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Wireville.com

Issue: February 2008
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

Cabling Systems For 2008 And Beyond

The NEC 2008 (National Electrical Code) is in effect and the next cycle of code development has already begun. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) www.nfpa.org is looking at the many ways that the NEC 2011 can be improved over prior issues.  If you want your voice included in this valuable consensus process, we strongly recommend that you join the NFPA and participate in the code development process.  Don’t leave this critical task to a bunch of shills hired by commercially driven companies that may put their profits over public safety.

Increasing, the safety-focused industry watchers are asking questions about the resultant toxic gasses in the building’s air system generated in a fire scenario. We are discovering that the “fire-safe” fluoropolymers materials used in plenum-approved CMP rated cables actually generate toxic gasses that can incapacitate or even kill the building occupants when the cables are exposed to various levels of heat. Since the original approval of the use of CMP rated cables in the return-air building plenum spaces, there have been no official testing of the cables for incapacitation factor or toxicity of the off gasses under heat.

A search of the Internet found several sources that provided information on the outgassing of the FEP (commonly known as Teflon) under heat. The health and safety issues raised by this data would seem to indicate the need for the NFPA to review the safety issue and require some toxicity testing.

FEP can outgas some seriously dangerous toxic gasses. Up to 49% of FEP may be out gassed as Hydrogen Fluoride. When Hydrogen Fluoride gas is exposed to water (even humidity) it converts to Hydrofluoric Acid. HF seems to be one of the most reactive materials known to man. Hydrofluoric Acid can even eat glass. Imagine the effects to the building occupants and first responders on their eyes, nose, throat and lungs when exposed to HF.

Here one set of data on the temperature to gas generation for Teflon that we found on the Internet:

What was FEP?   Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) is a fluoropolymer discovered by Roy J. Plunkett (1910–1994) of DuPont in 1938. FEP is generally known to the public by DuPont's brand name Teflon or Daikin’s brand name Neoflon.

The FEP used in cabling out gases when heated, however toxicity testing is not part of the required test parameters for NFPA 262 for CMP Plenum Cable in the USA.

The toxic particles and gases identified as Teflon offgas products, and the temperature at which they are first identified in the studies reviewed, are shown below, with toxicity information that is drawn primarily from high dose animal studies, the only source of information available for most of the chemicals:

464°F - Ultrafine particulate matter: Teflon produces very small (ultrafine) particles which are very toxic, causing extreme lung damage to rats within 10 minutes of exposure. Longer exposures cause death. At higher temperatures, Teflon also produces toxic gases. Some scientists have found that the particles and gases together are responsible for Teflon's toxicity, perhaps because the gases adsorb to the particles, which because of their small size can lodge deep in the lower respiratory tract.

680°F - Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE): The National Toxicology Program considers tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) to be a "reasonably anticipated" human carcinogen because it is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but has not been adequately studied in people. In rats, inhaled TFE causes tumors of the kidney tubules, liver, blood vessels in the liver and one form of leukemia (mononuclear). Mice that breathe TFE develop tumors of the liver and tumors that develop in blood vessels in the liver or white blood cells.

680°F - Hexafluoropropene (HFP): In people, air exposure to fluorocarbons like HFP can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation; heart palpitations, irregular heart rate, headaches, light-headedness, fluid accumulation in the lung (edema) and possibly death. Long-term exposure in workers is associated with decreased motor speed, memory and learning. In mice and rats, inhalation of hexafluoropropene (HFP) causes kidney lesions, decreased numbers of a type of immune cell (lymphocyte) and increased urination. HFP also causes increased numbers of chromosomal abnormalities in hamster ovaries. HFP can also be added to pesticides as an "inert" ingredient, which does not mean that it is non-toxic, but only that is not the pesticide active ingredient. Another example of a pesticide inert ingredient is butyl benzyl phthalate, a chemical well known to cause serious birth defects of the male reproductive system in laboratory animals.

680°F - Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA): Very few studies have looked at the toxicity of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), but those that have found decreased growth of fetal rat bone-forming cells (osteoblast) and cartilage cells (chondrocytes), and neural tube defects in rat embryos at high concentrations. Other studies show that HCFC-123, a hydrofluorocarbon that breaks down into TFA, causes enlarged liver and decreased levels of glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol in adult animals. But, it is unclear whether these effects are due to HCFC-123 or a metabolite. A monkey study found the TFA concentration in the fetus was two to six times higher than in the mother's blood following dosing with HCFC-123. The long-term environmental impacts of TFA are unknown, but it is extremely persistent and toxic to plants. TFA is also a breakdown product of many hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used as replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are potent ozone depleters used in refrigeration systems, aerosols and other products. Recently, scientists have suggested that high levels of TFA in the environment could be partly due to heated Teflon and other fluoropolymers because measured environmental levels are higher than predicted, based on breakdown of HCFCs and HFCs alone.

680°F - Difluoroacetic acid (DFA): Very little is known about the toxicity of difluoroacetic acid (DFA), although kidney toxicity has been reported in rats.

680°F - Monofluoroacetic acid (MFA, fluoroacetic acid or compound 1080): Monofluoroacetic acid is extremely toxic, doses as low as 0.7 to 2.1 mg/kg can kill people. Initially, people report nausea, vomiting, numbness, tingling, anxiety, muscle twitching, low blood pressure and blurred vision. If exposure is high enough, people can have irregular heart rate (ventricular fibrillation), heart attacks, and severe convulsions leading to respiratory failure. MFA quickly breaks down into a chemical called fluoroacetate. Sodium fluoroacetate was previously used as a powerful rodent killer (rodenticide). In the body, it breaks down into sodium and fluoroacetate, which is responsible for the toxicity. Sodium fluoroacetate kills rodents, and other animals, by inhibiting the tricarboxylic acid cycle which transforms energy found in food to energy the body uses. Sodium fluoroacetate also causes heart and respiratory failure, central nervous system depression and damage to the testes, including decreased sperm production.

887°F - Perfluoroisobutene (PFIB): Perfluoroisobutene (PFIB) is extremely toxic and inhalation can lead to fluid build up in the lung (edema), a condition that can lead to death. PFIB is listed in the Chemical Weapons Convention as a Schedule 2 compound. PFIB is about ten times more toxic than phosgene nerve gas, a highly toxic corrosive gas also listed as a chemical weapon. In water, PFIB breaks down into hydrogen fluoride which is also very toxic (see below). Short-term symptoms of PFIB exposure in people include bad taste in mouth, nausea and weakness. Lung edema occurs about one to four hours after exposure, which is life-threatening in some cases, but in most people clears up in about 3 days.

932°F - Carbonyl fluoride (COF2): Breakdown of Teflon (PTFE) in air is the major source of carbonyl fluoride exposure. Carbonyl fluoride is the fluorine version of phosgene, a chlorinated chemical warfare agent. Carbonyl fluoride fumes can irritate eyes, ears and nose. More serious symptoms of exposure include chest pains, breathing difficulty, fluid accumulation in the lungs, weakness, liver damage and increased glucose levels. Because carbonyl fluoride breaks down into hydrogen fluoride and carbon dioxide, it causes many of the same toxic effects as hydrogen fluoride (see below).

932°F - Hydrogen fluoride (HF): Hydrogen fluoride (HF) is a toxic corrosive gas, and can cause death to any tissue it comes into contact with, including the lungs. The toxicity of HF is due to the fluoride ion and not the hydrogen ion. Breathing HF can cause severe lung damage, such as fluid buildup in the lungs (edema) and inflammation of lung passages (pneumonia). The fluoride ion (charged particle) is extremely toxic. It is a small ion and weak acid that diffuses quickly and can pass through tissues with relative ease. Fluoride ions inhibit cell respiration, decreasing production of ATP, the major form of chemical energy used by the body. Fluoride attacts cell membranes causing cells to die. The fluoride ion is negatively charged and naturally likes to react with positively charged ions in the body like calcium and magnesium. When fluoride and calcium bind, creating a "precipitate," a life-threatening condition of decreased calcium (hypocalcemia) can occur. Left untreated, decreases in calcium (and magnesium) can cause abnormal heart rhythm leading to heart attack, muscle spasms and death. Calcium administration is the main treatment for HF poisoning.

1112°F - Trifluoroacetic acid fluoride (CF3COF): Trifluoroacetic acid fluoride is toxic, mostly because it breaks down into hydrogen fluoride, which is very toxic, and trifluoroacetic acid. The few studies that have looked at the toxicity of TFA found decreased growth of fetal rat bone-forming cells (osteoblast) and cartilage cells (chondrocytes), and neural tube defects in rat embryos at high concentrations. Other studies show that HCFC-123, a hydrofluorocarbon that breaks down into TFA, causes enlarged liver and decreased levels of glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol in adult animals, but it is unclear whether these effects are due to HCFC-123 or a metabolite. A monkey study found TFA in the fetus was two to six times higher than in the mother's blood following dosing with HCFC-123, a hydrofluorocarbon that breaks down into TFA. Fluoride ion (charged particle) is extremely toxic. It is a small ion and weak acid that diffuses quickly and can pass through tissues with relative ease. Fluoride ions inhibit cell respiration, decreasing production of ATP, the major form of chemical energy used by the body. Fluoride attracts cell membranes causing cells to die. The fluoride ion is negatively charged and naturally likes to react with positively charged ions in the body like calcium and magnesium. When fluoride and calcium bind, creating a "precipitate," a life-threatening condition of decreased calcium (hypocalcemia) can occur. Left untreated, decreases in calcium (and magnesium) can cause abnormal heart rhythm leading to heart attack, muscle spasms and death. Calcium administration is the main treatment for HF toxicity.

1112°F - Octafluorocyclobutane (OFCB): Octaflurocyclobutane is a fluorine-containing gas that is used in the semiconductor industry, sold as Zyron 8020 by DuPont. According to DuPont, inhaling high levels of octafluorocyclobutane can cause heart beat irregularities, unconsciousness and death. People with pre-existing heart conditions may be extra vulnerable. Only a few toxicity studies in animals are available for octafluorocyclobutane. In one study, rats exposed to a one-time-only inhaled exposure of octafluorocyclobutane lost weight and had abnormal breathing. Dogs that inhaled high concentrations (10-25% air), and were dosed with the stimulant epinephrine, had heart problems. According to DuPont, tests for genetic damage in insects are "inconclusive."

1112°F - Perfluorobutane (PFB, Trade Name CEA-410): As a global warming chemical, perfluorobutane has a long half-life in the upper atmosphere and has over 8,000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Perfluorobutane is not as acutely toxic as other PTFE off-gases, but has not been tested for long-term effects.

1202°F - Carbon tetrafluoride (CF4, perfluoromethane): In addition to being a long-lived fluorinated Teflon "off-gas," perfloromethane is used in the semiconductor industry, is a refrigerant and propellant and a byproduct of aluminum production. The U.S. government is encouraging these industries to decrease emissions of perfluoromethane because it is a potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential almost 6000 times higher than carbon dioxide, and can last in the environment for 50,000 years. In the past, perfluoromethane has been used in pesticides as an "inert" ingredient; a label that has nothing to do with toxicity but only means the ingredient is not the main active pesticide. Inhaling fluorinated hydrocarbons like carbon tetrafluoride can cause eye, ear and nose irritation; heart palpitations; irregular heart rate; headaches; confusion; lung irritation, tremors and occasionally coma.  http://tuberose.com/Teflon.html

The jury is still out on the solution to these serious industry issues.

remember - safety is too important to ignore

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

Industry News

Discoveries At BICSI

Beast Cabling System’s latest innovation is a new lightweight speed labeling tool that is small enough to fold and put behind the seat in your truck!  This little gem makes rough-in cable identification so fast and easy that writing numbers on the cable jacket are now a thing of the past. And, priced at under $2,000, this is one new tool that will soon be on every technician’s wish list.  We will bring you more information on this value in next months HOTS.  www.beastcablingsystems.com .

Training - Texas style.  Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes training for the installation of voice/data/fiber optic cabling.  While many job sectors are experiencing a downturn in today’s stressed economy, the communications cabling business is still growing and the need for trained technicians is critical.  We uncovered the news that Craig Consulting Services (Dallas, Texas) has already begun the process of building out a new training center for cabling technicians.  We expect to get a formal press announcement from Ray Craig, RCDD/NTS (LAN) specialist and CEO of Craig Consulting Services for our next issue of HOTS.

www.craigconsultingservices.com   

The media representation at BICSI was stronger than new rope.  CNS, Cabling Networking Systems (Canada’s Leading Cabling Publication) released its ten-year anniversary Issue.  Time flies when you are having fun.  Also the ACUTA Journal www.acuta.org was an unexpected and valuable offering to the BICSI members.  This association publication represents a significant market sector for communications.  Electrical Contractor Magazine, Security and Life Safety Systems Magazine, TED (The Electrical Distributor Magazine), BICSI News, and Cabling Installation and Maintenance were all big hits with the record number of BICSI attendees. 

On a sad note, we received news that Beth Levin, RCDD had recently passed away from cancer.  Beth was our good friend and associate for many years.  She is also one of the first women to qualify for the BICSI RCDD program.  She will be missed but not forgotten.

The exhibits at this latest BICSI were new, fresh and offered visual displays of technological advancements than we have not seen in many moons.  “Hats off” to the exhibitors.  Everything about the exposition side of BICSI was FOUR STARS.  www.bicsi.org

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TXP Enables Successful IPTV Rollout At Star Telephone By Eliminating Overheating In Existing Outside Plant Cabinet Network

Outside plant cabinet equipment from TXP Corporation (OTCBB:TXPO) has helped Star Telephone of North Carolina solve one equipment overheating problem and prevent many more.

TXP, an Original Design Manufacturer of engineered OSP cabinet retrofit solutions for the telecommunications industry, has provided Star Telephone with the equipment needed to refurbish more than 50 cabinets and keep them operating efficiently as the service provider installs additional equipment to provide advanced services to customers.

The Star Telephone-TXP relationship began in the summer of 2007 when newly installed equipment for providing IPTV services began malfunctioning. Not realizing the extent of the overheating in one particular cabinet, Star Telephone replaced the equipment, only to have it continue to malfunction. Once technicians realized that the problem wasn’t the equipment – it worked fine when the cabinet’s doors were open and the heat was dissipated – they recognized the real problem.

“We were seeing temperatures in that cabinet of 170 to 190 degrees,” said Tim Butler, Broadband Engineer for Star Telephone. Clark Honeycutt, Star Telephone’s Distribution Engineer, added that “we had never seen that kind of a heat issue before. It was a combination of the type of cabinet, an AFC 360, and the equipment we were putting into it.”

Star Telephone contacted TXP, which had already designed a Retrofit Heat Exchanger to fit a variety of cabinets, and provided it to Star to fix the problem. “That immediately dropped the temperature in the cabinet 40 to 60 degrees,” Butler said. The normal working temperature for the cabinet is up to 165 degrees.

Star Telephone then outfitted all of its AFC cabinets, including models 360, 240, and 672 with TXP RHX retrofit kits, to assure that the cabinets would accommodate the IPTV equipment that Star was rolling out for a major introduction of IPTV service late in 2007. The 51 cabinets represent about half of all the cabinets in Star Telephone’s network.

“The RHX kit is particularly well suited to cabinet retrofitting,” explained Paul Forzisi, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TXP. “For its capacity, at 1000 watts, it is very compact, making it a perfect fit for cabinets with small doors.”

Star Telephone Membership Corporation provides a broad range of telecommunications services to customers in 1,458 square miles of southeastern North Carolina.

TXP’s retrofit solutions cover cabinets of all makes and sizes, providing power, cooling, mounting, and cabling solutions. Its retrofit kits are fully engineered to telco standards, with complete documentation, from feasibility through installation. TXP addresses the increasing need among service providers to migrate the equipment in their outside plant cabinets from traditional voice service to today’s high-speed data communications gear. Retrofitting the cabinets represents a huge savings over cabinet replacement.

With more than 500 cabinets upgraded, TXP counts among its retrofit customers two of the top seven U.S. telecom carriers and three of the industry’s top access system providers. www.txpcorp.com

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ADC Showcased Solutions For Space And Energy Efficient Data Centers At BICSI Winter Conference

ADC (NASDAQ:ADCT) (www.adc.com) featured products and solutions to support data center implementation and help with green initiatives at the 2008 BICSI Winter Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., January 13-17. The BICSI Winter Conference is also the first stop for the 2008 "ADC Road Show" - a national tour featuring ADC's mobile semi-trailer exhibit. ADC Solutions for Modern Data Centers

Data center infrastructure requires specialized design, greater reliability and manageability, and higher density than in other applications. ADC offers innovative products and solutions that support modern data center implementation while also helping resolve environmental and power issues that affect the modern enterprise.

"A well-planned infrastructure can make a tremendous difference in creating data centers that are environmentally efficient while still ensuring optimal network uptime," said Jaxon Lang, vice president global connectivity solutions Americas for ADC. "ADC supports green data centers and environmental efficiency by designing and manufacturing space-saving solutions that can improve airflow and reduce costs associated with power and cooling."

ADC's new Modular Switch Panel will be previewed at the BICSI Winter Conference. This new high-density, well-managed, modular fiber solution has 96 terminations in each RU compared to ADC's traditional TFP solution, which has half the terminations in the same amount of space. This new solution is most suitable in the storage area network or with switch and fiber racks of active gear.

Other products and solutions for data centers featured outside the ADC Road Show Trailer include:

-- Size-reduced Augmented Category 6 Cable: The industry's smallest Augmented Category 6 cable, it uses a patented AirES(R) design and is 22 percent smaller than typical Category 6A cable. It helps improve airflow while permitting more cable to be installed in pathways and spaces.

-- Angled CopperTen(TM) (10Gig) Patch Panel: Installation-friendly design allows for wire termination in a flat orientation. A quick and simple adjustment to angle left/right promotes superior cable management and increases density while eliminating horizontal cable managers.

-- FiberGuide(R) Raceway System: A simple and effective means of improving cooling is removing air dams or blockages under the raised floor. The FiberGuide Raceway System establishes clearly defined cable routing paths and keeps cables organized, using less space and avoiding congested pathways that can restrict airflow.

ADC Road Show

The BICSI Winter Conference will be the first stop for the "ADC Road Show" - a national, mobile exhibit, semi-trailer tour beginning in the Southeastern U.S., with stops planned in more than 100 cities. The exhibit will complete its tour in October 2008.

The 48-foot-long semi-trailer features ADC's latest equipment solutions and services, including:

-- TrueNet Structured Cabling Solutions

-- OmniReach(R) Fiber-to-the-X Equipment

-- Carrier-Class Fiber and Copper Core Solutions

-- Inbuilding and Outdoor Wireless Solutions

About ADC

ADC provides the connections for wireline, wireless, cable, broadcast, and enterprise networks around the world. ADC's innovative network infrastructure equipment and professional services enable high-speed Internet, data, video, and voice services to residential, business and mobile subscribers. ADC (NASDAQ:ADCT) has sales into more than 130 countries. Learn more about ADC at www.adc.com.


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Larrie Rose, President Of Belden Europe, Will Retire

Belden (NYSE: BDC - News) today announced that D. Larrie Rose, Vice President, Operations and President, Belden Europe, will retire at the end of February 2008, after a 35-year career with the Company. The Company has appointed Henk Derksen as interim managing director. Mr. Derksen is Vice President, Finance, for Belden Europe.

John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "During the two years that Larrie and I have worked together, I have found him to be totally dedicated to the success of his business unit and the entire corporation. He has provided leadership to improve sales, margin contribution and manufacturing effectiveness."

Mr. Rose joined Belden as a sales associate in 1972 after graduating from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He rose through marketing and sales to general management. In 1981, he moved to Europe to lead the establishment of Belden's European presence with a distribution center and sales office. He returned to the U.S. in 1990 as a marketing executive, and in 2002 was promoted to his current position as head of Belden's European business. http://www.belden.com.

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Broadband Networks Need to Plan For Gigabits, Not Megabits

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

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Depending on your current definition of broadband network connectivity, you might want to update your frame of reference.

Did you know at the beginning of 2008 that Japan announced its objective for broadband connectivity is 10 gigabits by 2010? In some recent discussions I have had, some industry pundits think 1 gigabit is too high to achieve.

A couple megabits or even 30 Mbps to 40 Mbps to the premise as a design goal is an obsolete objective unless you are aiming us into a third-rate infrastructure for the future.  

I have been saying within my columns for years and at national conferences and regional seminars (like the recent one with SimpleTel in Madison, Wis. featuring Dantel, Connect802 and Matisse Networks) that broadband connectivity today means providing gigabit speeds. Period.  

The only people who don’t want to hear this are those tied to products and network services that have sub-gigabit maximums. These people don’t want to hear that what they’re supporting is obsolete and not globally competitive. Why is this such a hard thing for some industry executives and supposed network infrastructure vendors and designers to accept?  

I understand how Christopher Columbus must have felt in front of a science academy while trying to tell all the learned experts and academics that the Earth is round instead of flat. Am I that far on the leading edge? I really don’t think so, but after talking with some, I feel like Captain Kirk talking with Fred Flintstone.  

Are You Beating a Dead Horse?

Last week I spoke at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando at the annual Building Industry Consulting Services International (BICSI) winter conference. My presentation on intelligent business campuses discussed new high-tech parks that must be supported with multiple network carriers as well as multiple gigabit-speed network infrastructure. The talk was well received.  

There were still a couple attendees who bristled when I said we must get into gigabit network infrastructures immediately and anything in the planning stages today should reflect an infrastructure that can handle multiple gigabit speeds on day one.  

The real experts came up and agreed that we need to have gigabit speeds within city network infrastructures and the issue of broadband connectivity being defined as gigabit speeds today is right on target. It was refreshing to hear that at least some of today’s experts bought into the concept.  

How many times must I point out that just putting DSL over copper is like putting a vinyl top on a stagecoach and trying to sell it as a “fast alternative” in an era of the space shuttle? Less and less people are buying into copper-based capabilities when they see other countries talking about multiple gigabit speeds while we are debating whether or not 20 Mbps to 30 Mbps on copper is adequate for the next five to seven years.  

In my seminar, we also debunked some of the pseudo-expert euphoria about installing a T-1 into a business and claiming that it made their network connectivity “really up to date”. Some basic connectivity questions were asked as part of the presentation including this one: Did you know when the first T-1 was installed? The answer is 1963.  

That question stumped just about everyone in the room. Many thought it was much later in the 1980s. Anyone who thinks they’re state of the art because they just installed a T-1 really just installed technology that has been around for 45 years.  

Critical Infrastructure Throughout the Ages

Infrastructure has always played an important part in developing and sustaining global commerce. In all stages of economic development and trade throughout the ages, various layers of infrastructure helped build new commerce. My presentation pointed out the historical layers of critical infrastructure for commerce and trade.  

All of these examples created new routes for commerce, transportation and trade.

We have built trade routes to develop and sustain regional viability. Now with the Internet and other network services, trade routes have become electronic. Today, broadband connectivity is the latest layer of critical infrastructure that’s needed to provide new electronic trade routes to support economic development and regional sustainability.  

A slide from Matisse Networks shows where connectivity is going. It is a switching configuration that maximizes fiber connectivity into multiple gigabit segments. The switching gear can dynamically allocate bandwidth as network traffic is routed around the metropolitan area.

Nodes that provide up to 160 Gbps on a metropolitan-area network are the latest iteration of urban connectivity using fiber.  

It is a big step beyond SONET. It won’t be took long until 10 Gbps will be the norm and fractional gigabit services will be available. This will hopefully put an end to the discussions by those contemplating slower networks that don’t have the raw bandwidth to sustain major metropolitan networks.

If you are truly building for the future, no one should be talking about megabit speeds to subscribers. If you are truly building for the future, you are building multiple gigabit speeds with a minimum of 1 gigabit to a subscriber.

New Mantra

“Do not quote a megabit rate when discussing network infrastructure after 2008.” This should be adopted by anyone who professes to know what the typical metropolitan network infrastructure should evolve into and states and metropolitan areas should be looking at this for economic growth and regional sustainability.

Anyone with less than a gigabit as a goal for network infrastructures must be uninformed or trying to protect an obsolete product or service. In either case, they are not up to speed (pun intended).  

Carlinism: Aim high or be shot down by the competition.

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Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.

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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.

Click here for Carlini’s full biography. Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

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Predictions For 2008 On Economy Following Chicago Luncheon

Published on 1/16/2008 at www.MidwestBusiness.com where you always read REAL perspectives

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

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CHICAGO – After listening to the experts at the recent Executives’ Club of Chicago luncheon, here is my take on predicting 2008’s economy. This is part three of a three-part column.

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At this year’s Executives’ Club of Chicago luncheon, which focused on the future of the economy for the year, the emphasis was on looking to global initiatives for growth. More than 1,200 people attended this luncheon. Many looked for answers to:

·  the mortgage foreclosure debacle,

·  the outlook for jobs, and

·  the general sense of where the U.S. economy is headed and how individual careers may be affected.   

Some of the speakers – including Harris Bank CIO Jack Ablin and Bob Froehlich (the chairman of Deutsche Asset Management’s investment strategy committee) – had some concrete explanations of missing the impact of the sub-prime financial crisis and seeing foreign investments for the future. Froehlich said the area to make money in is “going global”.  

Even though this is an election year, he predicted the U.S. economy would be pretty flat again in 2008 with 1 percent to 2 percent growth while the big growth would be found in other countries like China, Korea and others. As for the presidential election’s potential for divisiveness, Froehlich said it could create an outflow of foreign investments from the U.S.  

Are We Giving Away Our Leading Position?

More than two decades ago, I made a very powerful statement that still resonates today: “Leading-edge organizations do not maintain their position using trailing-edge technology.  

Substitute “municipalities” or even “countries” for the word “organizations”. Without leading-edge skills and technology, there’s no way we can sustain the lead in the global economy. People are losing good jobs in America. That’s a fact. Good jobs that require degrees and technical background are being lost to other countries’ cheaper labor.  

These are not jobs that “no one wants”. These jobs were good-paying careers. So where are these jobs going? Why are we – the United States – giving away knowledge and technology that would keep many people gainfully employed?   

There is also evidence that some universities are shifting their focus on preparing foreign students instead of American students. What does this do for our global leadership position as well as our national security? Just watch this video.  

Foreign investments are good. While I am not an isolationist, I think some institutions are doing irreparable damage to the U.S. economy in the name of foreign investment expansion. There are a lot of concerns about China and their real long-term strategies. We don’t understand their whole culture as much as you may think we do.  

In a government security meeting back in 2001, Michael Pillsbury of the National Defense University addressed the U.S. China Security Review Commission and pointed out:

We have very few people who can read Chinese who work on Chinese security matters and close to none who can actually read a newspaper or an article published by the Chinese military or a Chinese government think tank.

·  We have almost no one in our government and almost no one in the university sector who can do that.

In another part of his speech (see pages 55 to 56 of 115), Dr Pillsbury comments:

China has many nightmares about the United States policy in the future. Overthrow of the government through peaceful evolution is one. Beefing up the Japanese is another. Pushing Taiwan toward independence is a third.

If you use Chinese communist doctrine to analyze the biggest nightmare of them all, in some sense it would be that Steve Bryen would do to China what he did to the Soviet Union. Let me explain in one sentence why that is and it’s in the first chapter of the book.

Deng Xiaoping claimed that he made a creative contribution – something new – to Marxist-Leninist theory.

Now, this is almost unthinkable. It’s like someone today saying: “I’m adding something new to the message of Jesus Christ, and by the way, here it is.” It’s quite a claim. Very few people appreciate what that claim is and it’s the heart of Deng Xiaoping theory.

It is that science and technology from the outside is the prime force of production, the prime way out for China of its poverty and its weakness.

Now, the National Science Foundation and other parts of the U.S. government have 13 agreements where we essentially provide science and technology almost for free to the Chinese scientific community.

Do you think back then (2001 to 2002) Lucent had any effect on the amount of people it laid off in the U.S. in the last five years or why its stock tanked? It went from about $90 a share to 99 cents a share before they got bought out by Alcatel.

Underemployment: The Lost variable in Economics

In this election year, people are concerned about the economy. The predictions by the economists don’t reflect what’s going on in many families. Economists have to examine the whole concept of underemployment rather than just unemployment in the U.S.  

Unemployment numbers are meaningless and not reflective of buying power and household sustainability. The true measure of what’s taking place is the amount of people who have slipped in salaries from between $80,000 and $120,000 to between $30,000 and $45,000 due to downsizing, outsourcing and layoffs.  

One IT person who is contracting today says he is making 20 percent less than on his previous contract in 2007. Another commented: “At least you have a contract.” Plus, oil has doubled in a year and the devaluation of the dollar is around 40 percent.  

Mesirow Financial economist Diane Swonk has pointed out that there is a shortage of highly skilled people in the U.S. The whole concept that there’s a shortage of IT professionals is completely wrong. From an economic standpoint, if there was a real shortage wouldn’t wages for IT people be skyrocketing up and not spinning down?  

That, of course, is the law of supply and demand. If there was a real shortage, software developers, database administrators and others would be well into a six-figure range of salaries comparable to doctors and getting a lot of perks instead of bargaining for cheap hourly rates with no benefits.  

The reality is that we have had labor dumping in the U.S.   

Many high-tech jobs with decent salaries have been diluted because thousands of people have been imported into the U.S. They have not gone home after the NASDAQ crash. Instead, companies increased the cheap labor and replaced more highly paid American workers with them. Other professions are starting to see job erosion as more H-1B and L-1 visas are being allotted.  

Though this might be good for short-term profits, it adds a lot of fuel on the skyrocketing foreclosure rates. These can’t be blamed on just sub-prime mortgages, the 20-year low in new car sales and the huge increase in personal bankruptcies.  

All of this is happening while CEOs like Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Financial cashed in $400 million in salary and options in the last couple years. Mozilo awaits a severance package of another $115 million when Bank of America buys out Countrywide. Rewarding poor performance and failure with this magnitude of compensation should be more than just frowned upon.  

The person should be summarily dismissed without any severance package. There needs to be more board of director reforms to outlaw this type of boardroom lunacy. His pay should be divided and given to all the people he put on the street. What are their severance packages from Countrywide?  

The Demise of Michigan

Look to Michigan as a state that has become an example of poor leadership and a totally wrong coalition of government, business, academia and organized labor. Should we feel sorry for Michigan and the poor state they are in with jobs and its housing market?  

I say they drove themselves into a declining vortex of joblessness, aimlessness and no vision to move forward. That is a strong statement, I know, but look at the two videos that spotlight the lack of focusing on solving local problems. Both talk about U.S. taxpayer money subsidizing college tuition and job loss to China. The first is here.  

As the video states: “Patriotism is for chumps.” Policies have been set in companies to maximize short-term gains by transferring manufacturing jobs out to China. Higher educational institutions are enticing foreign students with tuition breaks that are being subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.

This next video is about the state of Michigan and the University of Michigan. See here. It talks about shifting endowment money to develop offshore hedge funds and not spending money on supporting local students or start-up businesses. Instead, it talks about developing VC projects in China. By the way, much of this is taxpayer money.  

Here is a link to a full speech by the minister of the American Center for Cultural Exchange at the American embassy in Beijing. Any reactions? I sent these two videos to some readers because I was unsure about their credibility. Validation came back from various people including some university professors who said that even more was going on than what you see here.  

It’s pretty clear to see there are catalysts at academic institutions who on one hand want your support, alumni donations and taxpayer money while they turn over technology, fund foreign start-ups and even finance cheaper competition instead of helping the communities they profess they support.  

Drive through Michigan. That state is devastated and its housing market is a joke. They will be asking other states to bail them out. They should be looking at their own business leaders and institutions who sold them out.  

Sending money to your alma mater or buying an American car to “support American jobs” (which then actually fund foreign initiatives to undermine your job here by creating cheaper competition) is at best counterproductive. At worst, it’s treasonable if it affects national security.  

Carlinism: Millions of dollars should be spent locally to strengthen our future education and economy first. Any change left over should then be seeded into international initiatives (not vice versa).

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Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.

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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.

Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

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Coleman Cable TwistBrite LED Work Lights Deliver

‘Light Where You Need It’

Coleman Cable, Inc. (Nasdaq: CCIX) announces TwistBrite™, the new LED work light with a flexible neck that allows its ultra bright bulb to be positioned in multiple ways to give you ‘light where you need it.’ The new work light comes with a PVC-coated magnet on the base of the unit for quick attachment to metal surfaces and is ideal for workshop, construction, HVAC, plumbing and automotive applications or anywhere a portable light is needed. Because TwistBrite’s ultra bright LED bulb has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours, there is no need to worry about replacement. The unit operates on 3 AA batteries, included in the TwistBrite pack.

“In introducing the new TwistBrite, we not only bring more convenience to the work site but also provide a light source with professional-grade reliability and superior performance results,” said Blaine Ballard, Coleman Cable product manager. www.colemancable.com

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CommScope Enterprise Solutions Launches Newly Enhanced BusinessPartner Program

CommScope Enterprise Solutions, a division of CommScope, Inc. (NYSE:CTV), has launched its 2008 BusinessPartner program with enhancements that deliver global consistency and meet changing customer requirements around the world.

CommScope – the global leader in network infrastructure solutions – believes that selecting the right infrastructure solution is only one part of a customer's decision-making process; choosing a qualified company to implement the solution is equally important. The program accomplishes this by recognizing BusinessPartners that demonstrate industry leading levels of skill, capability, knowledge and technical expertise.

"Our newly enhanced BusinessPartner program will give CommScope customers increased confidence in the partner they choose to implement CommScope solutions,” said Angela Haneklau, vice president of sales, North American region, CommScope Enterprise Solutions. "Choosing a BusinessPartner that has the right combination of experience, expertise and market coverage to meet customer needs is invaluable.”

CommScope has structured its BusinessPartner program to offer three levels of partners – Authorized, Prestige and Elite – based on the different service offerings, skills and expertise across the CommScope portfolio of solutions. While CommScope and its BusinessPartners, regardless of level, have an unrelenting commitment to the highest standards of quality, performance and reliability, the new structure provides customers a clear view of different levels of expertise and options targeted to meet their specific needs and requirements.

In addition to the creation of the Elite tier, CommScope is launching new training, marketing programs and services to expand the support services for its BusinessPartner program members. These new features will help BusinessPartners build customer relationships and differentiate themselves in the market.

"We had our BusinessPartners and customers in mind when we considered enhancing an already successful business model,” Haneklau said. "At CommScope, our BusinessPartners and the customers they serve are inextricably linked. The enhancements to our global BusinessPartner program help ensure customers receive superior and consistent levels of service and support worldwide. "

About CommScope Enterprise Solutions

CommScope Enterprise Solutions, a division of CommScope, Inc., offers a complete portfolio of network infrastructure solutions that enable enterprise customers, regardless of size, industry or IT budget, to take advantage of business and technology opportunities. The division's SYSTIMAX® and Uniprise® product lines offer voice, data, video and converged solutions ranging from mission-critical, high-bandwidth and emerging applications to applications that demand unrelenting reliability and quality for everyday needs. Backed by CommScope Labs and a 20-year extended warranty, the product lines are delivered through a global network of our BusinessPartners and distributors ensuring a consistent and high-level of service and support worldwide.

