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Wireville.com

Issue: January 2009
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

The Latin month Ianuarius derives from ianua (“door”), since it was the opening of the year. It was also associated with Janus, the two-faced Roman god of doors and openings who guarded the gates of heaven. Janus could simultaneously face the year just past and the year to come.

What a wonderful way to end the year and start another.

http://www.counterfeitscankill.com/

Regarding Anti-Counterfeit Products Initiative Site

WOW!!    BULLS EYE.

This website has more potential value to the marketplace than anything we have seen in years. The additional safety and security factor recognized here is testimony to the diligent and focused work of Electrical Contactor Magazine (www.ecmag.com) and TED –The Electrical Distributor Magazine (www.tedmag.com ). Well Done. Keep bringing us the information that we can use to make better buying and hiring decisions.

The ugly face of modern day piracy is “counterfeit products”. They look like the real deal, but they aren’t. The savings, you thought you got, go down the drain in legal fees and lost business. You better make sure that the products that you are buying aren’t too good to be true.

If you are looking for the real deal on anti-counterfeiting efforts read the December issue of either Electrical Contactor Magazine or TED –The Electrical Distributor Magazine.

We will be attending the BICSI Conference in Orlando, and we hope to see many of our readers, while we’re getting all the news that you can use.

But that’s just my opinion,

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

Industry News

Counterfeiting Can Kill

Special update

Identify the Problem ;Modern-Day Piracy

By clark silcox

The view that buying counterfeit products can be a victimless crime is a fantasy. There are victims, and there is criminal profiteering, not unlike that of the of 17th-century buccaneers.

In  almost every significant CITY in the world, some consumers will go out of their way for a deep-discount purchase of a brand-name, luxury good, perhaps to a room on the upper floor of a nondescript building where they may buy products that bear counterfeit trademarks of well-known manufacturers. These consumers know they are buying fake goods and that the quality is likely to be inferior to the genuine product. But still, they feel satisfaction about their bargain purchases and justify their conduct on the theory that no one is harmed. After all, they would never buy the pricey, genuine goods, so sales are not lost, and no one’s health or safety is impaired by their purchases of a fake handbag, shoes or bottle of perfume.

A recent documentary from National Geographic based on the book by Dr. Moises Naim, “Illicit: The Dark Trade,” addresses global commerce in illegal trade of all types and these justifications. The film captures the role of organized crime in the global distribution of counterfeit goods and shows why consumers looking for counterfeit handbags or athletic shoes should consider where the money goes and how their behavior is financing criminal activity throughout the world.

Damage done

Seven-year-old Connor O’Keeffe brought his Nintendo Gameboy on a family vacation to Thailand. He forgot to pack his Nintendo charger/adapter, and after arriving in Thailand, his father purchased what he believed was a replacement Nintendo charger. Later that evening, Connor’s parents found him dead on the floor of the hotel room, clutching the charger that electrocuted him. A British inquest found the following:

• Wires within the charger were dangerously close together, which meant it could easily become live and electrocute a user, said Landesgewerbeanstalt Bayern (LGA), the German electrical laboratory that conducted the tests.

• Noting the charger was far below European safety standards, LGA discovered the gap between the primary and secondary circuits was 1 millimeter wide, compared to European standards, which require a 4.6-mm gap.

Nintendo did not make this product. It was counterfeit.

There are many other examples of injuries and damage caused by counterfeit electrical products: House fires in Indonesia and Egypt have been linked to the failure of counterfeit circuit breakers to protect electrical circuitry from overcurrent or short circuits. Counterfeit cell phone batteries have been reported to explode, damaging devices and property. Kitchen workers at an Iraqi housing facility for U.S. Embassy guards suffered minor electrical shocks, and electric wires began to melt because of counterfeit electrical wires installed in the facility. These and similar reports found on the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA) Web site confirm that counterfeit electrical products are typically substandard and unsafe.

Modern-day pirates may still use ships to export their stolen booty, but the 21st century weapons of choice are CAD machines, high-speed printers, digital cameras, e-mail and the Internet. This equipment enables high-quality copying of the exterior look of a product and the labels and packaging that accompany it. Images of the copied product are posted on Chinese English--language Web sites, and NEMA has found that some of these Chinese Web sites actually copy word-for-word the text of the product’s description from the genuine manufacturer’s Web site. The photo and the text are a fraud: they do not describe how the internal properties of the copied product vary from the product they purport to be.

There are counterfeit circuit breakers that have no internal parts that would terminate the current to a wire in danger of overheating. There are counterfeit batteries without the vents that enable built-up gases to escape and permit batteries to fail safely. There are counterfeit grounding rods with only a small fraction of the copper coating required to prevent corrosion by elements in the soil, giving the ground rod a useful life of only a few years to protect property from electrical surges instead of the 30 to 40 years one would expect from a product built to safety standards. And then there are the counterfeit electrical power cords—for which safety standards specify a 12-gauge AWG wire-—that only have a 24-gauge wire typically found in speaker wire. The cord’s jacket deceptively states it has a 12-gauge wire, but it will not safely carry the electrical current for the purpose it falsely represents.

These hidden variations are not unintentional. These inferior products are intended to be made and sold cheaply to appeal to those primarily interested in purchasing an electrical product at a price that not even a wholesaler of genuine electrical products can sell at for a profit. The purchaser is buying these products either knowing that they are not the same quality as the genuine electrical product—consciously avoiding the question whether they are as safe, as durable or providing the same level of performance as the genuine product— or buying them unwittingly, a victim of the desire to buy a product at an unheard-of price.

“Counterfeit products pose serious health and safety hazards to consumers and put unsuspecting distributors in the middle of a very dangerous situation,” said Jim Pauley, vice president of industry and government relations for Schneider Electric’s North American Operating Division, Palatine, Ill. “Anyone near one of the counterfeit breakers when it explodes is going to be subjected to extreme heat, sprays of molten metal and a powerful blast of energy. Further, even if the breaker does not have a catastrophic failure, it may not properly operate to protect the home or building’s electrical system from an electrical fault, significantly increasing the likelihood of an electrical fire.”

Most counterfeit electrical products found in the United States are copies of electrical products made in the United States, Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean. Schneider Electric North American CEO David Petratis told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in October 2007 that Schneider Electric can still make residential circuit breakers in Lincoln, Neb., at a landed cost that is less than the same product delivered from China. It’s also important to note that genuine NEMA-style residential circuit breakers are made in this hemisphere and are not sold on Chinese English-language Web sites.

The same is true for many other electrical products. A recent visit to eBay uncovered offers from Hong Kong sellers of counterfeit lithium batteries for as little as 99 cents for an order of 10 batteries. The counterfeiters copy the labels of the genuine batteries, but the real versions of these batteries sold in the United States actually are made in the United States.

While it is difficult to quantify the amount of counterfeit electrical products that have reached the United States, data reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Unit indicates the number of electrical products seized is on the rise. Electrical products are catalogued as “consumer electronics” by customs, and in fiscal year 2006, these products represented 5 percent of total seizures valued at about $7 million. In fiscal year 2007, these products represented 8 percent of total seizures valued at about $16 million. The consumer electronics classification does not include computer hardware or computer games. This figure also does not include product that is seized as a result of private civil litigation or counterfeit product that is never found. The increase in counterfeits seized is consistent with what NEMA is learning about increased reports of counterfeit electrical products in the marketplace.

Common counterfeits

Counterfeit products touch on a range of interests: injury or death of consumers from a product defect or malfunction, deception of buyers of electrical products, improper use of intellectual property rights, and the loss of tax revenue. In addition,  reputations are at stake: Tying a fire or injury to a wrongly branded counterfeit product can give the unsuspecting manufacturer an unwarranted black eye. NEMA is aware of at least one member company that learned it had a counterfeiting problem because it was named as a defendant in a product liability lawsuit for a product it did not make or sell.

In a recent report covering product liability issues for its members, the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) reported that documented cases of counterfeit electrical products reaching the market include the following:

• Conduit fittings installed in a hazardous location, marked with a brand and certification marks bearing the manufacturer’s part number of a product designed for use in hazardous locations without actually meeting the design requirements suitable for those locations

• Circuit breakers bearing a brand name not providing protection

• Defective control relays bearing a counterfeit certification mark, causing a machine to malfunction

• Extension cords bearing a brand name and certification mark for a product designed for a 12-gauge wire but actually employing a smaller 24-gauge wire, which catch on fire when the cords are used as the manufacturer intends

• Imported dry-cell batteries containing mercury, when U.S. law prohibits sale of them

• Electrical products bearing the certification marks of third-party test labs without authorization

• Counterfeit ground-fault circuit interrupters

• Cell phone batteries

•Electrical receptacles

Risk of product liability claims

Who in the distribution chain of a product—manufacturers, distributors, retailers or contractors—is open to product liability suits when a product malfunctions or otherwise fails to perform as expected and causes injury? Most of the time, according to NAED reports, the manufacturer is the first focus of a claim or lawsuit based on the malfunctioning or defect of an electrical product and will stand behind its products. Claims most often associated with product liability include the following:

• Negligence

• Strict liability, where the injured party must show only that the product was defective (unsafe if used as intended) or unreasonably dangerous (likely to cause harm)

• Breach of warranty: a warranty is a statement by a manufacturer concerning the traits or operation of a product.

When the product is determined to be counterfeit, however, the manufacturer will generally avoid liability for a product that it did not make or sell. The focus then shifts to the distributors, retailers, electrical contractors and installers. The hunt is on for those who introduced the defective counterfeit product into the supply channel in the first place. Finding that entity, particularly if it is in Asia, may be a difficult task, leaving the local distributor or electrician holding the bag for liability because, unwittingly or not, they are the only known entity in the chain of distribution who can be sued. Given the difficulty of detecting look-alike counterfeits, the risk-averse strategy to avoiding counterfeits is to source electrical products from entities that are authorized and known to trade in genuine products of the branded manufacturer (for more on liability, see page 38i).

A collaborative solution

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (HR 4279) passed the House of Representatives in May 2008, and legislation pending in the U.S. Senate explicitly recognizes the importance of a public-private partnership.

NEMA and several of its members impacted by counterfeiting are pursuing public-private partnerships with the government on intellectual property enforcement. NEMA also meets with customs officials, helping them understand from where the dangerous fake electrical products are coming, and with criminal law-enforcement officials, asking them to bring cases where it is believed someone has knowingly trafficked in counterfeit electrical products. In addition, NEMA talks with trade and safety agencies to make them aware of the correlation between counterfeit products and substandard products. NEMA has written to the U.S. Trade Representative to support its World Trade Organization case against China for inadequate enforcement of intellectual property laws.

NAED and the National Electrical Contractors Association support efforts to combat counterfeit electrical products, and the efforts of Underwriters Laboratories and Canadian Standards Association International (to combat counterfeit electrical products) have not gone unnoticed. The product liability risks and the risks to the public from the unsafe counterfeits drives a mutual recognition among all groups in the electrical channel and the government that collaboration in eliminating this insidious side of global commerce is the only possible strategy. For more on the solution, see the “What’s Being Done” section, starting on page 46i.

Silcox is general counsel for NEMA. He can be reached at
Cla_Silcox@nema.org. This article first appeared in the June 2008. issue of the NEMA publication, “electroindustry.”

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com 

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

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Counterfeiting and Piracy: How Pervasive Is It?

By cheryl d. smith

Industry experts and government officials estimate that counterfeiting and piracy is growing worldwide, and the cost to the nation, companies and consumers is alarming.

From counterfeit prescription drugs and automotive parts to computer software and electrical extension cords, the market for bogus products is increasing and is of particular concern to electrical manufacturers, distributors and contractors that stand behind the products they make, sell and install. While one of the biggest challenges facing the electrical industry is the physical danger counterfeit products pose to consumers, there also is the economic impact to consider. When intellectual property rights are infringed upon, it undermines the ability to innovate and create breakthrough technological solutions that bolster the global economy and create jobs for millions of Americans.

Counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy approximately $250 billion in annual revenues and have led to the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. The automotive industry, for example, could employ an additional 250,000 workers if counterfeit auto parts sales were eliminated, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It is estimated that phony auto parts cost the global automotive industry approximately $12 billion annually.

Small businesses also suffer because many lack the resources to bring a claim against a perpetrator, and a malicious attack to steal a trademark or copyright could ultimately destroy the company. In 2005, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office found that only 15 percent of small companies that conduct business abroad are aware that a U.S. patent or trademark only protects them in the United States. On the global economy, the impact of intellectual property theft accounts for $500 to $600 billion in lost sales each year, or 5 to 7 percent of world trade.

“There are estimates that intellectual property in the United States is worth between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion and accounts for approximately half of U.S. exports with roughly 40 percent driving U.S. economic growth,” said Alex Burgos, representative for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center. “The impact of intellectual property on the U.S. economy is undeniable.”

Health and safety risks also are mounting as counterfeit prescription drugs account for 10 percent of all pharmaceuticals, according to the World Health Organization. The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest reports that imitation drug commerce is expected to grow 13 percent annually through 2010.

Data compiled by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration Customs Enforcement Unit (ICE) shows a dramatic increase in seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods in recent years. In fiscal year 2007, CBP and ICE conducted 1,295 seizures of counterfeit goods that posed potential safety and security risks with a domestic value of $27.9 million. Seizures of hazardous counterfeit goods more than doubled year-to-year in both value and number. The types of products seized included electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, perfume, cigarettes, batteries, auto parts, food and sunglasses. By midfiscal year 2008, CBP and ICE had confiscated 796 shipments of products with possible safety risks with a domestic value of $24.8 million—a 28 percent rise in seizures and 30 percent increase in domestic value compared to 2007. (These numbers show the magnitude of counterfeiting as a whole and not just electrical components.)

“The size of the counterfeit electrical market is difficult to determine because we don’t know that a product is counterfeit unless it has been previously tested, inspected or failed to perform its intended function,” said Bernd Heinze, president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based Sequent Insurance Group. “Most estimates, although conservative, project the amount of global counterfeiting of electrical products between $11 billion and $20 billion annually and between $300 million and $400 million in North America.”

Heinze has represented and defended electric utilities, distributors, suppliers, installers and manufacturers in product liability and contract matters. He recently produced a white paper on behalf of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) to help distributors assess legal and risk exposures of doing business overseas. Based on his study, “Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today’s Global Market,” Heinze said the growth of products being contracted overseas and purchased from unauthorized dealers has contributed to an increase of recalled electrical goods and claims filed against electrical distributors and manufacturers.

“With global trafficking of counterfeit electrical products on the rise, distributors and manufacturers can minimize the risk of being sued by exercising due diligence to verify the legitimacy of the manufacturer,” Heinze said. “Representatives in the electrical distribution channel must conduct business with reputable sources in order to have confidence in the integrity of the product.”

Square D, the flagship brand for Schneider Electric’s North American Operating Division, Palatine, Ill., has filed several lawsuits against U.S. companies that were selling counterfeit Square D circuit breakers and obtained permanent injunctions barring distributors from selling and importing Square D products.

 “Five years ago, we were unaware of any counterfeit Square D products in the United States, but there has been an influx in recent years of trafficking counterfeit goods,” said Tracy Garner, anti-counterfeiting manager for Schneider Electric/Square D. “Based on our lawsuits, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit Square D circuit breakers were sold in the United States. Other manufacturers’ products are being negatively affected as well. Counterfeiting is a huge issue for our industry.”

Consider that as many as 250,000 circuit breakers could fit into a 40-foot container shipped into the United States. An average home may contain about 15 circuit breakers, which means more than 16,000 homes could be dangerously affected by just one container of counterfeit circuit breakers. CBP reported the seizure of 500,000 circuit breakers in the United States between January 2006 and June 2007.

According to www.ul.com, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has experienced counterfeiting of its UL mark, which certifies that products have been tested and considered safe for use by consumers. Products that usually bear a counterfeit UL mark are high-volume, low-cost items, such as extension cords and power strips. UL estimates that a small percentage of its mark is being illegally affixed to products, but UL has a zero-tolerance policy for any goods with counterfeit marks. UL has worked with CBP on thousands of seizures valued at more than $150 million (for more on this, see page 52i).

The upsurge of counterfeiting and piracy also is having an overwhelming affect on electrical contractors, according to Electrical Contractor magazine’s “2008 Profile of the Electrical Contractor.”

The survey, published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), revealed that 60 percent of contractors are extremely or very concerned about the effectiveness of counterfeit products, while 43 percent were unsure if they have encountered counterfeit electrical goods over the past year. To address electrical contractors’ concerns, the magazine convened a one-hour session, “Counterfeit Products: Are You Liable?” at NECA’s 2008 Convention and Trade Show in Chicago.

How are counterfeit products getting into the marketplace?

Shoddy products can enter the United States and infiltrate the legitimate supply chain through a variety of distribution channels. One popular method that counterfeiters use to transport illegal goods is through imports.

“The U.S. government serves as the first line of defense for counterfeit products coming from abroad, and the majority of them originate from China,” Burgos said. “We encourage industries and businesses to manage their supply chain and share intelligence with government officials and law enforcement to improve and defend our U.S. ports.”

A more contemporary vehicle used by counterfeiters to sell fake products is through e-commerce, auction sites and e-mail solicitations on the Internet. According to “The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy,” a study by the France-based Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation, online environments are appealing for a number of reasons, including anonymity, flexibility, the size of market, market reach and deception.

The Internet has a wide-reaching global audience that creates substantial opportunities for perpetrators to conduct illegal sales. Counterfeiters also can conceal their identity and establish online merchant sites that can be quickly removed and relocated. The overwhelming number of e-commerce sites makes it hard for enforcement agencies to track and capture the culprits, and the high level of software available to build sophisticated and professional Web sites allow counterfeiters and pirates to deceive consumers and businesses.

“The Internet is a major issue with pharmaceutical companies because almost 50 percent of counterfeit medications are trafficked through illicit Web sites,” Burgos said. “Companies or industries that are most affected by illegal online commerce generally have departments within their organizations specifically designed to monitor unlawful activity.”

A major concern for the international market is free trade zones. OECD reports that traders can store, assemble and manufacture products that are moving across borders with minimum regulation. Merchandise that passes through the zones provides unlawful opportunities for shipping documents to be “sanitized” to conceal their original point of manufacture. Goods also can be repackaged with counterfeit trademarks prior to being exported to other countries.

As the enormity of the counterfeiting and piracy problem continues to increase, the battle to save lives, safeguard intellectual property and advance global economic growth requires collaboration across industries and partnership with government and law enforcement agencies. Counterfeiting and piracy undercuts the investment that electrical manufacturers make in their brands to meet and exceed electrical safety standards. It also damages distributors in the wholesale and retail market that legitimately promote quality brands and shatters the confidence that contractors expect to have in the products they install in homes and businesses.

“Strong business relationships are essential as the problem of counterfeiting and piracy intensifies,” Heinze said. “Creating awareness and working together is the greatest weapon to prevent injuries, damages and losses attributed to counterfeit electrical products.”

For more information on counterfeiting and piracy, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center on the Web at www.theglobalipcenter.com and the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy at www.theglobalipcenter.com/gipc/cacp.           

Smith is a freelance writer in Upper Marlboro, Md. She can be reached at accd.smith3@comcast.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com 

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

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Identify the PROBLEM

By john paul quinn

The ChinaChallenge

China’s immense size and its history as a closed society have made it the subject of a number of urban legends and fanciful speculations. However, there are some current, verifiable statistics about China that should be believed—they are about counterfeiting and intellectual property rights (IPR), and they’re alarming.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), China—out of all U.S. trading partners—accounted for 85 percent of the total value of counterfeit products seized, valued at $96.7 million at midyear 2008. This was up 9 percent from a year ago.

CBP also notes that overall, consumer electronics/electrical articles represent 9 percent of the total value, or $9.7 million. And 11 percent of the safety and security hazard seizures were electrical/-electronic goods, valued at $2.8 million. The report further notes that almost 90 percent of seizures that pose a safety and security risk to the United States were of Chinese origin.

China remains a special challenge for us,” said Wayne Paugh, who heads an interagency task force called the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC).

“Last year, the U.S. filed two World Trade Organization (WTO) cases against China for violations of their obligations as a permanent WTO member,” he said. “One involved impeding market access, the other IPR violations. As we proceeded with the litigation, our negotiations on trade issues with the Chinese broke down at the leadership level, with little being accomplished. Recently, we have re-engaged with them, but this is symptomatic of the nature of this issue.”

Many believe the situation will only deteriorate because too many politicians around the world have held back too long on taking aggressive actions to effectively combat Chinese counterfeiting.

Speaking off the record at an intellectual property rights conference in Brussels earlier this year, a leading official of the anti-counterfeit section of the World Customs Organization (WCO) made a sobering observation.

“It would be a bit naive to expect China to do anything serious about counterfeiting when some 30 percent of its citizens are involved in making products that are questionable from the IPR standpoint,” he said. Do the math.

A worsening situation

The consensus in the European Union (EU) and the United States is that the China situation continues to get worse. This is especially frustrating in Europe, where the EU is currently involved in a 15 million-euro three-year project to train judges and prosecutors in China on IP protection law. The EU is contributing 12 million euros; China is paying 3 million euros.

But some observers are guardedly optimistic that things may begin to improve.

“IP laws are in place in China,” said Candice Li, external relations manager for anti-counterfeiting at the International Trademark Association (INTA) in New York. “But prosecution and enforcement are hindered by the size of the country and the rapid growth of the economy. We believe that, overall, the Chinese government is opposed to counterfeiting and is trying to cooperate and engage the problem.”

The argument for possible gradual improvement is based on the belief that the global economy may, to some extent, curtail the proliferation of counterfeiting in China.

As the country’s economy continues to expand, there is a likelihood of ongoing rising inflation that will not be limited to legitimate trade.

As counterfeiters see their costs rising, they may weigh the risks involved in pursuing their clandestine operations.

Reportedly, the Chinese government has already started to feel pressure from its own manufacturers, who are also being victimized by fakes.

Couple this with the arguments by the WTO and other international bodies that protecting IPR is a prerequisite for attracting foreign investment capital, and enlightened commercial self-interest may gradually kick in.

Political priorities

Others are less sanguine about any consistent improvement in China.

China could do more if they wanted to,” said David Dossett, chief executive of the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (BEAMA), based in London. “The problem is that they tend to shift their priorities and juggle their varying and political and economic interests, so at times they’re tacitly pro-counterfeiting and at times con.

“At this time, the Chinese authorities are very good if we take them evidence that a factory is making counterfeits. They’re efficient and helpful and raid the location and seize the products. But they’re not allowed to be proactive and do their own investigation and close an operation down of their own accord.”

BEAMA has been engaged in anti-counterfeiting activities in China since 2001. Working with local authorities, it has focused annually on two areas: Wenzhou, the country’s electrical manufacturing center, and the Canton Fair, where association members hit the purveyors of counterfeit articles.

The Canton Fair operators learned from experience and went undercover, so BEAMA shifted its attention this year to another exhibition at Yiwu, a massive distribution and consolidation center for both domestic and overseas markets, where export shipments are containerized.

The move produced impressive results. In the six months from April to September of 2008, BEAMA seizures doubled over those of 2007, with 850,000 products valued at 1 million euros confiscated.

Counterfeit hub

Individual manufacturers tracking the China scene continue to be skeptical.

“I don’t see any improvement near-term in controlling the amount of Chinese counterfeit products entering world markets,” said Kevin Harris, international policy manager, Eaton Corp. “And I’m embarrassed because it seems that trade associations are taking more action than national governments, or WTO or WCO.

“Most observers agree that China is the hub of counterfeit manufacturing, but there doesn’t seem to be any coordinated political strategy to stop this. Aside from associations like BEAMA taking a stand, we don’t see any action being taken without our industry involvement.

“Many of the sites raided in BEAMA’s operations in southeast China are factories without names, unlicensed, operating illegally, and apparently previously unknown to the authorities,” he said.

In Eaton’s experience, there has been little penetration of its U.K. market by Chinese knockoffs of its products. The real threat lies in these products being introduced into the company’s export markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the company’s brand name, and those of many of its major competitors, could be seriously compromised if this situation is not controlled.

“There may be IP laws in place in China,” Harris said, “but the real issue has to do with the low level of enforcement and the lack of political will to ensure that there will be serious deterrent penalties to discourage counterfeiting.”

Meeting the challenge

Meanwhile, in the United States, manufacturers have had some heartening successes in facing up to the challenge of Chinese counterfeits.

Probably the highest profile and most successful anti-counterfeit litigation in the electrical equipment industry that has taken place in the United States has been a series of lawsuits instituted by Schneider Electric/Square D, Palatine, Ill., involving the company’s line of circuit breakers, and the back trail led to China (for more on this, see sidebar on page 40i).

According to Brian Lewis, outside counsel for Square D at Wildman Harrold in Chicago, who prosecuted these cases, in the course of the U.S. litigation and two raids conducted in China, a network of 33 unauthorized manufacturers, importers, and distributors was uncovered, more than 250,000 counterfeit products were seized or quarantined, and approximately 300,000 products are under recall by order of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“In one facility that was raided, with the assistance of the Chinese authorities, some 19,000 counterfeit breakers were seized, knockoffs of both Square D and other U.S. brands,” said Stephen Litchfield, assistant general counsel, Schneider Electric/Square D. “In the investigators’ opinion, this plant was geared up to manufacture 3 million pieces a year and had been in operation since 2004, meaning that before they were shut down they could have generated 9 million pieces of counterfeit and highly dangerous product.”

But the evidence continues to point to unabated production of counterfeit electrical/electronic products in China.

“Last year, we participated in a NEMA survey which covered many of the products we manufacture and sell,” said Dave Griffith, electrical distribution channel manager, GE Consumer and Industrial U. C. Division, Nela Park, Ohio. “This included lamps, power distribution products, motors, switchgear, relays and circuit breakers. If you tallied up our competitors’ and our input, it was estimated that 90 percent of all the counterfeits of these products entering the supply chain comes from China.”

Griffith also advises manufacturers to be careful with what lines they choose to produce in countries with a counterfeiting reputation, because that represents an ideal opportunity for reverse-engineering and copycatting.

In this ongoing confrontation, the Chinese government apparently perceives that its importance as a pre-eminent and sought-after emerging market will limit international sanctions against it, and other governments will constantly be reluctant to take a strong stance against them on an individual basis.

“The bottom line is that this is not a manufacturer problem, and it’s not an electrical industry problem. It’s the China problem,” Lewis said. “This is a multibillion-dollar industry for that country, and it has been established that this involves automotive, aviation, electrical and electronic, drug and food products.

“Until the United States and the European Union and other global bodies become more aggressive, it’s up to all of us in our industry associations and in our individual companies to be proactive in this anti-counterfeiting fight,” Lewis said.      

Quinn reports on a wide range of business topics for journals in the United States and Europe. He can be reached at 203.323.9850 or at mirabel@snet.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com 

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

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Channel Responsibilities

BY darlene bremer

Shared Responsibility

 Everyone in the supply chain—from manufacturers to distributors, electrical contractors and
end-users—has a responsibility to try to identify, avoid and report counterfeit products.  Mid-fiscal year (FY) 2008 statistics released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection this past May show that seizures of consumer electronics and electrical products that infringed on intellectual property rights (IPR) accounted for 9 percent of the total seizures made by the agency for the first half of the year.

Although total IPR seizures decreased by 1 percent between mid-FY2007 and mid-FY2008, the number of seizures of consumer electronic and electrical products rose 3 percent—from
more than $9.4 million worth of products at mid-FY2007 to more than $9.7 million for the same time period in FY2008.

IPR violation is really a fancy term for counterfeit. After all, manufacturers invest a lot of money in researching, developing and manufacturing their trademarks and testing laboratory-certified products. A counterfeiter is actually stealing that investment. To avoid abetting that theft, everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to try to identify, avoid and report counterfeit products.

Manufacturer musts

According to Brian Monks, vice president of anti-counterfeiting operations for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Northbrook, Ill.,  manufacturers of electrical products need to understand their component or assembly supply chain to make sure it contains pure,   untainted products.

“Electrical product manufacturers should ensure that they are dealing with reputable vendors that they know,” he said.

Knowing the company or companies that the manufacturer is dealing with means performing due diligence when beginning relationships with new suppliers, asking questions about component sources and asking for certifications of authenticity.

“Manufacturers do have to guard against counterfeit components within their own supply chain to avoid errors in manufacturing and to protect their reputations,” said Dave Moeller, national market manager, construction, Graybar, St. Louis. However, he said, while everyone in the chain has a vested interest in identifying, avoiding and reporting counterfeit products, manufacturers have the ability to readily compare legitimate product against counterfeit.

“We know our suppliers can stand behind their products,” Moeller said. “That’s one of the reasons Graybar has taken a public stance against private labeling, and we encourage the rest of the industry to do the same.”

A major responsibility held by the manufacturer concerning counterfeit products is maintaining communication through their distributors, according to Bernie Bush, purchasing manager for Valley Electrical Consolidated, Girard, Ohio.

“That’s the best channel for manufacturers to let the entire chain know if one of their products is being counterfeited,” Bush said.

For example, Valley Electrical learned about Square D’s problem with counterfeit circuit breakers through information that its distributor relayed to the company.

Ken Narod, vice president, channel at Eaton Electrical Group, Cleveland, said manufacturers’ responsibilities include having a formal anti-counterfeiting program in place, including authentication processes for trademarks and labels, as well as offering a training program to advance education throughout the industry.

“Manufacturers should also have the ability and staff to work with federal authorities to help identify and prosecute violators and to educate law enforcement on how various electrical products are being counterfeited and how they are potentially entering the country,” he said.

Manufacturers also can advance education by working and communicating with trade associations, organizations and other manufacturers to curtail counterfeiting.

Distributor to-dos

“Distributors need to perform due diligence, as well, by asking questions about sourcing, requiring certifications of authenticity for the products they purchase for distribution, and making sure

they know who is responsible for problems that occur with products,” Monks said.

Distributors also have a responsibility to understand the supply chain and to only deal with reputable manufacturers. In addition, Monks advises distributors to perform spot checks to ensure counterfeit products have not accidentally gotten into the chain.

“Counterfeiting is a criminal activity, and counterfeiters are ingenious at getting around the system,” Monks said.

However, in economic downturns, it is tempting to procure products the distributor knows are too cheap, a key indicator that a product is counterfeit. This is a temptation the entire supply chain needs to avoid.

“It is the distributor’s responsibility to not let competitive pressures lure them into ignoring the warning signs of a counterfeit product, such as prices that are too low, when choosing whether to carry a new manufacturer’s product,” Bush said.

Distributors need to buy products directly from the manufacturer to avoid finding themselves distributing counterfeit material.

“Distributors must make a commitment to training their personnel on the safety and liability risks of distributing counterfeit products and to report any suspicious products to the manufacturer,” Narod said.

According to Larry Wilson, senior communications manager for Fluke Corp., Everett, Wash., the company has not had much trouble in terms of direct knockoffs, but rather with test meters that are similar enough that people think it is a Fluke product.

“Distributors are responsible for understanding that Fluke owns the trade dress and that they should not be purchasing or distributing meters that violate the visual appearance of a Fluke product or its packaging,” he said.

If a distributor discovers counterfeit products being sold, then the distributor is responsible for letting the manufacturer know.

“It’s then up to Fluke to pursue the matter by notifying the seller that they are violating our trade dress,” Wilson explained.

Graybar’s responsibilities for identifying and avoiding counterfeit products starts with communicating awareness of the issue throughout the company, Moeller said. As a distributor, Graybar also goes through great effort to represent known, reliable manufacturers and to deal with suppliers that have good business practices and that are financially sound.

“Graybar has a long history of actively seeking out the brands that customers are most interested in purchasing and then becoming the preferred distributor of those brands,” Moeller said.

Distributors can lessen the chance of counterfeit product lines getting into the supply chain by recognizing those areas from where counterfeit products are likely to appear and by only dealing with suppliers with a history of making the original product.

Unfortunately, it has not historically been the norm for distributors or contractors to investigate who is supplying the product, according to Warren Janes, vice president of sales and marketing for Maurice Electrical Supply, Washington, D.C. There are many ways a distributor can get counterfeit product on its shelves without knowing it, and investigating authenticity creates an extra step in the buying process that not everyone has been willing to take.

“To ensure that the door remains closed to counterfeiters, distributors should buy products only from authorized sources,” Janes advised. Internet sourcing in particular, he added, is so wide open that it is easy to unknowingly find and source counterfeit products because the trail is too hard to follow.

Contractor checklist

Contractors, according to Monks, are the last link in the supply chain and the least likely to think they need to perform diligence and ask questions about product sources.

“The reality is that contractors rely on their distributors for that,” Monks said.

A contractor’s problems could begin when it doesn’t buy from reputable distributors and purchases products outside the normal chain from places such as flea markets, overstocks, discount stores or through the Internet.

“Contractors, however, are responsible for being aware of the issue and for realizing that if the price is too low, it really is too good to be true. And, if a counterfeit product is discovered after installation, the end-user is probably going to go after the contractor first,” Monks said.

“Contractors need to deal with reputable distributors. We rely on them to authenticate products,” Bush said.

In addition, contractors must educate field electricians about key indicators of counterfeit products and encouraging them to examine products closely before installation and to become familiar with the look, feel, packaging and trademarks of legitimate products.

“Identifying counterfeits can be difficult, however. Sometimes it only becomes apparent after the installation,” Bush said.

Electrical contractors that are aware of what they are buying and from whom should be able to avoid counterfeit products.

“Contractors working in commercial and industrial applications need to use high-quality meters that are appropriately designed, manufactured, and tested to meet safety guidelines for those environments,” Wilson said.

Even though safety standards are not law, contractors are responsible for providing a safe workplace and should, therefore, report counterfeit safety products to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

All together now

Obviously, if a manufacturer, distributor or contractor is selling or buying counterfeit products and something goes wrong, it creates safety issues, liability risk, brand delusion, customer complaints and can destroy the public’s faith in the industry.

“The public is being defrauded when given counterfeit products, even when the contractor or distributor does so unknowingly,” Monks said.

Counterfeiters have improved their goods so much that it is difficult to determine authenticity when the product is not purchased from a known source. However, by communicating up and down the chain, joining coalitions, talking to law enforcement, and understanding the testing and certification, standard development, and distribution processes, all members of the chain can work together to combat the problem.

“Communication is the key,” Moeller said. “Everyone in the chain has to be clear about what they want to purchase and only do so from reputable sources.”

Channel partners can get involved with the National Association of Electrical Distributors, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Wholesalers, and other industry organizations and trade associations to stay informed. These associations also have government affairs platforms and are in contact with political leaders concerning these issues and filter the information to members and other interested parties.

“Get vocal and talk about the issue accurately all along the chain,” Moeller said.

Wilson advises channel partners to be aware of trademark, trade dress, and intellectual property laws and learn how to differentiate between legitimate and counterfeit products.

“Be active in industry groups to learn about the issues,” Moeller said. “Trade associations support their members with education and with networking opportunities that promote the exchange of information about issues, such as counterfeiting, the danger of these products, and how to avoid them.” 

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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

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Ignorance Is No Excuse

With counterfeit products, the burden may be the installer’s.

By william j. ferguson

It is clear that THOSE WHO SELL and/or install a counterfeit electrical product will be exposed to potential legal liability. Counterfeit electrical products bring unique safety risks associated with their components. The most common counterfeit electrical products include circuit breakers, smoke alarms, electrical cords, decorative light strands, lighting fixtures, power adapters and surge protectors. Such counterfeit products are almost always of inferior quality and not built to the rigid standards and codes legitimate manufacturers adhere to.

This results in increased risks of fire, shock and other hazards that threaten life, safety and the property of consumers. For those who sell or install a counterfeit electrical product and damage results, at stake is nothing less than their company’s goodwill and reputation in the industry, and possibly even its existence.

Moreover, counterfeit products infringe upon intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, patents and copyrights. The inevitable result of counterfeit products is a loss of market share to the legitimate manufacturer, distributor and supplier, as well as the corresponding risks associated with the failure of such products.

If an electrical contractor is associated with a counterfeit electrical product, the legal ramifications can be severe. The inadvertent installation of a counterfeit product almost always will result in a breach of contract, since the product will not meet plans and specifications, nor will it comply with applicable codes and standards, including a valid Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification. This means that, in the first instance, the cost of replacing the counterfeit product likely will be borne by the electrical contractor who installed it. Even if the product works properly throughout the warranty period, there is the potential for a claim to be brought later if the product fails under theories of latent defect or, worse, fraud. In many states, the applicable statutes of limitation are tolled with respect to defects not apparent on visual inspection by owners and inspecting authorities.

Of course, counterfeit products are intended to create the appearance of legitimacy. Manufacturers of counterfeit products, wholesale distributors, retail suppliers and others who put a counterfeit product into the stream of commerce also will share potential liability. It is common, however, that the manufacturer of the counterfeit product cannot be reached or is located in a country not easily subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts. These unscrupulous manufacturers are often undercapitalized and lack appropriate insurance or other assets to assume responsibility for their wrongdoing.

Liability

In addition to potential contract liability, those involved in selling or installing counterfeit electrical products face claims from third parties under a variety of legal theories. Should personal injury or property damage result, one can expect to be sued for negligence, gross negligence, intentional misrepresentation, strict liability in tort, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and fraud. Ignorance is no excuse with respect to breach of contract, negligence and even strict liability in tort actions.

Even worse, if an installer or someone else in the organization had knowledge or reason to know that the purchased and/or installed product was counterfeit, it is possible—if not likely—that claims of fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices will be pursued. This will expose both the company and individuals not only to a penalty of direct damages but, potentially, to punitive damages and attorneys fees in favor of a claimant.

Of course, those who knowingly participate in the trade of counterfeit products also are exposed to criminal liability. Accordingly, distributors, suppliers and contractors must be vigilant. If an unknown counterfeit product fails, each entity will be exposed to liability, and recourse back against the manufacturer of the product may not be possible.

In today’s market, with many transactions occurring on the Internet, it is difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly with whom one is dealing. Counterfeit products almost always are represented as being genuine, but are offered at a much lower price. The saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” certainly applies in the case of counterfeit products. For those duped, it can be very difficult to reach the online seller or original manufacturer.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. often is credited with the phrase, “the law is a seamless web.” When it comes to counterfeit products, international markets and imperfect foreign legal systems tear a hole in the web. When counterfeit electrical products are introduced into the North American marketplace, an innocent distributor, supplier or contractor may be held solely responsible for any defects and problems if recourse to the fraudulent manufacturer cannot be established. Moreover, the genuine manufacturer of the product bears no responsibility and is, in fact, a victim of the counterfeit crime.

Unfortunately, in many states, the concept of joint and several liability can result in one party bearing a disproportionate share of legal responsibility for the damages caused by a counterfeit product. For example, if an electrical contractor is found 1 percent negligent for not identifying a particular product that it installed as being counterfeit and 99 percent of responsibility is placed on other parties who are not subject to the jurisdiction of the court (e.g., an Internet-based seller), the electrical contractor could be required to pay 100 percent of the damages suffered as a result of the failure of the counterfeit product. If there were loss of life or substantial property damage, the liability likely would be in the millions of dollars.

Combat the risks

There are ways to combat the risks associated with counterfeit electrical products. First, make sure you are purchasing from an authorized distributor or supplier. UL has built its reputation on the integrity of the UL mark. However, recently, manufacturers of counterfeit products are attaching counterfeit UL labels to their products (for more on counterfeit UL and CSA labels, see page 52i).

The good news is UL is fighting back. It recently developed a new labeling system that uses holographic technology, making it difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate its mark. In addition, UL is working closely with the Department of Justice, United States Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement to combat the importing and trafficking of counterfeit products. Seizures of products bearing counterfeit UL certification marks now number in the thousands.

In addition, penalties for trafficking in counterfeit products are becoming increasingly severe. An individual who intentionally traffics or attempts to traffic in goods or services and knowingly uses a counterfeit mark could be fined up to $2 million, face up to 10 years in prison or both.

In March 2006, President Bush signed the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act into law, strengthening laws against trading counterfeit labels and packaging as well as penalties for counterfeiters. It also gave prosecutors new tools, including requiring courts to order the destruction of all counterfeit products seized and ordering convicted counterfeiters to turn over their profits and pay reparations to their victims.

There also are organizations such as the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), whose mission is “to combat counterfeiting and piracy by promoting laws, regulations and directives designed to render the theft of intellectual property undesirable and unprofitable.” The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is composed of business and industry members. The IACC notes that counterfeiting costs United States business between $200 billion and $250 billion per year and represents approximately 5–7 percent of the world’s trade. In addition, the IACC said the global trade in counterfeit goods has increased dramatically in recent years, from approximately $5.5 billion in 1982 to $600 billion in 2008.

International cooperation

There is increasing cooperation in the international community to stop the trade in counterfeit products. The France-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently completed a 30-nation study to determine what countries are doing a good job in combating intellectual property theft. The top performing countries were the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan. China and Russia bear significant responsibility for the international trade of counterfeit products, followed by India, Brazil and Indonesia. It has been estimated that approximately 20 percent of all products currently being manufactured in China are counterfeit products, often supported by organized crime and international pirates. In 2005, almost 70 percent of the counterfeit products seized at United States borders were found to have originated in China.

The insurance industry also is hurt by counterfeit electrical products. General liability and completed operations policies inevitability will evolve to address the increased risks associated with counterfeit products. Insurance carriers face huge exposures to claims involving personal injury or property damage associated with a failed counterfeit product. The obvious solution for insurance carriers is to add exclusions to the policies to eliminate coverage for counterfeit products used by their insureds, or if coverage is to be provided, there will be large premium increases associated with purchasing such coverage.

The electrical industry must band together to stop the flow of counterfeit products into the marketplace. Those in the electrical industry should actively support government agencies and local law enforcement in the prevention of trafficking in counterfeit products. Aggressive pursuit of the offshore manufacturers of counterfeit products also is needed.

The World Trade Organization is actively combating the illicit trade in counterfeit goods. With international cooperation and expanding free trade agreements, the ability to prevent the marketing of counterfeit products across international borders is improving with time. In addition, extradition treaties are making it possible to reach criminal counterfeiters in foreign countries and bring them to justice. Counterfeiting hurts workers, undercuts honest competition and rewards illegal competitors while exposing the public to serious health and safety risks, including property damage. The electrical industry needs to use its resources in concert to combat this threat.    

Ferguson is the vice president of administration, general counsel and secretary of Babcock Power Inc. with responsibility for all of the legal affairs of the company. He specializes in construction law.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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Update: The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act


By ronald rucker and ben mcintosh

The electrical supply channel can better protect itself from counterfeit products by sharing information and encouraging active prosecution of counterfeiters around the globe.

 ‘‘Counterfeiting is the new drugs,” said Barbara Kolsun, former chair of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Kolsun may be on to something: Some estimate that counterfeiting represents more than 5 percent of all world trade and costs the federal government $200 billion per year. Global counterfeit products total $500 billion per year, while the FBI believes pirating and counterfeiting cause U.S. companies to lose $250 billion per year.

The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act became law on March 16, 2006. Among other things, it aimed to strengthen the nation’s counterfeiting laws by eliminating loopholes exploited by criminals. While there are only a few significant court cases interpreting the act, the cases can help one determine whether more legislation is needed.

In the case of United States v. Beydoun, the U.S. Fifth Circuit court held that a counterfeiter’s jail sentence would be determined, at least in part, by the number of counterfeit items produced, rather than the number actually sold.

Wajdi Abdulaziz Beydoun and his associates imported cigarette rolling papers falsely labeled as “Zig-Zags,” a registered U.S. Trademark. Beydoun was apprehended by U.S. officials and pled guilty to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and trafficking in counterfeit goods. At the sentencing phase, the U.S. government sought to imprison Beydoun for 46 to 57 months, the severity of the punishment due in large part to the fact that the government believed the “infringement amount” exceeded $1 million. In addition to the jail time, the government asked the court to order Beydoun to pay $1.85 million in restitution to the owner of the Zig-Zag trademark.

The lower court agreed with the government’s estimate and sentenced Beydoun to 46 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. However, the court set restitution at $566,267, multiplying the 1 million counterfeit booklets by the trademark owner’s gross profit per booklet.

Beydoun appealed his sentence and the restitution order. Beydoun’s argument was that his sentence was too high because it was based on the lower court’s use of the number of counterfeit booklets produced. Beydoun felt that since 32,640 booklets were shipped for distribution, only that amount should be considered. The appeals court rejected Beydoun’s argument, reasoning that the issue was not how many counterfeited items Beydoun sold, but how many he produced with the intent to sell.

The court went on to state that since the crime of “trafficking in counterfeit goods” is complete when counterfeited items are produced with the intent to sell, it was proper to consider the 1 million counterfeit booklets made, not the 32,640 sold.

Beydoun also asked the court to set aside the lower court’s $566,267 restitution order. The court sided with Beydoun and held that the victim’s loss should be determined by multiplying the number of items actually put into the market by the victim’s lost net profit. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit decided that the lower court was wrong to determine the restitution amount by multiplying 1 million booklets by the trademark owner’s gross profit per booklet.

The Beydoun holding reveals that courts will do their part to make sure counterfeiters serve sentences equal to their crimes. Even though we have made strides in the fight against counterfeiting, it is clear that those within the electrical supply industry have to work together.

“Collaboration of all parties in the electrical supply channel is critical to keeping the supply channel clean,” said Clark Silcox, general counsel for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and an architect of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act. “By keeping the supply channel clean, we can protect the public from dangerous, inferior products while avoiding liability for items we didn’t manufacture.” 

Rucker is a managing shareholder in the law firm of Carmody MacDonald P.C., St. Louis, and serves as general counsel to NAED. He can be reached at 314.854.8677 or rer@carmodymacdonald.com. McIntosh is an associate with the law firm of Carmody MacDonald P.C., St. Louis. He can be reached at 314.854.8600 or bdm@carmodymacdonald.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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

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WHAT’s BEING DONE

By jeff gavin

United   We Stand—Divided We Fall;

An industry comes together to combat counterfeiting.

The alarm is sounding. Counterfeit electrical products threaten everybody. With the safety and integrity of the electrical manufacturing and supply industry at risk, chief associations, manufacturers, and testing and standards-making bodies have formed the Anti-Counterfeit Products Initiative.

