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Wireville.com

Issue: July 2006
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces

Bisbee's Buzz

Networks – It’s all about networks!

A host of interrelated networks connects modern society.  Not only are networks interrelated they are also interdependent.  Morse, Edison, Marconi, Bell, and Eisenhower are considered the founding fathers of most of the networks that affect our lives today.  Morse brought us the telegraph.  Edison brought us light and power.  Marconi brought us radio.  Bell brought us the telephone.  Eisenhower brought us the interstate highway systems.  And, if you believe it, Al Gore gave us the Internet.  But, I don’t think so.

The US interstate highway system is now almost 47,000 miles long.  Texas (which always likes to be the biggest) has the most interstate miles with 3,234 miles.  Those numbers are pretty impressive when you consider the impact of highways on our culture. 

Radio and telephone span the entire globe.  The internet reaches almost everywhere.  The information age is converging many services and systems that were once thought to be solely independent.  From jacks to the information superhighway, there may be several hundred million miles of infrastructure.  Current estimates of the cabling within the buildings (in the US alone) are upwards of almost 9 million miles of cable.

As the demand for communications services expands into areas of fire protection, alarm, and life safety, we see the need for a “bigger pipe.”  Recently the IEEE ratified the 10Gig standard for copper cabling and the existing standard for 10Gig over fiber is being upgraded.  The consumer’s “need for speed” has not quenched its appetite. 

Over the past two decades, we have seen several generations of major improvements and higher standards for the media (copper and fiber optic cable).  Resultantly, many users have a fruit basket of different infrastructure facilities with a myriad of performance levels.  Unfortunately, documentation is virtually nonexistent.  Many choosing communication infrastructure upgrades are replacing everything because they don’t have a clue of what they actually have. 

The labor to install these facilities is a significant portion of the expense and it cannot be recovered.   According to Larry Johnson, President of Light Brigade (www.lightbrigade.com),  “Well-documented infrastructure may be re-employed and create a huge reduction in downstream cost.”  This rule of thumb of reuse is particularly important for fiber optic cabling.  The new technology in fiber optic cabling may facilitate increasing the network capabilities hundreds of times without re-cabling.  This may have a substantial impact on the UTP cabling market.  Some industry experts are forecasting that the UTP performance (based on speed and distance) is approaching the “Barrier of Obsolescence.” 

The arcane technical underside of the LAN and WAN is growing in complexity.  The designers, installers, and users of these networks are challenged to keep pace with the technological developments.  One of the best resources in the communications industry is BICSI (www.bicsi.org).  This association is a guiding light for the industry and has an impressive array of tools and training for anyone who wishes to enter the highway system that characterizes itself as the information super highway.  Another association that is bringing convergent technology to the marketplace is National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA – www.necanet.com).  NECA bridges the electrical industry with the communications industry.  Don’t forget The Smart Building is a reality; check out CABA (Continental Automated Building Association – www.caba.org).  There are many specialized resources available throughout the communications industry and we strive to bring them to your attention in the pages of www.Wireville.com.  

Remember, “the information super highway begins in Wireville.”  This website contains and connects to hundreds of thousands of pages of information about the communications industry and many related areas. 

But that’s just my opinion…..


Frank Bisbee

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

Summer School - A Real Eye Opener For An Old "Copperhead"

Light Brigade (Illuminating the Fiber Optics Industry since 1986) is the number one source for fiber optic training and a whole lot more.

As a seasoned veteran of the cabling world, I was pleasantly shocked by the quality and scope of the recent Light Brigade training class that I attended. The four-day Fiber Optics 1-2-3 Design-Installation-Maintenance Training Class had it all. By the end of the first day, all of the students were challenged to absorb the volume of information (from the text, videos, and samples). The pace of the class did not slack up for a minute. The classroom and hands-on training allowed all of the students to gain a practical understanding of fiber optic communication systems and learn the latest techniques needed to design, install, test and maintain both multimode and singlemode networks. This training class was packed with information and instructor assistance from beginning to end. Every student (veterans & novices) in our class remarked on the high quality of the training they received. These training classes are for executives and technicians. I guarantee it. Frank Bisbee, Editor of Heard On The Street (HOTS) monthly column on www.wireville.com.

Who are they?


They are The Light Brigade Inc., a 20-year-old training organization for the fiber optic industry that focuses exclusively on design, installation and maintenance. Fiber optic training companies are not that unusual, however, they are unique in that they teach with the client's best interests in mind. They tailor their education and skill building programs to the needs of the entire range of fiber optics professionals - from technicians to the engineers, from installers to managers.


Their training objective is to take macro-knowledge and apply it to micro-decisions so their clients can make informed technical and business decisions to meet their current and future needs.


Who are their clients?


Their students and clients permeate the fiber optic workplace as technicians, engineers, installers, supervisors, network designers, managers and consultants from all industries using or planning to use optical systems. The companies they serve include:

·                     Telecommunications, manufacturers and network carriers

·                     State, local and federal governments

·                     Electrical, telecom and data communications contractors

·                     Engineering and research institutes

·                     K-12 schools, universities and colleges

·                     Medical facilities

·                     Aerospace industries

·                     National and international military organizations

·                     Small to large commercial enterprises.