Based in Hickory, N.C., CommScope, Inc. (NYSE: CTV) is a world leader in infrastructure communication networks. Through its Andrew Wireless Solutions® brand, it is a global leader in radio frequency subsystem solutions for wireless networks. We believe that CommScope is the premier manufacturer of coaxial cable for broadband cable television networks and one of the leading North American providers of environmentally secure cabinets for DSL and FTTN applications.

CommScope combines technical expertise and proprietary technology with global manufacturing capability to provide customers with infrastructure solutions for evolving global communications networks in more than 130 countries around the world.

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. http://www.commscope.com.

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PorchLight Chooses Corning Cable Systems Evolant Solutions for FTTH Deployments

Company also becomes Corning Connected Community™ Program Member

Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment announced that PorchLight selected Corning Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions products for the company’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments throughout the United States.  The Evolant portfolio for FTTH includes a range of optical fiber, cable, hardware and equipment designed to make deployments faster, easier, more reliable and less costly.

PorchLight, a fiber-optic network service provider installing the latest in ultra-high-speed convergent communications and entertainment networks in single-family and multi-family residential neighborhoods, is deploying Corning Cable Systems’ tip-to-tip passive optical FTTH solution.

Corning Cable Systems also introduces PorchLight as the newest member of the Corning Connected Community™ Program, which will benefit both parties as they continue to bring the life-enhancing benefits of FTTH to the home to developers and homeowners.

Corning Cable Systems developed the Corning Connected Community Program to assist homebuilders and community developers in implementing fiber-optic infrastructures into their building plans and to help home buyers learn how FTTH networks can enhance their living experience in their new home.  Corning provides Corning Connected Community Program members with marketing materials to help educate consumers on the benefits of FTTH.

PorchLight will build on the Corning Cable Systems FTTH solutions to deliver their “Quad-play” package to PorchLight communities.  “After evaluating a variety of products for our FTTH network, we felt Corning offered a complete and reliable solution,” said Corey Smith, chief technology officer, PorchLight.  “With Corning’s leadership and expertise in FTTH network solutions, PorchLight will be better able to serve our customers.” www.corning.com/cablesystems. 

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Corning Cable Systems Highlighted Plug & Play AnyLAN System A 2008 BICSI Winter Conference

Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, featured Plug and Play AnyLAN System at the 2008 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando, Fla. The all-encompassing pre-terminated fiber optic cabling solution can be deployed in both inside and outside plant local area network (LAN) applications.

The Plug & Play AnyLAN System features a multimode or single-mode optical cable pre-installed with network access points at customer-specified intervals and a tethered, environmentally hardened MT connector. Once distance measurements for network access point locations are obtained, the preterminated system is manufactured and tested. The entire system is then packaged and shipped to the customer on a cable reel for immediate deployment in the desired indoor or outdoor application.

Plug & Play AnyLAN Systems for Inside Plant Applications are compatible with 2-in duct for riser applications and factory floor environments. Plug & Play AnyLAN Systems for Outside Plant Applications are compatible with both buried (direct-buried, 1.25-in and 2-in duct) and aerial (overlash, dedicated messenger, and self-supporting) installations. The comprehensive solution is ideal for indoor and outdoor installations with multifiber drops to multiple locations.

Corning Cable Systems’ Plug & Play AnyLAN System allows network installation to be completed much more efficiently at speeds up to 50 percent faster than traditional field installations. The system provides end-users with significant cost savings due to few cable pulls and less connectorization in the field.The Plug & Play AnyLAN System is a Corning Cable Systems LANscape® Solutions product. www.corning.com/cablesystems.

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EHX Spring 2008 To Focus On Emerging Technology Trends

Electronic House Expo Educates Custom Electronics Professionals

Electronic House Expo (EHX) Spring 2008, the must-attend integration event for custom electronics, delivers industry education and the latest trends to thousands of CE professionals. EHX, produced by EH Events and sponsored by CEA’s TechHome Division, kicks off its ninth year March 11-15, 2008 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

EHX Spring 2008 will present leading technologies and the hottest trends to provide a clear understanding of critical market drivers and business strategies. Event highlights include:

  • New Product Showcase: Products include media servers, IP-enabled devices, multi-room audio and video, home networking, home theater, automation, lighting control, electronic security and more.
  • Immersive Gaming Demo Area: A first-of-its-kind demonstration of a high performance gaming set-up. The demo room will feature some of the highest quality home theater and gaming equipment and provide an exclusive look at the optimal gaming room set-up.
  • Industry Connections Luncheon: This exclusive event will unite members of the Alarm Association of Florida, CEA's TechHome Division, Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) and PARA for networking and relationship building.
  • Demo Alley - Even More in 2008: Learn about the revenue, profit and customer satisfaction opportunities of selling a “better breed” of A/V equipment in Demo Alley. More than 20 of the top A/V manufacturers will show-off their latest products as they demonstrate their best A/V experience and vie for a BODA (Best of Demo Alley) award.
  • Updated Conference Program and Training: Choose from nearly 50 in-depth conference seminars, comprehensive one and two-day workshops and industry networking events. In addition to the paid conference program there will be manufacturer training courses open to all attendees at no charge. This all-new lineup of 100+ sessions will feature product training and demonstrations direct from exhibitors.
  • Licensing Renewal: 2008 is a license-renewal year for contractors in the state of Florida. In conjunction with the Alarm Association of Florida and IEC, EHX is offering seminars to accommodate the requirements of its attendees.
  • New Partnerships: EHX has partnered with the distinguished industry associations IEC and the Alarm Association of Florida to deliver the latest innovations to Expo attendees.

EHX 2008 features some 300 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees. This event will attract the most successful custom electronics professionals as well as custom retailers, computer VARs, systems integrators, electrical contractors and builders all seeking new products and solutions for their custom electronics businesses.

The exhibit floor features Platinum Sponsor – Life|Ware from Exceptional Innovations, Gold Sponsor – Square D/Clipsal, and Silver Sponsors – Colorado vNet, ELAN/HomeLogic, Russound, Superna, Universal Remote Control. The Expo floor will showcase thousands of new products, tools and solutions for every aspect of the CE industry, including audio/video entertainment; networking and digital convergence; comfort and control; electrical and security; marketing, operations and management.

Registration for EHX is now open at www.ehxweb.com or by calling 800-315-1581. Expo passes are free before the early bird deadline of February 15, 2008. Conference package discounts are also available by this deadline.

About EHX
Electronic House Expo, a Tradeshow Week magazine Fastest 50 event for five years running, is the fastest growing trade event of the $13 billion custom electronics industry. Held twice annually and sponsored by CEA’s TechHome Division, EHX attracts a large and dynamic audience of custom electronics integrators, retailers and allied trades to interact with leading suppliers of audio/video entertainment, digital convergence, networking and communications, comfort and control, and security and electrical products. For more information, visit www.ehxweb.com. www.CE.org.

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ELECTEC Building Wiring Systems Introduces Shielded 10-gig turn-key Cabling System

ELECTEC Ltd., a Canadian innovator of manufactured wiring systems is pleased to present the cabling industry’s first pre-terminated and pre-verified 10-Gig horizontal cabling solution. 

EZ-Cabling® is now available in a 500Mhz Cat 6A, Alien Crosstalk-free system offering an unprecedented level of safety, reliability and re-usability through its non-combustible cable construction, verified performance guarantee and innovative modular design concept. 

Using Foiled Twisted Pair (FTP) cable from Berktek® and shielded connectivity from Panduit®, Electec’s augmented Cat 6 solution offers premium shielding in an easy to use turn-key system.

The ease of installation and maintenance makes EZ-Cabling an intelligent choice for an environmentally responsible cabling infrastructure that is re-useable and re-locateable.  Using EZ-Cabling as a horizontal cabling infrastructure prevents troublesome and potentially toxic abandoned cable from accumulating in air-handling spaces.   www.electeconline.com

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eXalt Powered Portal Increases Partner Sales Productivity While Reducing Errors

eXalt Solutions, Inc. has announced that Westcon Group, Inc.™, the leading specialty distributor in networking, security, mobility and convergence,, recently launched its VoIP Telephony Configurator powered by eXalt Solutions.  The new online configuration capability is currently available to Voda One customers through the ConvergencePoint solutions program

(www.convergencepoint.vodaone.com) and is planned to be rolled out at Westcon Group’s other business practices, Comstor and Westcon, in the near future.

The platform is able to assist with complex VoIP configurations and initially contains many products from Avaya as well as other Westcon Group affinity partners. Partners can quickly put together complete multi-vendor solutions, with accurate pricing and rich quote materials. Producing high quality quotes with fast turnaround times improves Partner win rates during the sales process.

According to recent users of the eXalt platform, customers can save as much as 25 percent on the time it takes to design, configure, price and quote solutions—the platform also reduces the risk of errors. So far, Westcon Group resellers now have access to a centralized repository of more than 3,500 VoIP products and corresponding pricing, including the recently released Avaya IP500. In addition to IP telephony infrastructure products, the database also contains a full line of Westcon Group’s Affinity products including switching, call accounting software and headset products to name just a few.

Westcon Group’s new online configuration capability will help improve the sales efficiency of thousands of the distributor’s resellers, giving them a competitive edge by enabling them to bid on more projects with greater accuracy.  “With Westcon’s new configurator, I no longer have to say to my prospect that I will get back to them for a quote--it’s instantaneous and accurate -- this gives my business an immediate advantage and makes the entire process more efficient,” says Mark Parette, Account Executive with Golden West, a Voda One VAR. The configurator has a ‘one button quote” feature and automatically generates an e-book of technical reference materials for each quote. 

 “Westcon fits perfectly in our sweet spot where products are designed into an overall system and must adhere to design guidelines,” stated eXalt Solutions President Leslie Swanson.  “We are excited to work with Westcon Group, who is a recognized industry leader and innovator.  We believe our growing EcoSystem of Suppliers will benefit Westcon Group and their channel partners many years ahead by removing the headaches, risks and hassles of building and maintaining content for sales portals.” 

 “The eXalt offering gives us an opportunity to further differentiate ourselves from competitors by streamlining the solutions selling process for our partners,” said Duncan Potter, chief marketing officer, Westcon Group.  “In the past, resellers relied on individual vendor tools which had to be used in isolation. This approach was often very time consuming and rarely considered the larger solutions picture. Now our customers can quickly benefit with a best-in-class solution to generate accurate quotes in very little time.” He added.

Westcon Group selected eXalt Solutions because of its unique ability to address the intricacies of the technical product sales/support process:

Multi-Vendor:  eXalt’s unique architecture supports the configuration, pricing and quoting of complete technical solutions incorporating multiple products from multiple vendors.

On-Demand:  eXalt allows the timely delivery of the project within a very short time while minimizing the requirements of internal IT resources. 

Meta Data Driven:   eXalt’s unique Meta Data Driven architecture allows the addition of new product lines and configuration rules without reprogramming.  This removes the delays and costs associated with customizing legacy sales configuration and quoting systems.

Ready Made Content EcoSystem:  eXalt has created a complete ecosystem of for intelligent vendor content.   Vendors can syndicate their product content, rules and reference material to other eXalt Powered sites in the ecosystem. 

With its recently announced partnership with the CMP Channel Group, eXalt has been rapidly signing on suppliers to its content ecosystem.  eXalt powered suppliers can gain enhanced visibility at distribution/DMR partners by easily being attached to other key suppliers and solutions. www.exaltsolutions.com   www.westcongroup.com  

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eXalt Solutions Notified Of Patent Award On Solutions Selling Platform

eXalt Solutions, Inc., a market and technology leader in providing on-demand, Web-based services for solutions sales, has been awarded a patent. The patent, US Patent No. 7,299,202 entitled "INTELLIGENT MULTIMEDIA E-CATALOG," is the first in a series filed by eXalt and the first to be granted to eXalt.

eXalt's patent relates to the company's innovative technology that enables suppliers and distributors of technical products and their channel partners to create on-demand repository for building multi-vendor solutions.  The technology uses Meta Data driven architecture enabling the creation and update of New product types without having to reprogram software.  The innovative technology is capable of dynamic reconfiguration of user applications and the user interface when new product types are added to the database or when meta data changes are made to reconfigure the multimedia display user interface. eXalt's Supplier and Distributor customers can implement and change the user interface, product content, rules, and reference materials in eXalt's platform without the assistance of software professionals thereby removing delays and costs associated with conventional software.  In contrast, traditional systems often require Recoding, Version and Source code control, Re-integration, Re- Testing, Re-Packaging and Re-Deployment.

The patented technology underpins eXalt's unique model for storing information about products:

  (v)   Multi-vendor: from one or many vendors according to an object model

        representing the product information,

  (v)   Multiple Object Types: the object model including parametric

        objects, graphic objects, document objects, configuration business

        rules objects and procurement rule objects, where the object model

        is capable of handling an unlimited number of objects for each

        product.

  (v)   Solution Intelligence and hierarchy:

  (i)   storing sub-products that a product is comprised of, including

        storing product part replacement information;

  (ii)  storing product accessories capable of being added to a product;

  (iii) storing rules for building product solutions that incorporate

        product information stored in the database; or

  (iv)  storing rules for equivalence or substitution of products for use

        when building a product solution;

This intelligence is part of the foundation of eXalt's successful commercialization of its on-demand web based platform marketed as a Software as a Service (SaaS).  The patent bolsters eXalt's ability to secure strong partnerships with leading Distributors and DMR's who require robust Multi- Vendor Solutions Selling Technology that can accommodate deployment of new vendors, new products, new attributes without delay.

Leslie H. Swanson, CEO of eXalt Solutions, said: "eXalt is laying the core foundation with a now emerging broad IP portfolio to develop next generation applications for sales professionals.  The notice of patent allowance represents an important step towards securing a dominant position in this emerging field.  eXalt will build on this to develop its portfolio of unique products from this disruptive platform technology.  This gives us the opportunity to create a completely new approach for the streamlining the sales process for technical solutions."

With its recently announced partnership with the CMP Channel Group, eXalt has been rapidly signing on suppliers to its content ecosystem.  eXalt powered suppliers can gain enhanced visibility at distribution/DMR partners by easily being attached to other key suppliers and solutions. http://www.exaltsolutions.com/.

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Fluke Networks Hugo Draye, Bob Jensen Receive 2008 Harry J. Pfister Award For Excellence In The Telecommunications Industry

Presentation to multiple winners at BICSI Conference recognizes Draye’s technical and educational contributions to certification market, Jensen’s work on standards and fire prevention

Hugo Draye, Datacom Cabling Product Manager for Fluke Networks, and Bob Jensen, Fluke Networks Standards and Technology Development Manager, have both received the 2008 Harry J. Pfister Award for Excellence in the Telecommunications Industry.  Draye and Jensen received their recognition during the awards banquet January 16, 2008, at the winter BICSI Conference in Orlando, Florida.

We are extremely proud that both Hugo and Bob have been recognized for their contributions to this industry, said Paul Caragher, President of Fluke Networks.  Their efforts are constant reminders of the commitment our people and our company bring to this market.  We are fortunate to have two such highly regarded members on our team.

Hugo Draye is an extremely well respected icon in the communications cabling industry, said Frank Bisbee, founder and President of the Communication Planning Corporation and noted industry commentator.  His educational presentations have helped literally thousands of BICSI members upgrade the quality of their cabling projects and value to their customers.  Bisbee nominated Draye for the award, largely for Drayes work with BICSI. 

Bob Jensen was selected for the Pfister award in recognition of his work in establishing critical industry standards, including the two terms he served as Chair of the TIA Cabling Standards Committee (TR-42) and the TR-42.2 Subcommittee for Residential Infrastructure.  He is also a Principle Member to National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Panel 16 for the National Electrical Code.

Presented by the University of South Florida, College of Engineering, the Harry J. Pfister award recognizes the lifetime achievement or major accomplishment of an individual who enhances scientific, technical, or educational aspects, or promotes professionalism, within the telecommunications industry.

Draye explains the complex in understandable terms. For more than 20 years, Hugo has assisted BICSI members in navigating the arcane technical underside of the networks, Bisbee wrote in the nomination. Testing and certification have evolved during the past two decades, and Hugo has been there to help us all achieve a higher standard.

Draye has been with Fluke Corporation and Fluke Networks for over 25 years, and was an original member of the exploratory product group within Fluke Corporation that eventually spun off into the Fluke Networks company in 2000. He played a pivotal role in the development of Fluke Networks first handheld cable certifier, the DSP-100 Series, as well as its successors, the DSP-2000, DSP-4000 and the current DTX CableAnalyzer. 

Draye frequently lectures at industry seminars and conferences worldwide, including BICSI, NEPCON, GigNet and Cabling the Workplace. His papers are regularly published in the trade press. He holds a masters of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium and an MBA degree from Seattle University.

Jensen recognized as expert on standards, safety and optical fiber cabling

Bob Jensen has been previously cited by Dan Bart, TIA Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects, as  a tremendous asset to the TIA standards program. He has kept TIAs cabling and distribution system standards evolving and technically relevant to the market, which is moving at the speed of the Internet.

Jensen has more than 25 years of technical and managerial experience in the telecommunications industry, including 18 years with Bellcore and Bell Atlantic. He has designed multi-million dollar telecommunications infrastructure for projects from Taipei to Milan, including university campuses and numerous commercial offices and manufacturing complexes.

Jensen has delivered numerous presentations and written articles for several industry publications, including Cabling Installation & Maintenance, Lightwave, Residential Systems and Cabling Systems.

The Harry J. Pfister Award

The award Draye and Jensen received is named for Harry J. Pfister of General Telephone Company of Florida, who planned the first Building Industry Consultant Conference, which eventually became BICSI. The University of South Florida has presented the award annually since 1982.

www.flukenetworks.com 

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General Cable Gets $30 Million Contract To Provide Power Cables For Wind Farm Offshore Germany

General Cable Corp. said Tuesday it received a contract with Bard Engineering GmbH worth more than $30 million to provide power cables for a planned wind farm offshore Germany.

Bard is constructing a 400-megawatt wind farm with 80 turbines, northwest of the Isle of Borkum in the North Sea. General Cable's German subsidiary, Norddeutsche Seekablewerke GmbH, will produce about 66 miles of power cable for the project's infrastructure to bring electricity back to shore.

A one-megawatt plant running continuously at full capacity can power 778 households each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Wind technology has lower capacity since its power generation is constrained by availability of wind.

Norddeutsche Chairman Valentin Jug said the North Sea will be "an area of high growth" for wind projects because it has high wind and shallow waters that provide efficient turbine use. Bard's wind project is the first in the North Sea and its field will be 75 miles offshore with a depth of about 130 feet.

www.generalcable.com

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General Cable Executives Relinquish Employment Contracts

General Cable Corporation (NYSE: BGC - News) reported that executive officers of the Company, Gregory B. Kenny, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Robert J. Siverd, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, have voluntarily relinquished their employment and change-in-control agreements with General Cable effective at the end of this year. They and Brian Robinson, Chief Financial Officer, remain with the Company and will have their compensation and benefits determined in the discretion of the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors. At the same time, the Board of Directors has adopted a new severance plan which will cover US-based executive officers of the Company which will take effect on January 1, 2008. This new and more simplified severance plan will provide benefits for these and other US-based executives of General Cable.

“Mr. Siverd and I have voluntarily terminated our employment related agreements in order to be fully aligned with the terms and conditions of the North American senior management team,” said Mr. Kenny. “We look forward to continuing to build the Company domestically and internationally for the benefit of our shareholders and employees in the years ahead,” Mr. Kenny concluded.

Additional information is set forth in the Company's 8-K Report dated December 21, 2007, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With over $5.5 billion of annualized revenues and 12,000 employees, General Cable is a global leader in the development, design, manufacturer, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable products for the energy, industrial, and communications markets. Visit our website at www.generalcable.com.

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HH Robertson Floor Systems introduces the Power / Data Post

HH Robertson Floor Systems introduces the Power / Data Post, an electrical service pole and office partition terminal that delivers power and data services to 1, 2, 3, or 4 workstations from any floor based system.  The new cost saving post is available in 3 standard heights to centrally terminate 48", 60", or 72 high office partitions; and in three colors…beige,brown, and gray.

In-floor or under floor systems including poke-thrus, access floors, floor boxes, cellular floors, underfloor ducts and core drilled aftersets can be activated by the Post.  It can be used for new construction or for retrofits of existing floor based electrical systems.  Here’s how it works.

A steel mounting base is placed over an existing ,or new floor outlet that fits beneath and within the base.  The mounting base is oriented in the desired direction and the carpet beneath the base may be removed… before the mounting base is fastened to the concrete floor slab.

After activating the floor outlet, power wires and data cables are pulled up through the mounting base.  The Power / Data Post is then placed over, and attached to, the mounting base.  A steel plate within the post separates the high and low voltage compartments.

Power wires in flex conduit and data cables are pulled upward through the post and terminated at receptacles on each large face of the post, either above or below the desktop level.  Partition panels are then attached to the smaller vertical faces of the post to create workstations, each of which has electrical services available on the face of the post.The Power/Data Post is UL and cUL listed for 20 amp service.

This product eliminates the cost of activating electrical services for each separate workstation, or the cost of wire raceways within the partition panels and the wiring harnesses currently used.  Cabling can be altered in one workstation without disrupting services to the other workstations serviced by the post . . . a unique capability.  Contact HH Robertson Floor Systems at 412-299-8074 for a more complete description of this product by E-Mail or visit Robertson’s website www.hhrobertson.com.

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Join NextLAN At The West 2008 Conference In San Diego, February 5-7 For The Latest Information On Our Cutting Edge Products

At West, NextLAN will feature a variety of innovative new products that enable government initiatives by increasing reliability, enhancing security, and expanding availability of high-bandwith networks. Come check out our products in Booth #1905.

NextLAN 10G/CAT 6A shielded and unshielded copper cabling systems provide exceptional electrical performance with robust construction and superior functionality. Fiber Plug-n-Play Data Center Solutions provide reduced installation time and double fiber density all custom configured for special applications. FastCAM pre-polished fiber optic connectors provide precision mechanical termination in less time than field polished connectors.

NextLAN is an engineering partnership between Leviton and Superior Essex, both leaders in the design, development and engineering of cable and connectivity solutions. By combining advanced fiber optic and UTP/STP copper technologies, NextLAN provides the optimum solution for critical Government network applications and delivers guaranteed system performance.

For more information on West 2008, log on to http://www.afcea.org/events/west/2008/introduction.asp.

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Ortronics/Legrand Introduces Clarity SNAP

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, introduces the Clarity SNAP™ pre-terminated copper cabling system. The SNAP system combines the enhanced performance of Clarity connectivity with a modular design that ensures reliability and increases the ease and flexibility of installation and maintenance while dramatically reducing installation times.

Clarity SNAP is an ideal solution for high density applications, especially the growing data center market. The Clarity SNAP system includes traditional six-port module patch panels, individual jack panels, terminated cable assemblies and workstation jacks. Supporting the above standard performance of Clarity 5E, Clarity 6 and Clarity 10G, SNAP provides superior channel performance, supports easier and quicker installation and reduces/eliminates the need to conduct field testing on the final installed system. Ortronics pre-terminated cable assemblies feature a unique connector on each end of the cable assembly that is reduced in size, which makes pulling or laying cable in place easier while providing a high speed connection.

Like all Ortronics Clarity products, the RJ45 connections of these patch panels and jacks are precision tuned with Clarity patch cords using Ortronics center tuned technology for significantly improved cross talk and return loss performance that is field measurable in the channel. In addition, the Clarity SNAP system is RoHS compliant (meeting all lead-free requirements).

www.ortronics.com

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Ortronics/Legrand Offers Connected Living Solutions for the Multi-Dwelling Home with On-Q Home Systems

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, is now offering On-Q home systems for multi-dwelling homes, such as apartments, condos, townhouses, and planned communities. Ortronics MDU Solutions combine their industry-leading structured cabling solutions with the innovative home systems from On-Q/Legrand to meet the communication and entertainment needs of the modern, connected lifestyle. 

The combination of Ortronics structured cabling solutions with On-Q home systems provides every element for integrated end-to-end solutions from the building entrance to the outlet in the home. Ortronics connectivity and cable management solutions allow flexible, high performance solutions in the backbone to deliver services to individual units, while On-Q home systems connect audio, video, phones, and Internet for the ultimate in lifestyle convenience and control.

Ortronics and On-Q high performance MDU solutions distribute and manage audio, video and data (copper and fiber) with more bandwidth, more flexibility and more capabilities, including voice, high-speed Internet access (wired or wireless), surround-sound home theater, online gaming, music piped throughout the home, and telecommuting from a high-tech home office. These amenities increase the lifestyle value of the multi-dwelling unit and are sure to attract and retain residents who have come to expect these benefits.

www.ortronics.com

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Ortronics/Legrand Expands Sales Reach Through Creation Of Legrand North America Commercial Data Communications Division

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, is pleased to announce the creation of the Legrand North America Commercial Data Communications Division. The Commercial Data Communications Division will encompass the Ortronics/Legrand sales team and the four product sets available through the data communications channel from parent company Legrand North America (LNA). This includes Ortronics® structured cabling solutions, Wiremold® pathways, Cablofil® wire mesh cable tray, and On-Q® home systems.

This new organization supports the Legrand North America vision of becoming the premier choice for electrical and network infrastructure products, systems and solutions. "We believe we can best serve our customers by providing complete network infrastructure solutions through a single point of contact," states Mark Panico, president of Ortronics/Legrand. "Our sales team is highly knowledgeable in all aspects of the network infrastructure, so we are very pleased to extend their services to include these LNA solutions that are specified and sold through the data communications channel."

The formation of this new, expanded sales organization will result in increased collaboration for product development, sales and marketing efforts. "As Ortronics/Legrand continues to evolve, we're constantly seeking new ways to bring more comprehensive solutions and enhanced levels of service to our customers," states Jerry Nania, senior vice president of global sales for Ortronics/Legrand. "This move reinforces that commitment."

To find a Legrand North America Commercial Data Communications Division representative in your area, go to: http://www.ortronics.com/us/contact-us/us-canada/.  www.ortronics.com 

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Ortronics/Legrand Introduces Mighty Mo® 10, the Next Generation of Ortronics Advanced Cable Management System

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, introduces the Mighty Mo® 10 advanced cable management system for higher density applications, such as data centers and storage area networks.

The new cable management system features the Mighty Mo 10 cable management rack, which is designed to maximize the airflow of network equipment. Honeycomb side rails and baffles work together to manage intake and exhaust air, creating cold aisle/hot aisle air distribution from side vented equipment. Available in 7' or 8' heights, the Mighty Mo 10 can be assembled as a 19" or 23" rack, has a 16.25" channel depth and can fit on a 2' x 2' floor tile. Its patented construction has built-in strain relief, bend radius control and efficient patch cable routing with floor and ceiling access to distribution cables. Optional vented double hinged front and rear doors are also available for additional security.

The Mighty Mo 10 cable management system also includes a server rack that is compatible with all Mighty Mo 10 and Mighty Mo 6 racks and cable management. It is a 7' high, four-post aluminum frame with mounting rails that adjust from 12.5" to 30", even after the rack is installed.

The system also features the signature Mighty Mo vertical cable management cage with door. Its design promotes efficient routing of patch cables between racks, and the hinged door allows easy access for moves, adds and changes and creates a finished look for data center installations.

 www.ortronics.com

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Ortronics/Legrand Introduces Momentum® 3

Modular, Pre-Terminated Fiber Optic Cabling System

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, introduces the Momentum 3 modular, pre-terminated fiber optic cabling system - an ideal solution for high density data center applications that require the simplicity and reliability of a plug-and-go installation.

Designed for use in mission critical data centers and storage area networks, the Momentum 3 pre-terminated modular fiber optic system enables quick deployment, eliminates the possibility of optical performance flaws, and provides increased flexibility for network design. Momentum 3 makes moves, adds and changes quick, easy and error-free, and ensures unsurpassed optical performance with superior optical fiber and best-in-class pre-terminated connectors.

Available with LC or SC adapters, the Momentum 3 fiber cassettes are available for 50-micron laser optimized, single-mode or 62.5/125-micron fiber MTP/MPO® backbone cables. Momentum 3 also includes new premium performance low-loss LC 50-micron LOMF cassettes and patch cords.  When used together, the low loss cassettes and patch cords provide a total cassette insertion loss of 0.5dB.

This next generation product improves upon the original Momentum offering with enhancements such as a rugged metal cassette housing with internal bend limiting fiber drum and shuttered LC duplex adapters available for increased eye safety and dust protection. When combined with Ortronics new OptiMo premium performance SpaceSaver patch cords, the new Momentum 3 solution from Ortronics creates an unsurpassed high density data center solution addressing tight optical budget constraints while minimizing congestion in cable pathways.

www.ortronics.com

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Ortronics/Legrand Introduces OptiMo® Precison Fiber Optic Cleave Tool

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, introduces the OptiMo precision fiber optic cleave tool, a rugged, durable tool for fiber optic field splicing of individual fibers and 12-fiber ribbons.

Ortronics new precision fiber optic cleave tool eliminates the need for field cleave inspections when terminating pre-polished fiber optic connectors, providing significant labor savings by reducing overall installation time. Ideal for producing precision (<1 degree) bare fiber cleaves in the field, the tool has a simple, easy-to-use design that allows the fiber technician to produce precision high-quality fiber cleaves repeatedly and reliably. The 16-position diamond blade yields 48,000 single-fiber cleaves for long-lasting performance. The precision diamond blade also provides 4,000 12-fiber ribbon cleaves before requiring replacement. A built-in fiber scrap collector conveniently stores fiber shards until they can be safely discarded.

The OptiMo precision fiber optic cleave tool rounds out the fiber optic tools needed to install Ortronics OptiMo pre-polished fiber optic single-mode and multimode connectors. It is also well suited for single fiber cleaves in conjunction with most telecommunications fusion splicers. This labor savings accessory will save contractors time in the field and ensure reliable, repeatable results. www.ortronics.com

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Ortronics/Legrand Introduces OptiMo® SpaceSaver Fiber Optic Patch Cords

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, introduces the OptiMo SpaceSaver fiber optic patch cords.

Ortronics SpaceSaver fiber optic patch cords are ideal for high density fiber optic LC duplex patching applications where conservation of cable routing space is required. They are designed to fit precisely, without interference, between high density LC adapter ports used in closely packed duplex and quad LC cassettes or shuttered adapter panels.

Available in high performance or premium performance, the SpaceSaver patch cords utilize a special compact 2.4-mm diameter duplex cable with integral Kevlar strength members to save valuable routing space and reduce the weight in overhead cable trays. The LC duplex connectors at each end of the SpaceSaver patch cords are designed as a single molded duplex construction and incorporate a unique single strain relief boot and single thumb-latch disconnect operation to simplify insertion and removal.

The SpaceSaver cords are available in 50-micron LOMF, 62.5-micron and single-mode fiber types and feature A-A or A-B polarity options for flexible configurations. In addition, the risk of inadvertent polarity problems is significantly reduced because the connectors do not require polarity clips. Precision zirconia ceramic ferrules ensure repeatable high performance operation.  When coupled with Ortronics new Momentum 3 optical cassettes, an integrated data center solution emerges, solving the problems of increased port density and optical performance. www.ortronics.com

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TEKNOR APEX Announces It Will Cease Production Of Lead-Stabalized PVC Wire And Cable Compounds

Manufacture of Compounds that Already Have Non-Lead Equivalents Ends Immediately

In the first initiative of its kind in the wire and cable industry, Teknor Apex Company has advised customers that it will supply only non-lead stabilized (NLS) PVC compounds after July 31 of this year, it was announced today by the company's Vinyl Division.  In the case of NLS compounds that have already been fully developed and established as compliant with requisite codes and standards, the company will cease producing lead-stabilized versions effective immediately.

Also included in the changeover are pre-colored compounds, for which the Vinyl Division's sister business Teknor Color Company has developed color concentrates that comply with the European Union's Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations, including restrictions against use of lead.

Underscoring the significance of this initiative is the pioneering role of Teknor Apex in developing PVC as a workhorse compound for insulation and jacketing, as well as the sheer number of such compounds—over 3,000—now offered by the company, according to Mike Patel, industry manager.

"For decades after Teknor Apex began manufacturing PVC wire and cable compounds in the 1940s, lead-containing additives were the most effective means of making PVC thermally stable while maintaining its outstanding electrical properties," Patel said. "All that has now changed. New non-lead stabilizers plus advanced compounding technology has enabled us to manufacture NLS compounds whose performance and cost are comparable to lead-stabilized materials."

 Customers that have not already initiated a changeover to NLS compounds are urged to do so as soon as possible, noted Patel. Teknor Apex representatives will contact these companies to provide NLS-compound recommendations and other advice.

New Stabilizers and Advanced Compounding: Both Needed for Eliminating Lead

 "After years of work with additive suppliers and customers seeking to eliminate lead, Teknor Apex has developed its capability for formulating fully comparable NLS alternatives to the point where we anticipate no problem in converting any remaining lead-stabilized product into its NLS equivalent and supplying it by July 31 of this year," said Patel.  

 Until recently, tribasic lead sulfate and other lead-based stabilizers were the most efficient and cost-effective additives available for rendering the PVC polymer in vinyl resistant to thermal degradation. Polymer degradation causes deterioration of the mechanical properties of PVC and compromises its electrical properties.

 The key to replacing lead stabilizers was the development by additive companies, starting in the 1990s, of new stabilizers that are more efficient than previous formulations. 

 "New stabilizers alone were no magic solution to the problem of eliminating lead," said Patel. "The challenge for compounders like Teknor Apex was to develop formulations in which the new stabilizers function in concert with all the other ingredients that make up so complex a compound as PVC for wire and cable."

 Unlike many other commonly used polymers, PVC has no commercial value unless it is compounded with plasticizers, lubricants, heat stabilizers, colorants, and other additives. A change in one of these components may affect the functioning of the others, which in turn can affect processing, mechanical, and electrical properties, or the cost of the compound.: www.teknorapex.com.

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Tripp Lite Named to SearchDataCenter.com 2007 “Products of the Year”

20kVA – 30kVA 3-Phase UPS Systems Take Bronze in Data Center Backup Power Category

Tripp Lite, a world-leading manufacturer of power protection equipment, was judged as one of the three best Data Center Backup Power products in TechTarget’s SearchDataCenter.com 2007 “Products of the Year” Awards.

Tripp Lite’s 20kVA – 30kVA 3-Phase UPS Systems were chosen from a number of new products submitted for consideration to SearchDataCenter.com in eight categories. The awards were judged by the editors of TechTarget’s SearchDataCenter.com, in conjunction with a team of users, industry experts, analysts and consultants. Judges selected the Products of the Year among data center-related products introduced, upgraded and shipped between October 31, 2006 and November 1, 2007. The winners were selected according to the following six criteria: innovation, performance, ease of integration into existing environments, ease of use and manageability, functionality and value.

“Tripp Lite is pleased that SearchDataCenter.com has recognized our new 20kVA and 30kVA 3-Phase UPS Systems for their performance, durability and innovation,” stated Paul Wampach, Tripp Lite’s 3-Phase Product Manager. “Our new 3-Phase UPS Systems save valuable server room space, simplify runtime scalability and provide the highest level of power protection available for sensitive data center equipment. This represents a great return on investment for companies that rely on their data centers to remain productive and profitable.”