Sponsored by major manufacturers who aggressively fight counterfeit goods, including Schneider Electric/Square D and Siemens, initiative endorsers to date include the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Several of the associations had been campaigning against counterfeit electrical products before the initiative. The AntiCounterfeit Products Initiative will pool these existing efforts, share them throughout the supply chain and create new efforts (e.g., this special supplement), all under the initiative banner.

“We’re really at the beginning stages of our information campaign,” said Edward M. Orlet, director of development for NAED, St. Louis. “The effort will spread information about pirated electrical goods in a comprehensive way, so it reaches salespeople, field people and the consumer.”

What’s at stake

The initiative’s first industry event, “Counterfeit Products: Are You Liable?”, was a roundtable discussion presented at the 2008 NECA Convention and Trade Show in Chicago. Representatives from manufacturers and UL presented in stark terms the liability counterfeit goods present. Panel moderator John Maisel, publisher of NECA’s Electrical Contractor magazine, started the discussion with sobering words.

“This is a multimillion-dollar problem. Not only is there a loss of dollars for manufacturers, electrical contractors and distributors, but there is a loss of image, as well. More important than either of those is the loss of life when a knockoff product causes a fire or electrocutes a homeowner,” he said.

The panel spoke directly to electrical contractors, distributors and others who can protect themselves from unknowingly acquiring these goods.

Panel speakers included Kevin Yates, vice president, Residential Products Division, Siemens Energy & Automation; Stephen Litchfield, assistant general counsel, Schneider Electric/Square D; Bob Crane, lead enforcement specialist, Underwriters Laboratories; and William Ferguson, vice president of administration and general counsel for Babcock Power Inc. For panelists, the first tool in the anti-counterfeiting effort is education.

Yates said an estimated $250 billion in revenue is lost in this country due to counterfeit products. What share of that represents electrical products is hard to gauge, but other than pharmaceuticals, they remain the riskiest of pirated products.

“If you choose to install a product that is not genuine but counterfeit and causes harm, you can be held liable for personal damages and possibly face imprisonment,” Yates said. “Distributors face liability as well, especially if they purchase known counterfeit products.”

Ferguson, a former electrical contractor before entering law, fine-tuned the point.

“You will be sued for breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence, perhaps internal misrepresentation, strict liability or fraud,” he said. “Criminal liability would be leveled if you intentionally or someone in your organization conspired to bring counterfeit product into your company. In the U.S., it is not ‘a slap on the wrist’ like it is in China and other countries. You could face 10 years in prison, $5 million in fines and $10 million for the company for a first offense.”

All panel participants emphasized that the “I didn’t know” defense offers little protection in court.

“The manufacturer is in the business of protecting their good name and reputation,” Ferguson said. “However, if a counterfeiter sends a product in the United States that you purchase and/or install, these manufacturers will not be liable because they did not manufacture the product. If they can show that, they are out of the lawsuit.”

“The closer you are to the end of the supply chain, the more liability you have,” Yates said. “The electrical contractor actually has the highest liability in the supply chain.”

The potential of physical harm or property damage due to counterfeit electrical products should scare anyone in the channel.

“We did some tests on counterfeit circuit breakers,” Litchfield said. “We discovered the counterfeits had a 3,200-amp short circuit rating instead of the expected 10,000-amp. They also exhibited erratic tripping and had no calibrations. The flexible connection inside the breaker was frayed and failed. The magnetic strip was inoperable. The breakers did not meet UL or any other standards. During a UL test, a short sent through a counterfeit circuit breaker caused a tremendous explosion with molten metal spraying across the room. And what if you had a dangerous electrical problem in your home that wasn’t caught because the counterfeit circuit breaker doesn’t trip?”

A brewing crisis

“The scale of the problem is so large that it is hard to measure success,” Orlet said. “When one law enforcement seizure closes a counterfeit manufacturing plant, another invariably opens. We need collective action to strike a stronger blow against the counterfeiting industry.”

Bernd Heinze, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Sequent Insurance Group, a claim, litigation management and auditing company, said it is hard to measure how many counterfeiters there are, but seizure statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shed some light.

“The agency, in a 2006 report, shared there were 14,000 seizures of counterfeit products, a 67 percent increase over the year previous. It is an $11 billion to $20 billion business globally, and a $300-$400 million business in the U.S. alone,” he said.

Sequent conducted a research study for NAED titled, “Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today’s Global Market.” It lays out the problem posed by electrical counterfeit goods, including the prevalence of low-cost producers, offshore product, the volume of product coming into the United States, and its effect on the entire supply chain.

“Many more companies can find sources for low-cost products than in the past,” Orlet added. “It’s hard to pass up a bargain, but you have to think through the possible consequences. The study details the potential danger to buyers and users of counterfeit product. Some distributors operate under a misperception that counterfeit products are the manufacturer’s problem. They need to understand that liability extends to the whole supply chain.”

Heinze has presented highlights of the paper at NAED events and through webinars. The research also was the focus of a three-part article in the June, July and August 2008 issues of TED magazine.

“Now that I’m aware of the size and damage caused by overseas counterfeit electrical products, I’ve become very passionate in the efforts to combat them,” Heinze said. “We need to raise awareness and confront head-on this war against people who surreptitiously destroy the legitimacy of the supply channel.”

Heinze said there are risks in doing business overseas, even in South America or Canada, with manufacturers infringing on the intellectual property rights of other companies’ goods in all regions and countries. Going after offshore counterfeiters may prove daunting.

“The mountain is steep and extremely difficult,” Heinze said. “These are criminals traced from U.S. Homeland Security. The pipeline that pays them involves money laundering by al-Qaeda, organized crime and others who finance these operations. It’s difficult going after them, but know you are not going it alone with groups like UL, manufacturers like Square D and Siemens, and the collective organizations that make up this new initiative.”

Associations take action

NEMA and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) have been addressing electrical counterfeiting over the past few years. The new initiative’s collective umbrella is an approach all members welcome to build awareness and add urgency.

“This issue really came to the fore when some for our members told us of dangerous ground-fault interrupters discovered in the New York area,” said Clark Silcox, general counsel for NEMA, Rosslyn, Va.

The NEMA Web site devotes an entire area to the counterfeiting issue. Educational brochures and videos, webinars and news on anti-counterfeiting progress are just a few of the features. ESFI has a similar wealth of information on its Web site. One tool of note is a joint NEMA/ESFI DVD entitled “Counterfeits Can Kill,” which addresses the problem as it affects several players in the supply chain.

“On the DVD is a counterfeit extension cord connected to a simple hair dryer,” Silcox said. “Within minutes, the cord is smoking. In a short time, it goes up in flames. Substandard performance in many other consumer goods from knockoff batteries for flash lights to no-name phone chargers is a danger we need to communicate to the consumer.”

ESFI is heading a consumer awareness effort.

“Awareness of counterfeit electrical products by consumers is almost nonexistent,” said Christopher Lindsay, director of programs for ESFI in Rosslyn, Va.Gallup created a report with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that revealed more than two-thirds of consumers were unaware that electrical products such as batteries and electrical cords were counterfeited.

“Our supporters who make up ESFI helped identify this counterfeiting issue as something that had to be front and center,” Lindsay said. “We all need to be working with legitimate supply channels, and we need to be aggressive in our vigilance against counterfeit products. This is a long-term effort as we look to change behavior on the supply chain. Right now, we need to let people know there is a problem. Awareness is everything.”

Silcox said to be diligent buying electrical products.

“One of the tricks counterfeiters use is announcing surplus products with a low purchase cost to move them. They play on a marketplace looking for a price point that can increase profit margins. Beware of such tactics,” he said.

What it will take

At the NECA panel discussion, participants shared what actions they have taken to combat the growing counterfeiting issue. A combination of surveillance, raids, tips and aggressive prosecutions have yielded results while exposing a problem that is bigger than anyone anticipated.

“United we stand. Divided we fall against the counterfeiters,” Crane said. “They don’t play by any rules, any boundaries, laws or regulations. Counterfeiting is high profit, low prosecution. The Internet allows for products to be shipped and sold anywhere in the world from undisclosed locations.”

The UL testing and certification mark is applied to an estimated 21 billion products every year. Though UL has seen its labels counterfeited for years, the numbers have escalated steadily with more products produced overseas.

“By the time counterfeit circuit breakers, toasters or extension cords find their way into your house, it’s too late,” Crane said. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve developed a relationship with U.S Customs and Border Protection agents, arming them with forensic tools and education to detect counterfeits entering the country. We have also helped train the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Department of Commerce to spot counterfeits. In cooperation with law enforcement agencies, we make undercover buys from known counterfeiters in this country and put these people behind bars. They are doing five to seven years and seeing penalties of $1 million or more.”

On the international front, UL works with international agencies such as Interpol, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and agencies from South America.

“Global cooperation will be increasingly important to applying real pressure on counterfeiters,” Silcox added.

Litchfield noted the importance of aggressive prosecution in their successes to date.

“In 2004, we undertook a clandestine buy from an unauthorized wholesaler,” he said. “Half of those products we bought were counterfeit. We filed suit against the wholesaler. We used that lawsuit and discovery process to find out whom they bought products from and whom they sold them to, then sued both those parties. We then used the discovery process in that suit to find out who those parties bought from and sued them as well.”

Square D has settled a number its counterfeit lawsuits, adding some very tough measures for the “losing” unauthorized wholesalers.

“The defendant must notify the Consumer Product Safety Commission that they were selling the counterfeit product,” Litchfield said. “They then have to do a recall and let their customers know they were sold counterfeit circuit breakers, then go out and retrieve them, even if they’ve been installed.”

Siemens Energy & Automation, Alpharetta, Ga., has its own forceful risk management plan.

“We aggressively register our patents, making it much more difficult for someone to counterfeit our product,” Yates said. “We have ‘secret shoppers’ within our distribution channel to investigate those that might be involved in this illicit behavior, and we bring them to justice. We are getting reports from the British Engineering Manufacturers Association, other groups within Siemens and anti-counterfeiting initiatives across the globe to help monitor what might be entering the U.S.

Lobbying in Washington also will play an important role in combating counterfeit electrical goods. While future specific legislative proposals remain to be identified, NEMA and others have already played an active role.

“We lobbied for and provided input into the drafting and passage in 2006 of the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act and the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, which President Bush signed into law [Oct. 14, 2008],” Silcox said. “IBEW [the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] was also one of the proponents of the Pro-IP Act, a bill that brought both business and labor together.”

The Pro-IP Act creates a new copyright enforcement division with the Department of Justice. It also allows law enforcement agents to seize property from copyright violators.

Clark added that state enforcement laws need improvement, as most enforcement takes place at the local level.

“This is one area where NECA and NAED’s local presence might prove important. NEMA has been working with the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition and the International Trademark Association to support model state legislation.”

An observant eye

The danger with today’s counterfeits is that, to the untrained eye, they look like the real thing.

A joint print advertisement by NAED and NEMA shows a genuine manufacturer’s circuit breaker beside an offshore knockoff. They look alike. The problem is the counterfeit is merely a toggle switch with no trip mechanism or subsequent circuit protection. The ad implores the reader to “Get your electrical products from an authorized dealer.”

Orlet said, although more counterfeiters are being prosecuted, there still is work to be done.

“It is practically impossible to catch every counterfeiter. Therefore, everyone in the supply chain should have a comprehensive risk management strategy, which starts with ‘deal only with trusted suppliers’,” he said.

In response, the Anti-Counterfeit Product Initiative has launched its own Web site (www.counterfeitscankill.com). This Web site features white papers, position statements, webinars and panel discussions. Highlights include a video of the panel discussion “Counterfeit Products: Are You Liable?” Slated for January 2009 is a follow-up anti-counterfeit webinar. The site also features direct links to the initiative partners’ respective sites including participating associations, sponsors, testing and certification, and government organizations.         

GAVIN is the owner of Gavo Communications, a marketing services firm serving the construction, landscaping and related design industries. He can be reached at gavo7@comcast.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

&

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

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3M to Outline Actions to Address Uncertain Global Economy

Company Adjusts 2008 Guidance; Provides 2009 Outlook

At an institutional investor and analyst meeting in New York later today, 3M chairman, president and CEO George Buckley will reiterate the company’s long-term commitment to investing in its core businesses and will outline ongoing actions to address a turbulent global economy.

Buckley will reaffirm 3M’s commitment to its core businesses and to continued investments in emerging markets, such as China, India, the Middle East and Latin America, and its efforts to improve its supply chain and capital efficiency.

He will also report on aggressive cost-reduction actions in developed economies. These actions include additional restructuring in these markets, deferred merit increases, aggressively reducing indirect costs and adjusting capital expenditures.

“Clearly, the current market challenges require intense focus on cash management and on strengthening 3M’s operational execution,” said Buckley. “3M’s strong financial position, our continued investment in R&D and our operational discipline will allow us to take advantage of market opportunities in this environment.”

In the fourth quarter alone, 3M reduced nearly 1,800 positions across the company, mainly in the developed economies of the U.S., Western Europe and Japan. These actions are expected to provide benefits of $170 million in 2009. The company is also rationalizing 10 manufacturing, technical and office facilities around the world.

“During these difficult economic times, we will continue to aggressively manage our costs,” added Buckley. “We are prepared to implement additional restructuring as economic conditions dictate.”

As a result of economic realities such as the expected 10% decline in Q4 organic volume and the negative effects of currency, the company adjusted its full-year 2008 guidance from an earlier estimate of $5.40 - $5.48 per share to a revised estimate of $5.10 - $5.15 per share, excluding special items. Refer to 3M’s October 21, 2008 press release for a complete list and explanation of special items for the first nine months of 2008.

Given the uncertain duration and depth of the global slowdown, the company estimates full-year 2009 organic volumes to decline in the range of -3% to -7%. In addition, foreign exchange impacts are expected to reduce sales in the range of -6% to -7%. 2009 earnings are estimated to be in the range of $4.50 to $4.95 per share and margins are expected to be consistent with 2008 levels, excluding special items.

About 3M

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M’s core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms – often in combination – to a wide array of customer needs. With $24 billion in sales, 3M employs 79,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 60 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com.

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2009 International CES Launches

Daily Profiles to Feature First Time Exhibitors Bringing New Products and Ideas to CES Show Floor

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® today launched "30 Days of Innovation: The Countdown to CES," a new program marking 30 days until the start of the 2009 International CES by highlighting each day one of the more than 300 innovative companies that are exhibiting for the first time this year. Produced by CEA, the International CES is the world's largest tradeshow for consumer technology and returns to Las Vegas, January 8-11, 2009.

"CES is fueled by innovative companies with entrepreneurial drive, and CES helps them to make a name for themselves," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "In these economic times, technology companies understand that the International CES is the most cost-effective way to meet customers, buyers, media and investors in one place. The 2009 CES will feature more than 2,700 global exhibitors, exemplifying the spirit of entrepreneurship that enables our industry to grow and thrive, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the 2009 International CES."

The "30 Days of Innovation" campaign profiles a new company each day from among more than 300 companies that will display their innovations for the first time at the 2009 CES. The daily profiles can be found at www.CESweb.org/30days .

The 2009 International CES will feature the next generation of consumer technology innovations across 1.7 million net square feet of space and 30 product categories including digital entertainment, gaming, in-vehicle technologies, digital imaging and more. For more information on the 2009 International CES, including exhibitors and registration information, visit www.CESweb.org , the interactive site for CES-related news and information.

Note to Journalists:
General press and analyst registration, as well as detailed press conference information, is available at www.CESweb.org. Journalists are encouraged to arrive in Las Vegas by Tuesday, January 6, to take advantage of all the CES press events, including CES Unveiled from 4-7 p.m. on January 6.

About CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $173 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES - Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA's industry services. Find CEA online at www.CE.org.

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Using the Noyes M650 Mid-Size QUAD OTDR nd C880 QUAD Certification Test Kit

AFL Telecommunications introduces the M650 mid-size QUAD OTDR and the C880 QUAD Certification test kit − two new products with a host of capabilities!

The M650 is a full-featured, compact QUAD OTDR with an integrated visual light source and optical power meter with a large transflective touch screen display suitable for both indoor and outdoor operation. With short dead zone and intermediate range specifications, the M650 is ideal for Tier 2 testing of premises networks. 

Combining two C840 certification testers, the C880 QUAD certification test kit is designed for testing and troubleshooting both multimode and single-mode fiber links. Ideal for Tier 1 testing and certification to TIA/ISO/EN/User cabling standards and applications, each tester includes a single-mode and multimode optical light source, an optical power meter and an integrated visual light source, each of which can be used independently.

For additional information including detailed product information, visit www.AFLtele.com/go/M650 and www.AFLtele.com/go/C880

About AFL Telecommunications
AFL Telecommunications is an industry leader in providing fiber optic products, engineering expertise and integrated services to the Electric Utility, Broadband, Telco, OEM, Private Network and Wireless markets. It has operations in the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. AFL Telecommunications is a division of Fujikura Ltd. of Japan

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Anritsu intros 40G/100G tester

Anritsu Company (search for Anritsu) has introduced options for its MP1800 Series that further position its signal quality analyzers as the most accurate, repeatable, and cost-efficient test options for analyzing optical and digital devices operating up to 100G, say company representatives.

The new plug-in cards--a 28-Gbps one-channel MUX/DEMUX, 28-Gbps two-channel MUX/DEMUX, 14-Gbps PPG/ED, and 14-GHz Clock Distributor--are easily integrated into the MP1800 and provide designers and manufacturers of optical modulation devices/components and other digital devices with a single, easy-to-use offering for testing their high-speed products, contends Anritsu.

The new cards take advantage of the MP1800's modular platform architecture and help create a flexible test environment for ultra high-speed bit error rate (BER) measurement. With the options, the MP1800 can evaluate next-generation IFs supporting frequencies up to 28 Gbps; direct-drive EML using high-quality, high-amplitude waveforms up to 3.5 Vp-p; and skew, emphasis, and crosstalk effects up to 28 Gbps. Anritsu says it has developed the MUX/DEMUX modules with all the key functions and performances required for accurate testing of optical modulation formats, as well as 40G and 100G designs.

Generating what the company claims are the highest quality waveforms in its class, the MP1800 Series ensures high measurement repeatability and an excellent margin for error when analyzing devices under test. The best-in-class performance makes the MP1800 Signal Quality Analyzers well suited for a variety of high-speed design and manufacturing applications, claim company representatives including:

• 100-Gbps Ethernet -- The MP1800 supports four 25-Gbps outputs to drive four channels of CWDM, as required in IEEE 802.3ba (draft), from a single chassis. Previously, multiple instruments were necessary. Additionally, the signal quality analyzers can drive four channels for DP-QPSK modulation as recommended by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), with high-precision skew control for I and Q on both polarizations.

• Long-haul 40-Gbps transmission -- From a single MP1800 chassis, two independent 20-Gbps outputs with excellent skew control can be outputted for devices that utilize DQPSK modulation. The MP1800 can also control the crosspoint of optical modulators, making it well suited for directly driving optical modulators, says Anritsu.

• Ultra-fast interconnects -- Tests critical to the accurate evaluation of high-speed optical interconnects, such as skew toleration and the impact of crosstalk, can be conducted with the MP1800. A built-in jitter modulation function supports what Anritsu claims is the world's first jitter tolerance testing up to 25 Gbps.

The MP1800 Series offers multiple configurations, starting from a price of $40,000, and the new modules are available today.

http://lw.pennnet.com/display_article/348205/13/ARTCL/Display/none/1/Anritsu-intros-40G/100G-tester/?dcmp=LWDENL


Visit Anritsu Company

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Belden to cut 1,800 jobs worldwide as demand softens for its products

Belden Inc., a St. Louis-based electronics-components maker, said it plans to cut 1,800 jobs worldwide, or 20 percent of its workforce, and consolidate some manufacturing operations, as demand for its products has continued to soften.

Belden, which makes cables, connectors and other products for signal transmission, said the restructuring, announced Wednesday evening, is aimed at streamlining its manufacturing, sales and administrative functions worldwide. It wasn't clear where the manufacturing consolidations would occur, and a calls to the company weren't immediately returned.

The restructuring is expected to save $30 million next year and $50 million annually starting in 2011.

The company expects to post between $55 million and $65 million, or 85 cents to $1 per share, in restructuring charges, some in the current quarter. The charges include severance and other costs of $35 million to $40 million.

Chief Executive John Stroup blamed the company's woes on a continued softening in it major markets globally, and said that made it "necessary for us to further adjust our cost structure so that we can continue to be competitive under such conditions."

In October, Belden said it expected economic conditions to remain challenging and cut its 2008 revenue outlook.

Stroup, however, said Wednesday in a statement that "with Belden's liquidity, strong balance sheet and history of generating strong free cash flow, we are well-positioned to capture market share and successfully execute other strategic initiatives even in a challenging market."

Belden's shares gained 2 cents to $18.30 in Thursday morning trading.

On the Net: http://www.belden.com

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Canada’s Mississauga Training organization available for sale

After 14 years training fiber optic installers William Graham is retiring from the training business. The old bones are starting to give out.
Mississauga Training has trained over 2,400 Certified FOA installers in Canada alone and several hundred in the US, Caribbean and Scotland. Mississauga Training was certified as a Fiber optic association (FOA) School in 1997 as # 008.

It is a great way to start doing business in Canada. The week of December 8 - 12th our five-day course had 14 students. The October course had 12 students. Over 40% of our yearly sales are from the sale of Fiber Optic tools and test equipment. There is an untapped market for this in Canada.

While we have kept this one-man business alive over the years we have never really driven it. And there is a terrific potential for anyone who wishes to put the effort into the business.  Our customers are on our web site at  www.fiberoptictraining.com  and include the military, Telcos, cable TV companies, government departments and dozens of others.

A search on Google for fiber optic training also produces great first page web site results.

Any company or individual interested in purchasing this business is invited to call William Graham at:  905-785-8012 or e-mail me at:  mrfiber@canada.com. Mr. Graham added “I will offer a new owner my full support for a few months to ensure a seamless transition.”

William Graham, CFOS/T/C/S
6117 Clover Ridge Crescent, Mississauga, Ontario, L5N 7B2
905-785-8012
Alternate e-mail:  mr.bill.graham@sympatico.ca
www.fiberoptictraining.com 
We stock the largest stock of Fiber Optic hand tools in the GTA
Check our website for prices and course dates.

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Fiber Optic Training And the Recession

Mississauga Training Consultants has been in the Fiber Optic Training business for more than 12 years. We are based in Ontario, Canada but have conducted training courses from Northern Scotland to the Caribbean. We have certified over 2,400 fiber optic installers http://www.fiberoptictraining.com/installersx.html through the universally accepted Fiber Optic Association certification programs.  Our customer base numbers over 150 companies http://www.fiberoptictraining.com/clients.html   including Telcos, Cable Television providers, Electrical/Hydro utilities and Canadian Government departments. And yes we went through the recession that amplified itself with 9/11 and lasted for several years. We survived but many others did not.

Are we going to suffer the same effects with the existing recession? That is the question that everyone is asking, including myself.  My view is that we will not see a drop in training but perhaps an increase.  Why? Well there are several reasons;

1.)     Most copper installers realize that copper has reached its limit although, amazingly enough I know some unhappy copper installers who are burdened with “Category 7.

2.)     Fiber to the home is taking off at an unstoppable pace. People are getting triple play on fiber for fewer dollars and speeds several hundred times faster. How can they not go fiber.

3.)     Communications in Canada have always been more important and a major national industry since the invention of the Telephone at Alexander Graham Bell’s parent’s home in Brantford, Ontario. There are Fiber Optic links holding communities together for 6000 Km  from east to west and from our southern boundaries to the farthest points north.

4.)     Canada is the most connected country in the world with the world’s highest levels of  universal telephone service. Why Canadians have greater access to cable television service than  people of any other nation. 

Communications play a large role in all modern societies - they are particularly important to Canada.

Canadian geography, population distribution, and political organization have always required effective communication systems.  Canada's population spreads across 6,000 km from sea to sea to sea.  Communications are one of the major threads holding this country together.

Canada has excellent communications.  Canada has one of the world's highest levels of universal telephone service.  Canadian communication systems include satellite communications, national data networks, optical fibre networks, cellular telephony, cable TV, and virtually universal Internet access. 

Statistically in the 4th quarter of 2008 we trained more Fiber Optic Installer than any quarter since 2001, The Local October class was the largest since 2001, the December class exceeded the October numbers with a full January class booked before Christmas, 2008 and registrations for February, 2009.

However, while this helps the bottom line and I can’t refuse business, I do want to get out of this business. Why?,  well two reasons;  first of all I’m closer to seventy than 65 and secondly because the bones are giving out and the ailments that come with this age are descending rapidly upon me.  I’m looking for a buyer for the business, web site, packaged courses, customer lists and goodwill.

I do want the business to survive and with someone with more fire it will grew at whatever rate they wish.  I will help them accomplish this to whatever extent necessary as long as I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My definition of the light at the end of the tunnel is salt water, sand and warm temperatures.

William Graham, CFOS/

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Corning Expects T0 Sale Back Operations In '09

Corning expects to scale back operations amid ongoing economic slump; job cuts possible

Glass and ceramics company Corning Inc. is expected to report Tuesday that it plans to scale back operations in 2009 as most of its business segments struggle amid the ongoing economic slump.

In addition to previously announced plans to reduce capacity in the LCD-TV business and to reduce capital spending, Corning is considering consolidating manufacturing capacity and reducing operating expenses to be flat or lower than 2008 levels, as well as possible job cuts. Corning will provide an update on its decisions in January when it releases fourth-quarter results.

Corning expects to reduce 2009 capital spending to $1.1 billion, of which about $450 million stems from construction completed in 2008.

Speaking at a technology conference sponsored by Barclays, James B. Flaws, vice chairman and chief financial officer, is also expected to report that retail sales of LCD televisions in the U.S. for November were ahead of last year.

Additionally, some of the more recent monthly sales data from outside the U.S. was stronger than expected. In Japan, sales of liquid-crystal-display TV units rose 28 percent year-over-year in November. In Europe, preliminary estimates for October suggest sales increased 29 percent year-over-year, the company said.

"The demand level is lower than we had forecast earlier this year, but if this level continues, it should help correct the supply chain imbalance," Flaws said in a statement provided by the company ahead of the presentation. "We believe we could see increasing demand starting in the second quarter of 2009."

However, despite the recent strength of retail sales, the company is still correcting for excess inventory, and expects to reduce glass prices at a higher rate than in recent years during the first quarter.

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Danaher issues 2009 guidance days after announcing cuts and lowering 2008 outlook

Danaher Corp., which makes bar code readers, medical products and Sears' Craftsman tools, issued its guidance for 2009 Thursday, saying it massive restructuring has positioned the company well for the upcoming year.

Danaher expects to earn $3.70 to $4.10 for the 2009 fiscal year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected the company to earn $4.10 for the year.

On Monday, the company cut its fourth-quarter and 2008 guidance as well as announcing plans to cut 1,700 jobs and close 13 facilities, citing weak global economic conditions.

Danaher President and Chief Executive Officer H. Lawrence Culp Jr. said in a statement that the company has taken "significant steps to prepare our businesses for what we believe will be a difficult year ahead. However, despite the current economic backdrop, we believe we are well positioned for 2009."

Danaher CEO Comments on Outlook

-- Danaher Corporation commented today on the performance outlook of the company for 2009. President and Chief Executive Officer H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. communicated the company expects 2009 earnings per share to be in the range of $3.70 to $4.10.

Danaher Corporation is a leading manufacturer of Professional Instrumentation, Medical Technologies, Industrial Technologies, and Tools and Components (http://www.danaher.com/).

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Dow Chemical cuts 5000 jobs and will close 20 plants

The good news is Dow Chemical isn't cutting its dividend. The bad news is that the company is slashing jobs and closing plants to compensate.

On Monday, Dow Chemical became the newest company to take the ax to its payroll, announcing it would slash 5,000 full-time jobs, or about 11.0% of its workforce. It will also close 20 plants and sell several businesses in an effort to control costs during the difficult business environment. (See "Congratulations, It's A Recession.")

In addition, Dow will temporarily idle 180 plants and cut 6,000 contractors from its payroll. In all, the chemical maker expects the cuts to save about $700.0 million by 2010.

Dividends are often an easy target for companies looking to cut costs. Not for Dow, though. In October Geoffery Merszei, Dow's chief financial officer, insisted the firm would further the company's 388 consecutive quarters of upholding or raising its dividend. (See "Dow Chemical Defends Its Dividend.") Its quarterly dividend has held to 42 cents since June of 2007.

Investors pushed up the stock 4.5%, or 86 cents, to $19.86, shortly after the market opened Monday. Over the past three months, the Midland, Mich.-based firm has lost 43.4% of its market value, and 42.6% over the past year.

Dow's announcement furthers the massive payroll purge occurring throughout the U.S. economy. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported nonfarm payroll employment fell 533,000 during the month of November, pushing the unemployment rate to 6.7%, from October's 6.5%. (See "U.S. Layoffs Surge in November.")

Within the industry, Dow rival DuPont said last week it would cut 2,500 jobs, and warned it wouldn't be able to turn a profit.

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DuPont to cut 2,500 jobs, trim 4,000 contractors + AT&T Inc. plans to cut 12,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its work force

AT&T Inc. joined the recession's parade of layoffs Thursday by announcing plans to cut 12,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its work force.

The Dallas-based telecommunications company -- the nation's largest -- said the job cuts will take place in December and throughout 2009. The company also plans to reduce capital spending next year.

Spokesman Walt Sharp said the layoffs will be "across the company and across the country," but would not specify what departments and cities would be most affected. These layoffs come on top of 4,600 jobs the company said in April it would eliminate.

The new cuts come as AT&T finds itself pulled by two currents at once. Not only is the recession leading businesses and consumers to curtail spending, but a long-term trend in the telecom industry is also at play: AT&T, which provides local phone coverage in California, Texas and 20 other states, has been seeing many customers defect from landline phones to wireless services.

In the last quarter, AT&T basic voice lines in service dropped 11 percent.

Reflecting that shift, the company noted Thursday that even as it slashes some jobs, it would still be hiring in 2009 in parts of the business that offer cell phone service and broadband Internet access. AT&T, whose shares are down about 30 percent this year -- while the Dow Jones industrial average is off 35 percent -- remains profitable, and benefits from being the sole U.S. wireless carrier for Apple Inc.'s popular iPhone.

AT&T plans to take a charge of about $600 million in the fourth quarter to pay for severance costs. The company noted that many of its non-management employees have guaranteed jobs because of union contracts. All affected workers will receive severance "in accordance with management policies or union agreements," the company said.

Its shares were down 2.5 percent in pre-market trading, at $28.35.

DuPont warns of quarterly loss, to cut 2,500 jobs Thursday December 4, 2008, 9:49 am EST NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chemical maker DuPont (NYSE:DD - News) said on Thursday it expects to post a fourth-quarter loss and will cut 2,500 jobs as a steep drop in construction, car sales and consumer spending hurt its business.

The slump in the U.S. automotive markets has hurt DuPont badly, as it is one of the largest suppliers of paints to automakers. The Wilmington, Delaware-based company has also been stymied by the collapse in the U.S.

housing market, as it supplies chemicals like Corian and Tyvek used in home building.

The freeze in the global credit markets, a recession in many developed economies and a sharp slowdown in many emerging regions have further crimped growth for DuPont and its peers, which have relied heavily on emerging economies for growth in recent quarters.

The company, whose shares fell 8.3 percent in premarket trade, said it was targeting cost cuts for 2009 of $600 million, up from its previous goal of $200 million.

That improvement is on top of $130 million in cost reductions expected from its restructuring plan that will result in a charge of $500 million in the fourth quarter.

DuPont expects a fourth-quarter loss of 20 to 30 cents per share excluding one-time items, a sharp turnabout from the earnings of 20 to 25 cents it previously expected.

Analysts has expected the company to post earnings of 23 cents per share in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

JOB CUTS

The chemical maker said the 2,500 job cuts, which represent about 4.2 percent of its workforce, will occur in businesses that service the automobile and construction markets in Western Europe and the United States.

DuPont is also cutting the jobs of 4,000 contractors by year-end 2008 with additional contractor reductions in 2009.

In addition, the company is implementing work schedule reductions at select locations, adjusting production to market conditions and redeploying more than 400 employees to projects aimed at lowering operating costs.

For 2009, the company said its earnings would be between $2.25 and $2.75 per share.

The planned job cuts would come mostly in businesses that support the motor vehicle and construction markets in Western Europe and the United States.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha and Matt Daily, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Derek Caney)

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New Electronic Templates for RHINO 6000 and 6500 Label Printers Speed Labeling of SMP Connectivity Products

RHINO Professional Labeling Tools, a brand of DYMO and part of Newell Rubbermaid’s Technology business unit, announced today a product collaboration with SMP Data Communications. This support includes the development and distribution of pre-formatted electronic templates and was formed from a mutual goal of making the labeling of structured cabling systems easier and more efficient for installers.

Specifically, the collaboration between RHINO and SMP has resulted in electronic templates that allow the RHINO 6000 and RHINO 6500 label printers to quickly format labels for SMP connectivity products, including patch cords, faceplates, patch panels, 110 blocks, and other structured cabling system components. The electronic templates can be downloaded for free from RHINO’s website, www.rhinolabeling.com and imported into RHINO CONNECT software. Label information can then be entered into the template either manually or directly from a Windows-based PC application, then printed out onto labels that specifically fit SMP components.

“We are pleased and excited to be working with SMP Data Communications,” stated Rob Rosenquist, Director of Sales and Channel Marketing for RHINO. “SMP is a leader in connectivity components and RHINO label printers are a leader in marking and identifying these components. It was a natural fit that we work together to help installers accomplish this task faster, easier, and more cost-efficiently.”

“With the Rhino templates for SMP components, we are pleased to give installers a means to have a complete standards compliant solution that includes meeting the TIA 606 labeling requirements,” stated Brad Everette, Vice President of Sales – Western Region.  

SMP Data Communications, formerly Superior Modular Products, is a part of the Optical Cable Corporation family. SMP is an international leader in the designing and manufacturing of quality innovative copper and fiber connectivity components. It provides superior structured cabling solutions for the data communications market.

RHINO is the industrial brand of DYMO and part of Newell Rubbermaid’s Technology business unit. RHINO label printers are engineered with features that enable installers to label datacom and other systems quickly and easily, such as PC-connectivity, pre-programmed terms and symbols, built-in memory, instant “Hot Key” label formatting, industrial-strength labels and more.

About RHINO

RHINO is a brand of DYMO, a Newell Rubbermaid technology company.

Newell Rubbermaid’s innovative global technology solutions enable businesses, educational institutions, and consumers to more efficiently share, manage and organize information. Our global technology brands are organized around four platforms: The Specialty Printing and Labeling Platform includes DYMO® label/CD/DVD printers and file scanning software (www.dymo.com) and RHINO Industrial Labeling Systems (www.rhinolabeling.com). The Analog to Digital Platform includes CardScan® business card scanners and contact management software featuring AtYourService™ (www.cardscan.com), and DYMO File™, software that transforms paper documents into organized archives of electronic files (www.dymofile.com). The Internet Postage Platform includes endicia™ online shipping, mailing and customized postage solutions (www.endicia.com) and (www.pictureitpostage.com). The Classroom Technology Platform includes mimio™ interactive whiteboards and digital ink recorders (www.mimio.com). These technology brands join a rich heritage of brands at Newell Rubbermaid including Calphalon®, EXPO®, Goody®, Graco®, Irwin®, Lenox®, Paper Mate®, Parker®, Rolodex®, Rubbermaid®, Sharpie® and Waterman®.

If you would rather not receive future email messages from Optical Cable Corporation, let us know by clicking here.
Optical Cable Corporation, 33 Superior Way, Swannanoa, NC 28778 United States

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Electrical Contractor magazine Initiative Finds Decorations among Counterfeit Electrical Products

Counterfeit Christmas lights -- including those with fake Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) labels -- pose a threat to consumers for their potential inability to meet electrical safety and fire codes. The traditional holiday decorations are part of the rapidly growing crime of counterfeit electrical products in the United States -- 90+ percent of which are imported from China. Now reaching epic proportions in a $130 billion industry, counterfeiting is a crime that threatens the lives and safety of all U.S. citizens and electrical workers.

"Underwriters Laboratories Inc., like many other Intellectual Property Rights and Trademark owners, has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of counterfeited products and trademark labels on those products in the past, several years," said Robert Crane, lead enforcement manager, Anti-Counterfeiting Operations, UL, Chapel Hill, N.C. "For several decades, UL has integrated security features in many of its labels."

Crane participated in a panel discussion as part of the new Anti-Counterfeit Products Initiative hosted by Electrical Contractor magazine, published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md. at http://www.ecmag.com, and The Electrical Distributor (TED) magazine published by the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), St. Louis. The new, joint industry initiative is endorsed by NAED, NECA and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

A few warning signals for counterfeit lighting include surprisingly low prices, unusual labeling or certification marks and a lack of sales tax on a receipt since counterfeiters generally don't report their sales. Consumers should also be aware of street vendors and unauthorized dealers.

Crane said that holographic labels were developed to further thwart the piracy of UL labels, with the first holograms introduced in 1993 for decorative lighting strings and outfits. Since the holograms were so successful, he said that additional categories for products manufactured in China also required holographic labels and more requirements were added this year including the newest gold holograms.

Published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., Electrical Contractor magazine delivers 85,300+ electrical contractors and more than 68,000 electrical contracting locations, more than any other industry publication. Telephone: (301) 657-3110. Web site: http://www.ecmag.com.

SOURCE Electrical Contractor magazine

http://www.ecmag.com

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New SimpliFiber® Pro Optical Power Meter and Fiber Test Kits Cut Manpower Requirements, Testing Time in Half

Fluke Networks’ new fiber test methods are optimized for front-line installers and technicians, increasing productivity while lowering equipment costs

Fluke Networks, provider of innovative Network SuperVision Solutions™ for the testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, announced today the new SimpliFiber® Pro Optical Power Meter and Fiber Test Kits.  These new fiber test products allow a single technician to quickly perform tasks that previously required a two-person team.  Furthermore, the SimpliFiber Pro’s ability to perform loss testing simultaneously at dual wavelengths – and save both measurements into one record – increases efficiency by cutting test times in half.  The new SimpliFiber Pro Test Kits effectively double the productivity of network technicians testing fiber links; equipment costs are minimized by including value-added capabilities needed by front-line installers and technicians.

Users of the new SimpliFiber Pro Test Kits will benefit from the first-of-its-kind FindFiber™ capability.   By plugging the FindFiber Remote ID sources into ports of a remote patch panel, an individual technician can identify the physical location of cabling runs to ensure polarity and the correct location on each fiber drop at a central panel.  This time-saving feature enables a single technician to quickly perform double-ended testing – a job that formerly required multiple technicians and a talk set, one at each end of the link. 

Also new are the SimpliFiber Pro optical power meter and sources.  In addition to time-saving dual-wavelength testing, SimpliFiber Pro offers users a new CheckActive™ capability to quickly test whether a fiber is live.  The SimpliFiber Pro power meter emits an audible tone and displays and icon whenever a live fiber is detected. This is faster than plugging into a port and setting up a complete power measurement.

The SimpliFiber Pro optical power meter also offers a new Min/Max capability that automates the precise tracking of intermittent power fluctuations.  The new Min/Max function is considerably faster than legacy trial and error methods, saving time and user frustration.

Product availability
SimpliFiber Pro, a replacement for the existing and widely used SimpliFiber product line, is made up of four unique fiber platforms: the power meter, the multimode source, the singlemode source, and the FindFiber Remote ID sources.  Each platform is available separately, or in a number of kit configurations that also include passive optical or active video inspection microscopes, a visual fault locator, fiber optic cleaning materials and carrying cases.  The new SimpliFiber® Pro Optical Power Meter and Fiber Test Kits are available for immediate delivery from Fluke Networks sales partners worldwide.  For more details go to www.flukenetworks.com/simplifiberpro.

About Fluke Networks
Fluke Networks provides innovative solutions for the installation and certification, testing, monitoring and analysis of copper, fiber and wireless networks used by enterprises and telecommunications carriers. The company's comprehensive line of Network SuperVision™ Solutions provide network installers, owners, and maintainers with superior vision, combining speed, accuracy and ease of use to optimize network performance. Headquartered in Everett, Washington, the company distributes its products in more than 50 countries. More information can be found by visiting Fluke Networks’ Web site at www.flukenetworks.com  or by calling (800) 283-5853.

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GENERAL CABLE TO UNVEIL GenSPEED® 10 MTP
FEATURING MOSAIC CROSSBLOCK AT 2009 WINTER BICSI

General Cable (NYSE: BGC) will unveil its new GenSPEED® 10 MTP Category 6A 10 Gig cable, featuring the new Mosaic Crossblock technology, at the 2009 Winter BICSI in Orlando, Florida, January 18th through the 21st.  Mosaic Twisted Pair (MTP) technology provides an Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable that performs like a Shielded or Foiled Twisted Pair (STP/FTP) cable. 

“We are pleased to introduce a truly groundbreaking technology,” said Bob Kenny, Vice President and General Manager, Datacom Products, General Cable.  “With standards for
10 Gigabit over copper now complete, the timing of this innovation could not be better.”  Kenny went on to say, “End users will now have unprecedented headroom in a cable that has a significantly reduced footprint.  This is a game changer within our market.”

 If you are interested in eliminating Alien Crosstalk in your 10 Gigabit application, stop by General Cable's BICSI Booth #712 and ask for more details.

General Cable also manufactures a wide range of high performance GenSPEED® copper data communications cables and NextGen® Brand fiber optic cables. When visiting General Cable’s booth, also ask about our PanGen Structured Cabling Solutions which, in partnership with Panduit, provide market-focused open-architecture network infrastructure solutions, as well as our in-house armoring capabilities for datacom, fiber optic and electronic cables. Visit us on the Web at www.generalcable.com. General Cable … Delivering solutions that keep you connected.

General Cable (NYSE:BGC), headquartered in Highland Heights, Kentucky, is a leader in the development, design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable products for the energy, industrial, specialty and communications markets. The Company offers competitive strengths in such areas as breadth of product line, brand recognition, distribution and logistics, sales and service and operating efficiency.  Energy cables include low-, medium- and high-voltage power distribution and power transmission products. The Industrial and Specialty segment is comprised of application-specific cables for uses such as electrical power generation (traditional fuels, alternative and renewable sources, and distributed generation), the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, mining, industrial automation, marine, military and aerospace applications, power applications in the telecommunications industry, and other key industrial segments. Communications wire and cable products transmit low-voltage signals for voice, data, video and control applications. Visit our Web site at www.GeneralCable.com.

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Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Westex Sign Multi-Year Sponsorship Marketing Agreement with NECA

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) announced today that Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation and Westex, Inc. made multi-year commitments to NECA’s new elite-level Premier Partner sponsorship category. 

“We deeply appreciate these new long-term commitments made to our members and the electrical construction industry by Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Westex, Inc., companies that were already substantially involved with supporting the industry,” said NECA Chief Operating Officer Dan Walter.  “We welcome them to these new sponsorship positions with an enthusiastic sense of partnership as we work together to add value for NECA members and further advance the industry.”

The Premier Partner of NECA sponsorship category tops NECA’s new three-tier industry sponsorship structure.  It represents the most comprehensive business-to-business marketing and sales opportunity ever presented to reach the $130 billion electrical construction industry. 

As Premier Partners of NECA, Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Westex, Inc. will showcase their brands, products and services to the electrical construction industry through hundreds of NECA events, publications and digital platforms year-round, including the annual NECA Show, the industry’s premier trade show and gathering.  Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With commitments secured from Graybar, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Westex, Inc., the Premier Partner of NECA sponsorship category is now fully subscribed.  Comprehensive sponsorship opportunities are still available within NECA’s Official Partner and Official Supplier sponsorship categories.

Graybar (Graybar.com), headquartered in Clayton, Mo., has specialized in supply chain management services and the distribution of high-qualify components, equipment and materials for the electrical and telecommunications industries for more than 80 years.  Graybar procures, warehouses and delivers hundreds of thousands of electrical, communications and data products from thousands of manufacturers.  The company also offers Graybar ESP, an end-to-end electrical contractor workflow solution that improves a contractor’s labor efficiency, electrician safety and business productivity.

Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. (MilwaukeeTool.com), headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., is focused on building, selling and servicing the best heavy-duty electric power tools and accessories available to professional users with a product line that includes more than 500 signature-red power tools and 3,500 accessories.  Milwaukee Electric Tool sells its products and accessories worldwide primarily through full-line tool authorized distributors, home centers and hardware stores as well as through specialty suppliers, catalog companies and web-based retail firms.  The company was founded in 1924.

Westex, Inc. (Westexinc.com), established in 1919 and headquartered in Chicago, is the world’s largest manufacturer of durable flame resistant cotton and cotton blend fabrics for protective clothing.  Westex’s INDURA® Ultra Soft® and INDURA® fabrics are guaranteed flame resistant for the life of the garment with market-proven performance for over 20 years.   INDURA® Ultra Soft® is the premier fabric in the global marketplace today, specified by thousands of end-users with millions of garments in service worldwide for electric arc flash, flash fire and ferrous metal exposures. 

NECA  is the voice of the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light and communications technology to buildings and communities across the United States.  NECA has 4,500 member organizations and produces approximately 250 annual training, continuing education and business-management events.  NECA also has substantial publishing interests, including ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine, the leading publication for the industry's decision-makers who account for 90 percent of industry purchasing volume.

NECA’s sponsorship assets were valuated and packaged by its agency of record, SponsorLogic, Inc. (SponsorLogic.com), a sponsorship marketing firm based in Charlotte, N.C.  SponsorLogic President Mel Poole is marketing and managing the sponsorship assets of NECA.

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Harger’s Ultraweld® SureShot

Harger Lightning & Grounding proudly introduces their Ultraweld® SureShot which is re-defining the exothermic process. SureShot utilizes a copper container which is consumed along with the weld metal making for a superior exothermic connection. SureShot utilizes an electronic ignition system fired by a long lasting rechargeable battery controller. The unique ignition system also allows the user to maintain a safe distance from the reaction. Contact our Sales Department at 800-842-7437, email us at hargersales@harger.com or visit our website at www.harger.com.

Harger Lightning & Grounding is a leading manufacturer of lightning protection and grounding equipment, as well as exothermic welding materials for the communications and electrical industries.  Harger also provides design and engineering services and specializes in offering total systems solutions for their customers.

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HCM Introduces Category 7 (Class F) Cable

Manchester, NH, December 12, 2008 – 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 Category 7 (Class F) CMP cable. 

