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HOTS 01/1999

Issue: January 1999

By: Frank Bisbee


Featured Story


Perhaps they should have named it CAT 5R. The "R" is for "repaired" or "revised" but certainly does not mean "ENHANCED". The CAT 5e standard is a mis-named product ID. It's not really faster and many existing plain old Category 5 cables exceed this proposed standard. We tested some of Mohawk's plain old CAT 5 and found the product to be superior to the proposed CAT 5e standard. In addition, Mohawk, Nordx and a host of other cable manufacturers already produce cables far above this proposed standard, most of these products are known as true "Enhanced CAT 5" and should not be confused with the 5e 'Near-Standard'. Should we now call their products CAT 5ee or perhaps CAT 5eee? How about CAT 5eeeee or CAT 5eieio? Will they have a website This new designation will certainly add to the already frustrating task of selecting high-performance cables to tackle the ever-increasing transmission speeds. It is no small wonder that many specifiers are going directly to the manufacturers or to other reliable sources to pick their product. Anixter's Levels™ Program is a very timely solution for the perplexed specifier, their LEVEL 5 "already" surpasses 5e, and the LEVEL 6 "blows it away"! Isn't CAT 5e just a step backwards?

The much-anticipated arrival of the TIA's Enhanced Category 5 (CAT5e) standard has been delayed... again. The new standard, to be published as Addendum #5 to TIA/EIA-568-A when issued, was expected to receive final committee blessing in 1998. But more problems have surfaced. The stumbling block is poor accuracy level of hand held field test units in measuring the critical transmission parameter of return loss.

A special task group has been appointed to resolve the problem and air their findings at the TIA's February '99 meeting in Sarasota FL. If return loss accuracy problems are solved, and there are no additional issues, another committee ballot on the proposed standard is likely. This means the earliest we will see an approved standard for CAT 5e will be in the second quarter 1999.

Cable Design Technologies (CDT- Pittsburgh, PA) recently reported that net income for the first fiscal quarter ended October 31, 1998, was $12.4 million ($0.41 per diluted share) versus $11.5 million ($0.37 per diluted share) for the same quarter last year. Sales for the first quarter rose 7% to $173.6 million, including $16.5 million from the Company's recent acquisitions, versus $162.1 million for the first quarter of fiscal 1998. Adjusted for foreign currency rate changes and for the decline in the price of copper, management estimates that the growth in sales in the first quarter of fiscal 1999 would have been approximately 11% on a year-over-year basis. Operating income for the first quarter increased 22% to $24.1 million versus $19.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 1998. CDT's first quarter results set records for sales, operating income and earnings per share.

In commenting on the quarter, Paul M. Olson, President and CEO, stated, "We are pleased with our record first quarter results. During a challenging period in our industry which saw a slowdown in network product sales, inventory adjustments by distributors, more competitive pricing and a period of worldwide economic uncertainty, CDT maintained its market position and raised its profitability by increasing its sales of higher performance network and specialty electronic products. We believe that the distributor inventory adjustments are near an end and that a better feeling about the U.S. and worldwide economies hopefully will lead to a more positive business climate for the quarters ahead."

"Restructuring and cost reduction activities initiated in the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998 began to show results in the first quarter, and we expect continued benefits in subsequent quarters."

"The first quarter also benefited from a strategy of pursuing value-added and accretive acquisitions to diversify our specialty interconnectivity product offerings as reflected by the addition of HEW-KABEL/CDT. We also acquired Red Hawk, a small, rapidly growing supplier of fiber optic assemblies to the OEM market for voice, video and data equipment."

CDT also announced that its Board of Directors approved the purchase of up to 1.9 million shares (or approximately 6%) of the Company's common stock that was acquired by certain key employees upon the exercise of incentive stock options (ISOs) granted primarily in 1988 and expiring in 1998 and 1999. The offer to the employees to purchase such stock will be made in the Company's second fiscal quarter ending January 31, 1999, based upon the closing price on the date of purchase.

LANart Corporation (Needham, MA) recently introduced the EWC0015, coaxial cable-to-fiber converter and the EYC0013, coaxial cable-to-twisted pair converter. Both of these converters are equipped with LANart's LinkALERT® technology to deliver uplink and downlink fault detection.

"LANart has always strived to respond to current market demands with the most cost-effective network solutions," said Bradford Winkler, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing. "LANart's new coax-to-fiber and coax-to-twisted pair converters are servicing the needs of customers who have coax but need to move to another medium to future-proof their systems. LANart's converters provided a range of effective upgrade solutions for these customers."

The EYC0013 is one of the most inexpensive and efficient coax-to-twisted pair converters on the market for economically minded companies. The EYC0013, like its counterpart EWC0015, is equipped with LANart's LinkALERT® technology. The LinkALERT® feature monitors all physical uplink and downlink failures and enables network management to detect all faults. Monitoring both uplink and downlink network traffic significantly reduces manual troubleshooting.

