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Wireville.com

Issue: August 2007
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


Bizzbee’s Buzz

Safety is too important to ignore.  One of the most neglected areas of safety in the world of cabling infrastructure is improper firestopping.  Over the years, we have seen many firewalls that looked more like Swiss cheese than a proper barrier against the spread of fire, toxic gasses, and smoke. 

As we perform our MACs (Moves, Adds, & Changes), we often are required to penetrate the firewalls.  Communications cabling has gone through many changes and upgrades over the past several decades.  Often the cabling technicians are completely untrained or improperly trained on the firestopping methods and code requirements. 

Good news! There is training available from Unique Fire Stop Products (http://www.uniquefirestop.com/) and 3M (http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/FP/FireProtection/).  The training available from Unique Fire Stop Products and the resultant certification is available online at no charge. 

3M has been creating innovative firestop systems for more than 25 years.  Their complete line of fire protection products help stop the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gas.  To help ensure these products and systems are properly installed, 3M Fire Protection recently developed an On-Line Fire Protection Training Program called e-Train.  The training from 3M is available for a small charge of $75.00. 

Today, there are many fire stop products available on the market that meet the minimum requirements of the building codes.  Unfortunately, some of these newer products have ignored the obvious safety hazard associated with the toxic gasses generated in a typical fire scenario.  Almost 80 percent of the fatalities in a fire scenario are attributed to toxic gasses and smoke.  Toxic gasses and smoke also are credited with incapacitation of the building occupants.  If you can’t see or breath, it is very difficult to escape the building.  At a recent tradeshow, we saw several examples of code-compliant firestop products that you could see through.  These types of products do not seal the penetration and allow the flow of toxic gasses and smoke through the fire barrier.  BIG PROBLEM!

Fire stop products are all about SAFETY, not marketing hype.  We must maintain the firewalls in order to provide a reasonable safety barrier for the people in the building.

But that’s just my opinion,

Frank Bisbee
"Heard On The Street" Monthly Column
www.wireville.com
4949 Sunbeam Rd, Suite 16
Jacksonville, FL 32257
(904) 645-9077 office
(904) 645-9058 fax
frank@wireville.com


Custom Design Group Announcement

SMP Data Communications is pleased to announce the creation of its Custom Design Group.  This group will make the core competencies of SMP, previously limited to select partners, available to a broader base of beneficiaries.  

SMP has built a reputation of turning ideas into quality products in a short window.  In this development process, SMP works within both customer identified and application driven specifications.  Coupled with SMP's history of industry knowledge, the result is a quality product, produced economically and quickly.

SMP was founded as an OEM manufacturer through a solid base of intellectual property and reputable licensing policies.  OEM partnerships are a highly valued segment of SMP's current business model and are the cornerstone of the Custom Design Group.  Through a corporate policy of Lean Manufacturing and Design, SMP is now able to open these capabilities up to a broader customer base including both additional OEM partnerships and End Users.

The Custom Design Group will offer solutions-oriented product development to the people on the front lines...the End Users.  Only the users can confirm the true features and benefits of a product.  Therefore, the Custom Design Group will have a focus on End User customization to drive New Product Development with an application-based focus.  

"SMP is well known for its Engineering and Manufacturing abilities in the OEM world.  Since 1990, SMP has assisted OEM manufacturers and equipment manufacturers in the development process by getting products to market faster and more efficiently.  We are excited about the organization of the Custom Design Group and bringing these capabilities to End Users, where new product development begins." - Brad Everette, Marketing and Business Development Manager    www.smpdata.com


BOMA Magazine Receives Communicator & Apex Awards

The BOMA Magazine received an Award of Distinction in the print media category of the 2007 Communicator Awards. The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program recognizing creative excellence in the communication field. The magazine also received a 2007 APEX Award for Publication Excellence in the Most Improved Magazines & Journals category.

The BOMA Magazine was completely redesigned in 2007 with Stamats Business Media as the new publishing partner.  www.boma.org


John Maisel Speaks To ElectricTV

The future of smart systems that network and support the structures that we live in and work in is changing.

Integrated Building Systems is evolving into a very powerful technology that is changing the old rules.

This is a "must see" message on the new competitive edge in real estate

In Commercial Real Estate, It used to be “location. Location. LOCATION.” That rule is changing to: “I don’t care where it is if it isn’t integrated and intelligent, it isn’t what we want.”  Check out this video online on IBS technology. VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE.

http://www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com/index.cfm?fa=article&articleID=7838

John Maisel Speaks to ElectricTV

Published: June 2007

The most recent issue of ElectricTV.net, a bimonthly video E-zine focusing on issues and current trends in the electrical industry, features an interview with John Maisel, publisher of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR and Security + Life Safety Systems magazines. Watch as John speaks about the transition of building construction into integrated building systems and the electrical contractor's role in that trend. www.jwm@necanet.org

Also, ElectricTV has plenty of other videos on related subjects. Be sure to visit and bookmark www.electrictv.net.


Attend the 2007 BICSI Fall Conference

Educate. Motivate. Lead. Succeed.

In just six weeks, the 2007 BICSI Fall Conference will begin in Las Vegas, Nevada. September 10-13, 2007 are the dates to block off on your calendar as you head out to experience an extraordinary opportunity to connect with your friends and business contacts, and gain a better understanding of the Information Transport Systems industry.

Help a Child

If you would like to make a difference in a child’s life, you can stop by the BICSI Cares booth at any time to make a contribution to the Angel Kiss Foundation. BICSI Cares, Inc. is the charity arm of BICSI, which collects donations at each BICSI conference and gives 100 percent of the contributions to a local children’s charity. The Angel Kiss Foundation is dedicated to helping families of children with cancer, providing immediate assistance and support for any expense or need related to treatment. The BICSI Cares booth will be set up near the attendee registration during the day and moved to an area near the Exhibitor registration desk during the reception and exhibition times. 

Relax

The Credential Holders Lounge,( Rooms 204-205 on the south concourse) an exclusive venue for all BICSI credential holders, provides a quiet comfortable atmosphere for a little relaxation between sessions. Sponsored by ITS-Jobs.com, BICSI Credential Holders Lounge is open from Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and from 7:30 a.m.-noon on Thursday.

Gather Your Golf Buddies

Aside from countless workshops and seminars planned to help educate you, the Fall Conference promises to bring many networking opportunities as well. Start your journey to the 2007 BICSI Fall Conference by gathering your golf buddies, packing your clubs and teeing off at the inaugural Ray Gendron Memorial Charity Golf Tournament being held on Monday, September 10, with an 8 a.m. start. A BICSI Past President and founder of BICSI Cares, Ray Gendron once attended a BICSI Conference and jokingly passed a hat around. It soon returned to him filled with money. Because there was no way to know who gave what amount, Ray did the honorable thing and decided to donate the money to a children’s charity. That was the beginning of BICSI Cares. Now, the annual golf tournament tradition at a BICSI Conference is being hosted in honor of Ray’s legacy at the Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas. Reminiscent of the values and artistic styles fashioned by some of golf's greatest courses, this par-72 Championship Golf Course features gently rolling fairways, unique bunkering designs, and also offers some of the most panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the flashy skyline of the Las Vegas Strip. If you have any questions please email Zuesette Woods at  zwoods@bicsi.org

BICSI Interactive Learning Network

BICSI Booth is another venue for networking and opportunities to meet with the BICSI Board of Directors and Senior Staff. BICSI Connect, the interactive learning network (formerly known as BICSI Web-based Training), will debut at the booth, and you can check out the demos or talk to the staff to learn more about this additional educational venue. The BICSI Booth is located downstairs in the Exhibit Hall, so make sure you stop by to meet the Board and the staff during the evening receptions.

BICSI Receptions in the Exhibit Hall are the premier opportunity to network and make new business contacts. State-of-the-art exhibits are provided by companies in the ITS industry, looking to share their latest and greatest products and services with you. During the Evening Receptions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided. On Tuesday morning, enjoy complimentary continental breakfast while you browse the exhibits.

New BICSI Merchandise Line

BICSIGear clothing makes the perfect addition to any wardrobe! Stop by the BICSI Store in the BICSI Community near the Attendee Registration Desk and purchase top quality clothing, with great styles and colors to choose from. BICSI accessories are also available.

Register today at www.bicsi.org to experience the many educational and networking opportunities that are planned for you. You will leave the 2007 Fall Conference more effective in your job, better informed, and more valuable in the ITS marketplace.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Corning Announces Breakthrough Optical Fiber Technology

Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW)  announced the development of a new optical fiber-based technology that solves an historic technical challenge for telecommunications carriers installing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks.  

Corning’s breakthrough is based on a nanoStructures™ optical fiber design that allows the cabled fiber to be bent around very tight corners with virtually no signal loss.  These improved attributes will enable telecommunications carriers to economically offer true high-speed Internet, voice and HDTV services to virtually all commercial and residential (apartment and condominium) buildings.  Current optical fiber installations lose signal strength and effectiveness when bent around corners and routed through a building, making it difficult and expensive to run fiber all the way to customers’ homes. 

“This is a game-changing technology for telecommunications applications,” said Peter F. Volanakis, president and chief operating officer at Corning.  “We have developed an optical fiber cable that is as rugged as copper cable but with all of the bandwidth benefits of fiber.  By making fundamental changes in the way light travels in the fiber, we were able to create a new optical fiber that is over 100 times more bendable than standard fibers.”  Corning’s newest fiber technology achieves this while maintaining compatibility with industry performance standards, existing manufacturing processes and installation procedures.  “So, customers don’t have to sacrifice one benefit to get another,” he said.

“There are more than 680 million apartment homes worldwide, including more than 25 million in the United States.  The high cost of installation and difficulty in delivering fiber to the home made this market unappealing to most providers.  We have been working closely with these carriers to create a solution that will make this more economically viable for them and for their customers,” he said. 

One of the early proponents of this emerging technology was Verizon Communications Inc.  In February of this year, Corning and Verizon commissioned a joint working team to solve the problems of multiple dwelling unit installation using this new fiber solution.  “Continued innovation in advanced telecommunications networks is critical to the long-term success of Verizon and our ability to provide our FiOS service on a mass scale in the United States,” said Paul Lacouture, executive vice president of Engineering and Technology, Verizon Telecom Group.  “We are working closely with Corning to solve the challenges of providing fiber solutions to high-rise apartment complexes across the United States.  This fiber technology will enable us to bring faster Internet speeds, higher-quality high-definition content, and more interactive capabilities than any other platform which exists today.”

Corning first introduced low-loss optical fiber in the early 1970s.  Optical fibers are waveguides that transmit light within the fiber’s central region, or core.  However, with standard single-mode fiber, tight bends cause leakage of the light, resulting in signal loss or optical power degradation.  A bend or curve that is too tight will result in total signal loss.  With Corning’s new nanoStructures design, the optical fiber maintains its signal strength when bent or curved, with performance results 100 times better than standard single-mode fibers.  The new fiber also enables simpler and more aesthetically pleasing designs for the cable, hardware and equipment used in the deployment.

Corning will introduce a full suite of optical fiber, cable and hardware and equipment solutions based on its nanoStructures technology platform this fall at the Fiber-to-the-Home Conference in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 30 – Oct. 4.   (www.corning.com)


Here to Stay Sustainable Design Is No Passing Phase

Sustainable development involves … meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” was said at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and subsequently adopted by the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Handbook, according to the College of Design, states that “sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such ongoing system to continue functioning into the indefinite future.” Such declarations imply sustainability is not limited to impacts on the natural environment but on people and communities as well. “Sustainable design is design in which built and artificial systems, human health, and natural ecosystems are holistically considered and addressed, with the end goal of designing healthier places to live and work that do little or no damage to the environment,” said Max Zahniser, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional and program manager for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington, D.C.

The current movement toward more ecologically sound design principles has been based partly on the increased understanding that common development practice is not sustainable. Some of the most important ecological issues impacted by common design practices include global climate change, declining sources of nonrenewable fuels, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, and toxic pollution.

“Sustainable design incorporates those features which minimize a building’s impact on the environment and that are long-lasting,” said Brian Castelli, COO and executive vice president for the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Washington, D.C.

Sustainable design means accounting for reusing and recycling materials; using safe and nontoxic materials that don’t negatively affect indoor air quality; and minimizing landfill impact, deforestation and degradation of the natural environment. Sustainable design also means using architecture and technology to better manage a building’s response to the environment and to better manage the resources used to construct and orient it, said Mark LaLiberte, president of Building Knowledge Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., and trainer for the National Houses That Work educational series offered by the Energy and Environmental Building Association, Bloomington, Minn.

Evolution of sustainable design

The green movement of the 1970s was an offshoot of the ’60s culture that was searching for a clean, organic environment, according to Castelli. Then, in the 1990s, the movement recognized an opportunity to promote global sustainability.

“The ideas of more than a decade ago were an advancement of the community green concepts of the 1960s and ’70s, but they had evolved to examine making state, country and global infrastructures more sustainable,” Castelli said.

Gary Gerber, president of design/build firm Sun Light & Power Co., Berkeley, Calif., and board member of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), San Francisco, agrees that the movements of the 1970s and 1990s were similar, and today, society is rediscovering many of the concepts put forth then, such as the use of solar hot water and the promotion of sustainable forestry practices.

“However, we are a bit beyond the 1970s in terms of knowledge and sophistication,” Gerber said. “Back then, the idea of resource conversation was more politically based, while today there is more urgency concerning global resource depletion, as we are actually running out of cheap oil.”

Although earlier sustainable design movements strived to make buildings more efficient by using alternative resources, the architecture and design concepts at that time were not particularly aesthetically pleasing to the average buyer, LaLiberte said.

“Since then, we have realized that buildings can be designed to be aesthetic and still remarkably functional in terms of resource use and energy conservation,” he said. Changes in architectural concepts, along with new or advanced technologies, such as more efficient photovoltaics and more efficient insulation techniques, have led to more mainstream acceptance and demand for sustainable buildings.

“The current sustainable design movement is crossing party lines in a way it never has,” Zahniser said. Rising oil and gasoline prices, a desire to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the human health and productivity benefits, and the availability of skilled practitioners that can deliver green buildings at little or no premium over traditional construction all are bolstering the solid business case for sustainable design.

“What the current chapter of the green and green building movements has in common with the previous incarnations is that they are value driven. The current evolutionary state is more realistic than its predecessors and more aware of other human systems, such as global economics, but the drivers still have harmony with natural systems at its heart,” Zahniser said.

According to Castelli, sustainable design has also gained new ground today because the way buildings have been traditionally built has not actually been economically viable.

“Current sustainable design methods create ways to construct buildings differently than before but with the same quality end-product with lower energy costs and improved indoor air quality,” Castelli said.

Previously, businesses were not necessarily attracted to the concept of sustainable design, perhaps believing it was a phase and too expensive. However, according to Gerber, today’s economic incentives are actually engaging businesses to use sustainable design concepts.

“Huge, multinational companies are now adopting green practices and are seeing the value of sustainability on their bottom line,” he said. Individuals and companies are finally understanding that wasting resources equals wasting money, allowing business and conservationists to no longer be at odds in their philosophies concerning the environment.

Shaping your green business

It appears that today’s sustainable design movement is no phase but that it has an economic basis in necessity. Electrical contractors need to adjust to this fact and shape their businesses to respond to the increasing demand for green, sustainable buildings, homes and industrial and other facilities.

“Electrical contractors need to examine the best energy-efficiency design practices being used today,” Castelli said. In addition, they need to understand that homes, buildings and facilities are more “wired” now, and they must have the technical capabilities to respond to the demand for increased connectivity that is more energy efficient.

There are several areas where electrical contractors can have an impact in terms of adjusting to the demand for sustainable buildings, according to Gerber.

“Electrical contractors can incorporate photovoltaics into their businesses and get fully trained in the art and practice of installing these systems,” he said. There is a great amount of specialized knowledge involved in solar technology, and electrical contractors can get photovoltaic design and installation certification from the national North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), Malta, N.Y.

Lighting design is another area electrical contractors can explore to shape their green business.

“Electrical contractors that are not already delivering design/build projects need to learn the proper practices of lighting design and familiarize themselves with the equipment required for the energy-efficient lighting, controls and energy-management systems that are being specified so that they can develop the technical skills to install and maintain them,” Gerber said.

LaLiberte agrees electrical contractors can do many things to respond to sustainable design demands. They can, he said, be on the front edge of technology by embracing changes and advancements, consult with planners and architects and help determine the most efficient and innovative ways to reach sustainability goals, and learn about and understand green programs such as LEED.

“Electrical contractors need to become a solution partner in resolving design and sustainability issues and add value above installing electrical systems,” he said.

According to Zahniser, electrical distributors can position themselves in this market by gaining sustainable design expertise, partnering capabilities and by actively participating in the promotion of environmentally sound projects.

“Electrical contractors positioning themselves for sustainable design will need to understand and work with on-site generated energy systems, such as photovoltaics and small-scale residential wind turbines, raised floor systems that house electrical equipment and cabling as well as HVAC and data infrastructure wiring, more efficient lighting fixtures, and daylight sensors and other daylight harvesting technologies,” he said.

The future of sustainability

“We are really just beginning to see the growth of the sustainable design movement,” Castelli said. As energy costs and the demand for materials and resources continue to increase, so will the need to grow or manufacture sustainable materials closer to where they are being used to reduce the use of energy in transportation and carbon footprints.

“I believe that businesses that are involved in sustainable design, including designers, architects and electrical contractors, as well as producers of energy-efficient appliances and insulation, are going to see a huge market explosion as societies continue to realize the need,” Castelli said.

According to Gerber, sustainable design will become mainstream in less than a decade.

“Already, sustainable practices that were considered fringe ideas 10 years ago, such as LEED, are now becoming dominant in design practices,” he said.

Sustainable design, he added, will be essential because our society no longer has a choice and must conserve resources and behave in a way that secures a healthy global future.

Specifically, LaLiberte predicts there will be real innovation in the near future in the integration of wall systems and in streamlining construction processes through prefabricating wall panels.

“There will be less site work and more prefabrication,” he said. In addition, there will be improvements in motor technology and lighting, and an increased mainstream acceptance of photovoltaic, wind and other alternative energy sources.

Zahniser agreed that the use of sustainable design practices will continue to increase, meaning energy efficiency and other sustainability measures will become more commonplace.

“Contractors positioning themselves as experts at working with these technologies at no premium over traditionally designed and built projects are likely to have the edge in this rapidly growing movement,” he said.

Focus: By Darlene Bremer

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or darbremer@comcast.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Christine A. Klauck Joins the Fiber Connect Team

Manager of Technical & Sales Support

Leviton is pleased to announce that Christine A. Klauck has joined the team at Fiber Connect, Inc., a Leviton Company, as the Manager of Technical & Sales Support. 

In this new role, Klauck will develop a technical team to support Business Development Management’s field sales, as well as inside sales.

In addition to her role at Fiber Connect, Klauck currently serves as BICSI Northeast Region Director, a position she has held for the past four years. Klauck also chairs the BICSI Cares Committee, the charitable arm of BICSI, raising money at each conference for children’s charities and offering scholarships to members and their families who pursue higher education degrees in the information transport industry.