Tested to 600 MHz, the Category 7 cable has a construction that consists of 4 individually shielded twisted pairs surrounded by an overall braid shield.  This design permits the safe use of multiple applications, such as VOIP, Ethernet and video over one cable.   Currently available in a CMP construction, the cable is UL safety listed for use in plenum environments.

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.

To learn more about HCM products and where you can purchase them, please contact HCM toll free at 800-772-0116 or visit the HCM website at www.hcm.hitachi.com.

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Ideal In The News

IDEAL Introduces Telco Version of Popular BigFoot™ Ratcheting Cable Cutter

Building on the success of its original BigFoot™ ratcheting cable cutter introduced last year, IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. today introduced the new Telco BigFoot™ designed to let data communications installers easily cut up to 2,700 pair telephone cable and thick Stalpath® type communications cable with significantly less stress on their hands and forearms.

Installers who routinely cut large cables will appreciate the Telco BigFoot as a time and labor saving tool that reduces repetitive motion injuries. To use the Telco BigFoot, the contractor simply plants its over molded boot on the ground along with the cable being cut and then pushes down on the other handle, using the tool’s mechanical leverage in place of muscular force.

The IDEAL Telco BigFoot offers an unmatched combination of:

Hardened steel blades to achieve precision cuts and long-term durability

Rounded blade with five-tooth ratchet action to hold cable tight for minimal distortion

Compact dimensions for access into confined spaces

Quick release action to ease blade back-out

Locking mechanism to keep handles closed for safer storage

SmartGrip® ergonomic, slip resistant handles for sure grip, even when wet.

For more information, contact Ideal Industries, Inc., Becker Place, Sycamore, Illinois 60178. Or phone 1-800-435-0705, Fax: 1-800-533-4483. On the web, www.idealindustries.com.

ABOUT IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.
IDEAL has been serving the electrical industry since 1916. IDEAL is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of professional quality tools and supplies serving installation professionals in the construction, maintenance, data communications and original equipment manufacturing industries.

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IDEAL Expands PowerPlug™ Luminaire Disconnect Line

Code Complaint 3-Wire Disconnect Designed for Dimming & Switching

sycamore, il, October 28, 2008 – According to the National Electrical Code, non-residential fluorescent lighting fixtures must now have power disconnects to safeguard electricians from contact with live voltage while replacing ballasts.

In response to this code change (2008 National Electrical Code 410.130 G), IDEAL last year developed the code compliant PowerPlug™ disconnect. Once installed, this simple push in device allows electricians to cut off hot and neutral ballast wiring prior to fixture servicing, with the sought after benefit of preventing shock or electrocution. To re-power the fixture, the technician simply snaps the disconnect back together.

NEW 3-WIRE DISCONNECT

To better serve the varied needs of electricians, IDEAL today launched an expanded, improved line of PowerPlugs. The latest addition is a 3-wire model (3 Amp/120V) for switching and dimming, two popular features in commercial lighting. Fitting easily through a 1/2 inch knockout, the 3-wire disconnect is perfect for the required retrofitting of installed fixtures, as well as for lighting OEMs seeking to design code compliance into their fixtures.

Like all PowerPlug disconnects, the new 3-wire model has IDEAL’s patented “push-in” locking technology, a benefit that directly reduces manufacturing time, labor costs, and repetitive motion fatigue.  It minimizes insertion force for faster, easier terminations without twisting or the use of tools.  What’s more, the simple male-female construction passes UL1977 finger probe requirements, preventing the installer from touching hot contacts.

Immediately available, the 3-wire PowerPlug comes in contractor packages of 20, 50, 100 and 1,000.

For more information, contact Ideal Industries, Inc., Becker Place, Sycamore, Illinois 60178. Or phone 1-800-435-0705, Fax: 1-800-533-4483. On the web, www.idealindustries.com.

ABOUT IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.

Ideal has been serving the electrical industry since 1916. IDEAL is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of professional quality tools and supplies serving installation professionals in the construction, maintenance, data communications and original equipment manufacturing industries.

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IDEAL Announces Major Upgrade for SecuriTEST™ CCTV/Security Tester

-- New SecuriTEST PRO adds Video, Audio and Sync Testing, Additional PTZ Protocols, and New Lighter, Easier-to-Carry Housing Powered By
High-Capacity Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery --

The IDEAL SecuriTEST™, the security industry’s most popular multi-functional CCTV tester, has undergone a major upgrade, and now delivers to technicians an enhanced feature set to satisfy their requirements whenever they are installing, testing and maintaining analog camera systems.

Available immediately with an MSRP of $849.00 (U.S.), the IDEAL SecuriTEST™ PRO offers the multi-function testing platform of the original SecuriTEST introduced last year, along with new IRE video level and sync testing, new sound level assessment through an integrated speaker and on-screen display, and new additional support for more PTZ camera protocols — all packaged in a lighter, more portable design featuring a high-capacity lithium ion battery.

“We know from talking to our customers that saving time and money is their number one concern,” explained Dan Payerle, Product Manager, IDEAL. “For that reason, in upgrading our SecuriTEST, we were focused on providing more productivity from a single device. The new SecuriTEST PRO allows a technician to verify and troubleshoot a complete CCTV system by himself or herself, significantly reducing labor and overhead costs.”

CCTV installers often need to carry a variety of testing tools to complete their work. SecuriTEST PRO combines the most-needed tools in one easy-to-carry package, eliminating the need to juggle several devices while on a ladder or lift, making working conditions safer and increasing productivity. SecuriTEST PRO empowers CCTV technicians to easily test video and sound, control PTZ cameras, analyze over a dozen PTZ protocols, program PTZ and static cameras, wire map UTP cables, generate video test patterns, and test electrical signals with its built-in digital multimeter.

One of the most anticipated new features of the SecuriTEST is its video and sync testing which assures each camera is set to its correct video output level. Testing determines the overall level of an NTSC video signal (30-150 IRE) and its sync-to-white ratio (30-50 IRE). PAL video can also be measured from 200-1200mV and sync ratio from 200-320mV. In addition, an audio input on the tester allows it to be directly connected to a camera to sample audio though the tester’s built-in speaker or on its 2.5-inch color LCD screen as a visible level scale.

The SecuriTEST PRO kit comes with the tester, one lithium battery pack with 5.5 hours of operating time, an AC adapter/charger, 12V auto charger, 4-foot BNC video cable, test

leads for the digital multimeter, UTP cable terminator, a neck strap and a rugged carrying pouch.

For more information, contact IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., Becker Place, Sycamore, Illinois 60178. Or phone 1-800-947-3614, Fax: 1-800-533-4483. On the web, www.idealindustries.com

ABOUT IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.

IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. has been serving the electrical industry since 1916. IDEAL is one of the world's leading manufacturers of professional quality tools and supplies serving installation professionals in the construction, maintenance, data communications and original equipment manufacturing industries.

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©2008 IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.  All rights reserved.  All products and names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.  While IDEAL has made every effort at the time of publication to ensure the accuracy of the information provided herein, product specifications, configurations, prices, system/component/options availability are all subject to change without notice.

PHOTO CAPTION: CCTV installers often need to carry a variety of testing tools to complete their work. The IDEAL SecuriTEST Pro combines the most-needed tools in one easy-to-carry package — a CCTV video tester, PTZ camera controller, IRE video level and sync test, sound level testing, Digital Multi-Meter, UTP cable tester, video test pattern generator, PTZ protocol analyzer and camera programmer. Since all connections attach to a single unit, it eliminates the need to juggle several devices while on a ladder or lift, making working conditions safer and increasing productivity

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IDEAL Unveils Versatile Hand-Held Fiber Optical Power Meter and Light Source Kit

-- New IDEAL FiberMASTER™ Lets Technicians Make Simple, Accurate Measurements of Power Level and Fiber Signal Loss Under Field Conditions on Multimode and Singlemode Fiber Optic Cabling --

SYCAMORE, IL, June 10, 2008 – Designed to accommodate the expanding needs of datacom technicians, the new IDEAL FiberMASTER™ five-wavelength fiber testing kit offers a portable, all-in-one solution to measuring critical power and optical signal loss on standard wavelength windows, as well as on FTTx applications.

At the heart of the FiberMASTER is a five-wavelength power meter with calibration function that stores reference power levels for quick dB loss measurements, therefore eliminating the requirement to manually calculate loss. When joined with the included 850nm  “docking” light source, the power meter measures fiber optic power in milliwatts (mW) and decibel-milliwatts (dBm), as well as measure fiber signal loss (dB) at 850, 1300, 1310, 1490 and 1550nm wavelengths. The 850nm wavelength is encountered in most LAN, residential, commercial and campus environments, while the 1490nm wavelength is common in emerging FTTx applications such as single mode fiber to the home or curb.

“Advanced engineering allows the FiberMASTER to provide a stable platform for testing fiber cables, connections and splices on multi- and single-mode systems to identify faults that may impact network performance,” explained Dan Payerle, Product Manager, IDEAL. “FiberMASTER is a powerful troubleshooting solution that has only three buttons required for operation, making it perfect for field use. Plus, it makes loss testing very simple thanks to the decibel calibration feature.”

Pricing and Availability

Available immediately, the IDEAL FiberMASTER (Part #33-928) is future-ready with high-end capabilities, yet is low in cost. Trade price for the power meter with an 850nm source is $749, and $995 for both 850nm and 1300nm sources.

As an added value, FiberMASTER comes with universal (2.5mm) and FC adapters for the meter interface, as well as free SC, ST and FC adapters for the light source, worth $140, to suit virtually any cable plant. Test jumpers and a heavy-duty carrying pouch are included in the package. FiberMASTER runs on AAA batteries.

For more information, contact IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., Becker Place, Sycamore, Illinois 60178. Or phone 1-800-947-3614, Fax: 1-800-533-4483. On the web, www.idealindustries.com.

ABOUT IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.

IDEAL has been serving the electrical industry since 1916. IDEAL is one of the world's leading manufacturers of professional quality tools and supplies serving installation professionals in the construction, maintenance, data communications and original equipment manufacturing industries.

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Job Losses: 533,000 in November 2008

Recession winds are blowing with gale force as U.S. employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, pushing the unemployment rate to 6.7%. The Dec. 5 announcement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided yet more evidence that the economy is losing jobs at the fastest pace in more than three decades. "It's very clear that the U.S. is in a pretty deep recession. There really aren't any safe harbors in this storm," says Adam York, an economic analyst at Wachovia (NYSE:WB - News) in North Carolina.

The November job cutting was dramatically worse than expected, with estimates by economists ranging from 220,000 to 470,000, with a median forecast of 333,000 job cuts, according to a Bloomberg survey. The cuts last month came from a variety of sectors -- manufacturing, construction, financials, retail, travel and tourism. Only a few areas recorded employment gains, including education, health care and government. The rate rose from 6.5% in October.

The news comes one day after a slew of large companies such as AT&T (NYSE:T - News), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS - News), and others announced major layoffs. The Dec. 4 layoff announcements came from, among others, AT&T (12,000 jobs), DuPont (NYSE:DD - News; 2,500), Avis Budget (NYSE:CAR - News; 2,200), NBC Universal, Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC - News), Viacom (NYSE:VIA - News), and Windstream (NYSE:WIN - News).

Companies are cutting jobs to try to preserve profits -- or minimize losses -- at a time when consumer demand is abruptly drying up and banks are tightening lending standards. An all-out effort by the federal government to provide fiscal and monetary stimulus should get gross domestic product growing again by the second half of 2009, many economists believe. But even after GDP is growing, companies are likely to keep shedding jobs. Wachovia predicts that the unemployment rate will keep rising until mid-2010, topping out around 9%.

Drop In Shopping Impacts The Jobs Numbers

How bad are these numbers? Worse than in the 1990-91 recession, whose worst month saw 306,000 lost jobs, or the 2001 recession, whose worst month was a loss of 325,000 jobs. The U.S. economy lost 431,000 jobs in May 1980, which was the worst month of the back-to-back recessions of 1980-82. If it's any comfort, though, November's showing was better than the recession month of December 1974, when the economy lost a staggering 602,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One factor that's likely to account for a large portion of the winter 2008 job losses is the tepid shopping season. The government's seasonal adjustment attempts to filter out ups and downs in employment caused by seasonal factors like holiday shopping. So when retailers ramp up employment less than they have in the past, it shows up as an outright employment decline in the seasonally adjusted data, notes Ellen Zentner, senior U.S. economist for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York.

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Frogner Named Business Development Manager For Leviton’s Expansion Into Europe

Leviton is pleased to announce the appointment of Willy Frogner to lead the company’s expansion into Europe. As Business Development Manager for European Sales, headquartered in Oslo, Frogner will spearhead sales of the company’s line of residential home networking and commercial voice and data products throughout the European continent.

Frogner brings to his new post with Leviton more than 25 years of experience developing, marketing and selling electrical products. Prior to joining Leviton, he worked for the CETgroup as a sales manager for their Norwegian operations. He also held positions as a marketing manager for Schneider Electric and as a Product Manager for Norwesco.

“Willy brings an excellent background and track record of success in the industry to his new position with Leviton, and we are delighted to have him on board leading our expansion into Europe. His strong ties with distributors and agents combined with his knowledge of the marketplace are assets that bode well for our success in this exciting new market for us,” said Bruno Filio, Leviton’s Vice President of International Business Development.

Frogner’s academic background includes studies in electrical, low-voltage and communications systems in Oslo. For more information, contact Leviton Manufacturing Co., 59-25 Little Neck Parkway, Little Neck, NY 11362-2591, or visit our Web site at www.leviton.com.

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Switzer to Lead Development of Eco-Friendly, Distributed Lighting Management Systems for Leviton

Leviton is pleased to announce the appointment of Jerry Switzer to the position of Senior Product Manager, Distributed Energy Management Systems for its Lighting Management Systems business. Switzer brings to his new post 20 years of experience in marketing, product management and business development with industry-leading companies. 

In his new role, Switzer will spearhead the development of eco-friendly distributed lighting energy management systems that combine versatile solutions for dimming, occupancy detection and daylighting control. These systems offer efficient zone control in commercial environments that provide flexible, PC-based control options for efficiently lighting an entire building, a single floor or corridor, or a private work space.

Prior to joining Leviton, Switzer worked at Hewlett-Packard, where he enjoyed a 17-year long career in the area of business development, and at GE Security, where he worked for 3 years in product and marketing management. At HP, he helped develop innovative printing and bar coding technologies, as well as create a market for the company’s industry-leading line of printers. As a Senior Product Marketing Manager for GE Security, he developed and marketed residential networking and security products.  

“Jerry’s background in design, consulting and project management combined with his formidable experience introducing technology-based products both in the US and abroad provide a strong foundation for his success in helping us launch our distributed lighting control systems, “ said Tom Leonard, Director of Marketing for Leviton Lighting Management Systems.

Switzer holds a BS in Business from Oregon State University and an MBA in International Management and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Marketing. He shares a patent for cellular technologies that was issued both in the U.S. and in Europe, served in the US Navy as am Anti-Submarine Warfare specialist, and has an impressive record of civic and community involvement.

Switzer currently is Director of the West Linn Public Library Foundation and Chairman of the Budget Committee of the City of West Linn. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the City of West Linn Library and as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the HomePlug Association. www.leviton.com.

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MOHAWK ANNOUNCES THE ADDITION OF IRONWOOD ASSOCIATES TO THEIR SALES FORCE

Leominster, MA, December 19, 2008: Mohawk, a leading manufacturer of fiber optic and copper cable products, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ironwood Associates to Mohawk’s field sales force covering Arizona, Southern Nevada, New Mexico and El Paso.  Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Carefree, AZ, Ironwood is a unique manufacturer’s representative firm in designing and selling into the infrastructure, data communications and security markets. The combination of these elements allows Ironwood to cover the Southwestern marketplace with an experienced sales force built on customer service and strong, long-term relationships. 

About Mohawk
Mohawk, a division of Belden, is headquartered in Leominster, Massachusetts, and has been providing fiber and copper cable innovations for over 50 years. Their headquartered location dedicates 210,000 square feet to today’s most advanced facilities for the design, development and production of copper, fiber optic, and hybrid wire and cable. Mohawk, an ISO 9001 certified company, develops products to meet and support TIA/EIA, ISO/IEC, ICEA and NEMA standards. As part of the global Belden operations, Mohawk is supported with worldwide management, financial resources, and distribution capabilities.

www.mohawk-cable.com

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NAED and TED Magazine stay on top of the latest news – Cooper Plunges

Copper Headed Below $1.00/Pound?

“Copper Is Vulnerable to Falling Further” read the headline on a Nov. 24 <I< Journal Street>article (with the per-pound price at $1.57). “Upside to Copper’s Downside?” said another WSJ headline, on Dec. 8, following a Friday, Dec. 5 close (for copper futures) of $1.355/lb.

Fascinating fact: The Nov. 24 article included the information (sourced to John Gross, publisher of the Copper Journal) that copper’s price had averaged “about $1.33 for the period from January 1988 through this October.”

Fascinating fact No. 2: The price of three-month copper futures fell below $3,000 per ton on Dec. 5 “for the first time since May 2005.”

Fact No. 3: Copper last traded below $1/lb. in December 2003.

Where’s the bottom, from here?

From Michael Widmer, analyst, BNP Paribas (quoted in the Nov. 24 article): In 1993, 1997, and 2001, copper’s price “bottomed around the production costs of the 75% lowest-cost producers.” If form follows, he indicated, prices could bottom in 2009 at about $.91/lb.

From Leon Westgate, analyst, Standard Bank (quoted in the Dec. 8 article): “The metals have already priced in most of the worst-case scenario [and] we believe significant downside to prices is limited.”

And over on Bloomberg.com (Nov. 20), David Threlkeld, president of Resolved (a trading firm), said on Bloomberg TV that he saw prices falling below $1/lb. in 2009. Why? China is “sitting on a tremendous unsold inventory.”

TedMag’s Commodity Watch reports last week’s close at $1.44/pound. That’s the unofficial final-trade price as reported on www.metalprices.com, the website of the London Metal Exchange.

Reprinted with permission from TED The Electrical Distributor Magazine On-Line Newsletter www.naed.org www.tedmag.com.

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Category 6 Coupler Modules and Patch Panel

PANDUIT® Mini-Com® Category 6 Coupler Modules and Patch Panels are now available for installations which require modular, reliable, high performing network connections. Fast and simple to install, the couplers allow quick connection of RJ45 patch cords for faster installation. Couplers are ideal for use in engineering/testing laboratories or temporary networks during a system upgrade or maintenance, reducing costly network downtime. www.panduit.com/cat 22

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Siemens Settles Bribery Cases

BERLIN: Siemens, the biggest European engineering company, on Monday agreed to pay $1.34 billion to settle U.S. and German bribery charges, ending two-year inquiries into payments made to government officials worldwide.

Siemens will pay €395 million to settle the German inquiry, according to a statement. The Munich-based company also agreed to pay $800 million to end charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and pleaded guilty to violating U.S. anti-corruption laws by falsely accounting for $1.36 billion in payments.

The company appointed the former German finance minister Theo Waigel to monitor the company's compliance with the terms of the U.S. legal settlement, Siemens said in a statement.

The deal with Munich prosecutors closes inquiries against the company at the former Power Transmission and Distribution, Power Generation, Medical Solutions, Transportation Systems and IT Solutions and Services units. Siemens company has already paid €201 million of the fine.

The german agreement was announced shortly after a U.S. judge approved a settlement between Siemens, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department over related allegations.

Under the U.S. accord, Siemens will pay $800 million and submit to monitoring to ensure compliance with anti- bribery laws.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accepted the Siemens settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on charges it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act through a lack of internal controls and bookkeeping violations.

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Sony to cut 8000 jobs   4 percent of work force

`Back at square one' -- Sony to cut 8,000 electronics jobs, close plants

Sony Corp. is slashing 4 percent of its worldwide work force, reining in spending and shutting plants as it tries to ride out a looming worldwide recession that is battering Japan's export-reliant manufacturers.

Tokyo-based Sony, which is cutting 8,000 of its 185,000 jobs, said Tuesday it will shut five or six plants -- about 10 percent of its 57 factories. Sony also plans to reduce its electronics investments by about one-third by the end of March 2010, although it did not give specific numbers.

The job cuts are the most drastic here since the U.S. credit crunch hit over the summer. They are a bad twist for Sony, which has been recovering from internal problems in recent years under cost-cutting reforms led by Chief Executive Howard Stringer.

"This may mean that Sony is now back at square one," said Kazuharu Miura, electronics analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research in Tokyo. "Japanese companies are all in trouble because of this unexpected worldwide slowdown."

Miura also warned that Sony's measures might not be enough to offset its sliding profits.

Sony's U.S. shares were up 87 cents, 4.3 percent, at $20.91 in afternoon trading.

Sony said a plant in Dax, France, which makes tapes and other recording media will be among the plants to close, but it declined to list the others. The moves will deliver more than 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in savings a year by March 2010, the company said.

"Now we are all facing a recession together," said Senior Vice President Naofumi Hara. "It is impossible to predict how much longer the situation will last."

Sony's announcement comes amid similar news from other Japanese manufacturers, which face plunging demand at home and abroad, as well as falling gadget prices and unfavorable currency fluctuations.

Sony is particularly vulnerable to the strong yen since about 80 percent of its sales come from overseas. The dollar has dropped to about 93 yen from 117 yen last year, eroding with it Sony's foreign income.

Hara said the ways the job cuts will be carried out will vary by country, but he did not provide a breakdown. Sony's electronics business employs about 160,000 workers. The company also has movie, video game and financial businesses.

Sony has adjusted production and lowered inventories, but tough times demand more drastic efforts, it contends. The cost-cutting plan includes postponing an investment to boost production of liquid crystal display TVs in Slovakia because of a plunge in European demand for flat-panel TVs.

Sony will also trim spending in semiconductors, and will outsource a portion of the production it had planned for image sensors for mobile phones.

Apart from the 8,000 electronics job losses, Hara said Sony would cut at least 8,000 temporary jobs in the same sector by the end of March 2010. He said temporary workers are not counted in the tally of Sony's global work force.

Sony usually can count on the year-end holiday shopping season to rake in sales of gadgets such as flat-panel TVs, Blu-ray disc players and game consoles. But consumer sentiments have been dashed by the financial meltdown. Hara said U.S. sales were holding up relatively well, but he acknowledged product prices may have to be cut, especially in Europe, which would diminish profit margins.

Sony recently slashed its full-year earnings projection, citing weaker consumer demand and a stronger yen. For the fiscal year through March 2009, it is expecting a 150 billion yen ($1.5 billion) profit, down 59 percent from the previous year.

Since 2005, Stringer, the first foreigner to lead Sony, has gradually turned the company around, shedding money-losing operations and catching up in flat-panel TVs and portable music players. Hara acknowledged Stringer was sending Sony employees a sad message Tuesday.

"He has told us that the efforts will entail pain. But unless we can get over this, there is no future," he said. "We are taking a step toward the future."

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Strategies for Success in Optical Communications

Bandwidth and Applications on the Rise: Will Profits Follow?

OSA and Lightwave announce the first in a series of panels to be presented at the 2009 Executive Forum, held in conjunction with OFC/NFOEC.   This event, which provides vital information about the optical communications industry attracts C-level executives from over 100 companies

Panel I: Successful Strategies for Supporting Bandwidth-Intensive Applications
Systems and carriers address the requirements to meet the growing demands of bandwidth. The need to support bandwidth-intensive applications such as video delivery and high-end computing is clear – but how can this be done in today’s climate and maintain an adequate return on investment? A panel of carriers and systems suppliers discusses the evolution of optical networks and equipment to meet the challenge of expanding requirements. Panelists describe what role they expect their suppliers to perform.

Panel Speakers Include:

Stephen Carlton,Vice President, Planning and Product Management, Fujitsu Network Communications

Stuart Elby, Vice President, Network Architecture, Verizon

Vik Saxena, Senior Director, Network Architecture, Office of the CTO, Comcast Cable

For full speaker biographies visit the program section of the Executive Forum website.
For additional program information or to register visit www.osa.org/executiveforum.

Important Deadlines:

Register by March 5, 2009 for pre-registration savings!

Housing Deadline: February 23, 2009

OSA Corporate Members Recieve a 2-for-1 registration package.

Founded in 1916, the Optical Society of America (OSA) was organized to increase and diffuse the knowledge of optics, pure and applied; to promote the common interests of investigators of optical problems, of designers and of users of optical apparatus of all kinds; and to encourage cooperation among them. The purposes of the Society are scientific, technical and educational.

The Optical Society of America brings together optics and photonics scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and business leaders. OSA's membership totals more than 14,000 individuals from over 81 countries. Approximately 40% of the Society's members reside outside the United States. Officers of the Society are elected by the membership.

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Worthington Distribution Publishes the 2009 Training Calendar

Worthington Distribution, known for their award winning product knowledge, industry training and customer service, has published the 2009 Worthington University Training Calendar.  These trainings consist of full day and 4-day trainings on popular product combinations from top industry companies including HAI, Leviton, Russound, Philips, Centralite, Proficient, OnQ Legrand, Middle Atlantic, Techniku and others. Topics include structured wiring, cameras, DVRs, lighting control (UPB, Z-Wave, Zigbee), motorized window treatments, distributed audio, temperature control, automation, touch screens, remote controls, and home theater.  The 4th day of University is dedicated to running a small business, putting together proposals, and selling home automation.  The next 4-day hands-on Worthington University session will be held in the newly remodeled training room in Tafton, PA on February 24-27.  This is followed by 3 additional sessions in Tafton, PA and a session in Las Vegas, NV.  In addition, Worthington Distribution will be holding single day sessions throughout the country and during industry trade shows.  For more information browse to www.worthingtonu.com.

About Worthington Distribution:

Worthington Distribution, an award winning national distributor with offices in Pennsylvania and Nevada, specializes in Home Automation, System Integration, Structured Wiring, Distributed Audio, Lighting Control, and Security. Value-added services include training, technical support, design consultation, and programming assistance.  www.worthingtondistribution.com

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Leviton Introduces GreenPack™ Bulk Connector Packaging

Contractor-friendly, recyclable packaging reduces jobsite waste

Leviton today announced the release of its new GreenPack bulk connector packaging. The new packaging was designed as a contractor- and earth-friendly solution to speed large network infrastructure installations and reduce jobsite waste.

GreenPack holds 24 connectors in individual, clear pockets. Connectors can be popped out one at a time, with remaining inventory well organized and easily counted. In addition, GreenPack offers an environmentally sound alternative to individually packaged connectors. The cardboard and plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, while the connectors are lead-free and RoHS-compliant. 

GreenPack packaging is available in 5e, 5e+ (component-rated), and 6 category ratings, with white, ivory, blue, orange, or black connectors. Leviton’s connectors, including those sold in the new GreenPack, are available through the company’s reseller network.

About Leviton Network Solutions

Leviton Network Solutions was created 20 years ago to meet the growing need for telecommunications and high-speed data technologies. Today, the division is dedicated to producing complete copper, fiber, and power network infrastructure solutions for its enterprise, data center, service provider, developer, and government customers. Category-rated connectors, cabling assemblies, and patch panels; enclosures and splice trays; PDUs and surge strips; and much more are engineered to exacting standards and offer guaranteed performance. www.leviton.com

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McCormick Enables Contractors To Do Takeoffs On Screen

McCormick Systems offers a unique new opportunity to electrical contractors:

No matter how a set of electronic drawings ends up in your computer, you can do all your takeoffs on screen – and move the results (automatically) to your McCormick estimating system.

Up until now, most contractors worked with drawings on paper. A significant exception – for those using McCormick’s CAD Estimating software – pertained only to those who could obtain CAD drawings electronically from architects and engineers.

Now, thanks to McCormick’s interface with On Center Software Inc.’s On-Screen Takeoff product, estimates can be done on screen. Quantities can then be automatically moved to the McCormick estimating system (via a special link and database).

Additionally, McCormick is now a re-seller of On-Screen Takeoff. “Our contractors prefer to have a one-stop shop when they can get it, and as a re-seller for On Center, we now offer that,” said Todd McCormick, the company’s president. “We can get contractors the software and our exclusive interface, in one bundle.”

Bottom-line: Here’s another McCormick-created avenue to raise estimating productivity for electrical contractors and their estimators.

            Important notes:

a.       This arrangement applies to drawings that come to the contractor in virtually any electronic format --.tiff, .pdf, .dwf, .dwg, .jpeg . . . and many others.

b.       Exclusive to McCormick Systems.

c.       On Center Software is no Johnny-come-lately to construction software; the company in 2008 is celebrating its 20th year.

d.        

“Contractors we’ve talked with about this seem to love it – and there’s a ‘green’ angle as well,” said McCormick. “Contractors we have spoken with about this new arrangement told us in addition, it would save a lot of trees!”

Typically, several contractors each will obtain paper drawings for a specific project – to submit a bid for the work. When the winner is determined, the others, quite naturally, dispose of the paper. The McCormick-On Center Software interface should help make that waste (of time, resources, and money) obsolete for the savvy electrical contractor.

About On Center Software, Inc.

Founded in 1988 by construction industry professionals, On Center Software’s products eliminate the tedious task of creating takeoffs on paper plans and trying to calculate accurate results for complicated figures with a calculator. See www.on-screentakeoff.com.

About McCormick Systems

Privately owned McCormick Systems (Chandler, AZ) is the nation’s leader in software used for electrical and ABS estimating and project management. The company’s products enable contractors to quickly produce consistent, profitable estimates for electrical and voice-data-video work, and more.

www.mccormicksys.com

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Megladon® Manufacturing Group Hires Gil Perez as Business Development Manager

Gil Perez has joined the Megladon® Manufacturing Group team as the Business Development Manager. Gil recognized a golden opportunity to work with a company who offers leading edge fiber product technology to an industry with which he is already familiar.

Gil is originally from Dallas, Texas and graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of North Texas in Denton. Gil’s background has been concentrated in the Telecom industry specializing in outside plant and central office networks, which makes him ideally suited for his new position within the Megladon organization. Gil has previously held positions with ADC Telecommunications, Tii Network Technologies, and Thomas & Betts, focusing on the United States and Latin American markets.

When asked about his new position, Gil responds with favoring accolades, “I see Megladon as one of the leading fiber optic technology manufacturing companies within the communications industry. The product offerings of Megladon show our ability and capability to develop and provide a leading edge solution for the communications industry. My goal is to hit the ground running by expanding our market share and increase company revenue.”

“Gil Perez is known in the industry and has many long term relationships providing excellent service and support” stated John M. Culbert, President of Megladon. “There is fruit attached to his track record. We welcomed Gil into our strategic planning circle because of his knowledge, experience and character. We expect big things from him as we grow together.”

Megladon® Manufacturing Group Ltd., a subsidiary of TyRex Group Ltd.®, is recognized as a leader in the fiber optic marketplace. Founded in 1997, Megladon made it their mission to provide customers with fiber optic products that far exceed industry standards. As technology innovators, Megladon created the HLC® (Hardened Lens Contact) termination, which has changed the market and taken it to the next level. For additional information on Megladon and their patented processes please visit the company’s website at www.megladonmfg.com.

Association News

ACUTA

ACUTA Calls on New Congress, Administration to Make National Broadband Strategy a Priority

Citing the importance of broadband communications networks to U.S. colleges and universities and their students, ACUTA is urging the incoming Obama administration and Congress to urgently develop and implement a comprehensive national broadband strategy.

ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is calling on lawmakers, the Federal Communications Commission, and others in Washington to craft the policies and take the actions needed to achieve greater broadband penetration and give every American high-speed access to the Internet.

ACUTA is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education information communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000 individuals at 780 institutions. An ambitious national broadband policy, ACUTA says, would enable a much greater degree of remote learning at the university level, for example, extending higher education to all Americans, no matter where they are located.

“Broadband access is critical in today’s economy, and the federal government must lead the way in strengthening our broadband infrastructure, just as it has led the way in the development of highways and electrical power in the past,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “Without this access, American students run the risk of falling behind, to the detriment of our educational and business institutions.”

ACUTA expressed its support for policies that would drive investment in high-speed broadband as well as to stimulate its adoption and use. “The goal, as ACUTA sees it, is to enable every American institution, business, and home to have access to affordable high-speed broadband connections, with the assurance of reasonable levels of competition and open access,” Semer said.

About ACUTA
ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is an international non-profit educational association serving colleges and universities. Its core purpose is to support higher education information communications technology professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions. ACUTA represents nearly 2000 individuals at some 780 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the 50 largest U.S. institutions. ACUTA’s Corporate Affiliate members represent all categories of communications technology vendors serving the college/university market. www.acuta.org

BICSI

A Message from BICSI’s President

Still deciding on whether to attend the 2009 BICSI Winter Conference?

In today’s uncertain economic climate, many may be wondering what BICSI is doing to combat the recession. We understand that many of you may be affected by the recent economic status and we are continually working on new programs and ideas to keep members involved and up-to-date.

At BICSI, we are excited to announce the 2009 Winter Conference & Exhibition Early Bird Registration Rate has been extended from December 5 to December 31. In addition, the On-site Rate will be eliminated. The Regular Rate will begin on January 1 and continue throughout the conference—including on-site registrations! Additionally, make your hotel room reservation at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort before Wednesday, December 17, to receive a discounted rate. Acting quickly can result in saving hundreds of dollars.

In tough times, networking is an important way to learn about new business opportunities. Furthermore, taking the time to attend training may open the door to new projects that you were previously not qualified for. At BICSI, we are proud to say that we are here for our members and will continue to be in the future. As a BICSI member, you should feel confident and reassured that BICSI is and will continue to be the leading supplier of ITS information, education and knowledge assessment.

Now is the time for BICSI to give back to its members by making this Winter Conference more affordable. Take advantage of the discounted rate before the New Year. Visit www.bicsi.org or call +1 813.979.1991 today.

Thank you for your continued support of BICSI.

Sincerely,

Edward Donelan, RCDD, NTS, TLT

BICSI President

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Students receive scholarship for Information Transport studies

Next Generation Scholarship complements initiative of the BICSI NxtGEN Program

A program started this year in the Canadian Region by Director Richard S. Smith, RCDD, NTS, OSP, the Next Generation Scholarship is awarded to a deserving student in a college-level IT program. It is part of BICSI’s NxtGEN Program, which is working to modernize BICSI’s credentialing programs and make them more consistent with how professionals are credentialed today.

Created as a way to thank the technical schools that offer BICSI a place to conduct region meetings, the scholarship represents the association’s focus to reach out to the next generation of IT, engineering and other ITS professionals to help them achieve their knowledge-based goals.

The first one was awarded in June to Rebecca Bullock, a first-year student at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) in Halifax. She received it during an awards ceremony at Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration Museum. 

Upon receiving news of the scholarship, Bullock expressed her surprise. “I wasn't expecting an award because I hadn't really applied for any,” she said. “I was nominated by a few teachers at the college who felt that I had met all the expectations to receive this award, and I feel extremely thankful and very blessed.”

Bullock, 20, of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, studies in the IT program at NSCC with a focus on the networking and systems administration concentration. She is also involved in developing the college’s Web-based training program.

NSCC Academic Chair Ian McLeod was one of the faculty members involved in nominating Bullock for the award based on her academic standing. “Rebecca is a very strong student,” McLeod said. “All of her marks rank in the honors category at the school.” The scholarship, valued at $500, will cover the cost of all of Bullock’s books for her second year at NSCC.

Smith presented the second scholarship in October to Daniel Ferguson of Nepean, Ontario. Based on his outstanding academic standing at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ferguson was selected for the award by faculty in the computer studies department.

“I thank the faculty who nominated me for this award, and I thank BICSI for offering it,” said Ferguson. “This is a very generous gift in recognizing my achievements.”

Consistent with feedback from faculty at the NSCC, the faculty at Algonquin College were sincerely grateful of BICSI’s sense of community and support in offering this token of recognition to a student at their college.

“The faculties of the institutions we visit have been so appreciative of BICSI offering the bursary, and it was an honor to make the presentations to these deserving students,” said Smith, a manager for Bell Aliant Cabling Solutions in Moncton, New Brunswick. “I compliment them on their successes to date, and I am sure they will do very well in whatever career opportunities they choose,” said Smith,

The next two schools that will award the scholarship are Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta. www.bicsi.org

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BICSI News features 25 Changemakers in 25 Years

A celebration of ambition, drive and follow-through

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the RCDD® (Registered Communications Distribution Designer) Program. Over the years, we have witnessed the contributions of many influential individuals who, through their vision and drive, have revolutionized the information transport systems (ITS) industry. The group of Changemakers featured in this article are educators, mentors, spokespeople and leaders who have left their footprint in a constantly evolving world. You’ll read about individuals who revitalized cities by developing IT Zones and updating water and power facilities. You’ll discover RCDDs who have co-authored books on industry subjects never before addressed. You’ll learn about folks who have initiated industry standards and educational events—even those who helped introduce BICSI to areas outside of the United States. In fact, you may even recognize some of the names on our Changemaker list! BICSI pays tribute to these 25 exceptional individuals.

A little history

While telephone giant AT&T was being dismantled following a government antitrust suit in the early 1980s, Tampa, Florida-based BICSI, serving less than 480 members, was developing a credentialing designation for individuals in the communications and building industries.

The idea for an exam-based registration originated with a group of building industry consultants (BICs) from Bell Canada. These BICs were familiar with BICSI through the annual BICs (and later BICSI) conferences that took place in Kentucky in the early ‘70s. Prior to deregulation, BICs worked with building owners and designers to ensure that new buildings were correctly designed to incorporated telephone distribution systems. BICSI President Jim Alexander recognized the need for a formal registration program that would educate and test individuals in the proper design, integration and implementation of telecommunications and their related infrastructure. He and Executive Secretary Larry Romig (later named Executive Director) initiated the development of the RCDD Program. www.bicsi.org

The RCDD registration was created in 1984 to promote economical, efficient and flexible telecommunications in commercial and multi-family buildings. The program was intended for architects, electrical engineers, interior designers and telecom personnel from both the regulated and deregulated sectors. Today, the RCDD is an internationally recognized credential for the telecommunications cabling industry and has evolved to include voice, data, video, security and other low-voltage systems. The RCDD credential is achieved by passing a rigorous exam based on the Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM), and is maintained by meeting continuing education requirements and by frequent interaction with other members of the ITS community.

Our Changemakers

Although there are countless individuals to recognize as changemakers, the professionals featured in this article have effectively helped to shape the course of the ITS industry. This core group of individuals is empowering in their ability to share what they’ve learned to make a difference. Check them out in the January/February issue of BICSI News.  www.bicsi.org

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Inspect Before You Connect

Best practices for optical fiber inspection and cleaning ensure optimized network performance.

By Matt Brown

Fiber connectors are widely known as the weakest and most problematic points in a network. The more connections there are in a network, the greater the potential for interruption caused by improper handling during installation, operation, expansion and maintenance. The more information transferred per second, the less loss the system can handle, requiring tighter budgets on all network parameters. The more people served by a network, the greater the impact of a poorly performing, or failed, optical channel.

All of these factors make proper handling of the optical fiber connections more critical than ever. The recognition of the negative potential of poor fiber handling on network performance is bringing about the development and implementation of best practices for optical fiber inspection and cleaning.

Three P’s of Efficient Fiber Connections

Network performance is optimized when the proper steps are taken to ensure low-loss fiber connections. The three basic principles necessary to achieve efficient fiber connections are:

1.         Perfect core alignment.

2.         Physical contact.

3.         Pristine connector interface.

Today’s connector design and production techniques have eliminated most of the challenges to achieving principles one and two. Number three—pristine connector interface—remains the biggest challenge to optimal network performance because it cannot be controlled by the manufacturer. The full potential for a low-loss connection is only realized when the technician ensures there is no contamination prior to connecting.

Number One Cause of Impaired Fiber Network Performance: End Face Contamination

Research indicates that more than 75 percent of physical network troubleshooting is a result of optical fiber connectors that are dirty or have been damaged by dirt. Light cannot pass through dirt or damaged fiber, so network performance is impaired. Figure 1 clearly shows the increase in loss resulting from core contamination.

That dirt impairs network performance was first discovered by high-bandwidth equipment manufacturers, and later by information transport systems (ITS) teams, which led to practical research within the industry by the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI). This research by iNEMI is now one pillar of a pending international standard (IEC-61300-3-35) that will prescribe inspection procedures and pass-fail criteria for manufacturers and operators of optical fiber networks.

The iNEMI team set out to discover the relationship between the amount of dirt and its location and the resulting signal degradation it creates. Results of the research determined that dirt on the core dramatically affected signal performance, while dirt on the cladding had less predictable effects.

The research also showed that large particles nearly anywhere in the innermost 200 microns were prone to breaking apart and spreading across the end face. As a result, even when the core area is clean, if large particles exist on the cladding or inner ferrule, that dirt can “migrate” to the core after successive mating and affect signal performance.

This understanding of contamination migration led to iNEMI recommendations that large particles be eliminated within this entire area. See Table 1. A series of tables, specific to the fiber type, giving pass-fail inspection criteria were produced. Those tables are one of the essential components of the pending international standard and are core to the successful deployment of modern optical fiber cabling systems.

Optical Fiber Connectors are Especially Vulnerable to Contamination

To understand the potential negative effects of fiber contamination on network performance, it helps to better understand optical fiber connector architecture.

In an optical fiber connector, the glass fiber strand is composed of an outer area, or cladding, and an inner core area, each with a different refractive index. See Figure 2. The glass cladding serves to trap the light within the core but does not conduct light itself. The fiber is mounted within a round ceramic ferrule, which is then captured by a plastic connector body. The connectors are male; therefore, a female-to-female adapter joins them together.

When two connectors are mated, these microscopic dirt particles get trapped, preventing light from moving naturally down the fiber. The dirt blocks, scatters or reflects a portion of the light back toward the source. Due to the force exerted on the fiber during the mating process, some of the trapped dirt can actually become permanently buried or embedded, requiring replacing or repolishing the connector to restore it to optimal performance.

It is important to note that the costs of troubleshooting, asset damage and network downtime are exponentially higher when dirt is embedded in the fiber inside expensive network equipment where replacing or repolishing the fiber is not an option.

Proactive Inspection Is Superior to Reactive Inspection

It is important to visually inspect fiber connectors at every stage of handling before mating them. If you can catch contamination before mating (proactively) you can almost always clean it and eliminate the contamination.

If you wait to visually inspect fiber connectors during troubleshooting after a problem is detected (reactive), connectors and other equipment may have suffered permanent damage. This is because once mated, the dirt can embed in the fiber, making it uncleanable and permanently damaged and potentially damaging connectors that are mated to it.

Anyone who has worked with the physical layer of a network can understand the potential for connector contamination from dirt and the resulting need for inspection during network operation and troubleshooting. Unfortunately, most connectors are not inspected until problems are detected and damage has already occurred.

Damage caused by initial contamination can be avoided through the implementation of proactive inspection and cleaning processes. These practices are based on the following factors:

           The potential for contamination is always present, even in new components. Even the best clean manufacturing practices cannot prevent microscopic particles from entering sealed bags and under dust caps.

           Dirt particles on the core of the fiber produce massive signal degradation.

           Large dirt particles away from the core can break apart and end up on the core after successive mating.

           Dirt particles mated between connectors can become permanently buried or embedded in the glass of the fiber, making cleaning impossible.

These facts support the practice of proactive inspection of fiber connectors using a microscope designed specifically for this purpose at every stage of fiber handling— from component manufacturing, receiving and quality control to assembly, installation, system testing, troubleshooting and maintenance.

Indisputable ROI of Proactive Inspection Practices

This proactive approach to inspection adds time and costs to the network deployment process. As a result, it has not been common practice among installers and IT staff. However, the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, as evidenced by the massive reduction in trouble-shooting and lower operating costs experienced by the companies that have adopted proactive cleaning and inspection on a mass scale.

These operational benefits translate directly into business benefits. By reducing troubleshooting and network downtime, proactive inspection reduces maintenance costs and keeps the network active and users online. Because proactive inspection ensures that network components operate at their highest level of performance, signal and network performance is optimized. Finally, proactive inspection prevents network damage and ensures longevity of costly network equipment, protecting the technology investment.

Implementing Proactive Inspection Practices

Even with such clear benefits, systemwide change of this scale takes time to implement and requires effective process development, equipment selection and training.

Process Development

A successful process development strategy should include a combination of hands-on training, practical visual aids and detailed training guides. Companies should look to sources of optical fiber inspection equipment for guidance and assistance with proactive inspection process development.

Equipment Selection

Selecting equipment used in the inspection process can be confusing because of the multiple sources available and the biases of each source. Successful users rely on field trials or pilot implementations to put each potential solution through its paces.

            When selecting a microscope, consider these factors:

          Microscope should be able to inspect both male connectors and connectors located inside bulkhead adapters.

          Video-based microscopes provide inherent laser safety and potential accessibility advantages.

          A specific tip for each connector type encountered is required. Tips should be tried for ease of use (getting the fiber on the screen and focusing easily), as well as accessibility. Multiple tip availability does not ensure the microscope will work     for every application. Consider difficult-to-reach connectors first and choose a system that will work in your worst-case applications.

          Different display options work best for different workflows. Options exist for hand-held and PC-based displays.

          Automated software that provides pass-fail grading of the image will greatly accelerate learning the process and improve chances for a successful process implementation.

Training

Training programs are a cornerstone of successful implementations. Contact the best suppliers of the equipment for expertise in guiding operators through this process. Comprehensive programs will include:

          Establishing a training plan, which includes site identification and train-the-trainer opportunities.

          Developing and mastering presentation materials, a course syllabus and practical visual aids for field use.

          Classes offering hands-on experience for field technicians.

Inspection Best Practices

Follow the simple inspection process shown in Figure 3 to ensure fiber end faces are clean prior to mating connectors:

Step 1 Inspect: Use a probe microscope to inspect the fiber. If the fiber is dirty, go to step 2. If the fiber is clean, go to step 4.

Step 2 Clean: If the fiber is dirty, use a cleaning tool to clean the fiber end face.

Step 3 Inspect: Use a probe microscope to reinspect and confirm the fiber is clean. If the fiber is still dirty, go back to step 2. If the fiber is clean, go to step 4.

Step 4 Connect: If the fiber is clean, it is ready to connect. 