Tripp Lite's newly redesigned SmartOnline 3-Phase UPS Systems have the smallest footprint in their class and provide ideal power for mission-critical equipment in computing, networking, telecommunications and industrial environments. Power and battery components have been combined into a single, compact module with front-panel battery access for convenient runtime expansion. True on-line operation and IGBT inverter technology provide up to 30kVA of pure sine wave 120/208V output power. www.tripplite.com

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HCM Introduces 24-Strand Single-Unit Plenum Rated Armored Fiber Optic Cable

Hitachi Cable Manchester (HCM) continues to be a leader in the development of new and innovative copper and fiber optic communication cables. 

HCM is pleased to announce the launch of its new 24-strand single-unit plenum (OFNP) rated armored fiber optic cable. 

The new cable offers 24-strands of tight buffered optical fibers under a single jacket then protected by aluminum interlock armor. (Steel armoring is available.)  The armor is jacketed to permit better product marking, higher visibility and easier installation.  The cable is available with both multimode and singlemode optical fiber. 

Due the rugged construction of this cable it can withstand the toughest of indoor installations and it does not need to be installed in innerduct.  This cable is available through all authorized HCM distributors.

About HCM

HCM, located in Manchester, NH manufacturers a complete line of copper and fiber optic cables for the communication industry.  Over 3,300 different cable products are manufactured at this facility.  Products include Category 6A UTP cables, shielded and outdoor Category 5e and 6 cables, armored plenum-rated fiber optic cables as well as plenum-rated indoor/outdoor fiber optic cables.

www.hcm.hitachi.com

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Security+Life Safety  Systems Magazine Names Ed Brown New Managing Editor


Security+Life Safety Systems (S+LSS) magazine has named Ed Brown its new managing editor. A senior electrical engineer, Brown was most recently the managing editor of NECDIGEST®, a publication of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that covers the National Electrical Code®. S+LSS is published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) for the 46+ percent of electrical contractors who now specify, design and install security and life safety systems. It is also published as a supplement to NECA’s Electrical Contractor magazine, the leading trade publication in its category with more than 85,000 subscribers.

 “Ed’s background will benefit our readers through a powerful combination of technical and editorial expertise, especially as we’re quickly becoming a more technical publication,” said S+LSS Publisher John Maisel. “He’ll help us continue to grow as a dedicated resource for electrical contractors who are increasingly involved in integrated building systems (IBS) and design/build,” he said.

As managing editor of NECDIGEST®, Brown developed stories, managed authors and edited all editorial content. He wrote a regular column on V/D/V (voice/data/video), feature articles on energy-efficient lighting, PLCs (programmable logic controllers), surge suppression, switching power supply technology and covered new product news. Brown’s articles have been used in college and vocational training classes. He also recently served as a technical copy editor for Media Content Marketing in New York City, where he edited articles for peer-reviewed computer journals published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Prior to the editorial positions, Brown worked as a senior electrical engineer  for Cober Electronics, Norwalk, Ct. He was responsible for project management, system design, controls engineering, product design, power engineering,  electronic and electromechanical design. Earlier, he served as a project  engineer for Del Electronics in  Valhalla, Ny.

Brown earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the City College  of New York and a Master of Arts degree in sociology from the New School for  Social Research.

Launched in 2003, S+LSS magazine currently covers six  vertical markets: education (K-12,  college/university); health care (hospitals/long-term care); government  (federal, state and local); public places (amusement, museums, arenas and  stadiums); hotels/resorts/gaming (hotels, motels, casinos and gaming); and  financial (banks, brokerages, insurance and retail). Web  site: www.ecmag.com <http://www.ecmag.com> .  

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New Structured Cabling Association Formed

The formation of the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) was announced on January 15,2008 at The Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FL. This association was formed to unify and support the commercial agenda of the major cable and connectivity manufacturers. CCCA will also include the fluoropolymer chemical suppliers and major cable distributors.  CCCA plans to be active in codes and standards development and as well as other trade, industry and governmental organizations. Their official location is currently in the office of a Washington, D.C. attorney firm. Frank Peri (Francis W. Peri) is the executive director of CCCA. Mr. Peri has more than 30 years of professional experience in the chemical, information technology and telecommunications industries. His background includes: consultation for management and marketing, and positions in chemical manufacturing, marketing, and senior business management at the DuPont Company. Mr. Peri holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Boston College.

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The Light Brigade’s March 2008 Training Schedule

Fiber Optics 1-2-3

This course focuses on how to design, install, test and maintain fiber optic communication systems for voice, video and data applications. The course consists of two days of classroom content and two optional days of hands-on practices. Course material and techniques taught are based on ITU, TIA/EIA, IEEE, Telcordia and ANSI standards. Class participants will learn to understand and effectively use any manufacturer's equipment or product designed to conform to these widely accepted standards.

 

 

 

 

 

March 3-6

Riverside, CA

 

March 17-20

Tulsa, OK

 

Indianapolis, IN

 

 

Denver, CO

 

Huntsville, AL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 10-13

Orlando, FL

 

March 24-27

Las Vegas, NV

 

Houston, TX

 

 

Anchorage, AK

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced Hands-on Modules

These intensive one-day fiber optic training courses were developed as the next level of training for those who require more advanced skills and experience with major fiber optic disciplines and equipment. Each of the five modules focuses on a specific discipline and incorporates concentrated hands-on exercises.

Module 1: Fiber Optic Cable Preparation, Patch Panels & Splice Closures

Module 2: Fiber Optic Connectorization

Module 3: Optical Loss Testing, Troubleshooting & Documentation

Module 4: OTDR Theory, Operation & Emergency Restoration

Module 5: Fiber Optic Splicing (Fusion & Mechanical)

March 17-21

Seattle, WA

March 24-28

Sacramento, CA

For more information on the Light Brigade’s courses or to register, call (800) 451-7128 or visit lightbrigade.com

Association News

BICSI

Phil Janeway Presented BICSI David Blythe University Of Kentucky Award

Phil Janeway RCDD, Indianapolis Time Warner Telecom Engineering, received the Building Industry Consulting Services International (BICSI) David Blythe University of Kentucky 2007 member of the year award.  He was presented the annual award among over three thousand people at the awards banquet held at the Gaylord Palms Resort on January 16th in Kissimmee, Florida.  The banquet is held each year during the BICSI Orlando engineering conference.

The award is presented to the most outstanding member through his dedication, commitment and service to BICSI and the communications industry through the years.  David Blythe, a BICSI founder, was the dean of engineering for the University of Kentucky.  BICSI honored Mr. Blythe by naming their most prestigious award after him.

BICSI is the world largest communications organization serving the communications transport industry.  They have over 20,000 members world wide.  The BICSI Organization writes and supports the codes and standards for the communications industry.  They produce training and technical manuals relating to the industry.

Phil has been a BICSI member for over twenty years and earned his Registered Communications Distribution Designer credential in 1989.  He served as a board of director for BICSI from 1990 to 1996.  Since 1996, Phil has been the chairman of BICSI's codes committee.  He assists with writing code proposals for the NFPA National Electrical Code, the IEEE National Electrical Safety Codes and other codes making bodies serving the telecommunications and building industries. 

He is a member of BICSI's Technical Information Methods Committee.  He writes chapters for BICSI's technical manuals and serves on the final edit team for editing the manuals before publication.  He is also a member of the Standards Committee who writes communications standards for the voice and data industries.

He recently served on BICSI's NextGen Committee, a committee designed to implement the next generation of BICSI training and credentialing programs

www.bicsi.org

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BICSI Winter Conference Inspires Attendees To Succeed

The 2008 BICSI Winter Conference proved to be an inspiring event and a strong catalyst for business success in the information transport systems (ITS) industry. More than 5,500 registered attendees, exhibitors and guests engaged in pre-conference and general session seminars, exchanged information with industry peers and clients from around the globe and expanded their knowledge through participation in business and networking opportunities. 

Symbolizing the continuous evolution in the industry, the Annual Business Meeting featured the inauguration of incoming president Edward J. Donelan, RCDD/NTS Specialist, TLT. The meeting also included a review of BICSI over the past year and what the future will bring. Executive Director David Cranmer, RCDD, recognized the accomplishments of the 2007 Board of Directors and introduced the new Board Members for 2008. Several key updates were presented at the meeting on BICSI’s new credential restructuring program BICSI NxtGEN, as well as reports on financial, membership, marketing and international growth.

An entertaining evening was had by all during the BICSI Annual Awards Banquet which featured dinner, awards and entertainment from comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of the hit television show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” During the awards ceremony, Phil Janeway, RCDD, won the David K. Blythe/University of Kentucky Award and the Larry G. Romig Committee Member of the Year Award was given to Tony Whaley, RCDD/NTS/WD Specialist.

Dr. Mel Anderson, of the University of South Florida Department of Engineering, presented the Harry J. Pfister Award for Excellence in the Telecommunications Industry. For the first time in the history of the award presentation there were two equally deserving recipients. Hugo Draye, RCDD was the first winner of the award, followed by Bob Jensen, RCDD/NTS Specialist.

Keynote speakers lived up to their professions as agents of change to inspire and motivate conference attendees with their powerful stories. On Tuesday morning, Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, addressed the audience about the future of computing and its implications for business and society. Simon T. Bailey served as wake-up speaker on Wednesday morning, providing specific examples from his career that taught him the importance of creating positive customer experiences in order to succeed in bidding and winning business contracts. Thursday’s closing keynote, Kevin Carroll, revealed childhood stories and explained how he uses “playtime” to become a “katalyst” of change in his job and inspire adults to tap into their imagination and creativity to be more productive.

Participants continued to show their undying generosity for the charities that are supported at every BICSI conference through donations to the BICSI Cares charity organization. This year’s receiving charity was the Healing the Children of Florida/Georgia, Inc. organization, whose mission is to provide healthcare to children in need, regardless of ability to pay, insurance status and physical location. Arlene Torres Rhodenbeck, executive director, was on hand during the closing session ceremonies to receive a check in the amount of $27,000. “This is overwhelming, and will do so much for the many children we work with,” said Rhodenbeck.

The popular BICSI Reception and Exhibits featured 219 vendors showcasing the latest ITS products and solutions and giving attendees exclusive insight into what is available in the market. Many exhibiting representatives spoke positively of their experience at the show, including Lori Porritt and Susan James with Semtron, Inc. in Flint, Mich. “It was an excellent show for us,” said Porritt. “Yes, every night it seemed the traffic of people that came by kept growing,” replied James. “We will certainly see you in April for the Spring Conference.”

www.bicsi.org

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Ten Common NEC ® Violations in Low-Voltage Systems

By Santiago Beron

It is sad how sometimes the responsibility of compliance with the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) is shifted from one person to another in projects that include low-voltage systems. The designer clears the responsibility with a paragraph in the specifications that usually reads, “The contractor shall comply with all codes and regulations.” The contractor executing the job then shifts responsibility of code compliance to the engineer of record who signed and sealed the permits for the job. The engineer of record usually designs all electrical systems and maybe raceways only for low-voltage systems, but it is very unlikely that he or she was responsible for design of the low-voltage systems.

The Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD®) who designs and installs low-voltage systems is the individual most suitable to check a design for code compliance, regardless if that person is acting as a designer, a contractor or possibly the engineer of record. Unfortunately, knowledge of the code sometimes is believed by many to be limited to plenum- or non-plenum-rated cable decisions. Most low-voltage training that is available in the information transport systems (ITS) industry really does not address code issues in detail. When you sit through one of the specialized training sessions for code issues, there can be a big disconnect between what you see in the field or from vendors and the explanations and terminology used in those code seminars.

For example, a typical false belief in the ITS industry is that if a project passed an inspection by a city official or inspector it means that it is a code-compliant installation. The assumption is that the designer and contractor did the right thing. This is also false because in many cases, it just means that code violations were not caught by the inspector. There are new buildings everywhere with code violations.

There are two reasons why inspections do not frequently report code violations in low-voltage systems. First is that in many projects, the general contractor or construction manager calls for an electrical inspection as soon as the electrical work is completed even though, as we all know, the low-voltage trades are the last to leave the premises. When the inspections take place, the low-voltage work is not complete or sometimes just getting started. The second reason why inspections miss code violations is that inspectors themselves are very focused on the major systems such as fire alarm and electrical systems. Inspectors are supposed to check low-voltage work. But to them, it is not high on their priority list. With so many details to remember in the major systems, inspectors seldom go into great detail in the low-voltage systems.

In an effort to help bring clarity to code issues, listed below are some of the most common NEC violations that surface on projects.

Common NEC Violations Found in Low-Voltage Systems

1. Audio cables run in cable trays with other low-voltage cable. NEC 2005 introduced a new article 725.56(F) that prohibits audio cables (speaker, microphone or line level signals) to be run in the same raceway with other Class 2 or Class 3 circuits (low-voltage power and network cables). This is a common violation especially with audio systems that work on twisted-pair cables. It is a common misconception to say that all cables of the same type (e.g., category 5e cables) can be run together because they are the same cable type. In this case, the code dictates the wiring method for this circuit depending on the purpose of the circuit and not based upon the cable type.

2. Power cords run above ceilings. Article 400.8(5) prohibits running flexible power cords above the ceiling. Sometimes when television displays or projectors are suspended from the roof or slab structure, power outlets are placed above the ceiling to connect those devices. A variation of this code violation is running power cords below the raised floor used for air distribution in computer rooms noncompliant with article 645. This violation is mostly related to electrical work and not to low-voltage systems, but this is included because it is driven by power requirements in low-voltage systems.            

3. Cables suspended from a cable tray system. It is very common to see low-voltage cables strapped to the bottom of a cable tray system. Article 392.6(J) allows this support method only in industrial installations serviced by qualified personnel. In commercial buildings, it is fine to strap cables from the tray, but additional supports are required. Most likely this article was written thinking of heavy power cables, but unfortunately, there is no exception for low-voltage cables. This violation does not seem to be a big deal or present a really hazardous situation, but this is being analyzed from the code compliance point of view. A spin-off of this code violation is supporting low-voltage cables from electrical raceways. Article 800.133(C) prohibits this practice.

4. Unlisted broadband backbone cables run inside the building for more than 15 m (50 ft). Article 820.113 exception 2 limits unlisted broadband (coax) cables to 15 m (50 ft) from the point of entrance. In commercial buildings with requirements for large bandwidth systems and because of attenuation issues, it is required to run PIII-500 or 650 coaxial backbone cables to maintain the signal. These cables are usually made for outside plant applications, and the offering in riser-rated versions is very limited, so this becomes a common violation.

5. Secondary protection used in lieu of primary protection. Article 800.90(D) states that secondary protection cannot be used without primary protection. This requirement is not only for telephone cables but also for other low-voltage circuits such as Class 2 wiring or audio systems. The code violation occurs when a protection module is specified and installed without knowing the classification of the protector. Primary protectors are listed under UL 497, and secondary protectors are listed under UL 497A. The similarity of the UL numbers and failure of some manufacturers to use the same terminology as the NEC (primary or secondary protection) make it easy to design and install the wrong device.

6. Patch cords run in plenum spaces. Article 800.154(A) explains that only CMP-rated cables can be run in plenum spaces. This is not a big surprise for most in the ITS industry. The proliferation of wireless access points and IP cameras has required the termination of horizontal cables above ceilings, creating code issues. Because of the need to test cable for those applications, jacks are also installed above the ceiling. The code violation comes by leaving the jack exposed to the plenum or using a factory made patch cord (rated as CM or CMG only) to make the final connection to the device.

7. Low-voltage cables run from multiple output power supplies with outputs not classified as Class 2 installed in the same raceway or cable tray with other low-voltage cables. Article 725.55(A) does not allow running Class 2 and Class 3 circuits with power, lighting or Class 1 circuits in the same cable or raceway, except for very limited cases. In the ITS industry, many multiple output power supplies (e.g., for CCTV cameras and access control systems) are not classified as Class 2 outputs but Class 1 because of the way they are built. Unfortunately, the installation manual for those devices does not explicitly mention Class 1 or Class 2 anywhere in the document. It is too easy to fall for this code violation.

8. Ungrounded or improperly grounded primary or secondary protectors. Article 800.170(A) and (B) stipulate that all primary protectors need to be grounded and secondary protection needs to be grounded when present in the device. It is well known that primary protectors need to be grounded. The code violation occurs most of the time by running excessive lengths of ground cable to reach a distant ground bar when other grounding means are closer. Secondary protectors are installed many times as a result of a specific situation when equipment was damaged. Those retrofit jobs often are done by unqualified personnel who are not aware of the grounding requirements for secondary devices.

9. Unlisted communications cable coming into the building in EMT conduit and extending beyond 15 m (50 ft). Article 800.2 defines point of entrance as the point at which the wire or cable emerges from an external wall, from a concrete floor slab or from a rigid metal conduit or an intermediate metal conduit grounded to an electrode. The code violation occurs when assuming that EMT conduit is also fine to extend the point of entrance. Electricians do not like using rigid metal conduit because of the treading of the conduit ends and because it is a heavier pipe; in the electrical world, the point of entrance cannot be extended with pipe.

10. Insulated grounding backbone cables run in air-handling spaces in the cable tray. Insulations for large gauge (3/0 or AWG-6) electrical cables are usually not listed for plenum use since their main use is for electrical work, where they are run in conduit. Article 800.154 is clear in requiring cable listings for plenum use. The code violation occurs when running those cables as telecommunications grounding backbones (or other grounding wires for telecommunications) in the cable tray system with other low-voltage cables. They are installed in the cable tray because they are not current-carrying conductors. Fortunately, BICSI and TIA have revised the concept of the telecommunications grounding backbones, and those long grounding backbones are being eliminated. It is good practice to stay with uninsulated cables or run separate conduits for those cables.

Conclusion

            Many other common violations can be cited. In the end, RCCDs and installation professionals should keep up to date in all of the code changes. The NEC is confusing and dense. Many times it is difficult to find the right answers, but if you don’t make this effort, chances are nobody else will either.

Santiago Beron, RCDD, CTS, is an associate and systems project manager at TLC Engineering for Architecture in Tampa Fl, a consulting engineering company specialized in mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology systems design in Florida and Tennessee. Santiago can be contacted at +1 813.637.0110 or at santiago.beron@tlc-eng.com

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News Magazine www.bicsi.org

Jan/Feb issue

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Dispelling the Myths of Shielded Cable

Higher frequency channels warrant a closer look at STP.

By tom Williams

The future of copper structured cabling systems is at hand. New 10 gigabit (Gb) copper systems are being installed today, and now the IEEE is developing 40 Gb systems using copper structured cabling and looking at the possibility of 100 Gb. With ever-increasing network speeds and the demand for more bandwidth never seeming to subside, system designers are faced with making an informed choice between a shielded solution and an unshielded solution.

Shielded and unshielded systems have their place in system design and in meeting the network requirements of the end user. Unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) systems are widely used today for 1 Gb applications. Yet deployment of UTP for 10 Gb applications—while entirely feasible—comes with a lot of conditions due to the problem of alien crosstalk. Comparatively, shielded systems can be installed for all current applications and can be deployed when considering future applications such as those that will require proposed category 6A, category 7 or category 7A. Shielded systems not only offer better performance than UTP but are just as easy to install and ultimately less expensive. Taking into consideration all aspects of designing, installing and testing a structured cabling system, this article seeks to dispel the myths and rumors surrounding shielded cabling systems.

Myth #1: 10 Gb UTP systems perform as well as shielded cabling systems

UTP, consisting of four unshielded twisted pairs under an overall sheath, has the lion’s share of current installations in North America. It has been the media of choice for many years with widely known design and installation practices. Shielded cabling can be very different in design and type. Pairs in metal foil (PiMF) is a fully shielded cable consisting of four twisted pairs individually shielded with a foil and an overall shield and sheath. This is predominantly installed in Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland (Central Europe). Other designs include shielding just the individual pairs with a foil shield or leaving the individual pairs unshielded but using an overall foil or braid shield. Although the cable designs are different, the electrical performance characteristics considered for both UTP and shielded media types remain the same.

Insertion loss: The loss of signal strength through the channel, insertion loss is affected by the length  of the channel and the frequency at which the signal is transmitted. In other words, the longer the cable and the higher the frequency, the higher  the loss. Loss on shielded cables can be affected by the shielding. At higher frequencies, the signal can be prone to skin affect (signal traveling on theoutside edges of the cable). This signal can be absorbed into the shield, causing additional loss. UTP cables can experience higher loss due to increased twist ratios used to control crosstalk within  the cable. Other factors affecting loss are impedance mismatches throughout the length of the cable, which send reflections back through the cable. This is referred to as structural return loss (SRL).

Crosstalk: This can be described as the unwanted coupling of signal between pairs in a cable, referred to as near-end crosstalk (NEXT) and far-end crosstalk (FEXT). Twisted-pair cables use complex twist ratios and algorithms to control crosstalk within the cable. Shielded cable can offer significantly reduced crosstalk within the cable when pairs are individually shielded.

Alien near-end crosstalk (ANEXT): The crosstalk noise that occurs between adjacent cables, ANEXT can be problematic for 10 Gb UTP systems performing at higher frequencies. The shield that surrounds individual pairs or all pairs in a shielded cable isolates cables from adjacent cables to eliminate ANEXT.

Equipment manufacturers have effectively reduced pair-to-pair crosstalk via cancellation technology that distinguishes between the signal and the crosstalk where the crosstalk is from a known source. However, with ANEXT, the source is unknown and cannot be eliminated by the equipment. Consequently, ANEXT has raised questions surrounding UTP distance limitations and installation techniques, and additional ANEXT testing is required following installation.

When considering all of the electrical characteristics of a cabling media, shielded cable far exceeds the performance of a UTP system. Even with a possible small increase in insertion loss, the elimination of ANEXT means that shielded cable offers significantly increased crosstalk performance at higher frequencies to enable the best possible signal to be detected.

While many 10 Gb UTP systems are claimed to meet channel, link and even component performance specifications, it is important to remember that a cabling system is more than just cables and jacks. A fully installed system consists of many end devices connected to switches and routers via fully loaded patch panels. When you consider a fully loaded patch panel and cable bundles using 10 Gb UTP cables operating at higher frequencies, ANEXT becomes an even bigger issue.

With shielded cables, ANEXT does not affect performance even at higher frequencies in fully loaded patch panels or bundles. Consequently, shielded cable can operate at much higher frequencies, providing greater bandwidth over UTP. It is important to remember that bandwidth and throughput are not the same

Myth #2: Shielded cabling systems require intricate grounding and bonding

All systems require some grounding and bonding. According to grounding and bonding standards and guidelines, all metal cable tray, ladder rack, cabinets and equipment racks in telecommunications rooms (TRs) should be properly grounded and bonded to a telecommunications grounding busbar (TGB). The TGBs in each TR are bonded to a telecommunications main grounding busbar (TMGB), which is also bonded to the building grounding system. This method links all metal components to the building grounding system via appropriate ground rods, ground straps and AWG copper stranded conductors. This is true for both UTP and shielded systems, and the following components and requirements are common to both types of systems:

TMGB must be 6 mm (0.24 in) thick, 100 mm (4 in) wide and 300 mm (12 in) long with predrilled holes in standard NEMA sizing and spacing. The TMGB shall be grounded to the main power ground using a 3 AWG [5.8 mm (0.23 in)] stranded green insulated copper conductor.

TGB must be 6 mm (0.24 in) thick, 50 mm (2 in) wide and 300  mm (12 in) long. All TGBs shall be bonded to the TMGB using a 6 AWG [4.1 mm (0.16 in)] stranded green insulated copper conductor.

All metallic raceways, ladder racks, cabinets and equipment racks should be bonded to the TGBs using a 6 AWG [4.1 mm(0.16 in)] stranded green insulated copper conductor.

For both UTP and shielded systems, each telecommunications rack should have a 10 mm (0.39 in) square copper busbar installed running the height of the rack,. It should be installed using plastic brackets to provide proper separation and isolation from the rack. All metal patch panels and enclosures should be bonded to the busbar using a 6 AWG [4.1 mm (0.16 in)] green insulated stranded copper conductor. This includes optical fiber racks and enclosures, which also are made of metal.

Apart from what many believe, the telecommunications outlet/connector should not be grounded to the building ground. The grounding at the work area is provided by the electronic components using the electrical wiring system. This is true for both shielded and UTP. With today’s die cast metal shielded connectors, the cable shield is automatically bonded to the connector following proper termination per the connector manufacturer instructions. The components for the grounding and bonding system remain the same for both shielded and UTP systems, and there is no increase in cost or time to ground and bond when installing a shielded cabling system.

When following proper methods for grounding and bonding, it is easy to dispel the myth that shielded cabling systems can become antennas, drawing in unwanted signals from their surroundings and creating more noise to interfere with the signal. It is actually extremely difficult to create an antenna, requiring a certain range of ground potential difference. That is precisely why there is no grounding done at the workstation. Providing a proper grounding and bonding system for all cabling systems—both shielded and UTP—will prevent this from happening.

The proper methods and requirements for grounding and bonding a telecommunications system can be found in BICSI’s Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) in Chapter 2: Electromagnetic Compatibility, Chapter 8: Grounding, Bonding, and Protection and Chapter 9: Power Distribution, as well as Section 17006 of the Uniform Building Code (UBC)

Myth #3: Shielded cabling systems take more time to install

The myth that shielded cabling systems take longer to install has existed for many years and stems back to the older style of Type I shielded systems that required additional steps to bond the connector to the cable due to the use of plastic housings. This step is no longer required with today’s die cast metal connectors, where the bonding of the shield has become a function of the connector termination. This makes the difference in termination time between UTP and shielded insignificant. The key difference in time between UTP and shielded is only the amount of time it takes to separate individual shields from the pairs and the overall shield from the cable, which takes no more than about 10 extra seconds. In addition, new technologies on the market like tool-less jacks that eliminate the need to punch down individual pairs further reduce termination time.

Significant differences in installation time can be seen after the components are terminated and testing begins. Both UTP and shielded systems are tested using an industry-approved tester, and test parameters are determined by standards from the Electronic Industries Alliance/Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA) and International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC). However, 10 Gb UTP systems require additional testing for ANEXT, while shielded cabling does not. This can be done using a sampling method recommended by the tester manufacturer, which does not require testing all installed UTP cables for ANEXT. The sampling method adds a significant amount of time to the testing process—approximately 30 percent more time. If links fail for ANEXT during the testing, the time required to test can easily double. When a customer requires 100 percent certification of the UTP system for ANEXT, the time will increase by 10 to 300 percent or more compared with a shielded cabling system.

Myth #4: Shielded cabling systems are more expensive than UTP

While shielded components can cost slightly more than UTP, the equivalent grounding and bonding process, reduced labor during testing, higher density at the rack and in pathways and lower total cost of ownership mean that a shielded system ultimately costs less than a UTP system.

For years, many have thought that the increased overall diameter of shielded cable may require the use of larger cable tray or reduce the number of cables installed in a conduit to maintain fill limitations. That is no longer true for 10 Gb systems. In fact, the outside diameter of a 500 MHz shielded foiled twisted-pair cable (SFTP) can be smaller that that of a 500 MHZ UTP cable. Furthermore, ANEXT has created concern surrounding closely packed bundles of UTP cables in pathways, which also can affect density.

In addition, unlike UTP, the use of shielded cable means that conduit is not required to reduce the influence of unwanted signals, such as electromagnetic interference/radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI) from electrical motors and generators in a manufacturing environment. With shielded cabling systems, the shield provides the same function as the conduit.

At the rack, it is often necessary to have staggered ports on patch panels to address the issue of ANEXT with UTP. Some installers opt to use every other port to reduce ANEXT. Whichever method is deployed, density at the rack is also sacrificed with 10 Gb UTP. Space is expensive, and because a shielded solution eliminates ANEXT, shielded ports on a patch panel can be placed closer together for higher density and cost savings from increased rack density.

Myth #5: Shielded cabling systems are only for specialty applications with EMI/RFI

For years, it has been thought that shielded cable is only needed for applications where EMI/RFI are a concern, such as industrial and medical facilities. In fact, shielded cabling systems are suited for all the same applications as UTP, and more. Furthermore, EMI/RFI can come from a variety of sources, and the number of sources has increased in recent years. It is no longer just motors and X-ray machines that cause EMI/RFI. In every type of facility, everything from fluorescent lights, wireless LANs and in-building cell phone systems to printers, copiers and televisions can attribute to frequency pollution. In today’s world, information is time sensitive and seconds matter. In a UTP system, EMI/RFI can essentially cause more data packets to be retransmitted over the network, causing significant delays. Shielded cable, however, is virtually immune to the effects of EMI/RFI.

Summary

Much of what is being promoted about UTP versus shielded for 10 Gb applications has been distorted. While some myths may have been valid with the old style of shielded systems, today’s shielded cabling systems debunk every current
myth. Beyond doubt, the electrical performance of shielded cabling systems exceeds that of unshielded. Shielded cabling systems are just as easy to install as unshielded cable and connector. In addition, it is possible to show that shielded systems can cost less

over the lifetime of the cabling system, especially given that an ISO/IEC committee is working on proposed standards that will take the industry into the future with class F, class FA, category 7 and category 7 A —all of which may be shielded. When it comes to the future of structured cabling, shielded cabling systems demonstrate many distinct advantages for contractors and building owners alike.

Bandwidth versus Throughput

The terms “bandwidth” and “throughput” are often used interchangeably. However, these are really two fundamentally different concepts. Bandwidth, measured in hertz, refers to the range of frequencies that a channel can carry. The higher the frequency, the higher the bandwidth. Throughput, measured in Mb/s or Gb/s, is the amount of data transferred from one location to another.

One of the greatest myths in the information transport systems (ITS) industry, affecting both UTP and shielded systems, is that throughput is more important than bandwidth when designing a structured cabling system. However, throughput is dependent upon bandwidth; bandwidth is NOT dependent upon throughput. Throughput also depends on many other factors such as the speed of routers and switches, retransmissions and other factors too numerous to mention. The relationship between bandwidth and throughput can be compared to a highway. The wider the highway (bandwidth), the more cars can travel (throughput). While a highway may have the potential to move cars at 100 mph, it does not always happen due to too many cars and accidents. It is the same with throughput. 

Some companies may provide applications assurance on a cabling system, which means that a certain application will run on that cabling system. A performance warranty, on the other hand, means that any application designed to operate within a specific bandwidth (MHz) will run on the cabling system. In other words, with an applications assurance, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (the application) can run on a specific 500 MHz UTP cable. However, if equipment vendors choose to run 10 Gigabit Ethernet at 600 MHz, it will not work on that cable. That is why it is very important to look at the bandwidth of the cable and ensure that you have a performance warranty based on that bandwidth. Shielded cable can operate at a higher frequency to provide more bandwidth and consequently provide greater throughput.

Tom Williams, RCDD, is director of the data communications division for BTR Netcom Inc. For more information, visit www.btr-netcom.com or contact Tom at tomw@metz-connect.com or call +1 732.380.8145.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News Magazine www.bicsi.org

Jan/Feb issue

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Industry Marks Passing of Joe O’Brien

Firestopping industry veteran Joe O’Brien passed away recently at the age of 84. When accepting the Harry J. Pfister Award in 2001, O’Brien offered these simple and profound words: “All I want to do is save lives.” Throughout his career, Joe clearly achieved that goal.          

During World War II, O’Brien saw many of his fellow crew members killed when toxic gases from a burning cable raced through the ship. This began his lifelong crusade to make the low-voltage industry safer. In 1950, he became involved in maritime shipbuilding, specializing in switchboard design, power and lighting systems and interior communications.   

Almost single-handedly O’Brien brought the practice of firestopping to the attention of the information transport systems (ITS) industry and the public in general. For more than 50 years, he worked tirelessly on standards boards and committees to ensure that safe firestopping practices are required, understood and enforced. O’Brien achieved acceptance for firestopping from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Nuclear Insurers, as well as UL and IEEE committees.         

O’Brien worked for Nelson Firestopping and traveled the globe promoting safe firestopping practices. He was the chair and chapter editor of BICSI’s TI&M Panel 4 (Firestopping) and served on other committees, including Governmental Relations, Nominating and TI&M Panels 14, 99 and 200. As an industry, we are all better for his participation.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News Magazine www.bicsi.org

Jan/Feb issue

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BICSI Introduces New Course

BICSI, the association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment, has increased its educational offerings with a new course in its Telecommunications Distribution Design and Fiber Optic area.

The course, entitled "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual Update Review" (DD300), offers a fresh look into the latest applicable standards, methodologies, and design and installation best practices for all technical personnel involved in the design, specification, installation, inspection or maintenance of ITS projects.

It is centered on information introduced in the newly revised chapters of the Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM), 11th edition, such as the new data center, Electronic Safety and Security (ESS), and vital information related to wireless and data network design.

“New technologies are rapidly changing the environments in which ITS professionals work,” said Betty Bezos, RCDD/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist and BICSI Master Instructor. “This course was developed to act in the same manner in that it too will constantly evolve and address the latest developments to ensure every student is better prepared on the job.”

Reflecting the current needs of the industry, the TDMM, 11th edition, is the ultimate resource in telecommunications distribution design that is researched and written by ITS experts, and provides vendor-neutral, internationally accepted industry guidelines and global best practices.

Important highlights of the updated materials include:

Recent changes to TIA/EIA 568-B standard

Design parameters for 10Gbit and 40Gbit Ethernet Networks

Review of recent changes in the National Electrical Code® (NEC)

How CAT6 and CAT6A cables affect the design of telecommunications pathways?

How VoIP has impacted the design of telecommunications spaces?

What is new with Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology and ZigBee specification for wireless personal area networks (WPANs)?

 "This is a pertinent course for anyone who may currently be pursuing the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD®) credential," says Richard Dunfee, RCDD/OSP Specialist, BICSI Director of Professional Development. “The course will teach ITS professionals the latest knowledge to enable them to immediately return to the office and apply the information in a practical and direct manner,” he added.

Current RCDDs, BICSI Installers, BICSI Technicians and anyone who has basic knowledge of the ITS industry and familiarity with previous versions of the TDMM also will find value in taking this course. The inaugural class was held in mid-December at BICSI World Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and subsequent classes are scheduled throughout the United States. For specific dates and locations, visit www.bicsi.org.

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BOMA

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From Brenna Walraven: Sustainability Drives Value in Existing Buildings, Too

The market is fundamentally changing and if it hasn’t affected you yet, it will. I’m talking about the market transformation toward a more sustainable built environment—particularly in the ongoing operations of existing buildings.

Going green is not a flavor of the day, like Y2K…it’s not going away. In fact, it’s the new standard of quality driven by the undeniable business case for sustainable operations. What’s the business case? The business case for high performance operations is that you will save more than you will spend to execute sustainable strategies. Green is more than certifications; it's really about increasing efficiency, reducing waste, improving indoor air quality and occupant comfort. From my own experiences at USAA Real Estate Company and our portfolio, we’re doing just that—improving our efficiency, lowering costs and improving comfort. I also know the business case for sustainability is a whole lot more doable when you and your real estate team have the resources, education and business relationships you need to complement your strategy and overcome the unique challenges that every existing building must face.