Klauck’s career spans more than twenty years in the Information Transport Industry. Prior to joining Fiber Connect, Klauck, an RCDD/NTS Specialist, spent 12 years at the Siemon Company in corporate training, technical support and marketing departments.  Klauck also worked for more than 11 years at IBM Corporation in design and project management of telecommunications structured cabling systems for residential, Fortune 500 and “Big Four” accounting firms.

A Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) representative since 1995, and member of Construction Specification Institute (CSI), Klauck holds a BS.ed from Keene State College and an engineering drafting certificate from Westchester Community College.

For more information on Leviton or Fiber Connect, log on to www.leviton.com, or www.fiber-connect.com.


The New Heart Of The Home

No longer the domain of luxury dwellings, interest is growing for lighting controls that stand alone or integrate into whole-house automation systems for greater convenience and efficiency.

Few areas of electrical contracting have changed at a rate greater than residential lighting controls. Residential product offerings have grown exponentially as social and political agendas continue to shape energy supplies—as more middle-income homeowners take control over lighting. Manufacturers are accommodating current needs and charting the course of lighting convergence on future technological advancements.

Wired and wireless lighting controls have been around for more than a decade. Today, industry experts say they are entering a new era in convenience, efficiency and commodity that will allow homeowners to dramatically transform a room or an entire house with light while reducing energy consumption and costs.

Win-win for homeowners and contractors

Setting the global energy debate aside, there are two distinct customers in the residential market with a need for dynamic product from a manufacturing standpoint, according to Jason Sherrill, product manager of structured wiring, wireless technologies and energy protection at Cooper Wiring Devices.

“Homeowners are looking for more safety, security, comfort, convenience, style, control and possibilities. Installers are looking for more sales, options, reliability, control and an innovative technology platform,” Sherrill said.

Residential lighting controls are no longer a tool exclusively for wealthy homeowners.

The Lighting Controls Association (LSA) reports while automated lighting control offers utility for larger rooms with multiple light fixtures and types, it can be a realistic option for new or existing homes as small as 2,000 square feet.

“Lighting may be stand-alone [or] whole house, offer room and/or house control, and be tied into the security system (about 30 percent of new homes), a home theater system (about 8 percent of new homes), or a complete home automation system,” said LSA’s Craig DiLouie.

Such technological advancements, said Brad Wills, Square D director of installation systems and control, are driving electrical contractors into more low-voltage work.

“It’s expanding their scope beyond pure electrical work to include lighting control, A/V, security and HVAC control. As a result, contractors are either going to work more closely with low-voltage contractors for installations, or they are going to have to make the decision to enter those areas themselves,” Wills said.

Although advanced integrated entertainment controllers are growing faster than lighting controls over the next five years, lighting controls are still big business, said Bill Ablondi, research analyst with Parks Associates.

“Total lighting controls this year will be about $180 million for the hardware, the intelligence and basic controls, with the market growing to $350 million in 2012,” Ablondi said.

The lighting control industry is continually moving toward total integration with entertainment controllers and other home automation/intelligent building systems as the emphasis for user-friendly expandable systems with remote access grows in the face of stricter energy regulations and maintenance efficiency.

“While manufacturers have been providing residential lighting controls for quite some time, recent federal mandates on energy-efficient lighting controls are driving the development of the latest technologies, which involve ‘greener’ controls protocols, requiring less energy consumption and producing less waste,” said Bryan Matthews, public relations manager for Lightolier Controls.

Lighting controls are being watched closely and are landing on several major energy agendas, including the 2005 federal Energy Policy Act, the Title 24 Energy Code in California and continued pressure to adopt similar measures in neighboring states, as well as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Sorting it out

According to Grant Sullivan, product marketing manager, Leviton Home Automation Products, previous automated home control and home lighting products fell into two distinct levels. “Either they were high-priced, hard-wired or proprietary wireless systems, or they were low-priced consumer products dominated by marketing hype and less-than-reliable performance,” he said.

The latest lighting control advancements are not only elevating controls to a commodity level, but there are new categories of products being developed, which places new responsibilities on electrical contractors, said Mike Piraino, lighting controls market development manager at Pass & Seymour/Legrand.

“The toughest job an electrical contractor has right now is learning about all the new systems and devices. No one manufacturer can offer the best solution in every application. So, the contractor quite often has the tough job of sorting through the different products and figuring out the best way to go,” Piraino said.

Cooper Wiring Devices

Cooper’s Sherrill added that another factor driving technological developments in residential lighting is interoperability (plug-and-play). Cooper Wiring Devices plans to introduce ASPIRE RF, a wireless lighting control device later this year.

“With interoperability, electrical contractors can move forward with an open protocol that allows them to bring a scalable and interoperable system to the end-user with a package of options from various manufacturers under one universal umbrella for ease of installation and use,” Sherrill said.

Residential vacancy or occupancy sensors developed for California Title 24 mandates, such as Cooper’s 01-400R, require users to turn on a light upon entering the room, but the sensor automatically turns it off once motion is no longer detected, a feature that can’t be overridden. However, at this time, the mandate only applies in single and multiple dwellings in California.

Lightolier Controls

Innovative occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting are becoming major players in energy conservation.

“Being able to distinguish when energy is truly needed and at what level, allows the homeowner to properly control the amount of energy consumed in the home,” Lightolier’s Matthews said.

Lightolier’s occupancy sensor (at left) doesn’t rely on conventional motion detection to determine occupancy. IntelliSight has a significantly expanded detection range of 4,000 square feet, which product developers say directly correlates to energy savings.

LiteTouch

“Today’s homeowners are increasingly committed to saving energy and to doing their part on a personal level to conserve,” said Don J. Buehner, LiteTouch president and CEO.

Daylight harvesting is now benefiting homeowners through the LiteTouch DayLight Harvesting keypad. Daylight harvesting technology allows for artificial lighting in a room to be supplemented by natural light coming through windows.

As natural light is “harvested” and measured by an ambient light sensor, the LiteTouch keypad automatically dims the light fixtures, so the natural and artificial light work in concert to maintain the desired lighting level in the room.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Pass & Seymour/ Legrand’s LightSense is a new entry in RF whole-home mastering controls for lighting, fan speed and small appliances. LightSense has matching wired devices for a consistent appearance for system and non-system controls.

“For new construction or for retrofitting existing homes, LightSense makes it easy to add a little or a lot of light control to the home, and because it uses radios to send and receive commands, there is a minimum of special wiring,” Piraino said.

Square D

A completely new category of lighting controls is growing out of distributed lighting control topology recently introduced by Square D. As explained by Square D’s Wills, when employing a distributed topology, an electrical contractor doesn’t have to be as exacting in the design phase because functionality is built into each input and output device itself, eliminating the need for a centralized controller.

“Communications wiring between input and output devices is typically made in a free topology arrangement that does not depend on daisy chain loops or radial feeds,” Wills said.

Leviton

Product developers at Leviton Manufacturing point out that wireless devices such as Vizia RF, also part of the Z-Wave partnership, have experienced the most dramatic changes in recent years due to the implementation of advanced digital circuitry allowing enhanced features with tactile dimmers and switches.

“In previous decades, a typical home had only a few dimmers, such as a dining room or a master bedroom. With new wireless lighting systems, dimmers are installed in many more places throughout a home—enough, in fact, to create an energy-saving home control network,” said Leviton’s Sullivan, who adds that wireless provides retrofit opportunities in older homes as easily as in new construction.

Lutron

More of these wireless options, especially for wallbox products, are creating whole-house lighting control. For the residential market, Lutron’s AuroRa whole-house lighting system requires no new wiring and no programming.

According to Mike Cunningham, Lutron marketing communications director, “Homeowners are increasingly interested in security features, such as the ability to create light pathways inside and outside the home, the use of handheld and car-visor remotes so that people don’t have to walk into a dark home, setting up a flashing distress signal for a porch light or front-door light so that emergency workers can find your home quickly, and the ability to integrate with home-security systems.”

Another key trend is the need to provide lighting controls that are tailored to individual needs and tasks. Added Cunningham, “As the population ages, more people need brighter lighting for such tasks as reading and cooking. But they still want to be able to set lower light levels for other activities, such as dining, watching television and entertaining guests. Dimmers allow people to use more light when they need it, less light when they prefer it, all while saving energy.”

Progress Lighting

New from Progress Lighting is the P83-26ICATDM, the industry’s first dimmable compact fluorescent recessed fixture, which works with a standard incandescent dimmer. Dimming down to a 15 percent light output, the recessed fixture meets California Title 24 requirements as well as all state standards for airtight recessed fixtures. “[It] captures the energy savings of high efficacy 26W twin triple tube compact fluorescent lamps,” said Craig Wright, product manager.

What’s next

The bottom line, according to Wills, is a continued emphasis on research and development for manufacturers and more homework for contractors because future users will demand more sophisticated lighting designs in their homes.

“The industry is going to have to balance with demands for more energy efficiency. State governments are going to demand homes use less energy, but homeowners are going to want multiple layers of lighting, which is going to add more energy consumption. The lighting control industry is going to be caught in the middle, and as an extension, so will electrical contractors,” Wills said.         EC

By Debbie McClung

MCCLUNG, owner of Woodland Communications, is a construction writer from Iowa. She can be reached via  e-mail at mcclung@lisco.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


CCI Lab Receives MSHA Approval for Burn Test

Coleman Cable Inc. (CCI) recently announced that its quality lab in Waukegan, Illinois, received approval from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to conduct the burn test on products such as power, control and communication cables. 

To earn this accreditation, the lab was required to satisfy strict requirements for testing the flame resistance of electric cables, title 30 CFR § 7.407, for products such as power and control cables; and flame resistance testing of signaling cables, title 30 CFR § 7.408, for products such as low-voltage, coax and communication cables.  The process initiated several months ago when CCI built a burn booth in its lab, then worked with MSHA officials for inspection and approval of the flame resistance test procedure, as well as approval of the individuals who conduct the test.

“There are a limited number of facilities that are approved to conduct this testing.  For CCI, the in-house testing significantly improves our time to market, making us more effective and efficient in product design and development,” said Howard Caccia, CCI’s vice president, engineering.  “The investment in our lab is just one more example of CCI’s commitment to the market to do everything necessary to serve the customer’s needs.”

About Coleman Cable Inc.

Coleman Cable, Inc. (CCI) is a leading manufacturer and innovator of electrical and electronic wire and cable products for the security, sound, telecommunications, electrical, commercial, industrial, and automotive industries. With extensive design and production capabilities and a long-standing dedication to customer service, Coleman Cable, Inc. is the preferred choice of cable and wire users throughout the United States. The company is located at 1530 Shields Drive, Waukegan, IL 60085.  For more information, visit: www.colemancable.com


MRV Communications, Inc.

What leading publications are saying about MRV:

Serial device connectivity continues to be the main focus of MRV's LX solution, but with the LX-4016T we could set a remote serial management environment that included power management and serial device control, as well as support for environmental monitoring and a video camera system."

Network Computing, Remote Administration Within Reach, April 16, 2007

http://www.gcn.com/print/26_10/44248-1.html

When coupled with power management and a solid UPS system, the 4000T can be an invaluable shield against being out of touch in a crisis."

Government Computing News, Test Drive, May 7, 2007

http://www.gcn.com/print/26_10/44248-1.html

Our high-end hosting customers want to have insight into their servers and how they are behaving, and now they have the technological savvy to do this," Whittaker said. "When we give them remote access to their equipment they feel more in control and tell us that this is an important benefit."

Remote Site and Equipment Magazine, Out-of-Band Management Network Helps Magnet Networks Go National, April 2007

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MRV's LX 4000T Series provides industry leading serial connectivity, power management and physical infrastructure solutions. Contact us at sales@mrv.com or call 800-338-5316 to learn more about how these solutions can increase security, lower risk and improve service levels!  www.mrv.com


Examining Twisted-pair Options For 10-Gigabit Ethernet

Hugo Draye is marketing manager for Fluke Networks’ certification tools (www.flukenetworks.com). He holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium and an MBA from Seattle University.

Many companies are planning to install networks with the ability to transmit 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth and improved response times. The need for higher bandwidth first manifests itself in the backbone cabling or in data centers. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) completed and approved a new chapter in the Ethernet standard (802.3) to enable 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet transmission over twisted-pair copper cabling. This implementation, called 10GBase-T is specified in a standard that supports both unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) and screened or fully shielded twisted-pair (STP) cabling systems. Shielded cabling systems are entering center stage in the promotional battles for market share. The question whether to select, specify, and install unshielded versus shielded has consequently become the topic of the day.

This article explains the transmission-performance requirements for the twisted-pair cabling system defined in the 10GBase-T standard. It will furthermore discuss the following questions: Is the familiar UTP cabling no longer a viable choice? And has shielded cabling become the new solution for high-speed applications like 10GBase-T?

Twisted-pair transmission requirements

To achieve the 10-Gbit/sec data rate, each wire pair in the twisted-pair cabling must be able to transmit 800 million symbols per second (data rate of 800 Mega Baud). A “symbol” is a voltage level; a new symbol must be transmitted every 1.25 nanoseconds (or 1¼ billionth of a second). In order to support this very high rate of signal transmission, the cabling performance parameters are specified up to 500 MHz. In comparison, the Category 6 cabling standard defines the transmission performance of the cabling over the frequency range from 1 through 250 MHz.

The cabling standards characterize the performance of twisted-pair data cabling using a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) analysis. This method defines 1) the minimum required signal strength (or the maximum signal loss allowed) over the frequency range of interest—in this case over the range 1 through 500 MHz, and 2) a number of noise parameters or disturbances that cannot exceed established values over the same frequency range. The specified noise parameters are related to crosstalk between wire pairs in the cable and signal reflection on each wire pair measured by the return loss parameter.

Because of the very high frequency range required for 10GBase-T, the crosstalk requirements must be expanded to include not only the crosstalk that happens between wire pairs within each cabling link, but also to include the crosstalk that is induced from wire pairs in adjacent cabling links. The latter is called alien crosstalk. The performance of each individual cabling link is certified by the “in-channel” tests, while the alien crosstalk performance or the coupling between wire pairs in adjacent links is to be certified by the “between-channel” test parameters.

How can you be assured that the installed cabling system will support 10GBase-T transmission? Industry standards define the test parameters as well as the measurement methodology to assure compliance of installed cabling systems. This testing procedure is called cabling certification.

Applying the standards

The IEEE has been the organization to develop, expand, and maintain the “Ethernet” standards, in its 802.3 set of specifications. IEEE project 802.3an developed and defined the system to transmit 10-GbE over twisted-pair cabling. This project encompasses all aspects of the network implementation including the minimum capability of the cabling link between a transmitting device and a receiving device. The IEEE is focused on the transmission performance of the end-to-end cabling link independent of the number of connections or other cabling installation issues. The IEEE 802.3an development has been completed and was approved by it standards board in June 2006.

The cabling industry is undertaking two sets of activities.

Guidelines for cabling compliance with the transmission requirements of 10GBase-T

A new cabling standard that delivers better transmission performance than Category 6, called Augmented Category 6 (Category 6A) or Augmented Class E (abbreviated Class EA by the International Organization for Standardization [ISO]).

In the North American market, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) is the leading standards body for data communications cabling. The ISO develops, publishes, and maintains standards for the worldwide market. Both standards bodies are involved with the two activities mentioned above.

Cabling guidelines for compliance with 10GBase-T. The TIA published a document titled Telecommunications Systems Bulletin 155 (TIA TSB-155), which contains the guidelines and performance criteria by which any cabling system can be evaluated for compliance with the cabling transmission requirements for 10GBase-T. The guidelines in TSB-155 address the in-channel performance (test parameters that define the performance of an individual cabling link over the frequency range from 1 through 500 MHz) and the between-channel performance (signal coupling between adjacent links commonly referred to as alien crosstalk). The ISO is in the process of creating a Technical Report (TR 24750) that serves the same purpose, and intends to provide the same guidance as the TIA TSB-155 document. Note that these guidelines do not suppose a specific Category or Class of cabling, but it will be very difficult to meet the performance established by TSB-155 (TR 24750) for any cabling lower than Category 6 or Class E.

New cabling standards. Both TIA and ISO are developing a new cabling type called Augmented Category 6 (Category 6A) or Augmented Class E (Class EA). This new cabling will offer better performance than Category 6 or Class E cabling. The performance of the in-channel parameters as well as the between-channel parameters will be defined up to 500 MHz. Note that the standards activities that define the Augmented cabling systems are not yet complete, even though many manufacturers offer Category 6A (Class EA) solutions in the market. The TIA development is further along than the ISO development, and will be published as Addendum 10 to the TIA standard 568-B.2 (TIA-568-B.2-10). This TIA document is, at the time of this writing, in Draft 7.0.

An important reason for the new cabling systems is the fact that Category 6 cabling may not satisfy the between-channel performance (alien crosstalk performance), especially for longer links. TSB-155 states that Category 6 “should” perform satisfactorily for links up to 37 meters long; it may well work up to 55 meters, and it may need some mitigation if you want to run 10GBase-T over Category 6 links longer than 55 meters.

In a real-world installation, the alien crosstalk performance of installed Category 6 cabling depends on many factors. The best advice we can give: Test alien crosstalk performance of installed Category 6 cabling before deploying 10GBase-T. If the links pass the requirements specified in TSB-155, they are ready to support 10GBase-T. One design goal for the Category 6A system states that it shall satisfy the alien crosstalk performance for 10GBase-T for a full 100-meter horizontal channel.

Starting from scratch

A new cabling installation should be treated as a long-term investment. The electronic devices are typically replaced several times within the lifespan of the cabling system. Replacing a cabling system is also a much more disruptive and costly project than exchanging network devices like switches and routers. You should, therefore, consider the best cabling system for the time horizon of this investment. In a new data center design, this decision should definitely favor a Category 6A cabling system.

As mentioned earlier, shielded cabling types are getting much attention in the Category 6A market today. The standards do not favor UTP over STP construction. Instead, as was explained earlier, the standards set performance limits for the in-channel transmission capability as well as for the between-channel capability. We have witnessed the testing of many UTP cabling installations that fully meet the requirements spelled out in the proposed Category 6A standard. The shielding in the screened cable types offer better electromagnetic interference (EMI) performance and diminishes the signal coupling between wire pairs in adjacent cabling links. A shielded cabling installation, if properly installed, should offer better margins for the alien crosstalk tests.

This raises an interesting question: Do cabling systems with very good margins (15 dB or more) perform better in everyday network operations than cabling with merely good (say 5 dB) margins? We believe the answer is, “No.” The distinction is not noticeable. It is true that a reasonable margin of a few dB above the minimum requirements protects network traffic from spurious and random EMI events that undoubtedly occur. Also, remember that the dB scale is not a linear scale. For example, a worst-case alien crosstalk margin of 6 dB means that at the worst-performing frequency, the measured alien crosstalk signal is half of the allowable signal level for alien crosstalk.

Considering unshielded

In the selection process between unshielded and a variety of screened and shielded cabling options, UTP remains the more economical system. Installation contractors in the North American market are very familiar with unshielded cable types. Category 6A UTP may, however, bring a few new challenges. Many of the Category 6A UTP implementations have bigger outside diameters, and the density in patch panels has decreased. The increased outside diameter (OD) creates a greater distance between wire pairs in adjacent links, thereby reducing the between-channel signal coupling. A bigger OD for the cabling does, however, affect the fill rate in ducts and pathways. An increase in the OD of 0.1 inch, from 0.25 inch to 0.35 inch, represents in increase in fill volume of 21%. It also affects the ease of handling and bending of cable bundles. If you select a UTP Category 6A cable with an increased outside diameter, pathway layout, duct sizes, and cable suspension should be designed to accommodate the OD parameter of the cable.