·                     Utilities

·                     Information Technology Services

·                     End Users

They are unique because they are unbiased!


They provide comprehensive knowledge about fiber optic system design, maintenance and installation in an unbiased manner. The Light Brigade is not affiliated with any specific vendor and offers hands-on use of tools and equipment from a wide variety of manufacturers.


Their educators teach from real world experience!


Since the mid 1980s The Light Brigade has worked extensively on projects with local firms such as Microsoft, Boeing, BPA, Puget Power, State of Washington, Verizon and Qwest. In addition, their training staff includes engineers with experience designing, installing, maintaining and restoring fiber optic systems of all sizes. Many have taught college courses in electronics and telecommunications. Others have built and operated fiber systems for utilities, telephone companies, state and federal organizations and consulted for international companies.


This extensive and varied background of their instructors and staff allows The Light Brigade to teach both the theory and practical skills that are applicable to their wide range of clients.


What you don't know CAN hurt you!


Simply educating their students to the theory, terminology and hands-on skills is not enough. The Light Brigade enhances the student's knowledge by illuminating fiber optic issues and how they impact future technologies and trends. Their curriculum developers do intensive research and attend high-level meetings and seminars with leading industry experts and scientists, allowing them to constantly update their materials. This leading-edge awareness of the fiber optics industry is filtered back into their classrooms to the benefit of their clients.


Their classrooms are around the world!


Their training facility, with its state-of-the-art equipment, is located in Tukwila, Washington just south of Seattle, near SeaTac airport. They conduct classes year-round throughout the United States and in a dozen countries. They also offer custom courses for clients at their sites. Classroom training is a multimedia experience incorporating traditional presentation techniques and their own video-based educational materials, which have been developed over the years from live sites and installations.

 

The Light Brigade prepares you for the future!

The driving force today in fiber optics is the need for bandwidth and reliable communication. As long this need remains, the need for training in fiber optic systems will exist. Their goal is to provide the highest quality training available to meet this need.

Over 30,000 attendees have participated in The Light Brigade’s instructor-led fiber optic training courses worldwide. In addition, The Light Brigade has a wide variety of fiber optic training videotapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and computer-based training available.

The Light Brigade Inc.
837 Industry Drive
Tukwila, WA 98188

(206)575-0404 or
(800)451-7128

www.lightbrigade.com

Investigating a Potential Disaster

Just after a disaster—Natural or otherwise—rumors are widely reported and pervasive. The reality of the situation, the truth, can be buried beneath all the stories floating around. Such was the case with Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, where somewhere amid the rumors was the truth. Months later, when the taller tales out of New Orleans faded, Jeff Griffin found a grim reality, which he reports on in this month’s comprehensive feature “Disaster After the Disaster?” on page 38. www.ecmag.com 

Immediately after the hurricane, people started calling, offering tips—true stories from the storm’s path. Late last year, Jim Pauley of Schneider Electric/Square D, approached with one of these leads concerning water-damaged electrical equipment. Griffin tackled this project, which ran in ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s January 2006 issue. While developing that article, one of Griffin’s sources informed him of a potentially dangerous practice happening in New Orleans—the waiving of electrical inspections, courtesy of an emergency ordinance approved by the city government, led by Mayor Ray Nagin.

Once the water-damaged article was completed, Griffin moved on, contacting source after source to uncover all aspects for the second story, ultimately spending months researching, interviewing, trying to reach the proper authorities. Griffin’s research was sometimes plagued by the region’s still-spotty communications infrastructure, but he persisted to bring the facts to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. He called me often—almost weekly—giving updates as the reporter in the field.

It’s a big investigative story, bigger than anything Griffin and I have worked on before. To our knowledge, no other magazine has covered it. And because it concerns serious safety issues in the Gulf Coast, we couldn’t let this story remain untold.

Please understand that we are not politically motivated here, but we are hoping that this story will elicit change-—not in the government; that’s a job for the voters*—but in a practice that has possibly hazardous implications. Present and future residents may be faced with shoddy work done, with liability on their own shoulders, and with no measures to have had proper inspections done. Of course, there’s pressure to get everyone home as quickly as possible, but is it right to cut corners and waive electrical inspection procedures that have been in place for decades? Pushing aside the protocol could further harm those who have already been through so much. And should you read it and agree, it’s up to you to take action.

I wouldn’t normally devote an entire letter to a single article. However, May is our annual Safety issue—and safety is at the core of “Disaster After the Disaster?” I felt that I should share the backstory to illustrate to you why we would use six full pages to tell it.

—Andrea Klee, Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine May 2006 issue www.ecmag.com

*  Just before Electrical Contractor Magazine wrapped the MAY 2006 issue, New Orleans held a primary election, narrowing the mayoral candidates to Ray Nagin and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. A runoff election will be held May 20.

BICSI Executive Director Donna Dunn Steps Down, David Cranmer Appointed As Interim Executive Director

Donna Dunn, Executive Director of BICSI, and the Board of Directors have mutually agreed that Donna will step down from her current position as the Executive Director at BICSI. Effective June 19, 2006, the Board is pleased to announce the appointment of David Cranmer RCDD to the position of interim Executive Director at BICSI.