LANart's EWC0015 is equipped with both LinkALERT® and switch selectable Fault Pass Through. Fault Pas Through ensures that if something happens to the coax side of the system, the fiber side will be stopped so that the hub or switch can monitor the whole link. Both LinkALERT® and coax termination on EWC0015 and EYC0013 are switch selectable.

Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA), an Alcatel Company and a leader in high-performance copper and fiber-optic structured cabling solutions, recently introduced its new Adventum™ fiber optic loose-tube and plenum-rated cable, the first cable of its kind with a completely dry core and a product that can be used in virtually any indoor and outdoor application.

Adventum™ cable was introduced in a technical presentation made by David A. Keller, Berk-Tek's Senior Fiber Optic Product Engineer, at the International Wire and Cable Symposium in Philadelphia. Additionally, William Charuk, Berk-Tek's Fiber Optic Group Business Manager, said the revolutionary Adventum™ cable is especially advantageous for campus LANs, as well as numerous other premises networking applications. Adventum™ will be available in fiber counts of 12 or less with 62.5 µm multimode fiber, 50 µm multimode fiber and singlemode fiber.

"Berk-Tek has engineered Adventum™ without any gel-type filling compounds in the cable core or buffer tube. Adventum™ cable, however, is fully water-blocked because it features a dry compound water blocking scheme inside and outside of the buffer tube," Charuk said. The dry filling compound also allows Adventum™ cable to be plenum-rated.

Adventum™ is a small, flexible and easily installed cable that is excellent for confined conduit runs where space is at a premium. Because Adventum™ has no gels, cleaning is simplified, which significantly reduces installation time. And Adventum™ cable can be run from the outdoors directly into a plenum environment, which eliminates the need for a building entrance transition point and significantly reduces network costs.

"Adventum™ is designed to go virtually anywhere - indoors and outdoors," Charuk said. He added that Adventum™ cable offers several other important benefits, such as a smaller diameter, a reduced quantity and trade size of conduits, easy installation and termination.

Adventum™ launches a new fiber optic cable series for Berk-Tek. The company's fiber optic offerings also include a full range of outside plant loose tube cables, loose tube and tight buffered indoor/outdoor riser rated backbone cables and heavy duty, breakout style riser rated cable. Berk-Tek also introduced GIGALite™ fiber solutions, which are designed to meet the demands of Gigabit application protocols such as Gigabit Ethernet, ATM and Fibre Channel.

Berk-Tek's solutions approach offers the data communications market the GIGALite™ Fiber Solution as part of its OASIS (Open Architecture Systems Interconnect Solutions) Program. This open architecture channel solution - which also includes the LANmark Enhanced and LANmark Gigabit copper solutions - incorporates a select group of connectivity partners' proposed Category 6 connecting hardware. The result is the highest-performing horizontal UTP channel solution available. The OASIS Program backs each of its fiber and copper solutions with a comprehensive 25-year warranty.

With design input from industry cable management experts, Hubbell Premise Wiring (Stonington, CT) has developed a new standard rack system that accommodates the side drill mounting patterns of many of the industry's leading rack manufacturers. This design allows the Hubbell racks and vertical cable management systems to work with other manufacturers' rack systems. No longer will MIS managers have to settle for dated solutions; now they can upgrade to Hubbell functionality with a new series of data communications racks and cable management solutions. These rugged racks are available in black and mil finish.

The new Vertical Cable Management channel has been redesigned with eight quick-close rear cable retainers, and two push pin mounted panels that conceal the cable bundles over the full length of the front channel. This twin Vertical Cable Management system has increased channel volume to maximize cable capacity in a well-organized and serviceable manner.

Feature for feature, this improved line of racks and cable management systems, with the additional benefit of Universal Side Drillings, may prove to be the rack of choice for new installations and competitive retrofit applications alike.

Satisfying end user demand for faster, more cost-efficient splicing at breakout points and keeping pace with the evolution of fiber optical cable to the local subscriber loop are among the advantages of a "Controlled Jacket Bond" coated steel armor cable sheath design outlined by The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, MI) in a technical paper presented to attendees at the 47th International Wire and Cable Symposium (IWCS) held in Philadelphia, November 16-19, 1998.

According to Dow, the industry's increasing movement away from a filled or "wet" fiber optical cable design to a "dry" cable, featuring water blocking tapes, powders and yarns to impede the longitudinal flow of water, has already reduced splicing time significantly.

"Dry fiber optic cables are becoming the global standard because they eliminate the cleaning and other time-consuming activities associated with petroleum jelly filled cables when splicing," explained William Busch, Team Leader of Dow's Engineered Laminate R&D Department, during his presentation at IWCS 1998.