Alien near-end crosstalk (NEXT) is very susceptible to the performance of the cabling near ends of the link, most noticeably in patch cords, patch panels, and the wire management in the racks. To alleviate or mitigate alien crosstalk problems in UTP installations, the Category 6A patch panels support less density and trade off that density for alien crosstalk performance by allowing more space between jacks in the panel. Alien NEXT for UTP cabling can also be improved by adjusting the practices of bundling in the wire management of the racks. Allowing more free flow between the cables and placing wraps or hook-and-loop ties a few feet apart, rather than a few inches apart, will help. Also, smaller bundles are more manageable and will require less time to conduct the alien crosstalk tests.

Shielded/screened options

It is important to note that there are several different varieties of shielded cabling, and that a series of new acronyms has emerged to describe the different cable types. In the most common construction type, the wire pairs are fully covered with a metal foil. This construction used to be called FTP (foiled twisted-pair) or ScTP (screened twisted-pair) but is now often referred to as F/UTP (foiled/unshielded twisted-pair) or S/UTP (screened/unshielded twisted-pair). An alternate construction provides a foil around each individual wire pair. And the Category 7 cable construction provides a foil around each wire pair, then a foil around the four foil-screened wire pairs and lastly, a braided screen woven of thin wire around that outside foil. This cable construction is also called SSTP (shielded screened twisted-pair). The flexibility and manageability of SSTP is much less than that of UTP.

The foil screen or shielding is effective in preventing high-frequency signal interference between wire pairs in adjacent cables. Good cable balance offers great immunity from interference caused by lower-frequency signals. In order to obtain these benefits from screens, installers must follow a number of very important installation practices. The key concerns are 1) the shield must fully surround the wire pairs in the cable from end to end, and 2) provide proper grounding of the shield.

It is fully important that the shield is kept intact over the entire length of the cable and that the shield fully surrounds the cable and connecting hardware. If the shield is, for example, formed into a pigtail over the last inch of the cable, it will reduce the protection against EMI and alien crosstalk. Furthermore, we must avoid splitting the shield at sharp bends in the cable. The shield is typically a ribbon of aluminum foil that is wrapped around the cable. If the cable is bent at too sharp of a radius, the shield may separate, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the shield and its ability to protect against alien crosstalk.

The shield must be grounded on both ends of the link. It is often said that a shield is 90% effective when it is grounded at one end of the link. Such a shield continues to protect the wire pairs against many external high-frequency disturbances, but an open-ended shield may allow resonances at certain frequencies. A resonance creates the chance that the signals couple into the data wire pairs, creating a significant alien crosstalk disturbance at those individual frequencies. Field certification may record very low margins for alien crosstalk at those frequencies.

Because the shield should be terminated to ground at both ends, it is critical that the ground potential at both ends is approximately the same to avoid any ground-loop currents. The TIA-607 standard on grounding and bonding allows a maximum difference in ground potential of 1 Vrms (Volt root mean square) between the two ends. This rule requires that the telecommunications system is grounded throughout in compliance with the TIA-607 standard and that the electrical system in the building is correctly grounded and fully complies with rules spelled out in the National Electrical Code and other codes enforced by local jurisdictions. In the field, you can verify that the ground potential meets the difference requirement before you connect the other end. Connect the shield at one end, then measure the alternating-current voltage between the shield and the ground connection at the other end using a digital voltmeter that covers a bandwidth of 100 kHz or better.

The performance in or near the patch panels plays a significant role in maintaining the effectiveness and protection delivered by a shielded cable. Installation workmanship and experience play a big role in the quality of the installed system. Field certification verifies that the desired quality has been delivered.

Shielded cabling may also require additional testing in Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications because the shielding tends to retain heat within the cable, which increases return loss and reduces cable life. The proposed 802.3at standard, which increases the maximum PoE power from 13 watts to 30 watts, makes this issue more critical. 802.3at will set maximum temperature limits for unshielded cabling but does not yet address shielded cabling. Because PoE is not often used within data centers, the use of shielded cabling in the data center sidesteps this potential problem. If PoE is run over shielded cabling, the cable should be tested periodically for return loss to assess whether or not any thermal damage may have occurred.

The IEEE 10GBase-T standard includes requirements for cabling; the TIA TSB-155 and ISO TR 24750 documents incorporate these requirements. The new cabling standards under development—Category 6A and Class EA—aim to deliver a future-ready cabling system that supports the full 100-meter channel requirements for 10GBase-T. These new standards also aim to support possible future developments. We can predict that alien crosstalk performance is going to be part of any future high-speed network application. Because of the emphasis on alien crosstalk, screened/shielded cabling types are gaining attention in the market. Properly installed shielding enhances EMI performance in general and alien crosstalk performance in particular.

Certification testing has always been an important part of cabling deployment. This becomes a very important step if you are interested in deploying 10GBase-T over installed twisted-pair cabling. The certification of new Augmented cabling systems, whether constructed with unshielded or shielded components, delivers the assurance that the cable system is ready to support 10GBase-T and beyond. In-channel testing should be performed on 100% of the links, and alien crosstalk testing should be performed on a selected number of disturbed cables in the cabling installation.

Reprinted with full permission of CI&M Magazine – July issue 2007

 www.cable-install.com


Project Honored With ACUTA’S Top Award

The University of Notre Dame has won this year’s Institutional Excellence in Communications Technology Award, presented by ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

Notre Dame was honored with ACUTA’s highest institutional award for its comprehensive communications infrastructure and business process upgrade, a project known as “Transforming Communications.” The initiative was based on a mobile communications model designed to be continually adjustable to the changing demands of the university community.

In the Transforming Communications project, Notre Dame installed a multi-carrier cellular distributed antenna system to provide enhanced cellular communications across its South Bend, Indiana, campus. It also added 500 new Wi-Fi access points in 27 residence halls, nearly doubling its number of campus access points.

In addition, the university removed 3,364 traditional land lines in student housing areas and redirected its financial focus toward newer IT priorities of students. Finally, Notre Dame introduced cable TV services in all its residential spaces.

The project involved collaboration with students, faculty, and administrators and maintained sensitivity to the historical architecture on the campus. As Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins noted, the Transforming Communications initiative “enables the university to achieve new ways of conducting our business and, more importantly, provide new ways to inform our students and enhance the quality of their educational and residential experience here at Notre Dame.”

“What Notre Dame has accomplished with its Transforming Communications project is an outstanding example of the innovation and technological progress we are seeing on ACUTA member campuses,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “This project reflects very well the ACUTA mission of supporting our members in leveraging communications technology so they can help their institutions achieve their missions.”

Earning Institutional Excellence honorable mentions were the University of Idaho and the University of Cincinnati. The University of Idaho implemented an intensive two-year project to bring high bandwidth to the campus in Moscow, in rural northwest Idaho. The project gave the university access to a high-capacity computing network and increased its ability to participate in national and international research and collaboration. At the University of Cincinnati, the UC Mobile project brought significant improvement in cellular coverage, integrated the campus voice-data infrastructure with the mobile operator’s network, and brought public Wi-Fi to the campus.

ACUTA, which is meeting here this week for its 36th annual conference, is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000 individuals at 770 institutions.

The Institutional Excellence in Communications Technology Awards are sponsored by PAETEC.

About ACUTA
ACUTA, the Association for  Communications Technology  Professionals in Higher Education, is an international non-profit educational association serving colleges and universities.  Its core purpose is to support higher education communications technology professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions. ACUTA represents nearly 2000 individuals at some 770 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the 50 largest U.S. institutions.  ACUTA’s Corporate Affiliate members represent all categories of  communications technology  vendors serving the college/university market. For more information, visit www.acuta.org   or call 859-278-3338


Learning The Lingo

The Green Building Revolution brings A New Way Of Doing Things

LEED Green Building Rating SystemCalifornia Title 24ASHRAE 90.1... Not only is the building industry learning a new vocabulary, but the green revolution is creating a complete new set of expectations, standards, regulations, codes, and, in short, a new way of doing things for electrical contractors. The environmental shift is upon us because the energy consumed by buildings in the United States is staggering. According to the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, buildings account for 37 percent of primary energy use and 68 percent of all electricity use. They demand 60 percent of non-food/fuel raw materials use, generating 136 million tons of construction and demolition debris per year. That translates into 40 percent of nonindustrial solid waste and 31 percent of mercury in municipal solid waste. Buildings use 36 billion gallons of water per day, which is 12 percent of potable water, and in many urban systems, they create 20 percent loss of potable water due to leakage. They also produce 35 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and 49 percent of all sulphur dioxide emissions.

If green building trends have not yet affected your part of the industry and the way you do business, then they will soon. Insiders in the green building industry are loudly proclaiming to anyone willing to listen that their way of doing business is the wave of the future. Those who are willing to do green business early on will qualify for and will win business on the front end of this revolution; contractors who drag their feet will not get the job. Insiders further boldly claim the perpetual naysayers who refuse to ever comply will not survive the green transition.

Those are pretty strong words to a trade that proudly wears its conservative, established way of doing things as a badge of honor. But the green proponents back up their claims by pointing out, among other things, that many communities around the country, including some large cities such as San Francisco; Boston; Seattle; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C., now require some or all of their new public buildings to be green by some codified standard.

And, it is not just governments that are going green; private corporations are weighing in as well. For example, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Cos. announced in October 2006 that it is the first and only insurance to offer specific coverage for green commercial buildings and to address the unique risks associated with sustainable building practices. And, Bank of America announced in March 2007 a $20 billion initiative to support the growth of environmentally sustainable business activity to address global climate change.

“Energy standards will get tighter and tighter in coming years for both new buildings and renovations,” said William D. Browning, partner of Terrapin Bright Green LLC, senior fellow of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and recipient of the 2004 U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership Award. “That represents tremendous opportunity for electrical contractors.”

LEED

The biggest topic in building green is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. It is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED is defined, operated and managed by the members of the nonprofit USGBC, which is a community of more than 8,500 building industry organizations.

LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for all building types, including both new construction and existing buildings. It provides certain prerequisites and performance benchmarks—or “credits”—that projects can earn within a variety of design or construction phase categories. Projects are then awarded Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED certification, depending on the number of credits they achieve.

While there are lots of project credits that do not directly impact the work of a project’s electrical contractors, plenty of the credits do. For example, there are six sets of credits common to several of the rating systems, and five of them have obvious electrical elements: Sustainable Sites (which includes exterior lighting), Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design Process. The sixth set of credits is for Water Efficiency.

The power of LEED—­and the importance of ECs understanding it—is demonstrated: There were 948 projects were registered with LEED in October 2003. There were more than 2,100 registered by September 2005, and there are currently more than 7,000 registered LEED projects. Now, 56 cities and 23 federal agencies have adopted LEED standards for buildings. It is not a matter of if ECs see LEED, but when.

California Title 24

No discussion of energy-efficient building standards can go far without bringing up Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations, known as the California Building Standards Code or just “Title 24.” Part 6 of that code is the California Energy Code (CEC), which contains energy conservation standards of the California Energy Commission.

While many consider Title 24 to be the strictest energy code in the country, few expect all of its ideas to stay locked up in the Golden State. As it always has in so many other ways, California likely will set trends in the energy-efficiency codes in the coming years.

Considering its energy usage, it is not surprising that California is setting the pace for energy-efficient standards. The state uses 265,000 gigawatt hours of energy each year, with peak demand growing annually at about 2.4 percent, roughly the equivalent of three new 500-megawatt power plants. The 2005 code changes were adopted in response to California’s 2000–2003 electricity crisis in order to reduce energy costs and consumption, increase the reliability of energy delivery and contribute to an improved economic condition for the state.

The stricter efficiency standards also help avoid rolling blackouts, reduce peak demand and avoid the need to build new generating capacity. California estimates that its efficiency standards will save $43 billion by 2013, all achievable through commercially available technology.

Richard Nogleberg, president of Placer Electric (which has offices in Citrus Heights and Truckee, Calif.), said the 2005 changes to the Title 24 energy code have made the company’s day-to-day work noticeably different.

“In some ways, it is like it has always been, where our crews acquire the materials that have specified on a job and install them as called for. What’s different is that many of the devices that we install have changed,” Nogleberg said.

The 2005 Title 24 updates significantly increase the requirement for new energy-efficient technologies in buildings’ lighting, requiring high-efficacy luminaries, manual-on/automatic-off sensors, and dimmers, especially in residential lighting. The updates emphasize energy-efficiency measures that save energy during peak periods of power generation, such as hot summer days when air conditioners are running. The requirements were based on how much energy a technology can save as well as the technology’s reliability, availability and cost-effectiveness.

“The big difference,” Nogleberg said, “comes when we are working in the design phase on a design/build project.” Such work calls for knowing the efficiency standards and designing accordingly. “And daylighting is now a big part of California buildings, as well.” Daylighting is the practice of placing windows, or other transparent media, and reflective surfaces so that, during the day, natural light provides effective internal illumination.

“In some ways, we’re coming full circle,” Nogleberg said. “There was a time that energy efficiency and natural lighting were a part of every building everywhere. Then we abandoned a lot of that way of building when we got the technology for easy, cheap power and manmade light. But now things have changed again, and we’re having to rediscover those lost methods of energy efficiency.”

ASHRAE 90.1

Regardless of how you feel about Title 24, it applies only in California. Outside the Golden State, ECs often face the requirements of the third set of codes affecting the green building industry commonly called ASHRAE 90.1. They come from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE (pronounced ASH-ray).

ASHRAE 90.1 (or, more formally, “ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings”) provides minimum requirements for the energy-efficient design of buildings except low-rise residential buildings. Since being developed in response to the energy crisis in the 1970s, ASHRAE 90.1 now is a standard for building design and construction throughout the United States.

Despite the fact that ASHRAE is a society for heating, refrigerating and air conditioning engineers, several aspects of the current version of ASHRAE 90.1 are of significance to electrical contractors. It provides minimum requirements for the building envelope and systems and equipment for multiple disciplines, including electrical power, lighting, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, service water heating and energy management.

One example of an electrical requirement is a 2004 ASHRAE 90.1 revision that cuts approved lighting power densities by about 25 percent compared to previous standards. As technology for energy-efficient lighting has continued to advance, approved lighting power densities have been lowered gradually to reflect the improving capabilities of lighting and lighting controls.

Other ASHRAE 90.1 electrical standards include requirements for lighting controls (including occupancy sensors and timers), task lighting power densities, and exterior lighting for parking areas, walkways, plazas, building entries, canopies, façade lighting and outdoor sales areas.

Electrical contractors are sitting at the front end of the green building revolution. The International Code Council Green Building White Paper states, “Even though green building continues to gain significant momentum, it is still very much in its infancy.” Coupled with the fact that when done properly, green does not cost more, it is certain that ECs will face green projects soon, if not already. In the paraphrased words of William Browning, “A good team can bring a project into a Silver LEED rating with no increase in first costs.”

Green—it’s here to stay. EC

By Russ Munyan

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan., area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


New BuildingGreen Website Offers Easier Access To Authoritative Green Building Information

BuildingGreen, Inc., publishers of the most authoritative, independent information for the green building industry, launched its new website, BuildingGreen.com, on July 30th, 2007. The new website design provides architects, designers, building owners, contractors, and other green building professionals with greater power to find, use, and share the information they need, whether it be product reviews or news articles on the latest in green building.

“With the dramatic growth in the green building industry, professionals need clear, objective, and well presented information on green design and building, and with this new release our website serves that need better than ever,” said BuildingGreen, Inc. president Alex Wilson.

BuildingGreen.com is the membership-based website from BuildingGreen, Inc., publishers of the GreenSpec product directory and Environmental Building News. The website’s new look better represents the depth and quality of the information on green products and strategies. Members can find the information they need using the new, more powerful, navigation. Members can also read current news from the green building industry, email product listings and articles to clients and colleagues, and use enhanced search capabilities to make the vast collection of information more accessible.

“Our goal with this new website is to provide industry professionals with better access to more information,” said Wilson. “This new design raises the bar on the presentation of in-depth green design information.” For example, feature articles digging deeply into a single topic, for which BuildingGreen is known in the industry, now have a embedded tables of contents so that readers can find important sections and graphics at a glance. Information available on BuildingGreen.com includes recent articles and archives from Environmental Building News, an annotated directory of the best green building publications, green product listings that make up the GreenSpec product directory, a calendar of green events, and a database of high performance green projects.

“Unlike other websites in the construction and design sector, BuildingGreen.com carries no outside advertising,” said Wilson, “making our website easier to use, and ensuring that we are not pressured to compromise our independent judgment of green building products and strategies.”

Membership in BuildingGreen.com costs $199 per year for individuals, with discounts available for AIA members, IIDA members, ASID members, and bulk purchases. BuildingGreen also offers special rates for whole-organization access for companies and educational institutions, and a special introductory rate tailored for individuals using the website to conduct research.

For more information on BuildingGreen.com or other resources produced by BuildingGreen, Inc., visit www.BuildingGreen.com; e-mail Info@BuildingGreen.com ; or call 800-861-0954 (outside the U.S. and Canada, call 802-257-7300).

BuildingGreen, Inc. has provided the building industry with quality information on sustainable design and construction since its founding in 1985. Publications include Environmental Building News; the GreenSpec® Directory; the residential product directory Green Building Products; and the integrated, online BuildingGreen Suite.


Coaxial Cable Maker Bulks Up With Acquisition Of Wireless Firm

Talk about a marathon. Coaxial-cable maker CommScope has come a long way since 1953, when it started out in telephone cables under a different name.

By the time it spun off from General Instrument (now part of Motorola (NYSE:MOT - News)) a decade ago, it had become a leader in coaxial TV connections for the "last mile," or final link, to the customer.

CommScope (NYSE:CTV - News) doubled its size three years ago when it bought Avaya's (NYSE:AV - News) Connectivity Solutions unit. That gave it a leading role in cables for business enterprises as well.

Now CommScope is about to enter a new and bigger chapter in its life. It will buy wireless connectivity specialist Andrew (NasdaqGS:ANDW - News), a firm with more than $2 billion in revenue last year, compared with CommScope's $1.6 billion.

The $2.6 billion deal was announced June 27, about a year after Andrew spurned a lower buyout offer. It should close by the end of the year.

Andrew's Price

CommScope will pay $15 each for Andrew's shares, up from last summer's $9.50 bid. Despite the higher price, analysts are gushing over the deal.

"It gives them significantly more penetration into the wireless space, where they had a relatively minor presence in the past," said Eric Buck of Brean Murray Carret. "It's going to be extremely positive for Comm-Scope. Virtually every wireless carrier is buying Andrew's products on a worldwide basis."

Andrew is the dominant player in connecting antennas and radios on wireless systems. It also sells gear for wireless towers.

After further study, Buck raised his forecasts. He wrote to clients that his "initial enthusiasm was too conservative."

His new model has the combined company's total sales growing 60% to $6.04 billion by 2011.