That’s where the BOMA International Conference comes into play. I’ve attended other top conferences for sustainable buildings and, for the most part, the focus of these conferences was new construction. Recognizing both the dramatic shift in the market towards sustainability and the relatively limited conference educational options for the existing buildings market, BOMA has moved to fill that void. We’ll have the latest and greatest information on ENERGY STAR®, LEED for Existing Buildings (version 2008), Green Globes and BOMA Canada’s Go Green—as well as specifics about how to execute on the business case for energy and water efficiency, sound recycling strategies and much, much more. BOMA is once again taking the lead as the education provider of choice for the built environment and providing you world-class education, service provider partner resources and technology to drive a financially beneficial strategy for greening the existing building marketplace.

At the end of the day, BOMA International and sustainability go hand in hand—both drive ultimate value, not only for the building owners and operators, but also for the building occupants and the environment. Together, we’ll learn new and better ways to drive value at the BOMA Conference, June 22-24 in Denver. I’ll see you there.

- Brenna S. Walraven, RPA, CPM, Executive Managing Director, National Property Management, USAA Real Estate Company; Chairman and Chief Elected Officer, BOMA International

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In the News: Updates on Keynoter Tony Snow, the City of Denver, Sustainability Survey

News from across the Web so you can keep tabs on the people, places and current events that will shape the 2008 BOMA Conference.

  • BOMA bringing its annual convention to Denver (Denver Business Journal)read the article
  • O'Reilly discusses Tony Snow's recent appearance on
    Real Time with Bill Maher
    (YouTube)view the video
  • Results of Jones Lang LaSalle sustainability survey (Boston/SF)read the article

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New Housing Policy Gives Registrants Priority

This year, you must register for the conference before you book your hotel room in BOMA's three selected hotels—the Hyatt Regency Denver, the Grand Hyatt Denver and the Marriott Denver City Center. The new policy is designed to ensure that conference participants receive priority room reservations. Once you are registered for the conference, you will have the option of booking your hotel through the BOMA Housing Office. The BOMA discounted room rates start at just $198 per night.

Detailed information about making hotel arrangements.    

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Register Today For BOMA International Conference & The Office Building Using These Quicklinks

If you like to plan ahead, we have you covered. Registration for the 2008 BOMA International Conference and The Office Building Show is now open, and today is a great day to make your plans for this most important event.

BOMA's Money-Back Promise
If you are not 100% satisfied with your investment in attending the BOMA International Conference, write to us within two weeks after the conference and we will give back your registration fees. The only risk is in NOT attending.

Registration Quicklinks:

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FOA

FOA Backs "OM3" Nomenclature Convention For Fiber Optic Cabling Systems

The FOA is encouraging the adoption of a new nomenclature for fiber optic cabling systems based on international standards in an effort to simplify the specification of fiber optic cabling systems and assure users that fiber offers equal if not more standardization than UTP copper. For years, users have specified a UTP cabling system by simply saying "Cat 5." Now they can specify an "OM3" fiber optic system consisting of laser-optimized 50/125 micron fiber with LC connectors.

The FOA is encouraging its 23,000+ CFOT certified fiber optic technicians, two hundred plus approved training schools and hundreds of certified instructors to adopt this naming convention to help create a "de facto" standard in the industry.

In reality, fiber has always been a much more "standardized" product than category-rated UTP cabling. "One optical fiber premises network type was a de facto standard for almost 20 years, in a period which copper went through up to 9 generations of technologies, including 6 generations of category-rated UTP," notes Jim Hayes, President of The Fiber Optic Association, Inc., the professional society of fiber optics. "From the mid-1980s to just recently, one multimode fiber, 62.5/125 micron, so-called "FDDI" fiber, named for the first all-fiber network developed in the 1980s, generally terminated with ST connectors, was used for most premises networks. The superior performance of this fiber cabling allowed it to be used unchanged for almost two decades while copper networks progressed from coax to UPT categories 3, 4, 5, 5e, 6 and 6A to keep up with rising network speeds."

With the advent of 1 to 10 gigabit networks and research currently being done on 40 to 100 gigabit networks, fiber manufacturers now offer laser-optimized 50/125 micron fibers with higher performance, graded according to intenational standards as "OM3" and "OM2" depending on information carrying capacity. Today, most users consider OM3 (laser optimized) fiber the ideal choice for today and the future, and many are using the new smaller LC connector to differentiate new networks from older types.
Fiber is recognized as the performance leader and users are becoming more aware of its cost-effectiveness. Rising copper costs, high-speed copper transceiver complexity and high power consumption make fiber look more attractive to many users. Adopting a standard name like "OM3" to describe the fiber cabling can help users understand that fiber is no more complicated than copper.

The choice of cable types in fiber optic cabling is a big advantage to users, unlike category-rated UTP which is only available in 4-pair configurations. Since fiber cabling options allow optimal component choices to fit cables in limited spaces, an OM3 cable system can be configured with tens or hundreds of links in one small cable, comparable in size to one Cat 6A cable, saving cost, space and reducing combustibles and thereby fire risk. Even indoor/outdoor runs are easily done with simple fiber optic cable options.

Using the same naming convention, 62.5/125 fiber becomes an OM1 cable system and conventional 50/125 fiber becomes an OM2 cable system. Much of the use of these two types of cabling is in legacy systems, while OM3 is now the cabling system of choice.

The FOA believes that adopting this simple cabling nomenclature will help users understand the simplicity of fiber and is encouraging its adoption by our members, schools and instructors, as well as manufacturers and users.

Here is the "OM3 Cabling "spec for designers to use in documentation:
The fiber optic cable plant will be type OM3 cabling, using laser optimized (OM3) fiber in a cable with aqua colored jacket, terminated with LC type connectors and mating adapters all colored acqua. Individual fiber cable runs will be specified by number of fibers and cable type (riser, plenum, indoor-outdoor, etc.) required by the actual installation.

Note: Similar nomenclature can be used for other fiber optic cabling solutions, e.g. OM1/ST is FDDI grade 62.5/125 fiber with ST connectors. OM2/SC is 50/125 fiber with SC connectors.

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. is an nonprofit educational organization chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certification and standards. Over 170 FOA-Approved schools around the world have certified more than 22,000 fiber optic technicians. The FOA offers free online introductory fiber optic programs for everyone and training for instructors at FOA-Approved schools. For more information on the FOA, see the organization's website http://www.thefoa.org/, email info@thefoa.org  or call 760-451-3655.

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NAHB

Builders Line Up For Green Education At IBS

As members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) prepare for the launch of the NAHB National Green Building Program, they're planning on getting educated - in droves.

Those attending the International Builders' Show (IBS) in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 13-16 have been filling their online show planners with educational seminars on all things green - from marketing sessions to technical presentations to courses needed to meet the requirements for earning the new Certified Green Professional[tm] designation.

"NAHB has been preparing its members for the day that green building takes center stage in the marketplace," said association president Brian Catalde, a home builder in Southern California. "That day is almost here, and our builders are getting ready."

Six of the 10 most popular education sessions so far are devoted to green issues as attendees continue to sign up for an introduction to the NAHB National Green Building Program, sessions on sustainable architecture and even "Green Building 101."

Those courses are among two dozen green-themed educational events at the Builders' Show. Most will occur on Thursday, Feb. 14, which NAHB has declared as Green Day. On Green Day, the association will celebrate the launch of the new National Green Building program and the Certified Green professional designation. It also will encourage attendance at the 10th annual NAHB National Green Building Conference which will be held in New Orleans from  May 11-13.

Show attendees can try out the key feature of the NAHB National Green Building Program, an interactive green scoring tool, at www.nahbgreen.org. With this dynamic, easy-to-use resource as well as other tools and educational materials for builders and buyers, the NAHB National Green Building Program will allow all builders everywhere to build a green home.

The NAHB Green Day celebration is sponsored by Whirlpool, Kohler, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, and Marvin Windows and Doors.  At last count, more than 170 companies had added their products and services to the "green" category for IBS exhibitors.

Last year, the International Builders' Show attracted more than 100,000 attendees during four days of seminars and other special presentations. They walked 11 miles of aisles through two million square feet of gross exhibit space, enough to cover 35 football fields. More than 1,900 exhibitors displayed the latest in housing products and services.

"The combination of all these green launches and initiatives is quite exciting for all of us," Catalde said. "I look forward to celebrating on Green Day with all of our green builders, remodelers and suppliers -- in only two weeks."

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CABA

Invitation to Participate The Vision Project


CABA members and non-members are invited to attend an
informational webinar and conference call on February 8, 2008.  

This meeting will educate you on how you can participate in
the upcoming Vision Project. Also, you will gain a better understanding
of how other companies in the CABA membership are taking advantage
of collaborative research opportunities.  

The Vision Project is designed to be a collaborative effort towards
reducing CO2 emissions with the goal of becoming Carbon Neutral. 
There are four key objectives:  

1.   Analyze a corporations current resource and operational efficiencies

2.   Determine technical steps to create an energy reduction template

3.   Demonstrate through a Beta Test Site the financial and conservation
benefits of energy management

4.  Assess improvements and measure results  

A 2-day workshop is being planned in March at Eaton Corporations South
Carolina Plant that would identify the current state of Eaton’s Green
House Gas environment. Eaton and participating sponsors would scope
all elements of energy and climate protection within the manufacturing
plant in South Carolina.  

This project may become part of the USGBC LEED certification
for Industrial, which doesn’t exist today.  

To receive an information package and meeting details
please R.S.V.P. by February 6, 2008:                                                       

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ACUTA

The 2008 ACUTA Spring Seminar, Focusing On VoIP And Staffing, Will Be Held April 6-9 in St. Louis

The quarterly event of the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education will feature a broad range of sessions led by campus professionals as well as industry experts. The seminar’s two tracks will look closely at the issue of “VoIP: Costs, Challenges, Opportunities,” and the related topic “Staffing in a Converged IT World.”

The seminar site is the Sheraton St. Louis City Center, and early registration at discounted rates is available until February 29. For more information about the seminar, visit www. acuta.org or call 859-278-3338.

Article Contributions

Building Green

Behind the Logos: Understanding Green Product Certifications

Jennifer Atlee and Tristan Korthals Altes

The more self-evident a product's attributes are, the less they need to be verified with certification. Lumber doesn't need certification of its wood content, for example, but certification is helpful for distinguishing forest products that were sustainably harvested in responsibly managed forests, since their origin isn't immediately evident. Similarly, a manufacturer of furniture that doesn't emit formaldehyde benefits when an accredited third party verifies its product's performance and gives it a seal of approval. When green products are visually indistinguishable from their conventional cousins, "the only way you're going to peel away the onion is by certification," says Brandon Tinianov, Ph.D., P.E., of Serious Materials, a manufacturer.

Recently, the environmental movement has created a new market for certifications. The success of major certification programs like Energy Star or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which are responsible for some of the best-known green building product certifications today, has required growing public awareness of ecological problems, interest from buyers in purchasing environmentally friendly products, and the willingness of manufacturers to comply with a standard, among other things.

The most robust standards are generally considered to be those developed through a formal voluntary consensus process characterized by openness and due process, such as defined by ISO and ANSI. Consensus standards have built-in buy-in, government support, and international clout. For example, federal agencies are required by law to adopt existing private-sector voluntary consensus standards in lieu of creating proprietary, non-consensus standards. The World Trade Organization has decreed that purchasing criteria developed in accordance with internationally accepted principles of standardization are not considered technical barriers to trade.

To see the full feature article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=170101a.xml

From Environmental Building News, www.BuildingGreen.com.

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High Perceived Cost of Green Persists, Says Survey

Nadav Malin

Many observers want to know where the green building market is heading, but if anyone is studying it in a truly scientific way, they're keeping the results to themselves. Online surveys are a common way of gathering data on the cheap, and results from three such surveys were released at Greenbuild 2007 in Chicago in November. Despite small sample sizes and some vague questions, the results offer a reality check for the green building market.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=170102a.xml

From Environmental Building News, www.BuildingGreen.com.

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Solar Reflectance Index And Cool Roofs

Backpage Primer from Environmental Building News

For a roof surface to stay cool, it needs two key attributes: reflectivity and emissivity. Reflectivity measures how well a material bounces back radiation. But since all surfaces absorb some heat, we also need to consider emissivity, or how good a surface is at radiating heat back out into space. The Energy Star label for roofing requires initial reflectivity of at least 0.65 (on a 0-to-1 scale). The "solar reflectance index" (SRI), defined by ASTM E 1980, incorporates both reflectivity and emissivity.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=170120a.xml

From Environmental Building News, www.BuildingGreen.com.

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PlybooPure is Formaldehyde Free

Nadav Malin

Most bamboo flooring and panel products are made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) glue. Citing tests based on European standards (none have yet been certified to the Greenguard or FloorScore standards in the U.S.), most bamboo manufacturers claim that their products have very low formaldehyde emissions, but few can honestly claim zero added urea-formaldehyde.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=170108a.xml

From Environmental Building News, www.BuildingGreen.com.

BuildingGreen, Inc. is publisher of the nation's oldest publication on sustainable design and construction and the leading national directory of green building products. For more information on BuildingGreen and its resources on environmentally responsible design and construction, visit www.BuildingGreen.com , email Info@buildinggreen.com, or call 800-861-0954 (outside the U.S. and Canada, call 802-257-7300). BuildingGreen is an independent, socially responsible, company based in Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Cabling Networking Systems

Editor's Desk – CNS January Issue

By Paul Barker

When this magazine first launched in 1998 as Cabling Systems, the world was a much different place. The Twin Towers in New York City still stood and investors salivated about the riches that would surely come their way from online ventures that hawked every product imaginable over the Internet.

In an examination of this utterly bizarre economic period, Forrester Research noted that dot com entrepreneurs "tapped eager investors for millions, planted flags in new categories from pets to perfume, and blew their budgets on marketing chatter ... (But) big marketing budgets don't result in big companies. Just ask cozone.com, which spent $17 million on advertising in the fourth quarter of 1999 and shut its doors three months later."

The late 1990s was also a lucrative time for the structured cabling sector.

As an example, in the May/June 1999 issue, research and consulting firm New Paradigm Resources Group Inc. (NPRG) predicted that Internet, DSL and other high-speed service data services will fuel more than half of the CLEC industry's anticipated revenue rise from nearly US$10 billion to more than $US83 billion by 2001.

That summer, Teleglobe Communications Corp. of Reston, Va. announced plans to expand its $5 billion "next generation" fiber optic video network to Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.

The network from a company, which still exists, but is a shadow of its former self, used digital compression technology and Asynchronous Transfer Mode high-speed protocol. ATM switches were already in place in Montreal, London, Los Angeles and New York.

At the same time, the North American fiber optic components market reached its highest level in history and it was projected to be worth US$6.1 billion by 2003 with an annual growth rate of 18.5%.

Finally, in the February 2000 issue, Peter Robinson, a Toronto IT professional and freelance writer, concluded that the immediate future for conventional installations is a leap in bandwidth of an order of magnitude: "Whatever, the standard of choice of physical cabling, both the desktop move from 10BaseT to 100 Mb/s and beyond, and the backbone transitions to Gigabit are in full swing."

As we now know, those projections and others had to be scaled back after Sept.

11, 2001 when the world became a far different place as a result of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in which thousands were killed and an already-shaky North American economy was sent reeling.

The fact there have been so many twists and turns over the last decade is why members of the magazine's editorial advisory board and myself decided to organize a no-holds barred panel for this 10th Anniversary Issue, one that would examine not just the past, but also the present and the future of the cabling and networking sectors.

It was much like throwing a party and not being sure how it would all work until the guests had arrived. Would it be a dud? Would everyone be candid? Would it be lively? Would it be informative?

The answers to those four questions? No, Yes, Yes and Yes.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Cabling Systems/CNS (the named was changed in January 2004 to reflect the addition of a new coverage area - the active network), we have tweaked the design slightly and also changed the typeface in order to make the magazine more readable.

As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems www.cnsmmagazine.com

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Study Bullish On WLANs

Wireless is becoming another IP subnet on the enterprise's core network, just like voice (VOIP) or video (video over IP), according to a recent report released by FTM Consulting Inc.

The structured cabling systems market for wireless local area networks (WLANs) is forecast to grow from US$202.5 million in 2007, at a cumulative average growth rate of 56.4%, to US$1.9 billion by 2012.

Frank Murawski, president of the Hummelstown, Pa. research firm, said the wireless local area network (WLAN) is being driven by new technology developments such as IEEE802.11n, which will provide improved performance (higher throughputs) and improved security features.

In addition, the universal acceptance of Wi-Fi and the new developing technology, Wi-Max, provide enterprises with standardized technologies for use of wireless within buildings.

Moreover, the release of the TIA/EIA 162 cabling standard in March 2006 provides a platform for deploying these new structured cabling systems.

These and other wireless developments, together with five-year forecasts for copper and fiber cabling are included within the report, entitled Wireless Structured Cabling Systems (SCS) Market.

Murawski notes that cubicles will always contain communications workstation physical connectivity as part of a building's infrastructure.

When conditions arise such as overcrowded cabling ducts in large skyscrapers, new applications needing access to the network may have to resort to a wireless network, he writes: "In addition, wireless networks could become commonplace in conference rooms or boardrooms providing portable device access to the network.

"Both of these are exceptions to the larger market of physical cabling to the fixed workstation areas using structured cabling systems. Even in new office construction, it is expected that physical cabling systems will be deployed for the majority of the network users."

As a result, wireless will typically be added to an existing network. This will still require physical cabling from the wireless access points (WAPs) to the telecommunications closets.

In terms of WLAN development, Murawski writes that early wireless local area networks suffered because of slow transmission speed, inadequate security protection and erratic service due to limited ranges and transmission limitations through office walls.

"(They) were limited to speeds of only 10 Mbps, while the network industry was already at 100 Mbps and planning to go to 1 Gbps. Security was lacking to authenticate valid users on the network and certain frequency bands had problems transmitting through physical partitions."

Murawski says that during the early years of the forecast period, UTP copper cabling is prevalent, providing sufficient bandwidth for most data applications, at this point in time.

However, in the latter part, it is expected that fiber cabling will be used increasingly, especially as voice (VOWLAN) is added to wireless networks. The bandwidth of fiber cabling will be required to provide adequate response times for the voice transmissions and to provide acceptable voice quality.

Additional information on the report is available at www.ftmconsultinginc.com or by calling (717) 533-4990.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems www.cnsmmagazine.com

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10th Anniversary Dialogue

Industry luminaries tackled a range of subjects at a spirited panel moderated by CNS Editor Paul Barker. Topics ranged from 'hits and misses' to the fiber vs. copper debate.

BARKER: It has been a wild 10 years. Describe in your own words how the structured cabling industry has changed over the last decade?

FRANC: The way I see it is has been a period of huge growth culminating with IP technology everywhere. 10 years ago, we were worried about integrating not just IP and IS together, but telephony and data. Today, we're talking about building automation, lighting, video, just about everything. Anything you can think of can be IP enabled. I think that's had a huge impact on our industry.

SHARP: 10 years ago everyone was talking about wireless as a possible technology that was going to be deployed. Now it's here and we are seeing not only the IP environment expanding, but also the wireless environment.

So many elements of information sources and information destinations are obviously finding that their connectivity strategy is there. But that does not make life easier. It just makes it more difficult. The expectations of the public are that much greater as well. The IT directors have now got facility management to deal with and if not, they should be. The idea that IP brings access to so many areas now just makes life more complex and perhaps more difficult.

KISH: The biggest change I've seen is in the networking demand. That relates directly to how cabling has evolved. I remember in 1995 we were talking about Category 5 cabling and people at that time said that's at the limit of what copper can do.

Today, we're talking 10 Gigabits. That's 100 times the speed over a cabling system and it is still copper. But if you look at fiber, if we stayed with the fiber we had in 1995, it would only support 20 metres at 10 Gig. So fiber has evolved as well. We've got better grades of fiber.

STEVENSON: One of the biggest things that has changed in the last 10 years is the impact of standards on what people are doing in the market. I think in a way it has begun to delay innovation to a certain extent because vendors are not going to put out anything that's proprietary. Customers are educated enough now that they're not going to roll out and spend a lot of money on something that doesn't meet a standard that they know is coming. Everybody is sitting on the standards.

BOYD: It's more of a commodity today than it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago,

when we were in the build cycle, we were primarily dealing with IT directors and you could talk about technology to them. Today, a lot of our business comes through construction and through engineering. In a way, I think that has dragged the margins in the business down for everyone.

WEEKES: I would echo that, Rick. I've been talking with a significant number of contractor/owners recently in support of the training school that we've got going, and the market is exceedingly competitive out there and that is changing a lot of the dynamics. It's very hard to attract young people into the network cabling industry. And when they do come through our program, more times than not the first question they ask -- how much money am I going to make coming out of the back end of this program?

BARKER: Let's turn our attention to hits and misses, of which there have been many. What stands out in your mind?

HORNE: The VF-45 connector is the number one flop over the last 10 years as far as technology goes. I remember when it first launched and a colleague of mine in Ottawa was hired on to promote it and I said to him, "Boy, have you got a job ahead of you." It was interesting to see a company like 3M who really was by far the number one leader in connector technology and how they put all their eggs in that basket and it was a real mess, unfortunately. It was interesting technology, but I think sometimes when you leap too far forward, when you push things too far and there isn't enough acceptance in the market, it just isn't going to work.

WEEKES: I was working at Panduit around the time the VF-45 was launched and here's exactly the note I wrote: "The failure of the industry to select a small form factor fiber connector (is) creating confusion in the marketplace. And I went to those standards meetings and I came away very disappointed because as an industry we said, "OK, let the strongest guy win." That's the person who has the most clout in the marketplace. Because we all had our instructions -- parochial instructions -- as to how we were going to vote. I've seen a lot of my clients put in MT-RJs because that's the way the Cisco ports went initially on a lot of the switch equipment. And then LC comes along and you adjust your pricing accordingly as to which product you want to sell, and now we have to go back to the customers and say "You know what, we're going to have to slowly take off all those MT-RJs because all of the new electronic equipment now is coming with LCs."

And so, to a certain degree, because we didn't make a decision at those meetings, we created some confusion with our customers.

KOSTASH: One of the more notable misses in terms of what the networking industry was going to do, how it was going to evolve and how that would impact structured cabling was the whole question of asynchronous transfer mode, or ATM. We certainly pushed a product in the mid-1990s as being capable of supporting the 622 Mbit/s ATM, and our friends at Belden have products that are named after ATM speeds, but clearly IP has been the winner and a lot of the marketing hype around ATM never materialized.

KISH: I think the market wanted a technology such as Ethernet that could evolve. The key point here being that it's backwards compatible so that the next generation, can still communicate with the previous approach. That's a key factor.

FRANC: In terms of misses, there were a lot of prognosticators that brought out their crystal balls 10 years ago. Copper had a limit. Fiber is limitless. Well now the fiber that we installed 10 years ago has a limit. ATM is the future. FTDI is the future. I find it funny looking back 10 years ago. All the crystal ball-type predictions failed and today we have people out there saying the exact same thing: "You will never need this" or "You will always need that." I think we should have learned from our past and never say never.

KOSTASH: The only one that has held true has been Moore's Law.

HORNE: Business drives the market ultimately. We could come up with new products, but the bottom line for manufacturers is leveraging the installed base. If they can get products that will work over older technology, bump up their speeds, push the throughput on existing infrastructure, they will do that because there's a huge installed base out there. Let's not forget the VHS-Beta lesson from years ago. You can have great products and great technology, but if the market does not accept it or if it's not cheap enough or acceptable enough for their needs, they won't pick it up. The limits of copper came out of the needs of the manufacturers to push those existing limits because they knew that manufacturers of equipment are going to put stuff on copper before fiber. I think that leads to a push forward.

BOYD: 10 year ago with the whole wireless debate, the conversation was we aren't going to need wires by 2008. Wireless is all over the place, but it's not replacing the cabling, thank God, and adding a lot more services and connectivity that customers need.

BARKER: Data networking has evolved substantially from the network engineers' perspective. In your opinion, what major changes have you seen in the past 10 years and what do you feel the future looks like in the next decade?

MASTERSON: There has been a major change for the network engineer out there in how they design their networks so the design of the structured cabling plant has to keep up.

MYERS: When Cisco first came on stream 25 years ago, its role was to try and take all of these different protocols and bridge them. That was our business in those days -- bridging. It's not that we drove IP so much as it became the one technology that people moved more and more of their applications towards.

We started seeing it on unusual items such as medical devices and HVAC devices and building controls and door entry systems. In the past five years we've found ourselves in the middle of all sorts of interesting discussions.

The expectation when you develop a building now is that it's going to come turnkey with a network and the network will be both wired and a wireless that's going to carry protocols that will support in some cases life-critical applications related to health care.

We were involved in the launch of the William Osler Hospital in Brampton, Ont. where they're putting everything over that network from the door entry controls to the life support systems for the patients.

From a networking perspective, it probably simplified the wiring a little bit because you used to have a wire for every application and every protocol. And as those protocols made their way onto IP and also through encapsulation techniques with the multi-protocol label switching or MPLS where you can put non-IP protocols over Ethernet through MPLS, you could still carry even some of ATM through MPLS over IP.

It's an interesting approach and there's a way you can do it. You then raise the bar for resilience and security, because you've got all sorts of stuff going over one wire.

FRANC: The network engineer and the network administrator have to become integrated with the construction process. When projects fall down, it's usually due to a lack of communication between the facilities people or the applications people and making sure that the planning is done right at the outset.

I remember being involved with the new airport terminal at Pearson International.

The network administrators had to deal with things that they've never dealt with before -- baggage handling systems, signage, flow control and access control. How do you handle all those things? How do you plan for them?

KISH: A couple of points that were triggered by what Brantz said. The network will slow down, we all realize that, but then there are a lot more applications running on the network. The thing that you'll find though is that a couple of parameters are going to be very important: quality of service, and having the bandwidth that you need to be able to support all those applications. And some applications are not that tolerant for bit errors because you get dropped frames and poor quality of service.

SHARP: The concept of convergence is greatly misunderstood. I think the idea that convergence should necessarily mean that all your data traffic, no matter what the source, should travel down the same conductor is misplaced although it's a very popular notion. Many get the idea that we can compromise or the building manager or building owner can economize by putting in less.

They've got to transfer those capital dollars into operating dollars and try to maintain an IT department that can understand the difference in quality of service, the difference in product, and now you've transferred something that was static and deterministic into something that's volatile and not deterministic. And I think that's going to be a future nightmare for property managers.

You go through the commoditization process, you can get IP-enabled or Web-ready enabled devices to be extremely cheap, very low cost and that goes for all of the facilities that go into a traditional building today.

The ability to manage that information and manage that technology without the trades or the skill set that the various departments responsible for running the operation or a business, have fallen far behind the abilities of the people at this table to deliver a product.

KISH: Do you advocate redundancy to some extent?

SHARP: You need parallel redundancy, absolutely. You've got to have strategic redundancy as well. I don't think it's sufficient to say that this fiber can carry all the data traffic in the world so it's going to be sufficient for me. But on the other hand, now I've got to administer the priorities of that traffic in order to make the applications function properly. I just don't think the skill sets are a) there and b) I don't think the people who are managing the buildings and are managing the IT departments are aware of the fact that there are these differences.

And that doesn't even address the issue of at what point do you put a network into a building when you're constructing a new one? That's a serious problem in the construction industry. It has not caught up, and never will in my opinion, with the technologies that are available to go into the network.

MYERS: I've seen this very symptom with a number of customers who have moved in one application that we haven't talked about yet, which is voice.

The rigor at which you treat a voice application and the need of a phone is different from the rigor that you say, give to a printer on the floor. And so, if the IT department wins the battle for voice, it needs to enhance their rigor around the voice application set. Because the phone people would never have anybody be without a phone set working on their desk for more than a few minutes or an hour, but a printer could be down for a few days.

HORNE: Peter's point is well taken. In construction, we're all dealing with property managers and building operators. Historically, the systems involve base building systems that run a building, and then there is the network that the tenants within that building operate. Will the two overlap? I think we're seeing convergence in this. Specific companies are taking advantage of these new Web-enabled or IP-enabled devices and integrating a lot of the building core systems into a unified system.

They're still proprietary in many ways, and that's the nature of the beast. The manufacturers want it proprietary so that they can keep people locked into their products, but we're seeing this opening up now into multi-vendor situations. I think building systems are going to naturally converge into a system that will manage multiple building systems and devices.

MYERS: The real business returns don't come from putting these applications on a single wire. In fact, if you want to put them on separate wires, that's fine.

For example, if you've got a customer information database that is tied to the CRM system, you now want to tie that to the phone that's on their desk so that you can do automated dialing or if someone calls you can bring that record up and interact much better and elevate the level of competitiveness through customer service. That happens when you put those things on the same network. That's the business value. It's not the low cost of one wire versus multiple wires.

MASTERSON: The network, if you look at the evolution, really was a way for people back years ago to get their printing done and basically just a method to do some work. Today, the network is integral to the business and business goals now have to be aligned with network management or the goals of the network. If the goals of the network and the people driving the networks do not align with the goals of the business model, it will create problems.

SIEMON: When it comes to quality of service, the past 10 years have focused on bit error rate. In the years ahead the trend toward convergence and highly interactive applications will change the way we look at network performance.

Our industry is always looking for the next new thing and frequently refers to disruptive technologies as "killer apps" -- innovations that have an impact on our daily lives by improving the way we access and interact with people, places and things.

Killer apps also drive revenue growth in nearly all sectors of the IT industry. In the future, I wonder if the focus will shift from killer apps to app killers.

By app killer, I mean the type of change that forces us to rethink fundamental aspects of network performance. Will trends in network utilization, operating cost or environmental considerations take us in new directions that bring latency and power consumption to the front of the line as the primary drivers for future networking technologies? Over the next decade we will either see Ethernet adapt or new networking protocols will emerge that more effectively address these needs.

STEVENSON: From a network engineer perspective there are a lot of other things that now impact the decisions apart from the applications and equipment you need. Now you've got power and HVAC considerations that can very critically impact what you're doing. We've got people who are going in and saying "Oh great, I can fit all these blade servers in a rack," and they're ordering them and bringing it in to a computer room, and then somebody comes in and says "Why is it 90 degrees in here? What are we doing about this?" These are the types of things that network engineers have never really thought about to the degree they must do now.

SHARP: I think that the absence of skills and capability is never more obvious than in an organization's ability, or lack thereof, to manage their data centres. I find it absolutely staggering that people will willingly turn a blind eye to many of the issues, which are impacting the most important thing, which is the information that they've amassed. And the ignorance that they are inflicting on their organization and putting all of their systems at a high level of risk is absolutely astonishing. I think part of that is because we've got this traditional divide between facility personnel and the users.

WEEKES: The data centre manager who looks after these network engineers, so to speak, hasn't come up through the budgeting wars through the years and does not necessarily know how to play that sort of game within the organization. With a few exceptions, unless I get to the president of some reasonable-sized organization to have that little discussion, nobody seems to take that up to the level where it needs to be, where you have that what-if. It's a very simple discussion: "What if your data centre goes off-line for two days? You're the president." We just saw a CitiBank executive lose his job because of some sub-prime loans somewhere else that he could probably do nothing about, but if somebody had said that to him a couple of years ago -- "What If" that may not have happened.

FORTUNE: During a previous computer buiding project I worked on, there were constant conflicts about who actually owned it. Did facilities own it? Did IT own it? And when it got right down to it, it was still a struggle right to the end, when you finish building the thing.

IT had to install tons of equipment and they had to install it fast and they're just shoving it in. Meanwhile, the operations side was trying to take care of all the added power and cooling requirements.

It's an interesting issue to be involved in, but when you get back to what we talked about earlier, if the governing standards boards couldn't make decisions on what type of connector to use, how do you really expect these two sides to come together with all the issues they have to deal with and have a common front going in one direction? It's almost impossible.

BARKER: Will the fiber vs. copper debate still be around in, say, 2018?

KISH: I definitely think so. Before we see 10 Gig to the desktop, we're going to have to wait five years, but I certainly could see widespread use of 10 Gig to the desktop in 2013. At the same time you'll find fiber's has its place too and it's going to have to run at 100 Gig on the backbone. There's a need for copper and what's driving the need for copper to the work area is the manufacturers of computing equipment

FRANC: Media choices are going to get harder especially now that we have copper, fiber and wireless. Copper and fiber are great if you have a fixed data point, but what if you have mobile requirements? People aren't satisfied with only accessing their information when they're at a desk or when they're at a fixed terminal. How many people around this room have Blackberries? We want our data all the time, every time, and we always want more data, so I think the media choices are going to get far more complex.

HORNE: The economics of the market will always drive copper to the desk. As long as those media are there to support it, it will be there. But it is going to be interesting to watch what wireless does. Can they push the speeds up on wireless? Can they address the security concerns and issues that haunt wireless?

KISH: VoIP is a natural application for wireless because it does not use that much bandwidth, but you can very quickly choke up a wireless system by putting in high-definition video or high-resolution video. And if its users are accessing that same access point, it's going to choke up because it doesn't have sufficient bandwidth. So I think it's a great technology for people who need the portability, but it doesn't have sufficient bandwidth for the really intensive applications. That's why I think we still need wires.

SIEMON: I agree. For the debate to end there must be a decisive winner. 2018 is not that far away. Over the next 10 years fiber will continue as the media of choice in the core of the network - especially for link segments greater than 100m. Copper will be the preferred choice for the last 100 meters.

MASTERSON: I think at some point copper and fiber always have to be there. But who thought they were going to get 10 Gigabits over copper? What is the limitation of wireless? Do we really know right now? Do we know what the future holds? I don't know if we do. If somebody told me 10 years ago that they're going to run 10 Gigabit over copper, that's going to be on a twisted pair to my PC or my server, I would have told them they were crazy. So how do we predict what's going to happen? It's very difficult.

BARKER: How has the role of the cabling installer evolved since 1998?

SIEMON: The guys that got their training with lunch and a couple slices of pizza aren't good enough anymore. When Category 6 came out, they discovered they couldn't do it the same way they did DIW (D-Inside Wire) back in the AT&T days. These guys require skill in design and implementation. They now have better capabilities and tools with which they can provide a more reliable, higher performance cabling infrastructure than ever before.

MASTERSON: The termination methods and skill level required today are quite high. We found that out quickly, based on the questions we would get: "Why is this tester failing the cable?" as opposed to "Is the cable failing or am I installing it wrong?" By the fact that the testers are out there and able to give installers some feedback and automatically give them fault info in terms of where the problem is, allows the quality of workmanship to go up, I believe. So that's been a big change, the quality of workmanship required.

SIEMON: And it's based on the instant feedback they get from testers. The end user will not let them leave with a failing result.

STEVENSON: The expectations of the installers are a lot higher because in general, the end users and the customers are a lot more educated than they used to be and they know what they're expecting to get. You can't get away with doing installations and not testing them. So you're going to have to do those test results. You're going to have to show that your work is performing the way it's supposed to be. And you're going to have to be able to answer a lot of questions.