Be sure to inspect both sides (patch cord “male” and bulkhead “female”) of the fiber interconnect before connecting. Patch cords are easy to access and view compared with the fiber inside the bulkhead, which is frequently overlooked. The bulkhead side may only be half of the connection, but it is far more likely to be dirty. Inspecting both sides of the connection is the only way to ensure that it will be free of contamination and defects.

Cleaning Options

Multiple vendors claim the advantage when it comes to fiber cleaning equipment. Few users can wade through the jargon.

It is critical to understand that most real-world contamination is from airborne particulates. When comparing cleaning techniques, resist the urge to use hand and body oils to provide your baseline for contamination and cleaning effectiveness. The following is a brief guide to several cleaning tool options:

Automated Combination Inspection/Cleaning Systems

These dual-purpose systems can be very valuable in high-volume installation as the resulting lower operating expenses can definitely outweigh the initial high cost of these systems. These systems work equally well for patch cords or bulkhead cleaning and are unique in their ability to clean SFP/XFP transceivers.

Bulkhead Cleaning

For cleaning connectors within bulkhead adapters, two categories of consumable products are available. The first products are specialized swabs, which have a low purchase price but are relatively expensive on a per-cleaning basis. These must be thoroughly tested as they have a reputation for merely moving dirt and not removing it or actually adding debris. More advanced bulkhead cleaners, now offered by at least two vendors, use a tiny cleaning tape that advances across the fiber. These are quickly gaining popularity due to their superior performance, low per-cleaning cost and ability to clean both bulkhead connectors and patch cords.

Patch Cord Cleaning

For cleaning uninstalled connectors, solutions range from individual wipes and perforated wipes in small boxes to cassette cleaners. These should be tested for ease of use but are generally quite effective. The tape-based bulkhead cleaners shown above are also capable of cleaning patch cords.

Cleaning Solvents

Many of the wipes, swabs and bulkhead cleaners are offered with cleaning solvents to improve cleaning performance. In general, when chosen carefully and used properly, solvents are useful and positive elements in the cleaning process. However, it is best to use solvents only when dry cleaning techniques have failed. A common mistake is to saturate the bulkhead adapter when using a solvent, which leads to recontamination of the connector as the solvent dries. Ensure those used are fast drying and applied in small amounts. Dampen the cleaning tool with solvent, but do not saturate it.

Summary

With more people and locations to serve and more information to transfer at even greater speeds, today’s networks require more fiber and fiber connectors than ever before. Particulate contamination is the number one source of troubleshooting in optical networks. Simple visual inspection of optical fiber connectors with a microscope is the only way to determine if connectors are clean before they are mated. To ensure optimal optical performance over the lifetime of the network, both end faces of all optical fiber connections must be proactively inspected, and cleaned if necessary, before mating at every stage of the network development process. Proactive inspection is simple, and the benefits—reduced downtime and troubleshooting, optimized signal performance and prevention of network damage—are great.    www.bicsi.org

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The Elements of Fiber Cable Management

Proper cable management strengthens network reliability, improves performance and lowers operating costs.

By Kam Patel

As business, university and government network managers continue upgrading their networks to transport high-bandwidth broadband services, an increase in fiber usage is essential to meet both the bandwidth and cost requirements. But just deploying this additional fiber is not enough. A successful, well-built network also must be based on a strong fiber cable management system.

Proper fiber management has a direct impact on the network’s reliability, performance and cost. Additionally, it affects maintenance, expansion and moves, adds or changes (MACs). The four primary elements of a strong fiber cable management system are bend radius protection, cable routing paths, cable accessibility and physical protection of the fiber network. Executing these concepts correctly will enable the network to realize its full potential.

Introduction

With strong demand steadily increasing for broadband services that will include several bandwidth-hungry technologies like high-definition television (HDTV) and higher Internet speeds for handling larger file sharing requirements, fiber is being pushed closer and closer to the customer premises. This, in turn, creates a need for additional fiber in the data center and backbone while active equipment must be managed to accommodate future network growth.

Any new broadband network infrastructure must have the inherent capability to easily migrate to the next generation of technologies and services. As the amount of fiber across the network increases, the importance of properly managing the fiber cables becomes a more crucial issue.

The manner in which fiber cables are connected, terminated, routed, spliced, stored and handled will directly and substantially impact the network’s performance and, more importantly, its cost of ownership. The four fundamental elements of fiber cable management—bend radius protection, cable routing paths, accessibility and physical protection—are reviewed, as well as new technologies and products that have been developed in the past few years to improve these elements.

Bend Radius Protection

Two types of bends in fiber—microbends and macrobends—can affect the fiber network’s long-term reliability and performance.

The microbend is a small, microscopic bend that may be caused by the cabling process itself, mechanical stress due to water in the cable during repeated freeze and thaw cycles, packaging or installation. External forces are also a source of microbends. An external force deforms the cabled jacket surrounding the fiber but causes only a small bend in the fiber.

A microbend typically changes the path that propagating modes take, resulting in loss from increased attenuation as low-order modes become coupled with high-order modes that are naturally lossy. A macrobend is a larger cable bend that can be seen with the unaided eye and is often reversible. As the macrobend occurs, the radius can become too small and allow light to escape the core and enter the cladding. The result is insertion loss at best, and in worst cases, the signal is decreased or completely lost. Through proper fiber handling and routing, however, both microbends and macrobends can be reduced and even prevented.

The minimum bend radius will vary depending on the specific fiber cable. In general, the minimum bend radius of a fiber should not be less than 10 times its outer diameter. Thus, a 3 millimeter (mm) cable should not have any bends less than 30 mm in radius. Telcordia recommends a minimum 38 mm bend radius for 3 mm patch cords. If a tensile load is applied to a fiber cable, such as the weight of a cable in a long vertical run or a cable pulled tightly between two points, the minimum bend radius is increased due to the added stress.

The advent of bend insensitive fiber is an example of how tech-nology has addressed the bend radius issue. Whereas the minimum bend radius should not be less than 10 times the outer diameter of the fiber cable in typical fiber, bend insensitive fiber provides more leeway.

However, designers must understand that these new fibers do not diminish the need for solid fiber cable management. On the contrary, the increase in the sheer number of fibers being added to the system to accommodate broadband upgrades makes bend radius protection as important as ever.

As fibers are added on top of installed fibers, macrobends can be induced on the installed fibers if they are routed over an unprotected bend. A fiber that had been working fine for many years can suddenly have an increased level of attenuation, as well as a potentially shorter service life. Although bend insensitive fiber is an innovative breakthrough in addressing the issue of bend radius protection, it may be some time before any network owner replaces existing fibers with a bend insensitive variety of fiber. Meanwhile, the importance of bend radius protection is critical to avoid operational problems in the network.

Cable Routing Paths

The second element of fiber cable management is cable routing paths and is related to bend radius protection because improper routing of fibers by technicians is one of the major causes of bend radius violations. Wherever fiber is used, routing paths must be clearly defined and easy to follow—to the point where the technician has no other option than to route the cables properly. Leaving cable routing to the technician’s imagination leads to a fiber network that is inconsistently routed and difficult to manage.

The quality of the cable routing paths, particularly within a fiber distribution frame system, can be the difference between congested chaos and neatly placed, easily accessible patch cords. It’s often said that the best teacher in fiber routing techniques is the first technician to route it properly. Conversely, the worst teacher is the first to use improper techniques since subsequent technicians are likely to follow that lead.

Well-defined routing paths therefore reduce the proficiency training time required for technicians and increase the uniformity of the work done by ensuring and maintaining bend radius requirements at all points to improve overall network reliability. It is important to note that, again, the use of bend insensitive fiber does not diminish the need for clear cable routing paths. There are benefits that go beyond bend radius protection.

Defined routing paths make accessing individual fibers easier, quicker and safer, reducing the time required for reconfigurations. Fiber twists are reduced to make tracing a particular fiber for rerouting much easier. Even with new technologies, such as the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) at both ends of patch cords for easy identification, well-defined cable routing paths still greatly reduce the time required to route and reroute patch cords. All of this directly affects network operating costs and the time required to turn up or restore service.

Cable Access

Cable access is the third element to good fiber cable management and refers to the accessibility of the installed fibers. As the number of fibers increases dramatically in both the distribution frame and the active equipment, cable access becomes an increasingly important issue. In the past, an active equipment rack might have had about 50 fibers exiting, and managing those fibers was much less of an issue. But as that same rack is fitted for next generation broadband services, there may be many more fibers involved, making proper management and accessibility vitally important matters.

With huge amounts of data and critical business systems moving across those fibers, the ability for technicians to have quick and easy access is critical. The last thing any business wants is service interruptions caused by mishandling one fiber to gain access to another. As previously mentioned, patch cords designed with LEDs at both ends can help technicians identify particular cable runs with no chance of error. These innovations can be implemented into a good cable management system to help minimize problems caused by disconnecting the wrong patch cord. There are many other tools and techniques for ensuring that every fiber can be installed or removed without bending or disturbing an adjacent fiber.

The accessibility of the fibers in the fiber cable management system can mean the difference between a network reconfiguration time of 20 minutes per fiber and one of more than 90 minutes per fiber. Since accessibility is most critical during network reconfiguration operations, proper cable access directly impacts operational costs and network reliability.

Physical Fiber Protection

The last element of a fiber cable management system addresses the physical protection of the installed fibers. Every fiber throughout the network must be protected against accidental damage by technicians or equipment. Fibers traversing from one piece of equipment to another must be routed with physical protection in mind, such as using raceway systems that protect from outside disturbances. Without proper physical protection, fibers are susceptible to damage that can critically affect network reliability. The fiber cable management system should always include ensuring that every fiber is protected from physical damage.

A Final Word—Planning

Because many businesses are upgrading their networks for delivering high-bandwidth broad-band services, it is important to stress the need for planning in terms of cable management. Today’s network is a living and growing entity.

What is enough today will almost certainly be too little for tomorrow. Future-proofing the network wherever possible should be a major consideration, and fiber cable management is no different. Is the raceway system designed for growth in fiber count without sacrificing accessibility? Is the fiber distribution frame sized to accommodate growth in a centralized location without sacrificing protection of fiber jumpers? It is far less expensive to plan and build for growth today than a costly, time-consuming, service-affecting retrofit.

Ignoring future growth, particularly in terms of fiber, will result in higher long-term operational costs because of poor network performance or a requirement to retrofit products that can no longer accommodate network demand.

Another consideration in planning for good fiber cable management concerns the active equipment rack. Most manufacturers have traditionally overlooked the need for providing cable management within their equipment. Before purchasing, network planners should insist that cable management is included within every piece of active equipment to ensure it will operate efficiently over time.

Cable management should address all four elements of fiber cable management—bend radius protection, cable routing paths, cable access and physical protection—to strengthen the network’s reliability and functionality while lowering costs and ensuring smooth upgrades when necessary.

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Are You Playing in the Zone?

Cost, port utilization, efficiency, and “green” make fiber to the enclosure and attractive design alternative.

By Rodney Casteel, RCDD, NTS

When working with designers or engineers I often hear the phrase “because that is the way I have always designed it” when they discuss their choice of network architecture. Perhaps it is because some network designers are not aware that new standards offer them alternative choices. Or maybe it is a case of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” However, understanding all the available options is critical when looking for a network solution that will support convergence, intelligent building systems, data center reliability, Internet protocol (IP) everywhere, “green” buildings and more, all while saving money and improving efficiency.

This article compares three different architectures addressed in the TIA-568 standards: hierarchical star, centralized cabling and fiber to the enclosure (FTTE), also known as zone cabling. It evaluates how “playing in the zone” can help address many emerging network issues, while simultaneously saving as much as 50 percent or more when compared with the installed first costs of typical hierarchical star deployments.

Hierarchical Star:

The First Structured Cabling Architecture

In 1991, the ratification of ANSI/TIA/EIA-568, Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard, laid the groundwork for a unified way for delivering telecommunications services. Prior to this standard being developed, proprietary systems ruled, and there were no standardized solutions or practices. While the concept of a structured approach for premises cabling was not immediately embraced, it certainly was needed to tackle the growing demand for telecommunications connections for both voice and data. Today, standardized solutions are the norm and have enabled the progression of increasingly complex enterprise networks.

At the heart of the ANSI/TIA/EIA-568 standard was the hierarchical star architecture. In this network topology, all cables “home run” from the work area back to a common space, then known as a “closet,” were connected via a backbone cable to the main computer room. Utilizing this approach made it easier to accommodate the myriad networking topologies of the day, including token ring, bus and point-to-point.

The specifications for the hierarchical star were based on the ability of the most common media of the day, unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper cable. While other media types were available—including optical fiber and coaxial cable—UTP became the workhorse behind the ANSI/TIA/EIA-568 standard. Its limitations are what set the stage not only for the hierarchical star architecture but also for future topologies.

Centralized Cabling

Offers a Standards-Based Fiber Solution

In 1995, growing demands for alternative ways to deploy networks led to the adoption of the TIA Telecommunications Systems Bulletin (TSB)-72, which outlined the requirements for deploying a centralized network. In 2001, TSB-72 was incorporated into the ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.1 standard.

Centralized cabling designs use the high-bandwidth, low-attenuation and extended distance capability of multimode fiber to centralize local area network (LAN) electronics in one telecommunications room (TR) within a building. The cabling media extends from the main computer room all the way to the end user, without the need for an intermediate TR for distances up to 90 meters (m [295 feet (ft)]).

Ironically, while this is the first architecture that leverages the properties of optical fiber cable, it was designed with a copper mindset and was written around the limitations of UTP. While copper cabling is limited to a 90 m (295 ft) link length, fiber could easily support lengths of 300 m (984 ft). As a result, the standard requires the implementation of a splice point or interconnect within a TR for distances greater than 90 m (295 ft). The 90 m (295 ft) limitation was included to ensure backwards compatibility; to protect end users in the event that they chose to change their media from fiber back to UTP; and to guard against potential future issues of restricted distance.

            There are a number of important benefits to centralizing electronics, including:

           Long-term cost savings.

           Improved port and chassis utilization.

           Easier network rearrangements.

           Greater security.

           Centralized management.

           Fewer or smaller TRs.

By reducing the size of the TRs, network managers can reclaim valuable floor space and realize savings in the cost of powering and cooling the TRs.

However, adoption of the architecture has been slow, primarily because computer and telephone manufacturers still do not offer a fiber interface as a standard option on peripheral devices such as laptops, desktops, workstations and voice over IP (VoIP) telephones. This means fiber network interface cards (NICs) must be purchased and deployed separately and deploying power over Ethernet (PoE) becomes more difficult. This factor, along with the cost of electronics, means that centralized cabling often requires the highest initial investment.

Fiber to the Enclosure: Bringing the Benefits of Fiber Closer to the User

In 2004, the FTTE standard was introduced to meet the needs of environments such as airports, education, sports arenas, hotels, convention centers and industrial buildings that have long cable runs and need to frequently reconfigure their work areas.

FTTE was ratified in the ANSI/TIA-568-B.1-5 and TIA-569-B documents. The 568-B.1-5 document explains the cabling aspect of the TE, also known as the mini TR; the 569-B document describes the enclosure and space utilized for this new topology. 

With this topology, fiber is deployed from the main computer room out to the work area and terminated inside of a telecommunications enclosure (TE) that can be mounted in the ceiling, on the wall, under the floor or in a rack or cabinet. See  Figure 1. Fiber links can extend up to 300 m (984 ft). From the enclosure, a short length of UTP or fiber extends to the user’s work area and terminates. The enclosure accommodates one or more small to medium switches, patch panels and power for the equipment. This mini TR functions much like a standard TR, but with less capacity and a few more restrictions.

While the benefits to deploying the FTTE architecture (described in the next section) are significant, awareness and adoption of the standard are still low. Many users simply are not aware that FTTE is supported by standards; others are concerned about locating the TE in the work space, especially when it is mounted in the ceiling. However, given the many benefits that the architecture offers, figuring out where to store the ladder may be a worthwhile exercise.

The Benefits of Deploying FTTE

FTTE is an architecture that offers benefits in performance, flexibility and cost. To begin with, the design frees up valuable real estate by eliminating the need for traditional TRs. Along with the space that can be reallocated, the TEs are less expensive to maintain because they require less power and little, if any, dedicated cooling to maintain. Since the TEs only store a couple of small workgroup switches, the amount of heat buildup is minimal, requiring only vents or a small fan for heat dissipation. Even when utilizing PoE patch panels, many of the TEs can handle the heat from two 48 port PoE switches simply by utilizing a fan. In addition, the architecture allows network managers to shut down zones that are not needed over the weekends or during holidays to help conserve energy. 

Serving individual zones from TEs has other advantages too. Smaller zones can be easily customized to accommodate moves, adds or changes (MACs), more closely reflecting the needs of many companies. In addition, using smaller switches helps increase port utilization by more closely matching switch deployment to the actual number of users.

Finally, this design potentially offers the highest throughput. One of the problems associated with the hierarchical design is blocking. This occurs when larger switches (with 24 or 48 ports) are connected back to the main computer room with a single 1 gigabit per second (Gb/s) uplink. This introduces a data bottleneck, where 1 Gb/s is supporting 2.4 or 4.8 Gb of information. In comparison, low-density FTTE configurations are completely nonblocking, and even medium-density systems offer more throughput than a standard hierarchical star architecture.

Minimizing the amount of cabling deployed and reducing cooling and environmental costs also means that FTTE improves the environmental efficiency of a building. In a typical hierarchical star network, the addition of multiple rooms for network equipment and applications invariably leads to inefficiencies in cooling, power, redundancy and materials. With the zone implementation, the amount of cabling being deployed is significantly reduced, which helps to minimize the NEC requirement for the removal of unused or abandoned cable. 

While the performance, space and environmental benefits offered by the zone concept are encouraging, the most attractive aspect of the FTTE architecture is the cost savings. According to the TIA Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS) cost model, available as a free download at www.fols.org, FTTE implementation can save network designers 50 percent or more over hierarchical star deployments, depending on the number and types of variables being addressed. 

Additional Drivers for FTTE

It was mentioned above that FTTE architectures are ideal for office buildings or applications that need long cable runs and frequent reconfigurations. Two other areas where FTTE makes sense are in simplifying a building automation system (BAS) and in the data center.

The ANSI/TIA/EIA-862 standard, which deals with the BAS, recommends a zone approach for integrating all the various building subsystems such as fire-life-safety, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) controls, access controls and lighting controls into a common infrastructure. Implementing this concept reduces the amount of cabling and pathways and spaces used, which reduces waste and energy and improves efficiencies.

This section looks at how data centers can be configured. The ANSI/TIA/EIA-942 data center standard, like the 568-B standard, addresses three topologies. The first is distributed, or a hierarchical star approach, where all the server cabinets contain access switches that connect back to the core switches housed in the main distribution area. See Figure 3. In this design, the cabling is limited mainly to intracabinet links with only the backbone cables going back to the main distribution area. This is an efficient use of cabling but a very inefficient use of network switch ports. 

When every server cabinet has its own access switch, a lot of switches are spread throughout the data center, making it harder to manage and maintain each switch, especially in large data centers. If the average switch utilizes only 60 to 70 percent of available ports, it leads to a lot of wasted power, extra heat to cool and wasted cost for electronics.

The second approach for the access layer is to use centralized cabling. See Figure 4. In this design, all the switches are located in the computer room, with the cables from each server cabinet home run back to the main distribution area. The result is better port utilization, greater security, less heat generated in the server racks and a reduction in the amount of equipment being used. 

The limitation for centralized cabling in the data center is the amount of cables coming from each server cabinet. These bundles of cables (copper, fiber or both) require more pathways and spaces for routing. The centralized approach works well in smaller data centers where the number of server cabinets is limited and only a small amount of growth is expected.

The third architecture is FTTE, or zone. See Figure 5. This design creates a zone of a given size that is replicated over and over throughout the data center.

In the zone deployment, each row of servers is connected to the appropriate number of switch ports. Those switches may be located in a server cabinet or in a stand-alone cabinet at the ends of the rows. This configuration keeps most of the connections within the row and the cabling mostly within the zone, so it does not require a significant amount of pathways and space. The zone switches are connected back to the main distribution area via a backbone link.

Utilizing the zone concept in data centers has the same advantages as in other environments:

           Saves money

           Reduces cabling

           Improves port utilization

           Limits the number of active electronics in the data center space

           Minimizes added heat within       the server rows

           Is easier to plan, maintain and grow

With the right planning, zone utilization within the data center can be the most efficient architecture for current and future applications.

FTTE Offers a Solution to Build On

In today’s economy, people are challenged every day to look for better ways to live their lives and perform their jobs in ways that reduce cost and help to minimize negative effects on the environment.

The trend is clear: As network speeds continue to increase, electronics will continue to consume more power and produce more heat. This in turn will require more backup power and air conditioning to maintain the expected performance of the network. While the hierarchical star has been a cornerstone for our industry, it was adopted at a time when speeds were slow, power consumption and heat were minimal, the number of connections was low, enterprise data centers were few and small and convergence was just a thought in the minds of visionaries. According to the proverbial saying, “If a hammer is the only tool you have, then every problem will look like a nail,” but is this the way to address every network design? 

With the standardization of centralized and FTTE architectures comes the responsibility of network designers to evaluate their situation and think outside the box.  Progress is an active term. With the passing of time, the technological progress in our industry will require creativity and new solutions for solving the current and future challenges facing our network designers.

The bottom line? No single architecture will address every network’s requirements, so the network designer needs to prioritize the issues most important for the environment and choose the architectures that will best meet those needs. However, if cost, port utilization, efficiency and green are the priorities, then FTTE or zone architecture is the best choice.  www.bicsi.org

FOA

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. Newsletter Monthly News From The FOA December 2008

The December 2008 issue of the FOA Newsletter is now online.

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In This Issue

FOA Expands Online Fiber Optic Reference

   New "Premises Cabling" Section

   New "Google Custom Search"

40 to 100G Ethernet-Who Wants It?

Special Offer: Report on Government Contracting For Fiber Optics

Good Question! Comments on Last Month's Tech Questions And A New One On Attenuators

Jobs: Looking for work? Sales and field tech jobs available this month - immediate needs!

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What are people saying about the new FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference website?

 "I have found that the fiber optics website is extremely useful. It gives very in depth and detailed information to educate yourself in fiber optics. I like how it uses the history of fiber optics to explain and compare the advantages of fiber optics to copper wire!  Overall I will continue to use this website to further educate myself to become a very knowledgeable and efficient installer. I would recommend this site to beginner and experienced installers alike just to keep up with the ever-changing telecommunication industry."

The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide is available free to everyone - another FOA contribution to the fiber optic community.  Read the introduction and check out the current Table of Contents - then peruse the materials. Try the CFOT Study Guide too.

The FOA reference website is online at www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/index.html.

Be sure to tell everybody about the new FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Website!

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Renew Your FOA Membership and Certifications Online And Get a Extra Month Free

You can now renew your FOA membership and certifications online at the new FOA eCommerce site.

As a bonus, if you renew before your membership expires, you get an extra month's membershp free!

Here are the full directions on how to do it.

Quick Links...

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FOA Website: www.thefoa.org

FOA Online Newsletter

FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide

Tech Bulletins

Contact Information

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phone: 760-451-3655  

FOA Website: www.thefoa.org

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Submit Links to Your Online Fiber Optic Technical Materials For Listing On The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Website

The new FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Website (http://www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/) is now available for use by everyone. While it’s a work in progress” with new information being added continuously, it already become a major source of information on fiber optics. The FOA is now seeking the assistance of others with technical materials on fiber optics to expand the scope of this already enormous website.

According to FOA President Jim Hayes who is also editor of the site, “We created the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Website as a comprehensive “textbook”  on fiber optics to complement our printed textbooks and Tech Topics website. It is designed for use as a teaching tool for our hundreds of FOA-approved schools and their thousands of students taking CFOT certification classes each year. It’s designed as a technical reference site for the 25,000+ FOA CFOTs certified since 1995 who want to keep up with the technology. And it’s made available free to anyone interested in fiber optics looking for a single source of comprehensive technical information and lesson plans for self-study on fiber optic topics. Traffic and feedback in the first month indicates it’s going to be a very popular site!”

The FOA recognizes that many fiber optic vendors and other organizations have created lots of technical reference materials that are valuable to those working in the industry or studying to become part of it. The problem is making sure those interested can find that material! The FOA thinks we may have a solution.

The FOA will create an “Information Links” section on our Fiber Optic Reference website that will link to a special page on the contributor’s website. Contributors are free to promote white papers, technical application notes, product literature, or anything they think will be of interest to our audience.

If you are interested in participating, see the request for submissions posted at http://www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/links/index.html or contact Jim Hayes at the FOA <jim@thefoa.org> or 760-451-3655.

Have you seen the  FOA Fiber Optic Reference website?

Take a look for yourself if you have not yet seen it: http://www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/ and peruse the contents page http://www.thefoa.org/tech/ref/contents.html to see the extent of its content already. Are we already the largest "library" of fiber optic information on the web? That's what we're being told!

What are people saying about the FOA Fiber Optic Reference website?

 “I have found that the fiber optics website is extremely useful. It gives very in depth and detailed information to educate yourself in fiber optics. I like how it uses the history of fiber optics to explain and compare the advantages of fiber optics to copper wire!  Overall I will continue to use this website to further educate myself to become a very knowledgeable and efficient installer. I would recommend this site to beginner and experienced installers alike just to keep up with the ever-changing telecommunication industry. Thanks for providing me with this reference guide.“ MH

NAED

Registration is Open for the 2009 NAED South Central Region Conference  in Orlando, Florida, February 25-28

World's Foremost Authority on Fraud and Identity Theft Frank Abagnale to Give Keynote Presentation

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces that registration is open for the 2009 South Central Region Conference. The conference will take place February 25-28, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Fla. The theme for this conference is “Expanding Our Horizons.”

NAED’s education sessions will include:

  • New Market Opportunities in Energy Efficiency by Jerry Yudelson – Principle, Yudelson Associates
  • Positioning for Renewable Energy Markets by Fred Paris – Independent Contractor
  • How to Limit Your Value-Added Service Liability Exposure by Bernd Heinz, ESQ. – Sequent Insurance Group, LLC
  • The Evolving Sales Force by Michael Marks – Partner, Indian River Consulting Group
  • Panel: Reaping the Rewards of NAED’s Supply Chain Scorecard moderated by Bethany Sullivan – President, Profitability Analytics Unlimited
  • Protecting Profits and Eliminating Mistakes Using IDEA by Bob Gaylord –President, IDEA

To ensure that NAED members are getting the value they should out of their membership, there will be a special session entitled Are You Maximizing Your NAED Benefits? by Wes Morgenthaler, LMS administrator, NAED Education & Research Foundation. The conference also will include a Women in Industry networking luncheon featuring Dale Carnegie’s Public Speaking Skills Training and numerous opportunities to build your professional network.

Visit http://www.naed.org/meetings/southcentral/index.htm to register. The early bird registration deadline is January 7, 2009. For more information, contact the NAED Conference Department at (888) 791-2512.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

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NAED Co-Sponsors University of Industrial Distribution (UID)

Premier “Sell-Out” Training Event Offers 36 Courses Tailored to Industrial Distribution

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is joining with over 30 other distribution trade associations to sponsor the 2009 University of Industrial Distribution (UID), March 8-11 in Indianapolis. This popular four-day workshop has sold out weeks prior to the early bird registration deadline for the past five years.

UID is a concentrated educational program focused on the unique needs of the industrial wholesale distribution industry. The 2009 UID offers a catalog of 36 courses taught by 23 faculty members who are recognized leaders in their fields. Topics covered include profitability, sales, marketing, management, inventory, branch operations, and much more.

UID is held in cooperation with Indiana University and Purdue University. Attendees who complete the four-day program will receive three continuing education units (CEUs), which can be applied toward the Professional Certificate in Industrial Distribution from Purdue.

Some of the 2009 UID courses being offered at the March program are:

  • Differentiating Your Distribution Company – A Winning Strategy by William R. McCleave, Jr., Ph.D.
  • Leadership and Delegation for Distribution Managers by Peter A. Land
  • Creating Competitive Advantage Through Total Cost Savings by Tim Underhill
  • How to Make Technology Pay Off in the Sales Arena with Steve Epner

Three instructors familiar to NAED members return for 2009:

  • Al Bates, Ph.D., president of the Profit Planning Group and administrator of NAED’s Performance Analysis Report (PAR). His UID sessions include: Profit Myths In Wholesale Distribution and Improving the Distributor’s Bottom Line.
  • J. Michael Marks, principal with the Indian River Consulting Group, and author of the NAED Education & Research Foundation study on the residential construction market. His UID sessions include: Marketing Strategies, Pricing Strategies, Creating Channel Alignment, and New Product Development and Product Introduction Strategies.
  • Kathryne A. Newton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Industrial Technology at Purdue University. Newton helped author NAED’s “Maximize Your Profit Power” course and is frequently published in academic and trade journals. Her UID session is: Personnel Productivity Improvement.

Since 1993, the UID has trained more than 5,900 distributor and manufacturing professionals. The program is ideal for a wide range of employees, from branch managers to purchasing, inventory, sales, and operations personnel.

To learn more about the March UID or to register, go to www.univid.org. The UID has sold out before the registration deadline in each of the last five years. NAED members are encouraged to register as soon as possible to assure a reservation. The session can accommodate 550 attendees.

Members should mention their affiliation with NAED to receive a discounted registration fee. Contact John Kiso, NAED educational program manager, for additional information at (888) 791-2512 or via e-mail at jkiso@naed.org.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

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Click here to download a pdf of this release.
Click here to download a pdf of the March 2009 UID Brochure.

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NAED Commissions Two Energy Research Studies for 2009

Studies will present the opportunities and challenges of “going green” and help members take advantage of emerging markets

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) recently commissioned two new research projects: Corporate Sustainability: Why You Need it and How to Get There; and Selling Energy Management Solutions. Earlier this month, NAED selected and funded these research studies to provide members with tangible, actionable information, as well as strategies and tools to take advantage of emerging markets. Major findings of these studies will be available in May 2009.

The studies will be conducted by Jerry Yudelson of Yudelson Associates, a green-building consulting firm headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. Following are further details on both studies:

  • Corporate Sustainability: Internal and external stakeholders are pressing many companies to develop corporate sustainability plans. Yet, most companies in the electrical distribution industry have not attempted such initiatives due to lack of information about how to proceed and the resulting business benefits of doing so. The purpose of this study is to address the unique challenges and opportunities associated with corporate sustainability and outline the business case for sustainability planning.
  • Selling Energy Management Solutions: The interest level for more energy efficient buildings and alternative sources of energy is growing. This study seeks to define key segments within energy management solutions where the largest opportunities exist for the electrical distribution channel to serve their customers and grow revenues. The overall goal is to provide a “toolbox” to use and take advantage of identified opportunities.

The task force for both projects convenes by teleconference on a monthly basis throughout the duration of the project to provide guidance, discuss project resources, and review project outputs and overall findings.
The task force consists of the following members:

  • Steven Anixter, Advance Electrical Supply Co., Inc.
  • Steve Bellwoar, Colonial Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Glenn Goedecke, Mayer Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Ray Greenhalgh, United Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Melanie Hardy, Hagemeyer North America
  • Joseph Howley, GE Consumer & Industrial
  • Joe Huffman, Consolidated Electrical Distributors
  • Michael Jouaneh, Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.
  • Ronald Lim, Griffith Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Ryan Marlborough, United Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Robert Murphy, Hubbell Incorporated
  • Mark Rizzetto, Crescent Electric Supply
  • Richard Schmid, Crescent Electric Supply

NAED is looking for distributors and manufacturers to participate in telephone interviews (about an hour in duration), online surveys, focus groups at the NAED Western and South Central Region Conferences, and case studies to talk about their company’s level of commitment/investment in corporate sustainability planning and/or selling energy management solutions.

If your company is interested in or already employs business practices aligned with the principles of sustainability and/or in positioning itself to customers with varying levels of green commitment, send an e-mail to Alexis Mead at amead@naed.org. Distributors and manufacturers interested in participating in online interviews are invited to click here to participate in the Selling Energy Management Solutions survey and here to participate in the Corporate Sustainability survey.

Funding for this project is provided by the NAED Education & Research Foundation through the Channel Advantage Partnership endowment. More than 46 electrical distributors and manufacturers have pledged more than $7.9 million since the endowment’s creation in 2003. The NAED Foundation supports projects and programs that strengthen the electrical distribution channel.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

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NAED Education & Research Foundation Announces Annual Contribution Campaign

Industry Contributions Support New Education, Training Tools

The NAED Education & Research Foundation announces the launch of its 2008-2009 Annual Contribution Campaign, which runs through June 2009. The campaign funds NAED’s industry-specific education and training programs and is led by Foundation Chair-Elect James Etheredge, Sr. VP & CFO of Crescent Electric Supply Company.

“We are excited to kick off the 2008-2009 Annual Contribution Campaign,” said Etheredge. “The NAED Education & Research Foundation plays a key role in providing valuable information and innovative products to our members and growing the electrical distribution industry as a whole. I encourage both distributor and manufacturer members to make a commitment to support NAED’s Education & Research Foundation. Thank you in advance for your contribution in any amount.”

The Foundation works to help companies develop a knowledgeable and skilled workforce through the delivery of convenient, effective, and targeted education and training. Last year’s campaign received donations from 155 distributor and manufacturer member companies. As a result of the industry’s support, NAED’s Foundation is able to focus on helping members implement training in the coming year.

With a 2009 goal of $150,000, the Annual Contribution Campaign will fund comprehensive and innovative research, training and education. The Foundation’s goals for the next year include:

  • Increase number of NAED Learning Center users from 10,000 to 11,900
  • Give Certified Electrical Professional exam to 60 people in June 2009
  • Complete two research projects on Corporate Sustainability and Selling Energy Management Solutions (findings available on NLC and in Webinar series)
  • Increase EPEC graduation rates for Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels

All contributions to the NAED Education & Research Foundation are tax-deductible. Donors to the Annual Campaign receive a certificate, ribbon acknowledgment at all NAED regional conferences and the National Electrical Leadership Summit, and a listing in TED Magazine.

Members should watch their e-mail inboxes for the Foundation’s e-Annual Report/Campaign Kickoff. Visit www.naed.org to download the Voluntary Invoice form or to make a contribution online (click on the Foundation/Annual Campaign link). For more information contact the NAED Education & Research Foundation at (888) 791-2512.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

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NAED Introduces Selling Green 101

New course series offers a starting point for distributors interested in selling green solutions

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces the launch of the first course in a series of Web-based, narrated presentations created for distributors serious about getting into the growing market for green products and services. This training series—Selling Green 101—is based on research commissioned by the NAED Channel Advantage Partnership. The research study, titled Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from Green Market Opportunities, was conducted by Yudelson Associates.

Following is the complete list of Selling Green 101 course titles:
Course 1: What Does Green Mean?
Course 2: Go With the Flow
Course 3: The Value Proposition for Green Solutions
Course 4: Lighting Retrofit
Course 5: Emerging Lighting Trends
Course 6: Integrated Building Controls
Course 7: Variable Speed Drives and Motors
Course 8: Renewable Energy

“It is critical to our industry’s growth, to seek out new spaces in which to sell our products,” said Dick Waterman, NAED board chair and senior advisor for International Electric Supply Corporation. “Energy efficiency offers a tremendous opportunity for expansion. These courses offer NAED members the key information they need to know to capture this valuable growing market.”

What Does Green Mean? is currently available on the NAED Learning Center at an introductory price of $29.95 per student. To order, contact NAED Customer Service at (888) 791-2512 or customerservice@naed.org. For additional information, visit online at www.naedlearningcenter.org.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

Click here for a pdf version of this release.

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NAED Releases White Paper on Service Liability Exposure

Study examines potential liability issues associated with the provision of value-added services

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) recently made available the white paper, “Service Liability Exposure: Navigating the Legal Risks and Protections” which addresses some of the most common services NAED members offer their customers, the potential for liability arising from the provision of such services, and recommendations on how to limit liability exposure.

This paper is the second installment in NAED’s liability series, the first focused on product liability exposures. “Service Liability Exposure: Navigating the Legal Risks and Protections” specifically discusses how to quantify, consider, and manage contingent liabilities to allow top line growth while simultaneously affording asset protection.

“The products liability research demonstrated our members’ need for information about how to protect themselves from legal issues surrounding defective or counterfeit product,” said Ed Orlet, director of development, NAED Education & Research Foundation. “When some of our member companies expressed concerns about the additional liability they were incurring when providing services, we felt the service liability study was a natural extension of the products liability project.”

Bernd G. Heinze, Esq., president and CEO of the Heinze Group, LLC in King of Prussia, Pa., conducted the research for and wrote this white paper. In addition, he is sharing his findings via education sessions at NAED’s upcoming Western and South Central Region Conferences. A practicing trial lawyer since 1983, Heinze has represented numerous electrical distributors, utilities, and retailers. He also wrote the first white paper on product liability exposures.

“Our survey of the electrical distribution marketplace provided a solid foundation on which to evaluate the current state of exposure liabilities and provide recommendations on minimizing those risks while maximizing service opportunities to customers,” Heinze said. “Many distributors, manufacturers, retail customers and others we interviewed during the research phase were unaware of the numerous risk contingencies and potential claims and lawsuits surrounding traditional services like conducting electrical audits, training, kitting and engineering support, among others,” Heinze added. The white paper addresses each of the conventional services found during the research phase together with recommendations on proper risk management.

In addition to the main report content, the Appendix to this white paper, available at naed.org (click the Foundation link and select Research) contains a detailed discussion of the legal framework governing the imposition of liability for providing services. Monthly webinars are also being offered, breaking down several of the more important issues and recommendations for NAED members.

Members of the Service Liability task force convened by teleconference on a monthly basis throughout the duration of the project to provide guidance, discuss project resources, and review project outputs and overall findings. They include:

  • Dan Baker - Mayer Electric Supply Co., Inc.
  • Maureen Barsema - BJ Electric Supply, Inc.
  • Brian Becker - Border States Electric Supply
  • Jim Besikof - B & K Electric Wholesale
  • Tim Gibson - McNaughton-McKay Electric Company
  • Alice Lehnhoff - Graybar Electric Company, Inc.
  • John Spoor - State Electric Supply Co.

“I joined this task force to gain a better understanding of the risks associated with the old and new services our company offers. Distributors need to know the real exposure in offering these services and how to protect their own company. Managing risk is how one runs a successful business,” said Maureen Barsema, vice president and CFO, BJ Electric Supply, Inc. “The service liability white paper is an invaluable tool that identifies ways to minimize exposure and limit liability. Our industry finally has access to a resource that answers so many questions that were left unanswered in the past. One would be remiss without taking advantage of this extremely thorough, inestimable information.”

Funding for this project was provided by the NAED Education & Research Foundation through the Channel Advantage Partnership endowment. More than 46 electrical distributors and manufacturers have pledged more than $7.9 million since the endowment’s creation in 2003. The NAED Foundation supports projects and programs that strengthen the electrical distribution channel.

This research is available to NAED members free-of-charge. The delegate of each member company will receive by mail a free hard copy of the full report. In addition, the full report can be downloaded from the NAED Learning Center. To obtain an additional hard copy of the full report for $20, contact NAED Customer Service by e-mail at customerservice@naed.org or by phone at 888-791-2515.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership operates in approximately 4,400 locations internationally.

NEMA

NEMA Reaffirms Industrial Control and System Standards ICS 1 and ICS 2.3

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has reaffirmed ICS 1 Industrial Control and Systems: General Requirements and ICS 2.3 Industrial Control and Systems: Instructions for the Handling, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Motor Control Center s Rated Not More than 600 Volts.

ICS 1-2000 (R2005, R2008) provides practical general information concerning ratings, construction, testing, performance, and manufacture of industrial control and systems equipment and terminal blocks. This publication is strongly recommended for use in conjunction with other NEMA ICS publications. ICS 2.3-1995 (R2002, R2008) provides guidelines to facilitate movement, handling, installation, and maintenance of motor control centers at the job site and to help avoid personal injury and equipment damage during these processes.

ICS 1-2000 (R2005, R2008) may be downloaded at no charge, and a hard copy or electronic copy purchased for $112, by visiting NEMA’s website at http://www.nema.org/stds/ics1.cfm; ICS 2.3-1995 (R2002, R2008) may be downloaded at no charge, and a hard copy or electronic copy purchased for $52, by visiting NEMA’s Web site at www.nema.org/stds/ics2-3.cfm. Standards may also be purchased by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), or 303-397-2740 (fax).

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

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NEMA Applauds Decision to Support Use of Carbon Monoxide Alarms

On December 19, the Board of Directors of the International Code Council (ICC) rebuffed a challenge to and affirmed new carbon monoxide (CO) detection requirements incorporated into the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC). The new requirements, which were adopted by ICC members at its Final Action Hearing in Minneapolis on September 21, 2008, mandate the installation of CO alarms in all new one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses.

“I am pleased that the ICC Board stood behind the decision of its members to incorporate carbon monoxide requirements into the IRC,” NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis said. “By rejecting an appeal to overturn the results of the Final Action Hearing, the ICC affirmed the life-saving value of carbon monoxide alarms and demonstrated once again its commitment to model building codes which promote the safety of residents.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning death in the United States. High concentrations of CO—a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when fossil fuel is incompletely burned—can cause cognitive impairment, loss of consciousness, coma and often death.  In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “every year, more than 500 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning” and estimates that approximately 15,000 Americans seek medical attention every year due to carbon monoxide.  In addition, thousands more citizens suffer from undiagnosed heart problems, headache, flu-like symptoms, and other illnesses attributable to CO exposure.

The most effective way to reduce the incidence of CO poisoning is to ensure that effective carbon monoxide sensing, detection, and notification devices are installed in residential and other places where people sleep. Carbon monoxide alarms and detectors can be purchased at minimal cost and are available at retail, hardware and home improvement stores nationwide. 

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

www.nema.org

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NEMA Leads Coalition in Advocating Safety in OSHA Product-Approval Process

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), in conjunction with 17 other organizations, has submitted a letter to Thomas M. Stohler, Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, expressing concerns regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) consideration of a proposal to adopt Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) as an alternative to third-party certification of electrical products used in American workplaces.

At the request of European Commission, OSHA in October 2008 published in the Federal Register a Request for Information on a proposal to permit the use of an SDoC as an alternative to the nationally recognized testing laboratories (NRTLs) product-approval process. In their response to Acting Assistant Secretary Stohler, NEMA and its coalition allies stressed the safety benefits of using third-party certification for electrical products and commended OSHA’s NRTL program as a cost-effective and efficient avenue for ensuring the safety of American workers.

“We are hopeful that OSHA will not be influenced by false claims that international trade priorities necessitate replacing the well-established NRTL program with SDoC,” NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis said. “It would be unwise to compromise the most successful electrical safety system in the world.”

“The U.S. electrical safety system, which is principally based on third-party certification, is regarded as one of the most effective systems in the world for successfully ensuring workplace safety, while at the same time allowing for free and open market access for products and services, with minimal cost to the taxpayer,” the coalition letter states. “Indeed, those who now wish to institutionalize SDoC must accept that the checks-and-balances of our current system have played a fundamental role in driving U.S. electrical products to be the safest in the world.” To view a copy of the letter and a complete list of coalition members, please click here or visit http://www.nema.org/SDOCs_Letter_to_OSHA.

NEMA will be submitting detailed comments on specific issues raised in OSHA’s Request for Information by the January 20, 2009 deadline.

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

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NEMA Names Ilyse Schuman to Lead MITA

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has named Ilyse Schuman to lead its Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), the collective voice of medical imaging equipment manufacturers, innovators, and product developers.

Schuman; the former minority staff director and chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP); has joined as managing director of MITA and vice president of NEMA. Since 2001 she has served on the HELP Committee as counsel to the former chairman and now ranking member, Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY).

“Knowledge of healthcare policy is integral to the medical imaging industry’s future of improving medicine and Ilyse has the deep substantive expertise, government leadership experience and credentials to successfully lead MITA,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “MITA will be strengthened with Ilyse’s leadership.”

While serving on the Senate HELP Committee, Schuman oversaw legislative and communications activity, which included the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Amendments Act, and health information technology legislation. As staff director and counsel to the chair of the committee, she successfully managed major legislative initiatives including the FDA Drug Safety Reform, Pension Protection Act, Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, College Cost Reduction and Access Act, Head Start reauthorization, and Patient Safety bill through Congress with a proven ability to work in a bipartisan manner.

Prior to the Senate, Schuman was senior counsel at Navistar International Corporation, and, before that, an associate at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.

Schuman graduated cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science.  She earned her J.D. with honors from Georgetown University Law Center.  Her recognitions include selection as the John C. Stennis Congressional Staff Fellow of the 109th Congress.

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

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NEMA Offers Electroindustry Recommendations to President-elect Obama

In an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama on behalf of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, NEMA President and CEO Evan Gaddis has offered the association as a resource for addressing unprecedented challenges facing the U.S. economy. A copy of the letter and its 28 recommendations is available at HTTP://www.nema.org/BarackObama.

“NEMA is the nation’s largest association representing 430 companies that manufacture electrical and medical imaging equipment. Our members serve a domestic market in excess of $100 billion annually, export $20 billion in goods, and represent about 350,000 U.S. jobs,” Gaddis said in announcing the availability of the letter and its recommendations.

According to Gaddis, NEMA maintains a leadership role in creating a more energy-efficient society and its efforts to develop a modernized “smart” electrical grid for the country. Deployment of energy-efficient technologies and products must be incented in climate change legislation, along with funding for advanced technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On the energy supply side, he recommends support for a long-term production tax credit, research for renewable supply sources (wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean), expanded nuclear energy use, accelerating clean coal technology development, and ending the moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the outer continental shelf. On the transmission grid side, he calls for funding of Smart Grid provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, enactment of a 10-year accelerated depreciation for distribution equipment purchases, and changes to the rate recovery formula for transmission facilities to include power electronics and high-voltage direct current technologies. 

The letter also calls for resources at the Department of Energy (DOE) to ensure promulgation of product energy-efficiency rules, incentives for states to adopt and enforce energy building codes, funding for the High Performance Green Building and Commercial Building Initiative, and increased funding for DOE research on advanced solid-state (LED and OLED) lighting technologies. On the environmental front, he notes the industry initiative to reduce and eliminate certain hazardous substances from electrical products and urges the administration to support legislation that would codify the industry’s commitments by establishing a national standard in specified electrical products. 