Simon Leopold of Morgan Keegan & Co. says he expects CommScope to raise its full-year forecast when it reports second-quarter results July 30.

Management wasn't available for comment. But the firm already raised its second-quarter forecast when it unveiled the Andrew deal.

The high end of the sales range stayed at $510 million, but the low end rose to $500 million from $490 million. The firm pushed up its operating margin view by half a percentage point, to the 15% to 16% range.

But CommScope didn't change its full-year forecast: $1.84 billion to $1.89 billion in revenue and margin of 13.5% to 14.5%.

Management expects the Andrew merger to save $50 million to $60 million before tax in the first year, and another $40 million the second year.

"Restructuring and synergies (from the merger) can lead to meaningful accretion for 2008 earnings," said Leopold. He raised his forecast also, based on 26% accretion.

Most Wall Street analysts aren't factoring all the possible synergies in their views, however. In a poll by Thomson Financial, they see 2008 profit rising only 9% over 2007. That contrasts to an expected 59% jump this year over last, to $2.68 a share.

Some of the trouble comes from volatile prices of raw materials, such as copper and plastics. But analysts say CommScope has kept that from eating too much into profits.

"They've been disciplined about adjusting prices," Leopold said. "But it's always an issue."

The expected slowdown in profit growth, at least initially, has more to do with merger-related debt costs and Andrew's lower operating margins.

But CommScope plans to improve Andrew's margins over time. Execs have said they would look at selling some divisions within a year after the buyout closes. Analysts were left to guess which ones.

Buck wrote in a note that the sale of Andrew's base station subsystems line could draw $500 million or more in cash. That unit doesn't fit neatly into CommScope's business plan, he said.

Leopold says that selling Andrew's money-losing satellite communications unit would also help margins.

Meanwhile, CommScope's three core market segments are growing in double digits even without Andrew on its team.

"Various upgrade cycles are going on in each of their customer markets, and they are benefiting from those trends," Leopold said.

First-quarter sales in the largest unit -- enterprise -- rose 16.7% over the prior year to $200.9 million. Broadband, which includes cable TV, jumped 17.6% to $148 million.

Triple Play

CommScope cited cable operators' growing investments in their networks to support the "triple play" of video, data and voice services.

The smallest unit, the wireless and wireline carrier business, saw the greatest jump -- 59.2% to $87 million. Analysts tie much of that rise to large metal field cabinets AT&T (NYSE:T - News) bought for its major fiber-to-curb upgrade program, called Lightspeed. The cabinets hold telecom gear.

Some say the Lightspeed project is slowing down, however.

Buck says CommScope will likely try to boost the cabinets business by selling the products to Andrew's customers. Other cross-selling opportunities are likely, analysts say.


The Data Center Paradox

by Jarrod J.S. Siket

While the vision of high-speed communications utilizing the newest IP applications and services is appealing to end-users, IT administrators have the task of bringing it to life while maintaining control of corporate resources. To realize this vision, IT professionals are building high-speed networks and data centers based on standard packet technologies, such as Ethernet and IP, to provide a universal infrastructure for the rapid deployment of software-based applications and services.

IT administrators have identified three primary components of achieving this goal: building a network capable of delivering the bandwidth necessary to meet the stringent performance requirements of new IP applications and services; deploying a series of network and security appliances that provide necessary flow visibility to adhere to internal corporate compliance, acceptable usage policies and external government regulations; and enabling or supporting intranet and Internet security to protect both corporate and individual user information.

In a relatively short time, enterprise networks have moved from 100-Mbps to 1-Gbps backbones. Just as quickly, many are beginning the move to 10 Gbps, with designs for the next generation of Ethernet promising between 40 Gbps to 100 Gbps. The exponential increase in network performance is occurring with the expectation of providing the bandwidth required to support a rapidly expanding list of IP applications and services with stringent performance requirements.

Ethernet and IP have been established as the Level 2 and Level 3 protocols for next-generation networks. In addition to providing the necessary bandwidth, when combined, they create a universal infrastructure that enables IT administrators and users of the network to almost instantaneously begin deploying and using new IP applications and services.

This high-speed network infrastructure removes congestion and provides enough room for application expansion, but history has shown that users will find many ways to consume it. In addition, such networks may expose the enterprise to millions of packets per second, making guarantees of the performance of applications difficult, in addition to creating more difficulty in managing and controlling the overall usage to protect against unacceptable use and threats.

Enterprise IT organizations require visibility into the network to maintain sensible levels of control. Outside the enterprise, attackers can intercept data to steal or compromise information, or attack the enterprise with an arsenal of worms, viruses, spam and other malware. Inside the enterprise, the IT staff must ensure that the network is being used for the applications critical to the business’ success while simultaneously addressing concerns from within in the form of accidental or intentional leakage of confidential information.

A host of new appliances

IT organizations rely on a host of network appliances to provide network access and control, visibility into the network communication flows, and protection from internal and external threats. These network appliances are often deployed in enterprise data centers and at the LAN-WAN boundary, performing many functions, including intrusion detection (IDS), intrusion prevention (IPS), unified threat management (UTM), network access control (NAC) and a host of antigen devices for spam, virus and other malware. These network appliances provide a new level of compliance by verifying user access rights and interrogating communications within, to and from the enterprise.

These network appliances are deployed in-line, with virtually no impact on network performance when deployed in 10/100 and underutilized Gigabit Ethernet networks. As the networks have evolved to line-rate, multigigabit and 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds, however, their presence in-line for all communication flows creates a bottleneck for network performance.

Simply put, the appliances hosting the applications have failed to keep pace with improvements in network performance. Their network I/O, memory and CPU utilization all are under strain at these new performance levels. As a result, these network appliances are rated for use by some amount of aggregate bandwidth, or a number of users, sessions and flows. When any of these are exceeded, the appliance becomes a bottleneck that can only be relieved by the addition of another network appliance.

Because performance at the expense of compliance is just as unacceptable as compliance at the expense of performance, IT organizations have adopted a practice of stacking appliances. This design constraint, coupled with the sheer number of types of network appliances, has led to an explosion in the enterprise data center. This has created numerous problems, including the number of physical devices located in the network, the capital costs associated with them, the maintenance costs and their operation costs (power consumption, rack space, cooling).

The final dimension with which the enterprise IT organization struggles is end-to-end security. Secure IP communications are required–in some cases, inside the LAN, and in almost all cases, outside of it. Client-based encryption tactics through methods like secure sockets layer (SSL), are the most-common implementation. These security methods provide end-to-end encrypted sessions, protecting both corporate and personal user information.

Many security solutions, however, have the adverse effect of introducing new problems for network operators. SSL encryption makes data useless to potential interceptors while also making it difficult for network operators to verify that the encrypted information complies with corporate and government regulatory policies. Without examining the contents of SSL communications, network operators leave open the possibility for information to be leaked or malware to enter.

The problem with encryption

With more communications expected to become encrypted each year, network operators face two extremes: blocking SSL communications entirely, or allowing SSL communications and greatly reducing the effectiveness of their network appliances that are unable to examine the encrypted flows. In other cases, network operators allow encrypted communications, but only through SSL proxies that permit the IT organization to examine the content before entering or exiting the enterprise. These proxies provide the opportunity to examine the contents of network traffic with their network appliances, yet still offer encryption prior to leaving the enterprise. They do so, however, by creating a server network bottleneck.

A new class of network and security appliances provides solutions for performance, visibility and control, as well as security in a single system. They are the bridge between the high-speed network and the multicore, multithreaded, virtualized appliances that host the network and security applications. These devices offer line-rate network throughput, application and protocol acceleration, deep-packet inspection and flow analysis for both plain text and encrypted communication streams.

These appliances also serve as host systems for the many network and security applications that enterprises consider staples of their Ethernet and IP infrastructures, such as IDS, IPS, UTM and NAC. In addition to serving as application hosts, they have the ability to transparently intercept encrypted communications and provide the hosted applications with all requisite flows for analysis. The ability to provide the network and security applications with both plain-text and encrypted communications extends the usability of those appliances, ensuring that the applications will be able to reliably perform as intended.

The combination of line-rate throughput, deep-packet inspection, flow analysis and application acceleration allows a single network and security appliance to scale to line-rate network performance for a larger number of users, sessions and flows. This extends the usability of a single appliance up to 15 times. IT organizations are able to vertically consolidate the data center by not requiring stacks of redundant appliances that exist due to their inability to scale.

These appliances also offer virtualization of both the network I/O and host system, enabling the integration of additional network and security appliances into an even smaller number of systems. The combination of performance, control and security allows enterprise IT managers to reinvent their data center by solving long-standing problems, while simultaneously reducing capital and operational expenses.

Jarrod Siket is vice president of marketing at Netronome Systems, Cranberry Township, Pa. For more information: rsleads.com/707cn-259


Young Minds Conserving Energy

Team of teachers at Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore, N.Y., recently brought energy conservation, leadership and activism into its classroom and students’ lives. The teachers have been educating the students about the value of saving energy, and through the students, they became focused on getting parents to change out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent units (CFLs).

The group used an Internet initiative as both a resource and a way to track the results of their efforts. Sean Krieg, the team’s science teacher, created his “Team Dakota” group on onebillionbulbs.com. With 89 members, the team has changed 223 bulbs to CFLs.

Each of the instructors on the team teaches one subject area to the same group of approximately 120 eighth grade students and has incorporated energy conservation into his or her specific subject area. For example, in math class, the students calculated the energy savings that would occur if every household in the United States swapped out an incandescent bulb for a compact fluorescent. Meanwhile, in their English class, the students have been doing energy conservation-related reading and writing projects.

“The students are really getting into it, and some have made spectacular changes in their households,” Krieg said.

The team who began the Bellmore initiative also has an expanded vision for the future. They would like to mobilize other eighth grade teachers and students across New York state to change light bulbs to promote energy conservation. EC

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


2008 National Electrical Code Approved

The 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) was approved in June at the annual meeting of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Boston. Significant revisions to the 2008 NEC include the following:

Ø       Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) will now be required for most branch circuits in newly constructed dwellings.

Ø       All receptacles installed in dwellings must be tamper-resistant type, starting in 2011.

Ø       Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) requirements were expanded to cover more outlets in dwellings.

Ø       Definitions of “neutral conductor” and “neutral point” were added to Article 100.

Ø       Definitions and terminology relating to “grounding” and “bonding” were revised throughout the Code.

Ø       New requirements for selective coordination of overcurrent protection were added to Article 700 “Emergency Systems” and Article 701 “Legally-Required Standby Systems.”

Four new articles were added:

Article 355 Reinforced Thermosetting Resin Conduit: Type RTRC

Article 522, Control Systems for Permanent Amusement Attractions

Article 626, Electrified Truck Parking Space

Article 708, Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS)

Ø       Article 780, Closed-Loop and Programmed Power Distribution, was deleted. It covered a special cabling system for “smart houses” that was subsequently rendered obsolete by Internet-based control and communications schemes.

Ø       Rigid nonmetallic conduit (Type RNC) was renamed “PVC Conduit,” a designation that conforms to common field practice.

Revision of the NEC and other NFPA standards is a three-step process. Change proposals are submitted and considered by the 20 Code-Making Panels (CMPs) responsible for different articles (short chapters) of the NEC. Next, public comments are submitted to the CMPs. Last, a new edition of the Code is approved at an annual meeting of the entire association.

Typically, there are a number of appeals on the floor of the NFPA annual meeting, requesting last-minute revisions of the NEC. NFPA adopted new procedures this year to streamline this process. At the annual meeting, 38 amending motions were presented, only eight of which were approved.

The 2008 National Electrical Code will be published in September. This allows time for training and study before jurisdictions began adopting the NEC for regulatory enforcement in January 2008, using it in their contractor licensing exams, etc.

For more information on important changes and updates in the 2008 NEC, see “Significant Changes to the NEC 2008” on page 48.        EC

—Brooke Stauffer

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Product Dumping, Labor Dumping – It's All The Same

“You have heard of product dumping and its negative effects, what about labor dumping?” questions James Carlini.

Carlini’s Comments, MidwestBusiness.com’s oldest column, runs every Wednesday. Its mission is to offer the common mans view on business and technology issues while questioning the leadership and visions of pseudo experts.

There are strict federal laws about product dumping in the United States and many companies use those laws to protect and guard their markets. Many industries have used them ranging from the steel industry to the car industry and not surprisingly, the high tech industries.

Just as product dumping can destabilize the competitive structure of world industries and are protected against, in the form of anti-dumping laws and tariffs, labor dumping in highly skilled areas can ravage the economic stability of what was thought to be solid middle-class jobs in the United States.

FULL EMPLOYMENT WITH HOLLOW SALARIES

Are we really in a boom economy if thousands of highly skilled, graduate-degreed people in various disciplines, not just IT, are losing their jobs and having to take on jobs at one-third to one-half the pay? (If they are lucky)

That is the critical question that goes unanswered by all the great East Coast economists and talking-heads on the national business TV channels as well as the West Coast high-tech visionaries who are maybe too far removed from the realities of the market.

Underemployment is not being addressed as a lot of U.S. talent is sitting on the sidelines as a result of foreign labor dumping You can see the economic results if you look hard and take some time to talk with people who have gone from six-figure jobs to jobs that pay $30,000 to $40,000 since 2001. I always thought this was just a Midwest phenomenon but feedback to previous articles on this subject, prove otherwise.

According to feedback by Dr. Gene Nelson

Illegal immigration is very relevant to this controversy as government statistics indicate that 41 percent of illegal aliens are visa overstayers. Most of the people in this category work in high skill fields. Using the estimate of 20 million U.S. illegal aliens, that means 8.2 million high skill jobs are filled by illegal aliens

The mantra of “These are all jobs Americans do not want” starts to sound pretty lame after seeing this statistic. The ones bleating that mantra have vested interest for protecting labor dumping. Any who try to deny this fact have a vested interest in wanting cheap labor.

Look at state deficits that are skyrocketing because state legislatures are still spending money like its 1999.

More states will become like Pennsylvania and have to layoff thousands in order to try to keep afloat. Pennsylvania is looking to lay off 24,000 people. State workers are furious but that’s what happens when the people paying the salaries are underemployed.

How many times do I have to point out that if you have thousands of people in your state that take a 50 % to 66% cut in pay, the payroll taxes that your state reaps drop dramatically and something has to give. Unemployment might be 4.5% but that statistic does not reflect huge salary and benefit cuts when people take lesser jobs. You can’t buy a $300,000 house or condo working at Starbucks or Home Depot. You also pay a lot less in taxes which means government workers will be looking at pay reductions as well.

Underemployment contributes to housing foreclosures, lower new car sales and a lot of other economic indicators that many do not see in a tight inter-relationship.

When a company believes its products are being edged out of the market by predatory practices, it runs to the Federal Trade Commission and lobbies Congress to protect their markets as well as their profits. That includes the pharmaceutical industry, the car industry, the steel industry, agricultural products and even the high tech sectors. When it comes to labor, that outrage does not seem to exist.

HOW DUMPING IS DETERMINED IN THE U.S.

This is an excerpt from an article that gives a clear overview of product dumping. It is important to understand this principle as most people responding to a previous article don’t know about the mechanisms that are in place to protect companies which should also be in place to protect labor.

The Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) together start the investigation process of a dumping case.

Writer Tam Harbert (1998), lists the steps in starting an antidumping case as (Harbert, 1998, p. 7):

1. U.S. company submits a petition to the International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce, alleging that a foreign company is dumping its product in the U.S.

2. If the Commerce Department determines that sufficient evidence exists, it will proceed with an investigation.

3. The ITC then may start its own investigation to determine whether there is injury to any domestic companies.

4. If the ITC finds there has been material injury to a U.S. company, the Commerce Department will determine whether the product in question is being sold in the U.S. at "less than fair value," or at a lower price than that sold in the home market or a third country market.

5. If the Department issues a preliminary finding that sufficient evidence of such pricing practices exists, it will direct the U.S. Customs Service to suspend the importation of the product, or require U.S. importers of the product to post a deposit. This bond must be paid to the U.S. government in the event that a final determination finds that the product is being sold at less than fair value.

6. The ITC, at this point, must determine if there is any actual material damage to U.S. companies caused by the alleged dumped imports.

7. If the ITC determines that the dumping has caused injury to a U.S. manufacturer, the products then are subjected to "antidumping duties" equal to the amount of the determined margin.

If, however, the ITC finds that there is insufficient evidence, the case is dismissed.

When the Commerce Department makes their final decision the case can go in several directions. First, if dumping has been found to occur, the foreign business can appeal the decision made by the Commerce Department. This causes the case to go longer, and will cause both businesses more money.

However, this can benefit the foreign business because the Commerce Department and the ITC may stumble upon information that they have not see or information that they misinterpreted the first time.

An appeal of the case may also benefit the foreign business because of the high cost it takes to start an antidumping case the second time. This is beneficial to the foreign business because they may be able to afford the cost of another case.

While on the other hand, the American business may not be able to afford an appeal by the foreign business. This same process can also happen in reverse if the Commerce Departments final decision is that dumping has not occurred.

Several readers pointed out that besides the unions, where are the professional engineering associations and other guilds that want everyone to join but in the most critical time that they could be effective with a strong voice, their silence is deafening. That seems to speak volumes of their focus on self-survival, instead of being the outspoken spokespeople for the industry professionals that they collect dues from.

Even the companies that support increasing work visas have used the product dumping laws to protect their profits. Both AOL and Microsoft want protection, yet like the idea of cheap labor. .

AND WHAT ABOUT THE GREAT UNIVERSITIES?

One long-time reader, who himself has some sterling academic credentials, posed these questions while reading my draft:

Where are they in this debate? Or, is it possible that they have too many vested interests to take up this issue for the American students that they are always supposedly so concerned about educating for the "jobs of the future"? Are they too entwined with business interests that have the need for low-cost labor, wherever it comes from? Are they too interested in keeping a low profile so they don't lose all the foreign students who come here on temporary visas and then end up staying permanently? Every time there is an academic brought up on some issue, we hear the cries for academic freedom and that is typically the fence they hide behind to say and do as they please. Well, since they have academic freedom how about using it to address this issue? Or are there too many competing interests that keep them silent?

Evidently, degrees from Northwestern, the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and other supposedly top-ranked schools don’t seem to command high money and employment as much as they advertise. I have talked to graduates of these schools who have lost good jobs in the last five or six years and have yet to find anything that comes close to what they were making.

Is a foreign degree better? What are the costs of getting a Masters degree from Northwestern or University of Chicago versus a degree overseas? What are the returns?

Based on what I have gotten in feedback, are some companies concerned that they would be paying too much for someone from the U of C or Northwestern so they hire someone from a foreign school? When did we commoditize talent?

And what about the student who has an Executive Masters degree from Northwestern University not getting the job because he did not have a PMP certificate? When did a PMP (Project Management Professional) certificate overshadow an Executive Masters degree from any school for that matter? Or is it something else?

Was that a real HR concern or was that a way of disqualifying a good candidate so that the company could hire a non-citizen as mentioned as a practice in a previous articles? Should the recommendation be to highly skilled people to go a get a certificate instead of your Masters degree if you want to get hired?

Based on feedback from people interviewing for jobs, that is the case. Something is wrong and more people better rise up to question what has happened in the last several years. Or, accept the fact that higher education is absolutely no guarantee for better-paying jobs and that labor dumping is acceptable.