David has many years of experience in the telecommunications industry, and brings a wealth of resources and contacts to the position that will be invaluable in driving the focus of BICSI in both the national and international forums. David is a familiar face to the BICSI membership, a Past President of BICSI, he served as President in 1990 and 1991, currently chairing the Installation Committee and serving on several other Committees. The Board welcomes David to his new position. www.bicsi.org

Is it a “DEAL” Or “NO DEAL”?

  The “Brief” Case for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine

Last month I talked about the new TV Game Show “Deal or No Deal” and how depending on luck or good fortune, you pick the “right” briefcase, one could walk off with a fortune or with empty pockets. In this case, no skill required. No harm, no foul.

However, when it comes to selecting the right media “briefcase” to carry your advertising message...depending on just good luck can cost you a lot of real money. The differences between ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s circulation/market coverage “case” and any other in the market are dramatic and should be of great importance to you. Before you choose this briefcase, please consider:

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reaches only electrical contractors. Actually over 85,900 of them (Dec. 2005 BPA)...more than any other publication. There’s a reason for that. More next month, but basically its because the typical electrical contractor has totally differing information needs than say an industrial, plant, or consulting engineer, facility manager, etc. It’s one way we develop over 3 times the preferred readership vs any other.

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR is the only publication to conduct separate, Supplemental Audits of our circulation to help you better understand exactly what our readers are actively working on. It costs us more, but it helps you better direct your ad message.

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR is the only publication to conduct a separate BPA Unit Audit of total market coverage. 68,736 individual business units covered (June, 2005 BPA Unit Audit). In conjunction with the latest U.S. Census Report, we can document over 90% total market coverage. No one else comes close. Again, it costs us a lot more, but we believe you need to know exactly where your message is going.

That’s just a brief sample of why, when choosing your media “briefcase,” ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine is the one sure choice. We deliver. We document.

Thanks for your business. www.ecmag.com

—John Maisel

Printed with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – June Issue 2006

Do I Need A Different Category Of Cable?

Not too long ago, when local area networks were being designed, each work area outlet typically consisted of one Category 3 circuit for voice and one Category 5e circuit for data.  Category 3 cables consisted of four loosely twisted pairs under an overall jacket and were tested to 16 megahertz.  Category 5e cables, on the other hand, had its four pairs more tightly twisted than the Category 3 and were tested up to 100 megahertz.  The design allowed for voice on one circuit and data on the other.  As network equipment data rates increased and more network devices were finding their way onto the network, this design quickly became obsolete.  Companies wisely began installing all Category 5e circuits with often three or more circuits per work area outlet.  Often, all circuits, including voice, were fed off patch panels.  This design allowed information technology managers to use any circuit as either a voice or a data circuit.  Overbuilding the system upfront, though it added costs to the original project, ultimately saved money since future cable additions or cable upgrades would cost significantly more after construction than during original construction phase.  By installing all Category 5e cables, they knew their infrastructure would accommodate all their network needs for a number of years and that they would be ready for the next generation of network technology coming down the road.  Though a Category 5e cable infrastructure will safely accommodate the widely used 10 and 100 megabit-per-second (Mbits/sec) Ethernet protocols, 10Base-T and 100Base-T respectively, it may not satisfy the needs of the next Ethernet protocol, gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbits/sec), also referred to as 1000Base-T.  Thus, those IT managers looking to increase their network’s speed may be limited by the cable that was installed in their facility.  Though testing of the Category 5e infrastructure could determine its efficacy, the quality of both the cable and its installation could play a role in whether or not 1000Base-T will operate properly over the cable.  Category 6 Cable was developed to ensure 1000Base-T performance as well as accommodate other protocols.

Why do I need Category 6 cabling?

10Base-T and 100Base-T operated over only two of the four pairs in the cable.  One pair is dedicated to sending data while the other is dedicated to receiving data.  Two pairs go unused.  1000Base-T, however, operates over all four pairs.  There are two gigabit Ethernet protocols currently in use, 1000Base-T and 1000Base-TX.   1000Base-T transmits and receives data at 250 Mbits/sec on each of the four pairs, for a total transfer rate of 1000 Mbits/sec.  The transfer of data is bi-directional on each of the four pairs.  1000Base-TX transmits data at 500 Mbits/sec on two pairs and receives data on the remaining two pairs at the same data rate.  Well, Category 5e cable has four pairs.  Why won’t it work?  Well, it may and it may not.

As the transfer speeds increase, so do the performance requirements of the cable being used.  Delay skew, which is the difference between the slowest and fastest pairs within a cable, becomes increasingly important as data rates increase.  In the past, shortages of some materials, including those used in making plenum rated cables, forced manufacturers to find alternative compounds and alternative construction methods that would allow them to continue manufacturing and to pass the appropriate UL burn tests required for plenum rated cables.  Many manufacturers chose alternative compounds for use as insulation on two of the four pairs.  These compounds have a direct impact on the speed at which a signal will travel down the conductor. The nominal velocity of propagation, NVP, is the speed of a signal down a conductor measured as a percentage of the speed of light.  Though not an issue with protocols that utilize only two pairs, such as 10Base-T and 100Base-T, a cable that has different NVP values for two of its four pairs would have a negative impact on protocols that utilize all four pairs, such as gigabit Ethernet.  1000Base-T and 1000Bas-TX may not work properly over these cables.  For end users with these cables installed, new cabling will have to be installed if protocols requiring all four pairs are desired. 