With controlled jacket bond, the jacket adhesion is controlled to a level that permits easy stripping, yet it is at a high enough level to ensure the benefits of the bonded sheath remain intact.

"In 1995, we began working with some of our cable manufacturing customers on the controlled jacket bond concept with ZETABON™ coated steel armor. Based on the outstanding results and increased demand for the performance attributes it provides, we recently made the product available commercially," said Busch. "The use of a controlled jacket bond coated steel armor tape significantly reduces the field time needed to strip, prepare and ground the cable."

Dow also reported field testing indicates that the time required by technicians to remove the outer jacket of a dry cable having a controlled jacket bond averaged only 1 minute, 20 seconds, while removing the jacket of a cable with standard steel armoring was nearly 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

At the COMDEX Fall 1998 Conference in Las Vegas, Prestolite Wire Corporation received the 1999 WideBand Cable of the Year award for its NETLink 2000 cable. The award, presented by the WideBand Gigabit Networking Alliance, distinguishes NETLink 2000 as this year's most outstanding copper cable for high-speed networking.

"Prestolite has really done a lot of things right with this cable," said Dr. Roger E. Billings, President of WideBand Corporation and inventor of WideBand technology. "Instead of developing a cable with specs and characteristics that look good on paper but are lacking when it comes to actual performance, Prestolite has specifically tuned their cable to a real application - WideBand Gigabit networking. Of course, because WideBand stressed the cable more than any other networking technology on the market today, cables that pass WideBand specifications also work well for other high-speed networks such as Gigabit Ethernet and ATM." To certify for WideBand, cables must meet Category 5 specifications plus pass the WideBand functional test.

The certification of copper cables for WideBand has been undertaken due to new requirements WideBand networking places on the cable and connector infrastructure. Since WideBand has a Nyquist frequency of 167 MHz - higher than ATM or Gigabit Ethernet over UTP copper (in fact, the highest Nyquist frequency of any networking technology currently on the market) - it stresses the cable more than any other network. Considering that Category 5 cable is tested only to 100 MHz, it is possible that some cables will not be capable of handling WideBand data rates. Therefore, a special endorsement is necessary to ensure that cables can provide the additional frequency requirement needed for WideBand.

The WideBand Gigabit Networking Alliance (WGNA), which is responsible for WideBand testing and certification, was formed to develop a clear specification for WideBand networking and to obtain industry support for the WideBand de facto standard. Membership is growing steadily and is open to parties interested in participating in the development of the WideBand open standard.

Additionally, on the WideBand front, The WideBand Gigabit Networking Alliance announced that Essex Group's DataGain, 427 Cobra, LAN-CAT 5, and Residential Broadband UTP copper cables have all been Certified for WideBand gigabit networking applications. The announcement was made at a WideBand press conference highlighting UTP copper cables fit for gigabit networking.

DataGain is the latest communication cable in the Essex/ product line. DataGain complies with the proposed TIA CAT 6 requirements when tested to 250 MHz. 427 Cobra is an enhanced CAT 5 that exceeds the ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A when tested to 100 MHz. LAN-CAT 5, and Residential Broadband cable meet all ANSI-TIA-EIA 568-A Category 5 requirements.

Cable Management equals asset management. It's all about how to maximize your investment in the cabling infrastructure and erect a barrier to obsolescence. We have just reviewed the FlexTray® Cable Management System™ manufactured by GS Metals (Pinckneyville, IL) and we were very impressed with the quality and affordability. The FlexTray® Cable Management System™, manufactured here in the good ole' USA utilizes an innovative steel mesh design which really speeds up installation with less labor and materials required. The open mesh design enables cable networks to be expanded quickly and easily -- ideal for today's sensitive high-performance copper cables (like Anixter Levels™ 6 & 7) and fiber optic cables. Check 'em out

GS Metals Corp. capped another record breaking year in the sales and shipments of its Flextray® Cable Management Systems. As a proven market leader in flexible wire management solutions, Flextray® remains the recognized name in the marketplace as the pioneer in developing flexible, site configurable cable management solutions.

Not content with the status quo, GS Metals has developed its own state-of-the-art production machinery, making Flextray® the only US manufactured flexible wire management system. Other 'similar' products are manufactured overseas and imported into the US.

In its continuing efforts to lead the market as a true innovator, GS Metals has recently expanded its Flextray® offering with the introduction of the new Flex-E-Coat™ Finish. Flex-E-Coat™ is a unique, epoxy electrodeposited finish that actually bends with the metal. It has been designed to blend with the environment of current communication industry equipment. Flex-E-Coat™ Finish is currently available in black, with optional colors such as white and gray upon request. It is a perfect solution for telecommunication closets or open ceilings where aesthetics are important. In addition, Flextray® is introducing 'closet solutions' packaging that contains a full kit of straight sections, accessories and mounting hardware that would be required for a typical closet installation.