Carlinism: Underemployment must be addressed or many more will see job and pay erosion.

The tenth-annual Global Technology Invitational golf outing will be held on Sept. 15, 2007 at South Hills Country Club in Racine County, Wis.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2007 Ji


Abandoned Cable Removal A Dogged Challenge For Building Owners And Occupants

Unfortunately for everyone involved, ignoring it won’t make it go away.

Patrick McLaughlin is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

For just about a half-decade, the National Electrical Code has included language requiring the removal of cable from building pathways when that cable is not in current use or tagged for future use. The NEC defines this type of cable as “abandoned,” and mandates its removal, though not its method of removal.

Over the past five years, this and other cabling-trade publications have chronicled the development and modification of abandoned-cable removal requirements. More recently, trade publications focused on the profession of real-estate management have turned their attention to the topic as well, and with good reason. The glut of abandoned cables inside commercial office buildings today exists, at least in part, because of the transient nature of occupancy in such buildings. Traditionally, when a tenant moves out of a building, it would leave the cabling in place—sometimes several generations of it (e.g. Category 3, 5, 5e for some long-term teants). And most often, a new tenant would install a new structured cabling system rather than relying on the used cabling left by the previous occupant. That practice was great for the business of those organizations that manufacture, design, or install structured cabling systems. It was not so great, however, for the building pathways’ fuel loads—which led to the removal requirements.

As the past few years have shown, the entire situation has not been glorious for the owners of commercial buildings either. They essentially were left on the hook for the cost of removing years’, and in some cases decades’, worth of abandoned cable. The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA International; www.boma.org) is a trade association that provides education and advocacy for property owners and managers, covering all types of buildings. The organization has adopted a position on the existence, and removal, of abandoned cable.

To quote BOMA’s position paper directly, “Building owners, managers, tenants, and service providers need to work cooperatively to ensure that all parties understand their responsibilities to comply with the National Electrical Code provisions on removing or tagging unused cabling in buildings.”

After providing some background information on the NEC provisions addressing abandoned cable—and noting that while the NEC itself is not law, many jurisdictions in the United States adopt the document by reference into local codes—BOMA requests specific action from its members.

Again, directly from the position paper: “BOMA International recommends that building owners and managers survey their buildings to identify unused cable. If such wires exist, members should identify the wiring by its rating (riser rated “CMR,” plenum rated “CMP”) and its use (communications, alarm, security, etc.). The NEC 2002 and 2005 include language that allows some cabling to be retained if it is tagged for future use as long as it meets the permitted use criteria specified for cable installations (i.e., minimum of “CMR” and/or “CMP”). Any cable that does not meet the permitted use specifications should be removed.

“Your leases should clearly state that tenants must remove any cabling that is abandoned during the term of their tenancy, and/or your license agreements should require service providers to remove all wires upon the termination of the contract. We recommend that you review your leases and license agreements to ascertain exactly who was responsible for the installation and/or abandoning of the cabling and whether you have recourse to recover any of the funds needed to remove the wire. Next, make any amendments necessary if you are not already protected by these agreements.”

The penultimate sentence of BOMA’s action request reaches directly into the business operations of installers and users in the cabling industry; BOMA members likely have been, currently are, and will continue to be looking for those who put the cable there in the first place. Requests for comment from BOMA leadership and spokespeople were not answered.

As BOMA pointed out to its membership, abandoned cable is a code issue within those jurisdictions that have adopted the 2002 or 2005 NEC. As such, it is subject to enforcement by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). For more than a decade, Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine has covered the ongoing challenges and frustrations inherent in AHJ code enforcement with respect to firestopping. One point that has been made several times on that topic is, enforcement varies widely from one AHJ to another. Though this author did not get an on-the-record comment concerning enforcement of abandoned-cable removal, some commented anonymously that it is subject to challenges very similar to those concerning firestopping.

One potential reason for such unpredictable enforcement could be the sometimes-confounding wording within the NEC in which abandoned cable is referenced. The 2002 NEC includes seven separate sections that mandate the cable’s removal, and an accompanying seven individual sections that define the term “abandoned cable.”

The seven sections of NEC 2002 that contain the definitions are: 640.2, 725.2, 760.2, 770.2, 800.2, 820.2, and 830.2. The seven sections with the removal language are: 640.3, 725.3, 760.3, 770.3, 800.52, 820.3, and 830. The requirements for removal are worded essentially the same, as follows: “The accessible portion of abandoned [application for which cables are used, or cable type] cables shall not be permitted to remain.”

Simply, the code-based requirements to remove abandoned cables are not going away. How quickly those abandoned cables themselves are going away appears to depend on the tenacity of building owners/managers, along with the enforcement procedures of the local AHJ.

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine– July issue 2007

www.cabl-install.com


Abandoned Cable Headaches Begin Early

Editor’s note: This month we bring you a slice of “Best of Ask Donna” from years past. This column originally ran all the way back in February 2003. So why did we take it out of mothballs now? The first question-and-answer volley provides complementary information to another article running in this issue (see pp. 25 and 26). When reading, please note that the portions of the NEC discussed herein look essentially the same in the 2005 edition as they do in the 2002 edition.

Then Donna finishes up with a question about the potential danger of laying unshielded twisted-pair cables too neatly. It struck me as an eerie foreshadowing of what the industry has been dealing with for the past couple years. I hope you enjoy this month’s “Best of Ask Donna” and, even more importantly, find it useful. –Ed.

Q: I have a quick question. Could I get the exact wording of what the National Electrical Code 2002 states concerning abandoned cables in the plenum?

Brent Clements

Rice University

Houston, TX

A: The question may be quick, but the answer certainly is not. Let’s begin with the definitions of abandoned cable. In NEC 2002 there are seven definitions for abandoned cable. Ironically, none are in Article 100, the section on definitions (yet).

Article 640 Audio Signal Processing, Amplification, and Reproduction Equipment, Section 640.2 defines “Abandoned Audio Distribution Cable” as “installed audio distribution cable that is not terminated at equipment and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 725 Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 Remote-Control, Signaling, and Power-Limited Circuits, Section 725.2 defines “Abandoned Class 2, Class 3, and PLTC Cable” as “installed Class 2, Class 3, and PLTC cable that is not terminated at equipment and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 760 Fire Alarm Systems, Section 760.2 defines “Abandoned Fire Alarm Cable” as “Installed fire alarm cable that is not terminated at equipment other than a connector and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 770 Optical Fiber Cables and Raceways, Section 770.2 defines “Abandoned Optical Fiber Cable” as “Installed optical fiber cable that is not terminated at equipment other than a connector and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 800 Communications Circuits, Section 800.2 defines “Abandoned Communications Cable” as “Installed communications cable that is not terminated at both ends at a connector or other equipment and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 820 Community Antenna Television and Radio Distribution Systems, Section 820.2 defines “Abandoned Coaxial Cable” as “Installed coaxial cable that is not terminated at equipment other than a coaxial connector and not identified for future use with a tag.”

Article 830 Network-Powered Broadband Communications Systems, Section 830.2 defines “Abandoned Network-Powered Broadband Communications Cable” as “Installed network-powered broadband communications cable that is not terminated at equipment other than a connector and not identified for future use with a tag.”

So what is this telling us? Notice the common thread, “and not identified for future use with a tag.” Any cable addressed in these specific articles that is “tagged for future use” is not abandoned cable.

In some cases, having a connector terminated at one end (audio distribution cable; Class 2, Class 3, and PLTC Cable) or both ends (communications cable) of the cable means that it is not abandoned cable.

While in other cases, having the cable connected to equipment that is not a connector (fire alarm cable; optical fiber cable; coaxial cable; network-powered broadband communications cable) means that it is not an abandoned cable. In NEC speak, a “connector” is “equipment,” and that is why the “equipment other than a connector” verbiage is used.

Most Sections [640.3(A); 725.3(B); 760.3(A); 770.3(A); 800.52(B); 820.3; 830(A)] only address the “accessible portion” of an abandoned cable as “not be permitted to remain.” Article 100 defines “Accessible (as applied to wiring methods)” as “Capable of being removed or exposed without damaging the building structure or finish or not permanently closed in by the structure or finish of the building.” … So this is not a surgical removal in a finished space. But if the entire area of the building is undergoing demolition for remodeling, then all of the cable should be accessible and removed.

And then there is Article 645—the one that did not bother to uniquely define “abandoned cable,” which is only concerned with abandoned cable that is not contained in metal raceway. So metal raceways full of dead cable under raised floors in data centers are not a concern?

You asked specifically about plenum spaces, but the same text applies to plenum, riser, and hollow spaces in the building. If it is “abandoned” and “accessible,” take it out.

Seven definitions for almost the same term is a lot, even for the NFPA. So for NEC 2005 the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Codes and Standards Committee is proposing to delete the current seven to add a new definition to Article 100, which would read: “Abandoned Cable. Installed cable that is not terminated at both ends at equipment and not identified for future use with a tag.” But so far the other “stakeholders,” who carefully crafted the various definitions in their respective Articles, are not supportive of this “one-size-fits-all” approach.

It is going to be an interesting couple of years.

Q: I was reviewing the discussion on the BICSI Public Forum about laying cables parallel to each other in a fixed physical relationship. I noticed that one comment said that the European norm addresses it to some degree. Do you know if any of the U.S. standards have intentions to address it? I have a client in New Jersey, with a large data center, that is asking me for input. At present they are laying large bundles of cables into cable trays and they want the cables combed as they are installed. I told them I would check and let them know.

Bobby Ashton, Jr., RCDD/LAN Specialist

South Windsor, CT

A: Intentions, yes. At the TIA TR-42.1 February 2002 meeting, a presentation (TR 42.1-2002-013) was made, which referenced a list of contributions, previously submitted to either the TR-42.7 Telecommunications Copper Cabling Subcommittee or the Cable Working Group, dating from 1997 through 2002. Each of these contributions had addressed some negative effect on the transmission performance of category UTP cabling caused by bundling or other similar cabling installation practices.

TR-42.1-2002-013 suggested that based on these contributions, a Study Group be formed to develop information on the expected variance in transmission performance of cables that are installed in close proximity.

TR-42.1-2002-013 further proposed that once the work was completed and validated, it would be drafted as a matrix, and published as an informative Annex to TIA/EIA-568B.1. The matrix would include alien NEXT and FEXT for Category 5e and Category 6 cables that are tie-wrapped at specified intervals, cables installed in a tray with 50% fill, cables installed in a conduit with 40% fill, and cables suspended on J-hooks.

But so far no draft matrix has been distributed from the Study Group.

Meanwhile, we will have to continue to scare our clients suffering from “overneatness tendencies” using threats of the dreaded “alien crosstalk.” You are welcome to use the following. It has worked for me in the past.

Cabling systems and network hardware are designed to handle predictable noise, like NEXT and FEXT, which comes from within the same cable. This is why when you remove the sheath from a twisted-pair cable, each of the pairs is twisted at a different rate.

But when UTP cables of the same construction are neatly dressed and packed, you are inviting trouble. You are creating a quasi field-manufactured hybrid cable, because the twists are the same in each of the neighboring cables. This creates unpredictable noise between neighboring cables; the noise is called alien crosstalk. And the neater the cables are laid, and the closer you pack them together, the more likely you are to experience the problem.

For example, consider a 1000Base-T scenario using seven UTP cables neatly laid and packed. You will have all four pairs in each of the six disturbers, and one victim cable simultaneously, bidirectionally active. That means that there are now twenty-four active pairs producing alien crosstalk, six of which are exact matches to each of the four pairs inside the victim cable. No wonder they call it “alien”—looks like an all-out invasion.

Now the network hardware must not only contend with the predictable noise—NEXT and FEXT from within the cable—but also with unpredictable noise from its six sets of disturber neighbors as well. Does neatness really count this much?

If the UTP cables are randomly laid and the pathway is not overfilled, then “alien crosstalk” should be one less network anomaly you have to address.

And what about testing? While your network can certainly suffer from the effects, measuring alien crosstalk is not something you want to attempt in the field. Most measurement models that I have seen use seven cables—six disturbers and one victim cable. That would mean seven sets of field test instruments in use at the same time to test one cable link. And there are currently no pass/fail limits proposed or set.

My advice: loosen up and avoid the problem.

The BICSI Public Forum is a great tool where you can post messages or documents, on telecommunications premises cabling issues. If you would like to participate in the BICSI Public Forum online, see www.bicsi.org and click “Forums.”

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M – July issue 2007 www.cable-install.com


Oklahoma Telephone Cooperative Deploys Digital Ad Insertion With ETI’S Videodirect

Pioneer Telephone Cooperative (www.ptci.com) of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, has implemented VideoDirect 6000 with ad insertion support for digital tier channels from Enhanced Telecommunications, Inc. d/b/a ETI Software (ETI). ETI is a leading provider of automated, flow-through service activation and ad insertion systems.

Pioneer Telephone Cooperative has been providing high-quality telecommunication services to the region for more than 50 years, including telephone, Internet, long distance, security, business systems, wireless and digital television. Pioneer’s service area covers 76 exchanges, 10,900 square miles, and serves more than 50,000 subscribers in 30 Oklahoma counties. Pioneer is one of the largest telephone cooperatives in the United States.

With ETI’s VideoDirect 6000, Pioneer inserts local advertising spots during the national programming of the largest digital cable TV networks in the country. National networks such as CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and The Weather Channel allow the insertion of two or three minutes of locally produced material for each hour of programming. Additionally, Pioneer uses VideoDirect to run locally produced content and insert self-promotions for the services it offers to subscribers.

“With the advent of digital television, the number of channels has grown exponentially as have the opportunities to insert local advertising during national broadcasts,” says Scott Ulsaker, Director of Video Services, Pioneer Telephone Cooperative. “ETI’s VideoDirect provides a powerful platform that enables us to run local content on major networks while providing powerful billing and tracking features.”

ETI’s VideoDirect 6000 platform works in conjunction with networks deploying either analog or digital program insertion or a combination of both. It uses the same architecture for local or network endpoint applications, using its own host server or standard Video-on-Demand Servers for ad storage and streaming. Interfaces between ETI’s ad server and the Video Splicer are SCTE compliant.

Additionally, the platform is pre-integrated to traffic and billing software to manage customer accounts, schedule ad spots and generate bills.

“Digital television presents both challenges and opportunities for regional providers such as Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, including the potential to generate additional ad revenue through ad insertion,” says Peter M. Pifer, President and CEO, ETI. “ETI’s VideoDirect 6000 provides a powerful platform to take advantage of this opportunity with easy integration into existing systems.”  www.etisoftware.com


The Truth About Fiber Optics

Things you don’t—and do—need to know

Fiber optics iS not a new technology, having been available for communications for more than two decades now, but fiber still seems to have the “rocket science” aura. (In the interest of full disclosure, I once was a rocket scientist. I trained as a physicist and astronomer in the 1960s, pioneered the use of computers to analyze astronomical data and did simultaneous observations with NASA on rocket flights.) Unfortunately, some people—including instructors teaching installers—seem to feel fiber optics needs special treatment, and do not provide the simple skills development that is more appropriate.

As part of my role working with The Fiber Optic Association (FOA), I review curriculum from many training schools seeking FOA approval, and I see some programs that include materials irrelevant to most technicians and installers. Within the FOA, we can call on some of the best trainers in the business, and we have created standards for training technicians for fiber optic network design, installation, testing and troubleshooting. These are posted on the FOA Web site at www.thefoa.org/instructors/class-reqs.htm. This group of experts strongly disagrees with the rocket science approach.

For example, many fiber optic courses cover classical optics before ever talking about fiber optics itself; some taking a full day to explain how refraction of light makes lenses work or how reflection occurs at material boundaries. Some instructors feel obligated to tell you all about lasers, LEDs and photodetectors and how to design transmitters, receivers and data links. By noontime, most techs in these courses are tuned-out (or snoring away) because they don’t see the relevance of the materials or figure it’s way over their heads technically.

Training programs for technicians should instead focus on fiber optic basics, jargon, components, hardware and their installation. Practical information, directly related to their work, is what techs need and want. Most programs would be better if theory was replaced with cable handling. Too many courses focus on termination and splicing, but never get into cable pulling and preparation. It is impossible to be successful as an installer without fully understanding cables.

You need to know how to identify all types of cables. Premises cables usually are tight buffer simplex, zipcord, distribution or breakout, each of which has particular applications and requirements for pulling and stripping. Outside plant cables are generally loose tube, but may have single or ribbon fibers, dry or gel water blocking and even metallic armor. A good training course will introduce the student to all these cable types, ensuring they will not be surprised by what they find in the field.

It is considered normal to teach termination and splicing, but even that needs to be flexible, depending on the students. Outside plant techs work mainly with single-mode fiber and never attach connectors directly to the fiber; instead they splice preterminated pigtails onto the fibers. Premises installers practically never splice fibers, but they install a lot of connectors directly on the fiber, mostly using adhesive/polish or prepolished/splice methods. Certainly, every tech needs to know about all termination processes, but a fiber optic course should specialize so the OSP techs get more splicing practice and the premises techs learn to polish better.

I used to believe that premises techs did not need OTDR training, but now OTDR manufacturers are pushing their use in premises networks. Unfortunately, the limitations of OTDRs in premises applications can cause extreme problems for those who are not aware of their limitations. So schools (and my Electrical ContraCtor columns) now must provide that essential information to every tech.

Not everything you don’t need to know deals with training. For example, you don’t always need instruments that read loss to two or three decimal places. OTDR manufacturers persist in providing readouts of loss to 0.001 dB, about 50 times the uncertainty of the measurement. Power meters and loss test sets usually read to 0.01 dB, but the uncertainty of multimode premises cable plant loss measurement is generally worse than 0.25 dB. Readings to 0.1 dB resolution is usually plenty, and your training needs to make sure you know why.

Then there are cabling standards. The truth about standards is most were never written for installers and end-users. They really are written for component manufacturers as “mutually agreed upon specifications for product development.” Often, it’s not worth paying a small fortune to get a copy and spending the time trying to translate them into comprehensible English. They were written for the manufacturers, and every one of them will gladly give you a copy of their translation of the standards, usually in the back of their catalog.      EC

Fiber Optics

By Jim Hayes

HAYES is a VDV writer and trainer and the president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at www.jimhayes.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Cool Tools For Fiber

Growing demand for broadband services offering the fastest possible speeds continues to drive deployment of fiber optic cable to enterprise customers of major telecommunications carriers and to a growing number of “private” fiber systems serving educational institutions, government complexes, commercial clients in areas not accessible to conventional networks, and even whole communities.

Electrical contractors with datacom capabilities are actively competing for work to make such fiber installations. Indeed, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s “2006 Profile of the Electrical Contractor” found that approximately 70 percent of respondents are involved in “communications systems and connectivity” work and that their interest in datacom and telecommunications training for the coming year is higher than in the previous 12 months.

Contractors with datacom experience recognize fiber projects require specialized skills and tools.

“Fiber optics has come a long way since the time when it had a ‘mystic’ quality known for difficulty of making installations and for high costs,” said Mario Rossi, Leviton senior product manager for fiber systems. “The technology has been improving quickly. And as high-performance networks require more stringent parameters, the industry releases new tools to keep pace with them.”

