Anixter, Inc. (Skokie, IL) is well recognized for pioneering and piloting the structured cabling solutions that we enjoy today. The concept of a system which assures performance with a mix of various manufacturers' products is no small challenge. From the earliest days of Anixter's Levels Program to the current highly evolved Levels Channels Program, the team of professionals at Anixter has set the benchmark for quality. The EIA/TIA Category Standards are trying to follow in Anixter's slipstream and the quality specifications of their Levels Program.
For years a team of dedicated professionals at Anixter have worked with maximum commitment to raise the values in the cabling industry. We feel that Pete Lockhart has been a keystone player on this team all along. In June, Anixter promoted Pete to Vice President of Technology. This well-earned promotion recognizes many years of dedication to the cabling and network industry. Pete is a five-star credit to Anixter and the cabling industry. www.anixter.com
Today our industry is blessed with the highest value per dollar cabling and network materials in our history. The millions invested in developing these technological marvels are reaching the end user at an affordable rate. Our economy appears strong and our technological development rate is off the charts. Cabling and its associated connector hardware is the best buy in the information industry. We have a better barrier to obsolescence with this technology than with any other sector of the information world. If a product shows up on the marketplace at an unexpectedly low price, Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid! If it seems too good to be true, it is. Caveat emptor - "Buyer Beware", it's more than just a saying.
Recently, we have been besieged by many products claiming to meet Categories 5e, 6 and even 7. Read the small print where it warns that they are referring to a PROPOSED DRAFT of an unapproved standard. If you buy it and they approve a later draft . . . you can explain to your boss that your cabling system is "not exactly".
After announcing plans to close administration offices, production facilities, and terminate thousands of employees, AMP (Harrisburg, PA) announces a new organizational structure to their reduced workforce. AMP President Juergen W. Gromer explained, "We have aligned the new organization by relevant industry or country based business units. All business units will have integrated manufacturing, sales and engineering functions. Each business unit will become a profit center responsible for its profitability. We must be committed to producing, selling and delivering products to our customers in the most cost-effective manner. This objective can be accomplished now that we have implemented our organizational plan to best meet our customers' needs."
As a consequence of the strategic restructuring, AMP has announced the reduction of approximately 8,000 positions. AMP will have four outplacement career centers in Harrisburg and one in North Carolina to assist terminated employees. Additionally, some severance benefits including medical insurance coverage may be provided. Apart from the necessity to review the manufacturing effectiveness, no additional layoffs are planned. www.amp.com
NORDX/CDT Inc. (Montreal, Canada) has launched its Residential Universal Network (RUN), a complete home cabling system that leverages today's new technologies as well as provides a migration path to the requirements of tomorrow.
RUN is an in-home cabling network that ties together all residential communication systems. Using the RUN system, homeowners are provided with a complete multimedia cabling system for residential and small business applications.
This system offers any service to any room. Using NORDX/CDT's new RUN system, homeowners can interconnect and distribute throughout their homes, all of their phones, fax machines, personal computers, printers, video (CATV, digital satellite) signals and security systems. Like a house foundation, the RUN system provides a solid foundation for the information superhighway and makes migration to newer technologies a lot easier and a lot less costly.
The RUN system is available using plenum or non-plenum cabling materials. The plenum cabling materials offer several side benefits to offset their additional cost. The fluoropolymer materials have a much higher tolerance to the effects of heat, cold or humidity and have an almost 40-year history of maintaining superior dielectric performance. Besides, if you use the plenum cable you probably don't have to buy a fire extinguisher for every room or explain to the children that you had the house wired with "napalm" (or some other high-fuel load material). It's YOUR house, it's YOUR choice. www.nordx.com
Anicom, Inc. (Rosemont, IL), a North American distributor of multimedia technology products, has reached an agreement to settle a civil lawsuit stemming from the March 1997 disposition of its non-strategic cable assembly line.
Commenting on the settlement, Scott Anixter, Chairman and CEO, stated, "After taking into account the legal fees necessary to take this case to trial, the length of the discovery process, and the nature of the case, we felt this settlement was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. We do not believe this settlement, by any measure, is material to our balance sheet, our business, or our prospects. We will recognize a one-time, nonrecurring charge in this quarter for the settlement costs of approximately $700,000 after tax, or three cents per share. We have no material litigation pending at this time." www.anicommm.com
American Access Technologies, Inc. (Moved to Lake Mary, FL from Altamonte Springs, FL in mid-June) has received its first international order for its cost-saving zone cabling telecommunications equipment. Information systems engineers for Citibank of Mexico, a unit of Citigroup, Inc., specified three dozen units of American Access raised-floor zone cabling enclosures for installation at a data processing facility in Mexico City, Mexico. Anixter International Inc. acts as distributor in the sale.