BOYD: From a contractor's perspective, it's become easier to train people to do the work because pretty much all we do now is UTP. 10, 15 years ago, we had guys that had to know Wang, Twinax and IBM Token Ring, Type 1 and Type 2, and Ethernet. From the perspective of training the technician, I think it's a lot easier to do. Also, the technicians have evolved with the training that comes from manufacturers and organizations such as BICSI.

Still, there are still a lot of people out there doing poor quality work. It's not core cabling professionals, but more the phone installations firms who have guys who will run cable for them, but do not use support structures. There's still a lot of that going on, unfortunately and typically it's driven by the dollar.

When a customer's putting in a new telephone system, and their phone guy says "I can put in a Cat 5E for you for 80 bucks." Cool. We come in and say it is $120 because we're putting in J-hooks or velcro tie-wrapping and we're doing all these things you should have for cable management. It's hard to explain to them.

FRANC: My concern with installation isn't so much the pre-installation as the post-installation. We made everything plug-and-play with RJ-45s and LCs and different types of connectors. Installers do a fantastic job installing it.

But if you look at a lot of the installations afterwards, you've got this incredible asset you paid good money for, but it is managed poorly.

If you look at most data centres, you'll see the best of times and the worst of times. Somebody's mission-critical data centre is an institution where the thing falls apart, they lose their data. And just because it's an RJ45 or it's an LC connector, somebody will plug something into a cabinet, come out the door, go four cabinets over and plug it back in, which means there are three cabinets in between you can't access now, because somebody's gone and patched something.

I saw that in a Fortune 100 company's data centre, and unfortunately, the link that was connected in that way was their main WAN connection to the outside world. So in order to fix the problem, you have to disconnect it from the outside world.

I think the role of the cabling installer's has to change. It's not just about the installation, but managing the asset afterwards.

FORTUNE: A lot of times that's not the cable installer, it's the local IT guy in the company or it's the guy that the company pays a little bit of money to come in and do all their menial patching.

It's part of the engineering design. It's documented and probably never ever done. It's the patch cable management piece. When I was at the bank, it was our biggest problem too. You did all the cabling infrastructure, designed it all properly and people would always come back and blame us for all this horrible patching. We'd say "Come here," and I would take them around to the back of the cabinet and say, "Now see that, that's what we do." We provide the patch cords or the contractor provides the patch cords of a certain length and then whoever would come in and just plug in whatever he wanted to.

If he had a 30-foot patch cord to do a three-foot patch cord job, he'd use a 30-foot patch cord.

HORNE: That's more of an operational issue, probably a whole other set of discussions. I definitely think that the role of the installer has been marginalized and they have become a commodity.

Unfortunately, we see huge demand for qualified people, and a lot of people have moved on to other trades because they just can't get paid accordingly. I think that's where it sits right now. You're going to see this work just being naturally picked up by construction/electrical world as far as the installation. Now we are talking a lot about maintenance. It's not being viewed as a qualified trade, a wholly functional, recognized, respected trade, which is unfortunate.

Maybe Bill has something to say about that?

WEEKES: We're trying to train. Our ability to attract young adults into our particular programs is terrible. We have people lined up out the door on waiting lists for the electrical program. We have people lined up for the plumbing program, and in the HVAC program. The two programs that are taking it on the chin are network cabling and the alarm security. The kids aren't interested. And it's further compounded by the fact if you go on to Workopolis and Monster, you'll see installer ads where companies are looking for people with three years experience, know Cat5, the 6, 6a, fiber terminations and most start at between $18-20 an hour. They gag when they look at that. And entry level positions in our industry, through nobody's fault -- it's all through market pressures -- are $12-14 an hour.

STEVENSON: Maybe that is the biggest way that the role has changed. It's been marginalized. There are lots of people available, it's all about the market's ability to pay them what you need to pay them. All these companies are telling Bill they can't find people. They can't find people who want to do the work for what they feel they can afford to pay them.

BARKER: Why is that?

WEEKES: Well, the Two Bobs In The Truck destroyed the whole bottom end of the market. To Rick's point exactly, if there's a guy going in selling telephone systems and he says "I can put in those 50 drops and he doesn't even look at the project, it's automatically $80 a drop? Because he doesn't have an employee, he's then going out to somebody else who he's paying a flat rate, right? Rogers and Bell got into that mess years ago. Everybody's under contract to Rogers. Everybody's under contract to Bell.

FORTUNE: But we don't do that with electricians. We had to unionize non-union electricians, so why isn't there something put in place for cabling installers?

WEEKES: I want to stay far away from the politics. We moved into these self-regulating industries. You could make your arguments about the Law Society of Upper Canada, how effective they are at regulating lawyers, and you could make examples of the medical association of Ontario, and how effective they are at kicking out bad doctors. And the real estate agents and everybody now kind of belongs to this self-policing, self-regulating organization of some sort.

I'm a certified engineering technologist, whoopdee-do, but the point is there is some legislation that backs that up a little bit and I can have my CET revoked.

Electricians got a lot more discipline-oriented this year, but this industry is the complete opposite. Rightfully or wrongfully, we said "we don't want regulation." We don't really want the government overlooking what we're doing. We don't want to go out and get a permit if we need to install 20 or 30 drops. So if we don't want those things, how do you change the perception on the part of the end users about what a data cabling person is really worth?

BOYD: I'm generalizing but, with installers, it's a blue-collar job. You're not going to get a guy who could be a lawyer or a doctor wanting to go into that job. We target people with a high school education, who don't want to go away to university, don't want to go to college for whatever reason, and they don't know what they want to do.

And my sales pitch to them is it's one of the few industries where you can start there and end up as a salesperson and make six figures. The biggest problem that I see is kids coming out of high school today have expectations that they're going to be driving Porsches within two years because that's what their parents do.

They're not willing to put in two or three years to learn the trade. I've got installers that I pay over 60 grand a year. I mean that's a decent living for a blue-collar guy who's got no education other than high school -- in my opinion.

I know I might get shot down politically, but that's fine.

BARKER: I would be remiss, if I did not delve into the shielded vs. unshielded cabling debate. How do you think this will unfold?

KISH: I guess this whole unshielded and shielded debate has come up right now because of 10 Gig and 10GBASE-T. We have strong proponents on both sides of the issue. We have some manufacturers that are advocating using shielded cabling and other manufacturers like ourselves that are actually saying, "UTP cabling supports 10 Gig and does an excellent job." When you look at IEEE the 802.3an standard what it actually says is "to support 10 Gig, here are the recognized media" and one of the recognized media is Category 6a UTP. And they also recognize Category 6 and Category 6a shielded, which is called screen twisted pair.

So they will both work and I think the debate should probably end there, but it doesn't. We have a lot of manufacturers that are going and basically telling customers "Oh, this is a better product. You should really be putting in shielded." But there are issues with shielded cabling that are really have not been fully addressed.

I mean, shielded cabling is widely used in Europe and they've established a way of terminating it, and how to ground their building and facilities properly. In North America it's relatively new, it's like less than 2% of the total cabling infrastructure. And when we talk to installers, there are not that many who are adequately trained on how to terminate the shielding.

From a performance point of view, for the shield to work effectively at high frequencies, and even that's controversial these days, is that you need to have it well grounded at both ends.

You also have to pay attention to the grounding issue but also there's another important parameter that's important for both UTP and STP, and that is pair balance, and how the actual balance of the pair effects how much is actually transferred or converted to noise that the receiver sees. And today's cables, especially Category 6a UTP, have excellent pair balance characteristics, so that's a positive thing. And I think down the road what we'll see is that's going to be the important parameter that's going to dictate how one cabling system performs better than another. But today, we're just getting into this area.

SIEMON: If the question is which one will win -- shielded versus unshielded, I think shielded cabling will win. It's just a matter of time. That said, we have been making products for twisted pair cabling for over 100 years. Since we are a family business, UTP put me through school. It put my father through school and his father through school. We recognize its importance to our business and to our industry and will continue to support it as part of our core product offering.

The reason I feel that shielded systems will eventually displace UTP is that transmission theory favors shielded cabling in terms of channel capacity. UTP will support 10GBASE-T, but screened 6A cabling is a better choice for 10G because of its inherently better immunity to external noise, including alien crosstalk.

Pair balance is equally important for screened and unscreened systems. In the case of individually shielded pairs, it's possible to hide the sins of poor pair construction with a shield. I believe that balance for both screened and unscreened systems should be specified in industry standards. Unfortunately, doing so is challenging because balance measurements produce different results depending on the presence of a shield. Since the shield acts as the reference plane in one case, but not the other test results can be quite different even when intrinsic pair balance is the same. Standards bodies need to recognize that screened and unscreened systems are not the same and to develop specifications that reflect their respective capabilities. When this is done, the technical merits of screened systems will become much more apparent than they are today.

Also, more education is required regarding proper screen termination and grounding. Incidentally, they are not the same thing. The screen is not a ground conductor. It is a high frequency transmission element of the cabling system, which requires the same level of care in handling and termination as the pairs themselves. Optimally, the screen is bonded to ground in the telecommunications room only, and screen connections that meet standard requirements for high frequency performance are maintained up to and including connections to active equipment.

STEVENSON: One of the big drivers is going to be cost. The cost comparisons we have done to date is that we can't do shielded for the cost of unshielded. Unless something happens to eliminate that difference, I don't see what the driver's going to be for people to go to shielded.

HORNE: It's definitely out there. We had a client in Montreal, a law firm that was taking over six floors of a tower, and they were considering a 15-year lease. They were looking at all the options. One was definitely shielded. They seriously considered it.

Ultimately, it went unshielded because of the way that they wanted to distribute their infrastructure, which was with a zone-type distribution system, which didn't favour shielded cabling. When it came to one Gig, the clear winner was unshielded, but definitely I think 10 Gig and beyond it is going to be a tight race.

FORTUNE: It's not just the cost of material and the cost to terminate the material. The cable's also smaller, so pathways are smaller. You can potentially look at cost savings there to offset the price of installation.

KOSTASH: I think really there's a question too of the timing of shielded twisted pair cables in the marketplace. The product's only 2% market share right now as Paul Kish referred to earlier. In the timeframe that we're looking into going into 10 Gig to 40 Gig to 100 Gig, and the timing of the conversation we had earlier, about when is fiber potentially going to take over from copper, I see a fairly narrow window there for sure for shielded twisted pair cabling to grow into significant share in the marketplace. I think that fiber's coming faster than shielded twisted pair.

The cost of copper rod went up fivefold in three years. That type of thing can have a dramatic effect on how quickly people start to move towards fiber optic infrastructures, right? If cable costs are going up by a factor of 15-20% because of the commodity material used to make copper cabling, that could potentially be a good thing for fiber's entry into the market.

BARKER: It seems like the world is turning greener with each passing day. Does this unstoppable movement have the potential to radically change the structured cabling and networking industries and if so, how?

KOSTASH: One of the things we have to recognize is that structured cabling by its nature is green. It can eliminate multiple different systems or has the potential to increasingly eliminate multiple different systems proprietary systems. The whole idea behind structured cabling was one platform that could run multiple applications and evolving applications over time. Perhaps inadvertently our industry has stumbled across a product or a design philosophy that is inherently green. But there is still a lot of work to do in cable construction and so on to improve the cabling and manufacturing processes as well.

HORNE: I honestly find that a bit of a stretch. I understand and I agree with the overall concept of it, but I think cabling as green is a big misnomer We deal a lot with the building owners and property managers on this side of the world and they're running a number of different programs, trying to green their buildings.

I know our government's driving a lot of new building construction and they seem to be building to meet a certain minimum of green standards.

And the big dirty secret behind cabling is that it's made with a lot of toxic chemicals and where do these cables go when they're abandoned? Well often times they end up going on a ship to China where they get burned into the atmosphere along with the copper. I would like to see a lot more pressure on manufacturers to come up with other materials and recycling programs for their cables.

KOSTASH: I don't disagree in any way. All I was saying was there has to be a way of dealing with multiple proprietary cabling systems backing up over years in the cable tray, and a structured approach was, and remains a better design.

MYERS: What's on the end of the cable is possibly a bigger problem. You've got no lead in the cable but you've got lead in the computing systems that are sitting in the data centre, so I think the good news here is that the move toward virtualization actually helps a lot of the green buildings because it's more economical to put more applications on these very powerful one-use servers.

At the same time, they'll extend their useful life hopefully because you'll be using a server for more applications than maybe one that only runs for a couple of years and then you have to move on.

So you can load a server up to its capacity, push that computing load around using modern virtualization tools to get the most out of that asset and grow the computing volume as you need, maybe on month-ends and quarter-ends. And then ultimately the life of those assets means hopefully fewer systems put in the trash or recycling systems that we have today.

WEEKES: I spoke about LEED and the RCDD at the BICSI Fall Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. in mid-September and I was shocked by the number of questions that I received after the presentation.

I was also overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me after the presentation to talk about a significant number of ideas and also what they think about our industry.

If you have experience working with LEED buildings or the United States Green Building Council and how they put their requirements together on a new building, it really asks you to think a lot differently about a lot of different things.

On the one hand, we can talk about all the positives that our technology is creating, and I'm right there with you, and we need to spend more time and energy communicating that out to the world.

On the other hand, the Toronto Star ran an article recently that said 10 to 12 people a week die in the coalmines in China. And that's acceptable in China because they desperately need that coal to support their generating stations, which support a lot of the products that we buy.

What I tried to do at the presentation was to say that "here are the rules that architects have to follow. These are the rules that electrical engineers and mechanical people have to follow on LEED buildings."

Lucky for us, telecom is completely off the map when it comes to LEED, but that doesn't give us an excuse not to follow the initiatives that they're trying to set. And so after I gave that presentation, a guy from one contracting firm came up and and said, "Oh, I'm so glad you talked about that. My wife makes me bring all the boxes, all the cable boxes back, and we fold them down, we put them in the green bin." And I go "That's wonderful." I mean that's a start. But that's how deeply ingrained this is in our new society that we live in.

What are we doing to make things a lot greener? My presentation was really, unfortunately short on answers. It was about awareness and going back to BICSI and saying "Look, guys, I need your help!" I'm getting the questions. I'm working on a building for Department of National Defense. They're going for LEED gold, now they're thinking about going for platinum. And they're coming back to me and they're going "Bill, you gotta help us get some innovation going." And I'm going "OK." To get innovation going, I have to go back to my manufacturers who I'm working with and say, "What are you doing to help me to get something so that they can get some innovation going on this project? What have we done?"

Now we follow certain steps on this particular project and we are going to apply, I hope, they'll get the one or two innovations going they need to push from gold into platinum. But it is an issue for a lot of different people as to "How do we make these cables?" "Where are the cables being made?" "What does it mean when it's made in a jurisdiction where we don't know about the environmental regulations of that other jurisdiction?" Pete, you must have some experience with that as well.

SHARP: We are engaged in designing a building in which the owner has asked for LEED status. And the contribution that cabling can make is so minimal that it's just not worth bothering. The only component that would even have a bearing on the catchment of that building is what you do with the bits that you cut off. How do you dispose of the waste products during construction? And if you've got a documentable, auditable process whereby you can dispose of it in a green sense, then you contribute to a larger pool that will give you one point.

So all of the waste disposal thing, if the data cabling installer were to simply cut the stuff off and burn it on the street, it really wouldn't affect the LEED status of that building.

I think, in honesty, the real contribution to greening is to not slash and burn the installation every five years. And that has a plus and a minus side.

BARKER: True or False: Structured cabling installed today will last for at least 20 years?

SHARP: Everything that's being installed today will be useful in 20 years.

FORTUNE: One problem is churn rate, whether they're reconfiguring all locations and therefore having to rip out the wiring.

SHARP: It's not the churn rate it's the attitude towards the churn. I would argue that if the designer's done the job properly and if the owner has allowed the designer to do the job properly, the very fact that it is, by definition structured cabling means that it's going to support multiple protocols.

Therefore it is going to be useful for generations to come. So therefore it's going to be useful for 20 years. The question is is the political will there? Is the economic will there? Is the organizational business will there in order to allow the designer to do the job according to LEED or green philosophy? Invariably, every owner believes that their applications are unique, special, and require that kind of approach to the cabling.

It's a big challenge and I don't think I'm the only one who experiences this. The issue really is that you know instinctively what the right approach is in order to economize on the materials that are going to a) be installed and b) that are going to be thrown into the landfill in five or 10 or 20 years. Very seldom are you allowed to exercise that aspect of your judgment in the design process because it invariably does not produce the lowest cost design.

FORTUNE: The reality is that things happen in those locations. They have 90 square feet per staff and then they turn around, they want to squeeze in more people, they get it down to 70, or down to 60. They restructure their organization because they've got 20% spare space on these floors so they then have to redevelop that whole floor space, re-cable it.

SHARP: As an example, take a building where you've got a 30,000 square foot floor of space. You've got a common core, which carries the elevators, the staircases, the washrooms, electrical and communications room. If you were single tenants on this floor, it's a no-brainer to run all the cables back to that central room and then administer from there.

But if you're going to divide the tenancy of this floor, which in this particular building could easily be divided into 10 tenants a floor, how are you going to cable each one of those and make use of that one centre core room? First of all, that core room belongs to the landlord and you've got to petition rights to use it and your rent is going to go up based upon the benefits that you accrue.

If you've got two or more tenants in a common space, they're each going to cable according to their own home run criteria, and that home run is going to be somewhere on the tenant floor.

So all of a sudden, you may have a structured cabling scheme, but because it got different cabling points, focus points, it does not survive a different tenancy. If you have another tenant that comes in and puts up a wall or takes down a wall, all of a sudden your structured wiring scheme, although it's structured in principle, doesn't apply to that application.

HORNE: I agree absolutely. I think it gets into dealing a lot with building owners, property managers. We strongly advise them not to allow anybody to put any equipment in any of the corridors. In fact, when we're building new buildings, we tell their techs not to build any communication rooms.

We advise them to build a riser room only for the passenger cable, and all commercially built by the tenant, in their space to their specs. Whether it's a single tenant or not, I consider the whole issue of common space and electrical a common area. But I think that one of the things that we're talking about is life cycle. And it gets into it but a single-tenant/multi-tenant issue which is common to... the building industry itself. When managing a building, they life cycle everything. There's a life cycle on the windows, on the roof, on the HVAC system. There should be a life cycle on the cabling infrastructure based on when you're putting it in, how long you expect it to last, and if you budget and plan accordingly for the replacement of it ... IT departments don't do that. It's all business-driven. "I've got a pile of money," or "We're upgrading applications, oh we have to upgrade the system or we should upgrade. Let's just rip it out, put in something new. But if you treat it more like an asset that should be life-cycled like a building, then you can plan for an expected life span and plan for a replacement in 15 years.

If something comes along in the interim that forces you to change that, well then you deal with that at the time, but otherwise, life-cycle it, plan for the replacement, upgrading in a certain period of time and budget for it. IT departments aren't or have not been historically good at doing that, whereas the building industry is very good at life-cycling and managing the replacement of something over an expected period of time.

BARKER: Time to delve into standards. Does the current process work or should it be changed?

FRANC: I think it works fine. I hear the frustration. I've been an end user, a consultant, a contractor, now working for a vendor. Being involved with standards gives you a different perspective.

You realize that a lot of people provide their input. Look at the discussion we just had, I think we're all in agreement that there's no right answer. The problem is everybody's looking for a magic bullet. They want a standard. They want a document. They want a page number they can point to and a checklist that will take away all their problems. I don't think the world is that simple.

I don't think our industry is that simple. So I think the way we're moving towards consensus, the fact that we can have a 10 Gig cabling draft standard closely following within a year or so of an electronic standard, I mean that's wonderful. I think people are frustrated, perhaps because there's not enough involvement in the industry within standards.

SHARP: The only flaw in the standards process is that the users aren't involved enough. And I think the problem is that involving yourself in the standards process is an extremely costly process. If you're selling widgets, then it makes sense for you to standardize on widgets. But if you're using widgets, chances are you're only using one or two of them. And so what's the benefit for you to engage in that?

I know, my experience in the standardization process was rich and fulfilling because I got a great deal of knowledge and connections, and acquaintance with some of the ebb and flow in the thinking and the tendencies within the industry, which I think provides me the mechanism of providing a better service to my clients when I have to try and look in the crystal ball and see where the industry is going to go in two years.

Also, I think there's a big misunderstanding and that is if you follow the standards then you've done it right. Well no, if you haven't followed the standards, you've done it wrong, but the corollary is not necessarily the case. I think you've got to use the standards as an intelligent guide to the manner in which you're using these particular commodity products and the application for which they were intended. And I think you have to understand the philosophy behind the standard to be able to successfully use it

HORNE: They do a lot of good, but you have to recognize they're not written by end users per se. They're written by manufacturers to promote their products.

FRANC: If you look at the international bodies, it's not populated by vendors. It's one vote per country. Within TIA, you have one vote per organization. And there are a significant number of end-user consultant organizations south of the border involved in TIA.

In fact I think you'll find that the huge issue we have in Canada is a lack of awareness and a parti- cipation issue.

KISH: I've been in TIA since 1989 and although there is a large percentage of vendors it has to be a balanced organization, so we do get participation from end users and consultants. But the manufacturers have a large share of what goes into it because a lot of the detailed specifications that go into it, I would s say 80% of the document, deals with requirements on the cable and the components.

SIEMON: I've seen the level of complacency in standards work especially with respect to IT infrastructure, which I believe relates to an imbalance in representation between cabling system manufacturers and their customers. The question is how do you develop a meaningful standard that provides lasting solutions without having customer's needs represented as an integral part of the approval process?

Complacency is also evident in that successive generations of cabling standards provide diminishing returns in terms of delivered system performance. The industry should take a hard look at the level of value provided by the incremental solutions, from 5E to 6 to 6A.

For future standards, the goal should be to provide significant, measurable improvements that address practical problems associated with the installation environments like data centers and enable newly installed cabling to support multiple generations of applications.

Category 6a is lagging behind 10GBASE-T. Standards for cabling infrastructure need to get out in front of the applications and user needs. To attain balance, increased representation from IT equipment developers and IT professionals that represent the enterprise community is required. Having this input will help to ensure that future cabling standards address installation issues such as the congestion in cabling pathways while minimizing complexity in active requirement, which drives up power and latency.

SHARP: One of the plusses in the process that we have today, which should never be removed is democracy. Ironically, that also is its underbelly in that sometimes individual initiatives can be hijacked by those who would prefer not to see the initiative have the light of day in the standardization process, the debates that occur. There are a number of examples that I won't quote that are pretty obvious where organizations, manufacturers or user groups just simply either want to promote or hijack the development of a particular form of technology. And it's very easy to do that in a democratic environment.

FRANC: That's a good point, Peter. If I as an individual wanted to participate in ISO, could I? No. I'm not a country. Could I participate in BICSI standards? Theoretically, yes, after submitting an application and having it reviewed by a separate committee, yeah. To Peter's point, the TIA standards, although we're always frustrated by them, I think we're all agreeing to it -- they're probably the most open. If I want to represent myself as Henry Franc, I can vote on any document. Paul Barker can vote on any document. The fact that there's a heavy weighting of manufacturers at this point in time speaks to, not nefarious purpose as a vendor, but to be perfectly honest, the lack of commitment or willpower from the other interested parties in the industry to become part of the process.

I spoke to Paul Kish well before we worked in the same company, I worked for an end user, and I had the same frustrations everybody else had, but I wanted to become involved. What do I have to do? As to Bill's point, Paul said "Well, the next meeting's in Montreal. Go there."

I know there's that perception out there, but it's not a vendors club. Anybody who wants to can participate.

BOYD: I agree with everything people are saying, but I do think the standards process is the single biggest factor in commoditizing our industry. Because now, people just say "I want Cat 6. Give me Cat 6." Well, yeah. 10 years ago, you'd be in there trying to tell Lucent PowerSum because nobody heard of it before and it was sexy and it was cool and you'd get people to buy into it. Now it's Cat 6.

SIEMON: Several issues back, CNS magazine touched on the point that product claims and product performance are two very different things. In other words, labels often lie. While I agree that standards accelerate the move toward commodity status, the bigger problem is that there is no meaningful oversight to prevent products from being falsely labeled as standard compliant. Products made by companies that are not actively involved in industry standards and trade organizations pose a higher risk. The only effective countermeasure today is to educate the market on risks associated with adopting a price-driven strategy for cabling infrastructure products and installation.

WEEKES: I have often wondered why the TIA meetings and standards meetings never coincided with a BICSI meeting. You know, I always had to make two separate trips. You go to Orlando for BICSI, and sure enough, six, nine month, a year and a half later you're going back down to Orlando for a standards meeting. I would think it would be absolutely fantastic if the TIA had a standards meeting at the same time BICSI was on and, to Robert's point, all of a sudden, a thousand, 2,500 people at a BICSI conference get sucked in to this little vortex of standards and they're actually made a little more aware of the process and what it is all about.

BARKER: Is anyone in this room concerned about the pending IT skills shortage and if not, why?

MYERS: It's a vast problem. The skills required today in small medium enterprise are very much under-served. There's a long list of specialty skills, a growing list of specialty skills. Each one of these network conduits touches so many points about applications and security and privacy and fire and long wide area and local area and wireless.

The list is massive and growing and we just aren't seeing enough people coming out of school and embracing these skills. It's not an opportunity they want to pursue.

It's a supply and demand problem right now.

BOYD: Everybody was going through the Y2K thing. IT people were paid exorbitant amounts of money and all of a sudden that went away and you lost the market. That, in my mind, is what killed the apprenticeship program in Ontario. We were all busy as all get-out, we needed guys like crazy. We had this thing really cooking along. Then all of a sudden 2002 came along, we had all these people in school, and everybody said: "We're actually laying off. We don't need people right now." And we lost people out of our industry, because for a two-year period we didn't have the jobs available.

We lost good installers, we lost people coming into the industry, because we just didn't need them. So you lost maybe a generation of university students who looked at the market and said "these people are overworked and underpaid. I'm going to do something else."

MYERS: If you look at the computing science programs today, they're producing people that are coming out with great skills around kernel operating system development and compiler optimization skills. There are a handful of people in the whole wide world who do that work for a living. They need to adjust their curriculum from a pretty esoteric PhD-level skill set to one that I believe is far more practical and ubiquitous.

BARKER: Final question: Do you feel that trade organizations such as BICSI are serving the best interests of both their members and the IT industry? How can they be improved? I cannot speak for the U.S. but certainly in this country they need to pump up the membership. I mean, for an organization of that size to only have 811 members in a country of 33 million is, to me, a little astounding.

BOYD: They put on a hell of a golf week every January. Thank you BICSI.

HORNE: I think overall they do an excellent job. I think people get out of BICSI what they put into BICSI. We complain about it, but the positive ones are going to say they aren't involved in it. I don't think I've ever gone to a conference I didn't get something good out of.

That being said, we need to be constantly questioning why they're there and what they're doing for us as members. We shouldn't rest on our laurels and we shouldn't be too complacent.

FRANC: I think that's part of the benefit and part of the challenge of BICSI. To Rick's point, about the golf week, you know, people make fun of the golf week. One of the most important things that BICSI does is give people a forum to interact with their peers, not just in a professional capacity but an interpersonal capacity. They have mandates varying from education and certification to writing standards.

They're trying to be a marketing organization. They're a lobbyist organization. They're providing guidance not just on design, but installation and best practices. They're trying to do a multitude of things and I think it's because, as Rob says, because it's a member-driven organization, different member profiles within BICSI have different needs, so it takes on multiple different roles.

Whether that's the right thing or the wrong thing, that's up to the membership to decide, but it's their great benefit and probably their greatest liability as well. It's really going to dictate how things move over the next 10 years.

SHARP: The unfortunate thing is that yet again, BICSI is a business and they can only survive as a business. And unfortunately that has its down side. I remember in Chicago maybe a year and a half ago, the conference was a completely different setup. For three days, there were workshops. And the workshops were intense. They were excellently delivered.

The attendance was fantastic and when I asked BICSI would they be continuing this, they said that this was such a resounding success, we will never do it again. Because the vendors who were on display there had absolutely nobody attending the displays. They were all at the workshops and from a BICSI point of view, it didn't make sense. As an attendee, it was fantastic. Unfortunately, BICSI has to survive as a business.

SIEMON: I think that's the primary challenge. BICSI is serving two different constituencies. One group designs, installs and maintains working IT installations. The other group is the supply base for the first. Yes they serve the same industry, but as Peter has pointed out, the best interests of both groups do not always intersect. The key to future success will depend on their ability to clearly identify the differences and address them in a way that balances the interests of IT industry suppliers and those that design, install and use those products and systems.

No other organization in our industry has demonstrated such a strong commitment to continuing education. As long its members and leadership continue to recognize the value of this role and to support ongoing training and education, BICSI will continue to play a central role in the growth and stability of our industry.

KOSTASH: Since BICSI is thriving they are obviously doing something right, but as John mentioned in trying to address two constituents and bring them closer together, the challenge to remain relevant is ongoing.

SHARP: Seeing the products is very important as well. Maybe if they took the workshops idea and then had days that were absolutely dedicated to just products, then maybe that would be a good balance. It must be a very challenging exercise to try and satisfy all the disparate groups that belong to BICSI.

BARKER: That's a wrap. Thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems www.cnsmmagazine.com

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The Human Side Of Cabling

The need for speed seems to be driving towards a signpost up ahead and it is not the Twilight Zone. Artificial Intelligence or A.I. is just down the road.

By Frank Bisbee

From the 1960's through the mid 1980's, we have seen remarkable changes in the world of communications, primarily in telecommunications. At the beginning of the 1960's the predominant traffic on communication highways was voice traffic, specifically man-to-man.

By the early 1970's, there was a remarkable increase in traffic for man-to-machine-to-machine, machine-to-man, and machine-to-machine.

During the 1970's, the amount of traffic on our networks involving machines grew to more than 52%. During the 1990's machine-to-machine traffic reached more than 93% of the total network traffic.

The touch of the computer is felt everywhere and it is just the beginning.

Many of today's laptop PCs are more powerful than the mainframe computer of 25 years ago. The information age is moving ahead, literally, at the speed of light.

In the world of cabling networking systems, during the past two decades, we have watched an unstoppable parade of infrastructure products that deliver higher performance, better transmission, and increased interoperability.

From the early LEVELS Program by Anixter to the EIA/TIA Standards, we have Category 3 through Category 7 cables and connectors. Network speeds soared from 64 Kbps to 40 Gbps. Now they are working on 100 Gbps speeds.

The consumer has become accustomed to buying network solutions only to find them obsolete before the installation warranty has expired.

This migration strategy of products and the development curve has been driven by the demand for more information at faster rates.

The need for speed seems to be driving towards a signpost up ahead (not the Twilight Zone). Artificial Intelligence or A.I. is just down the road. A system that learns and can make decisions is modeled on the human machine.

Back in the early 1960s, there were still a few manual (cord board) PBXs still in service. The telephone companies were pushing hard to replace them with newer technology. The customers were clinging to old switchboards because the operator added so many features to the communications service.

The human machine (i.e.. the operator) recognized voices of important frequent callers, remembered many frequently called numbers, knew when calls should be handled as priority, knew which parties were available or would be available.

Many businesses wanted to recapture the properties of the human that were lost when the traffic became so heavy that dumb machines were required. Ever since then, we have been wrestling with how to put the human into the machine.

Consider the custom calling features offered by the telco central office and the programmable station capabilities of current PBX's.

These are just a few examples of our pitiful attempts to put the human in the machine. The cabling networking systems are gathering and sending information from a host of different applications.

The systems are "learning" just like a child. The more information gathered, the greater the decision making process is facilitated.

The examples are all around us.

Today, automobile windshield wipers can be sensitized to water and send commands to the brake system to auto-dry. In buildings we have added control of security, access, energy, lighting, wireless, networks, communications, and computer resources.

Power of Smart Buildings

The cabling networking systems are similar to the nervous system of our bodies. Our industry is like an infant learning how to use its capabilities. The infrastructure is perhaps the most important component of our ability to increase the power of our "smart buildings."

The "Big Payback" for these improved technologies is the improved work performance of the people it affects. Increased work performance translates to huge financial gains. In the world of real estate, it used to be "location, location, location" and now it has changed to "location, location, communications."

Better working environments promote improved creativity and performance. For the building owner this also reduces costly tenant turnover. The infrastructure systems are being looked at in a whole new light.

They are also no longer just tenant specific and thrown out with the garbage when the tenant leaves. As this networking infrastructure extends its tentacles into many areas that affect the workers' job performance, the value of the structure increases dramatically.

The information gathering capabilities facilitated by the networks begins the first giant step toward A.I. Many of our productivity gurus support the Bayes' Theorum as the best path to developing systems that can "learn and make decisions".

Bayes' theorem (also known as Bayes' rule or Bayes' law) is a result in probability theory, which relates the conditional and marginal probability distributions of random variables. In some interpretations of probability, Bayes' theorem tells how to update or revise beliefs in light of new evidence a posteriori.

The probability of an event A conditional on another event B is generally different from the probability of B conditional on A. However, there is a definite relationship between the two, and Bayes' theorem is the statement of that relationship.

As a formal theorem, it is valid in all interpretations of probability.

However, frequentist and Bayesian interpretations disagree about the kinds of things to which probabilities should be assigned in applications: frequentists assign probabilities to random events according to their frequencies of occurrence or to subsets of populations as proportions of the whole; Bayesians assign probabilities to propositions that are uncertain.

A consequence is that Bayesians have more frequent occasion to use Bayes' theorem. The articles on Bayesian probability and frequentist probability discuss these debates at greater length.

The principles of Bayesian theory (pre-test probability, likelihood ratios, post-test probability, treatment threshold): We can legitimately use the Bayesian approach even on an unstable system, since we use Bayesian probability theory to describe the distribution, not of the data itself, but of our knowledge about it.

William Edwards Deming was an American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant.

Widely credited with improving production in the United States during World War II, he is perhaps best known for his work in Japan.

There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets)] through various methods, including the application of statistical methods such as analysis of variance (ANOVA) and hypothesis testing.

Deming made a significant contribution to Japan becoming renowned for producing innovative high-quality products and becoming an economic power.

He is regarded as having had more impact upon Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage. Despite being considered something of a hero in Japan, he was only beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death.

For most of his life, including when he wrote his major statistical works, Deming believed that the frequentist approach was a better theoretical orientation. However, later in his life his views changed somewhat, and he became somewhat more open to the Bayesian interpretation.

Pathways For Tomorrow

The reach of fiber optic networks will continue to extend closer to the termination as the demand for transmission and throughput increases. FTTX or Fiber To The ??? is our next big horizon for the cabling networking systems.

Will copper-based communications cabling disappear? No. However, we do expect the copper- based cabling to lose significant growth share in the next decade.

The list of applications for cabling to handle is growing faster than most people can assimilate.

Many industry and trade associations are stepping up to the plate to be part of this dazzling new opportunity in the Information Age.

Many users will continue to follow traditional cabling technology until the value of smart systems is so overwhelming that they will no longer be able to hold back. Some users will never need or want these advanced technologies.

The GEM Sector (Government - Education - Medical) is prime for the benefits of these technologies.