Good-quality tools used to terminate fiber optics are very versatile and can be used throughout virtually all fiber types, Rossi added.

“As examples,” he said, “a good-quality cleaver that guarantees less than 1-degree cleave angle can be used for single-mode and multimode fibers. Newer fusion splice machines are handheld and have internal software that allows for splicing different types of fibers.”

Rossi added that today’s products provide tools required to make different types of terminations and do them easier and at less cost than in the past.

Basic fiber connection tools include the following:


Jacket strippers to remove the outer jacket on simplex and duplex fiber cables


Serrated Kevlar cutters to cut and trim the Kevlar strength member directly beneath the jacket


Fiber buffer strippers for removing acrylate coating from bare glass fiber


Bare fiber cleaner swabs treated with an approved cleaning agent such as 99 percent isopropyl alcohol


Scribes to score cable to fracture cleanly, leaving flat ends


Cleavers to measure distance from the end of the coating to the point where the break will be made and scribes the glass so that it fractures at an angle of less than 3 degrees


Polishing tools, including a fixture to hold the connector perpendicular to polishing pad and film, polishing film to provide a consistent and uniform finish to the end face of the connector, and polishing pad


Crimp tools for use with some types of connectors


Optical and video inspection microscope for inspecting end face polish of fiber


Visual faultfinders use a laser to locate breaks and faulty splices.

Basic connection methods include adhesive, mechanical, prepolished and pigtail. A fusion splicing machine is needed to connect the fiber being terminated to a fiber pigtail preassembled to a connector.

“Tools required depends on the style of connector being installed,” said Donald Stone, fiber optic design engineer, Kitco Fiber Optics. “There are epoxy connectors, preloaded adhesive connectors, anaerobic connectors (no oven required), and prepolished connectors. New ‘non-polish’ termination methods that are factory polished thus reducing the time it takes to complete the connector installation. Some techniques involve simply fusion splicing on ‘pigtails,’ thus eliminating the connector termination methods altogether.”

Anaerobic adhesives now are available in nonhazardous materials that allow easier transportation by air.

“There are always new strip tools, crimp tools and polishing pucks being developed that are universal to handle a variety of cable and connector types,” Stone added. “There are strip tools that will work with 3 mm and 2 mm jacketed cable types as well as being able to strip the various optical glass coatings. Crimp tools now have hex, round and a combination of both in one crimp die. Universal polishing pucks can now accommodate most of the 2.5 mm ceramic ferruled connectors.”

Inspection equipment, Stone added, is always improving, with newer inspection equipment going away from direct viewing with hand-held microscopes to small portable viewing on an LCD monitor using a microscope probe.

Jim McCandless, Ripley Co. fiber optic engineer, said outdoor cables require a rotary cable stripper or cable slitter to remove the heavy-duty outer jacket.

“Once this outer jacket is removed,” he said, “the hard inner tubes can be cut back with wire strippers, or opened with a buffer tube slitter, exposing the fibers. These fibers typically have 250-micron buffer coatings, which can be removed with a single-hole stripper sized to strip to 125 micron clad fiber. Some tools also allow for mid-span access of hard buffer tubes and access the individual strands of fiber. Kevlar shears are used to cut the Kevlar-strength members, which protect the fiber inside of the outer jacket.”

McCandless said that the market always is looking for tools that perform multiple operations rather than multiple tools for performing each function. However, because fiber tools tend to require a high level of precision, combining these functions can prove to be difficult when the goal is to produce a quality tool that does not have the potential to damage the fiber.

Handy Phelper, Greenlee Textron national sales manager for fiber optic equipment, observes that basic manual techniques for optical fiber termination have not changed, and no significant new tools have been added to product lines.

“However, there are several new automated machines for mass connector termination at a much higher cost. Also being [that] each tool has a specific purpose, there is not a trend towards multipurpose fiber tools,” he added.

Phelper said several types of cleavers are available to cleave the end of a fiber to a 90-degree end face.

“[The cleavers] can accomplish this with simple sapphire or diamond scribes or ‘stapler’ type and precision mechanical cleavers,” he said. “The type of connector will determine the crimping pliers required as well as if the connector is ‘dry’ or ‘wet.’ Dry connectorization is simply crimping the connector on the end of the fiber. The wet process requires epoxy and an oven for curing.”

Dan Payerle, datacom product manager for Ideal Industries, said that while techniques and tools for fiber installations are much the same as they have been, there has been more development into types of terminations that are taking some of the labor and time out of the installation process.

“Many tools and connectors are almost proprietary to their various manufacturers,” Payerle said. “However, our approach is to offer tools for fiber optic terminations that are generic and applicable to most standard types of connectors.”

With experience, fiber installers develop preferences for tools with characteristics that best fit the needs of their work.

“Because of the various dimensions of cables an installer will come across, the best jacket/buffer stripper is one that can accommodate all types of cables in a single tool,” said Payerle. “Most of these types of tools include at least two stripping points, one for the 3 mm outer jacket and another that removes the 900µ buffer and 250µ coating in a single pass. Some tools will include separate stripping points for the 900µ and 250µ which is somewhat more convenient for installers who routinely handle outside plant cable that does not have the 900µ buffer.”

Payerle added that plastic discs are fine for low-volume work but do wear and can wear unevenly if the installer does not rotate the disc during its lifetime.

“Plastic polishing discs typically have wear indicators so the installer can monitor it and discard if the disc is becoming uneven,” he explained. “Stainless discs have a much longer service life and resist uneven wear much better than plastic discs.”          

A significant recent development is the way fiber terminations are inspected.

“It is estimated that 85 percent of all fiber failures are due to contaminated end faces, making it imperative to inspect and, if necessary, to clean end faces every time they are mated,” said Harley Lang, Fluke Networks product marketing manager. “An inspection microscope is necessary to confirm that the end face is polished and centered, and that it is not over-polished, under-polished, scratched or chipped. An inspection microscope is also essential for checking that the end face is clean of dust, dirt and human contaminants such as oil from a fingerprint.”

The video microscope is a fairly recent addition to the fiber installer’s tool kit and offers two key advantages over a manual, optical inspection microscope,” Lang said.

“First,” he explained, “the video camera does not contact the fiber end face. This eliminates the possibility of cross-contamination from the scope to the fiber. Second, the video camera does not transmit potentially harmful light rays from the fiber to the installer’s eye, as can happen with an optical scope. This means the installer can inspect active network links without risking eye damage.”

Sources providing information for this report agree that training is essential for fiber optic network installers, and Greenlee’s Phelper emphasized that most project owners will not do business with company’s whose installers are not certified.

Kitco’s Stone said there are several levels of fiber optic training offered in the commercial industry with the most common training for “Certified Fiber Optic Installer” (CFOI) and “Certified Fiber Optic Technician” (CFOT). A recognized organization for fiber optic certification is the Electronics Technician Association (ETA). Certified training is provided by many other organizations, including The Fiber Optic Association and from manufacturers of fiber installation tools.         EC

By Jeff Griffin

GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at 405.748.5256 or up-front@cox.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Tips for using your cell phone in your car or truck 2007

These tips could save your life and maybe someone else too!

AAA's first tip: Don't use a cellular phone while driving. But if you must:

  • Familiarize yourself with the features of your cell phone before you get behind the wheel.
  • Use the cell phone only when absolutely necessary. Limit casual conversations to times when you're not trying to safely operate a motor vehicle.
  • Plan your conversation in advance, and keep it short - especially in hazardous conditions such as bad weather or heavy traffic.
  • Let the person you're speaking with know you are in a vehicle.
  • Do not engage in emotional conversations while trying to drive. Pull off the road to a safe spot before continuing this type of conversation.
  • Do not combine distracting activities such as talking on your cell phone while driving, eating and tending to a child.
  • Use message-taking functions and return calls when you are stopped at a safe location.
  • Ask a passenger in the car to place the call for you and, if possible, speak in your place.
  • Secure your phone in the car so that it doesn't become a projectile in a crash.

Tips for Managing Distractions

  • Recognize driving requires your full attention. If you find your mind wandering, remind yourself to stay focused on the road.
  • Before you get behind the wheel, familiarize yourself with the features of your vehicle's equipment.
  • Preset radio stations and climate control.
  • Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion.
  • Avoid smoking, eating, drinking and reading while driving.
  • Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to deal with children.
  • Do your personal grooming at home - not in the car.
  • Review maps before hitting the road.
  • Monitor traffic conditions before engaging in activities that could divert attention away from driving.
  • Ask a passenger to help you with activities that may be distracting.

What about hands-free phones? They're not risk-free.

Why are hand-held cell phones at the heart of the debate?

Hand-held cell phones are readily visible to other drivers. When people chance upon a distracted driver and notice a cell phone, they naturally blame the phone. Most drivers are frustrated when they see inconsiderate, inattentive drivers talking on cell phones. However, it's more difficult to determine if a distracted driver is talking to a passenger, tuning a radio or eating.

What about hands-free phones?

Hands-free phones are not risk-free. Studies show that hands-free cellular phones distract drivers the same as hand-held phones. Why? Because it's the conversation that distracts the driver - not the device.

What do recent studies show?

Studies show that intellectual activities distract drivers. Such activities impair their ability to drive safely and retain control of the vehicle. In one study, drivers were given simple concentration exercises to perform while driving. None required drivers to remove their eyes from the road. However, performing the exercises significantly diminished the drivers' ability to drive. Specific changes in driving behavior included tunnel vision, decreased road scanning and decreased use of rear-view mirrors. Drivers also reduced their speed when performing the exercises.

Will banning hand-held cell phones improve safety?

Not according to current research. A study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety about the effect of cell phone use on driver attention found that the distraction of using a hands-free cell phone and tuning a radio is similar. Regarding the question of banning specific devices such as hand-held cell phones, two facts are clear:

  • Banning hand-held phones, but allowing hands-free phones, is likely to have little or no effect on safety. No studies show hands-free phones offer safety advantages over hand-held phones. The distracting factor is the conversation - no the device itself. And no one can legislate when and what drivers think.
  • Banning hands-free phones won't address the larger issue. Banning hands-free phones will not affect other distracters in the car, which are equally as distracting as cell phones.

http://www.aaapublicaffairs.com/Assets/Files/20073231526430.DistractedDrivingLawsfinal.doc

SAFETY IS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE


NEMA Launches Electroindustry Blog: NEMACurrents

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has launched NEMACurrents, the only blog focusing on the electrical industry.

The purpose of this daily blog is to provide virtually instantaneous commentary on and discussion of issues that affect the electrical industry. NEMACurrents includes posts from subject matter experts about legislation affecting the industry, energy efficiency, anti-counterfeiting, environmental design, electrical safety, the skilled workforce shortage, and much more.

“NEMA has always been on the cutting edge, providing both its members and the public with up-to-the-minute information. With this industry-specific blog, we’re taking a new step toward achieving that mission,” said NEMA President and CEO, Evan Gaddis.

“You can count on NEMACurrents to be insightful, informative and entertaining,” Gaddis adds. “The issues we address are important—we want to make the world a more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, and safer place to live, and we invite readers to jump in with their opinions about these critical issues.”

Blogs are emerging as the next step in electronic communication, and offer more spontaneity than do other communication vehicles. And unlike traditional Web sites, blogs offer their readers the opportunity to participate in almost real-time discussions about topics of interest to them.

Read NEMACurrents at www.nemacurrents.org or access it from the NEMA website: www.nema.org.

NEMA is the trade association of choice for the electrical manufacturing industry. Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its approximately 450 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end-use of electricity. These products are used in utility, medical imaging, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential applications. Domestic production of electrical products sold worldwide exceeds $120 billion. In addition to its headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia, NEMA also has offices in Beijing, São Paulo, and Mexico City.


NECA’s Handprints All Over 2008 Code

The 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) was approved last month at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) World Safety Conference & Exposition in Boston. As with all the NFPA-published editions of the most widely adopted code in the world that came before it, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) had a hand in its development—dozens of hands, in fact.

The NFPA has been the Code’s sponsor since 1911. And, ever since, NECA contractors have played a leading role in keeping it up to date.

NFPA also publishes 10 other electrical standards, and NECA and our member-contractors are involved in the development of most of them as well. But, arguably, none of them bear the hallmarks of NECA participation to the extent of the National Electrical Code.

To keep up with current products and construction methods, the NEC is revised every three years. The revision process itself takes nearly two years to complete. The Code deals with so many topics that no single technical committee would have the expertise—or time—to write or revise the entire document.

Instead, the NEC traditionally has been maintained by 19 different Code-Making Panels (CMP). Panel members are chosen for their technical expertise in particular areas. For example, CMP-2 writes rules for branch circuits and feeders, CMP-5 is responsible for grounding, and so on. Reflecting how the NEC keeps up with the times, a temporary 20th CMP was added for the 2008 edition to write a new Article 585 on “Critical Operations Power Systems,” which applies to electrical systems that must keep critical operations going in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency that causes a power outage.

Without compensation or recognition outside of the electrical industry, participants in the never-ending NEC revision process spend a lot of time in meetings and handling correspondence to fine-tune proposed changes—and to submit a few of their own.

Of course, you don’t have to be a NECA member or even a panelist to propose a revision to the NEC. If you perceive a problem with an existing provision, or if you simply have an idea for improving some aspect of the Code, NFPA wants to hear from you. Check your current 2005 Code book for details and deadlines.

For the 2008 edition, the NEC Technical Correlating Committee received 3,688 change proposals and 2,349 comments during the revision cycle. According to the NFPA Journal, “The sheer number of proposals and comments is a healthy indicator that the NEC is widely used and a constantly evolving document.”

Agreed. But I think NECA’s substantial involvement in the process says something, too—and not just that ours is the single most influential group in Code development.

The most important point is that it is developed under consensus procedures that allow broad public review and participation by the very people whose work it governs. The fact that so many electrical contractors contribute to the Code as impartial experts—with no axes to grind and no products to sell through their participation—ensures the NEC continues to fulfill its mission. That is, first and foremost, the practical safeguarding of persons and property against the hazards rising from the uses of electricity.

I thank my NECA colleagues for their involvement in the process. I also encourage all knowledgeable electrical contractors to help bring the Code home by interacting with the local governmental body responsible for its local adoption and enforcement.

After all, it’s your Code, too! NECA is just pleased to have had an opportunity to help make it as accurate and useful as possible.

Milner Irvin

President, NECA

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Figuring in Tools and Equipment

I have heard twice as many opinions. Sometimes it’s a specific dollar amount entry or a small percentage value; sometimes nothing at all. No matter what it is or how it is done, one thing is certain: Tools and equipment are hard job costs and should not be omitted from any estimate.

The myth: “I’ve already paid for that equipment; I don’t need to include any cost for it on this job.”

The reality: Even though your company owns its tools and equipment outright, they still cost the company money to use and maintain—especially equipment such as forklifts, scissor lifts and trucks.

Tools and equipment also are expensive to replace when they get stolen, and it is expensive to insure them. Perhaps you should include money for ‘insurance premiums’ in your bid? This way, when one of your new trucks gets a dent or a broken window, you might not hesitate to get it fixed and report the loss to your insurance company.

You are going to buy tools in the near or distant future. How are you going to pay for them? If you carry a small amount in every bid for “future tools,” as you win projects, you will bring in money for these future expenditures.

Do you supply your electricians with cordless drills, screwdrivers, pliers, dikes, tool belts or other miscellaneous tools? These may not seem like much, but if you contribute $100 per man for a 10-man crew, that’s $1,000.

If job boxes and other storage containers are required, does your company have enough to spare another two or three for the project you are bidding today? If you win this contract, will you be able to supply the project without borrowing from Peter to pay Paul?

Knowing which types of tools and equipment (and how many pieces) your project is going to need is important. The obvious ones get used on every job: ladders, job boxes, drills, etc. For these, simply adding that 1 or 2 percent of your total labor costs to cover them might be sufficient (notice I said “might” be).

A brief, prebid meeting with your tool manager(s) would be recommended for any bid. Discuss which tools you think will be needed, approximately when and for how long. Discuss the status of your current contracts and which tools they will require and when. Hopefully, you will be able to assess whether you need to carry more money for purchasing and renting certain tools and equipment.

Tools add labor to the job. Additional labor is required to mobilize, organize, coordinate, set up and operate all of the tools and equipment. At the end of each day, ladders need to be locked up (did you carry money for locks and chains?), lifts have to be parked and plugged in, job boxes and trailers secured. Generators need to be set up and connected, filled with gas, started and tested. How did you figure for this in your bid? What is it based on? (Speaking of gasoline, have you accounted for how expensive it has become?)

The larger tools and pieces of equipment require a deeper look. Generators, lifts, boom trucks, benders, pullers and trenching equipment all require additional labor to set up, operate and tear down. If you can, segregate the actual labor time involved for each of these pieces of equipment. Then you need to decide if the labor units you carried in your estimate cover the additional setup, operation and tear-down of these tools.

For example, if a generator is required for 30 days, and it takes one hour each day to check the gas level, start and test it, that’s 30 hours. If your labor rate is $50 per hour, that is $1,500. Or if you have 50 different feeder pulls and it takes an hour to set up the puller, that’s 50 hours. Add another half-hour to tear it down and put it away—we’re up to 75 hours (75 × $50 = $3,750). Now we’re talking some serious money. Do you want it covered in your bid or taken out of your profit?

“How will I win the bid if I carry all this money for tools?” you may ask. Too often I hear hesitancy on bid day because the contractor is afraid of adding too much and losing the bid. So, what are they thinking here? “I’m going to bid the job for less than I know it will cost. If I win, then I’ll just have to build it cheaper.”

Perhaps you figure tools and equipment get covered in your overhead percentage? OK, at least you are thinking about it. But is your overhead percentage correctly covering everything? If you are carrying 15 percent on each bid, how much of this is allocated to your tools and equipment?

The smartest action is to examine, study and decide whether the material costs and labor units you carry for your pipe, wire and other materials actually cover the additional labor needed for the tools and equipment required to install them.

If you are losing projects because you carried an additional 1, 2 or even 5 percent for tools and equipment in your bid, then something else is to blame. Of course, just because you lost a bid doesn’t mean you did something wrong. Perhaps your competition did. Maybe they didn’t think about the costs of tools and equipment.    EC

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


CommScope Ad IPcelerate Join T Make VoIP Safer CommScope

CommScope, Inc. (NYSE:CTV) a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks, today announced the results of a collaborative venture with IPcelerate, a provider of advanced VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) products and technologies.

The two companies have developed a new security/public safety application for the SYSTIMAX(r) iPatch(r) Real-Time Infrastructure Management System.

Joining efforts as Cisco technology partners, the two companies integrated their systems to create an emergency notification system for a large Dallas-based corporation.

To comply with federal guidelines, the new design must provide the exact physical location of any emergency phone call from within its network - not a simple task when working with VoIP phones that can be easily transferred from office to office. Traditionally, locating a call from a VoIP phone meant relying on a database that was perhaps out of date or incorrect due to manual updates. The new solution, provided through the collaborative partnership, provides the physical location of the phone call as displayed on the telephone set used by a company's security personnel.