"This Citibank Mexico order shows that sales of our zone cabling equipment are not limited to the U.S. market," said American Access CEO Richard A. Murray. "We anticipate further orders, both domestic and international, as familiarity with the convenience and cost benefits of our technology spreads," he said. www.aatk.com
Microtest Inc. (Phoenix, AZ), a developer of network test and measurement and network attached storage products for local area and enterprise networks, has announced its "Trade Up to OMNIScanner" Program. Offered though its worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers, the program provides cash and other incentives, including a free OMNIFiber adapter, to Microtest's existing and new customers who trade up to their most advanced cable certification tool available, the OMNIScanner.
Introduced in June 1998, the innovative OMNIScanner certifies premise cabling against existing Category 5, and Proposed Drafts for Categories 5E and 6. It delivers the accuracy of a network analyzer and the ability to measure newly required tests - such as ELFEXT, PowerSum ELFEXT, PowerSum ACR and Return Loss - in a rugged, rapid, convenient, handheld field tool. www.microtest.com/omniscanner/
Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA), an Alcatel company, recently announced that its LANmark™-1000 CMP, CMR and patch cable products are the first to receive independent certification as meeting Category 6, Draft 3 standards of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The certification was granted by Intertek Testing Services (Cortland, NY), formerly ETL Testing Laboratories.
At the same time, Intertek Testing Services independently certified Berk-Tek's LANmark™-350 CMP, CMR and patch cable products as meeting the TIA/EIA-568A Category 5E, Draft 11 standard. Both the LANmark™-1000 and LANmark™-350 cable series will carry the prestigious ETL-Listed and ETL-Verified marks.
Kevin St. Cyr, President of Berk-Tek, said the independent certification by Intertek Testing represents a significant achievement for Berk-Tek's technology and engineering team and a substantial benefit for end users, consultants and integrators and installers who use the company's link and channel products.
Dan Kennefick, Berk-Tek's Business Manager for Copper products, said that all LANmark-1000 UTP cable previously manufactured by Berk-Tek has been tested and released as meeting the proposed Category 6 standard. "Independent verification of our products is extremely important to Berk-Tek. Being the first to obtain the ETL certification makes it especially rewarding," said Kennefick.
"However," said Kennefick, "the demand is for ever-higher network speeds and we're moving into 1000Base-T, or Gigabit Ethernet, which is why we need Category 6 cabling. Our LANmark-1000 series will accommodate speeds of 100 Mbps, and will easily carry Gigabit Ethernet. Network speeds are going up and cable designs must advance also."
Fotec (Medford, MA), a fiber optic test company, has completed some research into methods for testing fiber optic cable installations for Gigabit Ethernet (GBE) that show significant errors may exist if cable plants are tested with conventional fiber optic test equipment. Since GBE loss margins can be much lower than other networks, as low as 2.4 to 3.5 dB in the worst case, accurate test methods will be very important to insure proper operation.
Gigabit Ethernet uses laser sources as transmitters in order to obtain the gigabit modulation speeds necessary. VCSELs (vertical cavity surface emitting lasers) at a wavelength of 850 nm and 1300 nm single-mode pig-tailed lasers are specified for GBE networks. Laser sources launch light into multimode fiber differently than LEDs used in lower frequency systems and subsequently have lower losses in the cables.
Fotec has done laboratory research on the difference in losses with LEDs and laser sources, and has found variations of up to 0.7 dB in relatively short cables. They are soliciting more participants interested in testing their installed cables with a VCSEL and an LED source, to find variations in loss for GBE links. A full report of the Fotec research is on the Cable University website. www.fotec.com
Belden, Inc. (St. Louis, MO), announced on May 24, 1999 that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger pursuant to which it will purchase Cable Systems Holding Company ("Holding Company") for $180 million in cash. Upon completion of the merger, Holding Company will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belden Inc. Holding Company owns all of the outstanding stock of Cable Systems International Inc. ("CSI"). CSI is a manufacturer of copper cable products primarily for telecommunications applications.
CSI (Phoenix, AZ) was formed in October 1995 when AT&T sold its Copper Cable Products Division to an investor group and members of senior management of the Division. CSI has approximately 1,500 employees. There has been some outside speculation on the effects of this acquisition on the existing staff at CSI. If Belden follows the pattern set by Tyco - AMP, there may be significant reductions.