We forecast that these areas will lead the pack in the increased productivity and the resultant A.I.

Heck, the flow of information on the (World Wide Web) Internet is equal to the entire U.S. Library of Congress every five minutes.

Imagine, the access to this amazing world of the future is through a simple little cable.

Frank Bisbee is a communications consultant based in Jacksonsville, Fla. & Editor of Heard On The Street (HOTS), a monthly newsletter that can be accessed at www.wireville.com. He can be reached via e-mail at frank@wireville.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems www.cnsmmagazine.com

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Communications News

Small Steps To A Greener Data Center

Energy efficiency demands have forced managers to consider something known as managed density.

David Yanish is responsible for the development and management of the enterprise marketing and partner programs at ADC, Minneapolis. In this role, he directs ADC’s PACE (professional architects, consultants and engineers) program that provides information about emerging technologies, standards and industry trends.

by David Yanish

In today’s world of ever-present concerns over greenhouse gases, carbon footprints and energy consumption, the data center stands as a key area of focus for conservation and improved energy efficiency. According to the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, data centers in the United States today account for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s total power draw; by 2010, they are expected to account for more than 2.3 percent.

For the data center manager who is facing increasing energy costs, and corporate and community pressure to reduce consumption, all while working with a limited budget, there are many areas to focus on. Furthermore, many seemingly elaborate processes and expensive programs can be cumbersome and difficult to act upon in meaningful short-term ways.

Server virtualization is one technology that can be effective by allowing multiple applications to run on individual servers, resulting in less equipment to power and cool. Avenues exist for improving airflow, but they require extensive planning, money and execution, such as configuring hot aisle/cold aisle layouts for cabinets.

These types of major changes may not be achievable in the short-term, however, and on their own, they likely will not be enough. There are, however, simpler and less-expensive ways to reduce power and cooling costs in the data center.

Maximizing cabinet density is the long-serving mantra of IT professionals. Maximizing a limited space became the norm, and equipment continued to become smaller, while producing more heat. This situation only becomes magnified in the data center.

The result is cabling that is difficult to manage, and inhibits passive and forced air pathways meant to dissipate heat. The pendulum is now shifting, however, as facility managers begin to weigh operation expenses in energy costs against the capital expenses of less-dense configurations. As a result, energy efficiency demands have forced managers to consider something known as managed density.

This is the principle that acknowledges there is a point where the number of cable terminations and servers deployed negatively affects the economics and management of the data center. A major element to “unmanaged density” is the common issue of cable dams blocking airflow within the cabinet. According to IBM, infrastructure upgrades, such as removing cable dams, can result in 15 percent to 40 percent savings in energy costs.

One solution is to limit the number of servers and cable terminations in a cabinet, especially in copper racks where cable diameter is larger. Another is to employ well-designed cable-management products and utilizing discipline in cable routing when dealing with moves, adds and changes.

Products designed to protect cables and keep pathways clear are critical to uptime and cooling, respectively. Consider cable-management products that integrate slack storage so that ample space is allowed for the flow of cool air into and hot air out of the cabinet. Implement flexible and scalable cable-management products that allow deployment to be customized to meet current and future requirements.

Securing cables along the entire length of vertical cable managers can open airflow, as can the use of restraints when filling trays to allow access as well as improved airflow. Place cables in overhead channels as opposed to raised floors, freeing up more plenum space to improve airflow and reduce the need to push more cool air.

Another simple fix is to specify smaller diameter copper cable. With the emergence of 10GBASE-T and the larger diameter augmented Category 6 cables, the choice of copper cabling can impact airflow, because some cables have a much smaller outside diameter than others. Less material means a smaller footprint, leading to improved passive airflow, requiring less power used for cooling. With proper cable management and smaller diameter cables, cable fill ratios for vertical cable guides of 60 percent or less still allow for high-density configurations without compromising airflow, and higher server density is possible without causing added electricity use for fans and cooling equipment.

Unrestricted and direct airflow means less power is needed to cool equipment.

Other simple measures are plugging unnecessary vents and cable cutouts in perforated raised floor tiles. Use blank panels in open rack spaces to help properly channel cool air over equipment, and ensure that vented floor tiles are properly located to reduce hot spots and flow cool air into equipment air intakes. Dim the lights during off hours, and shut down servers that are not in use.

Minor changes make a difference, and they are cumulative. Work with and specify manufacturers and integrators that can help design and implement an effective and viable solution to your data center needs.

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Security Brought To Light

IPSec VPN provides users with either Web-delivered “thin client” or clientless browser access.

Like many rapidly growing retailers, Seattle Lighting has had to ramp up its technology to meet its expanding business goals. The secret, says IT manager Pat Beemer, is in finding solutions that users will adopt–and IT can deploy–without creating more problems than they solve.

Over the past 90 years, Seattle Lighting has established itself as a leading supplier of lighting fixtures and accessories in the Pacific Northwest. With the building boom of the past decade, the company has experienced rapid growthboth regionally and globally. In addition to six Seattle-area locations and a clearance outlet, the company now operates six showrooms near Portland, another in Boise, Idaho, and an online e-commerce brand (DestinationLighting.com).

Seattle Lighting has business relationships with regional and national hardware distributors, a Portland-based lighting design firm, and lighting manufacturers in Dongguan, China. In two years alone, Seattle Lighting expanded its PC inventory from 50 to more than 500.

With this growth and expansion, the retailer realized a need for its executive and administrative staff, inside and outside sales representatives, store managers, and key business partners to obtain secure remote access to mission-critical resources. Management, sales and technical staff increasingly conducted their work on laptops and mobile devices from offsite locations.

The company’s primary remote access need is for the distribution-management system–crucial to Seattle Lighting’s operations–hosted on a back-end IBM RS/6000. The company’s distribution facility contains $12 million in ready-to-ship lighting inventory from more than 200 manufacturers, and is staffed at least 19 hours every weekday so that orders can be readied for shipment to a showroom or job site. Secondary needs include remote access to document files, e-mail, accounting applications and support for the e-commerce Web site.

Seattle Lighting originally provided remote access to its distribution-management system using terminal emulation via telnet, which presented security vulnerabilities at the firewall. With its rapidly expanding PC inventory and upgrades to its network infrastructure, however, the company retired the legacy VAX system and migrated from character-based terminal services to a Windows-based approach.

Firewall Not Enough

To provide virtual private network (VPN) access to distribution management and other business resources, Seattle Lighting deployed a Watchguard Firebox firewall with integrated IPSec VPN functionality. The outside sales team was the first group to use the VPN, but because IPSec required a resident “fat” client on the endpoint device, the IT staff immediately ran into the type of configuration and conflict issues often encountered when extending IPSec VPNs beyond IT-controlled site-to-site environments.

“One of our top reps tried to access the system from a home computer when it crashed,” says Beemer. “After a day of troubleshooting on a three-way conference call with Watchguard, we had to wipe the PC clean the next day just to get it restarted. The rep was unable to access the system to do business for over 48 hours.

“With the configuration problems, I had to hold back on offering remote access for many of the use-cases that were driving the need in the first place. It was clear we needed to look at alternatives.”

Beemer kept his Watchguard solution for site-to-site access between IT-managed endpoint devices, but for securing remote access from unmanaged devices, he explored various options, including a VPN solution from Cisco and Microsoft Remote Access Service (RAS). He found both solutions overly complicated for his needs, and was not fully satisfied with the security implementation of RAS. Then Seattle Lighting’s solution provider, Network Computing Architects, suggested he consider an SSL VPN solution from Aventail (now SonicWALL Aventail).

SSL VPNs do not require installation or configuration of a fat client. This option eliminated much of the deployment and configuration issues of the IPSec solution that burdened the IT staff and made wider deployment unfeasible. Instead, Beemer saw an opportunity to streamline deployment by providing users with either Web-delivered “thin client” or clientless browser access to Web applications, client/server applications and file shares, from a range of browsers and operating systems.

“The primary factor in selecting our solution was simplicity,” says Beemer. “It took under an hour to install and set up the appliance.”

The solution employs a centralized object-based policy model with a single rule set to manage and cascade policy across users, groups, resources and devices. “I didn’t need to phase deployment,” Beemer adds. “User access policy is based on their existing membership in Active Directory groups. I simply provided users with a URL.”

For unmanaged endpoints, policy decisions to allow or restrict access are automatically enacted based on the identity of the user and the security of the endpoint. The remote security appliance interrogates endpoint environments prior to authentication to determine the identity of the endpoint device, as well as confirming endpoint security criteria, such as current antivirus updates or certificate-based watermarks.

Immediate Results

The results for Seattle Lighting were significant–and immediate. “It was like I flipped a switch and turned on remote security for my users,’ says Beemer. The secure solution extends user-friendly mobile access to executive, managerial, IT and sales staff from anywhere they can access a browser. The mobility solution automatically deploys an appropriate access method based on the user’s identity, endpoint security and the resource desired.

“Our e-commerce administrator checks the status of the Web site from his Treo,” says Beemer. “I even logged on while I was on vacation in Mexico.”

Now, authorized Seattle Lighting staff and partners can remotely access distribution inventory, point-of-sale, customer relationship management, e-mail, intranet and partner extranet resources. In addition, staff in Seattle can now collaborate securely from home in order to synchronize with the time zones of Chinese manufacturers.

“A major success has been with outside sales,” says Beemer. Before, Beemer had to restrict the team’s access from unmanaged devices. Now, with the security of SSL VPN, their remote productivity has skyrocketed.

“The COO asked me to tell him if any of the sales reps were logged in after 9 p.m.,” says Beemer. “Let’s just say that my answer made him very happy.”

Beemer sees this initial success as only the beginning. “As a retailer, we are very committed to meeting compliance with PCI regulations,” he says, referring to the payment card industry data security standard. “One way we’re addressing this is by looking into using our remote security appliance to implement two-factor authentication.”

The solution includes multiple integrated options for authentication, including user name/password and two-factor authentication, such as RSA SecurID tokens and client-based digital certificates. Once this is implemented, Seattle Lighting will be able to further meet the security requirements to protect cardholder data.

“We also see remote security and mobility as a means to further solidify our disaster-recovery and business-continuity plans,” says Beemer, “and we’re working on initiatives to extend the B2B benefits we’ve already received on the B2C side.

Because of the efficiencies gained by harnessing our SSL VPN solution,” he adds, “we were able to dramatically increase our infrastructure and improve technology without adding additional IT staff.”

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine www.comnews.com

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TED Magazine

Creating A Green Supply Chain

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a green supply chain as one that is continually improving to eliminate environmental waste in the manufacturing and distribution of product. “Environmental waste often goes unaddressed by traditional supply chain initiatives, and can create significant costs for businesses,” said Dale Kemery, an EPA spokesperson.

In addition, a truly green supply chain requires that both intra- and interorganizational activities, such as purchasing, manufacturing and operations, distribution, and reverse logistics, all explicitly consider their influence on the natural environment, according to Joseph Sarkis, professor of operations and environmental management at the Clark University Graduate School of Management, Worcester, Mass.

However, according to RedPrairie Corporation, Milwaukee, creating a green supply chain can be easier than you think. It certainly means a commitment to change, but that doesn’t mean the change needs to be painful or expensive.

“A green supply chain is simply one that is focused on the reduction of emissions and the sustainability of resources in an economically realistic manner from a business perspective,” explained James Hoefflin, executive vice president.

Links in a chain

According to Sarkis, the development of a green supply chain requires management support both within and between organizations. “The adoption of a green supply chain requires strategic collaboration, which can only occur when upper-level managers within the chain are willing to devote the time and resources of the company to it,” he said.

Two tools available to aid distributors and their partners in green supply chain management are Design for the Environment (DFE), an EPA partnership program that focuses on working with individual industry sectors to compare and improve the performance, human health, and environmental risks and costs of existing and alternative products, processes, and practices, and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). “LCA determines the implications of a product throughout its life cycle and at different phases within the supply chain,” said Sarkis.

The EPA’s Green Suppliers Network is another program established to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers stay competitive and profitable while reducing their impact on the environment. “Companies that participate in the Green Suppliers Network program use value stream mapping techniques to identify sources of non-value-added time or materials, to identify opportunities to increase efficiency, and to develop a plan for implementing improvements,” explained Kemery. Value stream mapping tracks input and output through either an individual process or a complete product line and serves as a critical tool to reveal substantial opportunities to reduce costs, enhance production flow, save time, reduce inventory, and improve environmental performance.

The clear goal of a green supply chain is to minimize the environmental burden of products and processes within the supply chain while ensuring that business goals such as delivery timeliness, efficiencies, quality, and costs are met. Approaches such as LEAN, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Management identify and remove wastes from all aspects of an organization’s operations, thereby driving down costs and improving efficiencies. “Learning to identify non-value-added activities and eliminate waste is a cornerstone of supply chain efficiency initiatives,” noted Kemery.

If electrical distributors develop or participate in an effective green supply chain, they should experience cost reductions, higher productivity, break-even or profitable waste recovery, and improved worker health.

“Participation in a green supply chain allows the electrical distributor to be more efficient and gain a competitive advantage, as well as enabling them to provide their customers with the opportunity to fulfill the end-users’ requirements for environmentally sound products,” concluded Sarkis.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Every little bit helps

According to RedPrairie Corpo­ration in Milwaukee, every initiative taken to improve efficiency is one that provides an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of the supply chain.

For example:

• Optimize routing and consolidate transportation units and fleet operations. Fleet management can be improved by tracking vehicle movements and monitoring performance with real-time feedback on route productivity.

• Increase global transport efficiency by improving the coordination, strategy, and logistics surrounding the movement of goods through multiple countries.

• Create system-generated tasks and communications through electronic interfaces, RFID, voice-based technologies, and electronic advanced-ship notices.

• Take advantage of improved packaging strategies that reduce packaging materials and storage and transportation supplies.

• Use energy conservation strategies in the warehouse—things like motions sensors for lights, solar power, and reusable pallets.

• Improve labor efficiency and coach individual employees on how to perform their jobs most efficiently by eliminating wasted effort. —D.B.

Bremer is a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., and a frequent contributor to “TED” magazine. She can be reached at darbremer@comcast.net.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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The Green Tipping Point

It’s almost impossible to open a newspaper, turn on the radio, fire up the TV, flip through a magazine, or surf the Web without hearing or seeing green. Green, of course, refers to all things environmental—and it’s no longer the exclusive domain of groups like the Sierra Club. Green now courses through the veins of savvy leaders in every industry, market, and sector—from construction to insurance, manufacturing to finance, entertainment to electrical distribution.

And it’s all good; in fact, it’s a win-win-win situation:

• We get to preserve the planet for future generations.

• We can operate our businesses more efficiently and economically.

• We can—and will, if we’re smart—scrutinize the vast opportunity before us and cherry-pick our strongest options.

Furthermore, electrical distributors are in the unique, and enviable, position of touching almost every aspect of green building—from sensors and controls to alternative energy technologies.

Dow Corning funded an interna-tional survey of more than 1,000 managers and professionals and concluded: “Environmental and sustainability programs have a strong influence on whether a company will be considered a potential supplier. On average, eight out of 10 companies globally said that environmental/sustainability factors are taken into account when they selected suppliers.”

Paint it green

While October has been designated “Energy Awareness Month” throughout the United States since 1991, October 2007, with its long parade of high-profile green events, marks a green tipping point. Here is just a sampling of recent, large-scale events focused on climate change:

• The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is the not-for-profit organization that administers the ubiquitous LEED green building program. Record numbers of construction and real estate professionals, building owners, educators, government officials, and representatives from financial services and utility industries gathered in Chicago Nov. 7-9 for Greenbuild, the USGBC’s annual international conference and expo.

• Greenbuild host city Chicago, placed by some analysts in the top 10 green U.S. cities, declared Oct. 13 to Nov. 16, 2007, “Green Building Month” and celebrated daily with fairs, conferences, tours, classes, exhibits, performances, screenings, and discussions.

• The 2007 Mayors Climate Protection Summit, which took place Nov. 1-2 in Seattle, drew the largest-ever gathering of U.S. mayors, who were convened for the sole purpose of tackling global warming. During the event, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) (see sidebar on page 53). The alliance between the two groups provides the 1,139 member cities access to volume discounts on energy-efficient products, equipment, and systems.

• From Oct. 5-8 in San Francisco, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) devoted a third of its annual convention to green. “Think Green Day” kicked off with a management seminar “Emerging Green Markets,” followed by technical workshops on topics ranging from LEED, utility programs, solar, and lighting, to key market drivers and business opportunities. Two preconvention workshops were also offered (“It’s Not Easy Being Green—But It’s Profitable” and “Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation”), as well as a presentation (“The Real Global Warming”) and a new “Green Alley” exhibit area.

• On Oct. 17, Forbes published “America’s Greenest States.” States were designated as such based on their carbon footprint, air quality, water quality, hazardous waste management, policies, and energy consumption. Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii earned top honors.

Benefits Accrue

In the Carbon Beta and Equity Performance Study of 1,500 companies conducted by the investment research firm Innovest, industrial companies with strategies that address sustainability and climate change financially outperformed their competitors for the past three years. The correlation, according to Innovest, is strong, positive, and growing.

One NECA convention attendee, Jan Carradine, director of engineering for Baker Electric in Escondido, Calif., said it all: “Green is the color of the future.”

Investopedia, which earned Forbes’s “Best of the Web” nod, cited multiple benefits from green real estate, including reduced waste, energy, and water use; lower operations and maintenance expense; improved indoor environmental quality; enhanced occupant comfort; and increased employee productivity.

Lutron Electronics demonstrated in an apples-to-apples comparison at the Cira Centre in Coopersburg, Pa., that its EcoSystem reduces an office building’s lighting energy use by 56%—a big savings considering that lighting in a commercial building often accounts for 44% of the total energy consumption.

And McGraw-Hill's Smart Market Report indicated that green buildings not only use 25% to 30% less energy than conventional buildings, but they can also increase property values by 7.5% and boost occupancy rates by 3%.

 “More customers are embracing green,” said Mitch Rose, vice president of marketing for Billtrust, an electronic billing service. Billtrust’s strongest selling point is financial savings, Rose said, but the environmental benefits are important too. In addition to saving trees, paper, ink, the energy and materials used in the printing process, and delivery expense, Billtrust plants a tree every time a distributor brings another 10% of its customers on board.

Every month, more cities and states require that new public buildings and major renovations meet green, high-performance standards. Every day, another community forms an environmental council, another LEED-certified building makes headlines, another company retrofits its properties for greater energy efficiency, and another contracting company promotes its expertise in green building—with thousands more pursuing the same expertise.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on board, and enjoy the win-win-win.

Niehaus is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and numerous environmental organizations—and her commitment to green runs deep: Her St. Louis home is built with materials recycled from 1904 World’s Fair buildings. She can be reached at JanNiehaus@charter.net or 314-644-4135.

Start with the cities

The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), founded (and funded) by the Clinton Foundation in August 2006, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, starting with urban areas, which are responsible globally for 75% of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Within a year of joining forces with the international C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group, the CCI negotiated volume discounts, some as generous as 70%, with 22 manufacturers of energy-efficient building products; vehicles; indoor and outdoor lighting; and advanced technologies for waste management, water systems, and alternative energy.

In May 2007, the CCI launched the Energy Efficient Building Retrofit Program, uniting four of the world’s largest energy-service companies, five of the largest banks, and 16 of the largest cities. The program offers incentives to public and private building owners to implement energy-efficient technologies.

In October 2007, the CCI added the influential 1,139-member U.S. Conference of Mayors to its partnership roster, and former President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote at the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2007 Greenbuild conference. —J.N.

Green on the web

Summit Electric offers efficiency news.

Summit Electric Supply, Albuquerque, N.M., has grown from $150 million in annual sales in 2002 to an esti-mated $350 million in 2007. Expanded operations encompass a thriving export business, and the company recently went through an SAP software conversion.

In the midst of all of this, the company is responding to its customers’ needs for information on energy efficiency and green topics: In March 2007 it added “Summit Energy News” to its Website.

“‘Summit Energy News’ is aimed at helping customers with green initiatives, said Victor Jury Jr., president. “Green will be the quality initiative’ of the next 10 years. We’re in the process of forming a green team—people in our company who will be trained to help customers identify ways to recycle and reduce waste, and ways to be more energy efficient.”

Summit’s marketing department launched the Website addition. Contributions to the site come from independent energy expert Bill Attardi as well as internal Summit people.

“It’s designed to present news you can use on energy efficiency,” said Diane Velasco, who oversees the company’s communication program. “It’s part of an energy-efficiency integrated campaign.”

Also of note: With the page on the Web, Summit can track Web traffic—giving the company a leg up as it gets indirect feedback on what’s hot (and what’s not) with its Web visitors.

Salimando is an Oakton, Virginia-based writer. He can be reached at eddotcom@gmail.com. See his weekly column on tedmag.com

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Green Giants

Green has progressed from a byword used frequently by those on the fringe to a mainstream—even corporate—mandate. Large electrical distributors have invested time in recent years and/or months to figure out how to jump to the green forefront. It’s not easy—there’s plenty of obstacles in the path to the legitimate pursuit of energy-saving, people-friendly, future-oriented sustainability moves by companies. Reports on what six large distributors are doing, saying, and planning follow.

Gexpro

“Right now, we’re basically evaluating our environmental footprint,” said Bart Runner, vice president of operations. “We’ve been looking within our structure and determining what our contribution will be.

“We’re moving down the path of environmental sustainability,” he continued. “We’ve rolled out internal comprehensive recycling programs and are working with customers to help solve their needs.”

According to Aaron Bankhead, director of environmental health and safety, “Our recycling program has two parts. On the one hand, we’ve set a company-wide mandate of recycling lamps, batteries, ballasts, and more.

“On the other hand,” he continued, “we had a hard time finding a nationwide recycling vendor for paper and cardboard, so we’ve given the branches the flexibility to make local choices to find the people to do it for them.”

Additionally, the company is stocking energy-efficient products and working with customers to communicate the benefits of these products. The company has also selected 35% of its branches for an energy-efficient relamping program. “Our company is taking the retrofitting and re­lamping program in stages,” said Runner. “We’re moving first on the biggest-impact locations and other branches where it makes the most sense.”

Graybar

“We’ve installed energy-efficient lighting in 59 of our warehouse facilities, and expect to complete upgrades at six more in the next few weeks,” said Dick Offenbacher, senior vice president for sales and marketing.

Graybar has long been involved with environmentally friendly programs, both within the organization and with its customers. In addition to internal programs to cut energy costs and reduce-reuse-recycle, Offenbacher noted a lesser noticed extra: e-business.

“We conduct financial  transactions electronically with our suppliers and customers,” he said. “We urge our branches to identify when paperless transactions will work and encourage this means of doing business, which reduces untold amounts of paper waste throughout the supply chain.”

In one recent project, Offenbacher said Graybar helped a home product manufacturer replace inefficient lighting in a warehouse. Total savings over five years for the project are projected to be $700,000—a return on investment of 1,292%. The customer was convinced to retrofit after the sales representative conducted a lighting audit and ran through the numbers using the Graybar Hi-Bay Fluorescent Return on Investment Calculator. Included in the first-year savings calculation was the EPAct tax deduction.

Offenbacher also described the company’s sustainable solutions for retailer, hospitality, and other commercial clients, including:

• A utility rebate and incentive recovery program for energy- and water-

efficiency building improvements

• An energy and maintenance management program

• Hazardous waste recycling and disposal of products such as lamps, electrical equipment, batteries, electronics, and computer equipment

“We’ve always put our customers first in educating ourselves on how to provide green product information, services, and incentives,” Offenbacher said. “As with our internal lighting retrofits, we want to lead by example.”

HD Supply Electrical

“Our electrical customers are starting to ask for eco-friendly products,” said Kate Hahn, communications specialist. “And we are working to respond.”

Green issues aren’t new to HD Supply Electrical. The company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council; is partnered with suppliers to produce flyers with energy-saving tips, quick-reference rebate guides, and energy calculators; and also offers a lighting audit service. The company has also used its 23 Florida branches (it claims 65 electrical branches all told in 11 states) as a laboratory for green efforts, and is developing company-wide recycling and green initiatives.

“We’re evaluating the potential of our sustainability programs,” Hahn said. “We’re a newly independent company, so we’re working on the details. A question we are working on is, How can we bring 1,000 branches throughout the United States and Canada on board with green and sustainability issues?”

Hahn provided a list of products that the company accepts for recycling:

• Lamps: fluorescent, HID, sodium and mercury vapor, CFLs

• Electronic equipment: computer monitors, hard drives, printers, keyboards, telephone systems, cell phones, slot machines, calculators, and fax machines

• Batteries: alkaline, Ni-Cad, nickel hydride, lead acid (sealed and wet), and silver oxide batteries

• Other: ballasts; capacitors; laser toner; and fax, copy, and inkjet cartridges

Sonepar

One might think that the “Blueway” program at Sonepar—which, like the company, transcends internationalborders—has nothing to do with green issues. But “Blueway” is all about sustainability.

“The Blueway program began with a questionnaire sent to our 30,000 employees worldwide to collect a maximum number of creative ideas and actions to implement within the com-pany,” explained Francois Chatin, vice president of marketing and communications for Sonepar in the United States. “We actually came up with more than 700 ideas from them.”

From that running start, the company narrowed the list to the 27 best ideas. Executives in each of 29 countries were encouraged to take from that list the green and sustainable ideas that seemed most appropriate for their situations.

What’s going on in the United States? According to Chatin, two ideas are being pursued:

1. Sonepar identified 32 energy-saving lamps. A document detailing what these products can do for customers was produced and distributed internally. But this is not the full extent of it: Sonepar is tracking via its salespeople what it’s accomplishing—measuring on a monthly basis the energy savings it is producing for customers via sales of these lamps.

2. “We are trying to increase customer awareness of all eco-friendly products,” Chatin said. “We are going to different vendors, identifying the environmentally friendly products, and making sure that our people know about the benefits. We are in the process of building this program now.”

(The U.S. government’s Energy Star Website includes information on the Blueway program, as implemented at Cooper Electric Supply, Tinton, N.J. Visit tinyurl.com/yuxf92 for more information.)

Rexel

Rexel SA posted a 60-page Sustainable Development Report on its 2006 activities at tinyurl.com/yw7msv. (See also tinyurl.com/32p3rt, a page on the corporate site that details 10 measured actions taken per branch in the leading countries.)

While a chart on this page puts the average number of actions at U.S. branches at three (of the total 10 measures), Rexel’s operations here have become active lately on the green front. Earlier this year, the company an­nounced a venture with Veolia, an international environmental firm, to recycle lamps and more.

Veolia offers RECYCLEPAK, a boxed system to recycle fluorescent lamps. (For details, visit tinyurl.com/3b4d3n.)

As for the upcoming year, “We are going to begin printing our magazine, Power Outlet, on recycled paper,” said Doris Chumley, marketing programs manager. Power Outlet is a 108-page quarterly publication that is produced for the company’s customers. “We mailed more than 100,000 copies of our last issue, so this is forecasted to be a major change.

“Furthermore, all of our promotional pieces and Rexel-brand catalogs are now printed on recycled paper,” she continued. 

Also, in late 2007, Rexel had green-related booths at two trade shows:

• At NECA 2007, Rexel’s booth was in the solar energy section, promoting a special solar product.

• At West Coast Green, a residential building conference held in San Francisco, Rexel took part in the mkLotus green prefab house.

Wesco

With large customers—including na­tional accounts—WESCO has perhaps had more first-hand evidence of the interest, even desire, that exists for green issues. The company has used supplier relationships to gear up and respond.

“In the past year, the sustainability issue has become increasingly important to our national account customers,” said Kevin Kerby, director of national accounts and marketing.

Eaton and Philips have separately conducted training for WESCO’s na­tional account salesforce. Additionally, speakers from the two companies were featured at the company’s August supplier meeting, which was attended by 400 manufacturer executives.

In addition, the company is introducing a new Green Buyer’s Guide—which will feature items from roughly 30 suppliers of green and sustainable products. These products will be divided into six categories:

1. Wind power generation

2. Sustainable lighting

3. “Living green with Eaton”

4. Energy systems and controls

5. Energy-efficient batteries and flashlights

6. Cable management and termination

“This will be more than a catalog,” said Michael Ludwig, director of marketing. “It will serve as a reference for our customers as well. For example, the Green Buyer’s Guide will contain state-by-state requirements for green, sustainable products. The guide is due to be released this month.

“State requirements vary greatly,” continued Ludwig. “For example, what California has designated as its set of laws and rules could vary from those that Michigan and Pennsylvania require. We are trying to understand these differences, and where the products we sell will fit with them. From there, we can begin to decide where we can provide value.”

WESCO’s 2008 plans also include what Ludwig called a big educational effort—complete with direct-mail marketing campaigns aimed at conveying information about the green and sustainable solutions available at the company.

“In truth, we don’t think this will happen overnight,” Ludwig said. “But we certainly will provide customers with the information, and offer them solutions.”

Salimando writes regularly for “TED,” tedmag.com, and the electrical industry’s blog at eleblog.com. He’s worked as a writer, editor, and publisher in the electrical construction industry for 23 years. Prior to that, he was editor of “Waste Age” magazine, the No. 1 publication in the waste and recycling industries; during this time he was also the founding editor of “Recycling Times.” Reach him at eddotcom@gmail.com.

It’s not limited to the humongous

While this feature covers large-distributor efforts in the green market, there is a good deal more to tell on the sustainability front. Con­sider a two-page distributor study on the Energy Star Website about North Coast Electric in Seattle.

According to the article, “North Coast is an Energy Star champion electrical distributor, reaping the benefits of increased profits and growth through the sales of Energy Star-qualified products.” Don’t miss the case study’s second page, where readers learn about North Coast’s four-pronged direct-to-builder strategy that resulted in over 1,000 homes being sold with Energy Star fixture packages.

For more information, visit tinyurl.com/ytbbjz. —J.S.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Life And limb

How nonelectrical distributors get safety messages out.

Because workplace accidents exact a toll not only on those involved in the mishaps, but also on the companies that employ them, putting safety first on the job is always a good idea. CalPly, a building supply materials distributor headquartered in Downey, Calif., is a prime example of this kind of thinking: With 31 warehouses in the West and Southwest, the company is driven by safety consciousness.

A distribution business is filled with potential dangers, but forklifts and trucks may pose the greatest risk of all. “Vehicle accident prevention is a huge priority for us, both in and out of the warehouse,” said Terry Baker, operations manager at the company’s Downey operations. He explained that forklift drivers are required to wear seat belts while operating their vehicles, and there are mirrors and backup alarms on the forklifts to ensure the safety of pedestrians working nearby.

“We also place safety cones around the trucks in the yard as they load and unload, and insert wheel chocks at various points on the vehicles so they won’t roll,” Baker added.

Warehouse workers are also well equipped for safety: Everyone is outfitted with hardhats, orange florescent vests, and steel-toed shoes. Customers and visitors wear safety equipment as well, and are banned from being in the facility unescorted.

“We take accident prevention very seriously,” Baker added. “No one gets lifted off the floor in a forklift except via an OSHA-approved man-basket, and all of our vehicles are held to a strict, five-mile-per-hour speed limit.”

Another safety feature: a well-lit yard. “The yard is illuminated with high-power fluorescent tubes for after-hours loading,” said Baker. “Keeping people safe in this business definitely requires extra effort.”serious business

Injuries resulting from overexertion occur all too frequently in a typical distribution facility. The causes are many—from lifting and throwing boxes to pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects through the warehouse. Trips, slips, and falls are also common occurrences.

Carelessness usually prefaces these kinds of mishaps, a rule that applies equally to line employees and management. Some distributors are remiss when it comes to safety training their troops—not because they don’t care about them, but because they are pre-occupied with running their businesses. This may prove an expensive oversight, as an employee wounded on the job can cost a business plenty in terms not only of lost productivity, but also worker’s compensation and litigation. Some workers, meanwhile, are downright reckless, and many wind up paying for such activities in the form of personal injury—a cost that is also passed along to employers.

“Safety is serious business,” said Frank Kenna, president of The Marlin Company, a workplace communications publisher based in North Haven, Conn. “Big companies are pretty good at educating their people about safety, but at smaller operations, safety awareness often becomes less of a priority. This is because it usually comes with a cost, and with no immediate payback.”

The reward, of course, comes in the long-term: accident prevention. Accidents can cost a company much more than what safety education costs—$20,000 to $40,000 per incident is typical, Kenna noted.

Safety awareness

Accident prevention begins with education and continues with communicating it in the form of electronic bannering, posters, and/or some form of “safety TV.” It’s vitally important, however, that content be presented in a regularly changing format. Successful television ads, for example, are often serialized because their creators understand the propensity of the human mind to tune out a too familiar commercial message, no matter how clever it is. So it goes with safety messaging. Too much exposure will render the message invisible.

“We pass on safety messages via an electronic communications system that transmits over a large flat screen,” said Joe Bosman, CEO of Sloan Flushmate, a plumbing supplies distributor in Detroit. “The message changes on a daily and weekly basis so that employees pay attention. The core content isn’t what one would describe as ‘arresting,’ so we dress it up with teasers. A banner runs underneath the main message with weather reports, company-related announcements like new hires, and outside-of-work information like wedding and birth announcements. The idea is to draw attention to the screen so its safety message registers in the minds of viewers along with the personal stuff.”

Sloan Flushmate invests in accident prevention education and orientation in other ways, too. It has a safety committee consisting of eight volunteer employees who represent the full corporate ladder. The committee does monthly facility walk-throughs. Based on results, it submits reports to upper management with improvement recommendations.

“We consider prevention far more effective than treatment where safety is concerned,” Bosman said. “We also encourage our employees to be safety conscious at home because accidents happening there impact what happens here. Safety is not solely a workplace issue. It’s something you need to be cognizant of 24/7.”

Graham is a St. Louis-based freelance writer. Reach him at 314-821-7932.

Financial Review: Receivables are up everywhere

Each of the companies covered this month recently experienced an increase in receivables outstanding. It’s not clear what this means, but perhaps it’s why some companies (including Grainger and Wesco) securitize (sell off) their receivables. An article in November’s CFO magazine discussed why some do this, and quoted Stephen Van Oss, CFO of Wesco: “It’s 60 to 80 basis points better pricing than any other asset-based program. It’s the most efficient way to borrow money.”        

Elsewhere, Cooper Industries marked its seventh straight quarter of 20%-plus growth in earnings per share from continuing operations; Grainger said it had pushed its ROIC to 28.9% in 2007’s first nine months (the figure for 2006 was 26.1%); Superior Essex said it would buy back $20 million of its shares, which could equate to about 800,000 shares (equal to about 4% of shares outstanding); and Thomas & Betts (T&B) saw sales in its electrical segment increase by 18.5% in the third quarter.