“Rising health care costs are one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers,” Gaddis said. “A comprehensive approach to healthcare reform is vital to our long-term economic progress and future job growth. The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of NEMA, represents manufacturers of medical imaging technologies that play a critical role in early diagnosis of disease, improvement in patient care and outcome, and keeping people healthy and productive.” 

On the international trade front, Gaddis identifies the important role trade agreements have played in opening markets to manufactured goods and removing barriers to export. He recommends that the President seek renewal of expired trade promotion authority, enhance the effectiveness of the Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, and pursue all avenues (bilateral, regional, or multinational) for advancing free trade in electrical and medical imaging goods. 

Gaddis further stated that counterfeit electrical equipment is a growing problem and represents a serious threat to public safety. Public policy must be one of zero tolerance for those who manufacture and traffic in counterfeit products. NEMA’s recommendations focus on prompt implementation of the Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008, including the naming of a White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and providing sufficient resources to protect national borders. 

In the areas of consumer and workplace safety, Gaddis calls for full funding and staffing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in line with the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act of 2008, and for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reaffirm the current U.S. approach to electrical safety by maintaining the nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) program and rejecting EU effort to change our system of safety.

On border and homeland security issues, Gaddis urges the administration to fully fund and support the standards development of Digital Imaging and Communication in Security (DICOS) and to promote the adoption of DICOS for baggage screening in airports, with further expansion to ports and mass transit. 

“NEMA will work with the new administration and the 111th Congress,” Gaddis pledged, “to enact a pro-growth, pro-competitive agenda that addresses energy policy, the environment, health care, taxation, consumer safety, work force issues, and international trade.”

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

www.nema.org

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NEMA Publishes Errata To ICS 5-2000 Industrial Control and Systems: Control Circuit and Pilot Devices

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published errata to ICS 5-2000 Industrial Control and Systems: Control Circuit and Pilot Devices.  In the current publication, Figure 1-8-3 on Page 1-19 contains incorrect dimensions. It has been altered to reflect dimensions specified in Section 8.2.7.1.

A complete copy of ICS 5-2000, including the corrected figure, may be downloaded at no charge or a hard copy purchased for $158 at http://www.nema.org/stds/ics5.cfm, or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at global.ihs.com.

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

SCTE

SCTE Seeks Nominees For Its 2009 Board Election

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is now accepting candidate nominations for the seven seats on its board of directors that are up for election in 2009.

Any member of the Society can nominate a candidate by submitting the online nomination form located at www.scte.org. Nominators can click on the website’s Member Services section and then select National Leadership to access details and the form.

The nomination deadline is Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.

All board members are elected to a two-year term. The seven positions up for nominations are:

· Region 1 Director representing CA, HI, NV

· Region 2 Director representing AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY

· Region 6 Director representing MN, ND, SD, WI

· Region 9 Director representing FL, GA, SC, PR

· Region 11 Director representing DE, MD, NJ, PA

· Director-At-Large representing the entire SCTE membership

· Director-At-Large representing the entire SCTE membership

Eligible candidates must be active SCTE members who have been members for at least the last three years and reside within the Region they will represent. According to SCTE’s bylaws, no more than four employees from one company will be allowed to sit on the board during the same year.

The SCTE Nominations Committee will consider all nominations and select a slate of qualified candidates that it will recommend to the SCTE Board of Directors for the board’s approval. The board-approved candidate slate will be announced April 9, 2009.

The time period for SCTE members to cast their votes will be May 15–July 31, 2009. In keeping with SCTE’s resolve to be economically and ecologically prudent, starting with the 2009 election, voting will be conducted electronically through an impartial election company’s secure website, and paper election materials including the paper ballot will no longer be automatically mailed to all SCTE members. Members who are unable to vote online must request paper materials to cast their ballot.

SCTE members can make those paper materials requests by calling 610-594-7300 or e-mailing elections@scte.org prior to April 24, 2009.

Candidates elected to the board in the 2009 election will take office on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009, in Denver at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo®.

Questions may be directed to SCTE’s Cheryl Taylor at 610-594-7308 or elections@scte.org.

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The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is a non-profit professional association that provides technical leadership for the telecommunications industry and serves its members through professional development, standards, certification and information. SCTE currently has more than 14,000 members from the U.S. and 70 countries worldwide and offers a variety of programs and services for the industry's educational benefit. SCTE has 68 chapters and meeting groups and more than 3,000 employees of the cable telecommunications industry hold SCTE technical certifications. SCTE is an ANSI-accredited standards development organization. Visit SCTE online at www.scte.org.

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Productive SCTE Standards Program Reaccredited, Improves ANSI Rank

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is proud to announce today that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently reaccredited the flourishing SCTE Standards Program, which also has moved up to 13th in the ranking of ANSI’s 219 accredited standards developers.

Both its reaccreditation and improved rank are a testament to the SCTE program’s strength and increasing popularity. SCTE’s program was first accredited by ANSI in 1995.

The prolific SCTE program was ranked 15th in September 2007. The program has come a long way from its 79th place ANSI ranking in 1998. ASTM International holds ANSI’s top ranking.

The SCTE Standards Program also recently achieved the significant milestone of 200 ANSI-approved SCTE technical standards. The count has since risen to 203, with a dozen or so more technical standards due for ANSI approval early in 2009. By comparison, when ranked 15th with ANSI in September 2007, SCTE had 175 ANSI-approved standards.

ANSI facilitates the development of American National Standards (ANS) by accrediting the procedures of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) like SCTE. These groups work cooperatively to develop voluntary national consensus standards. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used by the standards body in connection with the development of American National Standards meet the institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process.

The SCTE Standards Program maintains a vigorous commitment to establishing much-needed standards to help the fast-paced cable telecommunications industry prosper. To satisfy a wide range of industry needs, the SCTE program’s member organizations develop standards covering everything from F-connectors to hot-topic, here-and-now issues such as protocols for high-speed data access over cable and digital program insertion.

SCTE’s accreditation with ANSI and its increasingly strong position within that organization lend vital credibility to the ongoing efforts of the SCTE program’s many member volunteers.

Any organization or individual interested in participating in the SCTE Standards Program is invited to access complete information about the program at www.scte.org. Program sponsorships are also available by contacting SCTE’s Debra Swann at 610-594-7313 or Heather Gosciniak at 610-594-7306.

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SCTE Foundation Provides Major Grant To OLA EKUNDARE

The SCTE Foundation is pleased to announce today that it recently awarded a major grant to Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) member Olakunle (Ola) Ekundare of Comcast Cable Communications.

Ekundare, of Philadelphia, is manager, procurement with Comcast. He will apply the major grant toward completing his executive MBA from Drexel University. Ekundare has been an SCTE member since 2002. His SCTE involvement includes serving as a board member of the SCTE Delaware Valley Appalachian Chapter (DVAC).

The SCTE Foundation was established by the SCTE Board of Directors in 2005 and began issuing grants in 2006. The Foundation has helped numerous SCTE members by distributing grants totaling approximately $95,000.

All of the financial assistance that the SCTE Foundation provides to SCTE members is made possible through donations from generous individuals and organizations within the cable telecommunications industry. Many have contributed to the SCTE Foundation’s 2008 Giving Campaign, “Fueling Cable’s Future,” which is going on now through Dec. 31. The campaign, chaired by Marwan Fawaz of Charter Communications, seeks to raise $15,000.

One of the SCTE Foundation’s purposes is to provide expanded educational opportunities for SCTE members to assist them in accomplishing their professional development goals and dreams. SCTE members have applied their grants to a variety of professional development opportunities including SCTE Virtual Classroom online courses, Jones/NCTI™ courses, college degrees in business management and telecommunications engineering technology, and attendance at industry events like SCTE Cable-Tec Expo®.

The SCTE Foundation Board of Directors recently approved Ekundare’s application for a major grant following preliminary approvals by the Foundation’s Major Grants Subcommittee and the Foundation’s Awards Committee.

The grant and scholarship application and complete information about the SCTE Foundation are available at http://foundation.scte.org.

The SCTE Foundation was established by the SCTE Board of Directors in 2005. The Foundation’s three-part mission is to assist in innovation and education within the industry, to further research and information, and to maintain a history and awareness of the cable and telecommunications industry, all for the benefit of future generations. The SCTE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Visit the SCTE Foundation website at http://foundation.scte.org.

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is a non-profit professional association that provides technical leadership for the telecommunications industry and serves its members through professional development, standards, certification and information. SCTE currently has more than 14,000 members from the U.S. and 70 countries worldwide and offers a variety of programs and services for the industry's educational benefit. SCTE has 68 chapters and meeting groups and more than 3,000 employees of the cable telecommunications industry hold SCTE technical certifications. SCTE is an ANSI-accredited standards development organization. Visit SCTE online at www.scte.org.

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SCTE NAMES MARK L. DZUBAN AS ITS NEW PRESIDENT/CEO

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is pleased to announce today that it has named Mark L. Dzuban as its new president/CEO. Dzuban’s first day on the job will be Monday, Feb. 2.

A 41-year cable industry veteran, Dzuban comes to SCTE from Cedar Point Communications, where he served as vice chairman and as executive vice president, strategic accounts. Dzuban began at Cedar Point in August 2001. He also served as the first chairman of the organization’s technical advisory board. At Cedar Point, Dzuban pioneered the development of cable telephony switching technology from concept to nearly 5 million lines deployed.

Dzuban’s hiring ends an exhaustive six-month search comprising nearly 100 candidates to succeed John Clark, who was SCTE’s president/CEO from 1998 until July of last year. SCTE Vice President, Professional Development Marv Nelson has been serving as SCTE’s interim president/CEO.

Like SCTE, Dzuban has amassed four decades of service to the cable telecommunications industry, starting in 1968 as a design engineer for Vikoa and advancing to executive leadership positions in which he constructed and operated networks in the United States and abroad.

Dzuban took his cable background to AT&T in 1991 and worked there until 2000. His first role at AT&T was as a member of the Bell Labs Technical Staff. He was the Bell Labs representative to CableLabs® from 1992 to 1997. He was promoted to senior vice president of AT&T Broadband Telephony Operations and Engineering. While with AT&T, Dzuban played a key role in bringing the vision of cable telephony deployment to fruition. He helped drive the AT&T strategy to reconstitute local access capability by partnering or acquiring cable television networks and operators, forming the foundation of AT&T Broadband.

Dzuban’s cable longevity mirrors that of the organization he will now run. SCTE this year is celebrating its milestone 40th Anniversary around the theme, “The Best Is Yet to Be.” The new president/CEO brings a focus on the business of engineering and will seek to create a legacy of educating the next generation of technical leaders for the cable telecommunications industry.

Dzuban describes his approach as SMART Engineering, which is engineering skills combined with good business tools and awareness of total cost of ownership and operations efficiency. His background is working for start-up ventures to build new or realign existing networks to compete in the marketplace.

“Mark owns a vision for taking SCTE to the forefront of engineering and technology for the cable industry,” said SCTE Board of Directors Chairman Tom Gorman. “He is resolved to address the needs of all levels of engineering—from installer to switched digital video engineer and from plant manager to Internet engineer. He is a great fit for his new position and will get SCTE well on its way to another successful 40-plus years of service.”

####

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is a non-profit professional association that provides technical leadership for the telecommunications industry and serves its members through professional development, standards, certification and information. SCTE currently has more than 14,000 members from the U.S. and 70 countries worldwide and offers a variety of programs and services for the industry's educational benefit. SCTE has 68 chapters and meeting groups and more than 3,000 employees of the cable telecommunications industry hold SCTE technical certifications. SCTE is an ANSI-accredited standards development organization. Visit SCTE online at www.scte.org.

TIA

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Recommends Specific Broadband Incentives for Economic Stimulus Plan

Investment in Digital Infrastructure Would Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Improve Healthcare, Public Safety, Education and More, Congressional Leaders Told

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, today urged congressional leaders to adopt specific broadband deployment and adoption incentives in the economic stimulus bill Congress is planning to consider at the start of the 111th Congress.  TIA’s proposal encompasses targeted incentives that will stimulate investment across all broadband platforms, including wireless and fixed broadband, and represents a unified package for the ICT community.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, TIA President Grant Seiffert highlighted the benefits that broadband technology brings to Americans: “Broadband networks directly impact the productivity of our industries and our economy, and pivotally affect public safety, education, health care, and countless other functions in Americans’ daily lives.  Like any other infrastructure project, the deployment and use of broadband will significantly increase and maintain job growth well beyond the initial investment in the infrastructure, laptops and computing devices themselves.  Broadband incentives are a necessary component of a 21st century stimulus package.”

TIA’s letter commended and built upon a proposal by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that would create 97,500 direct jobs and 2.5 million jobs throughout the economy in the near-term with every $5 billion investment, according to CWA estimates.  Adding to the CWA proposal, TIA suggests including new tiers of tax incentives for a comprehensive approach that would include the full spectrum of broadband platforms. The TIA proposal outlines specific recommendations for tiers of service and tax benefits.  TIA’s approach recognizes that a ubiquitous broadband infrastructure has four critical and complementary components: fixed broadband, wireless broadband, satellite broadband and broadband core and backbone transport.

In developing a direct grant program for rural broadband deployments, also included in the CWA proposal, TIA urges lawmakers to consider a $25 billion grant program for deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas.  TIA asks Congress to also consider stimulus for broadband demand through measures such as: vouchers for low-income Americans (including both adults and students) so that they may purchase laptops, mobile handsets and other computing devices; a tax credit for small- and medium-sized businesses that purchase/upgrade their PCs, laptops, mobile handsets, broadband equipment, services, and software; and allowing consumers eligible for Lifeline and Link-Up to use discounts for broadband services and devices as well as telephony.

TIA’s letter to congressional leaders is available on the Capitol Hill filings page at tiaonline.org.

For more information, please contact Danielle Coffey at (202) 346-3243 or dcoffey@tiaonline.org

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About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment. TIA co-owns the SUPERCOMM® tradeshow and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Visit tiaonline.org.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., GENBAND, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc.,  and Verari Systems. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

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GENBAND CEO Joins the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Board of Directors

President and CEO of GENBAND, Inc., Charles D. Vogt Elected to Board; John Marinho Is New Board Member Representing Alcatel-Lucent

At its November meeting, the Board of Directors of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, unanimously confirmed two new board members:

·         Charles D. Vogt, President and CEO of GENBAND, Inc.

·         John Marinho, Vice President Americas Region, Global Government and Public Affairs, of Alcatel-Lucent

John Giere, formerly with Alcatel-Lucent, remains on the board as CEO of Giere & Associates.

“We welcome GENBAND’s Charles D. Vogt and Alcatel-Lucent’s John Marinho to the board as we focus on leading the ICT industry through challenging economic times,” said TIA President Grant Seiffert. “We left the meeting confident that we’re doing what’s necessary to move forward, continuing on a path of growth and stability.”

Vogt is a telecommunications industry veteran who, in a few short years, has led GENBAND to a leading position atop the IP gateway market and the distinction of one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.  Recently named Ernst & Young’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology category, Vogt has been instrumental in the operational and financial growth of five standard-setting start-ups that either became public companies or were acquired.

Marinho has held various strategy, business, policy and technical positions in the telecommunications industry. In his current position, he is responsible for public policy, legislative and regulatory areas for Alcatel-Lucent’s Americas Region. Marinho is the retired Chairman of TIA’s TR-45 Mobile and Personal Communications Systems Standards Engineering Committee responsible for 3G and ANSI-41 Standards.  In his role as Chairman, Marinho was responsible for the establishment of the 3GPP2 global standards body.

At the meeting, the Board heard two keynote addresses:

·         John Donovan, Chief Technology Officer, AT&T, spoke about his views on differentiation, integration and problem solving as part of his vision of the future of the ICT industry.

·         Brian R. Mefford, Chairman and CEO of Connected Nation, Inc., gave board members his outlook on the continuing efforts to deploy broadband to rural areas of the United States.

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment. TIA co-owns the SUPERCOMM® tradeshow and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Visit tiaonline.org.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., GENBAND, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc.,  and Verari Systems. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

About GENBAND

GENBAND is a global leader and innovator of next generation IP media, session border and fixed mobile convergence security solutions deployed in over half of the world’s 100 largest service providers. These high-performance gateway solutions are at the core of fixed and mobile networks around the world - evolving, securing and enhancing communications networks. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, GENBAND has Centers of Excellence in Brazil, China, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas, and serves customers and partners in more than 80 countries. Additional information is available at www.genband.com.

About Alcatel-Lucent
Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is the trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments worldwide, providing solutions that deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. A leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent leverages the unrivalled technical and scientific expertise of Bell Labs, one of the largest innovation powerhouses in the communications industry. With operations in more than 130 countries and the most experienced global services organization in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with a global reach. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 17.8 billion in 2007 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

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India Environmental Report Released on TIA’s EIATRACK, the Global Benchmark in Environmental Regulatory Tracking

India Is the Latest Jurisdiction Added to Service Covering Energy Efficiency, Battery Regulations, Hazardous Waste, Recycling, Product Take Back, WEEE, RoHS and More

At the time most of the existing environmental laws in India were formulated, the concept of product stewardship was little known or understood. The Indian legal framework calls upon every stakeholder to jointly protect and improve the natural environment, and EIATRACK, which tracks environmental regulations for electronics manufacturing industries, is now assisting by tracking India’s environmental regulations. As one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the Asia/Pacific region, India represents an area of growth and development for many electronics companies around the world.

The latest EIATRACK special report provides a detailed description of the Indian regulatory regime governing environmental issues, including the regulatory mechanisms embodying product stewardship aspects for the electronics industry, the key authorities and their respective roles and responsibilities, and recent developments and initiatives associated with the environmentally sound management of electronic products.

“Recognizing the difficulties companies are having in this economy and with increased environmental regulations affecting their businesses worldwide, TIA has mounted an energetic campaign to increase EIATRACK coverage to include fast-developing countries such as India,” said TIA President Grant Seiffert. “Global acceptance of product stewardship – the demand for it – will continue to grow. TIA is committed to giving our industry the tools to meet this demand.”

To read the special report, visit the Overview of India page. Soon, a range of subject reports for India will be published on EIATRACK. The reports will include discussions of various legal and policy instruments as well as certain relevant judicial pronouncements on various issues.  The topic areas currently being developed for India include:

·         Energy efficiency

·         Battery regulations

·         Domestic management and trans-boundary movement of hazardous substances/wastes

·         Waste disposal and recycling

·         Product take back

India is just the first of several new jurisdictions we plan to roll out by the end of the year,” said TIA Environmental Program Manager Ellen Farmer.

EIATRACK is a subscription-based web service that delivers information on product-oriented environmental compliance for the electronics sector in more than 100 global jurisdictions, including each of the United States. The EIATRACK team is made up of legal and technical partners that cut across the disciplines of law, environmental policy and science. Compliance issues are tracked through subject updates and reports across jurisdictions. EIATRACK is owned by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the ICT industry. Information about free demos and trials and subscribing to the service can be obtained by contacting Ellen Farmer at +1.703.907.7582 or at efarmer@tiaonline.org.

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment. TIA co-owns the SUPERCOMM® tradeshow and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Visit tiaonline.org.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., GENBAND, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc., and Verari Systems. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

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Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Urges the FCC to Oppose RTG’s Proposal for Spectrum Cap

Reinstating a Spectrum Cap Would Reverse Current Policies and Severely Harm the Mobile and Wireless Broadband Product Market, Says TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc.’s (RTG) Petition for Rulemaking  to mandate a 110-MHz county-by-county spectrum cap on all commercial terrestrial wireless spectrum below 2.3 GHz.

TIA stated in Comments that reinstating a spectrum cap would reverse the Commission’s current spectrum policies and severely harm the mobile and wireless broadband product market.

“We agree with the Commission’s findings that wireless broadband technologies are vital components of the FCC’s effort to deploy broadband services to rural and other underserved areas,” said Danielle Coffey, TIA Vice President for Government Affairs.  “The Commission’s existing spectrum policy complements this policy goal by addressing competition issues on a market-by-market basis,” she added.

“However, in its Petition, RTG attempts to resurrect a failed, arbitrary, and innovation-stifling spectrum cap that has been summarily discarded by the Commission,” Coffey continued.  “The Commission has replaced this arcane policy with a flexible spectrum screen method to review competition issues on a market-by-market basis.  Such a review affords the Commission a fuller understanding of market competitiveness.  RTG has not in any way established that a reversal of the current policy is necessary to protect consumers or that the discarded policy is any more viable now than it was prior to its elimination in 2003.”

“The Commission should also acknowledge in any future policy that innovative wireless broadband networks will be built on blocks of spectrum ranging from 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz or more,” Coffey stated.  “These evolving networks should not be regulated with an antiquated spectrum cap policy that disregards the spectrum needed for deployment of wireless broadband service.  Additionally, the Commission should implement spectrum policies that ensure that wireless carriers can migrate their spectrum to broadband uses.”

TIA’s comments are available on the FCC filings page at tiaonline.org.

For more information, please contact Patrick Sullivan at 202-346-3244 or psullivan@tiaonline.org

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About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment. TIA co-owns the SUPERCOMM® tradeshow and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Visit tiaonline.org.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., GENBAND, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc.,  and Verari Systems. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

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Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Issues Standard for cdma2000® Application on UICC for Spread Spectrum

New Standard Defines CSIM Application to Ensure Interoperability With Mobile Devices, Regardless of Manufacturer, Card Issuer or Operator

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, recently issued TIA-1080 cdma2000® Application on UICC for Spread Spectrum Systems.

TIA-1080 defines the cdma2000 Subscriber Identify Module (CSIM) application that resides on the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC), an Integrated Circuit (IC) card specified in TIA-1058, UICC-Terminal interface Physical and Logical Characteristics for cdma2000 Spread Spectrum Systems. In particular, TIA-1058 specifies the application-independent properties of the UICC/terminal interface such as the physical characteristics and the logical structure.

TIA-1080 defines the cdma2000 application for cdma2000 network operation, specifying the following to ensure interoperability between a CSIM and a Mobile Equipment (ME) device independently of the respective manufacturer, card issuer or operator:

·         Command parameters;

·         File structures;

·         Security functions;

·         Interworking with other applications (IP Multimedia Services Identity Module [ISIM], Universal Subscriber Identity Module [USIM], etc.) on UICC;

·         Application protocol to be used on the interface between UICC (cdma2000 application) and ME.

The new standard does not define any aspects related to the administrative management phase of the cdma2000 application. Any internal technical realization of either the cdma2000 application or the ME is only specified where these are reflected over the interface. TIA-1080 does not specify any of the security algorithms that may be used. The document considers only changes from the existing Removable User Identity Module (R-UIM) specification in TIA-820-C Removable User Identity Module for Spread Spectrum Systems to adapt to UICC platform.

TIA-1080 was formulated under the cognizance of TIA Engineering Committee TR-45 Mobile & Personal Communications Systems, TR-45.5 Subcommittee on Spread Spectrum Digital Technology.

To obtain copies of the document, contact IHS International at +1.800.854.7179 (United States and Canada); +1.303.397.7796 (international) or visit global.ihs.com.

For technical information, please contact Peter Bogard at pbogard@tiaonline.org. For media inquiries, please contact Mike Snyder: msnyder@tiaonline.org.

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TR-45 member companies include: Aeroflex; Agilent Technologies, Inc.; AirCell, LLC; Airvana, Inc.; Alcatel-Lucent; ALLTEL Communications, Inc.; Apple; AT&T; Bell Canada; Bridgewater Systems Inc.; Camiant; CDMA Development Group; Cingular Wireless; Cisco Systems, Inc.; CML Microcircuits (USA) Inc.; CommFlow Resources Inc.; CSI Telecommunications; Defense Information Systems Agency; DoCoMo Communications Lab USA, Inc.; Dolby Laboratories Inc.; Ericsson Inc.; ETI Connect; FBI; FTR&D LLC; Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc.; Gemalto INC; Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc.; Huawei Technologies USA; Hughes Network Systems, LLC; I'M Technologies Ltd.; Intel Corporation; Intellon; Intrado; IP Fabrics; Kyocera Sanyo Telecom, Inc.; LG InfoComm U.S.A., Inc.; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Marketing Information Technologies, Inc. (MIT); Maz-Sky Canadian International Group, Inc.; Motorola, Inc.; Movius Interactive Corporation; National Communications System; NeuStar Inc.; Nokia Siemens Networks; Nokia, Inc.; Nortel Networks; ORCA SYSTEMS, INC.; Panasonic Computer Solutions Company; Prysmian Cables and Systems; QUALCOMM; Research In Motion Corporation; Rogers Wireless; Rohde & Schwarz, Inc.; RTKL Associates Inc.; Samsung Electronics; Samsung Telecom America; Sharp Laboratories of America; Sierra Wireless America, Inc.; Sigma Delta Communications, Inc.; Space Data Corporation; Spirent Communications; Sprint Nextel; SS8 Networks, Inc.; Starent Networks Corporation; Tatara Systems; Telcordia Technologies; TeleCommunication Systems, Inc.; Telus Mobility; Texas Instruments, Inc.; US Cellular; UTStarcom, Inc.; Verizon Wireless; VIA Telecom; ZTE USA, Inc.

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment. TIA co-owns the SUPERCOMM® tradeshow and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Visit tiaonline.org.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., GENBAND, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc., and Verari Systems. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

USGBC

USGBC In The NEWS

Green building goes high tech (Video)

CNN, December 3, 2008

This year's Greenbuild conference in Boston showed off the latest innovations in sustainable construction.
View the video.

Green Expo Opens with Big Crowd

Boston Globe, November 20, 2008

More than 26,000 people packed the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center yesterday for the first day of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, according to organizers.

The trade show, which ends tomorrow, is sponsored by the nonprofit US Green Building Council and highlights environmentally friendly businesses and services.

"We maxed out the conference hall, and with how big the BCEC is that shows something, and that is that people are getting it," said Kimberly Lewis, the council's vice president of events.More than 800 companies are represented at the show, she said.

Lewis said the Greenbuild conference began in Texas in 2002 with about 4,000 people attending. Last year's show in Chicago attracted more than 22,000.
Read more.

Greenbuild For All

GOOD, November 25, 2008

At the very moment that many critics are writing off the green building movement as a casualty of today's economic crisis, the industry is proving that it will likely weather the financial maelstrom. At the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo last week in Boston, the message was clear: the effort is more relevant than ever.

"When people ask if the green building movement is going to survive the recession, you'll say 'We are how the economy will get back on track - with green jobs, green energy and green innovation," proclaimed Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO, and founding chairman. His assertion becomes more on point with every passing week-and every "fireside" web chat-as it seems increasingly likely that the backbone of any imminent economic stimulus plan will be job creation, specifically "green collar" job creation.

This year's gathering, titled "Revolutionary Green," was both a nod to the historic host city and a reference to USGBC's new ambitions. Barely a month earlier, the Council added a new, so-called "guiding principle" to its mission: "for the human community, in the broadest sense, to benefit from green built environments, regardless of income, race or any other social factor." Fedrizzi, speaking on the final day of the conference emphasized the weight of this shift. "We finally connected the dots about how integral the values of social equity are with what we do," he said. Read more.

NYC's Green Skyscraper

CBS News "The Early Show", October 21, 2008

The new Bank of America building in New York City uses sustainable and recycled materials. It also generates two-thirds of its own energy, reports Bianca Solorzano. View the video.

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The Green Building Certification Institute Names New Leader

Longtime USGBC Exec Peter Templeton Appointed as President

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) announced that Peter Templeton will assume the new role of President of GBCI. In his leadership role at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Templeton was vital to the early development of the LEED green building certification system, the launch of the LEED Accredited Professional (LEEP AP) program, the expansion of USGBC’s educational programming, and the successful spin-off of GBCI earlier this year.

“Peter’s long history of exceptional leadership within the green building movement makes him the ideal President of GBCI,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, USGBC. “Peter has been integrally involved in both USGBC's biggest milestones and its day-to-day achievements, and he will bring the same commitment to the integrity of the work to his new role.”

Templeton added, “I am honored to join the founding team of GBCI. Our mission is to administer the certification and credentialing programs related to green building practice in a way that is scalable to meet the ever increasing capacity and demand, while also maintaining the highest levels of quality and integrity.”

Most recently, Templeton has served as Senior Vice President of Education & Research for the U.S. Green Building Council, where he led the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, LEED training and professional certification programs, and green building research initiatives. He joined USGBC as its second employee in 2000 immediately following the launch of the LEED® Green Building Rating System™ and served as Director of LEED & International Programs until July 2005. Over the course of his eight-year tenure with the organization, USGBC trained more than 110,000 professionals in green building practices and welcomed nearly 100,000 attendees to Greenbuild.

Prior to joining USGBC, Peter worked as a project manager and environmental planner directing sustainable development, environmental education and land-use management programs in the United States and abroad. . He has a Masters Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia School of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University.

About GBCI
GBCI was created to administer certification and credentialing programs related to green building practice and to ensure that the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) program continues to be developed in accordance with best practices for credentialing programs. To underscore this commitment, GBCI will undergo the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation process for personnel certification agencies complying with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 17024. Beginning in 2009, GBCI will begin administering the LEED certification process for buildings. For more information, please visit www.GBCI.org.

Article Contributions

CARLINI

Next Bailout: Overhauling Education; Must Make New Assessment First

Published on 12/3/2008 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.

Giving education more money without fixing its strategic direction is like spending more money to build another Titanic after the first one sank.

Public schools will be the next institutions to want more money to fix crumbling buildings, patch bloated budgets, buy more buses and perpetuate stagnated objectives. In reality, they need to reinvent education to take wholesale advantage of proven technologies from sophisticated software and broadband connectivity to distance learning and interactive video capabilities.

For the most part, public schools are an anachronism. They were designed in the Industrial Age to assimilate an agrarian society into a work force for the Industrial Age.

When the Industrial Age surged into the Information Age a good 40 years ago, we didn’t do much to change the framework of education. If anything, we bloated it with multiple assistant superintendents, curriculum advisors, crisis counselors and a dozen more positions that were unheard of 20 years ago.

We are now well past the Information Age and are in what some would call a Mobile Internet Age. We need to embrace a whole new set of educational concepts and discard those that include teaching obsolete skills, protecting deadwood teachers and adhering to schedules that reflect the harvesting of crops.

The Three ‘R’s

The three “R”s you grew up with in public schools weren’t reading, writing and arithmetic. They were rote (memorization), repetition and routine. After 12 years, they added up to regimentation. This framework developed a work force of people who could assimilate into Industrial Age jobs.

It’s too bad we advanced from the Industrial Age.

Most organizations are tied to procedures and policies that reflect routine. For no other reason, it is because that’s what most people are comfortable with doing. Unfortunately, most jobs require being flexible, adaptable and creative within the current global economy. They also require a solid set of adaptive technology skills. New initiatives or management styles are often met with obstacles at work.

Classic early technology examples include organizations that went from keyboard to mouse applications or DOS to Windows-based applications. Do you remember how some people couldn’t use a mouse? Something we look back at now as being such a nominal change or such a natural progression was a huge impact to the routines of what people used “back in the day”.

Did you know there are still some people who use DOS applications in financial applications? They still can’t get into a Windows-based environment due to technical and financial resistance of not wanting to spend the money to upgrade into new technology. These are the people who are making financial decisions for some large institutions and pensions, too.

Just as someone older would frown upon a stock broker trying to figure out return rates using a slide rule someone younger would go into shock if their financial portfolio was being monitored by someone using a DOS-based application.

Routine, Regimentation Build Up Resistance

No matter what organization you go to, you will find some resistance to change. With most organizations looking to improve services, the need to overcome resistance is critical. As resistance is always present (whether you’re in manufacturing, finance or education), you must plan for it.

There are several types of resistance to change. These can include political resistance, technical resistance, financial resistance, individual resistance and combinations of them. This isn’t just a syndrome with “older workers”. Younger workers often fall into the “routine trap” as well. They went to that same public school of rote, repetition and routine, too.

There are structured methodologies to apply for organizations to improve and focus on quality initiatives. No matter which one they select, though, it’s only as good as the level of acceptance the organization attains.

No matter which quality methodology they select (Six Sigma, TQM, Kaizen, etc.), chances are the first step is to perform an assessment of the current environment. Before any improvement can occur, you should set a baseline to where you’re starting (i.e. the current environment from which to measure progress).

What should organizations assess? Most focus on people, procedures, policies and the current state of assets and liabilities. More progressive organizations also focus on the culture of the organization to determine what other influences are present that would impact change.

Before more bailout money is spent in the wrong direction for any institution or industry, a complete assessment should be done to understand what’s worth funding and what should be discarded. There should be performance objectives and other restrictions tied to any bailout package no matter what industry it’s going to fund.

If we are to be globally competitive, we can’t perpetuate corporate or institutional frameworks that were built to work within an earlier era. While breaking an old routine is difficult, that’s what is needed in many areas.

Carlinism: Agents of change are not well liked. They disrupt routine.

Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.

Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

To be removed from this mailing list, please contact the sender

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

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Customer Service in a Bad Economy: The New Oxymoron

Published on 12/17/2008 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.

CHICAGO – No matter where you go, good customer service is beginning to be as common as a nickel beer.  

How many companies have you recently dealt with where customer service is the latest oxymoron? While everyone wants more for their product or service, they want to provide less and less when it comes to giving good service.  

Though many companies talk about their customer service programs, evidently their executives don’t utilize their own services to check to see if they’re really living up to their commercials. In the past, we have focused on the decline of United Airlines with their “nickel and dime the customer” strategy on meals and charging for baggage.  

They’re not the only ones that have lost sight of good customer service.  

There are many other large companies vying for that “clueless customer service” award. Some new companies in the running include banks, plumbing supply stores and other places where somehow their management and their lemming employees have made a negative difference in the perception from customers of their organization.

Bank of America: We Make Change

The Bank of America executive who determined that they should get rid of change-counting machines at every branch doesn’t know the banking business. People come in with cups, boxes and coffee cans of change all the time to turn it into paper money.  

The bank tellers take the change and dump it into the machines, the machines count it and customers are given back paper money immediately. That is what is done at a bank. Not providing that traditional service at each branch should translate into less or no transaction fees.  

The new Bank of America approach is to put your money in a big plastic bag, tag it and give you a receipt of the bag (not the amount; just the bag). The teller had to ask another teller how to do all this as she never did it since they put in the new process. It looked very time consuming compared to just dumping the money into a machine to get a total.  

From a security standpoint, how do you know how much you just gave them? What about the other end of the transaction in the counting room or wherever they have the “master change machine”?  

How do you know someone isn’t taking a couple quarters out of every bag? Where are the safeguards? Is anyone watching the person handling the change? If each branch sends in a bag a day, that could be more than 1,000 bags. Just taking out one quarter a bag would net $250 a day. Who would know? Is your money safe with Bank of America?  

If you don’t think grabbing a quarter out of each bag is beyond the realm of possibility, you are sadly mistaken. It’s like going to a bakery and asking for a pound of cookies and the clerk telling you to wait as he or she steps in the back to “weigh your purchase” out of your visual sight. Did they get you a full pound? How do you really know? 

You want that visual confirmation that they just gave you a pound of whatever in exchange for your cash. That’s the same visual confirmation you want when they throw in all that change to get counted up. Bring back the change-counting machines at branch offices and make sure the clueless executive is one of the 35,000 people that Bank of America is laying off.  

Cost-cutting measures, which seem to provide a career for some clueless executives, have to be compared to the impact of high-quality customer service. Many companies that thought sending call centers overseas started bringing them back after too many customer complaints and the actual shifting of accounts.  

That was pointed out a couple years ago in this very column.  

Where are those executives who thought that offshoring their call centers was a great cost-cutting idea? They never looked at the impact to customer service. There should be a panel discussion about the problems of offshore call centers. We should get some of those great thinkers together on the panel with those of us who questioned that move years ago.  

In contrast to the poorly run call centers, the call center for the Tire Rack is one of the best out there. The people know their tire products, they know their applications on different cars and most important they treat all customers with a high level of service as they input all your information into a database. The next time you call, all your car information is known.

Correlation of Cluelessness, Wanting Bailouts

Companies with poor customer service also seem to be the ones looking for bailouts and other crutches to keep afloat. After years of turning out inferior cars and giving their executives big bonuses, Detroit is finally feeling the crunch of 20-year low sales. Why do you think that is? 

It’s not just the extra $1,500 a car for health care costs to employees. That’s the excuse they always say to justify their non-competitiveness in the marketplace. The reality is there are many shortcomings from executive overpay to poor-quality cars as compared to what a consumer can get from a dealer across the street. 

The automotive industry needs a big overhaul. Jobs will be lost in any approach. Unions have to adjust and so do the executives. If they want the unions to be more competitive, the executive pay should also reflect the pay structure of their competitors. Anyone who thinks differently doesn’t take into account all the issues.  

The Best Comeback For Poor Customer Service

When it comes to restaurants, there’s no better barometer of the quality of service than the individuals serving you at your table. The place you may go to may only be a cheap restaurant or an inexpensive chain location, but in many of them, their highest symbol of customer service is their great servers.   

At one Chicago suburban restaurant where I went for breakfast, I specifically asked for my potatoes to be extra well done. After waiting a long time, the breakfast came and I sent the potatoes back. After waiting longer, they came back again and were still what I call raw. I told the server and she said: “That’s the best we can do on Sundays.”  

I ate the breakfast and left the potatoes along with a quarter tip. As I left, I said: “That’s the best I can do on Sundays.” I never went there again.  

How does this relate to large companies and their customer service? Take away enough service from your customer and you will see your profits drop if not totally disappear.

Carlinism: Anyone can have a failure. It’s what they do after to correct it that differentiates the good companies from the bad.

Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.

Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

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Network Infrastructure: Why the United States Should Cut Copper

Published on 12/10/2008 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 mans view on business and technology issues while questioning the leadership and visions of pseudo experts.

CHICAGO – Copper is still a major part of the network infrastructure in this country.

It has become a liability as more people try to steal it. A new FBI report has been published that focuses on the rise of thefts on copper cable and other valuable components of both the power and communications industries.

Copper thieves are threatening U.S. critical infrastructure by targeting electrical substations, cellular towers, telephone landlines, railroads, water wells, construction sites and vacant homes for lucrative profits.

The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, security and emergency services. It presents a risk to both public safety and national security.

Over the years, I have advocated upgrading to fiber optics. This would provide a leading-edge framework for broadband connectivity. It also seems like a safer bet as the backbone component for our network infrastructure.

What’s needed today is an upgraded platform for commerce that includes a network infrastructure that can support multiple-gigabit speeds. With the increased value in copper as a raw material, pieces of the network have become targets for those trying to cash in material that’s readily available and easily hacked off.

Now’s the Time to Replace Copper

When the telephone network was initially built, it was built with copper wiring more than a century ago. The copper served the purpose well. From an engineering standpoint, it was a great vehicle for cost-effective voice communications.

We are in a new century and the demands for network communications have changed and expanded. Subscribers and network carriers have found out that voice communications can be readily handled by wireless means and the heavy uses for a wired infrastructure have evolved to high-speed data and broadband video.

With so many organizations spending money on countermeasures and security measures, you have to ask the question: “Why not spend that money to just replace the copper with fiber optics?” The FBI report also observed:

Industry officials have taken some countermeasures to address the copper theft problem. These include the installment of physical and technological security measures, increased collaboration among the various industry sectors and the development of law-enforcement partnerships.

Many states are also taking countermeasures by enacting or enhancing legislation regulating the scrap industry to include increased recordkeeping and penalties for copper theft and non-compliant scrap dealers.

However, there are limited resources available to enforce these laws. A very small percentage of perpetrators are arrested and convicted. As copper thefts are typically addressed as misdemeanors, those individuals convicted pay relatively low fines and serve short prison terms.

When will all the “experts” figure out that upgrading to fiber for the network infrastructure is long overdue? Why do people want to protect an antique infrastructure? Take all the money you would spend on security measures and recycling the copper itself and a part of the upgrade to fiber would be covered.

Stagecoaches Are Obsolete in Today’s NASCAR World

As I’ve said before, we must stop running our stagecoach-era network infrastructure in a competitive NASCAR world.

Speed is king and the king of speed is not the United States. As I’ve said before, putting DSL on copper is like putting a vinyl top on a stagecoach in the era of the space shuttle. While it’s far from being enough to compete in the global economy, so many have bought off on the hype.

Perhaps the catalyst to upgrade the network won’t come from educated and demanding consumers but more from the acceleration of criminals hauling off pieces of the network. Will crime become the catalyst for network upgrades to fiber? Soon you will be seeing bumper stickers that read: “If you are running at gigabit speeds, thank organized crime.”

Maybe organized crime has done more in the last year to focus on the need to upgrade to fiber than most state legislatures. Now that’s the real crime.

Carlinism: Leading-edge countries do not maintain their position with trailing-edge infrastructures.

Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.
Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

To be removed from this mailing list, please contact the sender.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

Cabling Installation & Maintenance

Looking back and ahead at the cabling marketplace

The future is murky, but is the past crystal clear?

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance. He can be reached at: patrick@pennwell.com

Fifteen years ago, this magazine was closing out its first year of publication. We have taken the liberty in this, the final printed issue of our 15th-anniversary year, to self-congratulate a little bit on our front cover. According to modern convention, the 15th anniversary is considered the “crystal” anniversary. So, we have had a little fun with words too, in the subheadline to this article.

If you will indulge me for the next couple of pages, I’d like to offer some personal reflections on the 11 years I have spent with Cabling Installation & Maintenance. As for the publication’s first four years, well, as usual, I’ll pretty much make that part up and pretend like I know what I’m talking about.

In 1993, the cabling industry could almost be defined by a single phrase: Cat 5. Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair cabling was the wonder drug. It capably handled the 100Base-T protocol, and within a short period of time both the protocol and the medium were nearly ubiquitous. Significant space in our last issue was devoted to the history and future of the twisted-pair interface (see “Twisted-pair connectors continue technological evolution,” November 2008, page 15), so I won’t simply re-hash that all here. But as a point of historical reference, Category 5 reigned supreme when this title came into existence more than 15 years ago.

Wowed by GbE

By the time I arrived on the scene in 1997, the Category 5 situation had gotten less cut-and-dry than it had been a few years earlier. At the first BICSI conference (www.bicsi.org) I attended in June 1997, attendees were glued to their seats for a presentation on the coming protocol Gigabit Ethernet. Now I have to admit, the audience’s palpable interest level was what I remember most about that presentation because I had not the vaguest idea what Geoff Thompson, chair of the 802.3ab Task Force, was talking about. In fact, my supervisor noticed that during several of the presentations made that day, I was not taking notes. He asked me why I wasn’t and I had to be honest. “I was waiting to hear some words I understood, and I would write those down,” was my answer. Consequently, my notebook included the following words and phrases: the, difficult, closet, patch cord. At least I knew what a patch cord was.

The real point, though, is that even at that time I understood Gigabit Ethernet would be a tectonic shift for the industry. In retrospect, I still hold the opinion that it has been the single biggest technological development, with the farthest and deepest implications, of the last 15 years (and perhaps longer). From a technology standpoint, Gigabit Ethernet put twisted-pair copper cabling and multimode fiber-optic cabling through the proverbial wringer. Ultimately, we learned that some but not all installed Category 5 cabling systems would support GbE, and that 50-µm multimode fiber would support the protocol for greater distances than would 62.5-µm multimode.

Those conclusions shifted user preferences for media, and more significantly in my eyes, allowed standards makers within the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) to put a stake in the ground concerning what can actually be called a Category 5e cable. Originally a marketing term, Category 5e (which sometimes had a capital “E”) became a bona fide set of performance specifications for twisted-pair cabling systems. Today, it is the minimum performance grade recognized by TIA standards, with the once-ubiquitous Category 5 now relegated to “annex” status.

Skip ahead several years (which we must when we have only two pages to play with), and the development of 10-Gigabit Ethernet similarly stressed twisted-pair cabling systems. As 2008 comes to a close, we are in the midst of the results of that stress. Specifically, Category 6A cabling is now a standardized set of performance specifications, likely someday to unseat its predecessor Category 6 as the twisted-pair medium of choice for users who foresee ultra-high-speed communication systems in their futures. As for whether that Category 6A system is unshielded, foiled/unshielded, foiled/shielded, or some other construction, well, I guess that’s the type of question that may keep us reporting for the next 15 years.

For multimode fiber systems, 10-GbE’s development had relatively little fallout compared to what 1-GbE brought. Users today must be familiar with the “OM” nomenclature of multimode optical fiber. Specifically, OM3 fiber is the ideal medium for carrying 10-GbE to distances that can support an enterprise/campus-type environment. But the path from Gigabit to 10-Gigabit was a smoother one for optical than it was for copper-based transmission systems.

Bandwidth debate looms

The technological path to 100-GbE might prove to be a different story. Over the past few issues of Cabling Installation & Maintenance (and let me warn you, it will happen for several of the upcoming issues as well), technical arguments have been made about the qualities of an optical fiber necessary to support 100-GbE. To me, these discussions are reminiscent of the 1-GbE situation more than a decade ago. Then, we heard about phenomena such as differential mode delay for the first time. Now, expect to hear much debate about the importance of effective modal bandwidth—and, I have to think, a few other head-scratching terms that will make me feel like I’m once again listening to Geoff Thompson and understanding very little.

Also, in the near-term future, it will be interesting to see some early adopters of Category 6A systems who also will be early adopters of 10GBase-T put those pre-standard cabling systems to the test. It’s likely that immediately, 10GBase-T links will largely be physically separated from each other and, therefore, not tempt the sleeping giant of alien crosstalk. But as 10GBase-T connections become more common and, therefore, closer in proximity to one another, those systems will prove their true value.

So, there’s my brief and oversimplified take on cabling technology’s recent past and immediate future. If you have gotten this far, thanks. Now, please email me to let me know how wrong I have gotten it.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com

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Draka begins North American production of bend-insensitive optical fiber

In response to growing FTTx deployments by major carriers, Draka Communications (www.drakaamericas.com) says it will begin production of its bend-insensitive optical fiber, BendBright-XS, at its Claremont, NC manufacturing facility.  Draka says the decision to manufacture the FTTx fiber at its flagship optical-fiber production facility is intended to best serve the growing demand for bend-insensitive fibers in North America.

Recently, Draka announced that world sales of BendBright-XS exceeded the 250,000 km mark, and demand for BendBright-XS in North America has been driven mainly by large-scale deployments of FTTH access networks by major telecommunications providers. With access networks extending to single family homes and, more recently, multi-dwelling units (MDUs), Draka says there was significant need for “a robust, easy-to-install optical fiber that can endure the rigors of traditional copper cable installations.” BendBright-XS is designed to avoid splicing and connectorization problems associated with other bend-insensitive fibers.