The proposed merger is subject to clearance from the U.S. Government and is expected to close late in the second quarter. Belden currently intends to operate CSI as a separate division and maintain its operations in Phoenix, Arizona. www.belden.com
Corning Incorporated (Corning, NY), a manufacturer of optical fiber, has accelerated plans to open its new plant near Concord, NC in order to meet the growing demand for its optical fiber. The company cited particularly strong demand for LEAF®, a new optical fiber for high-data-rate applications, as one of the key reasons for beginning production ahead of schedule.
The company said initial production at the Concord plant will now begin in July and that the plant will operate around the clock by August. The company had previously planned to begin production sometime in the fourth quarter.
"The Concord plant enables us to continue to fulfill growing demand from customers around the globe who are expanding telecommunication networks at a faster and faster pace," said Corning's Chairman and CEO Roger C. Ackerman.
According to the company, production will be phased in over the course of the next 18 months. When fully operational in 2001, the Concord plant will boost Corning's fiber-making capacity by approximately 50%. The company currently manufacturers optical fiber at its facilities in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Wilmington, NC, which it describes as the largest fiber-producing plant in the world.
The transmission core of LEAF optical fiber in 30% larger than other fiber designed for long-distance applications and can transmit a signal further before needing to be amplified. As a result, it is said to be able to reduce network system costs by up to 20%. www.corning.com
Cabling The Workplace 1999 (Dallas, TX) held in May was a success. The need for training and the associated validation was the strong signal from this conference. The students aggressively completed the courses, workshops, and related examinations. For more information about Cabling Business Institute www.cablingbusiness.com or The Association of Cabling Professionals.
The top-rated instructor at CTW '99 was Hugo Draye, Marketing Manager for Fluke Networks Division. Hugo delivered an animated presentation with lots of valuable information for the attendees. Hugo cleared up many misconceptions about the new proposed standards and testing methodologies. www.fluke.com/nettools
BICSI held their Summer Conference at the new Opryland Hotel Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The facility was huge and you almost needed a GPS to find your way around. Many of the hospitality suites were replaced by luncheon presentations. Obviously, the vendors have determined that the attendees would rather have food for the mind and tummy rather than booze and loud music. The most successful lunch meeting was hosted by Mohawk/CDT . . . they had an excellent program and almost 350 attendees www.mohawk-cdt.com.
The most successful hospitality suite was hosted by DuPont. They offered Haagen-Dazs ice cream with all the trimmings to satisfy the sweet tooth and lots of valuable educational information on cabling safety and standards. More than 500 attendees enjoyed the DuPont hospitality and learned about their new expanded website www.teflon.com.
Wow what a website! We love the newly updated DuPont website: www.teflon.com for two reasons. First of all, it's end user focused. This is a refreshing change since so many web sites are internally focused or are nothing more than online product catalogs. Jerry Summers, DuPont's Market Communications Manager for Teflon® FEP said "We designed the site to be informative and educational for the people who really use and count on our product. We geared the site's content to end-users, cabling system designers and contractors and assembled a "recommended track" to make it easier for each group to get the information they need."
The second reason we like the site is that it's an excellent resource for our industry. It contains regular "guest spots" authored by industry leaders, and has an informative "Codes and Standards at-a-glance" section among other features. Navigation is simple and a visit to the site map will get you into a storehouse of useful information.
Attention all surfers: If you're looking for a treasure trove on
cabling information, we found another hotspot on the net.
NORDX/CDT Inc. (Montreal, Canada), has introduced a new website with several innovative features and in-depth information, making it the first structured cabling industry website to provide such a complete set of tools for its customers.
"By providing our structured cabling customers with a complete, one-stop resource center that is always maintained and available at any time, we are achieving our main goal - to provide the tools that make it easy to do business with NORDX/CDT," said Normand Bourque, President and CEO at NORDX/CDT. "We are proud to offer a website that includes such a display of informative tools. It is sure to become the website of choice amongst our structured cabling customers."
While NORDX/CDT's primary focus was to design a website to serve the needs of its structured cabling customers, it has also included several informative sections that would be of interest to the general visitor and to the novice cabling professional. The site provides information on everything from the basics of structured cabling systems to the company's in-depth product catalogs.
The new website is fast and easy to use, for instance, the product-related sections include customized pages that are separated by product line with links to all related documents for that product line or topic.