Though they may be capable of carry gigabit Ethernet, Category 5e cables also limit the future uses of the infrastructure.  Streaming media applications such as video and multi-media have created an ever-growing demand for bandwidth that shows no sign of slowing down. Today’s data requirements have made Category 3 virtually obsolete.  With the speed at which electronics have advanced, it is quite likely that the bandwidth provided by Category 5e will be exceeded in the very near future, making it for all intents and purposes, obsolete as well. Bandwidth is the highest frequency to which a cable will perform.  As frequency injected onto a conductor increases, so does the likelihood of noise on adjacent conductor.  Once noise overcomes the signal, the cable will no longer function properly.  This is important to keep in mind since the cabling infrastructure should be designed to last at least 10 years and accommodate three to four generations of electronics. 

While Category 5e is tested to 100 MHz, Category 6 cabling is tested to 250 MHz.  Test parameters such as near end crosstalk (NEXT), return loss, and insertion loss are elevated for Category 6 and as result, ensure better performance over Category 5e cables.  Category 6 cabling is also physically different from Category 5e.  A center filler or star filler is used to separate the pairs from each other and the insulation on the individual conductors is thicker than that of Category 5e cable.  These features allow it to accommodate higher frequencies as well as provide better immunity from external noise.  As frequencies increase, the likely hood of alien crosstalk (crosstalk from adjacent cables) becomes more likely.  Category 6 is more immune from alien crosstalk than Category 5e.

Why are there different grades of Category 6 Cables?

The Honda Accord, one of the highest rated automotives on the road, is available in three levels of trim, DX, LX and EX.  All are Accords, yet all offer slightly different features.  The EX, the most luxurious, offers features the others do not and comes equipped with a large V-6 engine that will get you there faster.  Just like the auto manufacturers, cable manufacturers offer various levels of performance in their category cables.  And just like the Accord EX, some will get you there faster.

Hitachi Cable Manchester, the first cable manufacturer to incorporate a center filler in a Category 6 cable, through constant development, has found ways to improve and otherwise modify Category 6 performance. As a result, HCM manufactures three grades of Category 6 cables.  They are Plus, Premium and Supra.  The Plus cable offers 1dB of guaranteed NEXT (near-end crosstalk) and 6.5dB of ACR (attenuation to crosstalk ratio) headroom at 250MHz.  In contrast, the Supra guarantees 8dB of NEXT and 14.5dB of ACR headroom at the same frequency.  The Premium offers performance characteristics in between the Plus and the Supra.  Supra, due to its high level of performance, is considered an enhanced Category 6 cable.  Each cable, however, is engineered to provide a specific level of performance.  The purpose behind offering three levels of performance is to ensure that a product is available to meet the needs of every potential customer.  A customer’s likely use of their cable infrastructure will help determine which level of performance they may want to select.  End users who want to ensure that their networks perform to the best of their ability often opt for the cable that offers the highest performance. This high performance, as we described early, is measured in headroom above the Category 6 standards’ requirements.  The HCM Supra, for example, guarantees a delay skew of 20 nanoseconds.  The Category 6 standard requires a delay skew of 45 nanoseconds.  Supra, because it is an enhanced Category 6 cable, gives its user greater assurances that data will not be lost or corrupted during exchanges.  Unlike the electronics used in the network that are likely to change in only a couple years, the cable infrastructure you choose is likely to remain for ten or more years.  When permissible, end users should always opt for the best possible cable.

Do I need an enhanced Category 6 Cable?

Though a number of factors influence which grade of Category 6 cable a building owner or IT professional may choose, performance is typically the driving factor.  Category 6 Supra, HCM’s highest performing Cat 6 cable, has a slightly larger diameter copper conductor and thicker insulation than other Category 6 cables.  These features and others enable the Supra to provide a Zero Bit Error Rate.  A zero bit error rate ensures all data packets reach their destination complete.  As frequencies increase to accommodate the faster protocols, opportunities for dropped data packets increase.  In TCP/IP, (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) the basic communications language, if packets are dropped during communication, TCP/IP simply resends the packets until they all arrive.  Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP), a growing technology that utilizes Ethernet technology to send voice signals, operates using UDP (User Datagram Protocol).  While TCP/IP retransmits lost or corrupted packets, UDP does not.  Due to the nature of voice communication, if packets of data are dropped, they are not retransmitted.  Dropped packets in VOIP result in an inferior audio signal. For those end-users who anticipate using a VOIP telephone system, the performance of the cable will have a direct impact on the performance of the VOIP system. To ensure the best possible performance from the system, use of an enhanced Category 6 cable such as HCM’s Supra would be appropriate.