“Since we first introduced BendBright-XS at the FTTH Conference in 2006, the demand for this industry-leading fiber has grown by leaps and bounds”, says Ryan Chappell, Draka’s North American fiber business manager. Adds Steve Linden, Draka director of operations for North America, “In 2008, the volumes of BendBright-XS have become so significant that it only makes sense to have local production of the product to best serve the North American market.”

BendBright-XS, which has been commercially available for over two years, uses a “trench-assisted” index profile to achieve what Draka claims is the highest level of bend performance on the market and meets the stringent ITU-T G.657.B standard for bend-insensitive fiber.  The fiber is designed for approximately 100x microbending and 100x macrobending performance improvement over standard singlemode fiber, and is especially suited for access networks where cables and fibers are subjected to tight bends and harsh installation techniques (such as the stapling of cables).

Draka claims that BendBright-XS is the only commercially available all-glass fiber that not only exceeds ITU-T G.657.B bending requirements, but maintains backwards compatibility with existing singlemode fibers, meeting ITU-T G.652.D. 

Draka Communications introduced the first generation bend-insensitive fiber, BendBright, in 2002.  Updated in 2005 to conform to low water peak standards, G.652.D, BendBright is a G.657.A fiber, designed for approximately 10x bending improvement over standard singlemode fiber. The second generation bend-insensitive fiber--BendBright-XS, a G.657.B fiber designed for approximately 100x bending improvement over standard singlemode fiber--was introduced in 2006.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com

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Be the leader you need

One of the books I most recently read on the topic of organizational change is Our Iceberg Is Melting. Subtitled “Changing and succeeding under any conditions,” the fable, which is now about four years old, is praised by some for being as insightful as it is simplistic. I have heard others criticize it for its simplistic portrayal of the chaotic upheaval that usually marks a change in corporate culture. Authors John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber take the reader through an eight-step process that they say facilitates successful change.

Other than identifying which of the book’s characters most resembled me, what I paid specific attention to in the book was which characters emerged as the group’s leaders, working to drive the necessary culture change.

That got me thinking about an even older book I read, and that still sits on my file cabinet because I refer to it with some frequency. Rudy Giuliani’s book, Leadership, tells his firsthand account of his time as New York City’s mayor. The ironic thing is he had a draft of the book completed before September 11, 2001. Needless to say, that day’s events and their aftermath required him to alter the book significantly from that early draft.

The final version of Leadership included multiple examples of Mayor Giuliani implementing a given policy throughout his administration, and then also effectively administering it on or immediately after 9/11. The point was clear to this reader: Giuliani’s time-tested leadership qualities guided him, the city, and in many ways the country, through the 9/11 tragedy. On many other occasions however, he had no precedent as the basis for his decision-making. The world changed that day, and there wasn’t a single person on the planet who could have given the mayor any advice that would have come from meaningful experience. He had to make many of his own calls.

While none of us are dealing with crises or decisions of the magnitude that Rudy Giuliani faced in September 2001, many nonetheless are dealing with situations that are extremely challenging and unprecedented for us. There is no oracle for us to consult. In times like these, I’ll dust off Giuliani’s book, admire his courage, and strive to follow his example of filling the leadership vacuum by being the leader who’s needed.

If you have some time as the year winds to a close, you might find a good use of that time to be reading Leadership or Our Iceberg Is Melting. Or both. If you can’t find either one, email me. I have a copy of each I’d be happy to loan you.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN

Chief Editor

patrick@pennwell.com

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com

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What 802.11n means for wired networks

Examining the potential for high-speed, mobile connections anywhere across the LAN.

DAVID VENESKI is marketing manager for Fluke Networks’ copper and fiber certification products (www.flukenetworks.com).

[OPEN WITH FIGURE 1]

Businesses and consumers have grown excited about 802.11n wireless local area network (WLAN) technology. 802.11n is a set of draft standard specifications from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) used for designing products that deliver wireless networking data rates four to six times faster than current 802.11a/g networks.

This new wireless technology also promises much greater range than previous-generation versions. The protocol achieves these transmission enhancements by combining several radio-frequency (RF) and networking techniques--using multiple transmit and receive antennas, spatial multiplexing, channel-bonded 40-MHz operation, and frame aggregation.

Early 802.11n products typically deliver peak data-connect rates of 300 Mbits/sec and at least 100 Mbits/sec of actual throughput. This opens the possibility of all-wireless LAN access networks, in which users are truly mobile and have no permanent wired connection. Such networks are likely to emerge first in organizations with highly mobile user populations that run bandwidth-intensive streaming and interactive multimedia applications.

Though the final IEEE 802.11n standard will not be formally ratified until year-end 2009, many consumer- and enterprise-class products are available as “pre-standard” devices. These products comply with Draft 2.0 of the emerging standard, and vendors are banking on that specification not changing significantly. The 802.11n standard may change before it is finalized, but hardware vendors will resist modifications that make shipping products difficult to upgrade. Right or wrong, this is stabilizing 802.11n and diminishing the risk of deploying it.

11n’s value and risk

Why will network owners adopt 802.11n? The first reason is speed. At the data rates mentioned above, 802.11n is about four times the speed of 802.11g wireless. And if higher data rates are achieved—802.11n has an upper limit of 600 Mbits/sec—so much the better.

Another reason to adopt 802.11n is the better coverage. 802.11n access points (APs) offer greater range and promise to reduce the number and size of dead zones. This translates to better aggregate coverage and simpler management.

Finally, 802.11n highlights two advantages inherent to all WLANs--flexibility and cost. If users roam to change work areas frequently, then it is easiest to support them with a WLAN. Equally compelling is cost. The price of copper has doubled since early 2005 and tripled since early 2004, and reflected in the cost of twisted-pair cable.

But for all these benefits, 802.11n is not a cure-all. As with any new technology, opportunity is accompanied by new challenges. Among the pitfalls that might arise in early deployments are:

• The capacity of existing wired LANs must be sufficient to support aggregate 802.l1n traffic volumes;

• Placement of APs and other RF management considerations will change, requiring adjustments for increased power output, multipath signal propagation, and “smart” antenna designs;

• Some 802.11n APs require greater power than today’s standard Power over Ethernet (PoE) equipment supplies to operate at their maximum potential;

• New security considerations come into play associated with 802.11n’s extended coverage range and new frame formats.

Impact on the wired world

802.11n hyperbole and rapid technology change have created confusion about 802.11n data rates. A clear understanding of the facts is needed.

While the IEEE 802.11n standard stipulates a top data rate of 600 Mbits/sec, most vendors claim data rates between 200 and 300 Mbits/sec. More skeptical observers believe that 100 Mbits/sec is a more reasonable expectation for the maximum data rate, and that average rates will be less. The reason is that many 802.11n networks will use the 2.4-GHz band for 802.11b/g compatibility. When this is the case, the 802.11n AP downshifts to slower data rates that are compatible with legacy wireless clients.

Even though the foreseeable future offers speeds in the range of 100 to 200 Mbits/sec, a network planner might shiver at the magnitude of the potential traffic being added to an existing LAN. 802.11n uses multiple transmitting and receiving antennas working in parallel, called multiple input, multiple output, or MIMO. The phrase “NxN” is used to describe the number of antennas at each end of the 802.11n transmission. The minimum configuration required by the emerging IEEE standard is 2x2: two transmitting and two receiving antennas operating concurrently.

A 2x2 MIMO can overload existing infrastructure. Many enterprises have 10/100-Mbit/sec switches installed in their wiring rooms. They have been adequate to aggregate traffic from 802.11a/b/g networks, which support actual throughput of up to about 22 Mbits/sec; however, aggregating traffic from dual-radio APs that support about 200 Mbits/sec per client (100 Mbits/sec per radio) requires faster upstream connections so as not to create a performance bottleneck. In fact, many 802.11n APs support 1-Gbit/sec wired uplinks. As the 802.11n network begins to crank at full capacity, 10/100-Mbit/sec switches will likely need an upgrade to 1-Gbit/sec speeds.

[INSERT PHOTO 1]

Cable is also a “must” consideration. The Category 5 cabling standard predates the IEEE 1000Base-T standard, so Category 5 was not defined to support 1 Gbit Ethernet. But before retiring it and investing in new cabling, a certification test for compliance to TIA Telecommunications Systems Bulletin TSB-95, or to the Category 5e standard, will indicate if 1-Gbit support is possible. Many quality Category 5 links will pass certification tests to TSB-95 or even the TIA/EIA-568-B Category 5e performance level. The latter assures a better performance that translates to better margins for 1000Base-T support. If the installed links pass either of these performance levels, they will support 802.11n APs.

Newer Category 5e and Category 6 cabling systems should easily support the backhaul demands of an 802.11n network. If the network owner has documentation that the twisted-pair copper was certified to Category 5e, Category 6, or even Category 6A, the network is suitable for 802.11n APs. If documentation does not exist, testing is the recommended solution.

Access point and RF management

The extended range offered by 802.11n brings the possibility of fewer APs being required to effectively cover a given area. This is fortunate, given that new 802.11n APs are currently about 2 to 3 times the price of 802.11 a/b/g APs. (Most are in the $1,300 range.) Ultimately, the number and deployment of 802.11n APs should follow the recommendations of the manufacturer and the requirements of the applications that will run on the network.

The current generation of WLAN simulation and site-survey tools can be valuable in both planning and managing the placement of 802.11n APs. The point of a site survey is to figure out how many APs to install and where to place them to provide a minimum throughput rate with adequate coverage throughout the building. Extremely sophisticated tools are emerging that allow enterprises to perform site surveys electronically by feeding application information about the layout of the building and its construction materials, and then programming in the desired coverage, minimum data rate, and received signal strength information (RSSI). Note, though, that it is not uncommon that there might be environmental conditions unaccounted for in the building’s blueprints that require an occasional visit to a physical site.

Unlike its predecessors, 802.11n relies on multipath—the combination of an original transmitted signal plus duplicates created from reflection off obstacles during transmission—to enhance performance. The effects of multipath, however, will change the optimum layout of APs.

And what about making use of both the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands? Using both while transitioning from earlier WLAN can mitigate the performance impact of legacy 802.11 networks on the 802.11n infrastructure. One option is to run 802.11n traffic and 802.11b/g traffic in different bands. Most vendors sell dual-radio APs with one 2.4-GHz radio and one 5-GHz radio. Assigning all 802.11n traffic to the 5-GHz channel and 802.11b/g traffic to the 2.4-GHz channels (the only spectrum in which 11b and g operate) helps maximize the 11n infrastructure’s performance while continuing to serve 802.11b/g clients as usual.

In installations with 802.11a clients, which run in the 5-GHz band, the 11a clients will communicate with 11n APs at 11a speeds, or 54 Mbits/sec, but again, this impacts the speed of 11n clients.

Power implications

Deriving maximum performance from some 802.11n systems requires upgrading the existing power infrastructure. Today’s IEEE standard for delivering Power over Ethernet (PoE) cabling--802.3af--specifies power output of 15.4 watts, sustainable at 12.95 watts over 100 meters. Some 802.11n APs, however, require greater wattage to run both 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz radios for maximum performance. The IEEE is working on a 30-watt upgrade to PoE, called 802.3at, which might be ratified as early as next year.

[INSERT FIGURE 2 NEARBY]

In the meantime, there are some options. One is to install APs with a single 802.11n radio in them, as single-radio devices are likely to operate within the power budget, and forfeit some capacity. Enterprises seeking a dual-radio implementation, with 802.11n capabilities in both the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands, should be sure to investigate the vendors claiming they can “do it all” with an 803.2af power infrastructure. Some may automatically disable some AP services, require two ports on a PoE switch and/or two cables, or sacrifice range to stay within the power budget and maintain performance. These tradeoffs might be perfectly acceptable, as long as the enterprise is aware that it is making them.

Another option is to use a power injector compatible with pre-standard 802.3at specifications, becoming available by a number of sources. Local powering of an 802.11n AP is an option, too, if a power source is available.

Security issues

802.11n systems require the use of industry-standard 802.11i security authentication and encryption. As such, they can be deemed inherently more secure than their predecessors, some of which used weak encryption methods, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), or even no security at all.

Still, there are new risks of which users should be aware. 802.11n is capable of transmitting twice the distance of earlier WLANs. This means its tendency to leak RF signals outside a building is potentially greater. If 802.11i is accurately deployed and the internal wired network is properly secured, leaked signals shouldn’t be a problem. But if even one AP has been misconfigured, it could be vulnerable to outside rogue devices operating in promiscuous mode, which can passively listen to all network packets passing by--regardless of destination address--which is a greater threat when signals travel outside the corporate perimeter where hackers might go undetected.

Users of promiscuous devices can gather sensitive information, such as user credentials or credit-card information, if the data hasn’t been properly encrypted. The listening WLAN devices do this without emitting any signal of their own, so they are undetectable to wireless intrusion detection/prevention systems (WIPS). This is why regular audits that check security configurations are important.

Driver vulnerabilities make a system open to administrative access by a hacker, and the WLAN industry’s rush to get 802.11n technology to market has resulted in some vulnerable code. Tools are becoming available, however, that use a database of known wireless vulnerabilities to assess the versions of installed drivers and identify systems and specific drivers that are at risk to wireless driver exploit tactics.

Finally, IEEE 802.11n introduces a mechanism to acknowledge a block of packets, instead of individual packets, identified by a beginning and ending sequence identifier to improve network efficiency. At the time of this writing, the block ACK mechanism is not protected; an attacker can spoof one of these messages and create an enormous window within which frames can be sent with no ACK. In this way, they could potentially create an 802.11n denial-of-service (DoS) attack.

High-performance potential

802.11n offers many advantages for the wireless portion of enterprise networks. Before those advantages can be realized, however, the wired infrastructure needs comprehensive evaluation. 802.11n APs might require new cabling; some or all of the existing infrastructure may require upgrading to support this new wireless technology. When it doubt, test it.

Access-point placement, RF management, power consumption, and security assessments also change with 802.11n. All these new challenges have solutions, and the promise of a high-speed wide-range all-wireless network is here for system integrators, installers, and network owners who are ready to work with this new technology.

[CAPTIONS]

0812CIMinstallFIG1

The combined traffic from multiple wireless clients using 802.11n will require cable links capable of supporting gigabit speeds.

0812CIMinstallFIG2

Wireless access points (WAP) often use Power over Ethernet. To gain the most performance from 802.11n access points, power levels over network cabling will increase to 30 watts.

0812CIMinstallPIC1

If documentation is not available for cable links supporting 802.11n, the recommended approach is to test and document the links.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com

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Focusing energy on heightened security

How a South Carolina public utility leverages its IT backbone to improve multi-facility surveillance.

FREDRIK NILSSON is general manager of Axis Communications (www.axis.com).

Post 9/11, regulations regarding the safety and security of key contributors to the nation’s energy grid have grown ever more stringent. To stay ahead of the curve, SCANA (www.scana.com), a Columbia, SC-based Fortune 500 energy-based holding company, has been gradually migrating from older analog coax-based technology to a more flexible, leading edge IP-based video system.

The new technology enables SCANA to integrate its video surveillance solution with its other information technology activity through a common IT backbone shared across all its facilities. In addition to simplifying the deployment of network security cameras in new facilities, the new technology allows SCANA to retrofit existing analog investments to more cost-effectively stream video over the company’s wide area network.

While the push from Homeland Security to enhance production plant security was certainly a major impetus in the decision to migrate from analog to IP-based surveillance, SCANA also felt the newer convergent technology would strengthen the company’s business continuity efforts, making it easier to manage the protection of its corporate facilities as well as its storage sites and industrial plants. Because the cameras are networked, security staff can monitor locations remotely, which will help reduce overhead without compromising coverage at high-risk locations.

And with no need to run expensive coax cables, the network cameras can be deployed quickly to provide vital assistance in deterring industrial theft of equipment, such as valuable copper wire from lay-down yards.

Bringing analog into IP

Working with Honeywell Building Solutions, SCANA selected a variety of pan/tilt/zoom, fixed dome and fixed IP-based network cameras and video encoders from Axis Communications to meet its surveillance needs. While SCANA is committed to deploying network cameras for its new installations, it already possesses a vast array of analog cameras monitoring its numerous facilities across North and South Carolina.

Rather than wholesale discarding those existing analog cameras, SCANA and Honeywell extended their life by linking the technology to Axis video encoders, which digitize and compress the video from the analog cameras so it can be routed over the IP network and stored on the PC servers for viewing by authorized personnel. This hybrid strategy has proven to be a simple, cost-efficient way to integrate the company’s current analog assets into the network video system until such time that the company can justify their eventual replacement.

According to Luca Mazzei, vice president of global marketing for Honeywell Building Solutions, “The Honeywell/Axis solution allows companies like SCANA to extract the maximum value from their IT infrastructures by providing a bridge between legacy systems and emerging network surveillance technology.”

With the introduction of network cameras, dependence shifts from proprietary digital video recording (DVR) technology to standard PC server hardware, which delivers a more reliable degree of business continuity. If a server fails, the video streaming can be switched out or moved to another server.

By tying the analog and network cameras into a single surveillance system, SCANA is able to manage and oversee day-to-day operations of the system without additional manpower. The electric utility deployed Honeywell’s Digital Video Manager, a digital CCTV surveillance system, to make it easy for authorized staff to manage and monitor video from any camera in the system from any secure location.

Optimizing network bandwidth

Because the surveillance system shares the network with other IT activity, SCANA needed to factor in a number of criteria when designing its network video solution to avoid degrading LAN performance. With new facilities, this is a matter of calculating the bandwidth requirements for specific frame rates and image size, and then installing the appropriate Category 5 and 6 cable and switches to handle the load.

In retrofitting existing facilities, SCANA also calculates the capacity of switches and routers to accommodate a greater concentration of network cameras in specific locations. The IT security and network technicians work closely together to help business units strike the right balance between image quality, frame rates, and number of cameras deployed to the site. And sometimes, the solution is to invest in more storage space to house the video needing to be recorded.

While SCANA has high connectivity across most of its service territory, Brennen Cully, a supervisor over physical security IT for SCANA’s corporate security and claims department, feels that IP video is economically feasible even for companies using leased lines. For remote facilities, he recommends recording and storing the video locally and just streaming a few frames a second over the wide area network when an alarm triggers.

“You don’t need to stream video back to a central monitoring station 24 hours a day,” says Cully. “You can design the system to only send frames back during an alarm to verify whether it was triggered by an intruder or just a mouse running across the floor.”

Though digital technology supports ever-increasing frame rates and higher resolution, Cully cautions that integrators should make a clear distinction between business need and capabilities that are nice to have. “Just because you can deliver 30 frames a second, doesn’t make it necessarily better,” he observes. “After a point, you can’t humanly distinguish the difference between frames unless maybe you’re zooming in and reading the individual serial numbers as someone rifles through a stack of dollar bills.”

Choosing the right frame rate and image quality isn’t a cookie cutter decision at SCANA, especially with its diverse environments ranging from rooms primarily housings stationary equipment to offices teaming with activity. “We’ve designed a number of deployment scenarios,” Cully states. “But until you put the surveillance technology in production and play with it in the actual environment, you’re never able to account for every variable you need to put into the mix. So, there are always some adjustments to be made.”

An eye on access control

As an electric utility, SCANA is subject to strict regulations regarding the safety and security of its various facilities. To assist in complying with those safeguards, SCANA installed network cameras to ensure that personnel gaining access to restricted areas are recorded and an audit log is generated. Network cameras capture individuals as they enter an area and present their employee badge to the access control system. This surveillance video provides a second layer of verification should SCANA need to launch an investigation.

Because the network cameras generate minimal heat, they have had virtually no impact on the facility thermals and power requirements. So, no additional cooling requirements were necessary to accommodate their installation.

Since the network cameras are connected through Ethernet cables, SCANA can move and reinstall them in the same way they would a printer or other computer peripheral device. In fact, there have been a number of occasions where this flexibility has enabled SCANA to deploy a quick solution to a temporary surveillance need.

Cully recalls, “We had a business unit that, for security reasons, wanted to monitor the process of packing up personal belonging prior to moving employees to a new facility. Since the building already had a network infrastructure in place, we didn’t need much planning to be able to quickly install a network camera to meet that need.”

Cully cites another facility where SCANA has one of its largest deployments of analog cameras and where the majority of cameras are actively monitored with an analog matrix switch. “Another business unit wanted to be able to monitor the X-raying of packages coming into the building,” explains Cully. “But there was no coax cable going to that particular area of the facility. There was, however, a network switch next door. So, deploying an IP-based network camera to the site was a logical way to address the challenge and provide video recording over the network.”

Lessons learned

Cully suggests that any company looking to migrate its surveillance technology needs to stay abreast of emerging technologies. “Whether you’re building a new facility or retrofitting an old one, you need to consider what’s coming down the pike, whether the technology will be sufficiently mature and robust enough to meet your surveillance needs over the long haul. Laying down a Cat-5 or Cat-6 infrastructure and taking advantage of network cameras that support Power of Ethernet can translate into big cost savings and determine the kind of technology solutions you can deliver.”

Cully also mentions the importance of understanding the limitations of the technology and the cabling associated with it. “Make sure your design specifications include cabling closets strategically placed throughout the building to support the cable length limits of your network cameras.” He also advises maintaining a close working relationship with the company’s IT team, “to make sure they understand the design considerations required for a successful rollout of your network surveillance system.”

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com

CNS

A high score on 'Connectivity 2.0' will hinge on choices

By Sue Spradley

In a world where the availability and free flow of information stimulates productivity, growth and economic prosperity, Canada is remarkably well poised to benefit from the global rush to connectivity.

Yet seizing the opportunity will require that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) make some strategic choices.

Canada's opportunity is supported by two recent indicators: one is Canada's strong performance on the Connectivity Scorecard, a global ranking of nations based on their use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for social and economic progress. The second is Industry Canada's recent and very successful spectrum auction. Both indicate that there is demand for business innovation, and particularly 'services' innovation in the near future, yet there is also a call for focus.

The Connectivity Scorecard, architected by Dr. Leonard Waverman, professor of economics at the London Business School and Dean at Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, analyzes the extent to which governments, businesses and consumers leverage ICT for economic and social benefit.

Canada ranked fourth in the world, trailing only the United States, Sweden and Japan. But the Canadian score tells us there are still significant gaps in the use of ICT compared to best practice nations, especially as it relates to mobile and 3G penetration, next-generation broadband deployment, and consumer usage and skills.

In essence, this means that we have the opportunity to do a lot more, to realize the true potential of Connectivity and move to Connectivity 2.0 where broadband has no boundaries or limitations.

The recent Industry Canada auction of 282 licenses for an additional 105 megahertz of wireless spectrum to existing Communication Service Providers (CSPs), as well as new players such as Videotron, indicates that Canada is on its way to improving connectivity based on an increase in spectrum and potential subscribers.

For CSPs though, the solution is not as simple as acquiring more spectrum to introduce more services and adding more subscribers. To fully exploit the connectivity opportunity, they must transform themselves through technology and business process innovation to better identify the right opportunities, create the right offerings, and all the while keep pace with very aggressive competitors.

Of course, all of this must be done while ensuring that existing services are improved and supply is uninterrupted, so that existing customers remain satisfied.

After all, the industry also needs to recoup at least the $4.3 billion payment it has committed to the federal government just for the spectrum.

In a nutshell, the key challenge for CSPs will be to step back and evaluate their strategic business priorities.

On one hand, having a sound reliable network to meet the ever increasing demand for fixed broadband and high speed wireless connectivity for existing users, and address the connectivity needs of new geographic areas -- including remote and rural locations -- is critical.

For this to occur, operators need a convergent and scalable architecture that can support a multitude of bandwidth-hungry Internet applications and data gobbling powerful devices, while handling the exponential growth in traffic.

Leveraging global standards, such as WCDMA/HSPA, is a way Canadian operators can ensure they tap the cost savings of global production and scale as the world evolves to the next generation technologies.

They also need to give 24X7 attention to that network, to ensure that it is always on, and always connected. Managing a core infrastructure for a relentless, smooth and efficient operation however, is an intensive task.

It needs expert attention and relies on constant technological improvement and investment. Like any other service offering, it is dependent on specialized and sometimes expensive people capabilities, innovative technical skills and clear performance indicators.

On the other, there is the need for innovative ideas, business models, and strategies to win more customers, and greater market share. With increased competition, CSPs are under incredible pressure to move quickly.

There are new markets they need to think of, new offerings they need to design, and new partnerships that they need to strike.

These competing pressures leave CSPs with two strategic approaches. They make an upfront investment and scale up internally to ensure they have the requisite resources to effectively tackle each requirement. Or, they can adopt a more measured approach -- partner with experts, and rely on them for some important strategic levers, while they retain precious internal resources to focus on what's most important to them.

At Nokia Siemens Networks we believe that a more strategic collaboration leveraging a managed services model can convert infrastructure into a tool for growth and productivity rather than drain on capital that endlessly absorbs management time and attention.

Managed services partners can bring to the CSP many advantages including improved process excellence, reduction in operational expenditure, and higher usability and serviceability of the network.

Managed services partners can also help a CSP move their own resources toward the 'important' over the 'urgent.' While CSPs focus on important business issues such as responding to competition by developing innovative revenue streams and managing their bottom line, the managed services partner can focus on the more fundamental yet replicable needs, such as keeping ensuring uninterrupted service supply to their customers.

Needless to say this option of 'renting' vs. 'buying' also helps CSPs realize huge cost savings.

The benefits of managed services have caught the attention of communication service providers worldwide, and the concept is being adopted globally. Various CSPs in markets such as Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East & Africa, North East Europe and West South Europe have already opted for managed services for the end-to-end management of their communication infrastructure.

For Canada, during this phase of immense opportunity, characterized by increasing telecom penetration and rising consumer demand for new data-intensive applications, the benefits of managed services are just as real.

Converting these opportunities into success, however, can only happen if communication service providers stay focused on customer needs, and transform their businesses to address those needs.

Sue Spradley is president of Nokia Siemens Networks, North America.

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

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2009 Look Ahead

The economic news might be desperate, but even so, the structured cabling and networking sectors are in an excellent position to capitalize on the need for companies to upgrade their infrastructures. In fact, the next few years might prove to be the busiest yet.

By Perry Greenbaum

The bad news might be a bitter pill to swallow. Canada's economy will struggle to eke out a tiny bit of growth this year and next, the Bank of Canada says. "The global economy appears to be heading into a severe recession, led by a U. S. economy already in recession."

Canada's economy is expected to grow just 0.6% next year, the bank announced recently. The good news is that Canada's economy is expected to weather the economic storm better than the world's leading industrialized nations, says the International Monetary Fund. All of the major industrialized countries are grappling with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s, the IMF said.

That being the case, the open question is what strategy companies should employ to ensure their networks are ready for the next economic boom times? To be sure, the U. S. economy will recover from what many economists forecast as a sustained recession, and (eventually) enter a period of economic expansion and investment with lessons learned from previous mistakes.

"There is no doubt that there are currently some capital expenditure constraints in most companies," says Iain Grant, managing director of SeaBoard Group, an IT consulting firm. "Even so, one of the chief issues will be worker empowerment to ensure that they have the tools to drive the company's top and bottom lines. This is also a time to study more, which means a greater role for consultants."

Despite the difficult over-all economic climate, many are bullish on the prospects for structured cabling and networking. Among them is Frank Bisbee, president of Communication Planning Corp. in Jacksonville, Fla., who says: "In financially unpredictable times, technology is a very good place in which to be, mainly because we are moving forward rapidly."

To be sure, much of the efforts in the next few years will be finding ways to save money, chiefly through the use of greener energy initiatives, server virtualization and upgrading networks with a combination of copper and fiber infrastructure.

Companies cannot stand still, says Luc Adriaenssens, vice-president of R&D (enterprise solutions) for CommScope Inc. in Richardson, Tex. "With structured cabling, it's pretty hard to say we are not going to do something. Bandwidth continues to increase. If you delay things, you are just shifting things by a quarter or two."

Copper Still Good, But Fiber Catching Up: For years, many analysts have said that that copper's best years are behind it. For Bisbee, the writing's on the wall for copper. Speeds of processors and the forecasted increase of IP video and other visual networking demands will make it harder for companies to justify a purely copper infrastructure.

Frank Murawski of FTM Consulting in Hummelstown, Pa., says that the worldwide market for structured cabling will grow from US$15.3 billion in 2008 at an annual compound rate of 13.7% to US$29.1 billion by 2013. Much of the growth is expected to take place with fiber, where Murawski predicts that in 2013, fiber will account for 60.1% of the total structured cabling systems market.

Not so fast. "Unless there is a strong business case to do so, I would question whether many companies would switch over to fiber so quickly," says Jason Bremner, director of infrastructure hardware for IDC Canada in Toronto. "Because of the level of economic uncertainty, organizations will scrutinize such decisions very carefully."

Although companies might not be ready to rip out their copper infrastructure just yet, it might make sense to increase the use of fiber through the use of zone cabling, Bisbee says," which extends the fiber backbone beyond the intermediate distribution frame to the work area."

It is not fiber to the desktop (FTD), but brings the cable closer to the user, and reduces the need for copper.

Undoubtedly, copper faces serious technical limitations, particularly as speeds go beyond 10-Gig, it will remain an important component in the cabling infrastructure. "Copper is not going away," Bisbee admits. "It's still a major part of the cabling infrastructure, but instead of being the homerun cabling solution, it might be reduced to a very long patch cord."

There is not much talk of Category 7 becoming standardized in North America. The thinking is best summed up by Stephane Bourgeois, product line manager (copper connectivity) at Belden in Saint-Laurent, Que. "Cat 7 is a European solution."

When it comes to choosing a fiber or copper infrastructure, however, power consumption is not much of a factor for most companies, when one considers the cost of the transceiver device. The decision is chiefly based on cost and space considerations. "It comes down much more to cost, which favours copper, and physical density, which favours fiber," Adriaenssens says. Thus, if space is limited, fiber has the advantage in that it delivers more bandwidth per square centimetre than doe's copper.

Yet in data centres, things differ. Companies will scrutinize more their data centres and see how they can become more efficient. "For new companies that own the data centre or building," Adriaenssens says, Cat 6a has become the clear medium of choice for supporting 10-Gig on copper." Like many others in the copper sector, Adriaenssens does not see fiber as a threat for data centres. Most of the reasons centre on the cost and energy considerations for the transceivers necessary for a fiber infrastructure. "The general trend is to use copper when you can, multi-mode fiber where you cannot and single-mode when you absolutely have to," he says.

Green Data Centres Leave a Smaller Footprint: Energy consumption, however, is a large looming issue for data centres. Many are running out of power and space, says a recent report from IBM Corp entitled In The Green Data Center. The report's authors write that they cannot add more servers because they have reached either their power or space limits, or perhaps they have reached the limit of cooling capacity.

That greatly explains the increased trend to server virtualization and consolidation, says IDC's Bremner. "Companies that have already started the process will continue it. If they have not, they will scrutinize further investment and look at the business case behind it." In other words, we will see less data centres worldwide.

ADC Telecommunications Inc., a U. S.- based network infrastructure provider, has reported some notable examples of consolidation:

• Hewlett Packard is reducing its 85 global data centres to 63, which will be mirrored disaster-recovery sites. HP says this will produce an annual savings of US$1 billion.

• IBM is consolidating 3,900 servers into 30 virtualized mainframes running under Linux. The company anticipates an 80% reduction in energy use and a significant reduction in its 2.4 million square me- tres of data centre space.

• Microsoft is well along in its efforts of data centre consolidation, generating savings of US$23.2 million -- a 40% reduction in its pre-consolidation spending.

Monitoring energy consumption and all its environmental implications is fast becoming corporate policy at the highest levels. According to a recent IBM survey, 53% of companies in North America have someone at the board level responsible for energy and environmental issues. In addition to server and data centre consolidation, companies will rely more on external data centres, external hosting and cloud computing.

One option is cloud or Internet-scale computing, which allows organizations to switch from company-owned hardware and software to per-use service-based models available on the Internet. "That is some of the beauty of such technologies, its ability to shift workload from one machine to another, and shut off machines that are not being used," says Laura Anderson, program director at IBM Almaden Research Lab in San Jose, Calif. "The combination of cost-effectiveness and environmental considerations make this an attractive option."

The projected shift to cloud computing will result in dramatic growth in IT products in some areas and in significant reductions in other areas. There are some concerns, however, that revolve around privacy and security, notably the best ways to protect corporate data once it is on a public network like the Internet.

Convergence is Here: Look for increased use of unified communications (UC), the real-time delivery of communications such as instant telephony, voice mail, e-mail and video. The idea behind UC is that recipients can have real-time access to whether data they need when they need it. One major contender in this area is Microsoft Canada, which launched its Communications Server 2007 Release 2 in October, one year after initially releasing it.

One of the chief benefits of the company's software is that companies can keep their legacy PBXs, and get the benefits of VoIP. "This allows customers to transition to the new platform without undergoing an expensive rip-and-replace upgrade of their network," says Bryan Rusche, unified communications and collaboration product manager for Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

"Customers do not need to deploy and adopt dozens of different applications to make unified communications a reality. For example, a user can respond to an e-mail with an instant message or a telephone call, and add video to that phone call while bringing in a particular application like a spreadsheet, Word document or PDF file.

"Other people can be brought in, such as a subject- matter expert, and it can involve as many people as are necessary for that particular scenario," Rusche says.

The software makes videoconferencing more accessible, without the need to book a videoconference through a service provider, he says.

There is a decided economic benefit in such technologies, says Paul Kish, director (systems and standards) for Belden in Saint-Laurent, Que. "Current economic conditions will likely curtail travel, making such technologies as video-conferencing more attractive."

Although teleconferencing and audio- visual meetings have decided benefit, Grant of SeaBoard Group says, "People still need to meet face to face."

The Network Is Getting Bigger and Faster: The Internet is expanding quickly. According to Cisco Systems Inc.'s global IP traffic forecast, "consumer video will be responsible for the majority of the traffic growth between 2007 and 2012."

(see sidebar, Approaching the Zettabyte Era.) As Cisco sees it, "Service providers are accelerating their infrastructure upgrade plans in response to traffic growth. Corporate networks will also feel the effects, and be forced to upgrade.

One way around spending wads of cash is to look to wireless. "One of the smartest strategies is for companies to use wireless overbuilds in the short term," Grant says. "One of the issues for the structured-cabling industry is to ensure that they have that finger in that pie to ensure that companies do not develop ad-hoc wireless solutions obtained at Business Depot or Staples."

This is where the cabling professional can make a huge difference, Grant points out. "There are security and management implications that would argue that professionals take on this work and not be left to individual IT departments." Security concerns would argue against such an approach.

To be sure, the recession has some unplanned benefits. "For the cabling sector, there's actually a positive side to lots of change," CommScope's Adriaenssens points out. "If companies shrink dramatically because of the economic conditions, then chances are they have to move to another building. It's likely then that they'll have to put in a whole new cabling solution in that building."

Grant remains equally optimistic about the march of progress. "We'll always be able to find things that can be cost-justified. The next generation of processors and applications will be cost-justified."

When things improve, and they eventually will, the economy and business will be zipping along on more stable ground. CNS

Perry Greenbaum, a Montreal-based freelance writer, has been covering the business of technology since 1996. He can be reached at pjgreenbaum@gmail.com.

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

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Crystal ball gazing

There may be massive economic difficulties both in Canada and abroad, however, the one caveat is that predictions for the structured cabling, networking and telecom sectors border on being buoyant for 2009 and beyond.

"There is no doubt that there are currently some capital expenditure constraints in most companies," notes Iain Grant, the managing director SeaBoard Group, in our annual Look Ahead, which begins on p. 10. "Even so, one of the chief issues will be worker empowerment to ensure that they have the tools to drive the company's top and bottom lines. This is also a time to study more, which means a greater role for consultants."

Luc Adriaenssens, vice president of R&D (enterprise solutions) for CommScope Inc. points out in the piece that with "structured cabling, it is pretty hard to say we are not going to do something. Bandwidth continues to increase. If you delay things, you are just shifting things by a quarter or two."

That also explains why Frank Murawski, president of FTM Consulting Inc., is so confident about the future. He estimates that the worldwide market for structured cabling will grow from US$15.3 billion in 2008 at an annual compound rate of 13.7% to US$29.1 billion by 2013.

Much of the growth is expected to take place around fiber, where Murawski predicts that in 2013, fiber will account for 60.1% of the total structured cabling systems market.

Telecommunications revenue, meanwhile, including narrowband and broadband landline, wireless and cellular services, as well as Internet communications are expected to grow from US$2.1 trillion in 2008 to more than US$3 trillion by 2013 even as margins on traditional voice-related products continue contracting and the industry responds by shifting to an Internet Protocol (IP) communications fabric, according to Insight Research Group.

In other developments, Gartner recently identified the top 10 strategic technologies for 2009, key among them being Unified Communications. Strategic technologies, says Garner, affect, run, grow and transform the business initiatives of an organization.

On the UC front, the research firm says the market will consolidate: "During the next five years, the number of different communications vendors with which a typical organizations works with will be reduced by at least 50%.

"This change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communications applications to common off-the-shelf server and operating systems. As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry."

The remaining nine include Virtualization (particularly in storage and client devices), Cloud Computing, Web Oriented Architectures, Enterprise Mashups, Business Intelligence, Servers -Beyond Blades, Specialized Systems, Green IT and Business Intelligence.

These and others were discussed at length at a conference in early November in Cannes, France called Symposium ITxpo 2008. The format of the event involved over 80 Gartner analysts covering the "latest and greatest" research in all areas.

"Any way you look at it, these are interesting times," Gartner stated on the conference Web site. "Economic uncertainty meets disruption and innovation. There are many ways to respond. You can focus on cost containment, invest now to take advantage, get your operations and governance in order or press ahead into new markets and new opportunities.

"Only two things are certain: standing still is not one of your options. And IT will play a critical role in whichever road you take."

Paul Barker

Editor

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

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Wireless Report: Little Brother's big journey

Cory Doctorow's new book is a wonderful account of how high technology can do an end run around the basic freedoms we enjoy.

By Trevor Marshall

This time of year, technology magazines often propose gadgets and gizmos for the geek in your life. I am going to suggest you avoid them this year (just think of the batteries you will save) and head for your nearest bricks-and-mortar or online bookstore for a copy of "Little Brother" by Canadian novelist and technology thinker Cory Doctorow.

In addition to buying a copy for your own pleasure, pick up one for every teenager you know. (You can also download the entire book for free at the author's Web site, but how about supporting the guy for his work and buying a hard copy or two anyway?)

So what is the deal? Doctorow, at one time the European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a big believer in the positive power of computing and networking technology, but he also has real concerns about the potential for technology to be misused.

He presents the issues in a way that everyone can understand in "Little Brother," the story of a 17-year-old named Marcus who lives in San Francisco and runs afoul of the Department of Homemade (sorry, HomeLAND) Security.

Marcus is bagged for being in the wrong place at the wrong time following a terrorist attack. He and his friends are spirited away to a hidden prison, interrogated and then released into a city that has become a police state almost overnight.

Outraged at what he sees, he decides to fight to restore the balance between freedom and security.

"Little Brother" is an entertaining read and a celebration of geek culture.

But it is more than that -- it is a wonderful, accessible account of some of the ways in which our technology, corrupted in the name of security, can do an end run around the basic freedoms that we enjoy in democratic society.

Doctorow's characters are a blend of "geek" and "cool" that many of us wished for when we were in high school, and as the story unfolds the teens tackle gait-recognition cameras, radio frequency ID tags (which the teens in the story call "arphids", a term I think should enter the tech-space lexicon), wireless Internet tracers and other surveillance technologies.

In his acknowledgements, Doctorow cites as one of his inspirations "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson.

If you have not come across this one it too is a must-read, if only so that you appreciate just how exciting cryptography can be when treated by a master storyteller.

Cryptography is at the heart of networks, including digital wireless phone and data systems (which makes it relevant to this column), and Stephenson weaves a wonderful tale that links the cracking of the Nazi Enigma code of the Second World War to the creation of data havens in today's world, where information can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny.

Technology is of great benefit to society, especially if it is the kind that follows you everywhere and delivers information to your pocket.

The best thinkers would never suggest that we do without the mobile Internet, arphids and the other goodies that the tech sector churns out, but it up to all of us to ensure that we understand the potential for these to encroach on our privacy and freedoms.

If you do not think about these issues every time you fill out an online form, join a network, walk through an arphid tag reader at a store or spot a security camera ... it is time to start.

Doctorow says the book is "meant to be a part of the conversation about what an information society means: does it mean total control, or unheard-of liberty?"

It is definitely a conversation that all of us need to have on a regular basis, and one that younger people need to join since the technology that we're creating is going to shape the world they inherit. Happy reading.

Trevor Marshall is a Toronto-based reporter, writer and observer of the Canadian wireless industry. He can be reached (on his mobile, but not when he's reading) at 416 878-7730 or trevor@wordstm.com.

Communications News

Communications News (www.comnews.com) is offering its BICSI Product Spotlight lead-generation e-newsletter

In conjunction with BICSI’s winter conference in Orlando, Communications News (www.comnews.com) is offering its BICSI Product Spotlight lead-generation e-newsletter. The Spotlight is mailed twice to 70,000 pre-qualified subscribers – once the week before the event and a second time the week following the show. Spotlight sponsors receive complete contact information of those subscribers clicking on your link (name, title, company, mailing address, e-mail address). Contact Publisher/Editor Ken anderberg for details at kanderberg@comnews.com or 941-584-0145. "Communications News IS enterprise communications"

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UC: What you need to know

Predeployment testing is critical to ensure network performance is not impacted by new technologies.

Stephen Brown is product marketing manager for network-analysis vendor Network Instruments, Minneapolis.

by Stephen Brown

Unified communications (UC) represent an appealing alternative to traditional communication processes due to potential savings. Developing a basic knowledge of the technology and understanding what needs to occur before deployment is important, as well as what to do once it has been implemented.

UC bandwidth consumption changes greatly depending on the applications being used. For example, if a user checks e-mail, only a small amount of data is sent over the network and the connection remains idle while the e-mail is being read.

Most UC tools, however, such as Web conferencing, require high and consistent network bandwidth to maintain performance. As a result, the network engineer should be sure that unexpected spikes from other applications do not impact the user experience.

Typically, when implementing a new communications technology, such as voice over IP (VoIP), many network managers take one of two approaches. They may install new technologies and then address performance problems as they arise, or they anticipate that the addition of the new application will increase bandwidth needs, and upgrade their bandwidth capacity.

Site surveys and understanding the basic network environment is vital to ensuring a successful UC rollout. Conducting a site survey can identify and eliminate many performance problems before deployment. Proper predeployment testing also allows the IT staff to understand overall bandwidth demand and application performance, and establish benchmarks for acceptable network performance. This knowledge is critical for determining how the network will handle the new UC traffic and identifying any changes that need to be made to effectively support communications.

An analysis tool that tracks, stores and analyzes long-term activity will define what is considered normal for a particular environment. The insights on network and application performance gained from the initial site survey and by continual monitoring of the added UC traffic also helps in intelligently configuring alarms on the monitoring tool to alert staff when application performance deviates from the norm.

When implementing any communications application, ensuring bandwidth availability through quality of Service (QoS) is an imperative. Failing to implement QoS opens up the possibility of interference from other applications on the network–known as contention. Contention leads to common performance problems, including jitter and packet loss. Throwing additional bandwidth at the problem does not solve the issue.

Even a network with large bandwidth capacity can have poor call quality due to network contention. With QoS monitoring tools, IT engineers are able to set and outline limits to give individual applications like VoIP the highest precedence available, thus allowing the application to function smoothly by providing the appropriate amount of bandwidth needed.

When monitoring QoS issues, IT engineers should consider the technology as a whole, rather than concentrate on one particular aspect of it. For instance, in the case of VoIP, they will need to set precedence appropriately for all connections that compose a call, including call setup and tear-down. A common mistake is to set highest precedence for the conversation and neglect the other components, leading to poor call quality.

Unprepared IT staffs may not consider how UC applications can increase the opportunities for sharing information. These applications can open up holes or flaws that allow users to accidentally or maliciously share private data and expose sensitive information. These new holes can also be points of attack if not properly secured.

In the case of VoIP, hackers or users can use tools to not only capture but play back VoIP conversations. Higher-end VoIP systems may offer ways to encrypt the data, but lower-end products often do not. In addition, VoIP traffic is usually most vulnerable on the LAN since Internet WAN traffic is typically routed through VPNs.

To ensure security, every communication channel should be properly secured and monitored. Acceptable use policies should also forbid or provide protocols for the proper sharing of sensitive information.

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

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Unify Network Protection

Simplification of network security, by combining multiple security functions in one box, is the main selling point of unified threat management appliances.

Robert Smithers is the CEO and Martin Milner is a senior researcher at Miercom, East Windsor, N.J. In an effort to improve these products in the marketplace overall, and report their overall effectiveness, Miercom will continue this industry assessment of security products into 2009, with results appearing in Communications News. Companies may submit a unified threat management product to Miercom to be independently indexed in this industry assessment at no charge.

by Robert Smithers and Martin Milner

Companies considering deploying unified threat management (UTM) technology have various offerings and approaches to consider, with many different products to address specific network requirements. The lure of UTM is strong as companies and their network administrators struggle to cope with ever-intensifying security threats while battling IT hardware and software sprawl. Vendors of UTM appliances contend their all-in-one approaches offer more comprehensive protection, easier management and better return on investment than do standalone security applications.

To meet the definition of a UTM appliance for testing by Miercom, a device needed to include a stateful firewall (FW), intrusion detection (IDS), some form of intrusion prevention (IPS), antispam (ASP) and antivirus (AV). The appliances needed to be capable of running all these functions simultaneously.

Miercom reviewed appliances from four vendors: the FortiGate 3016B from Fortinet (www.fortinet.com), the SSG-550 from Juniper Networks (www.juniper.net), the NSA E7500 from SonicWALL (www.sonicwall.com) and the Firebox Peak X 8500e UTM Bundle from WatchGuard Technologies (www.watchguard.com). These vendors were chosen because they offer a complete UTM security solution for the enterprise market, as well as a significant market share.

