build process immediately.

Cabling professionals take notice. This network move by Metromedia completes a coast to coast pure fiber net. With these speeds to the doorstep, we are going to have to do a better job of cabling to the desktop. The customer has the "Need for Speed".

Lowest Cost Visual Fault Finder for Fiber Optic Cable

On June 23, 1998, Wavetek Corporation (San Diego, CA) introduced the new VFF5, the lowest cost visual fault finder on the market. At $395, this new tool costs up to sixty percent less than competitive products. The new VFF5 is a laser diode light source designed to find breaks, faulty splices and crimps and poor components and connections in fiber cable runs. You can use it to verify continuity, test and find breaks in LANs, telephony, data links and loops and other applications where fiber is used instead of copper.

Packaged in a rugged metal housing, the new VFF5 is a slim, pen style, battery-operated tool that focuses a highly visible red light into the fiber cable. The operator detects breaks in the cable by seeing where the red light is exposed. The tester is equipped with a high power, extra long life 670nm laser diode that operates either in continuous or modulated/blinking mode, and is user-selectable via a slide switch. Breaks are seen as a bright glowing, or a flashing red lit area.

The VFF5 is functional with either single- or multi-mode fiber cable over a distance of up to three miles (5km). It is intended for use as a stand-alone, first line basic troubleshooting tool, or with an OTDR, to isolate faults.

The VFF5 is covered by the company's No Hassle™ warranty program. The new tester comes complete with carrying case, lens cap, batteries and lanyard, and is available from local distributors and national electronic equipment catalogs. Cool!



LANart Corporation (Needham, MA), a leader in optimizing twisted pair and fiber connectivity solutions across the network, introduced on June 22, 1998 their LANart Single-Mode to Twisted Pair Converter, the LANart 6- and 12-port Single-Mode to Twisted Pair Fast Ethernet microConverters and the LANart 6- and 12-port Multimode to Twisted Pair Fast Ethernet microConverters.

All new LANart products feature the Company's industry-first AutoCross technology, which automates the correct configuration for both crossed and uncrossed cabling to simplify installation and reduce manual troubleshooting. LANart delivers the innovative AutoCross capabilities for Fast Ethernet speeds and the Company's 10Base-T to 10Base-FL single-mode converter completes LANart's AutoCross-enabled single-channel 10Mbps Ethernet converter line.

ULTRA MEDIA is a new hit single on the charts. The CommScope® new brochure touts cable performance so incredible . . . But, best of all the new group: "THE BANDWIDTHS" rock the cover. The technical members of the band include: Jeff Telling, Tom Boucino, Mahesh Patel, and Kevin Baum. During the day, they are CommScope's technical team, at night, they push the edge of the envelope. Check out the new CommScope brochure and products.

Thank goodness someone is coming up with a flexible solution for the erratically changing end user demands for horizontal fiber backbone. We understand that Anixter is working on a solution to this difficult service area.

The importance of a reliable communications system cannot be overstated - you've probably been hearing that a lot lately. User demand for today's networks is growing so rapidly that organizations are scrambling for ways to keep up, and the high-bandwidth applications that were cutting-edge have now become standard. Congestion is clogging up many corporate LANs, so information exchange is taking longer.

In order to try to keep the congestion under control, segmentation and microsegmentation have become the norm for networks. Overcrowding is more prevalent that ever - chances are, you have experienced this firsthand. Temporary and satellite closets are popping up throughout the LAN architecture and must be connected back to other network devices or other parts of the floor or building.

So how does your organization juggle a growing workforce with an expanding LAN? Anixter understands that you need an immediate answer, because your day-to-day productivity depends on a solid network foundation.

Given the challenges of this present-day networking environment, the process of connecting temporary and satellite closets to the TC via an organized fiber optic cabling it Horizontal Fiber Backbone (HFB). With this solution, Anixter recommends that all hubs/switches in temporary and satellite closets be connected back to the telecommunications closet on each floor with a 12-fiber multimode cable. This provides a high-bandwidth avenue to connect the satellite hubs or switches together.

The Anixter HFB End to End System Solution offers a quick and easy standardized process of connecting these closets within your LAN. It offers the option to further segment the LAN into smaller workgroups as the traffic increases and access methods evolve. This fiber pipe provides you with the bandwidth required for any application.

In the world of cabling, there are a few individuals who merit recognition for their accomplishments. One of those individuals is Mr. Joseph Dellagala, Vice President of Engineering at Mohawk/CDT. Mr. Dellagala has been active in the cabling industry since 1967, where he started with Phalo Wire as an Electrical Engineer. Since then, he has been involved in sales and marketing, engineering, and technical development. Today, "Joey D." heads up the product development and quality control team at Mohawk/CDT. As an example of Mr. Dellagala's team leadership we will soon see a new product from Mohawk. Look for the Mohawk GigaLAN copper cable which actually exceeds the performance requirements of 1000Base-T, Level 7 or CAT 6 (whenever it's approved).

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. They have a world-class training facility with regular classes on installation, structured wiring with Category 5 certification, LANs, fiber optics and design.


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