"Working with our technology partners is always an exciting experience, and often our partnerships lead to the development of great solutions," said Mark Peterson, senior vice president, global marketing, of CommScope Enterprise Division.  "In this case, we implemented qualities from both systems to create a new feature for the client that integrates seamlessly with Cisco's software and telephone sets. We look forward to demonstrating the results of our collaboration for other Cisco technology partners and customers," said Peterson.

The new system utilizes IPcelerate's software, IPsession, which complements Cisco Call Manager and uses MAC address along with other identifiers to recognize the specific VoIP phones connected to the network. In addition, the system utilizes the SYSTIMAX iPatch Real-Time Infrastructure Management System, which is used to document and maintain, in real-time, all physical layer connectivity information, including the physical location of networked devices within that network. This allows security personnel to determine which device is making the call and exactly where in the building that device is connected, enabling security officers to respond more quickly in an emergency situation.

The integrated solution has been successfully implemented and tested.

According to Peterson, security personnel were impressed during the testing phases when an employee inadvertently dialed 911 and the phone promptly displayed the physical location of the call.

"We're very pleased that the new system works so well for the client," said Valerie Corniello, vice president of sales for IPcelerate. "Working with another technology partner to raise the safety level for our customers is a truly rewarding experience. We're excited to demonstrate these capabilities at Cisco Networkers."

Networkers at Cisco Live! will be held July 22-26 in Anaheim, Calif. The conference is the premier event in the industry and brings together Cisco customers from across all business segments and industries as they present visionary technology directions, new products and best practices.

About CommScope

CommScope (NYSE:CTV - www.commscope.com) is a world leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. Through its SYSTIMAX(r) Solutions and

Uniprise(TM) brands, CommScope is the global leader in structured cabling systems for business enterprise applications. It is also the world's largest manufacturer of coaxial cable for Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) applications.

Backed by strong research and development, CommScope combines technical expertise and proprietary technology with global manufacturing capability to provide customers with high-performance wired or wireless cabling solutions.

This press release includes forward-looking statements that are based on information currently available to management, management's beliefs, as well as on a number of assumptions concerning future events.  Forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of performance and are subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, which could cause the actual results to differ materially from those currently expected.  For a more detailed description of the factors that could cause such a difference, please see CommScope's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  In providing forward-looking statements, the company does not intend, and is not undertaking any obligation or duty, to update these statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Visit CommScope at http://www.commscope.com

About IPcelerate

IPcelerate, Inc. is a Dallas-based VoIP technology company that provides an applications framework and products for companies adopting Voice-over-IP.

IPcelerate's Network IP Applications (NIPA(TM)) Framework has become the foundation for embedded VoIP products and solutions found in the smallest emerging businesses to the largest enterprise organizations.  IPcelerate technologies include situational awareness applications with embedded alerting, interactive broadcast applications, recording/archival/sharing solutions for voice and video sessions, and video surveillance for emergency response.  IPcelerate's products and solutions are designed to accelerate the Return-on-Investment (ROI) from a VOIP installation.  Companies across all market segments use IPcelerate technologies to enhance personnel safety, improve employee productivity, increase asset protection, improve supply chain management and increase situational awareness.  For more information, please visit our website at www.ipcelerate.com.


ACUTA Installs Dr. Walt Magnussen Of Texas A&M As Its New President For 2007-2008

Dr. Walt Magnussen, the telecommunications director at Texas A&M University, is the new president of ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

Magnussen takes office at the close of the 36th annual ACUTA Conference here this week. At the conference, representatives of hundreds of U.S. and Canadian higher education institutions are meeting to explore and discuss communications strategies that can best fulfill their organizations’ missions.

ACUTA is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000 individuals at 770 institutions.

Leading ACUTA for 2007-2008, Magnussen is joined by these other newly elected officers: Corinne Hoch of Columbia University, president-elect; Riny Ledgerwood of San Diego State University, elected to a second term as secretary/treasurer; Randal Hayes of the University of Northern Iowa, re-elected as a director at large; and Sandy Roberts of Wellesley College, newly elected as a director at large.

Other current ,members of the Board of Directors are Carmine Piscopo of Providence College, immediate past president, and Dr. James S. Cross of Longwood University,  Harvey “Buck” Buchanan of Florida State University, and Diane McNamara of Union College, all directors at large.

Magnussen, a member of ACUTA since 1993, has served on a number of committees and boards for the organization, and is a frequent speaker at ACUTA events.

 “As the communications networks on college and university campuses become both more critical and more complex, ACUTA must maintain its role of supporting its members in achieving their institutions’ strategic missions,” Magnussen said. “With our focus on technology and on networking and information sharing by members, we can remain a vital resource for members. That is my one of my goals as president.”

About ACUTA
ACUTA, the Association for  Communications Technology  Professionals in Higher Education, is an international non-profit educational association serving colleges and universities.  Its core purpose is to support higher education communications technology professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions. ACUTA represents nearly 2000 individuals at some 770 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the 50 largest U.S. institutions.  ACUTA’s Corporate Affiliate members represent all categories of  communications technology  vendors serving the college/university market. For more information, visit www. acuta.org or call 859-278-3338.


Check Out What’s New For Cabling Business Magazine’s September 2007 Issue!

Packed full of hot new products, timely industry columns and of course, the latest technology news you’ve come to expect every month!

Features:

The Cabling Arena: A Play-by-Play Cabling Infrastructure Installation

By Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD

Quad Play can Make or Break MSOs: Steps to Prepare

By Bill Bondy

Ethernet Services Testing

By Patrick Riley

The Value of Installer Certification Programs

By Jay Meyers, RCDD

Annual TIA Standards Review

By Lee Badman

How to Increase an Installer's Business

By Harley B. Lang III, RCDD

Industry Expert Columns:

  • The Leadership Link By New Commons

§         Reel Time By Berk-Tek, A Nexans Company

  • Testing the Experts By Fluke Networks
  • Engineering and Design Professionals
  • Latest Published TIA Standards

Hot Products:

Fiber, Outside Plant, Quad-play Services, Cabinet retrofit solutions, Testers, Fiber Optic Connectors, Cable Ties, Ethernet switch product lines, Broadband, Wireless, Ethernet Services, Web site launches, industry catalog offerings and much, much more!

As always readers can log on to the magazine Web site at www.cablingbusiness.com  and download the latest issue online! Be sure not to miss out!


NAED Announces Name, Format Changes To Annual Meeting

Newly Renamed National Electrical Leadership Summit Will Focus on Strategic Issues, Trends


As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the National Association of Electrical Distributors is rolling out a new name and a new format for its annual meeting.

Starting with the May 2008 meeting in San Francisco, the Annual Meeting will be called the NAED National Electrical Leadership Summit. The program will focus more on strategic leadership issues and emerging trends. In addition, the new schedule features general sessions on both Sunday and Monday, with each presenting nationally acclaimed keynote speakers. The 2008 Summit also will serve as the grand finale for NAED's Centennial Celebration, with headliner entertainment and a gala closing event.

2008 NAED National Electrical Leadership Summit Schedule Highlights:

Saturday, May 17, 2008
2:30 – 5:00 p.m.
5:30 p.m.

Education Sessions
Manufacturer Functions

Sunday, May 18, 2008
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1:15 – 2:30 p.m.
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
5:30 p.m.


Supplier Session
Networking Groups
Women In Industry Lunch
Education Sessions    

Opening General Session – Keynote Speaker
Affiliate Functions

Monday, May 19, 2008
8:00 – 10:00 a.m.   
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.   
1:00 – 3:30 p.m.   
3:40 – 5:15 p.m.    
5:30 p.m.


General Session – Keynote Speaker
Education Sessions
Education Sessions
Strategic Planning Booth Session
Affiliate Functions

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
7:30 - 11:50 a.m.   
Noon – 1:30 p.m.  
1:45 – 4:30 p.m.    
6:00 – 10:30 p.m.    


Strategic Planning Booth Session
Best of the Best Awards Banquet
Education Sessions

Closing Awards Dinner & Centennial Gala

"With the electrical distribution industry undergoing rapid changes, we are refining the content of this meeting to match more closely the current needs of our members," said Tom Naber, president of NAED. "The finale of NAED's Centennial Celebration gives us an ideal opportunity to launch the National Electrical Leadership Summit as the pre-eminent gathering of the best and brightest leaders in the electrical field."


Wire and Cable Covered In Wall Street Transcript Electrical Equipment Report

The Wall Street Transcript has just published its Electrical Equipment Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. This 32-page feature features 3 analysts and top management from 3 firms. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered include: Electrical Equipment space - International growth - Increased stock buybacks - Raw material price increases - Backlogs - Long-term trends - Industrial production growth - Durable goods - Capacity utilization levels - US auto manufacturers - Electronics supply chain - Wire and cable.

Companies mentioned include: 3M (MMM), General Electric (GE), ITT (ITT), Dover (DOV), Textron (TXT), American Standard (ASD), Grainger's (GWW), Home Depot (HD), Rockwell Automation (ROK), ITT Corp. (ITT), Danaher (DHR), CommScope (CTV), Belden (BDC), Anixter (AXE), General Cable (BGC), Avnet (AVT), Arrow (ARW), Molex (MOLX), Amphenol (APH), Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), United Microelectronics (UMC), Flextronics (FLEX), Solectron (SLR), CTS (CTS), Plexus (PLXS), Benchmark (BHE), Sanmina (SANM) and Technitrol (TNL). CEO Interviews - Aetrium Incorporated, Cooper Industries, Ltd., and FuelCell Energy, Inc..

Analysts Interviews Include: Multi-Industry Electrical Equipment - Stephen Tusa, JPMorgan Securities; Infrastructure & Industrials - John Baliotti, FTN Midwest Securities; Electronics Supply Chain - Kevin Sarsany, Next Generation Equity Research

In the following brief excerpt from the 32 page report, Kevin Sarsany discusses the wire and cable sectors and provides an outlook for the sector and for investors.

TWST: We are halfway through the year. How has business in the electrical equipment space been relative to expectations?

Mr. Sarsany: It depends on what sector you are talking about. I cover the electronics supply chain, and that includes wire and cable, which a lot of people and some of my competitors don't cover, but that area has done very well. When I say wire and cable, I am talking about companies like CommScope (CTV), Belden (BDC), Anixter (AXE) and General Cable (BGC). All of them are in differing modes of multi-year secular growth stories. CommScope specifically is a bandwidth story. They provide the cables that go into connecting the network backbone to the computers, and there is a real drive for increased bandwidth and an upgrade cycle that's helping them. Most of the wire and cable guys have torn the cover off the ball on the top line but more specifically on the bottom line. 50% of CommScope's business is in the enterprise space that I just mentioned, with the computer network and the cable that goes into that.

They are in two other businesses. One is the coaxial cable business that sells into the multi-subscriber operators or MSOs, which is an old term for Comcast, Cox and Cablevision and others providing cable TV. They are all spending a little more money than they did a couple of years ago when it was mainly maintenance spending, and a big part of the reason for that is because of efforts to provide triple play offerings as well as what is going on in the telephone space with Verizon, AT&T and Qwest attempting to offer similar services. Everybody is battling for the living room, trying to offer the triple play. CommScope provides coaxial cable for the cable guys, and then they provide equipment to AT&T for the fiber to the node. So they are right in the middle of this fight between those two.

CommScope is a bandwidth provider, owning the last mile. They are doing great, and they are in a secular growth story. The enterprise business probably should grow pretty well for the next five years as the typical cycle and upgrade cycle plays out. So that's a great secular growth story, and earnings have been fantastic.

General Cable is a hodgepodge, but the reason why you want to own General Cable is because 40% of their business is in transmission and distribution - electrical grid spending. For example, T&D cables are laid above and below ground that transmit electricity - long haul (transmission) and short haul (distribution). There are projected significant increases in spending on the electrical grid. The grid has lacked investment for the last 25 to 30 years. There was legislation a number of years back that provided accelerated depreciation for a utility to spend on cap ex. It only started to happen about four to six quarters ago.

But that's General Cable's bread and butter, and they get another 30% from industrial, which is a mix of a number of growing markets. It's really non-commercial construction, oil and gas, wind farms, offshore drilling and stuff like that. Both of those markets seem to be in a pretty big bull market for the next three to five years, at least on the industrial side. On the transmission and distribution side, this cycle could last five or 10 years for them.

Belden is also in the enterprise space, similar to CTV. Belden also is one of the leading brands in specialty electronics. When you think about "Monday Night Football" and you see the trailer where everybody is huddled in a dark room looking at screens, all those fat wires leading from the trailer are Belden's. Belden is the leader in security and CCTV wires. A lot of Belden's specialty brands are bought by businesses. The wire that provides the connectivity is so important to the customer that Belden's brand and market share is not in question. For example, why would ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC allow your football screen to go dark just to get a lower price for a wire?

Belden is a bit of a transition story. They've brought in a guy named John Stroup to be CEO who came from Danaher (DHR). He is doing all the right things, managing their SKUs based on profitability, which really wasn't a focus previously. Now, compensation is also focused on profit margins. He is redoing their manufacturing footprint to low-cost areas. In certain areas, he is going out and using a really pristine balance sheet, levering up a little and making acquisitions in higher-growth businesses, but also in connectivity to provide a fuller solution, which typically garners higher margins.

So when you think of cutting wire and cable at 1,000 feet, they are adding the connectivity. Not only does that help them on margin, it really helps them in their selling. Additionally, a full solution typically is more highly engineered than previous piecemeal applications (any cable with connectors from different providers slapped on).

Anixter is a wire and cable distributor; 50% of their business comes from that enterprise space that I was talking about. They own the Fortune 1000 market, and the biggest driver is just a general need for bandwidth. When you think about the enterprise and the initial buildout back in the 1990s, it was "Get it up fast," and that was it. Today, there is more and more stuff going on the networks. In the 1990s, you had a few data feeds, and now you not only have multiple data feeds, you are going out and pulling stuff in. A lot of times, it's video and video streaming applications that really take up more bandwidth.

So the bandwidth secular growth story is a huge overriding factor of this upgrade cycle, but then you've got other things on the network. When a network was first built up, it was, "Here is your computer. Get Internet access and a few data feeds." Now a network houses things such as security, fire, HVAC and all the data storage that has to be done now.

Another big driver for the network of bandwidth story is Sarbanes-Oxley. Think about all the Fortune 1000 companies that have to house all this data and have it accessible and standardized just to be in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley.

Another driver that's really helping Anixter - but also helping Belden, CommScope and other players in the industry- is data center consolidation. This partly goes back to Sarbanes-Oxley. For example, as Hewlett-Packard built out their data centers, they were regionally focused, with one for Chicago, one for Boston, one for New York, and one for San Francisco. But with Sarbanes-Oxley, you have to have all that stuff somewhat standardized and accessible. This is really happening for Fortune 1000 companies - the market Anixter pretty much owns. Part of the consolidation of data centers is they are large and cutting edge technology. That is helping to drive some of the business for Anixter, aside from the general bandwidth.

Office construction also has been helping, as have vacancy rates. When an office is built, the backbone is in the elevator. They put wire and cable in there, but a landlord doesn't pull wire for tenants. They don't know what the configuration is going to be until the tenant is in there. I use CB Richard Ellis as a source for office construction and vacancy, and the office construction spend has been going from the left corner of the chart up to the right top of the chart. Vacancy has been going from the left top to the bottom right, so it's all moving in the right direction. While office construction sustainability is a concern, I really believe that the general bandwidth and upgrade cycle will overwhelm most of the economic effect.

The Wall Street Transcript is a unique service for investors and industry researchers - providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs and research analysts. This 32-page special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online .

The Wall Street Transcript does not endorse the views of any interviewees nor does it make stock recommendations.

Tom Cloud, chairman & CEO of United Electric Supply in Wilmington, Del. For more information on the 2008 National Electrical Leadership Summit, contact Becky Burgess, NAED director of conferences, at (888) 791-2512 or becky.burgess@naed.org. Registration for the meeting will be open in early 2008.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED's membership represents approximately 4,200 locations internationally.

###

For more information:
NAED Online Press Room: http://www.naed.org/naed/news_main.asp? showtype=naed
Web site: http://www.naed.org


Position Your Business For Growing Green Building Market

There’s a buzz about green construction. Though currently a boutique industry, green building is fast accelerating to the point that its construction techniques and materials could eventually become tomorrow’s codes. Now is theTime for the electrical contractor (EC) to jump into the ground swell and stake out a lead.

National green certification programs now exist to recognize and encourage green building. They share the same goal—to promote green construction and create buildings and homes that use less energy, water and other natural resources; improve indoor air quality; and create less waste. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system for commercial, retail and schools structures, while a “LEED for Homes” rating system is expected this summer. LEED has four levels of recognition. Energy efficiency is a consistent prerequisite.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has its Model Green Home Building Guidelines. Energy efficiency also is one of six criteria. The guidelines are evolving into the National Green Building Standard certified by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Expected before year’s end, the standard will be the latest vehicle to help quicken the market acceptance of green building.

And it doesn’t stop there. Municipalities and states have their own guidelines, sometimes duplicative to NAHB and LEED. According to the USGBC, 11 federal agencies, 17 states and 53 municipalities require buildings to meet their green standards or those developed by USGBC.

Defining the market

Residentially, consumers as a whole aren’t clamoring for green construction, but the numbers are growing as it becomes part of a national discussion.

“Green home construction stands under 1 percent today,” said Emily English, NAHB construction, codes and standards specialist. “But, by 2010, as much as 50 percent of home construction may have up to three energy-efficient and/or green design elements and features.”

Today, green housing developments are cropping up. And, in the commercial world, there is more green adoption. Some of it is unassuming. Then there are flagship projects such as the new four-story green headquarters of Heifer International in Little Rock, Ark. The organization’s building features many green elements including solar lighting and heating.

Green adopters and intrigued consumers sense  the start of something big, and the building industry is taking notice.

Home green home

Belcher Homes is a green building and land development company headquartered outside St. Louis in Wildwood, Mo. Matt Belcher founded his firm in 1993. He is the national director for the NAHB and serves on its Green Building Subcommittee.

“The market is there if the consumer is there, and we see some encouraging signs,” Belcher said. “A number of things are at work. First, the media is filled with information on green building. Then, there’s the spotlight on global warming. The cost of energy is skyrocketing, while energy-saving technologies advance and come down in price. If a home or office can use half the energy and be a safer living environment, the consumer is starting to get it. I’m busier than I’ve ever been, and we’re expanding.”

Karen Childress is environmental stewardship manager for Florida-based WCI Communities Inc., also an early green builder. WCI constructs a variety of luxury homes, some of which are designed specifically for green-minded customers. Like Belcher, WCI follows NAHB green building guidelines and seeks LEED certification. WCI also follows the Florida Green Home Standard.

“I suppose green homes began as a novelty, but the consumers’ knowledge and awareness have grown exponentially,” Childress said. “We introduced green homes in 2001 and market ‘green’ as part of a better quality house. All things being equal, if house A and B are both beautiful, how each is put together and what’s in it are purchasing factors. Green construction is starting to be an attractive choice.”

Building interest in green construction often is a savvy mix of press attention and drawing in the right players. A good example is a March tour of a green construction cul-de-sac development by Belcher Homes.

“We had tours for industry types,” Belcher said. “It was a trickle-down PR opportunity. We invited builders, architects, subcontractors and [local officials]. Though the homes are still under construction, we wanted to build interest—buy-in, if you will—in regard to green construction. The goal is the mainstreaming of green building in the public’s eye.”