Testing focused on both effectiveness of the UTM appliance as well as performance throughput. The tests were designed to stress the filtering capabilities of the appliances and determine how these countermeasures impacted network throughput. An assessment of the different capabilities and differences between products included the number of nodes supported, the types of security provided, whether firmware upgrades were allowed, and advanced feature sets.

The UTM appliances tested approach threat detection in unique ways. They each differ in how they integrate the components of UTM, how easily policies are able to be configured and modified, and in the clarity of the management reporting and monitoring of traffic.

Performance testing consisted of throughput capability analysis, using an XM12 load generator from Ixia (www.ixiacom.com), and threat-blocking analysis, using both a BreakingPoint Systems (www.breakingpointsystems.com) BPS-1K security appliance and a MuDynamics (www.mudynamics.com) Mu-4000 multiprotocol testing appliance, together with Miercom’s in-house suite of vulnerability and threat analysis scripts and defeat techniques compiled over the last 20 years of testing network products.

The BreakingPoint system delivered a strike level 5 test that included exploits, network worms, denial-of-service attack, reconnaissance attacks, Trojan horse and backdoor intrusions.

The MuDynamics unit tested the ability of the system under test (SUT) to protect a network from threats with published threat signatures even before patches are applied. Mu’s Published Vulnerability Analysis (PVA) suite evaluates the ability of the SUT to protect against vulnerabilities rather than exploits, checking for currency and traffic patterns that may identify a new threat.

The UTM effectiveness tests produced data to confirm the SUTs perform the functions expected of them. The effectiveness of blocking attacks was the goal of this component of the review. Throughput handling was measured in a separate component of this review to gauge the capacity of these systems.

What counts most in deploying UTM technology is how fast the device works when all services are activated. The tests proved that activation of services–antivirus in particular–slowed throughput substantially. Finally, the appliances’ management and administration interfaces were analyzed for effectiveness and intuitiveness in design.

The four UTMs were far from plug and play, with some frustrating snags and glitches cropping up during the installations. Some of the administration interfaces were difficult to use and would likely inhibit effective UTM device deployment.

Comprehensive security provision is asking a lot of one box, especially at enterprise-level demand. Three of the four tested units failed to block many of the security threats delivered by the three security effectiveness test systems. The Watchguard Firebox Peak X 8500e was the exception and performed well on all security effectiveness tests.

The best performing product was the SonicWALL NSA E7500, which handled network traffic best both with and without all countermeasure features enabled. Since none of the devices tested stopped all threats, nor could produce full line rate network protection, companies might want to consider employing separate network and endpoint security applications.

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

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Fortinet FortiGate 3016B

Fortinet’s FortiGate 3016B was introduced in 2007 as an expansion of the company’s FortiGate 3000 series UTMs or, as Fortinet calls them, “multithreat security appliances.” The 3016B was designed to be highly scalable and capable of delivering up to 26 Gbps of firewall performance with optional expansion modules installed.

It includes FW, IPS/IDS, AV and ASP. The 3016B has two built-in copper Gigabit Ethernet ports and 16 SFP interfaces, of which two can be fiber. For survivability, the 3016B is hot-swappable, with redundant power supplies and fans.

The Fortinet’s administration and management offerings include a single-screen, Web-based user interface, command-line interface and console interfaces, as well as telnet secure shell (SSH). The management is role-based, with multilanguage support and multiple administrator and user levels. Management can be centralized using Fortinet’s FortiManager.

The system breaks down capture information into number of viruses per IPS detection. This means users need not consult logs to get that information. It sends logs to Syslog and/or a WebTrends Enhanced Log File (WELF) server. The UTM provides graphical historical and real-time reports and can send virus and attack information via e-mail. Logging information is accomplished with Fortinet’s FortiAnalyzer.

Fortinet uses a protection profile. Once created, that profile can be assigned as a name to various zones. This eases the implementation of the same policy across multiple network zones.

The 3016B shows administrators the date of the last virus signature update. Signatures are updated daily. The Fortinet UTM’s IPS protects against more than 3,000 known threats and includes protocol anomaly analysis. Out of the box, the appliance is set to let all traffic pass, leaving the user to specify which types of traffic are blocked (via packet filtering).

To boost the Fortinet FortiGate 3016’s speed, Fortinet paired its FortiASIC-CP6 Content Processor with a new network processor called the FortiASIC-NP2. To enable even faster speeds, particularly for use in time-sensitive applications, such as voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP), Fortinet offers hardware-accelerated Gigabit Ethernet interfaces.

During the performance tests, the 3016B achieved 324 Mbps with the stateful firewall enabled. It was tested using only six of its 18 available interfaces and without expansion modules installed. The SUT could possibly have achieved higher throughput if additional interfaces were utilized and the load distributed; however, the tests needed to remain consistent with the number and types of interfaces in this review.

The UTM provided 274 Mbps when IPS was activated with the firewall enabled, 231 Mbps when the IPS was turned off  and the gateway antivirus was activated, and 167 Mbps when the firewall, the IPS and the antivirus were running simultaneously.

The Fortinet FortiGate 3016B blocked 92 percent of the threats generated by a MuDynamics PVA test and 44 percent of those by the BreakingPoint.

Juniper Networks SSG-550

The SSG 550, part of Juniper’s SSG 500-series UTMs, is marketed as a security platform for large regional branch offices and medium-sized businesses. It supports up to 256,000 concurrent sessions and 15,000 new sessions per second.

The appliance uses stateful firewall, Internet protocol security (IPSec), VPN, IPS, AV, ASP and Web filtering to shield against worms, viruses, Trojans, spam, phishing, adware and malware. The Juniper UTM allows administrators to create up to 60 separate security zones, independent secure domains with distinct policies that can include access control rules.

Juniper requires the creation of policy rules for each network zone individually and manually. Administrators can designate which UTM security features are used in each zone. The SSG 550 administrator also has the ability to set up 150 virtual LANs and eight virtual routers.

The Juniper appliance provided the most connectivity and scalability options of the four tested. The SSG-550 has four onboard 10/100/1,000 interfaces and six I/O expansion slots for LAN or WAN interfaces. The SSG-550 provides policy-based and product lifecycle management.

The system allows command-line input via console or telnet, as well as a graphical Web-based user interface for HTTP and HTTPS. Netscreen Security Manager can provide centralized management.

An array of alarms, emergency alerts, errors and warnings are provided. The appliance can be linked to the Web for automatic updates or threat signatures can be downloaded from Juniper’s Web site and updated locally.

Intrusion detection and prevention is enabled with an annually licensed IPS engine with Juniper Deep Inspection Firewall signature packs. These packs allow users to tailor the attack protection to specific types.

The Juniper UTM is designed to allow all traffic except for that defined by the administrator as being a threat. While this protection strategy allows higher network throughput, it does so at the cost of some network security.

During the test, the unit reached 179 Mbps with the firewall and IPS enabled. When IPS was turned off and AV activated, the SSG-550 throughput hit 1 Gbps, but only when antivirus policies were turned off for some zones. The SSG-550 was the only UTM not capable of scanning the 200 Mb AV-testing files generated as part of Miercom’s own testing suite. The box could scan files under 30 MB without difficulty but could not deal with files larger than 30 MB. The SSG-550 blocked 48 percent of the threats generated by the BreakingPoint security appliance.

SonicWALL NSA E7500

SonicWALL’s enterprise-class Network Security Appliance (NSA) E7500 relies on 16 parallel performance processing cores. The device, capable of handling 2,500 users, one million concurrent sessions and 25,000 new sessions per second, is marketed for use in campus networks, distributed environments and data centers.

SonicWALL credits the NSA E7500’s multicore design with the system’s throughput speed capabilities. The unit is capable of reaching up to reach 5.6 Gbps throughput with the firewall enabled, 2.58 with IPS, 1.85 Gbps with antivirus and 1.7 Gbps general UTM throughput.

The E7500 includes IPS and IDS, AV, ASP, FW and URL filtering. The UTM is designed to protect against spyware, Trojans, viruses, buffer overflows, SQL injections, instant messaging and peer-to-peer (P2P) file usage policy violations.

SonicWALL approaches the creation of policy rules for network security zones from more of a building-block basis, wherein customers create objects, assign the objects to a group and then assign a policy that incorporates those group elements.

The E7500 comes with four Gigabit Ethernet copper interfaces, four high-speed configurable small form-factor pluggable (SFP) ports, one Gigabit Ethernet high-availablity port and secure wireless LAN functionality. The unit supports up to 512 VLANs.

Threat signature updates for the NSA E7500 are provided daily over the Internet, provided the UTM’s license is current. This is checked automatically during log-in, and the application of new signatures is also automated.

The SonicWALL’s intrusion detection and prevention abilities include digital rights management, P2P and instant messaging controls. The box shields against up to 3,000 known content- and network-based threats and against 22 classes of denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Survivability is provided by redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans. The E7500 is a fixed configuration and is not expandable.

Administration and control of the SonicWALL UTM is provided by the vendor’s Global Management System (GMS), providing a number of tools to centrally manage the NSA E7500 across distributed enterprises. It presents real-time monitoring metrics, allows for integration of policies and for compliance reporting. Command-line input and console access are also offered and captured information is entered to a time-stamped log.

Miercom lab tests found the appliance attained the desired 1-Gbps throughput with stateful firewall enabled. When the IPS and the firewall were turned on, the box managed 824 Mbps. Switching off the IPS and activating the antivirus yielded a throughput of 627 Mbps, and turning on the firewall, the IPS and the antivirus brought the throughput down to 475 Mbps.

The E75000 blocked 99 percent of the threats generated by a MuDynamics PVA test and 50 percent of those by the BreakingPoint.

WatchGuard Firebox Bundle

The Firebox X Peak line is WatchGuard’s high-performance collection of UTM appliances. The X 8500e tested came in a UTM bundle, a package that includes everything needed for comprehensive network protection.

The Firebox X Peak 8500e is marketed as a security solution for growing small- to medium-sized enterprises with 800 to more than 3,000 users, one million concurrent sessions and 6,200 new sessions per second. It has eight Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, supports 400 VLANs and allows administrators to configure eight separate security zones. Any of the eight ports can be configured as internal, external or optional.

WatchGuard’s UTM bundles include FW, VPN, IPS, URL filtering, AV and antispam. The WatchGuard approach to security is different than the others in this review. Using proxy-based technology, all traffic is blocked except for that allowed by the network administrator. This system provides the most security since all traffic is treated suspect and not allowed to enter the LAN, preventing the propagation of threats. This approach results in slower throughput but offers stronger security.

The 8500e is capable of identifying and blocking emerging threats, providing automatic protection from spyware, Trojans, worms, DoS, DDoS, DNS poisoning, buffer overflows and other attacks. The appliance also can identify and block threats that arrive on non-standard and non-assigned ports.

WatchGuard uses a thick client to administer the box. Firewall policies can be either packet-filter based or proxy-filter based, and are configured with a policy manager.

During the throughput testing, the 8500e interpreted a massive amount of data sent by the Ixia over six ports as a denial-of-service attack, and immediately blocked all traffic. It also blocked 97 percent of the threats generated by a MuDynamics PVA test and 99 percent of those by the BreakingPoint.

To provide zero-day attack protection–meaning the blocking of threats as soon as they are launched, and before they have been identified and included in the signature databases–WatchGuard uses protocol anomaly detection (which turns away traffic that does not conform to established protocol standards), pattern matching (blocking risky files by fully inspecting the whole packet) and behavior analysis (to derail traffic coming from sources that are acting suspiciously).

Backbone carries digital signal

Television station installs a single-mode fiber solution to accommodate new broadcast technology.

Migrating from an analog to digital television infrastructure has, in recent years, led to some unexpected–and major–headaches for broadcasters and their engineering staffs. This was a situation that TVW, the Washington state public affairs television network, recently faced.

TVW provides gavel-to-gavel coverage of Washington state legislative sessions, Washington Supreme Court hearings and other public affairs events. The network produces more than 2,000 hours of programming annually, modeling its coverage on the federal-level C-SPAN network by providing unbiased, unfiltered access to state government deliberations.

TVW has one of the largest robotic camera facilities in the nation, with 39 remotely operated cameras located in the legislative building, the Temple of Justice, and the State House and Senate office buildings in Olympia, the state capital.

When TVW moved into its new broadcast center, the Jeannette C. Hayner Media Center, it needed to make a major overhaul of the network’s equipment, from outdated analog equipment to state-of-the-art digital broadcast technology. Up until the move and the transition to digital video technology, the four buildings on the Capitol campus were connected to TVW’s broadcast facilities by a network backbone approximately a mile in length. The traffic on the backbone typically includes four SDI video feeds multiplexed into a single channel, 12 audio channels and control channels for the robotic camera systems on the campus.

According to TVW director of engineering, Marc Gerchak, this backbone used a legacy multimode fiber technology that was adequate for the previous analog platform. Its performance with the media center’s digital platform, however, was not acceptable.

“The video signal would actually just break up and not make it back to TVW on a lot of the lines,” Gerchak says. “We determined that the multimode wasn’t able to accommodate the signals without reflective effects disrupting the signal.”

After analyzing the problem and isolating it to the multimode limitations, Gerchak worked with TVW’s networking infrastructure contractor, Intracommunication Network Systems (INSI), to develop a new solution. INSI project manager Ari Shackell realized that TVW needed a single-mode backbone fiber solution that could be designed, tested and installed swiftly and cost-effectively.

Decision considerations

The solution chosen was Corning Cable Systems’ Plug & Play AnyLAN Systems. Several conditions helped decide in favor of using Corning’s solution for the new backbone:

Existing pathways through steam tunnels and other utility conduits had limited space and difficult access for cable pulling and splicing.

TVW needed a flexible system that could be quickly installed in a short timeframe, with minimal disruption of the Capitol campus, a high-security area.

Its availability in single-mode fiber, which provided the signal stability necessary for multiplexed digital video transport.

“We had to obtain permissions from multiple state agencies from a security perspective to gain access to those tunnels,” Gerchak says.

AnyLAN Systems is a preterminated local area network cabling solution that can be installed up to 50 percent faster per splice or termination point than traditional field installations. Available in single-mode and 50 µm multimode fiber, AnyLAN Systems incorporates standard optical-fiber cables that feature pre-installed tether attachment points (TAPs) placed along the length of the cable at customer-specified points. These preterminated TAPs replace standard bulky, manually installed splice closures and the need to midspan access and splice the backbone cable to drop to locations.

Factory-terminated and -tested distribution trunk cables, tethers and harnesses enable quick, reliable installation, and each TAP supports up to two tethers (24 fibers) per location for added flexibility. Harnesses are terminated with the OptiTip MT Connector on one end and up to 12 single-fiber connectors on the other end.

The main trunk is a 144-fiber AnyLAN Systems distribution cable, approximately 3,000 feet in length, running from the main distribution frame at the media center to a distribution point on the Capitol campus. From this point, multiple 12-fiber tethers of various lengths connect the backbone trunk to each of the four buildings in the network: four 12-fiber tether assemblies to the legislative building, two to the Temple of Justice and two each to the Senate and House office buildings. In addition, a new tether was connected to the general administration building to support future video feeds planned for that location.

The backbone trunk interfaces with the media center’s main distribution frame using Corning Cable Systems Pretium Connector Housing. Designed for LAN and data center applications, they provide convenient, open access to connectors for moves, adds and changes.

modularity, speed important

According to Gerchak, the principal appeal of the Corning solution was the speed with which TVW’s network could be manufactured and installed, coupled with the system’s modular ability to handle future growth.

“In case I had any changes on the Capitol campus, or a new building needed to be added to the network, I knew all I had to do was purchase a harness to plug into the backbone infrastructure,” Gerchak says.

“There are already plans in place by the state to build a new Heritage Center on the site of an existing general administration building, which will be demolished,” Gerchak adds. This facility is expected to host activities that TVW will need to cover, so the new fiber infrastructure will make adding the site to the TVW network easier to accomplish.

To help confirm that the AnyLAN Systems single-mode solution would correct TVW’s video issues, Corning Cable Systems provided a simulator platform so TVW could test the product’s ability to fully support the network. TVW ran a week-long test sending the SDI video signal through this platform and was satisfied the solution was stable and delivered the required signal quality.

TVW faced two major challenges with installing the new network. First, a new conduit needed to be run underground from TVW to the tether drop point on campus. This path had to be bored right under the main lawn of the Capitol, requiring further rounds of permissions from multiple agencies. Once the permissions were obtained and the conduit installed, Corning and INSI were able to complete the upgrade quite quickly.

Since the AnyLAN System has pre-installed tether attachment points, technicians did not need to spend hours in steam tunnels splicing and testing connections, installing splice enclosures and other time-consuming tasks. For example, the main cable pull–close to 3,000 feet–from the campus to the media center, was accomplished in one afternoon.

Since the new backbone was installed, TVW has had no video signal issues that could be attributed to the Corning system or the single-mode fiber, with stable digital video coming from the campus to the media center.

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

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Managed video offers advantages

For distributed enterprises, facilities security as a service can improve critical oversight of locations.

Matt Steinfort is the chief executive officer of Envysion, Louisville, Colo.

by Matt Steinfort

As companies’ perspectives on the potential applications of video have evolved, some are realizing the full value video can provide. The concept is simple: If an organization can easily understand what is going on in all of its remote locations, it can use that information to improve how it operates, increase profitability and improve the customer experience.

For example, one company recently conducted 10 unannounced, undetected time-shifted store visits in 30 minutes. Unannounced and undetected means that the operator gets an unfiltered view of what is happening at the location when they are not there, something they do not get when they visit in person. Time-shifted means the operator can view what happened at critical times during the day, even if it happened yesterday or last week or last month.

Ten store visits in 30 minutes means that a single operator can span more locations than they could by visiting the stores in person. Remote video does not replace the need to spend time in each location in person, but it can magnify a manager’s ability to understand and impact a large number of locations.

By integrating video with business applications, such as point-of-sale or access-control systems, companies can see exactly what happened behind any event in their business. Whether it is verifying that an exception transaction is legitimate or checking adherence to standard practices, video provides the context and eliminates the guesswork.

In another example, marketing organizations historically have been limited to in-store sampling or low-response customer surveys to gain insight into customer behavior. With remote video, however, marketers can examine every transaction in a week involving a new product across hundreds of locations.

Broadband has been common in retail and SMB locations for several years. Cameras and video have been in place in many of these locations even longer. Many companies, however, still have not embraced video in a more extensive and meaningful way. Part of the problem is that the system has to be easy to use and manage, it cannot crush the company’s broadband network, it should not overwhelm the IT organization, and it has to have a compelling ROI.

If any one of these is not true, then a company likely will not widely deploy video and take advantage of its full capabilities. If video is not easy to use with minimal training, it will only be used by a few people in the company. Video’s use will be limited to one or two individuals in the IT or security groups.

If video is difficult to manage, then IT will be forced to limit who has access to video and what they can do with it. If video consumes the broadband connection regardless of the needs of other mission-critical applications, IT will never let it ride the company’s network. If video requires more IT resources to manage than a company can justify, it will never be rolled out. If video does not have a compelling return on investment, it will not make it off the planning list.

Managed video as a service (MVaaS) is a subset of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. In the case of MVaaS, video management software is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. Like other SaaS applications, MVaaS eliminates the need to install and run software on the customer’s own computers.

MVaaS is often used to address the challenges of managing distributed video systems across multiple locations and to reduce the user’s burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation and support. Because MVaaS is hosted on the Internet, it creates a lower cost value proposition when scaled across multiple locations. MVaaS applications are generally priced on a per-user, per-camera or per-site subscription basis, eliminating the upfront expense typically required for video software.

MVaaS solutions vary from traditional video systems in a number of ways:

Plug-and-play recorders eliminate much of the networking complexity and IT requirements at each remote location.

Centralization of user and recorder management provides the ability to easily control access for many users across a large number of locations.

A Web-based interface provides easy and ubiquitous access to video in any location from anywhere in the world.

The SaaS model eliminates software upgrades and version control, and protects customers against technology obsolescence.

Real-time monitoring of all devices (recorders and cameras) ensures customers’ systems are fully operational.

Strong network security and adherence to industry requirements, such as PCI compliance, ensure customers are not exposing themselves to new risks.

Before MVaaS, the interaction between broadband providers and video-using customers often was painful, as manual setup was required and static IP addresses needed. MVaaS has changed this dynamic, as the more innovative services work automatically on most network configurations and require no IT or network intervention.

Streaming video requires bandwidth. While some video systems will work under a variety of network speeds (e.g., satellite, ISDN, DSL, T-1) without crashing the network, the more customers use video, the higher quality video they will want, thus more bandwidth is required.

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

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The true cost of IP-based video

Analog systems might have lower initial costs, but look long-term for real savings.

Paul Smith is the chief operating officer of DVTel, Ridgefield Park, N.J.

by Paul Smith

Many buildings today still have the same access control, alarm panels, intercom and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems they had in the 1990s. After 9/11, however, renewed emphasis was placed on how to better secure buildings, borders and assets. Today, many facilities managers are using high-tech cameras and video analytics to protect assets. Most of these systems are based on digital video recorders (DVRs), which are called hybrid systems: taking analog video streams, digitizing them and then packetizing them so they can be viewed over a network.

The next evolution in IP video surveillance is the networked video recorder (NVR). NVRs are the first open system, IP-based solutions, since they are digital from system core to the edge. Recent industry reports conclude that an average of 15 percent to 20 percent of video surveillance installations are true IP-based solutions. Another 50 percent of video surveillance installations are based on DVR technology.

In the physical security market today, the key questions are what percentage of DVR-based installations will migrate to true IP-based solutions and how quickly? End-users and integrators alike tend to focus on initial overall system cost to determine their technology options and ultimately how much IP they install. Initial cost tells only half of the story and can be misleading. The true of cost of ownership should be evaluated to ensure a valid comparison.

An open system IP video surveillance includes the following characteristics:

End-user can deploy off-the-shelf computing hardware.

Development platform is built on an open standard (e.g., Microsoft .NET Framework).

Solution can employ multivendor edge devices, especially those that adhere to IT standards such as power over Ethernet (PoE).

A full software development kit (SDK) and application programming interface (API) set should be available.

The main operating platform brings inputs from multiple sources, such as object tracking, license plate recognition and access-control edge devices.

The system offers customizable operator screens.

Analog camera control is available with built-in drivers and adapters to any number of pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras, CCTV keyboards, matrix switchers and other legacy equipment.

IP equals open systems, which work within the standards with which the IT department is familiar and responsible.

Computing hardware. Applications should run on any standard computer hardware (Dell, HP, IBM), along with standards-based storage systems (Dell, NetApps, EMC, NexSAN) and standards-based network switching equipment (HP ProCurve, Cisco, Foundry), providing the user with multiple hardware choices that ensure lowest cost, ample options, highest performance and easy access to new and replacement hardware.

SDKs. The application should have open interfaces to integrate with other software vendor applications, such as access control, perimeter fence detection, video analytics, building management, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), heating/ventilating/air conditioning (HVAC), and programmer logic controller (PLC) systems.

Edge devices. The application should interoperate with edge devices from multiple vendors.

Microsoft .NET framework. The development platform is critical in defining how “open” a system is. An application built on an older development framework will run into support and compatibility issues with other software applications built to the latest development framework.

The importance of an open-based IP physical security system rests on the ease of installation, scalability by device, flexibility for using corporate standards and profiles, and integration ability. True IP video surveillance systems are based on IT standards and principles.

Here an initial cost comparison between analog and IP-based video surveillance systems provided by one established integrator:

50 cameras, digital $120,000, analog $114,500;

100 cameras, digital $232,000, analog, $214,000;

500 cameras, digital $1,129,000, analog $1,012,000.

On first examination, the analog system is cheaper. Be careful, however, as this is a classic apples to oranges comparison that many decision makers will make. Initial cost and the true cost of ownership are worlds apart.

Moving beyond cost comparisons of initial system installation, consider if each system option provides the following features and functionality:

reduction in hardware;

unlimited digital inputs and analog inputs and outputs;

ease of adding edge devices;

increased productivity, shorter investigation time and more successful prosecutions;

30 frames per second recording on all cameras at four common intermediate format (CIF) resolution or better;

dual-stream technology;

open integration options;

significant reduction in electrical and HVAC support;

one-wire installation for video, audio, telemetry, power, alarms, relays and access control.

An analog-based DVR system cannot scale by one camera, since it is based on a 16-camera configuration; it does not use off-the-shelf storage, since DVRs are typically “black box” solutions; and it does not fit the IT notion of a software-based solution where integration and upgrading are easily performed.

Once the system is installed, what other factors should be considered? Around 75 percent of all systems go through a major expansion and/or integration within the first 12 months. What are some of the cost factors associated with upgrades and expansions?

For a true open system, failed hardware components can be replaced by other standards-based hardware components, as opposed to proprietary high-priced replacements; replace a computer versus a full DVR; replace a computer mother board; integrator time and expense savings from using .NET Framework; addition of 17th, 33rd, etc., camera for an IP-based system is a $2,500 software license compared to a entire new $15,800 DVR; reduced annual maintenance; relocation of control room for more than 200 cameras: for an IP-based system, $46,200, for the DVR-based system, up to $939,700.

Over five years, factoring in reasonable system expansion and integration to keep the technology fresh and to add capabilities and scale, a conservative cost comparison, comparing an IP system and a hybrid DVR system based on 200 cameras, 10 percent system growth per year, and the reasonable expectation of moving or substantially altering the central control room:

IP-based solution,$1,134,600;

analog DVR system, $2,056,200.

In addition, IP-based video can be repurposed for more than surveillance, creating new ways to share costs between departments. Operations can use the cameras to monitor production, for example, or marketing can use the video to monitor response to product promotions.

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

Electrical Contractor Magazine

Continuity and Progress: Moving on and Moving Forward

President’s Desk by milner irvin

Starting next month, the presidency of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)—and this column—will be in the capable hands of Rex Ferry of Valley Electrical Consolidated in Ohio. Rex is a long-time friend and professional colleague, and I’m extremely confident about the leadership he will bring to the association and our industry.

Having worked closely with him over the past year to prepare for this transition, I assure you that the successful programs, initiatives and activities now in place at NECA will continue to move forward, enhanced by his perspective. However, new issues and new ways of dealing with them will no doubt emerge.

Over the past three years, these columns have looked at some of the big issues affecting our industry and how NECA is addressing them. Of course, there’s a lot going on at NECA that doesn’t get much coverage in this magazine.

For example, much of my time in office has involved working with the leadership of our industry’s labor force to make the NECA-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers team even more productive and competitive. I am pleased with the tremendous strides we’ve made. Though I realize much of the groundwork was laid before I took office and much work in this area is ongoing, I am proud of whatever role I performed in securing solid progress, just as I am proud of doing my part to improve communication between members, individual contractors, NECA chapters and the national office.

“Continuity and progress” was the theme of my introductory column in January 2006, and they are hallmarks of our organization and industry. Evidence of progress—built on a solid foundation of past achievement—is all around us.

For example, look how green we have become. When I first joined NECA’s executive committee, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program was just getting off the ground and was not widely known. Now, LEED is sprouting up everywhere, and NECA is a full-fledged partner with the U.S. Green Building Council in imparting the education and information contractors need to succeed in new and emerging markets.

But I think the most revealing sign of progress can be seen in how NECA addresses the human element. NECA is not only a partner in developing our industry’s highly trained, highly skilled productive work force; we’re also building a solid, diverse talent pool from which our industry can grow its future leaders and managers.

And, while NECA has set its sights on the future, our organization also is working hard to meet current challenges by enabling contractors to maximize their effectiveness in the legislative and political process, through research and educational efforts focused on new ways of getting and doing business, in the development of effective codes and standards, and through a whole host of other activities.

In other words, a lot of good things are happening, and it’s only the start. Or, rather, it’s another link in that chain of continuity and progress to which I referred.

So, for now, I’d like to close by thanking my fellow NECA contractors for allowing me to serve as your president. Thanks also to NECA’s executive committee and staff. I have been overwhelmed and deeply honored by the trust and support you’ve given me.

And thanks to all members of the electrical contracting industry everywhere. I’ve enjoyed visiting with you each month, and I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about. You’ve certainly returned the favor.

As for me, I plan to continue doing my part to help our industry and association advance. Therefore, although the time has come to bid you “Goodbye,” I hope you don’t mind if, instead, I simply say, “See you around.”      

Milner Irvin, President, Neca

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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Developing a Test Plan ; Network design for fiber optics, part 10

fiberOptics BY jim hayes

Every installation requires confirmation that components are installed properly. The installer or contractor wants to ensure the work is done properly to satisfy the customer and to ensure callbacks for repair are not be necessary. Customers generally require test results as well as a final visual inspection as part of the documentation of a proper installation before approving payment.

In my experience, however, there often is confusion about exactly what should be tested and how documentation of test results is to be done on fiber optic projects. These issues should be agreed on during the design phase of the project. Project paperwork should include specifications for testing, references to industry standards and acceptable test results based on a loss budget analysis done during the design phase of the project.

The process of testing any fiber optic cable plant may require testing three times: testing cable on the reel before installation, testing each segment as it is installed and testing complete end-to-end loss. Practical testing usually means testing only a few fibers on each cable reel for continuity before installation to ensure there has been no damage to the cable during shipment. Then each segment is tested as it is terminated by the installers. Finally the entire cable run is plugged together and tested for end-to-end loss for final documentation.

One should require visual inspection of cable reels upon acceptance and, if visible damage is detected, test the cable on the reel for continuity before installing it to ensure no damage was done in shipment from the manufacturer to the job site. Since the cost of installation usually is high—often much higher than the cost of materials—it makes sense to ensure that one does not install bad cable, which would then have to be removed and replaced. It is generally sufficient to test continuity with a fiber tracer or visual fault locator. However, long spools of cable may be tested with an optical time delay reflectometer (OTDR) if damage is suspected and one wants to document the damage or determine if some of the cable needs to be cut off and discarded (or retained to get credit for the damaged materials).

After cable installation and termination, each segment of the cable plant should be tested individually as it is installed to ensure each connector and cable is good. Finally, each end-to-end run (from equipment to equipment connected on the cable plant) should be tested for loss as required by all standards. Remember that each fiber in each cable will need to be tested, so the total number of tests to be performed is calculated from the number of cable segments multiplied by the number of fibers in each cable. This can be time-consuming.

Testing the complete cable plant requires insertion loss testing with a source and power meter or optical loss test set (OLTS) per TIA standard test procedure OFSTP-14 for multimode or OFSTP-7 for single-mode. The test plan should specify the “0 dB” reference method option (one, two or three reference cables), as this will affect the value of the loss. TIA 568 calls for a one-cable reference, but this may not be possible with all combinations of test sets and cable plant connectors. The required test methods need to be agreed on by the contractor and user beforehand.

OTDR testing is not required, nor is OTDR testing alone acceptable for cable plant certification. However, long lengths of outside plant cabling that include splices may be tested with an OTDR to verify splice performance and look for problems caused by stress on the cable during installation. While there are advocates of using OTDRs to test any cable plant installation, including short premises cables, it is not recommended for premises cabling nor is it required by industry standards.

The shorter lengths of premises cabling runs and frequent connections with high reflectance often create confusing OTDR traces that can cause problems for the OTDR autotest function and are sometimes difficult for even experienced OTDR users to interpret properly.

The test plan should be coordinated with the cable plant documentation. The documentation must show what links need testing and what test results are expected based on loss budget calculations. The test plan should also specify how the test data are incorporated into the documentation for acceptance of the installation and for reference in case of future cabling problems that require emergency restoration.   

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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Attention to Details; Avoiding unnecessary costs in fire alarm installations

Fire/lifesafety BY wayne d. moore

Although we have all heard, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” we find that the small stuff really matters as we build our businesses. Part of the issue depends on who defines what constitutes the “small stuff.”

I have found throughout my career that the contractors who consistently do the best electrical work—and in my field, the best fire alarm system installations—are the contractors who pay attention to the important details of the project. In other words, they really do sweat the small stuff.

Recently, during a pre-acceptance test of a fire alarm system, a number of items that some might have considered unimportant put an owner at risk. These items delayed the opening of the building and prevented the occupants from moving in on time. As you might imagine, the owner was not happy. The contractor had not paid attention to a detail in the National Fire Alarm Code that ultimately can prove very costly, as well as likely can delay the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy. During the pre-acceptance testing, it became evident that the building still had many incomplete construction items.

As far as the fire alarm system, an investigation disclosed that the contractor had installed several smoke detectors within the building in areas where the active construction continued. NFPA 72-2007, Section 5.7.1.11 states, “smoke detectors shall not be installed until after the construction clean-up of all trades is complete and final.”

The code does have an exception that allows the authority having jurisdiction to require detection for protection during construction. But, regardless of why the contractor installed the smoke detectors, the code requires the contractor to test the sensitivity of the detectors. At the completion of the construction, the contractor must clean or replace any detectors found to have a sensitivity reading outside the listed and marked (on the detector) sensitivity range in accordance with Chapter 10.

Unfortunately, the contractor had overlooked other details in addition to the problem related to potentially dirty smoke detectors. Other details missed include the following:

The drain piping for the dry-type sprinkler system serving the attic was not fully installed; therefore, the dry-valve and associated pressure switches and monitor modules were not tested.

As the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system with the building was not fully operational, the control relays for HVAC shutdown were not tested. It should be noted, however, that duct smoke detectors were installed and functionally tested.

The magnetic door hold-open devices were not fully installed at the time of the test because doors were missing. Therefore, the magnetic door holder-open devices were not tested.

Finally, the contractor had overlooked that the elevator company had not installed the elevator contactor. This prevented the testing of the fire alarm system interface.

The primary recall, alternate recall, operation of the visual signal (firefighter’s helmet) in the elevator, and elevator power shunt trip could not be tested. Even though the electrical contractor had made certain to install and program the smoke detector bases within these spaces, because the elevator contractor was not on-site to provide access to these spaces, the electrical contractor could not install the detectors or test their functions. As a result, the contractor failed another area of the pre-acceptance test.

The contractor had scheduled the final acceptance test with the fire department within three days of the pretest. With everything the contractor needed to complete, not to mention the work the other trades needed to complete before the contractor could sensitivity test and clean or replace the smoke detectors, I had to recommend that the contractor reschedule the test.

In his article, “Pay Attention to Details” published in Ezine @rticles, Gary Ryan Blair wrote, “If you long to accomplish great and noble tasks, you first must learn to approach every task as though it were great and noble. Even the biggest project depends on the success of the smallest components. Many people downplay small details, dismissing them as minutia—the ‘small stuff,’ that we’re encouraged to ignore. But, in fact, our whole environment is simply an accumulation of tiny details.”

Electrical contractors must pay attention to all of the details that affect a fire alarm system installation, including ensuring the systems provided by other trades that must interface with the fire alarm system will reach completion for both the pre-acceptance test and the final acceptance test.

In my opinion, when it comes to fire alarm system installations, you do need to sweat the small stuff.          

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I., office.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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It’s December Sweeps

editor’s eyeBy andrea klee

If you watch local news, you may notice the tendency to highlight so-called “special reports,” investigative pieces about consumer issues that generally appear more often in November, February and May. These reports are timed for the television ratings measurements and often are very dramatic—Dangers of hotel room drinking glasses! What you don’t know about Internet scams could cost you millions!—to draw in more viewers.

Similarly, Electrical Contractor is filled with special reports this month. Unlike the intention of those reports during sweeps months, Electrical Contractor has prepared these special issues not to be provacative, but to educate our readers about some opportunities and real threats to your businesses. 

First off, this issue marks our second annual look at lighting. We’ve keyed in on different vertical markets that electrical contractors are working in—such as warehouses, theaters, hospitality and dining—and also prepared two articles on applications of lighting control, one for residential and one for commercial. You’ll find these stories distributed throughout the issue.

Soon heading into its seventh year, Security + Life Safety Systems, starting on page 51, is packed with information for those contractors working in all areas of low-voltage systems—security, life safety, fire and the communications systems that tie all of them together. The S+LSS editorial focus is becoming more technical next year. From its start, the magazine promoted opportunities for electrical contractors in low-voltage systems, and as you have moved into those areas, we now feel we need to ensure you understand the ins and outs of these systems, especially as you design, specify and integrate them.

Finally, an idea borne out of a dinner last summer led to the production of our third special report this month:

The Anti-Counterfeit Products
Initiative. At the dinner, the very serious implications of counterfeit electrical products were addressed, and we realized that we haven’t been doing enough to educate you, and distributors, about the threat these products pose. We’ve partnered with TED magazine on this supplement and initiative, and we’ve  gathered industry-wide support, getting endorsements from NECA, NEMA, the NAED and Underwriters Laboratories.

Why should this topic matter to you? Consider this: If an electrical contractor unknowingly installs a product that is counterfeit and this untested product starts an electrical fire, causes an arc flash, or leads to an injury or death, the electrical contractor could be held liable, especially if the source of the products cannot be located. If you don’t read anything else in the magazine this month, you should read this. Is that dramatic enough for you?

Andrea Klee, Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com 

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Retail Therapy; Maintaining mall fire alarm systems

by wayne d. moore

A trip to the local mall can be an all-day event, depending on how many family members participate in the shopping spree. And the closer the shopping event is to a holiday, the better the chances are that the mall will be crowded. Designing, installing and maintaining a fire alarm system in retail occupancies, such as a mall, can be a much bigger challenge than simply shopping at one.

Before attempting the design, the wise contractor will review the applicable building and life safety code to ensure the minimum requirements for a fire alarm system as they apply to a mall are understood.

The 2006 edition of the International Building Code requires a minimum of a manual fire alarm system to be installed in a mall shopping center. The actuation of any manual fire alarm box will initiate the alarm notification appliances. The manual fire alarm boxes can be eliminated if the sprinkler system automatically activates the notification appliances upon the initiation of sprinkler water flow. The building code also allows that, during times the building is occupied, the initiation of a signal from a manual fire alarm box or from a water flow switch is not required to activate the alarm notification appliances, but this is allowed only when an alarm signal is activated at a constantly attended location from which evacuation instructions are given over an emergency voice/alarm communication system. In addition, the building code allows the emergency voice/alarm communication system to be used for other announcements, provided the fire alarm takes precedence over any other signal.

The speakers used for fire alarm notification in the mall must be provided throughout the building by paging zones. As a minimum, the building code requires that the paging zones be arranged as follows:

1. Elevator groups

2. Exit stairways

3. Each floor

4. Areas of refuge as defined in the code

Based on these building code requirements and the building code reference to NFPA 72, the emergency voice/alarm communication system must be installed in accordance with the National Fire Alarm Code.

The challenging part of the system now becomes the voice communications requirements. NFPA 72 requires that when an alarm signal is received, there must be an automatic response by the emergency voice/alarm communications system. However, if the monitoring location is constantly attended and operator acknowledgement of receipt of a fire alarm or other emergency signal is received within 30 seconds, automatic response is not required.

The controls for the emergency voice/alarm communication system must be installed in a location approved by the authority having jurisdiction and the location must be secured to allow only authorized and trained personnel access to the equipment.

“The choice of the location for the emergency voice/alarm communications control equipment should also take into consideration the ability of the fire alarm system to operate and function during any probable single event,” reads the annex to the code. “Although NFPA 72 does not regulate either building construction or contents, system designers should consider the potential for fire in proximity to fire alarm control equipment, including remotely located control devices, to disable the system or a portion thereof. Where practical, it is prudent to minimize unnecessary fire exposures of fire alarm control equipment through the use of fire-rated construction or enclosures, limiting adjacent combustibles and ignition sources or other appropriate means.”

The speaker locations for the emergency voice/alarm communication system must be chosen to ensure both audibility of the alarm signal and the intelligibility of the voice message. This is a challenge many system installers either don’t understand or fail to meet due to a lack of communications background.

Although NFPA 72-2007, Section 6.8.6.2 states that audible and visible appliances must not be installed in exit stair enclosures, as outlined previously in the building code requirements, speakers must be installed in enclosed stairways. NFPA 72-2007 recognizes the need for communication to occupants who are in the stairway and has additional requirements regarding stairway speakers that state the speakers must be connected to a separate notification zone for manual paging only.

The speaker circuits wiring installation also lies beyond the normal wiring installation requirements for a fire alarm system. The National Fire Alarm Code requires that fire alarm systems used for partial evacuation and relocation must be designed and installed so that attack by fire within an evacuation signaling zone will not impair control and operation of the notification appliances outside the evacuation signaling zone. This feature is defined as “survivability” and goes beyond the simple mechanical protection of notification appliance circuits. Survivability can be met using any of the following methods as described in Section 6.9.10.4.2 of the NFPA 72-2007:

“(1) A 2-hour fire rated circuit integrity (CI) cable

(2) A 2-hour fire rated cable system (electrical circuit -protective system)

(3) A 2-hour fire rated enclosure

(4) Performance alternatives approved by the authority having jurisdiction

(5) Buildings fully protected by an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with NFPA

13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and with the interconnecting wiring or cables used for the operation of notification appliances installed in metal raceways and in accordance with Article 760 of NFPA 70”

According to the annex material in NFPA 101-2009, “Fire experience in mall shopping centers indicates that the most likely place of fire origin is in the tenant space where the combustible fire load is far greater than in the mall proper. Furthermore, any fires resulting from the comparatively low fire load in the mall proper are more likely to be detected and extinguished in their incipient stages. Early detection is likely due to the nature of the mall proper as a high-traffic pedestrian way.”

Based on this information, the contractor can and should recommend to the tenants in the mall that although not a requirement of the codes, it is advisable to install smoke detectors in their spaces, especially the storage areas.

The concern of many mall operators is that there will be a false alarm that will disrupt shoppers and cause them to leave, so you can expect a request for delaying an alarm until it is investigated. You should note that notification of the fire department cannot be delayed for any reason. The occupant notification delay is called positive alarm sequence and is allowed by NFPA 72 as long as it meets the requirements of the code. First, the signal from an automatic fire detection device selected for positive alarm sequence operation must be acknowledged at the fire alarm control unit by trained personnel within 15 seconds of annunciation in order to initiate the alarm investigation phase. If the signal is not acknowledged within 15 seconds, notification signals in accordance with the building evacuation or relocation plan and remote signals must be automatically and immediately activated.

Second, trained personnel will have up to 180 seconds during the alarm investigation phase to evaluate the fire condition and reset the system. If the system is not reset during the investigation phase, notification signals in accordance with the building evacuation or relocation plan and remote signals must be automatically and immediately activated.

Additionally, if a second automatic fire detector selected for positive alarm sequence is actuated during the alarm investigation phase, notification signals in accordance with the building evacuation or relocation plan and remote signals shall be automatically and immediately activated. And if any other initiating device is actuated, notification signals in accordance with the building evacuation or relocation plan and remote signals shall be automatically and immediately activated. The system must also have a means for bypassing the positive alarm sequence.

The professional contractor will meet the challenges of installing a fire alarm system in a shopping mall by understanding the code requirements and the historical fire issues in this occupancy.           

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I., office.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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Minding the Store

by claire swedberg

Retailers are combining solutions to provide security in an increasingly complex market

In the United States, theft affects 3 percent of retail profits, making the retail industry one of the leading markets for video surveillance. With the emergence of Internet protocol (IP) video and video analytics, coupled with the need for greater control of data, retailers are faced with daunting choices of systems that link physical security with the world of information technology (IT).

In retail, both IT and physical security management have to cope with security breaches, as the line between data theft and physical theft has blurred. With more movement of data from the point of sale, security cameras and even self-service kiosks, IT departments and security managers can no longer afford to work autonomously. They must know what is happening in the physical store while acknowledging where the data is most vulnerable. Those designing and installing such solutions in the retail market must work with both the IT department and security managers to build a solution.

From an IT security standpoint, there is a frenzy of activity to gain greater control, said Justin Joyner, IBM, Armonk, N.Y., industry solutions manager.

Retailers want to do more than prevent data breaches. They also need to address theft, shrinkage and fraud, which all plague the industry. There has been a shift, however, concerning how retailers look at security. Today, Joyner said, IT departments are inviting the security people to the table, and this is becoming part of the business application for several reasons. For one thing, in the past, most computer viruses were the result of pranksters taking down random systems, but today, viruses come from thieves who target a particular chain. They load up malicious software and find a way into the company’s back-end system.

These attacks generally begin on a physical level, however, with an individual exploring the store and the store’s security system. These crime rings can be local, attached to foreign countries or even to terrorist groups. Either way, they get credit card details, often through physical access to the store.

The biggest issues for retailers continue to be loss prevention, credit card fraud, organized and other theft, counterfeit checks and money, and insurance fraud. There has been a significant spike in identity theft as well, said Jeff Knapp, marketing vice president, On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc. (OnSSI), Suffern, N.Y., an intelligent IP surveillance software company.

Many intruders are now able to bypass legacy IT security systems, so new technologies are addressing that vulnerability. They’re being designed to be smarter and to detect potential breaches.

“We started out with fundamental card services with a firewall,” Joyner said, adding that now stores need advanced intrusion protection.

At the same time, retailers are seeking to provide innovations for their customers in the store—customers who are increasingly seeking and expecting convenience. The result is new point-of-sale applications, mobile terminals and kiosks. Security gaps in data created with loyalty cards, customer cards and credit card data are where retailers have their greatest concerns. At the point of sale, Joyner said, wireless security is a gap.

“We find retailers are at a lot of different levels,” Joyner said. “The ones we see as most mature have taken steps toward not only security but making the system more efficient.”

One way they do this is to scale back the number of vendors that address different components of their physical and IT security and their point-of-sale data.

There are competent, reliable partners in the industry who can assist in the process, taking a tremendous burden off the shoulders of the retailer, said Ron Freschi, director of large system sales, North American Video, Brick, N.J..

The technology industry is meeting the needs of retailers almost too well, Freschi said. There is a proliferation of new technologies available, with all the manufacturers declaring their superiority.

“It can become difficult and time consuming for retailers to sort out what solution really does best meet their needs,” he said. “These are technologically advanced products that can be extremely useful for retailers, if they can find time to wade through the information.”

Over the next few years, Freschi predicts a technology shakeout in which there will be a streamlining of systems platforms, and some manufacturers’ products will disappear. In addition, open partnerships between manufacturers will enable diverse systems to work together, providing more functionality and operational data to the retailers.

“We often see retailers going from three dozen vendors down to a couple of vendors,” Joyner said.

And some vendors are poised to take a larger role in security deployment. Companies, such as IBM and HP, are consolidating their own services and acquiring other businesses to expand their offerings.

“We can meet a customer where they are, assess their security across any category, identify the gaps and resolve the issues,” Joyner said.