What new innovations can the industry look forward to in the coming months? Look for a revolutionary new splicing technology that will not only cut cost, but will allow component fastening in one-quarter to one-half the time of current splicing techniques. Also watch for a new method of tray cutting that will dramatically reduce production time. These new technologies are scheduled to be displayed at the upcoming BICSI, ComNet, ACP's Cabling The Workplace '99 conferences. In addition, Flextray® has compiled a technical marketing brochure that outlines the discernible features and differences in product quality, load capacity and warranty, versus other 'similar' imported products.

GS Metals prides itself on its comprehensive product offering, US based manufacturing / sales / marketing / technical support, product warranties and leading channel partners. Its Flextray® product line will continue to lead the market as its cable management solution products and services evolve to offer the highest in quality and value to its customers and the marketplace.

Superior Telecom, Inc. (New York, NY) announced that it had successfully completed its tender offer to purchase up to 22,562,135 shares of Essex International, Inc. for $32.00 per share, representing approximately 81% of the outstanding shares of Essex. The tender offer expired at 12 midnight EST on Wednesday, November 25, 1998.

As previously announced, Superior and Essex are parties to a merger agreement. Superior expects to merge Essex with a subsidiary of Superior during the first quarter of 1999. Following the merger, Essex will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Superior.

Superior Telecom, Inc. is a manufacturer and supplier of telecommunications cable and wire products to telephone companies, distributors and system integrators. It also develops and manufacturers voice and data multiplexers and other electronics and signal procession components and systems.

LANart Corporation, a leader in fiber connectivity solutions, announced the introduction of new 16- and 24-port 10/100Mb Fast Ethernet switches. Among the comprehensive competencies of each switch: the 16-port Fast Ethernet Switch benefits users with two MII slots for optional 100Base-FX or 10-Base-FL fiber adapters for easy media conversion while the 24-port Fast Ethernet Switch offers traffic management capability. LANart's 16- and 24-port switches are currently shipping and have a five-year hardware warranty.



Tyco International Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda) and AMP Incorporated (Harrisburg, PA) recently announced that the boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved a definitive agreement pursuant to which AMP will merge with a subsidiary of Tyco. This tax-free, stock-for-stock transaction is valued at $51 per share to the AMP shareholders, or $11.3 billion, based on Tyco's November 20, 1998 closing price of $65,0625. Based on that price, AMP shareholders would receive 0.7839 shares of Tyco stock for each share of AMP.

The combination creates a company with a total market capitalization of approximately $54 billion, with total annual revenues in excess of $22 billion, and operations in over 80 countries.

"We are bringing to Tyco, by far, the world's largest electronics connector company with an exceptionally strong market position and the most respected brand name in the industry. The combination with Tyco provides AMP a clear path to becoming the lowest cost manufacturer, while providing attractive margin improvement resulting in double-digit earnings growth and strong cash flows for the foreseeable future," said L. Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Additionally, this transaction meets all of Tyco's previously stated strategies for adding to our businesses - AMP complements our existing Electrical and Electronic Components businesses, is the leader in the markets it serves, expands our global presence in stable industrial markets, and offers opportunities for sustainable growth. The transaction will provide an immediate positive earnings contribution to our shareholders," he stated.

AMP, with annual revenues of approximately $5.5 billion, designs, manufactures and markets a broad range of electronic, electrical and electro-optic connection devices and an expanding number of interconnection systems and connector-intensive assemblies. The company has 47,000 employees in 53 countries serving customers in the automotive, industrial and power industries.

Tyco International Ltd., a diversified manufacturing and service company, is the world's largest manufacturer and installer of fire protection systems, the largest provider of electronic security services, the largest manufacturer of flow control valves, and has strong leadership positions in disposable medical products, plastics and adhesives, electrical and electronic components and underwater telecommunications systems. The company operates in more than 80 countries around the world and has expected fiscal 1999 revenues in excess of $17 billion.

RUMOR: NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) may be considering a proposal to limit combustible materials and cumulative fuel load in the return-air plenum space. In retrofit and MACs (Moves, Adds, and Changes) we may see a rule that requires one out for every new one going in. There is a great deal of cable that was installed in the plenum before the current fire safety standards were enacted. Perhaps this rumor is not too far fetched.

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.

ACP Continuation Training Program

Course 200

Available at Cabling Business Institute


On the Road from ACP: When you want it & Where you want it.

For additional information, contact:

Grace Shimp at ACP at 904-645-6018, email


Cindy Webb at Cabling Business Institute 214-328-1717,



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