At a NAHB green building conference in St. Louis, Belcher estimates attendance was up 25 percent, which built on a 20 percent increase the year before.

Getting up to speed and being part of the team

Both Belcher and Childress see opportunity for the electrical contractor who seeks out green building projects.

“Once electrical contractors complete their first green project, they have added a new skill,” Belcher said. “Now they can promote themselves to other green builders and expand on the kind of projects to bid. The more they learn and can exhibit, the more notoriety they gain in the green building community. For instance, if an electrical contractor understands LEED certification and can come back to me with a list of what was done and what will earn me LEED points, that sub has made himself an invaluable part of the project team.”

Childress said, “If an electrical contractor is familiar with energy conserving products and can offer conservation ideas, we want him.”

For Childress, that could mean a recommendation for ICAT (insulation contact, airtight) sealed canister lights or a thorough knowledge of EPA Energy Star-rated items from lighting to appliances.

Knowing green building materials also can help an electrical contractor.

“Recognizing materials unique to green building at a job site is an advantage,” Belcher said. “For instance, there’s an exterior wall product known as OSB. It’s essentially two pieces of plywood sandwiched between a 6-inch thick layer of eco-friendly, nontoxic poly foam. It helps create a tighter, leak-free home. The savvy EC knows the panels have been premarked indicating where the wiring needs to go. In fact, the carpenter sees where to drill, so the EC can come in and immediately start pulling wire.”

Get comfortable with alternative energy

Energy efficiency is an important tenet of green habitats. The inclusion of alternative power sources introduces ECs to a whole new playing field. Solar, wind and earth power all are available today. They are emerging from an early adopter stage as their technologies refine and their costs reduce. By keeping up on the latest developments, ECs can position themselves for alternative energy installation work.

This observation hasn’t gone unnoticed by curriculum developers of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC).

“In January, we completed our textbook on photovoltaic [PV] power systems,” said Todd Stafford, senior director, instrumentation, alternative energy and ITC operations. “The book is an authoritative guide covering the technology today, its installation, cost/energy payback and marketing.”

Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight directly into electricity.

“PV isn’t a packaged power system,” Stafford said. “It’s incrementally installed one panel after another. The inverters that translate the solar energy into electrical power have really evolved to help this renewable resource become more reliable.”

Though labs and demo installations still are being developed, the NJATC solar energy training program is set to be unveiled later this year.

“Some would argue that solar is still some years out, but I don’t agree,” Stafford said. “There are any number of rebates and incentive programs going on across the United States. Many are commercial, some are residential. A great resource on what’s available can be found at www.dsire.com.”

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a joint project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Stafford added that, when selling solar power, it’s important to recognize the “cost” means different things to different people.

“Some customers see the payback as a simple commitment to renewable energy,” Stafford said. “Some are even willing to go completely off the grid. Many use solar installations as supplemental energy sources to reduce costs, be it through peak shaving, cogeneration and/or selling surplus power back to the utilities.”

Residential customers may try out solar using an appliance such as a solar water heater. These use solar thermal collectors or panels that trap the sun’s heat without requiring direct sunlight. The energy collected is transferred and used to heat the tank’s water. The Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology (PATH) listed solar water heaters as a 2007 Top 10 Technology. Its Web site, www.pathnet.org, offers information on the latest energy-saving housing technologies. The 2007 version lists other intriguing appliances as well, including an all-in-one washer/dryer and home-sized combined heat and electricity systems.

A stronger wind

Part of NJATC’s mission is to follow new technologies and changes in existing technology that offer mainstream possibilities. Wind power may be the next alternative energy source to receive a full training curriculum.

“We want to make sure the contractor who bids on a particular kind of work has training in place to understand the market,” said James Boyd, NJATC senior director of craft certification and technological awareness. “Right now, NECA and other union contractors are working on wind power projects.”

Driven by wind towers (a sort of high-tech windmill), small wind turbine generators are creating up to 100 kW for intrepid farmers and investors investigating wind power’s potential. On a bigger scale, wind farms feature hundreds or more such towers generating mega- to gigawatts worth of power. A wind farm on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San Bernardino Mountains contains more than 4,000 separate windmills and provides enough electricity to power Palm Springs, Calif., and the surrounding area.

“Where you site wind towers is essential,” Boyd said. “You need atmospheric studies to see if there is enough wind. In addition, you need to determine if the land will support the weight and stabilize the tower. You also want the towers close to the grid, otherwise you’ll need to build a high-voltage carrier. If you bid on this work, recognize that wind farms are typically utility-owned or tied into a utility.”

The fuel cell

Fuel cells seem to be the most elusive when it comes to broad commercialization. Natural gas fuel cells are the most developed.

“Today, the focus is on small, portable applications such as auxiliary power for cars, even computers and phones,” Boyd said. “There have been some great gains, but as a power source for residential and small commercial, the technology, its cost, and reliability isn’t there. The good news is the day it becomes a viable power source, it will be easy to tie into a home or commercial power system. Picture a self-contained power source akin to a generator. We are trying to keep contractors up to speed on the state of the industry and what they can expect to see. A training curriculum is on hold for now as the technology evolves.”

As all green and sustainable building grows, there will be more opportunities for electrical contractors. Pay attention to products; attend trade show events, such as “Think Green” Day being held at the NECA Show 2007 in San Francisco; and be ready to move into this area. Being proactive will prepare your company for a bright future in sustainable building.       EC

Focus:By Jeff Gavin

GAVIN is the owner of Gavo Communications, a marketing services firm serving the construction and landscaping industries. He writes trend, design and other business articles.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – July issue 2007 www.Electrical Contractor Magazine.com


Interactive Intelligence To Announce Second Quarter Operating Results

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), a global developer of business communications software, will issue its second quarter operating results for the period ended June 30, 2007 on Monday, July 30 at 4 p.m. Eastern time (EDT).

Interactive Intelligence will host a conference call July 30 at 4:30 p.m. EDT, featuring the company’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. Donald E. Brown, and its chief financial officer, Stephen R. Head. There will be a live Q&A session following opening remarks.

To access the teleconference, please dial 1 800.289.0485 at least five minutes prior to the start of the call. Ask for the teleconference by the following name: "Interactive Intelligence second quarter earnings call."

The teleconference will also be broadcast live on the company's investor relations' page at http://www.inin.com/investors. An archive of the teleconference will be posted following the call.

About Interactive Intelligence

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of business communications software and services for contact center automation and enterprise IP telephony. The company was founded in 1994 and has more than 2,500 customers worldwide. Recent awards include the 2006 Network World 200, CRM Magazine’s 2006 Rising Star Excellence Award, Network Computing Magazine’s 2006 Well-Connected Award, and Software Magazine’s 2006 Top 500 Global Software and Services Companies. Interactive Intelligence employs approximately 525 people and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company has five global corporate offices, with additional sales offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Interactive Intelligence can be reached at +1 317.872.3000 or info@inin.com; on the Net: http://www.inin.com.


Techies Gone Wild

I must admit that when I heard the news last month that Network Computing was ceasing its existence as a print publication, I was shocked. After all, this was the default magazine in this market when it came to advertising decisions (“You can’t go wrong advertising in Network Computing,” I imagined marketers saying.) Reflecting on the recent past of Network Computing and its parent company, CMP Technology, however, this looks more like another error in judgment by our erstwhile competitor.

When I joined Communications News in 2000, CMP offered two similar magazines in this field–Network Computing and Network Magazine. Quite frankly, I did not see much difference between the two, except that the latter was more technical in nature. CMP subsequently rolled out several other niche publications, such as Optimize, which also got the ax last month. But the similar content and audiences of Network Computing and Network Magazine continued to gnaw at me.

Then, Network Magazine changed its name to IT Architect. Now, anyone in this business knows that when a magazine changes its name, it is in trouble. Sure enough, within a short time, IT Architect was shuttered, its editor was shuffled over to Network Computing, whose editor was moved to the top editorial position on InformationWeek, another CMP publication. Are you still following me?

It wasn’t long before the tone and look of Network Computing began to resemble IT Architect/Network Magazine, a failed publication. This, too, should have been a red flag, but given all the resources seemingly at the disposal of CMP, no one could predict what took place last month.

In a nutshell, CMP decided in June to make Network Computing an online presence exclusively, not a magazine or an e-magazine, but a Web site for IT professionals. (Seems to me there are lots of these already out there in cyberspace.) CMP pronounced that the print content of Network Computing and Optimize will continue in InformationWeek in “special” demographic editions, but that is just a smokescreen designed to alleviate the backlash about dropping print that will be widespread among the 220,000 subscribers of Network Computing (not to mention the plethora of advertisers out there who understand the value of marketing in print AND online). This decision to retreat to online only should also serve as a red flag for marketers, as about half of the subscribers of InformationWeek are software developers/engineers–not the IT managers and C-level people generally defined as the buying decision makers.

While I fully understand all the hype about marketing online and I see all the growth trends, the truth is that far more people want to receive a print publication than read a magazine online. Just because those techies who can’t live without their PDAs say the trend is to online only, does not make it so. After all, these are the same people who say everyone who is anyone carries a PDA around with them, yet the truth is that still only a small percentage of business people use the devices.

You have to be careful when someone who is passionate about something says that their passion is the future. Seen through someone else’s prism, that passion may not be so important.

Communications News has been around for 43 years. We will be here for the long haul–in print and online. In fact, we are in the process of improving our online presence so that we can offer our readers and our advertisers the options they want.

Lately I’ve been working closely with the Web team here at Nelson Publishing, the parent company of Communications News, in redesigning and repurposing the Communications News Web site.

The new Communications News Web site will still offer to registered users the features and product information published in the print magazine, as well as our archives of material published in the past. Visitors will still be able to browse our Buyers’ Guides, event calendar, daily news and other current features. The new site, however, will offer a host of interactive “products” for visitors, including video clips and technology-specific blogs, as well as an e-magazine (ugh!) that you can subscribe to rather than receive the print version of the magazine.

We’re not the end-all experts on Web content, however, and encourage you, our readers, to suggest your ideas. Maybe there is some content we can post online that would help you with your job. Maybe you would like a “job bulletin board,” links to other job-related sites or webcasts. Whatever. Send me an e-mail with your suggestions.

The new paradigm of journalism is not to abandon print, however, as Network Computing has done. Our audience and our advertisers have told us they want both, and we will continue to provide the choices they request. Some of you will want to get your information, your magazine, online. We will do that. Others (the vast majority according to our studies) will want a printed publication. We will continue to provide that. Like I said, we’ve been here for 43 years and we’re not going away.

Reprinted with full permission of Communication News – www.comnews.com


Many States, Counties, Municipalities Have Dated Emergency Plans

In a post-Katrina municipal environment, you would think states, counties and municipalities would be more attuned to being prepared. It doesn’t matter what type of disaster hits you.

It’s likely your municipality, county and state isn’t adequately prepared. If you looked at the emergency operations plan for New Orleans, you’d see that it wasn’t updated for five years before Katrina hit. In fact, it was last revised in Jan. 2000.

After Sept. 11, 2001, you would have thought New Orleans would have revisited its emergency operations plan. You would have thought they’d at least make some revisions about terrorist attacks and other insights municipalities learned from those attacks. So many organizations aren’t prepared.

Many problems I saw in the private sector are mirrored in the public sector. After going through several once-in-a-lifetime disasters that seem to hit every year, you would think many organizations would learn from others who were unprepared and lost valuable time trying to recover from a disaster.

Always Prepared?

From the 1988 office fire in Hinsdale, Ill. to the Chicago flood of 1992, there are many catastrophic events that have tested the viability of corporate and municipal disaster recovery programs and emergency operations plans. After those events, you would have thought organizations would have really focused on what to do after a disaster and develop comprehensive contingency plans.

They didn’t. After Sept. 11, 2001, many organizations that saw how unprepared some of the companies caught up in the World Trade Center disaster were started to review their disaster recovery plans. They found them to be sorely lacking.

On the corporate side, legislation like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act required corporations to have disaster recovery plans. While others in other industries also put emergency plans together, many have not revisited them since. Others have revised plans and are probably in a better position to be able to apply them in a disaster.

The newer the date on the plan, the more likely it will be of some use if it gets put into action.

A disaster or emergency operations plan is only as good as the last time it was tested. If you’ve never tested it after you put it together, chances are that it will be of minimal help when you run and dust it off. That was the experience of many companies in the World Trade Center that had a disaster recovery plan but never tested it.

After Sept. 11, 2001, another natural disaster created a wake-up call in both the private sector and the government. If you read what some other states did after Katrina, you would see that they created a well-organized approach for dealing with emergencies and disasters.

After Katrina, the state of New Jersey enacted a bill along these lines. You’ll see this in its “statement” paragraph: “The bill requires counties and municipalities to review and update emergency operations plans at least every year.” If you have a plan that’s five to seven years old, it will be useless in a disaster.

How long have you waited to do a review of your systems? Whether you’re a private organization or a local government, you have to have a plan that’s fairly recent and has been tested at least on a yearly basis.

Top 10 Signs of a Poor Plan

  1. You try to look for it but the last person who had it on his or her desk is retired.
  2. The plan talks about how to turn off all the gas lights on each block in case of a tornado.
  3. The plan has a date that precedes Sept. 11, 2001.
  4. The contact list is so old that half the names on it are now names on your city’s street signs.
  5. While you could look for it, you are waist deep in water on the first floor and have to figure out how to get to the basement where it is stored.
  6. The plan has a date preceding Katrina (Aug. 29, 2005).
  7. You open it up and half the pages are missing because someone was using a page every day to start the space heater in the winter.
  8. After six years, you decide to finally test it. The equipment that it describes how to operate has all been upgraded twice in six years.
  9. The area codes that are defined in the plan have been changed.
  10. The plan refers to all the policies and checklists you can get from files on the 5.25-inch disk in the folder jacket pocket.

Plans that haven’t been tested are probably not worth the paper they are printed on especially if they are a couple years old. With all the money that’s spent on various emergency programs, you would think your municipality is relatively safe in the event of an emergency.

Don’t take it for granted. The newer the date on the plan, the more likely it will be of some value if it’s ever put into action. It was hopefully tested in some dry run or simulation exercise.

Carlinism: Emergency operations plans are only good if they are tested and revised annually.


The tenth-annual Global Technology Invitational golf outing will be held
on Sept. 15, 2007 at South Hills Country Club in Racine County, Wis.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2007 Jim Carlini


NuVo & HAI Partnership Means Easy Integration For Installers

NuVo Technologies, manufacturer of whole home audio systems, speakers, source components and related accessories, announces even greater integration with the well-known home automation expert Home Automation Inc. (HAI).  In response to NuVo’s December 2006 release of it’s New Grand Concerto whole home audio system, the two companies have been working in conjunction with one another to implement “friendly” software that simplifies integration of their products use in tandem. 

The partnership, a real win for installers, means NuVo distributed audio can be integrated into the HAI automation systems out of the box, with virtually no programming, for one complete system that is easy to install and easy to operate.   The HAI touch panels offer a realistic portrayal of NuVo’s Control Pads for control of the Grand Concerto and it’s Suite of audio source components: M3 Music Server, T2 Dual Tuner, and NuVoDocks for iPod®.  Basic control options are available via RS232 including power, play, pause, source & zone selection, volume control, track forward/backward, fast-forward/rewind, and tune up/down.  Additionally, multi-command scene functions using equipment from various manufacturers can be implemented with limited programming.

HAI software version 2.15 or newer implements the new protocol.  Previous touch screens can be updated with this version and existing main controllers can be converted inexpensively with the newest HAI chip. 

NuVo and HAI have had a long-standing partnership in the industry, with previous integration amongst existing components including integration with the NuVo Six Source, Six Zone Essentia and Four Source, Four Zone Simplese whole home audio systems.  Future plans call for increased integration with complete navigation of the NuVo components from HAI’s touch panels, as the companies continue their commitment to integration. 

NuVo - Home never sounded so good.

NuVo Technologies is an innovator in the engineering, manufacturing, and distribution of high-quality audio distribution systems. Offering electronics that represent the best value in class, NuVo provides superior engineering, distribution, and customer support from its offices in the Cincinnati Metropolitan area, and state-of-the-art manufacturing in mainland China. NuVo prides itself on designing and distributing products that are easy to install and operate in the home. NuVo products may be seen at the company’s comprehensive website at www.nuvotechnologies.com


SPC To Present Full Range of Compounds At Wire Southeast Asia

Singapore Polymer Corporation (SPC), a Teknor Apex company, offers a full range of RoHS-compliant, UL-recognized vinyl extrusion and molding compounds for wire and cable. Materials include Apex® flexible and semi-rigid PVC, Fireguard® plenum compounds, Flexalloy® UHMW-PVC elastomers, Halguard® halogen-free flame retardant compounds, Vidux® and Polydux® conductive compounds, and specialty blends with polyurethane, nitrile rubber, and polyolefins. Identical formulations can be manufactured at SPC in Singapore, a Teknor Apex facility in Suzhou, China, and Teknor Apex plants in the U.S.A.

The company will exhibit at Booth J12. Present at the show will be:

--Mike Patel, Teknor Apex wire and cable industry manager

--Robert Goh, SPC general manager for marketing

--Nat Mather, SPC business development manager

--Calvin Lok, SPC senior product engineer

www.teknorapex.com


Corning Cable Systems Grants License to Preformed Line Products

PLP to use Corning’s OptiTap Connector technology in optical terminal designs

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment, and Preformed Line Products Company (NASDAQ:PLPC) announce the signing of a license agreement, the terms of which provide PLP with a non-exclusive license to certain optical fiber terminal patents.

The industry leader in preconnectorized FTTx solutions, Corning Cable Systems is licensing the optical terminal patents to Preformed Line Products (PLP). Corning will also be supplying PLP with its OptiTap Connectors, the ideal solution for factory-terminated, environmentally sealed and hardened connectors for use in drop cable deployments in optical access networks. The hardened connector significantly reduces the terminal and drop cable installation time for subscriber connection, thereby reducing the total installed cost of deployment.

“PLP is pleased to be able to address the growing market demand for preconnectorized optical terminals,” said John Hofstetter, director of marketing and sales for PLP. “PLP’s innovative COYOTE® Closure designs, coupled with Corning’s OptiTap Connector technology, can advance the use of cost-effective preconnectorized products in FTTx deployments.”

“This agreement will enable Corning and PLP to further promote and participate in global FTTx applications,” said Dr. Bernhard Deutsch, director of marketing and market development for Corning Cable Systems public networks. “Customers will benefit from having an additional source for preconnectorized terminals to make deployments faster, easier, more reliable and less costly.”

Founded in 1947, Preformed Line Products is an international designer and manufacturer of products and systems employed in the construction and maintenance of overhead and underground networks for energy, communications and broadband network companies.

Preformed's world headquarters are in Mayfield Village, Ohio, and the Company operates three domestic manufacturing centers, located in Rogers, Arkansas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Albemarle, North Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina. The Company serves its worldwide market through international operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Thailand. www.preformed.com

Through its Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile. For additional information on Corning Cable Systems, contact a customer service representative at 1-800-743-2675, toll free in the United States, or (+1) 828-901-5000, international, or visit www.corning.com/cablesystems.


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