An enhanced Category 6 cable can also be used for 10G Base-T, or 10 gigabit Ethernet (10,000 Mbts/sec). The standard for 10G Base-T, also known as IEEE 802.3an, is expected to be released in July 2006.  The cabling standard addressing cable performance for 10G Base-T, TIA 568-B.2-10, will also soon be released. TSB-155 permits the use of existing Category 6 cable for 10G Base-T up to a distance of 37 meters.  This is due to the high frequencies at which 10G Base-T will operate.  Tested to 500MHz, Category 6 cables used for 10G Base-T must be capable of exceptional performance in regards to both individual cable performance and cable performance in a bundle.  The higher frequencies of 10G Base-T will induce alien crosstalk in adjacent cables and challenge the performance of a standard Category 6 cable.  Just like 1000Base-T pushes the performance levels of Category 5e cabling, 10G Base-T will push the limits of standard Category 6 cabling. HCM Supra, however, is designed with high performance in mind.  Tested to 660MHz, Supra, with its Zero Bit Error Rate will provide superior 10G Base-T performance to the full 37 meters. By installing an enhanced Category 6 infrastructure, you can be confident that the infrastructure will support all current applications and most future applications as well. 

www.hcm.hitachi.com

Buildings Magazine and BOMA International Form Alliance To Produce The Office Building Show

Buildings magazine, a publication of Stamats Business Media, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, a trade association representing the commercial real estate industry, announced the formation of an alliance to own, manage and promote the BOMA Office Building Show, beginning with the 2007 trade show in New York City.


“This is an important acquisition and alliance for the Buildings brand as it enhances our strategic position as the leading resource for commercial building owners and facilities managers in print, online and now even more so, in-person,” said Tony Dellamaria, publisher, Buildings.


With more than 400 booths, The Office Building Show is the most comprehensive exhibition for commercial real estate professionals.


“I am very pleased with this new alliance between BOMA International and Buildings magazine. This alliance leverages BOMA’s strong marketplace brand with the number one publication serving commercial real estate. This exciting new relationship will help us position our convention and trade show as the premier industry event in an increasingly competitive marketplace, and achieve new goals for conference attendance, sponsorships, exhibit sales and participation,” said David W. Hewett, RPA, CPM, CCIM, FMA, CFM, BOMA International Chairman and Chief Elected Officer and principal for Trammell Crow Company, Auburn Hills, Michigan. www.boma.org www.buildings.com

New CableIQ Service Kit Addresses Both Connectivity And Communications Testing During Moves/Adds/Changes

Fluke Networks today announced the new CableIQ Service Kit, which makes it possible for a single data cabling service technician to both troubleshoot the cabling and verify network service.  The new service kit provides all the tools for the emerging best practice of having the service technician perform both passive connectivity tests on cabling and active communications tests on network operation.

As profiled in the Fluke Networks' application note Verifying Network Service Availability in Moves, Adds and Changes, "verifying network service at the time of installation allows the link to be immediately put into service."  This allows the job to be completed faster with a higher confidence level of successful performance, and a lower risk of callbacks.

Many organizations typically perform moves, adds and changes using two separate teams.  First, the cabling technician troubleshoots cabling faults such as crosstalk and impedance.  Then it is the responsibility of the networking team to confirm network connectivity.  The CableIQ Service Kit reduces the amount of manpower required to perform these very common tasks by providing any technician with all the tools required to test both the cabling and network.

Service kit components

The CableIQ Service Kit includes the CableIQ Qualification Tester, which determines the ability of the cable to support the required network speed and troubleshoots cabling performance faults; the IntelliTone Probe, which locates and verifies the right cable; and the LinkRunner Network Multimeter which determines whether the network drop is active and verifies communication to key network devices.

The CableIQ Qualification tester determines whether an existing cable link is qualified to support the network's required bandwidth and provides detailed information on the nature and location of cabling performance faults.  A four-second test determines whether a link, including patch cords, is qualified for voice, 10/100BASE-T, Gig, or VoIP.  Knowing the cabling's bandwidth capabilities before upgrading can prevent countless hours of future downtime and labor hours wasted on unnecessary troubleshooting.

CableIQ also provides detailed information on the nature and location of cabling performance faults.  Intelligent wiremap graphically displays the cable's wiring configuration and shows the distance to opens and shorts.  CableIQ's Discover mode identifies what's at the far end of any cable, including the seven remote office identifiers offered in the kit.

CableIQ also serves as the tone generator for the kit's IntelliTone 200 probe.  The IntelliTone probe is sensitive only to the digital signature injected by the CableIQ digital tone generator.  This makes the IntelliTone probe virtually immune to signal bleed and RF/electromagnetic interference, enabling the identification of a single cable even if it is in a bundle of cables on an active network.

The IntelliTone probe includes an RJ45 input port which can be plugged into the patch panel to provide positive confirmation that the right cable has been located.  At the same time, it verifies continuity and wiremap of the cable under test.

The LinkRunner Network Multimeter determines whether the drop is active and identifies its speed, duplex capabilities, and service type.  Its built-in Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) allows it to determine cable location on a switch in homogeneous Cisco environments by displaying switch model, slot, and port.  LinkRunner can also be used to ping the network to verify connectivity to key network resources such as servers, printers and remote storage, as well as determine whether a NIC is responding.

www.flukenetworks.com

SCTE Mourns Sudden Passing Of Veteran Staff Member Pat Zelenka

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) today sadly announces the unexpected death on Monday, May 29, of one of its longtime staff members, SCTE Vice President of Finance Patricia Zelenka. She was 59.