Some companies also can provide management services for that security system. Stores also want more centralized visibility with all security for multiple stores being piped to a remote location. For some larger retailers, that means changing what is a very complex system—with multiple solutions and a lot of customization—to full integration. This can require a brand-by-brand consolidation and generally is a slow process.

“In reality, unless you’re starting from scratch, it’s a mixed bag,” Joyner said. “Maybe they begin by doing away with a few vendors. You can’t rip and replace an entire system at once.”

As a result, each application requires a certain amount of innovation.

The most promising technology for physical security is the application of the camera to prevent fraud. Installing a camera network that is smart enough to recognize security breaches is where most retailers see their needs falling.

“The folks who need to have their heads up are the IT department, loss prevention and store operations managers,” Joyner said. “They need to be cognizant of each other and make sure security is applied properly.”

Physical security professionals are putting analog surveillance technology behind them. Nearly all video captured is being converted into digital information. This is another factor pushing increased involvement with the IT department. Smart surveillance packages allow retailers to correlate a transaction log’s data with video data to, for example, pull up footage of a specific customer or point-of-sale exchange based on the activity that is occurring.

“One thing we’ve seen with digital cameras is that IT needs to be involved. That’s sensitive data that has to be secured. IT security is very much tied around physical security,” Joyner said.

Advances in video surveillance technology have brought improvements in a number of areas. Better imaging devices, including megapixel cameras, have enabled higher quality images, providing more detail for facial recognition and identification of license plates, said Keith Kanestrin, marketing manager, Panasonic Security Systems, Secaucus, N.J.. In addition, the evolution of video analytics has made surveillance easier and less expensive. Now specific events can trigger alarms to alert security personnel of incidents in real time.

“Finally, the advent of IP/network systems has made it easier for management to access images and information remotely, in addition to making the systems themselves scalable and easier to implement,” Kanestrin said.

Imaging capabilities have been growing with the development of low-light imaging technologies, such as Panasonic’s Super Dynamic III. It also has built-in intelligent technology, including automatic scene-change detection and automatic tracking and back focus to ensure perfect focus when switching from color to black and white. New megapixel cameras provide volumes of detailed data that allow video analytic middleware to perform many complex operations. In addition to the surveillance benefits, they improve forensic investigations of recorded images by providing a large amount of recorded data.

While imaging technology will continue to improve, providing ever-better identification capabilities, the greater advancements will be in improved video analytics, Kanestrin said. Whether software-driven or residing in the camera hardware itself, analytics will enable security management to create individualized rules and policies to deliver timely information and alerts to deter or prevent incidents and to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators.

“With time, there will be increasing integration of security systems with other retail operational systems, such as point of sale,” Kanestrin said.

This convergence will cause the issue of technology connectivity to grow. Like IBM, Panasonic is addressing this now by forming partnerships with other technology leaders, enabling an open exchange of information to foster seamless connectivity. This was the impetus behind the formation of the Panasonic Solution Developer Network, a partnership program for manufacturers and solution providers who develop market-leading integrated solutions that support or use Panasonic security products.

OnSSI’s Knapp scores the manufacturing industry high on meeting the current security needs in retail. IP-based video surveillance technology, with the integration of video analytics, provides a greatly enhanced level of security and enables improved response, he said. Video images are more accurate, resulting in much more successful deterrence, apprehension, reliable evidence and prosecution.

Retailers now have the ability to manage an unlimited number of cameras at multiple sites with synchronized playback control and navigation maps for quick access to cameras. For example, OnSSI’s Ocularis video management and control platform has an interface that allows users to build the system the way they need it.

The trends in the security industry today mirror the trends of business in general, Knapp said.

“The developments of the last 20 years have fundamentally and permanently transformed the way business is done, the way people interact and our expectations of information availability. At the same time, the security industry has burgeoned with the recognition of the need to protect our citizens, businesses and property against natural and manmade risks,” he said.

The industry is leveraging the improvements in communications technology, image quality and intelligent video analytics so profitability increases with the number of cameras.

“Most, if not all, of th-e current trends and technical developments in the security industry relate to the development and growth of the Internet as a central force in operations, functioning and user interface,” Knapp said. “Today, even a very small business has the expectation that they will not only be able to access their information remotely, but also that they will be able to control cameras and views remotely.

“Retailers are finding it necessary to make fundamental changes to the way they secure their locations,” Knapp said. “Flexible and seamless integration of enterprise security--related and other applications, and enhanced access and usability, will result in more profitable and revenue generating security technology implementations across the enterprise.”

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at claire_swedberg@msn.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com 

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Fiber Files; improved fiber optics makes cabling easier

By russ munyan

The first time I ever pulled a telecommunications cable, it was across a warehouse ceiling where my employer needed a temporary office in the far corner. However, the company’s IT consultant had failed to explain to me things such as bend radius and pulling limitations. So as I ran the cable, I secured it by tying it into trusty Boy Scout knots around the tops of ceiling-high equipment racks, being sure to pull each of the knots good and tight. My knots were exemplary, but my signal never had a chance.

With that introduction to the world of low voltage, you can imagine my favorable reaction to new bend-improved, bend-tolerant and bend-insensitive fiber optic cables that could have withstood even the punishment I gave the cable that day.

These single-mode fiber optic products, which are hundreds of times more bendable than a standard single-mode fiber, solve a historic technical challenge for telecommunications carriers. Optical fibers are made of ultra-pure glass waveguides that transmit light through their central cores.

With traditional single-mode cables, tight bends allow leakage of light, resulting in signal loss (attenuation) or optical power degradation. In contrast, bend-insensitive fiber optic cables, with their minimum bend radii—as low as 5 mm (0.2 in)—allow unlimited bends around very tight corners with virtually no signal loss. The new International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 657 standard requires a 7.5-mm bend. Cables manufactured by Draka Cableteq, North Dighton, Ma.; OFS, Norcross, Ga.; and Corning Cable Systems, Hickory, N.C., comply with this standard. Although Corning asserted that its fiber was able to bend down to 5 mm, most of the other fiber optic cable producers felt that 5 mm was too high a risk. The cable Draka and OFS offer on the general market meets the ITU 7.5 mm bend-tolerant rating.

These cables allow telecommunications carriers to install optical fiber cables into complex environments, especially fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in multiple-dwelling units (MDUs). The average MDU installation involves a dozen 90-degree bends, making it difficult and expensive to run fiber all the way to customers’ homes.

The first major bend-improved product was introduced in 2005 by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), Tokyo, which dominates the telecommunication market in Japan. Its “hole-assisted” or “holey” fiber is manufactured with tunnels in the outer glass fiber that surrounds the thin central glass core. The tunnels relieve stress on the outer glass as the fiber is bent. But NTT’s fiber is expensive and requires special connectors to mate with other types of fiber.

Corning uses ClearCurve technology, which is based on its proprietary nanoStructures optical fiber design. This coats the cladding that surrounds the inner fiber with a mesh of tube-like nanometer-scale (one-billionth of a meter) pockets. They create channels that guide the light back into the core and prevent signal loss in tight bends, providing the benefits of extruded holes without the high cost.

Draka announced an advancement in connector cables through the combination of its BendBright-XST bend-insensitive fiber cable and Megladon’s hardened lens connector (HLC) ScratchGuard connector technology.

Draka and Megladon Manufacturing Group, Austin, Texas, have combined high-end technologies to deliver a high-performance, scratch-resistant, bend-insensitive fiber optic cable assembly to the market. The product offering is diverse and includes patchcords, riser, plenum and low-smoke zero halogen cables available with ultra or angle -polish-hardened lens connectors.

Introduced in 2006 as Draka’s second generation of bend-insensitive fiber, BendBright-XS is a widely accepted product for customers who want a solid-glass G.657 A&B-compliant fiber.

With the fiber optic connector being a critical component, damage to the connector due to handling and repeated use has been a concern and point of failure for network operators. Megladon’s HLC ScratchGuard technology has virtually eliminated this problem.

Premium priced products

Some of these cables meet the ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunications Union) recommendation G.657.A, which emphasizes backward compatibility, and some meet recommendation G.657.B, which emphasizes optimal bend performance.

Verizon Communications Inc.,0 New York, was one of the early proponents of the newest technology for its Fiber Optic Service (FiOS) Internet and TV products in high-rise apartment and condominium complexes.         

Additional information was contributed to this article by Frank Bisbee of Communication Planning Corp.

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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GOING WIRELESS; Companies switch to internet protocol cameras

by allan b. colombo

Effective security requires accurate, identifiable video surveillance. The need to see events as they occur—especially at remote locations, in real time or after the fact—is what good security is all about.

Digital Internet protocol (IP) cameras use network technology to send images to a central head-end where security personnel can use the images in an assortment of ways. IP technology makes it possible to transport video images for much greater distances than is possible with conventional analog technology. The challenge is how to transmit IP-based video signals between two points that are separated by distance when it is not practical to install cable.

It is not always possible or affordable to trench cable, even where multiple outdoor cameras and the head-end are located on the same property. When such a project involves more than one property owner, the price tag can be even higher.

One possible answer is to use a short- to medium--range wireless system, such as point-to-point microwave or a radial wireless system that transmits in a 360-degree pattern. Another possibility involves the use of wireless mesh technology.

Mesh technology

Most residential and business users are acquainted with Wi-Fi technology that provides a single point of connectivity between a laptop, PC or a local or wide area network (LAN/WAN). For a critical security system, professionals will sometimes add a second antenna for better reception, or even install expensive repeaters. A wireless system that uses mesh technology, however, can be more reliable and more practical.

Mesh enables the use of multiple wireless nodes, each one acting as a repeater of sorts. Every wireless node in the system is able to pick up and retransmit data sent by other nodes.

Wireless transmission can be interrupted when something in the environment causes a network disruption. In an ordinary Wi-Fi network using IEEE 802.11, this can be a real problem. A mesh, however, will route data around the blockage. In this instance, every wireless node acts as a router, moving data so it ultimately reaches its intended destination. This is commonly referred to as “self healing.”

The ability to self-heal is one of the things that makes a mesh system attractive for security use. The redundancy provided by this kind of arrangement is an absolute must when working with video surveillance.

IP wireless connectivity

“Early on, we recognized the advantages associated with IP technology. A megapixel solution exceeds analog from a video sense, so we get better image resolution,” said Dan McKimm, president of ProTech Security of North Canton, Ohio. “The intelligence within an IP camera also allows us to store and buffer video within the camera itself. This gives us built-in redundancy if something should happen to the network.”

According to McKimm, if something happens to a digital video server, the client can still retrieve video images from the camera itself.

“If the connection fails for any reason and we lose video, our IP camera contains a ring buffer which is a [data] storage device that can store a specific number of video frames. Because it’s a ring buffer, data written first is overwritten last,” McKimm said.

Better pictures, redundancy and a longer transport range are not the only advantages IP cameras bring to the table. A quality IP camera inherently offers greater light sensitivity in nighttime situations. This is a tremendous advantage when installing in remote locations where lighting may not always be ensured.

By adjusting the rate at which images are processed and sent to a digital video recorder (DVR) or network attached storage (NAS) device, the camera’s imager can generate an amazingly high-quality image. By slowing its image processing rate, it gathers more reflected light from the surrounding environment. This enables end-users to more easily identity perpetrators, license plate numbers and other details that could otherwise be lost to an analog-based system.

Although IP cameras are well on their way to becoming a de facto standard in the video surveillance market, there are still thousands of analog cameras in use. And analog is still used in new installations every day, usually because of the cost difference between analog and IP technology.

“As much press as IP cameras get, they still account for only 10 percent or less of all cameras sold. They’re still a niche,” said John Monti, vice president, marketing and business development with Pixim, of Mountain View, Calif. “The problem is cost. Our message to the industry is you need cleaner, more accurate video that works in all lighting and saves on bandwidth and storage costs.”

National firm turns to IP wireless

When a fast-food restaurant chain purchased two bakeries in Zanesville, Ohio, located only a few miles apart, it became apparent to the security director that the corporation needed remote video surveillance to maintain the integrity and safety of incoming and stored product at a nearby intermodal rail yard. ProTech Security was the vendor chosen for the job.

“We’re sending video images from the Zanesville Port Authority [rail yard] to a central point between one and two miles away. We presently have two cameras on duty overlooking all the tankers that bring the flour into the [intermodal] facility.

“We watch to see who’s out there. You would think there would be very little activity, as this client is actually in the middle of nowhere, but it’s amazing to see how much foot traffic is out there,” said Art Morrison, operations manager with ProTech Security.

In a network environment, communications is bidirectional, which means signals travel from a camera to a recording device and vice versa. Bidirectional signaling is necessary for network management. Another reason for the bidirectional flow of data in some remotely managed video surveillance systems involves the control of pan/tilt/zoom mechanisms and the zoom feature incorporated in some camera lenses.

For this application, ProTech Security chose a wireless IP-networking solution called HotPort, developed and offered by Firetide of Los Gatos, Calif.

“The reason we went with Firetide is that we really like the wireless mesh technology. It’s an up-and-coming technology that can be used in video deployment,” Morrison said. “The throughput is quick and self healing and you can deploy outdoor and indoor nodes on the system. The outdoor nodes provide PoE [power over Ethernet] right at the source, and it’s very scalable.”

Mesh technology at work

The technology used by ProTech Security to transmit video images several miles to one of the bakeries’ security departments makes use of wireless mesh technology, rather than metallic or fiber optic cable.

Firetide’s manufacturer claims a data throughput of 25 megabits per second (Mbps). However, according to ProTech Security’s Morrison, they are able to derive a throughput of up to 35 Mbps per node.

“FireTide will typically give you a throughput of 500 [kilobits per second] per camera if you average it out up to 1 Mbps. A radio at simplex will give you 35 Mbps. So, doing the math, this will support up to 35 cameras at best on a good day,” Morrison said. “A good way to go is a two-radio system. This allows you to take advantage of the full 70 Mbps throughput that they can offer.”

In ProTech Security’s bakery installation, two cameras are being wirelessly transported back to one of the two bakeries. An internal WAN is then used to send the same video data to the second site where security personnel also can maintain a close watch on incoming and stored raw materials.

Cameras essentially plug into an Ethernet port on the back of a wireless transceiver, which acts as the node. The mesh network itself acts as a network switch, so no further hardware is needed other than a transceiver at the other end.

The system supports both indoor and outdoor applications. Outdoor nodes are designed for adverse environments where indoor nodes are not. The frequency of operation for the HotPort system that ProTech Security used is selectable: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.

Wireless image quality

The images that digital IP cameras generate usually range from 160 × 120 pixels to 640 × 480 pixels. These images are collected and stored by a DVR, NAS or some other network-oriented storage system.

As a general rule, the smaller the image, the less storage space it requires. In the case of a 160 × 120 pixel image, the typical file size is 19.2 kb. The larger image contains approximately 307.2 kb of data. A megapixel camera that can be used to create VGA color will usually render larger size images than those that do not.

Image resolution is a factor to consider when installing a network camera system. In practice, image quality is largely determined by resolution and percentage of compression.

“When video goes from analog to IP, there are [a lot] of changes and one of them is compression efficiency,” Monti said.

Because of inherent bandwidth and storage limitations on a network, the compressibility of the video becomes a key factor in the cost of ownership. The cost of the whole video security system hinges on how well compression takes place. Most digital network cameras use the M-JPEG and the MPEG compression protocols.

Another factor determining the quality of the image is color saturation, which can range from grayscale to full red-green-blue color. The closer the image is to full color, the higher the bandwidth requirements.

Using the Firetide mesh technology, video images are carried at a rate of 2 to 30 frames per second (fps). The higher the fps rate, the more the video presentation will appear normal to the human eye.

There are tradeoffs that make it necessary for security technicians to scale the fps back to 10 or 15 fps and sometimes even less. In practice, 15 fps is usually used as a standard when installing a remote video surveillance system. When everything is working well, 15 will render a nearly complete chain of motion on the monitor. In some applications, however, as little as 5 fps is used to manage network bandwidth. “The camera can be programmed to limit the amount of bandwidth it uses, which is crucial when dealing with [information technology] personnel in large corporations,” McKimm said. “Security companies need to form a partnership with the end-user’s IT personnel, and this can only be accomplished by assuring them that they can provide a camera that will never throttle beyond the amount of network bandwidth they allow for video.”

Because surveillance video resides on the network, more than one authorized person can view it at the same time. Not only that, it can be stored and maintained off-site using an assortment of data storage methods.        

Colombo is a 33-year veteran in the security and life safety markets. He is director with FireNetOnline.com and a nationally recognized trade journalist in East Canton, Ohio. Reach him at abc@alcolombo.us.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

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My opinion

By frank bisbee

Convergence Opens Doors

ECs think inside AND outside of the box

One of the most critical responsibilities for building owners and managers is life safety. Not only is the United States the most litigious society in the modern world, but skyrocketing insurance premiums add to the pressure for building owner and facility managers to keep their employees and their building occupants safe. Being prepared is the first, second and third rule. Preparedness requires a program of ongoing training and periodic testing.

Converged technology, intelligent buildings and a host of other labels denote a bold new approach to describing the interlocking systems that serve the modern building. Like an outstretched hand, each digit represents a critical infrastructure system: power, control, communications, security and life safety.

Over the last two decades, we have seen many forward-thinking electrical contractors add a special services group to install telecommunications and data cabling. They have enjoyed a significant addition to their revenue stream.

In the last decade, a new set of opportunities has developed for savvy electrical contractors. Security and life safety systems are a hot growth service sector. Both have experienced double digit growth since Sept. 11, 2001. Security and life safety systems were once almost exclusively the private hunting ground of specialty contractors, but no more. Internet protocol-controlled systems have been widely accepted, and electrical contractors are rapidly increasing their share of this new bounty. One major electrical contractor told us that, in addition to the expanding revenue steam, these services are bringing the customer closer to the contractor, in many cases eliminating the “bid job” and replacing it with exclusive design/build jobs.

In the banking world, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) spells out the security requirements. No guessing in this area. It’s all in “FDIC Rules and Regulations Part 326: the Minimum Security Devices and Procedures and the Bank Secrecy Act.” This gives a baseline for bank’s minimum-security requirements. Of course, most banks go above and beyond the minimums because security affects customers and employees when it relates to the physical structure of the bank.

In retail, security is motivated by the amount of losses that occur each year. Retailers continue to be plagued by theft from shoplifters and dishonest employees.

Shoplifting and employee theft losses totaled more than $6 billion in just 23 retail companies in 2006. Only 2 percent of those losses resulted in apprehension and recovery, according to the 19th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, a leading loss prevention/inventory shrinkage control consulting firm. According to Hayes, for every one dollar recovered, $50.59 is lost to retail theft.

The survey reported on more than 530,000 apprehensions taking place in the 23 large retail companies, representing 14,118 stores with combined 2006 annual sales in excess of $537 billion. Some of the major results from this survey follow:

> Total dollar recoveries from both shoplifters and dishonest employees exceeded $116 million.

> Survey participants apprehended 66,507 dishonest employees in 2006.

Security should not be considered optional.

“Retail theft not only affects the bottom line,” said Joe LaRocca, the National Retail Federation’s vice president of loss prevention. “When criminals steal from retailers, consumers pay higher prices, the safety of innocent employees can be compromised, and shoppers looking for popular merchandise often cannot find it. Retailers will continue to invest in new technologies to prevent and prosecute crimes.”

Retail theft is a greater problem than many people realize. Losses are driving consumer prices higher, hurting our economy and even forcing some retailers to close stores or go out of business. Those retailers who continue to invest in theft-prevention systems and give the area of loss prevention the focus and attention it deserves will keep one step ahead of thieves. More retailers are discovering the full service electrical contractor addresses all five critical infrastructures.

This trend is causing many specialty contractors to notice electrical contractors capturing more market share of an area that they once treated as their private hunting ground. Competition is good! But that’s just my opinion.          

BISBEE is with Communication Planning Corp., a telecom and datacom design/build firm. He provides a free monthly summary of industry news on www.wireville.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

Ted Magazine

Focus on the future

By Tom Naber

Job losses, bankruptcy and foreclosures, construction downturns, bailouts, and plunging stock market prices—the news is dismal these days. Economists and other business experts are predicting four, five, six, even 10 quarters of hard times for the days ahead. One would think that most people would prefer to get out of the business altogether or just throw up their hands and surrender to the bad news.

When I hear this news, the thing that comes to mind is a great example of the failure of business to adapt to new technology in the past. When Univac invented the computer, the company decided its only purpose was for scientific applications. Then IBM came along and dominated the business markets that Univac ignored. After that, Apple came along and turned its attention to the PC market, which IBM ignored.

One company’s failure to adapt becomes another company’s opportunity to thrive.

Having just returned from NAED’s Eastern Region Conference in Marco Island, Fla., I have to say that I am heartened by what I saw. Distributors are ready to adapt to new technologies and selling methods. While facing difficult times, they recognize that change is happening and they seem to be embracing it. The sessions—especially those exploring the opportunities of the energy-efficiency markets—were packed. Jerry Yudelson (of Yudelson Associates) presented results of the research study his firm just completed for NAED. Fred Paris, an independent contractor, covered the solar and wind markets in his presentation “Non-traditional Markets for Renewable Energy Resources.” These important sessions will also be held at NAED’s Western Region Conference (Jan. 21–24, in Palm Desert, Calif.) and the South Central Region Conference (Feb. 25–28, in Orlando, Fla.).

Today, many distributors feel that they are in the midst of a technological and energy shift and they are working hard to understand and adapt to this shift. In the coming weeks, NAED will launch the white paper “Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from Green Market Opportunities,” which is part of Yudelson’s research. By May, NAED plans to release two more research projects conducted by Yudelson—one on selling green and the other on making your own company sustainable.  These studies have been funded by the 42 distributors and manufacturers who generously contributed to the NAED Foundation’s Channel Advantage Partnership Endowment. At the same time, NAED has been working hard to develop educational courses based on Yudelson’s first study.

As an industry, we expect to be facing hard times. The key is that we can’t surrender in the face of these challenges. We need to be cautious, but also aggressive in exploring and adapting to new opportunities.

Naber is president & CEO of NAED. He can be reached at 314-812-5312 or tnaber@naed.org.

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

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A reflection on electrical distribution

By Dick Waterman

This time of year, many people pause to reflect on the past year and seek a greater sense of self. On a similar note of reflection, I recently attended a workshop where the presenter asked us to create a brief paragraph that would help someone unfamiliar with our industry understand what an electrical distributor does.

So I started thinking, how could I summarize such a vast and complex industry? We all know that electrical distribution is a $70-plus billion industry with more than 4,400 locations nationwide. The markets for electrical products are huge—residential, commercial, and industrial. There are schools, hospitals, utilities, manufacturing, and government—soon to be led by a new president with many “firsts” attached to his future. (What a relief—no more backstabbing commercials for at least two years. I’m sure we all learned something about how not to promote our industry. Sorry to digress, but it feels good to get it off my chest.)

The products we sell range from the simple to the complex. Whether it’s lock­nuts and bushings, lighting and controls, conduit and wire, or automation products, distributors offer a one-stop source to effectively serve all of our customers’ diverse needs. (Just think if our customers had to meet with manufacturer reps for every product that they needed!)

It’s pretty simple really—as demand increases, manufacturers just don’t have the human resources to call on all of their customers directly. And while some electrical products can be sold on the Internet or over the phone, manufacturers and sales reps rely on distributors to identify customers’ needs, decide on the best products to meet those needs, communicate technical specifications, make recommendations on installations, and introduce new technologies to end-users. Distributors carry multiple manufacturers’ product lines to ensure our customers have the choices to meet their needs. We warehouse many high-use products locally for quicker delivery and provide personalized services for more complex applications through a knowledgeable sales staff. We create efficiencies and reduce costs in the channel.

But we’re much more than just a distribution channel. We’re solutions providers—salespeople, product experts, skilled and technical professionals, warehouse associates, and drivers—who bring the latest technology to our communities. We play an essential role in the marketplace, building a better life for people.

Careers in electrical distribution offer lots of benefits and perks—including higher starting salaries than the retail industry; great opportunities to work for international, national, regional, and locally owned companies in a business casual atmosphere; and a wide variety of career opportunities.

After 40-plus years in the industry it’s fun to look back at just how much this channel has changed, but at the same time remained steadfast in its commitment to bring manufacturers’ products to market in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. We work in a great industry filled with wonderful people dedicated to improving customer satisfaction at every turn.

It’s difficult to look back without looking forward, and forward is a little uncertain with the financial crisis and world economy being where it is. However, one thing is certain and very clear to me: Our industry will survive this turmoil and come out of it stronger, more efficient, and just as dedicated as ever. We’ve done it before!

If this sounds like a commercial for our industry—it just might be.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Waterman is senior advisor to International Electrical Supply Corporation (IESC), the holding company of Rexel U.S. and Gexpro. Reach him at dwaterman@rexelusa.com.

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

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The road less traveled

Telecommuting and flex-schedule options can help companies shrink their carbon footprints and improve productivity.

By Jan Niehaus

The standard 40-hour, five-day workweek is a dinosaur, a convention established by the Fair Labor Standards Act 70 years ago—long before gasoline shortages and spiking prices, heat islands and urban sprawl, climate change, and a global economy that necessitates communicating with customers, coworkers, and partners 12 time zones away—not to mention the work-life balancing acts required in dual-career families and single-parent households.

Today, the Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 routine is often modified to accommodate employee needs. Here are a few examples from the electrical distribution channel:

• Concerns about the impact of high gas prices prompted BJ Electric in Madison, Wis., to pilot telecommuting. “All we do is provide the disk so that employees working from home can get into the data system,” said Lisa Ableman, human resources representative. “The investment is worth it. A lot of people are very happy to have the option.” Ableman also noted that she has registered for a seminar on how to transition into a 10-hour workday. “We’ll probably end up using a combination of telecommuting and four-day weeks,” she said.

• Eaton Corporation’s electrical group, headquartered in Moon Township, Pa., offers telecommuting and four-day workweek options on an individual basis. “Life infringes on work, and work infringes on life,” said Rebecca Jacoby, training manager. “We’ve had flexible scheduling for quite a while. The corporate policy is to be available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” she explained. Telecommuting, four-day workweeks, and job sharing are all available, depending on employees’ specific responsibilities and their department and division policies.

In arguing for legislation to encourage flex-scheduling, Marc Burgat, vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce, noted that permitting individual scheduling flexibility is one way small business owners can help employees strike a balance between work and personal responsibilities.

“This bill has the added benefit of helping our environment by eliminating one commute trip per week for each employee who is working the compressed schedule,” he said.

Other benefits of flex-scheduling and telecommuting include elevated productivity, higher morale, more successful recruiting and retention, lower operating expenses, and reduced real estate investment.

Leading the way in Tampa Bay

Electric Supply Inc. (ESI), a leader in the public-private Tampa Bay Clean Air Partnership, encourages its employees to use public transportation, walk, bike, or carpool to work. Other cost-effective approaches to reducing vehicle emissions include telecommuting, staggered shifts, and flexible scheduling options—all of which ESI has implemented. “We are proud to do what we can to help improve our community’s air quality and reduce traffic congestion,” George Adams Jr., president and CEO, said. “We encourage every company in Tampa Bay to actively support responsible commuting.”

In mid-2008, ESI added compressed scheduling to the menu of options. According to Heather Bradley, human resources administrator, warehouse workers and delivery drivers were the first to transition to a 10-hours-a-day, four-days-a-week schedule; staggered shifts; and rotating days off. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, Bradley reports another incentive: “One of the reasons we went to four 10-hour workdays was to cut overtime expense,” she said, adding that the goal has been accomplished.

Niehaus writes a monthly “green” column for “TED” magazine. Reach her at Jan@CommunicationByDesign.net.

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

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Accounts Receivable ; Cutbacks and copper’s impact

Rockwell Automation has dealt directly with falling expectations via a restructuring (costing $50 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008). Expected savings in 2009-2010: $160 million. “Headcount reductions,” the company said, “primarily in selling,” will approximate 3% of the company’s global workforce.

Acuity Brands saw a 1% drop in unit volume in the quarter ended Aug. 31 (offset by pricing actions and product mix); prices it paid for steel shot up 40% in that quarter.

The company said it would go through a “streamlining,” consolidating manufacturing “and reducing overhead,” shedding 800 jobs.

At Hubbell, after delivering an upbeat outlook in a conference call, Tim Powers, the chair/president/CEO, added: “Underpinning this forecast is the reasonably strong [fourth quarter] but there are some charges related to workforce reductions that we believe are necessary to prepare for the softness in 2009.”

At Anixter, “Mr. Market” took a baseball bat to the company’s stock price, driving it from a $73.81 close on Aug. 29 to $33.61 on Oct. 31. One could hardly guess that the company had seen “positive organic growth” in the third quarter, of around 2% (after acquisitions and currency translation).

On copper: Responding to a question from an analyst, Dennis J. Letham, Anixter’s CFO and EVP-finance, offered this: “…if copper settles around this low $2 price range versus the kind of $3.40 range it’s been at in the last couple of years, that probably implies in the range of $100 million or so less in run-rate revenue in the business…if margins are held at around 24 points, that implies about $24 million less of gross margin.” —Joe Salimando

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

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The challenge of the coming year

Omens point to a steep slide in the next several months for those involved with almost any aspect of construction.

by Ken Simonson

Credit markets shorted out in mid-September as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were put into conservatorship, Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, and AIG was not. The quick succession of takeovers, mergers, and rescue plans announced for commercial and investment banks, and securities firms left lenders unwilling—or unable—to lend and borrowers befuddled as to who was still in the lending business.

Even electrical distributors who didn’t need credit themselves were affected, as the credit freeze stopped the progress of both private and public construction projects.

Meanwhile, states had nearly as rough a time issuing bonds. Maine postponed a $50 million highway bond for six months and other states put off projects that needed bond financing.

By early November, credit was finally starting to flow again, at least for highly rated borrowers. But interest rates were generally higher than in August, making some projects unaffordable. Even more ominous for electrical distributors was the change in the economic outlook between August and November. Three surveys released on Nov. 3 showed how the mood had changed since the summer:

• The first, a quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics of 102 corporate economists, found that demand among the respondents’ companies had taken the largest one-quarter plunge in the survey’s 26-year history. Worse, nearly four out of five panelists said that they expect the economy either to shrink in 2009 or to grow no more than 1% after inflation.

Two findings are particularly relevant to distributors: One, on balance, respondents said that they expect their firms to reduce spending on structures, a reversal from July’s report; and two, far fewer firmsreport that they expect to see an increase in spending on computers and communications equipment than in July.

• The second, from the Institute for Supply Management, which surveys purchasing executives at manufacturing firms every month, reported that its key index sagged to the lowest reading since September 1982. The new orders index fell to the lowest mark since June 1980.

• And the third, the Federal Reserve’s quarterly survey of senior loan officers at major banks, found that 85% of domestic banks and 65% of foreign-owned banks had tightened their lending standards since July for commercial real estate loans. In addition, huge majorities of respondents reported tightening loans for households, businesses, and credit card users. In other words, every form of bank lending for electrical distributors and their customers is now more difficult to obtain.

We haven’t hit bottom yet

Despite these grim indicators, many distributors may not be feeling the pain yet—or may be underestimating how severe it may soon become. That’s because non-residential construction spending continued to outperform last year’s pace through September. The same day as the three dispiriting reports were released, the Census Bureau reported that non-residential spending in September was 8% higher than it had been at that time last year, although up only a scant .1% from August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. But residential spending remained in free fall, down 1.3% from August and 27% from September 2007.

A trio of reports in late October imply that electrical distributors should expect business to get worse for several quarters:

• First, on Oct. 23, Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs, McGraw-Hill Construction, said, “The level of construction starts in 2009 is expected to decline 7%, to $515 billion, following a 12% decline predicted for 2008.”

By segment, Murray predicted that:

• Single-family housing for 2009 will be down 2% in dollars, corresponding to a 4% drop in units to 560,000 (McGraw-Hill Construction basis).

• Multi-family housing will retreat 6% in dollars and 8% in units, after the sharp plunge witnessed during 2008.

• Commercial buildings will drop 12% in dollars and 15% in square footage, similar to the declines experienced in 2008. Stores and warehouses will continue to lose momentum, the office correction will be steeper, and hotel construction will finally pull back after its lengthy boom.

• Institutional buildings will slip 3% in dollars and 6% in square footage, as the financial crisis affects funding coming from states and localities.

• Manufacturing buildings will plunge 32% in dollars after an exceptional 2008 that was lifted by the start of several oil refinery expansion projects.

• Public works construction will fall by 5%, given flat funding at the federal level combined with fiscal restraint by state and local governments.

• Electric utility construction will retreat 30% after surging 55% to a near-record amount in 2008.

• Second, that same day, Lodging Econometrics, which tracks hotel construction by all major brands, reported the following:

“The Total Construction Pipeline for the United States stood at 5,652 projects/740,272 guest rooms as of the end of [the third quarter]. Pipeline counts are down [from the second quarter] 4% and 6% respectively. Declines were modest in the ‘under construction’ and ‘early planning’ stages.

“Declines were significant in the ‘scheduled starts in the next 12 months.’ A number of projects actually migrated backwards into ‘early planning.’ Construction starts in [the quarter] were down for the second quarter in a row, while ‘cancellations’ and ‘postponements of projects already in the pipeline’ increased for the third consecutive quarter.”

• And third, the American Institute of Architects reported on Oct. 24 that its monthly index of architecture firms’ billings had tumbled in September to a six-month low.

On the residential side, building permits, a reliable signal of housing starts within the next few months, continued to skid in September at the same 35% to 40% year-over-year decline as in previous months.

A Bit of a Silver lining

While the outlook isn’t good, a few categories appear to be at least partially immune from the continuing downward economic spiral:

• Spending on power construction climbed 33% in the first nine months of 2008 over the same period a year earlier. Projects in design and permitting for power plants, transmission lines, and wind farms should keep power construction growing just as robustly through 2009.

• Energy projects, such as refineries, pipelines, and oil and gas fields, should also grow strongly, although the continuing drop in natural gas prices threatens to freeze some projects.

• Three federal spending programs will also expand: military construction, veterans’ hospitals, and homeland security projects.

Simonson is the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. Reach him at ksimonson@erols.com.

A not-so-pretty picture

According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s (MHC) Oct. 23 forecast, the value of 2009 construction starts will come in below $515 billion. Checking previous years, the MHC number for actual 2002 starts was $504 billion. However, there has been a lot of inflation in the construction industry from 2002 to present. It’s possible, then, that in real terms, starts in 2009 will be the lowest in the 2000s.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) forecast sees total new housing starts falling further—from 1,341,000 in 2007 to 936,000 in 2008, and to 784,000 in 2009. The “recovery” predicted for 2010 will take the United States to only 1 million housing starts (740,000 single family).

According to speakers at the NAHB’s semi-annual forecasting event, the problem is a huge glut of vacant for-sale homes.

Normally, there are more than 1 million such homes on the market. These days, there are roughly 2 million—an “excess” estimated at 750,000 to 1 million by economists from Maury Harris of UBC to Kermit Baker of the American Institute of Architects to Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com.

How long will it take to work off this excess? According to Zandi, it should take two years. Assumptions built into his forecast for 500,000 vacant houses a year to be absorbed include the success of the government’s intervention plans—including something yet-to-be-announced on foreclosures—and a continuing slump in home-building (so new houses are not added to the unsold clump).

Joe Salimando, an Oakton, Virginia-based writer, can be reached at ecdotcom@gmail.com. See his weekly column on tedmag.com and his blog at eleblog.com.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazinewww.tedmag.com

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Life upgrades update ; Planning guides underscore green

Program helps raise awareness of the many ways to adopt electrical energy-saving solutions and reduce electrical operating costs.

by Stacy Brown

NAED, with the sponsorship of the Manufacturers Council, is currently developing two planning guides that underscore green electrical products and solutions proven to reduce electrical consumption and commercial building operating costs. An extension of the “Life Upgrades: Electrical Options for Better LivingSM” program, the planning guides feature handy checklists and area-by-area illustrations that show product options and can help electrical contractors, builders, specifiers, and architects structure a detailed planning conversation early in a project.

The first guide, Industrial Upgrades: Green Electrical Cost Savings, will be geared toward plant MROs, electrical specifying engineers, consultants, contractors, and builders involved in green industrial maintenance, construction, and rehab projects.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, industry and manufacturing consume approximately 32% of all U.S. energy usage—more than transportation, residential, or commercial. Plant MRO managers are seeking solutions that upgrade facilities and reduce energy costs.

Green electrical products have made a major impact as the annual U.S. market in green building products and services has grown from more than $7 billion in 2005 to more than $12 billion in 2007, according to McGraw-Hill Construction analytics.

• Motors consume nearly 25% of all U.S. electricity consumption, and more than 60% of all industrial electricity.

• Nearly 40% of warehouse electricity is consumed by lighting.

The second guide, Commercial Upgrades: Green Electrical Cost Savings,

is geared toward electrical specifying engineers, consultants, architects, contractors, and builders involved in green commercial construction or rehab projects.

Building Design+Construction magazine offered this assessment of energy efficiency in commercial: “As recently as three or four years ago, the feasibility of designing and constructing projects under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating program was in doubt. In recent years…more and more building teams…are routinely producing sustainable projects with energy savings in the 20% to 30% range compared to industry standards.”

• Buildings consume approximately 40% of all U.S. energy—more than transportation; half of that energy powers commercial buildings.

• Lighting accounts for more than half of all commercial building energy.

• Electricity represents 67% of energy consumption by the retail sector.

“Along with the energy-saving benefits that customers will derive from these guides, they also provide an excellent opportunity for the entire electrical industry,” said Karen Ponce, chair of NAED’s Manufacturers Council and president of Shat-R-Shield. “First, the guides are both a training piece as well as a selling tool. They provide an enormous amount of information on energy-saving applications and have a pocket

in the back for placing specific manufacturer product sheets, distributor and rep line cards, proposals, etc. Second, these guides can be used by distributors, manufacturers, reps, contractors, and architects. There is no limit to who can benefit from this initiative. It truly is the first of its kind in the electrical industry.”

These power selling tools not only help contractor customers to sell premium products, but also help the whole channel win by producing improved results at every level:

• Distributors can work with contractors to boost profitability. They are well-positioned to help contractors make incremental sales that increase customer satisfaction. The guides may be ordered as-is or distributors can print them using their own branding.

• Manufacturers and manufacturer reps can also add their own branding to the guides, which can help the reps drive better results for the whole channel, as they pull manufacturers, distributors, and contractors together and keep them focused on building their bottom line.

More information on this topic will be available at naed.org, as the project develops.

Brown is a communications specialist for NAED. Reach her at sbrown@naed.org.

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

CBM

Cabling System Helps Crack Genetic Codes

By Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD

Cracking the code in genetics is the key to minimizing human scourges, such as cancer and heart disease. Defining the function of individual genes and studying their complex interactions is essential to unlocking their roles in helping to improve living conditions.  According to an article published in The Oncologist, one in two men and one in three women are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Incidences of cancer are expected to more than double by 2050.  With an estimated 99,000 new cases of cancer discovered in Florida per year since 2006, that state ranks second next to California with these occurrences.  Recently the University of Florida opened its new Cancer and Genetics Research Complex to house much of the research efforts of the UF Shands Cancer Center, the UF Genetics Institute and the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research.

The complex consists of five stories on the south side and seven stories on the north side of a building joined by a four-story atrium area. It includes 280,000 square feet of training facilities and labs, as well as a vivarium and greenhouse.

In that setting, UF scientists work to develop platforms and techniques for genomic research and analysis as well as practical applications for microbial, plant, animal and human discoveries. Clinical trials aimed at finding therapies and cures for cancer and other diseases are expected to be an important result of the effort. Such extensive biotechnology research involves the use of reliable databases to store and receive vast amounts of information as well as computer applications requiring high-bandwidth to perform experimental designs and analysis of complex data sets. 

“Genetic sequencing is a bandwidth hog as experiments can run up to 10 days analyzing DNA, which can eat as much as 10 terabytes of data,” explains Tom Livoti, RCDD, and Assistant Director of HealthNet Operations for the University of Florida. “Therefore, our challenge was to make sure that the networking infrastructure at the heart of the UF Cancer and Genetics Research Complex could meet requirements and assure its place as one of the premier academic research facilities in the Southeast.”

“Apart from these case sensitive applications, which require high levels of guaranteed uptime, many other functions such as voice communications, security cameras, building access controls and video conferencing all use the same IP-based infrastructure,” Livoti says. “Therefore we planned a 100 percent redundant system utilizing the NetClear® GT2 warranted Category 6 solution from Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand.”

I.T. Per Port

HealthNet is the entity responsible for the network design and management of the network infrastructure in the Health Science Center at the University of Florida, which is comprised of six colleges and five major research centers.  It works in close collaboration with Shands HealthCare, a private, not-for-profit health care system associated with UF. “Back in the coaxial and mainframe days, every time a person moved, they would take the cable with them, so the next person in that space would have to re-cable, which created a cable management nightmare,” explains Livoti. “Once we migrated to a structured wiring cabling environment, it made more sense for us to centrally buy the equipment and have a centralized shop that solely handles the networking infrastructure.”

 “We answer to a Public Service Commission (PSC), which is made up not only of management representatives from all the Colleges and major Institutes in the Health Science Center, but also includes representatives from Shands HealthCare and University of Florida’s main campus. The PSC approves HealthNet’s annual budget and provides for governance and oversight, as opposed to the University of Florida main campus where many groups having their own internal I.T. department,” Livoti explains.  To arrive at a cost per port, the total cost for the operation is divided by the number of active ports. 

“In total, we have about 11,000 active ports in the network and about 3,500 phones and 400 access points. At an average, it is a little more than $13 per active port per month,” states Livoti. 

What is unique about HealthNet’s approach is that it coordinates the project from start to finish, and subsequently manages each port throughout the life of the system. Each project has its own budget and takes into account the materials and labor. 

The UF Shands Cancer Center and Genetics Institute project was not different.  The design called for approximately 6,000 ports, which includes data, phone, video, access points, access control and security cameras.  “Data is data – it’s all bits. The cable does not differentiate between the end devices, and as long as there is an IP address, we utilize the UTP cable plant for a multitude of applications,” Livoti notes.

RFP by Team

HealthNet selected the NetClear GT2 Category 6 horizontal solution, based on the successful and positive experience with previous installation within the University of Florida. Selecting contractors, subcontractors and the distribution channel was accomplished through an RFP process. The RFP to select the installation company used a weighted scale that is not necessarily based on the lowest bid, but takes into account a combination of experience, locations and certifications of the staff. 

“Whereas I selected the NetClear solutions in all the buildings because I know that I am getting a proven product set with a comprehensive warranty, I believe that selecting the vendors through an RFP process with a review team gives us better service and a better return return-on on-our our-investment in the long run,” explains Livoti. 

The selection team includes included representatives from UF’s main campus including facilities personnel, technology personnel and representatives from both Shands and HealthNet.  Within the process, the installation firms provided a list of previous projects of comparable size and the review team then interviews and subsequently ranks the contractors.  To select a local distributor, a comprehensive material list was created by HealthNet and separately sent out for bid.

“HealthNet does not allow any substitution of products, so price and availability were factors that led us to win the bid,” states Scott Tillman, sales representative from Communications Supply Corporation (CSC), the selected distribution firm for all the electrical and low-voltage systems. “It took hours of number crunching, as well as pre-planning, to make sure the components were staged and ready for each shipment to the installation company,” Tillman adds.

System Layout

Complete Network Solutions was selected as the installation contractor and provided the CAD drawings for the system layout.  “We designed the infrastructure, to be totally redundant and independently backed up on dedicated UPS systems,” explains Bob Concelmo, RCDD, president of Complete Network Solutions.  “All of the switches are on emergency power and generators with attached UPS systems, so the network will never suffer downtime,” he adds.  “The lights might go out and the building pitch black, but you will still be able to make a call.”

For the backbone there are redundant fiber rings for complete fiber diversity between the north North and south South towers, which are connected through a middle bridge.  Right now the backbone is specified at one gigabit, but plans are to upgrade to a 10-Gigabit Ethernet backbone over fiber within two years. There are redundant fiber feeds to each telecommunications room (TR) located on each floor of each tower. Each TR is laid out the same for consistency and easy identification for future moves, adds and changes.  Three Ortronics’ Mighty MoÒ racks house the active and passive equipment.  The center rack holds the electronics (switches, routers, etc.) and the two side racks hold the patching fields for all of the IP applications. 

“I suggested Ortronics’ ClarityÒ6 angled patch panels versus flat patch panels to provide port density and to save space in the racks,” explains Mike Berkman with Cabling Technologies, Inc., the manufacturer’s rep. “Utilizing angled patch panels, the cable is managed on both sides of the Mighty Mo rack through vertical wire managers, which eliminates installing horizontal cable managers between the patch panels and essentially doubles your rack space,” he adds.

From the TR’s the horizontal cable totals 1.7 million feet of Berk-Tek’s LANmark™-1000 to the 2,000 Clarity 6 workstation outlets, which contain an average of three ports per outlet, for data, voice, security cameras, distance learning, video conferencing, wireless or access control. “This is truly a converged network,” states Livoti. “UTP is also running Power over Ethernet to the wireless access points and to the cameras,” he adds.

Installing the cabling infrastructure took 14 months out of the project’s total three-year construction schedule.  “We were actually ahead of schedule, but we were waiting for the other trades as we had to cable after the conduits were installed by the electrical contractors and then wait for the ceilings and walls to go in to terminate to the ports,” Livoti notes.  After all the cable was installed and terminated, Complete Network Solutions tested and documented every port, which was part of the NetClear warranty program.

Play it again, Shands

This is the second building for which HealthNet has specified a NetClear solution and they are currently in the design stages for the next project, the Biomedical Sciences Building. “We are an auxiliary arm in the Florida University system and a partner with Shands hospital system in that they handling the engineering and active components and we handle the infrastructure,” reiterates Livoti.  “This was, by far, the smoothest installation and we hope that all subsequent buildings will be this easy,” states Robert Snively, I.T. expert with HealthNet who is tasked with servicing all the installed facilities once it is complete.

Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, is the marketing analyst with Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company.  She is best known for writing numerous case studies and technical articles for the cabling industry.  She can be reached at carol.oliver@nexans.com.

Reprinted with permission from Cabling Business Magazine, December 2008.


REMEMBER TO RECYCLE, REDUCE AND REUSE

   
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