As for news in acquisitions, Danaher bought Tektronix and sold off 6 million shares of stock in a secondary offering; Genlyte, with annual sales of $1.6 billion, was acquired by Philips for $2.7 billion; T&B finalized its buy of Lamson & Sessions; and Wesco purchased J-Mark, a manufactured housing industry supplier with $30 million in annual sales. —Joe Salimando

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Make It Stick; Six Ways To Make The Most Of Training Initiatives

Everyone has done it—attended a seminar or taken an online course and left excited about what was learned and ready to put the new ideas to work. But once back on the job, the newly learned ideas and processes are moved to the back burner, and within a few days are gone. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, it’s time to try some of these pre- and post-training tips:

1. Focus on job or company objectives. Training should be related to real work, and the objectives of a training program should be carefully reviewed to determine who should attend the training program. Many times, a training-needs analysis is conducted by searching through a stack of brochures for a nearby class. To be most effective, a training-needs analysis will identify who should attend the seminar, workshop, or online course based on a performance issue, a promotional opportunity, or a career path.

2. Discuss learning objectives. Before the training session, managers should discuss with trainees the reasons they have been assigned the training and the expected results. Doing so allows the trainee to focus on those core learning objectives.

3. Schedule the training. Be sure the training is scheduled at an appropriate time. For best results, busy times should be avoided.

4. Select the best. Most people are easily distracted, so trainers must employ a variety of techniques to keep trainees engaged. The best trainers will include opportunities for participants to role play or interact in some way throughout the training. Listening, speaking, doing, and discussing are key concepts that will solidify the learning experience. While no one likes to be put on the spot, group discussion is a valuable learning technique. Repetition is highly encouraged and surprisingly effective, and a good trainer will find several ways to cover the same material so that repetition is not obvious. Providing real-life examples is an excellent method to reinforce particular points.

5. Use handouts, charts, and visual aids. Handouts encourage participants to take notes, and often the act of note taking aids in maintaining focus as well as heightening retention. Visual aids are always a good tool for the visual learner and can provide the trainer with an opportunity to cover the material in an­other way. Any take-home material can also be good training reinforcement.

6. Post-training discussion. As soon as possible, the manager and trainee should have a post-training discussion regarding how the new material will be put to use on the job. Knowing in advance that a post-training discussion is expected, the trainee will be encouraged to organize the material into job-related bites or even prepare a timeline for putting the new methods into practice his or her.

To make the most of a training session, take the time to discuss the expected outcomes in advance and follow up after the session to confirm that the specific training objectives were met. Any newly learned techniques should be put into practice as soon as possible so as to reinforce what was learned. With valuable pre- and post-training discussions, what was learned in training is more likely to become a part of the daily routine.

Kelly is a human resources and training professional with more than 10 years of experience in electrical distribution at The Hite Company in Altoona, Pa. Contact her at dkelly10@atlanticbb.net.

Training opportunities

BlueVolt adds courses

BlueVolt added 2,000 courses to its online training library. Contact sales@bluevolt.com or call 503-223-2583 for more information.

Industrial Distribution U

The University of Industrial Distribution, March 2-5, Indiana University and Purdue University, is cosponsored by NAED. See unvid.org.

Textbook release

American Technical Publishers released the Electrical Systems Based on the 2008 National Electrical Code textbook and CD. For more information, visit go2atp.com or call 800-323-3471.

WDMC held at Ohio State

NAW Wholesale Distribution Manager’s Course will be held June 9-12 at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Visit nawd.org.

BICSI interactive learning

Information on BICSI’s new online interactive learning network, BICSI Connect, can be found at bicsi.org.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Electrical Contractor

New Year, New Look

You may notice some changes in this January Issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. We timed our new look with the shift over to 2008,  bringing you, and us, a spruced-up version of the content you know, as well as some fresh features and columns that will come your way this year.

Our design studio and our in-house staff coordinated our thoughts, ideas and opinions, and we’re exceptionally pleased with the new, clean and modern design. We have to thank everyone at BonoTom Studio for all the work they put in. It was well thought out and planned, and the transition to the new typefaces and images was smooth. We were all thrilled to get it underway and into your hands.  

As with every new year, we take a look at what’s happening in the marketplace and plan the editorial calendar based on changes that affect electrical construction. In this issue, you will find several new columns that relate to growing areas of importance to many of our readers, primarily lighting and codes. In previous years, we have had a six-time-a-year column called Codes & Standards, which typically appears in our specialty magazine, Security + Life Safety -Systems. This year, Codes & Standards will appear 12 times, either in Electrical Contractor or S+LSS. You will find the first installment, by Wayne Moore, on page 128.

We know how many of you work in lighting, and therefore we’re launching a monthly column on any and all aspects relating to illumination, which will be written by well-known lighting expert Craig DiLouie. His first column appears on page 102.

A third new column focuses on Energy Management, which could be an area of opportunity as building owners and facility managers become consumed by rising costs of electricity. Electrical contractors are in a good spot to help owners and end-users balance the energy consumption of a building, figuring out ways to cut electrical costs and streamline operations. This regular column by Darlene Bremer, on page 78, may assist you in these endeavors. There are other new columns launching this year, so stay tuned.

Our regular readers likely look to the January issue for our annual Construction Outlook. Some of you may be concerned that the economy isn’t looking as rosy as in previous years, or at least according to the pundits who love to predict doom and gloom. However, you may learn that there are many areas of the economy that are still growing robustly, especially in certain sectors of construction. Find Joseph Kelly’s summary of the major economic construction forecasts on page 30. Of course, as with any prediction, it may be as accurate as a palm reading.

The other thing I want to mention is our annual Showstoppers awards, picked from an array of products and tools that launched at the 2007 NECA Show in San Francisco. You just may find the solution your business has been seeking.

All of us here at Electrical Contractor look forward to a vibrant 2008.          

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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Ring in the New! But Do Your Homework First

President’s Desk by milner irvin

I wish all readers of this magazine a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. And, I wouldliketo reflect briefly on what it takes to make some new year wishes come true.

Learn something new in 2008, or try a new approach in the way you operate. But whatever change you are contemplating, explore it thoroughly, taking into account how others have handled it as well as your company’s current culture and the strategic plans you already have in place.

You have some well-thought-out strategic plans, don’t you? If not, I suggest your first assignment of the new year should be making an honest assessment of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Gathering opinions from all the parties involved with your business should be part of the process. That means listening to customers and employees, too.

Having that information will allow you to take the next step—determining where you want to take your company, evaluating the feasibility of your goals, and deciding what interim actions you should and can take to get there.

That’s certainly apt advice if you are thinking about entering a new line of business. And, given the economic forecast for 2008, with the slumping housing market and ensuing credit crunch threatening to slow consumer and business spending, contractors may well be tempted to look for greener pastures. Yes, that’s a deliberate pun, since predictions for the growth of the green building market continue on an upward path, bucking the trend for many other sectors.

However, it takes more than faith in market predictions to succeed in a new field. When that field is something as complex as the one in which green buildings blossom, it takes a whole lot of management education and work force training before any other activities can proceed.

Even when we’re talking about something that should be less complicated, such as making a change in a basic administrative operating procedure, some prep-work is still in order. Consider, for example, contract documents.

This stodgy, old topic has suddenly become exciting with the debut of ConsensusDOCS, hailed as one of the most significant developments to impact construction in decades. It is an online catalog of more than 70 construction documents (www.consensusdocs.org) that were crafted through an unprecedented collaboration among 23 organizations representing all concerned parties—designers, owners, contractors, subcontractors and even sureties. And what makes these documents revolutionary is that each of them was drafted to reflect the project’s best interests, rather than a single-party interest, and to prevent conflicts that can jeopardize project delivery.

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is proud to have participated in the three-year consensus-building process that led up to this breakthrough, both independently and through our organization’s membership in the Associated Specialty Contractors (ASC) and encourages everyone to consider using ConsensusDOCS. But, don’t consider them in a vacuum—also take into account what will work best for you and your project partners. Even though ASC participated in developing the new documents, this umbrella organization also endorses the standard-form contracts published by the American Institute of Architects, recognizing that they still have a place in the broad world of construction.

Look, it’s like Davy Crockett said: “Make sure you’re right. Then go ahead.” Or that old carpentry maxim: “Measure twice. Cut once.” My point is simple: Before you make any major change, do your homework.

Fortunately, we all can continue to count on this magazine to help us with the research part. And, with NECA furnishing such great resources, I am confident we all can anticipate another productive year ahead.           

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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The Eyes Have It

By diane Kelly

Imagine working in construction with limited or no vision. Try walking across the site with your eyes closed—not easy. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates 2,000 eye injuries occur every day at work. Most of these among construction workers, and most are preventable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists two major reasons for work-related eye injuries: not wearing any eye protection or not wearing the correct type. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey found that three out of five workers with eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. Of those who were wearing protection, more than 90 percent of the injuries occurred when objects or chemicals went around or under the protection.

Since the majority of workers who wear eye protection still experience eye injuries, something isn’t right. It seems logical that the problem is in matching protection to a specific job. There are many different types available, and some are better suited to some tasks than others.

To start with, all eye protection used must meet OSHA’s standard, which requires all eye and face protection be American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1-certified. All certified protection will have the Z87.1 mark on the lens or frame. Next, you must determine which type of protection best fits the job at hand by performing a hazard assessment to ascertain what eye hazards exist. Although this may be a time-consuming process, this early assessment might save time and money by minimizing eye injuries at the site. Some of the most common job site hazards include the following:

Dust, concrete, metal and other particles

Chemicals such as acids, bases, fuels, solvents and cement powder

Falling or shifting debris, building materials and glass

Smoke and noxious or poisonous gases

Welding light and electrical arcs

Most construction sites will have a combination of hazards. So how do you pick the correct type of eye protection?

NIOSH put together a list of eye and face protection that can be used as a starting point. NIOSH strongly encourages that all eyewear be Z87.1-certified, so this is factored into its recommendations.

Safety glasses with side protection will provide the minimum. They are best used for general working conditions where there is a minimum of flying particles, including dust and chips. Lenses should have an antifog treatment. Glass lenses are more scratch-resistant than polycarbonate but are heavier and do not provide the same impact protection.

Goggles provide higher impact, dust and chemical splash protection than basic safety glasses, and they can have indirect or direct venting. When working with fine dust or a splash hazard, indirect venting should be used. The problem with indirect vents is they fog more easily, however. Direct vent goggles can be used when working with larger particles. These will fog less but do not provide the same level of protection as the indirect vents.

Also available are hybrid safety glasses or goggles. These include safety glasses with foam or rubber around the lens to minimize the amount of particles or splash coming in contact with the eye. The hybrids should not be used when there are impact hazards because the hybrids do not stand up to impacts as well as standard goggles do.

Workers who wear prescription glasses present a different problem. They already are wearing some type of eyewear. Do they need more? The answer is yes. If the glasses have nonsafety lenses, the workers should wear tight-fitting goggles over the prescription glasses. Contact lens wearers also should wear goggles on the job site. Prescription safety glasses are available, but they lack high-impact protection and should not be used in debris areas unless covered by goggles or a face shield.

Although we have focused on eye protection, don’t forget that the face must also be protected. For highest impact protection, a shield will protect the whole face from chipping, spraying, grinding, and chemicals or blood-borne hazards. Face shields should never be worn without some type of eye protection (safety glasses or goggles). The eye protection will protect against any particle that may get under the shield.

For further eye safety, in addition to eye protection, always remember the following:

Brush, shake or vacuum dust and debris from hard hats, hair, the forehead or the top of eye protection before removing the protection.

Avoid rubbing eyes with dirty hands or clothing.

Clean eyewear regularly, and ensure the protector is working properly.

Ensure eye protection fits properly and will stay in place.

Remember, this is a partial list, and many other options exist, including variations of the types listed. The most important point to keep in mind is that the proper eye protection can save your eyes and vision—and quite possibly your livelihood.  

KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing
firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or
dkelly@intecweb.com. This article was edited by Joe O’Connor.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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Green Building Movement Branches Out

As the green building movement expands, the organization that planted the seed has had to grow along with it. In November 2007, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a spinoff of its credentialing activities to a newly incorporated entity, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

The newly formed organization will develop and administer the credentialing programs for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is a rating system created by the USGBC to distinguish building professionals with the knowledge and skills to steward the certification process for energy-efficient buildings. The GBCI will serve as the independent administrator of the LEED Professional Accreditation program starting in January 2008.

Meanwhile, the green building movement also is moving into the remodeling business. In November 2007, the USGBC also announced a partnership with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation to create the first nationwide green residential remodeling guidelines for existing homes. The guidelines, consisting of best practices using a whole-house approach, will be supplemented by learning programs and print and electronic resources for building professional and homeowners as part of what is being dubbed the REGREEN program. The two organizations have recently completed taking public comment on the draft guidelines, which will be finalized and released at Interiors 08: The ASID Conference on Design in March 2008.

In related news, the USGBC is planning to roll out a large revision of the LEED rating system sometime in fall 2008.

The USGBC seeks to consolidate into one LEED system, as opposed to current systems that apply to specific markets, such as residential. The USGBC also plans to address life-cycle analysis with the 2008 revision, and the system will grant credits based on geographic location. The overall goal will be to certify and connect design, construction and operations, and maintenance.

According to the USGBC, it is “harmonizing and aligning” credits in all LEED rating systems. For this purpose, the USGBC is reorganizing its committee structure, which will split into technical, market and certification committees.

The USGBC made this announcement at the sixth annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago, Nov. 7–9, 2007, which experienced almost 200 percent growth in attendance over last year.  

Rick Laezman and Timothy Johnson

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

By jim hayes

Often at this time, we look back at the past year to see what happened and look forward to the new year, wondering what comes next. While we do that, we promise ourselves to break old, bad habits and adopt new, better ones. While most such promises relate to our personal lives, it also is important to keep up with technical changes and incorporate them into our work, as it can benefit our business tremendously.

In communications, especially fiber optics, things continue to change. Broadband Internet access now is available to the majority of users. Wireless networks are everywhere, but they are suffering from problems, causing the stoppage of many municipal wireless development plans. Businesses are becoming more aware of security issues. Even some manufacturers are acknowledging that UTP copper may be reaching the end of the technological line. After more than a decade of stability, fiber optic component choices are changing to a new, higher performance products.

A consulting client told me one of his major vendors said it was time to convert the client’s networks to optical fiber. The client had interest in upgrading to augmented Cat 6 UTP cable in his facility for future use of 10 gigabit Ethernet, but the cable supplier suggested fiber. Right now, technical issues with UTP usage at 10 gigabits include higher power consumption and latency. For instance, signal delay caused by the large amount of digital signal processing necessary to force 10 gigabits per second down unshielded twisted pair cable makes fiber a simpler solution and a better choice. Savvy cable and network vendors may finally be changing their tune, leading to a big increase in fiber optic usage.

Last year marked a change in fiber optic component choices. The 62.5/125 micron fiber that has been used for almost two decades has been superceded by the new 50/125 high bandwidth fiber. And of the two grades of 50/125 fiber, the higher bandwidth OM3 standard fiber is considered the best choice, as it offers substantial distance advantages over plain OM2 50/125 fiber.

Fiber optic connector choices are changing, too. STs are fading, and even SCs are succumbing to the success of the smaller LC connector. The LC offers one big advantage for users who already have 62.5/125 fiber installed, but are upgrading to 50/125 fiber. The LC connector is incompatible with the SC and ST connectors, so using it on 50/125 fiber cable plants prevents intermating 50 and 62.5 fiber with its high fiber mismatch losses.

Industry standards are being updated with a number of changes that will make life easier and installations better. No, TIA-568 has not gotten rid of the 0.75-dB allowable connector loss yet, although it was mentioned in one recent standards meeting that no manufacturer offers a connector that would not meet a more realistic 0.5-dB spec. What has changed is the recognition that insertion loss testing with a test source and power meter cannot always be done using the one cable-
reference method, especially with some of the new types of connectors.

So all three methods of OFSPT-14, the installed cable plant test standard, are now allowable, as long as the test method is included in the documentation. International standards are toying with the idea of only using the three reference-cable method, the only method that works with any connector and test set combination, but it’s probably years from approval. And contrary to what some people want you to believe, OTDR testing is not allowed as an alternative to meter and source testing.

The expansion of broadband Internet access is affecting the residential marketplace, making it more attractive to electrical contractors. In the midst of all the bad news about the housing market, one good item emerges: Homes are getting connected with optical fiber at a rate of several million homes per year, and new homes now are being built with substantial amounts of high-tech structured cabling.

Traditionally, most electrical contractors have ignored the residential market since home builders were unwilling to pay the price of a quality installation. However, these same home builders are learning structured cabling requires skilled workers for proper installation and often are using certified commercial installers for that part of the job. In a reversal of the process, where electrical contractors often got into structured cabling installations because they were on the same job doing electrical work, they are looking now at residential electrical work since their cabling groups already are on-site. Even if they are not interested in residential cabling, some electrical contractors are installing fiber-to-the-home networks in towns and subdivisions where
their expertise is required.
          

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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From One to InfiniBand

The use of high-performance technology in data centers

By jennifer leah stong-michas

InfiniBand is another advanced technology item that has crept into the daily lexicon of IT departments and is, therefore, something contractors need to know. Simply put, InfiniBand is a high-performance architecture of products that connects servers together into clusters and to remote storage. The use of clustered computing is increasing in all types of computing environments, and this will grow, due to the vast amount of high-performance storage out there these days.

“InfiniBand is the technology used to connect computers and storage together,” said Thad Omura, vice president of marketing at Mellanox, the InfiniBand chip pioneer. “It is similar to Ethernet, but with better performance, and it is enabling applications to run on clusters of servers, replacing exotic and expensive supercomputers. InfiniBand is a great way to connect them.”

According to Omura, there are several transitions going on in data centers helping propel the adoption of InfiniBand: consolidation to fewer, larger data centers; server virtualization; and cluster computing.

According to Patrick Guay, senior vice president of marketing at Voltaire, an InfiniBand systems vendor, the networking technology is beneficial in increasing the performance of applications in the data center by taking advantage of multiple servers.

“It allows you to spread workloads among servers and applications that do not know they are running on multiple servers,” Guay said. This means applications run as seamlessly as they would on one server but at supercomputer speeds.

InfiniBand has strong advantages in clustering environments, which also has been helping it grow. It can tackle a huge computing job by clustering together average servers.

Tech points

According to Omura, InfiniBand possesses four key advantages: speed, scalability, latency and price per performance.

Currently, data rates for the newest Ethernet products are at 10G per second. InfiniBand can reach speeds of 20G per second with a 40G per second rate scheduled to debut in 2008. With all other factors equal, switching from Ethernet to InfiniBand increases speed two to four times. However, most servers today use 1G/second Ethernet.

The next benefit is its scalability, which is critical in data center operations. Switches connecting hundreds of 20G per second ports are in common use, and clusters have been built with server counts in the thousands. 10G Ethernet products have far to go.

Low latency also is beneficial, and as Omura said, “With InfiniBand, you can move data from an application on one computer to an application on another in one microsecond.”

Keeping operations flowing is a critical element to data center functionality.

Price per performance for InfiniBand is unmatched. For instance, the switches to connect InfiniBand cost a fraction of the price of 10G Ethernet, which is surprising since InfiniBand performs better.

Cabling

The cabling element of InfiniBand remains critical, and installation is best handled by professionals, such as the electrical contractor. InfiniBand uses cable—such as copper or fiber optics—but the way InfiniBand products are made gives data center designers and cable installers more flexibility for selecting the cable type and infrastructure design.

With greater ease, one can decide which type of cable to use when the time comes to change and upgrade.

“InfiniBand is one of a kind in that you can plug in an optical cable or a copper one using the same connector,” Omura said.

In addition, Guay said, moving to InfiniBand does not require replacing existing cabling infrastructure. There are products that can translate messages between Ethernet and InfiniBand. According to Guay, no new servers or racks are required, either. Existing ones can be retrofitted for InfiniBand.

All of this means contractors are in demand, according to Omura, because of the onslaught of data center consolidation. For example, a company that has 200 data centers opts to consolidate to 10 regional data centers. Those 10 centers house a lot of equipment, going beyond the abilities of in-house data center personnel, meaning the local contractors can be called in to assist in the consolidation and maintenance.

Much has been made of data centers of late, primarily because these centers are strongly driving networking business. InfiniBand will continue to be another networking alternative that communication professionals need to understand, especially as adoption of the technology increases.     

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at jenleahs@msn.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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Come Together

Convergence enhances IT and physical security

by allan b. colombo

The convergence of logical an dphysical security is a natural step in the scheme of progressive thinking among foremost technologists. It’s also the direction in which corporations are moving. The reason is simple—convergence is the most efficient and expedient way to perform a variety of tasks related to the security of a company’s physical and logical elements.

In years past, information technology (IT) and physical security co-existed within a company as separate departments with entirely different missions. The former traditionally seeks to protect a corporation’s network, individual personal computers (PCs) and the copper/fiber communication infrastructure that carries data from one end of the building to the other. The latter seeks to secure the physical elements of the corporation, such as structures, parking lots and more.

“Today’s corporate security infrastructure is a patchwork. Most organizations maintain multiple, separate physical and IT security systems with no integration among them. This situation has become a growing liability as security concerns and the need to address privacy and regulatory compliance issues grow. At the same time, it prevents organizations from realizing an array of cost, control and responsiveness benefits,” according to “Physical/IT Security Convergence: What It Means, Why It’s Needed, and How to Get There,” published by the Open Security Exchange (OSE) of Washington, D.C.

In recent years, corporations have sought to join both IT and physical security, placing them under the control of a single department. This has acted to integrate the two functions, allowing for more comprehensive security protection than IT or physical security could have achieved alone.

Defining convergence

The first step in gaining insight into the convergence trend is defining what it is. According to Alliance for Enterprising Security Risk Management (AESRM), convergence is “the identification of security risks and interdependencies between business functions and processes within the enterprise and the development of managed business process solutions to address those risks and interdependencies.”

In even simpler terms, convergence is the common ground where physical security intersects IT. It’s the crosshairs where stand-alone security applications, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) and access control, connect with Internet protocol (IP)/IT-based products and systems.

A good example of convergence can be seen in a recent effort to integrate a variety of IT and security systems throughout the city of Vancouver, British Colombia. Probably the most notable first step was the convergence of the city’s extensive CCTV system, using 3.5 terabytes of IT’s data storage space.

“Effectively,” said Dave Tyson, chief security officer for the city of Vancouver, “we have brought together our physical and IT security and integrated them into a formal, collaborative, strategic approach.”

The result of convergence in Vancouver is a fully integrated head-end where management is better able to manage organizational resources than at any time in the past. Vancouver’s integrated security approach also saves the city time and money because they are able to consolidate security and IT personnel. This has made for a more lean and capable corporate security organization than would have been possible with IT and security personnel acting apart.

Similarities in IT and physical security

IT departments are typically responsible for network security, which includes access at the desktop. Access control technologies have emerged that are designed to ensure the identity of the person logging onto a single PC. Many of these same access control technologies also are used by physical security practitioners to secure the physical structure in an effort to ensure only authorized individuals enter in the first place.

PC security often is entrusted to card and keyfob readers, fingerprint and iris scanners, hand geometry, voice recognition and others. Some of these same access technologies also are employed at entry points outside and within the facility, as well as in parking lots and out buildings.

There are numerous similarities between IT and physical security missions. The type of access device is only one of them. Another important similarity linking the two is the fact that each one is tasked with identifying and tracking the same users. Because of the similarities between IT and physical security, corporations are routinely integrating the two by placing them under the control of a single department head.

“According to a survey of 8,200 IT and security executives in 63 countries conducted in March and April of 2005 by Price-waterhouseCoopers and CIO magazine, 53 percent of organizations have some level of integration between their physical and IT security divisions. That’s up from just 29 percent in 2003,” said Thomas Hoffman, author of “Security Convergence,” published in a recent edition of Computer World magazine.

Access and logical security

The ordinary mechanical lock had its beginnings in ancient Rome, and physical security was born. The art of securing a complex has advanced to the point that we commonly use electronic means to automatically discern one user from another—authorized users from those who are not.

These systems commonly regulate the flow of foot traffic into—and sometimes out of—a modern building. In a convergent environment, our concern for security doesn’t stop at the perimeter door. It extends deep into the facility. Examples include interior doors to computer rooms, telecom closets and desktop computers.

In a fully integrated facility where physical and IT security are handled by a single department or those who work closely together, the same database that decides who enters also can determine who is and who is not permitted to log onto a specific computer.

The use of a single database for both functions is one of the benefits that makes this type of integration attractive to corporate executives. It also saves money because company personnel have to input users into a single database while allowing it to determine access at the perimeter door, interior door and desktop.

Not only does this save time and physical infrastructure, but it streamlines enrollment and operations. It also lends itself to a more secure environment.

As you can well imagine, nowhere is this as important as when an employee is let go. It is customary practice for human resources (HR) to contact IT to remove access to a terminated employee’s desktop PC, even before that employee is told about the situation.

In this case, when IT rescinds access to the former employee’s PC, the physical access control system follows suit, removing him from the system’s list of valid users. The same holds true if HR nullifies the soon-to-be-let-go employee’s door access control card. Because both functions share the same database, this single action will prevent the employee from accessing his or her desktop PC.

Not only does this save time and physical space, it ensures the employee is unable to gain access to either area.

Alarm system connectivity

In a traditional security system, there are two or more layers of protection. For example, in a typical business environment, an alarm system is made up of switch contacts on all perimeter doors and sometimes windows. This is the structure’s first line of defense.

The second line of defense typically consists of internal sensors that detect the presence of people. Examples include ordinary passive infrared and microwave motion detectors. Glass break sensors also are available and designed to detect the sound of breaking glass.

Also included in a conventional alarm system are a keypad to control the system, and necessary sounding devices used to notify the user of a problem, such as an inside and/or outside siren speaker.

It also can include the means whereby alarm signals are sent to a central monitoring station where operators call the police or fire department for help on behalf of the owner of the monitored facility.

In an integrated system where convergence is achieved, perimeter and interior sensors as well as card readers and door strikes connect to the same head-end. This usually is accomplished using the facility’s LAN or even a WAN.

In this kind of integrated, convergent environment, as soon as a valid access card is presented to a card reader at the door, the same head-end that unlocks the door will know whether the cardholder is authorized. If not, it will notify the central station that an unauthorized intruder entered the facility without a valid access card.

IP-based video surveillance

Convergence is especially important to many stakeholders in the area of CCTV. This is because in an integrated, convergent setting, video images are retained on the corporate LAN or WAN where management is able to retrieve and view at will from their desktop PC.

Traditionally in an analog video system, installers run RG59/U or RG6/U coaxial cable from a camera to the head-end. Because coaxial cable is actually unbalanced and because it is prone to interference, distance restrictions must be observed. For example, an optimum transmission distance of 800 to 1,000 feet is common when using RG59/U. When using RG6/U, video images can safely be transported for a distance of 1,300 to 1,500 feet.

By contrast, IT technicians use unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable, along with network hubs that act as repeaters to boost the signal, thus transmitting video signals anywhere within a facility. And, by adding a WAN or Internet connection, transmission distance is virtually limitless.

Probably the most compelling reason to add CCTV to the mix, when converging logical and physical security into a single operating platform, relates to management’s ability to view both recorded and live video from any terminal on the network. Not only that, but the coordination of events that take place within such a facility with recorded video enables IT/security to connect people with things that occur.

A good example of this is when an access control log indicates an otherwise authorized user tried to gain access to a forbidden door or a valid door at a forbidden time when such a user claims that his or her card was lost or stolen. Without a visual record of who actually tried to access the facility, there would be no way for management to confirm the employee’s allegation.

Having a video record of strategic entry points in a tool crib or computer room within the facility also allows management to view internal theft incidents. A video record makes it easier to get a conviction when IT/security has a video clip with collaborative evidence showing a particular employee entered the protected area prior to the event.         

Colombo is a 32-year veteran in the security and life-safety markets. He is currently director with firenetonline.com and a nationally recognized trade journalist located in East Canton, Ohio.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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IBEW Local No. 1 Achieves Safety Milestone

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, construction fatalities increased 2.8 percent in 2006 to 1,226 from 1,192 in 2005. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that of the 350 electrical-related fatalities in that period, 143 were construction workers.

According to Steve Schoemehl, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 1 business manager, more than half of the electrocutions suffered by electrical workers involved direct or indirect contact with live electrical equipment, indicating that proper lockout/tagout and de-energizing procedures could have saved lives.

“While we recognize that construction can be a dangerous profession at times, we believe these tragedies are preventable if safety is made a priority,” Schoemehl said.

To combat the dangers, Local No. 1 in St. Louis has achieved a major safety milestone. All 3,400 IBEW Local No. 1 construction work force journey workers and apprentices have achieved OSHA 10-Hour Safety Certification, and 70 percent of them attained OSHA 30-Hour Safety Certification.

The 100 percent OSHA 10 certification includes all commercial and residential wiremen, communication technicians and apprentices. All supervisory personnel, including foremen, general foremen and project managers, received OSHA 30-Hour training, as well.

The curriculum includes electrical safety, fall protection, personal protective and lifesaving equipment, materials handling, hand and power tool safety, scaffolding, heavy equipment operation, and excavation.

The training, completed at an estimated cost of $1.7 million, took place at the St. Louis Electrical Industry Training Center, which is jointly operated by IBEW Local No. 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Together, they form the Electrical Connection industry partnership.

“We challenged the St. Louis union construction industry in 2006 to become the safest work force in the country, and the Electrical Connection exceeded expectations,” said Jim LaMantia, executive direct of PRIDE of St. Louis, Inc., the region’s labor-management organization.

“The fact that most electricians sought the more intense OSHA 30-Hour certification demonstrates their commitment to the highest standards of safety. That kind of dedication is a tremendous asset when it comes to selling St. Louis as a great place to build,” LaMantia said.

All future apprentices in every NECA/IBEW Local No. 1 program will be trained at the OSHA 30 level and will receive expedited OSHA 10 certification in the first few weeks of their apprenticeship. The center trains more than 1,200 members seeking higher skills annually.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine  www.ecmag.com 

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Cabling Business Magazine

Check out what’s new for Cabling Business Magazine’s March and April 2008 issues!

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

Please note that each month CBM articles will be categorized by the following:

1. Commercial Voice & Data

2. VoIP – Telecommunications

3. Low-Voltage Systems/Building Integration 

4. Retail Communications Systems 

5. Industrial Plant Ethernet

6. Wireless WI-FI 

7. Fiber Optics 

8. Outside Plant

March 2008 Articles

Project Management – What’s the Real Deal?

By Kevin Morris, RCDD

Wireless Capacity Vs. Coverage

By Jeff T. Davis, Ortronics

Femtocell Technology Meets Customer Demands

By Alan Lefkof, Motorola

Cable Installation and the NEC

By David Herres

Racks, Cabinets and Runways in the Equipment Room

By CBM Staff

March 2008 Featured Products

Wireless security systems, monitors, testing equipment, electrical wire protection, printed circuit board connectors, estimating software, rack systems, RJ45 jacks, patch panels, latest cabling offerings, high-speed programmable attenuators, green-friendly products, and much, much more!

April 2008 – A Look Ahead

Access Floor – Raised Floor

Features: 19” inch Rack-Cabinet used for myriad of applications, telecom, IT Servers, Data Storage, Networking

Testing a Cat 5E/Category 6 66 Blocks

Features: Testers and 66 Block Systems

Protectors – How and Where to Install

Features: Entrance Protectors

Structured Cabling, Racks, Frames

Features: Cables, Racks, Frames and Termination Hardware.

Using PoE and UPS Power for CCTV

Features: Installation and Distribution of Required Camera Power over the PoE.

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

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Testing The Experts

Question: “Will the new IEEE 802.11n wireless technology affect cabling and cable testing? If so, how?”

Answer: Yes, it will impact cable testing and the details require some explaining.

802.11n is a new, still-unfinished IEEE standard for wireless LANs. 802.11n is backward-compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g, but it includes many advances in radio technology and protocols.  The two biggest features of 802.11n are its ability to support bit rates in excess of 100 Mb/s and covering more area with RF signal.  These features will make wireless LANs more popular for primary workstation connectivity and for leading-edge applications such as Voice over Wireless LAN (VoWLAN).

While the 802.11n standard is not yet ratified, virtually every vendor of wireless access points has released a “pre-standard” 802.11n product.  Many laptop PCs are also shipping with 802.11n capability today.  Since only minor aspects of the 802.11n standard are likely to change between now and its finalization in late 2008, organizations have begun to deploy it.  As 802.11n will become the basis for most wireless LANs, an enterprise manager or cable installer needs to consider two issues regarding this “wired side” of wireless: the backhaul bit rate and power consumption.

Backhaul Bit Rate

The most exciting aspect of 802.11n is the vastly higher performance it provides the wireless user. The IEEE standard specifies speeds up as high as 600 Mp/s, although the maximum bit rate in the foreseeable future will be 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s.  Even at these lesser speeds a network planner might shiver at the prospect of the traffic load these transmission speeds could add to an existing network.  But it is important to remember that wireless is a half-duplex medium – only one wireless client communicates at a time. 

Because wireless clients communicate on a one-at-a-time basis, the backhaul connection from the access points does not have to support the aggregate of n x 100 – 200 Mb/s, where “n” equals the number of wireless clients.  The actual worst case scenario for the backhaul link occurs where every client uses 802.11n and the access point has dual radios.  In that case, the maximum total traffic would be approximately 400 Mb/s.

At 400 Mb/s the impact of 802.11n on cabling is clear.  Where the current generation of wireless 802.11g access points connect to the network at 100 Mb/s, 802.11n backhaul at 400 Mb/s means that these links will have to be 1 Gigabit Ethernet.  So wherever an 802.11n access point resides or may reside, the twisted-pair copper must support 1 Gigabit. It also means some or all Ethernet switch ports must be upgraded to 1 Gigabit.

In a greenfield situation where new copper accompanies the 802.11n access points, Category 6 or at least Category 5e cable should be installed and fully certified to ensure performance. In an existing 802.11a/b/g network that is being upgraded to 802.11n, the installed cable may be able to support the faster backhaul speed.  To determine this, Category 5e or Category 6 cable should be re-certified to standard and the results documented. With a certification test that takes a few seconds, 802.11n may be deployed on the existing plant with confidence and a minimum of re-cabling expense.

Power Consumption

Many existing wireless access points are powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology compliant with the IEEE 802.3af standard. This generation of PoE may not be suitable for 802.11n, though, because 802.11n radios draw significantly more wattage than their 802.11a/b/g predecessors. This is a recognized problem for 802.11n, and three options have emerged:

1.         Access points that power-down functions to stay with the limits of today’s PoE

2.         Proprietary PoE solutions from each access point vendor

3.         A future PoE standard, 802.3at, that supplies more than twice the wattage of 802.3af

An access point that intelligently manages power and interoperates with existing PoE solutions is least disruptive, if it works as intended. Vendor-specific PoE solutions make 802.11n access points deployable today, but proprietary designs are subject to obsolescence.  The 802.3at standard will be the best long-term solution but it is progressing at a tectonic pace through the standards approval process.

PoE presents a challenge to 802.11n, but organizations are choosing option 1 or 2 and they are pressing ahead.  If an intelligent 802.11n access point is coupled with one of today’s 802.3af PoE supplies, the installer must perform a thorough wiremap test to be certain the installation conforms to TIA standards.  If a single-vendor solution is chosen with a proprietary PoE power supply, the wiremap test is even more critical because vendors are designing unique cable and pin-out configurations.  Without a thorough wiremap test to ensure compliance with each vendor’s design the ability to safely power-up the access point is uncertain.