She is directly survived by her husband, Donald J. Zelenka, with whom she resided in West Chester, Pa., and her son, James D. Zelenka, who resides in Pittsburgh.

SCTE closed its headquarters office in Exton (suburban Philadelphia), Pa., where Mrs. Zelenka worked, at noon yesterday for the duration of the day to honor her memory.

Mrs. Zelenka was approaching her 20th anniversary as an SCTE staff member. She joined the SCTE staff in August 1986.

SCTE Vice President of Human Resources, Legal, and Administration Tom Wilcox, who was added to the SCTE staff earlier this year, will serve as acting vice president of finance.

“Pat’s expertise in a variety of critical areas, her exemplary professionalism, and her rich, irreplaceable historical perspective of this Society all combined to make her one of the most integral members of the SCTE family,” said SCTE President/CEO John Clark, to whom Mrs. Zelenka reported as a member of the SCTE staff’s management team.

“I fondly recall how she so capably oriented me to the Society’s business and financial affairs when I came on board as president and CEO in 1998 and, indeed, how she remained a valuable go-to resource for me over the years that followed,” added Clark. “I am sure that I speak for the entire Society when I say that I am absolutely shocked she is no longer with us and that my heart goes out to her husband, Don, her son, James, and other extended family members and friends.”

Mrs. Zelenka was promoted to manager of member services in 1989 and was promoted to director overseeing member services, finance, and administration in 1998. In 2004, she was promoted to vice president of finance and administration. Over the years, Mrs. Zelenka specialized in handling all of SCTE’s finance, human resource, and legal issues.

In 2001, Mrs. Zelenka, who held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, became a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) through a program co-sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Relatives and friends are invited to her life celebration viewing from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, June 1, at Mauger Givnish Inc. Funeral Home, 24 Monument Avenue, Malvern, PA; and a memorial Mass at 12:30 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church, 104 Channing Avenue, Malvern, PA. SCTE will close its headquarters office at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, June 1, in order to accommodate her friends and colleagues attending the services.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Mrs. Zelenka’s memory to the SPCA, 1212 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, PA 19380. www.scte.org

LEVITON’S Ken Brown Presents Technical Paper At Power Engineering Society Meeting

Leviton’s Ken Brown recently presented a new technical paper at the 2006 Power Engineering Society (PES) General Meeting in Montreal, Canada. The paper, entitled “The Short Circuit Current Ratings of Surge Protection Devices”, examines the standards associated with the short circuit ratings (SCCRs) for surge protection devices (SPDs).

Ken is the Director of Engineering for Leviton Manufacturing’s Power Solutions group. He is presently Chairman of the Technical Committee for the NEMA 5VS Section, Secretary of the IEEE Surge Protective Devices Committee, and is also a member of the US National Committee to the International Electro-Technical Commission on SPDs.

Leviton is proud to have Ken among our long list of in-demand experts. More information about Leviton Surge Protection Devices and other power solutions can be found at www.levitonvoicedata.com/power.

Anixter International Makes the IT 100

There are lots of pieces of equipment that go into networks that connect PCs and peripherals to a server, for instance, or that make up a telecommunications system. And that's a good thing for Anixter International and Chicago billionaire Samuel Zell, who owns 13.5% of the Glenview (Ill.) company. Anixter stocks over 325,000 wires, cables, and small parts such as screws, washers and springs—providing just-in-time inventory to electronic and electrical manufacturers from its own network of nearly 200 warehouses in 45 countries. Demand for these items has been strong across all end markets and regions. Since 2002, sales have increased more than 50%, to $4 billion, while earnings more than doubled, to $101 million.

Company Info

2005 Rank

97

Sales* ($ Millions)

4,041.4

Sales Growth (over prev. year)

19 %

Profits* ($ Millions)

100.9

Return on Equity

13.4 %

Total Return on Sales (12-mo.)

42.8

Share Price As of 5/31/06

48.73

CURRENT MARKET INFO

NYSE: AXE

No. of Employees

6,800

Industry

Distributors

Robert W. Grubbs, 48
President and Chief Executive Officer
Total Compensation $1,919,672
Value of Options $27,424,658

Robert Grubbs Jr. has been chief executive officer and president of Anixter International, a distributor of communication products and wire and cable since February, 1998. Grubbs served as CEO and president of Anixter, a subsidiary of Anixter International from July, 1994, to 1998. He joined Anixter in 1978. During 1993 and 1994, Grubbs served as president of Anixter's U.S. operations. He has been a director of Anixter International since 1997. He has served as a director of AM Castle & Co. since 2000. www.anixter.com

Corning Cable Systems OptiTect Premier Sealed LCP Enclosure Ensures Quick, Easy And Reliable Installation In The Field

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, introduces the OptiTect Premier Sealed Local Convergence Point (LCP) Enclosure.  The pre-stubbed, preconnectorized enclosure is sealed and provides protection from environmental conditions.  It is designed to enable centralized splitting architectures to distribute up to 144 fibers in a sealed environment.

The feeder and distribution cables are sealed and tested in factory-controlled conditions, so no new personnel training or tools are required to ensure fast, simple and reliable installation and re-entry.  The sealed enclosure is suitable for buried applications, making right-of-way and DOT issues simpler, while also minimizing neighborhood aesthetic concerns.  Additionally, the enclosure can be strand- or pole-mounted to provide even greater flexibility.