The product catalog section is what makes this website interesting and very helpful for the contractors. It offers a completely new and unique feature that enables the user to "shop" for various cabling products, placing any number of products in a "virtual shopping basket". At the end of the session, the user can choose to Request a Quotation (an RFQ service) by faxing the shopping basket, directly, to one or more of the listed Distributors or Cabling Vendors located within that user's territory. Each product family within the catalogs includes photos of the product and a downloadable Acrobat PDF file. The catalogs have a simplified search tool to assist with product searches and a catalog user registration tool to track RFQ's. www.nordx.com
Yes, it's color and it's got touch-screen! What's next? Satellite TV and HBO? Hewlett-Packard Company (Palo Alto, CA) announces the HP WireScope 350, the industry's first handheld color-touch-screen-equipped tester that allows cabling contractors and IS managers to certify commercial cabling infrastructure to current and emerging local area networking (LAN) performance standards.
The HP WireScope 350 provides a 350 MHz test frequency range and measurement accuracy beyond the draft TIA level III specification, exceeding the expected requirements for Category 6/Class E cable certification testing. The HP WireScope 350 also supports Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) test standards and draft specifications for Category 5 and 5E, and related LAN standards, including Gigabit Ethernet and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM).
"Our customers have asked us for a solution to the problem of keeping current with the frequent changes in LAN standards," said Peter Williams, General Manager of the Scope Communications Operation for HP's Service Test Division. "It is much less expensive to store an expanded set of test-result data than it is to spend money on the labor required to re-test LAN-cable installations."
The HP WireScope 350-user interface features a large color touch-screen for simplified menu navigation and improved results comprehension. Color diagrams highlight fault sources, and cabling color codes are designed to improve operator efficiency and reduce training requirements.
The WireScope 350 is the industry's only cable tester to use removable CompactFlash memory cards to provide virtually unlimited storage of test results with detailed plot data. Such data allows users to re-evaluate saved test results against new performance standards without requiring expensive re-testing of the actual cable runs. This capability is important because many cabling contractors are currently being asked by their customers to install Category 6 grade cabling before the formal ratification of Category 6 standards.
The HP WireScope 350 kit expected to be available by next fall through authorized HP WireScope distributors and resellers worldwide. The U.S. price of the HP WireScope 350 test kit is $5,995. "Very interesting, but will it pick up ESPN?" (You can tell what our techs consider important.) www.wirescope.com
A newly installed intra-building fiber-optic local area network (LAN) employing UNI-Lite™ Outside Plant Armor (OPA) cable manufactured by Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA), an Alcatel company, and a new telephone wide area network (WAN) link with Pittsburgh, are benefiting visitors and staff at Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA).
Fallingwater is recognized as one of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most acclaimed works and a supreme example of his concept of organic architecture. The National Historic Landmark near Pittsburgh is entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and attracts more than 130,000 visitors annually.
The new LAN network connecting five buildings at the site substantially improves on-site communications by providing a structured cabling solution, strengthening an Internet link (1,000 people visit Fallingwater's website daily.) and providing E-mail. The network's new voice and data cable minimizes previous problems with a telephone system frequently interrupted by rainstorms.
Cable Design Technologies (CDT - Pittsburgh, PA) has announced results for the third fiscal quarter ended April 30, 1999. Third quarter net income was $8.9 million ($0.31 per diluted share) versus $10.7 million ($0.34 per diluted share) for the same period last year.
Commenting on the quarter, Paul M. Olson, President and CEO, stated, "CDT remains a prime beneficiary of Internet growth, the investment in high bandwidth technologies and the worldwide appetite for faster transmission speeds. The increasing demand for coaxial cable represents another opportunity. Today we have over 1,000 machines at 11 facilities worldwide capable of manufacturing coaxial cable products. The markets for these products include automation and process control, multimedia, broadcast, and potentially CATV applications. As we move into the next millennium, one thing is for certain: there will be no turning back in the demand for specialty connective technology. As a result of CDT's leadership position, quality control and outstanding customer service, we are poised to succeed in today's demanding markets." Numerous industry insiders see a very bright future for CDT and its 22 corporations. There are several new and impressive products which will be released very soon. www.cdtc.com
Many thanks to Bob Taylor and Grace Shimp of The Association of Cabling Professionals, Ray Keden of Erico, Chris DiMinico of Mohawk/CDT, and Larry Bines of Wavetek for their proofreading and suggestions to improve this column.
Cabling Business Magazine is ALMOST FREE. You have to fill out a subscription renewal every 6 months. If you haven't been doing this, start NOW. Subscription forms are in the magazine and on the website www.cablingbusiness.com or call (214) 328-1717. This is a small sacrifice for such a big value.
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. www.cablingbusiness.com The 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Webb at Cabling Business Institute 214-328-1717,