Conclusion

802.11n will precipitate a seismic shift in enterprise use of wireless LANs. While some aspects of this standard are still settling, its benefits are too compelling to deny. From a test and cabling perspective, it is important not to be blinded by “press release” performance numbers and instead mange the operational impacts of faster bit rates and greater power consumption, including the need for more diligent cable testing.

Answer supplied by David Veneski, Fluke Networks Marketing Manager for copper and fiber certification products

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Business Magazine www.cablingbusiness.com  

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CI & M

In ’08, it’ll be 6A and 10G

It’s somewhat cliché to use the January issue of a monthly publication as a venue in which to predict what’s going to happen in the new year. It’s also dangerous—as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith learned shortly before the time of this writing—to guarantee much of anything. With that in mind, I’ll try to be neither trite nor obnoxious while contemplating what we’ll see in 2008.

Most significantly, this will be the year that the proverbial rubber meets the road with respect to cabling infrastructure supporting 10GBase-T. As I write this column on December 13, the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-42.7 Telecommunications Copper Cabling Systems Committee wraps up a three-day meeting at which it may have put the finishing touches on the Augmented Category 6/Category 6A specifications. As we reported in November, despite the fact that the TR-42.7 group still has work to complete, the actual performance specs for Category 6A have been stable for quite some time (see “6A’s final hurdle: testing [But not the kind you think], November 2007, page 9).

As such, pre-standard Category 6A systems have been available and indeed installed for a couple years. Likewise, the IEEE’s 10GBase-T protocol specifications were finalized in June 2007. But 2008 will be the year in which 10GBase-T network products, in the form of switches and network-interface cards, are expected to hit the market en masse.

What will happen then? If all goes well, users will plug and play (although I have yet to hear a network administrator refer to an upgrade/cutover that typically takes place in the wee hours of a weekend morning as “play”). Even so, one conversation I had in the fall has lingered in my ears for months. An executive at a cable-manufacturing company, with whom I crossed paths at the BICSI Fall Conference in September, said that 2008 will be “interesting” for the precise reason described above—the widespread deployment of 10GBase-T and thus the real-life road test for installed Category 6A systems.

He didn’t say the year would be “good,” or “satisfying,” or “productive.” He said it would be “interesting.” Given that every single Category 6A system installed to date has been a pre-standard version, I encourage every user of such a system to re-check the wording of any documentation their cabling-system manufacturers supplied to confirm the extent to which the systems assure application support. In this case, the application of concern is, of course, 10GBase-T.

Re-reading what I have already written, I am only somewhat confident that I won’t be tagged with the label “fear monger.” That’s certainly not my intention; heck knows we’ll get enough of that on a national level with the presidential election coming up in 10 short months.

But you tell me: How confident are you that the pre-standard Category 6A systems that have penetrated the market for the past couple years will hold up to 10GBase-T? Or better yet, tell me your actual experience. I’d like nothing more than to use this space a few months from now to report that 2008 is shaping up as a good, satisfying, productive year for those who previously invested in 6A infrastructure and are now reaping the benefits of that investment.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN

Chief Editor

patrick@pennwell.com

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance  www.cablinginstall.com 

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Cable Planning For IP Convergence

The art and science of building structured cabling systems for digital security applications.

There are two mindsets on the topic of Internet Protocol (IP) convergence, and they seem to be cut-and-dried. One is, “IP network video is here now,” and the other is, “IP is a long, long way away.”  The bigger question is not “when?” but “how?”

Who’s in charge here, and what steps need to be taken today to futureproof the cable plant and telecom rooms (TRs)?

Information technology (IT) managers may feel like their networks are at risk, and security integrators may feel that their environments and customer bases are threatened; however, those who are accepting that closed-circuit television (CCTV), access control and, eventually, other building automation systems (BAS, applications will eventually reside on an Ethernet-based network will benefit by working together. Both parties bring separate values to the table.  IT integrators know about voice and data infrastructure, industry standards, routing, switching and network-storage capabilities.  Security integrators know cameras, transmission, video storage and physical risk assessment.  In addition, facilities managers or mechanical engineers know power demands and heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

It all starts with a collaborative plan to combine data, voice, video and BAS into one integrated network solution.  Whether these systems will run in parallel and bridge with a common backbone or will be integrated into the both the backbone and horizontal cabling, the infrastructure will need to be consistent to provide the most return-on-investment.

CCTV meets structured cabling

Historically, legacy security and building automation systems operated over their own proprietary physical cabling and software control programs. “When it comes to legacy CCTV, there are truly no cabling standards,” states Richard Caesar, director of global engineering for SST, a national security integration company. “It could be coax cable and separate power cables running analog cameras in a legacy layout; it could be IP over UTP with PoE or a combo of UTP and fiber and media converters; it could be analog cameras with coax and baluns running through an Ethernet switch for structured cabling; or it could even be wireless.”

Caesar adds, “In addition, there were no standards for distances as it was dependent on the camera, or we could just throw an amplifier on the cable and push it out to a mile.”

For many years, video “surveillance” was accomplished by simply installing an analog (CCTV) camera and attaching it through coaxial cable at each camera location, then connecting it to a VCR and a monitor.  This system relied upon human observers, normally watching multiple screens to trigger any type of response.  In other scenarios, the system was set up with no observer at all, but was designed to record what happened over a certain period of time.  This type of system allowed for event “forensics,” enabling research into an event after it had occurred, mainly for identification.

ButButBut there has been a shift to have all of these functions interconnected to one another.

The goal of today’s integrated security systems is to combine data, video, and analytics in new ways that allow for a much more proactive response.  “As all building applications begin to converge on a common cabling platform, all systems will ride on an Ethernet-based network, also known as ‘browser based,’ where all system components communicate–-just like phone and computers coexisting on today’s IT network,” states Caesar.

The path to IP

IP convergence for these previously proprietary, non-standardized devices can be achieved through structured cabling. 

Digital IP-based cameras, as well as legacy analog cameras, can be connected through an Ethernet-based switch and then to digital network storage devices to allow real-time event recognition and alarm generation. 

IP convergence also means that the cable media will either be UTP or fiber versus coaxial.  Moving to a UTP- or fiber-based media will save on pathway space as well as material and installation time and costs, because it will be the same cable type that supports data and voice applications.  Also, deploying a structured cabling layout for CCTV today will allow other devices, such as access control, to easily attach to this network now or in the future. 

There are three basic scenarios for CCTV over structured cabling as it shifts from a legacy architecture to total IP: analog, hybrid and total IP. 

Coax-based analog cameras can be cabled through structured cabling.  Basically, a balun needs to be placed from the cable connection on the back of the camera to convert a 75-Ω unbalanced signal of coaxial to a 100-W balanced signal of UTP, which is then terminated into a workstation outlet.  Just like voice and data ports in the TR, the UTP cable for the cameras are terminated into patch panels, which connect to a switch and then to the digital video recorder (DVR).  At the DVR, a balun is inserted to convert the video signal back into analog.

When combining analog and digital cameras into one structured cabling system, there is a mixture of termination equipment. This “hybrid” scenario will be most often found in facilities that are upgrading and will be adding IP cameras to their existing analog installed base.

It’s simple to add an IP camera to an existing analog system that is already cabled through UTP to the TR.  Most IP cameras have an RJ-45 connection, allowing a patch cord to plug into the outlet.  From there, it follows the structured cabling guidelines with UTP cable terminating into a patch panel, in the TR, which is connected to the switch, allowing both the analog camera and IP camera to reside on the same network.  Both cameras can attach to a server, such as an IP-enabled DVR.

The third and last step on the path to IP is a total IP camera scenario. The biggest benefit is that it allows total remote accessibility from Web-enabled devices. A total IP CCTV solution emulates the cabling architecture of data and voice applications.  IP cameras can also be powered through the unused pairs of the UTP cable through a midspan or endspan injector to provide PoE, eliminating the need for a power outlet directly at the camera location, and simplifying moves, adds and changes. 

Sometimes, the 100-meter (328-foot) limitations of UTP cable in an Ethernet-based network (per TIA/EIA-568-B standards) pose a hurdle when trying to monitor the many outreach locations.  Fiber-optic cable will allow for cable runs of more than 5,000 feet on multimode and more than six miles on singlemode cable.  Fiber is also smaller in size, has better tensile strength, is immune to electrical interferences, provides the highest bandwidth, and a higher degree of security because it is difficult to tap into.  But just like the media conversion that occurs through baluns when using analog cameras over UTP cabling, fiber-optic cable will need to be converted to copper for connectivity into the DVR or server.  In this scenario, media transceivers are required.   

Planning ahead

Migrating from a separate proprietary analog system in CCTV to a total structured cabling system should make it easier to plan combined pathways and TRs alongside the data and voice network, but additional termination equipment will need to be factored into the design.

When planning for the size and location of the TR, some critical design decisions must be made.  Is the termination field going to be mounted on the wall or in a rack?  Most CCTV equipment is rack-mountable, which makes it easier to plan how many racks or cabinets you need dedicated for your security components. The number of cameras, as well as room location, could also help determine your selection of a full-size rack, which would be located in a securely locked room or a lockable cabinet. Racks can also be equipped with lockable enclosures for added safety, for equipment such as the switches and even patch panels and hubs.

Another main concern with the TR is making sure that it is kept at a consistently cool temperature and that there is proper airflow to eliminate the danger of any equipment overheating or subsequent shutdown.  BICSI (www.bicsi.org) recommends keeping the room at 64° to 75º F when there is active equipment.  Active equipment and power distribution units (PDUs) generate significant heat, with active equipment generating more than PDUs; however, one or two servers do not generate enough heat for an additional air conditioning unit.  And most high-density storage equipment should be located in the main crossconnect or data center.  It is wise to use the expertise of a mechanical engineer to provide a proper HVAC system and to figure out the total British Thermal Units (BTUs) that will be generated from any equipment, and to assure the room size will accommodate the airflow needed.

Network video can connect to a wide area network (WAN) via the existing voice and data fiber backbone, if there are spare fibers.  More often than not, excess strands of the fiber-optic cables specified for the data and voice network sit unterminated for future applications. When backbone cabling for data and voice is installed, there is usually a 24- or 48-strand multimode fiber to each TR for LAN and WAN connection.  But, in practicality, usually only half of those strands get lit.  So, video becomes the “future application,” and can use the available strands. 

For the horizontal infrastructure, the majority of IT managers opt to run a parallel or subnet infrastructure dedicated to CCTV rather than use the same termination equipment (patch panels, switches, etc.) as the data and voice.  Therefore, a parallel system would mirror the data and voice infrastructure, with just a few added components.

Room planning

When planning a telecom room for data and voice, the following components are configured into the design by the cable designer and IT personnel:

Physical support (racks, cable tray);

Cable and cable management (UTP or fiber);

Patch panels;

PoE;

Ethernet switch/router/hub;

PDUs;

HVAC.

Whether your cameras are analog or IP will determine which components you will need to install in the TR.  And, the number of cameras to be terminated in the TR will determine the number of additional separate racks and cabinets. This is the tricky part, as each vertical market will have different requirements for the number of cameras as well as the location. But the following is a generic product and size guide for a 16-channel camera and DVR capacity:

19” rack (45U) or cabinet (11U);

Server (DVR) (4-5U);

Hub/transceiver (1U);

Monitor (6U);

Media converter (0U);

Router/bridge (1-2U);

Ethernet switch (1U) in a lockable enclosure;

24-port patch panel (1U);

PoE midspan injector (1U).

BICSI has a formula to figure out how large a TR should be based on the square footage of the area served.  In an enterprise situation, it is easy to plan how many data and voice drops you will need.  But trying to figure out how many camera locations and, subsequently, additional cable-management racks and equipment per square footage or per building, is not simple.

The number of cameras will be dependent on the business model, or vertical market. For example, a 4U or 5U DVR can serve 16 cameras, which is probably more than what you would need for one floor in an office environment . But for a casino, or bank, you would probably need five or more times as many cameras, which will then affect the space allotted for termination equipment in the TRs.

Each vertical market will have its own equipment and special demands. Therefore, there is no standard formula for figuring out how many additional racks are needed for video, because it will be based on the number of camera locations served by each TR.

Previously, security was an afterthought, so allotting space for the equipment and monitors was often relegated to housing venues, such as broom or utility closets.  Today, a cost-effective, integrated IP-based network will require all applications to reside in the same TR. 

Cross-training for the future

Pre-planning a TR is critical to the reliability of the system as well as the ability to add future applications.  But while the telecom cable planning and management responsibility falls under the helm of the IT manager, it is important to glean the knowledge of security professionals to aid in your planning of camera types, housings, locations, safety codes and installation procedures.

By 2010 the cable media mix will shift to a majority of UTP (50%) and fiber (31%), with coaxial declining to 19%, according to FTM Consulting.   In addition, more than 50% of the video surveillance market will be IP-based systems. This migration, or “path to IP” will be an evolution, leaving time for IT and security integrators to become cross-trained to provide end users with the right tools and practices to be ready for the next application convergence.

CAROL EVERETT OLIVER, RCDD, is marketing analyst with Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company (www.berktek.com).

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance  www.cablinginstall.com 

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Security Installation Helps Reduce Vandalism By 98%

A California provider/installer of video surveillance systems via networked cameras recently completed an installation at the Shasta Union High School District that school officials claim has nearly eliminated undetected school vandalism and theft.

Ojo Technology (www.ojotech.com), combining its networked installation technology with security management software from Denmark-based Milestone Systems (www.milestonesystems.com), performed its installation on four high schools within the district. The previous security system had failed to meet the complex needs of buildings that were geographically dispersed, but according to school officials, the Ojo installation of specifically targeted network cameras helped put an end to unchecked vandalism, theft, and property damage.

“We have experienced a 98% reduction in school vandalism and theft, combined with an efficient way to accurately identify responsible parties associated with student conflicts,” says Mike Vincelli, IT director for Shasta Union School District.

Bob Bisetti, account executive for Ojo Technology, notes that the district’s IT department “is not your typical run-of-the-mill high school IT department…with four schools in the district and fiber links to each school, fiber backbones to each school and each local network link Category 6-connected to smart switches.”

In addressing the district’s complex security needs, Bisetti says “The biggest obstacles with this project are the same that we experience with all educational institutions,” namely a limited budget and limited knowledge of IP video security [IPVS] technology (i.e., what camera works best in what application).

“We started with a Technology Phase-In plan, and the school district bought and installed the IPVS technology as they could afford to do so, starting with the most problematic locations at each of the schools and working from a location ‘need list’ into the location ‘want list’,” Bisetti explains.

As the IPTV technology came online, and Vincelli introduced school staff to the system, additional camera sites were requested to quell other trouble areas on the campuses.

“After our initial walk-through during the first-phase planning stage, Mike got the concept of why different camera makes and models are used at different locations/viewing situations,” says Bisetti. “He certainly was very quick to understand why one camera does not fit all applications, especially when the budget is the number one concern.”

As with any data network, carefully planning the infrastructure is essential when seeking to incorporate IP video surveillance with normal data traffic. In addition, the correct choice of digital cameras and lenses for each location helps ensure that the client will see exactly what they intend to see, day or night and regardless of weather conditions.

“In this case, we suggested Axis 211 cameras for the indoor hallways and cafeterias, where the light is relatively unchanged,” says Bisetti. “We used a combination of Sony Z20-N fixed cameras, SNC-3CS cameras with an assortment of Rainbow wide-angle lenses, and the Sony RZ30-N PTZ cameras for outdoor locations where sunlight and temperature are constantly changing.”

In the Northern California summer, it is not unusual to see temperatures over 100 degrees while wintertime can bring the thermometer into the 30s during the day and teens at night. Heaters and fans in the camera housings and domes become a must for outdoor devices.

Ojo currently uses three IPVS management software products for its surveillance installations, including Milestone Systems’ Professional Series, which was chosen because of such features as open architecture, a broad variety of camera makes and model compatibility, ease of use, and a 50% credit from the current software license toward the purchase of an upgraded license.

The Milestone solution provides monitoring of activity in main gathering areas, with access to all installed locations—centrally or remotely—for live viewing or fast search-and-find of recorded video.

Bisetti says that Vincelli and his team “absolutely planned correctly for all segments of this major enterprise expansion, utilizing managed Ethernet switches and proper fire-walling of their network segments. A district-wide video archiving system was also implemented.”

Not only has the installation significantly reduced incidences of vandalism and theft, it has reportedly saved the school district tens of thousands of dollars annually.

“The administration, teachers, and school board are delighted by the results that this project has brought and, believe it or not, the students say that they feel much safer at the school since the program began,” concludes Bisetti.

STEVE SMITH is executive editor Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance  www.cablinginstall.com 

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Get Smart (buildings) For Efficiency And Conservation

Intelligent network infrastructures making a strong case in the real-estate world.

In November 2007, Realcomm (www.realcomm.com) hosted a half-day “Intelligent NextGen Buildings” seminar in New York City. It brought together some of the great minds in manufacturing, commercial real estate, systems integration and consulting as part of Realcomm’s Technology Education for Commercial Real Estate Professionals. Realcomm also plays host to international multi-day tours in areas of the world where intelligent buildings have been built, spreading awareness of intelligent building capabilities to building owners and facility managers.

The New York seminar’s format was an informal set of presentations by Realcomm and a few manufacturers, while questions were entertained throughout the day. With all the brainpower in the conference room, one question seemed to create the most intriguing dialogue and fell short of finding a definitive answer: “Why are areas of the world like Asia and Dubai so far ahead of the United States when it comes to intelligent buildings?” Before revealing some of the thoughts that came out in response to the question, one must understand the concept of an intelligent building and some of the underlying technologies that enable building intelligence.

Defining an intelligent building

There are several definitions and misconceptions floating around for what makes an intelligent or smart building. Generally, an intelligent or smart building is one that controls cost, comfort and safety. The Continental Automated Building Association (CABA; www.caba.org) developed its own definition:

“Intelligent buildings apply technologies to improve the building environment and functionality for owners, property managers, and occupants while controlling costs. Improving end-user security, comfort and accessibility all help user productivity and comfort levels. The owner/operator wants to provide this functionality while reducing individual costs, and technologies make this possible.”

CABA has been a constant force in moving the intelligent-building effort forward. Its groundbreaking 2002 research, “Technology Roadmap for Intelligent Buildings,” discussed technology systems, examined requirements for building managers/tenants, identified opportunities to reduce operational costs and stressed the need for further education on intelligent buildings.

Those “applied technologies” that CABA was referring to aren’t your state-of-the-art coffee maker or toaster with the “bagel” setting in the break room. The systems you can find in buildings include communications systems for voice, data and video; security such as video cameras and access control systems (e.g., identification-card readers to open doors); fire and life safety (F/L/S) systems such as smoke detectors, carbon-monoxide detectors, audio alarms and visual fire-alerts; lighting-control systems; heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and energy-monitoring systems.

For a very simplistic example of intelligence applied to a system, we can revert back to the round thermostat we used to have (and many Americans probably still have) on the wall in older homes. When dealing with heat, we turned the heat up when we were cold. When we were hot, we turned it down. We might have performed this action many times each day. Later, the programmable thermostat became mainstream. Not only could it handle heating and air conditioning, but the homeowner could program the thermostat to his or her own preference. Now, the homeowner could let the thermostat control the heat or A/C, and if programmed correctly, the homeowner could save money by using less energy. Intelligence can be applied to systems in buildings–but on a much larger scale.

Historically, intelligence or automation was applied to a single system. As systems made technological advancements, manufacturers and integrators started to link systems together initially with gateways or other hardware and software solutions. Now, we are starting to see the convergence of multiple systems, and two of the underlying technologies rely on connectivity – Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP).

Convergence and how it relates

Convergence is another term that has many definitions, but its intent is to convey the coming together of two or more entities, whether that means systems, organizations, or parties. For example, voice communications made its digital transition and converged with the data network resulting in Voice over IP (VoIP). Now, other systems are following suit.

Convergence is happening in the intelligent building space. Historically, we have seen building systems such as HVAC, F/L/S and security that were not only installed independently, but also were operated and maintained independently. This resulted in increased capital costs and operational costs. Common sense says that it would cost less to have a single physical-layer infrastructure installed in a building using a single contractor than to install dozens of different cabling systems to support all the low-voltage systems currently going into buildings. A single network infrastructure is cost efficient; it’s cost effective; and it’s a better solution than having dozens of different systems create dozens of different problems for dozens of different maintenance teams to eliminate.

Controlling cost, comfort, safety

There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to make a building intelligent. As mentioned earlier, an intelligent building attempts to control cost, comfort, and safety. Take cost for example. For a building owner or property manager, costs break down into capital costs and operational costs. Estimates have shown that over the life of a building, only 25% of the cost is capital (design and construction), while the other 75% of the cost is operational (employees, maintenance and service). As the cost of oil approaches $100 per barrel, an intelligent HVAC and lighting-control system can create significant energy savings, which results in a smaller energy bill. Automated features in the intelligent building can set temperature patterns during off hours to more energy-efficient levels. Also, lighting can be reduced during off hours. These small steps can help reduce monthly operational costs significantly.

From a comfort perspective, happy tenants are stable tenants. Having intelligent systems on a converged network makes the building more desirable and results in less turnover and paperwork for building owners and property managers. Tenants can take advantage of voice, video, and data communications to remain competitive in their respective markets. Also, ambient temperature and lighting levels can directly effect an employee’s workday. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC; www.usgbc.org) found that better temperature control and high-performance lighting has the ability to maximize productivity in the workplace. Tenants can achieve desired levels through intelligent-building features.

From a safety perspective, the most valuable assets in a building are the people. With intelligent systems in a building, the technology gives people a higher probability of getting out safely in the event of an emergency. For example, a fire-detection system interconnected to the HVAC system can ventilate smoke to the outside of the building for better visibility and air quality inside. In addition, the access-control system on the same network recognizes the situation and automatically unlocks the doors for egress. The in-building wireless system also can send a short message service or text message to building occupants’ cell phones or other portable devices informing occupants of the emergency situation. Digital signage on the network can display information for the occupants to avoid the hazard area, leading them to the appropriate exit in an emergency. Finally, the access-control system can print out a muster list of who checked into the building that day so the safety officer can account for everyone. This list and a “who’s missing” report can be shared with rescue teams upon arrival.

Conservation and sustainability

The world is finally waking up to the fact that we need to pay attention to how we treat the earth. Right now, and probably for the rest of time, the green movement is changing the way the general population views environmental conservation. Now, society tells us to recycle, conserve, and reuse on a regular basis. According to the USGBC, conservation is an important topic because buildings have a huge impact on the environment. Buildings tax our resources, contribute to global warming, and are where the general population spends as much as 90% of its time.

In the United States, buildings account for 12% of water consumption, 30% of greenhouse-gas emissions, 65% of waste output, and 70% of electrical consumption. The USGBC estimates that the average savings for a green building is 30 to 50% water-use savings, 35% carbon savings, 50 to 90% waste savings, and 30% energy savings. The USGBC has developed a program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for rating how “green” a building is. LEED promotes a holistic approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The USGBC’s efforts in their green building movement are already impacting the way buildings are being designed.

There are many areas in which human intelligence is all that is needed to go green, conserve, and help with the collective sustainability as society tries to reverse the global-warming trend. Existing buildings can be refurbished instead of breaking new ground to build. Builders can use recycled material to build. Facility owners can look toward more energy-efficient systems, whether it’s EnergyStar appliances or compact fluorescent light (CFL) fixtures. Outside of the office, tenants can start and end their days a little greener by carpooling to work.

While humans are making the effort, intelligent systems follow suit. Tying HVAC systems to access-control systems can be used to reduce energy consumption. Why turn on the lights and the heat or A/C for an entire floor if half the people are out for the day? In the Realcomm seminar, they discussed an innovative system in Asia where a video camera in the parking deck reads an employee’s license pate. Once identified, the building turns on the heat or A/C in the tenant’s office and turns on the light to the level of foot candles that the occupant finds most productive. The camera also provides the obvious safety and security function to keep the tenants safe.

Moving forward with intelligence

Now back to the interesting question that a member of the audience at the Realcomm seminar asked: “Why are areas of the world like Asia and Dubai so far ahead of the United States when it comes to intelligent buildings?” Some of the thoughts that were thrown out seemed reasonable: “They have more money up front to put in these intelligent systems,” … “They do not have to worry about the codes we have to worry about here in the United States,” … “They don’t have the unions to deal with.” Some of these thoughts may have some truth to them, but they are not insurmountable obstacles. Unless building owners and facility managers start to make a change, the United States will fall further behind these other areas of the world.

Two things remain clear. First, an intelligent building cannot be an afterthought. The further down the path in the design cycle one is before thinking about designing intelligence into the building, the more expensive it will be. The Department of Energy suggests that an integrated design approach be adopted, and the design team needs to have representation from the following constituents (in no particular order); tenants, commissioning agent, project manager, mechanical engineer, construction contractor, inspector, electrical engineer, interior designer, architect, landscape architect (landscaping consumes a lot of water), building operator, building owner, and an energy consultant.

The other clear point is that intelligent buildings need a high-performance physical layer infrastructure on top of which these intelligent systems ride. A building can have the fastest computers, the most-expensive HVAC system, and the most-advanced security cameras, but all of that equipment can be crippled if operating on a low-performing network. Whether the building’s design calls for copper, fiber-optic, or coaxial network cabling, the speed of a building’s network infrastructure will have a direct impact on the tenants’ daily operations, whether the tenant realizes it or not. One of the biggest mistakes a designer can make is underestimating the building’s need for bandwidth over that building’s life, which can be decades. After all, technology, such as video mail, telepresence, and many other life-altering forms of communications, are right around the corner. Don’t let the speed of the network, or other facility owners, pass you by.

Task force presents recommendations to CABA board

In early December, the Continental Automated Building Association’s (CABA) Intelligent Buildings Task Force reported its recommendations to the CABA board of directors concerning methods to strengthen the intelligent building industry. The task force based its recommendations on a commissioned business plan it oversaw. The plan provided guidelines on how CABA can successfully adopt new strategies to accelerate market acceptance of intelligent building technologies.

The business plan, drawing heavily upon CABA's Intelligent Buildings Roadmap, identified strategies for industry to develop intelligent buildings that have the greatest potential to drive broad acceptance. Strategies recommended to the CABA board of directors included: development of an education program; creation of an intelligent building definition; establishment of an intelligent building brand; development of industry-wide marketing programs; and strengthening ties with other industry associations.

“We are grateful to the Intelligent Buildings Task Force for their dedication to advancing a vision of sustainable and high-performance commercial buildings using cutting-edge technology and integrated systems,” says Ronald Zimmer, CABA’s president and chief executive officer. “It is our hope that the recommendations posed by the task force will ultimately result in greater market opportunities for our membership.”

Under the direction of CABA's Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council, recommendations will be examined through a series of industry working groups. The working groups will specifically review opportunities, strategize, and determine the best means of achieving task-force recommendations. All CABA members in good standing will be able to participate in the proceedings of the industry working groups.

“We are extremely pleased that CABA is advancing our industry through substantive action,” says Thomas Lohner, P.E., vice president, TENG Solutions and chair of the CABA Intelligent and Integrated Buildings Council. “The Intelligent Buildings Council now looks forward to assembling and marshaling all the resources necessary to move the industry toward critical mass.”

In other CABA news, the organization recently made several appointments to its board of directors. Among the newly appointed board members is Jack K. Merrow, director of marketing, product management, and business development with Leviton Manufacturing Company.

“CABA is pleased that Dr. Merrow has joined our Board,” Zimmer said. “His vast amount of experience and knowledge will ensure strong representation from an active manufacturer of high-quality home controls and other integrated products.”

Merrow joined Leviton in 1994 as director of marketing and customer service for what was then the Leviton Telcom (now Network Solutions) business unit. In 2000, he helped launch the Leviton Integrated Networks business. He has been active in market research, training, certification, and creating installation manuals and other documentation for residential structured wiring. As part of the Strategic Technology Group at Leviton, Merrow focused on integrating systems and developing graphical user interfaces for residential energy management and lighting control and helped form alliances with Schneider Electric/Square D and various other companies.

He also focused on defining and developing no-new-wires retrofit strategies and technology, and has led several residential builder/contractor technology demonstration projects including both networking and home control systems.

“I am looking forward to working with CABA to contribute to the development and application of technology and automation solutions that will improve the comfort, productivity and efficiency of today's homes buildings,” stated Merrow. “CABA contributes an important perspective to our industry, bringing a unique mix of companies, individuals and organizations together to advance the adoption of home and building automation solutions.”—P.M.

JOHN P. COWLEY is senior manager of business development with CommScope Enterprise Solutions (www.commscope.com). He is responsible for developing and executing the business case, marketing plan (including go-to-market strategy), and training and support plans for the Systimax Intelligent Building initiative.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance  www.cablinginstall.com 

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Free-space Optics Stabilizing And Growing

The point-to-point wireless technology is connecting disparate nodes at gigabit speeds.

Well recognized as a niche technology that wirelessly connects network nodes when the prospect of installing cable is impossible or at least impractical, free-space optics (FSO) is being deployed around the globe. The technology, which sometimes competes with microwave-based wireless systems for over-the-air transmission, typically is deployed from building-to-building, either from a rooftop or through a window. The transmitter/receivers provide line-of-sight connections of Ethernet signals.

Business has been good, according to Peter Schoon, president of FSO integrator System Support Solutions (www.systemsupportsolutions.com). “Everything gets more efficient,” he explains. “The products get better, and as a result our customers require less support from us.” System Support Solutions is a dual-media provider, with a little less than half their business coming from microwave-based systems and the remainder from FSO systems.

On the choice between the two technology types, Schoon cites what is a typical situation for many of his clients: “A user may be ready to order an 800-meter FSO link, which will provide 99.5% availability at an attractive cost. For a 100%-available microwave link, the user will have to pay about an additional $10,000. The difference in uptime averages about three hours per month.”

FSO or microwave?

“The new microwave products are competitive products to FSO in general,” acknowledges Gordon Tubbs, director of marketing for the broadcast and communications division of Canon USA Inc., which offers the Canobeam FSO family of products (www.canobeam.com). “Users need the right tool for the right job, and there are advantages to both. In some cases microwave systems will travel long distances. FSO is unlicensed technology, which is as easy to install as microwave. FSO will always have its place, and there certainly is room in the market for both.”

Lightpointe’s (www.lightpointe.com) general manager Cathal Oscolai concurs: “There is a strong market for FSO,” he says, “and it is continuing to grow. With the right strategy, I see the market expanding even further in years ahead. There are competitive technologies and circumstances in which one is more suitable than another. But there continues to be a strong case for FSO. When high bandwidth is in demand, FSO provides it at a reasonable price point ad without licensing issues.”

One of Canon’s customer stories provides an example of when FSO likely wins the day over microwave. Nice Shoes—which provides commercial post-production services, not footwear—has offices on both sides of Park Avenue in Manhattan. As Canobeam describes the situation, “Microwave was not an option in this RF-heavy urban environment, and local fiber loops were not cost-effective. The company chose the Canobeam DT-130 Free Space Optics Transceiver, which provides secure, wireless 1.25-Gbit/sec data transmission.” System Support Solutions installed the DT-130 set.

“Once we made the move across the street, the slower T-1s proved to be inadequate,” says Nice Shoes engineer Blake Cornell. “The local loop was a monthly expenditure, but the Canobeam’s speed allowed us to cut that cost out entirely.”

Increased speed requirements

Speed is a common theme with many FSO users, according to both Tubbs and Oscolai. “We see much more interest in Gigabit systems than 100-Megabit systems,” Tubbs notes. “We are still selling the 100-Mbit systems, but the [1-Gbit/sec-capable] DT-130 is what we’re selling most today. That holds true across the board, including Asia and Europe.”

Adds Lightpointe’s Oscolai, “The underlying technology development has been progressively more Gigabit Ethernet. Users are migrating to Gigabit Ethernet in the backbone, and even to the desktop in some cases. When it comes time to connect a second location, the IT manager does not want a low-speed connection.”

Oscolai continues, “There is still a market for Fast Ethernet. One of its advantages is that it can cover a slightly longer range than Gigabit. And they do remain popular for longer-range connections. We recommend Gigabit systems for connections up to 3,000 feet and Fast Ethernet goes up to 6,000 feet. But the trend is migrating from Fast to Gigabit Ethernet, and the shift has been happening for the past two or three years.”

The business side

Both of these FSO equipment providers have expanded their business horizons over the past couple years. Canon established a partnership with Molex Premise Networks (www.molexpn.com) two years ago, and is using Molex’s reach to distribute its products in many parts of the world. In 2007, it also introduced the Canobeam DT-150 HD transceiver, to address the dramatic growth in HDTV sports and entertainment productions, as well as the need for permanent HD and SD video links at broadcast facilities.

The DT-150 provides bidirectional, uncompressed 1.5-Gbit/sec transmission of embedded digital video, audio, and camera-control signals on a single stream without delay, the company says. It can also relay embedded video from multiple cameras or other video sources, along with embedded return video and audio to the camera operator, camera-control signals, and robotic camera-control data.

“HD is such a common factor in everybody’s lives now, especially at most broadcast facilities,” Tubbs says. “By seamlessly providing user with affordable, wireless, point-to-point uncompressed digital transmissions, the DT-150 HD Canobeam is playing a major role in revolutionizing the broadcast industry as the transition to HDTV accelerates.”

Lightpointe’s major story of the past couple years has been its financial turnaround. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-2006. “Since that time, we have been working to put a financial structure in place,” Oscolai says. “Throughout Chapter 11, we remained in business, continuing to manufacture and sell FSO products. And we have experienced quite satisfactory sales goals over that time.”

Oscolai adds, “Following the restructuring, we looked at the business and analyzed what worked well and what could be improved. One thing was very clear: pricing limited the market that we could address. The typical customer for FSO equipment is the IT manager for a large or medium enterprise. With the right price point, that becomes a very attractive option. It is a price-sensitive market and we aggressively pursue the enterprise market.”

In March 2007, the company dropped the price of its FlightStrata 155E and FlightStrata G systems to $12,900 and $14,900, respectively. The company said that represented an average drop of $9,200 per system, and at the time said it was for March 2007 only. In May, Lightpointe announced reductions in list prices for those two product lines as well as the FlightLine 100 and FlightLite 100E systems.

System Support Solutions’ Schoon says, “The biggest news in the FSO industry is Lightpointe slashing its prices.” He says competitive pricing is one of three musts for FSO system providers’ successful strategies. The other components of a successful business model, he says, are to have staff knowledgeable and committed to FSO, and to offer the latest technology—in particular, autotracking, which is the transceivers’ ability to self-align. Not all systems have the capability, but those that do not reportedly are not selling well.

On the rise

FSO technology has, to a great degree, stabilized in the past few years. The challenges posed by fog and other environmental conditions are now well known and can be planned for (or against). From all reports, the market for this technology is significant and worldwide. Integrators like System Support Solutions are seeing their revenues rise at the same time users’ throughput rates do the same.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance  www.cablinginstall.com


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