The OptiTect Premier Sealed LCP Enclosure is designed to hold to up to five 1x32-splitter modules with preterminated SC UPC or SC APC adapters. It is pre-stubbed with a 100-foot 12-fiber feeder cable terminated inside the enclosure to the splitter input connector panel. The enclosure is also pre-stubbed and sealed with a 100-foot 144-fiber distribution cable that is terminated on the distribution side of the connector field.

Preconnectorized splitter modules eliminate the need to splice during splitter installation. The splitter modules are ordered separately, allowing “pay-as-you-grow”

flexibility, which minimizes initial capital spending. Additionally, there are no routing limitations, as splitter outputs can be routed to any adapter output in the connector field.

The OptiTect Premier Sealed Local Convergence Point Enclosure is part of Corning Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions. Through its Evolant Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile.

Evolant Solutions for Access Networks encompasses state-of-the-art products that reduce the cost of deployment and increase the networks efficiency and reliability. www.corning.com/cablesystems. www.corning.com

Hitachi Introduces 21st Century Digital Archiving Solution

Hitachi Data Systems:

  • Storage Leader Enters "Active Archive" Market and Tackles the Limitations of First Generation Content-Addressed Storage Solutions Head-On
  • Delivers Centralized Search, Policy-based Retention, Authentication and Preservation of Structured and Unstructured Data under Common Storage Management Framework

Hitachi Data Systems, provider of Application Optimized Storage(TM) solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT - News), today entered the "active archive" market by unveiling its much anticipated 21st century digital archiving solution, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform.  Where first generation content-addressed storage (CAS) solutions failed to deliver open standards based interfaces, seamless scalability and enterprise class levels of data protection, Hitachi is again changing the storage landscape with an active archive solution that addresses these long-standing issues.

"When a company needs to search back through 10 years of electronic data and retrieve information, an archive is no longer static -- it's active," said Jack Domme, senior vice president, Global Solutions, Strategy and Development, Hitachi Data Systems. "First generation CAS solutions were not built with the requirements of records management in mind and tried to answer the demand by using an API between archive applications and the archive repository. These proprietary solutions focused on storing content, not on accessing it -- they lacked scalability, ease of migration across generations of future technology, and were comprised of solutions made up of disparate silos of business information. This is costing companies money today and will be an increasing problem as these silos increase in number and require future technology refreshes. We are the only company with a solution that answers the demands of records managers and IT."

"There are three basic reasons to archive: archiving to improve operational metrics yields the highest ROI of any storage management project; archiving for compliance can keep your company officers out of jail; and archiving because the data is fundamental to generating revenue (e.g. medical records)," said Robert Passmore, vice president, Research, Gartner. "What all three have in common is an audit trail to insure information integrity, management policy to control retention and refresh, and the ability to search for and retrieve information when needed."

Just as Hitachi redefined storage virtualization with the introduction of the TagmaStore® Universal Storage Platform, Hitachi is redefining the digital data archive. The Hitachi Content Archive Platform is an active archive solution comprised of both software and hardware, which supports policy-based integration from many, distributed or centralized repositories such as e-mail, file systems, databases, applications and content or document management systems. The Hitachi Content Archive Platform ensures secure archival-quality retention, preservation and verifiable destruction of content. With the Hitachi Content Archive Platform, users can leverage a set of common and unified archive services such as centralized search, policy-based retention, authentication and protection.

E-mail, patient medical images or account information are critical digital records that must be managed and retained for operational, business, legal, or regulatory mandates. Companies that have purchased first generation content addressed storage solutions have found that they could not adequately scale to meet the growth of these files, preserve the integrity of the data or easily locate and/or retrieve this information in response to corporate litigation and electronic discovery requirements.

"The Hitachi Content Archive Platform addresses the needs of storage and IT administrators for compliance and legal discovery," said John Webster, senior analyst and founder, Data Mobility Group. "The significant additional benefit is that it offers the CIO an ability to leverage the active archive for use in business intelligence (BI) types of applications as well."

"Our analysis of Hitachi's Content Archive Platform demonstrates that combining storage level services with archiving services has the potential to deliver attractive benefits to customers," said David Floyer, chief technical officer and co-founder, ITCentrix. "By providing a complete set of services and an ability to integrate multiple applications easily, our hospital case study for an initial 11 terabyte archiving system shows Hitachi's approach delivers $92K in IT cost savings relative to a traditional best-of-breed solution and $2.3M in incremental business-side benefit."

Open, Standards-Based Integration

While first generation CAS solutions require a proprietary API to integrate content-producing applications with their systems, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform uses open, standards-based interfaces such as NFS, CIFS, WebDAV and HTTP as well as storage management standards such as SMI-S -- saving companies money on additional development and training costs associated with proprietary APIs. In addition, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform stores files in their native form with original names to ensure easy access to and retrieval of data over time.

"The Hitachi Content Archive Platform represents a new and better way of addressing the archiving marketplace," said Dave Vellante, CEO, ITCentrix. "Previous attempts to provide solutions have either been vertically integrated, which means any developed solution creates storage lock-in, or software-based which limits performance and scalability. By separating logical services from physical storage, which allows both to scale independently, Hitachi has created a more open archiving platform that can better leverage and utilize (installed) storage assets and dramatically improve financial returns."

"Users must meet today's business requirements and also look to the future and their ability to refresh their digital archives when current storage platforms become obsolete over time," said Tom Trainer, senior analyst, Evaluator Group, Inc. "With Hitachi Content Archive Platform, Hitachi Data Systems now makes it easier for users to maintain standard file formats and this can make future technology upgrades and migrations simpler and more seamless when users leverage existing storage features and functionality found within the Hitachi Data Systems product line."

In support of the Hitachi Content Archive Platform, Hitachi has partnered with several leading application, file system, enterprise content management and database archiving companies to ensure interoperability for customers. (See related press release issued today: "Hitachi Announces Major Support for its New ISV Partner Program.")

Full-Text Search across All Content

"Older archive approaches, either paper-based or electronic, acted as physically separate file cabinets," said Laura DuBois, research director, Storage Software, IDC. "The Hitachi Content Archive Platform is one of the few solutions that securely supports the archive of content from different applications, both commercial and home-grown systems, and structured and unstructured data into single active archive architecture, while effectively eliminating redundant data across applications."

No-Limit Scalability, Reliability and Performance

To meet the growing demand for storing, preserving and searching digital records, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform scales to over 300 terabytes and supports 350 million files per archive, and can scale linearly with additional capacity -- allowing companies to stay ahead of their growing digital archive requirements. Using proven high-end Hitachi storage functionality such as RAID in a storage area network (SAN) + array of independent node (SAIN) architecture, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform ensures unrivaled data protection. With 4 gigabytes of cache per server, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform delivers up to 5 times better performance than first-generation CAS solutions.

"The Hitachi Content Archive Platform is one of the most impressive digital archiving storage systems in the market today in terms of scalability, reliability and ease of management," said Tony Asaro, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "The Hitachi platform provides a true single cluster that enables companies to economically grow their digital archives as needed with near linear scalable performance. One of the most important aspects of the Hitachi solution is that no matter how large you grow your digital archive, whether it is 100 files or 100 million files, it's just as easy to manage. ESG feels that Hitachi is extremely well-positioned to be a digital archiving leader with its best-in-class solution and also because of their excellent reputation, strong customer loyalty, world-class service and support, and market position."

Reduced Archive Costs with Tiered Storage and Integrated Management

Building on Hitachi Data Systems' Application Optimized Storage strategy of aligning storage resources with application requirements, the Hitachi Content Archive Platform provides an archive tier of storage where aged data on primary storage can be moved. Working with Hitachi TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform or Network Storage Controller intelligent virtual storage controllers, data in the active archive can be offloaded from expensive disk to less-expensive ATA, SATA storage -- improving overall application performance.

As opposed to burdening customers by introducing yet another island of storage for content archives and yet another set of software tools and management interfaces, Hitachi customers will be able to monitor, report on and control the entire Hitachi Data Systems tiered storage infrastructure, including the Hitachi Content Archive Platform, from a single management interface, reducing operating expenses.

Hitachi Content Archive Platform

The Hitachi Content Archive Platform is an integrated solution of proven software and storage systems:

Hitachi Content Archiver -- The Hitachi Content Archiver, powered by Archivas®, is the software component which provides the intelligence, policy-based control, authentication, preservation and protection of the Hitachi Content Archive Platform. The software runs on a pre-configured operating system which runs on industry standard servers. www.hds.com. http://www.hitachi.com.

Nortel Reports Quarterly Loss And Makes Major Ethernet Announcement

Nortel Networks Corp., which today reported a loss for the first quarter of $167 million, has released details of a new technology called Provider Backbone Transport (PB), which it says will allow service providers to deliver the communication and entertainment services of the future.

According to Nortel, PB transforms Ethernet technology traditionally restricted to small-scale, local networks into a more reliable, scaleable and deterministic technology making it suitable as the basis for fixed and mobile carrier networks to deliver live video and broadcast, multimedia, broadband data and voice services.

"Ethernet is a pervasive information transport technology due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness," said Philippe Morin, president of the company's Metro Ethernet networks division.

A first version of PB is already available in the Nortel Metro Ethernet Routing Switch (MARS) 8600, with development also underway to integrate the technology into the Nortel Optical Multiservice Edge (OME) 6500 and other Ethernet-ready platforms.

Stan Hubbard, senior analyst with the research firm Heavy Reading, said PBT has the potential to be a disruptive technology: "Its promise of enabling more manageable and scalable Ethernet that is cost-effective for metro network deployments makes it an attractive complement for service providers with existing MPLS core networks." http://www.nortel.com/

Extreme Networks And New Distribution Partner Anixter Provide Converged Network Solutions For Mexican Market

Extreme Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR - News), the leader in open converged networks, announced that it is now working with Anixter of Mexico, gaining its first country-wide distribution partner to support the Company's open converged networking solutions.

Under the agreement, Anixter will now distribute Extreme Networks® award-winning switching, security and wireless LAN products, including the BlackDiamond®, Alpine® and Summit® switching families that feature the modular ExtremeXOS(TM) network operating system.

Anixter also supports Avaya's communications solutions. Extreme Networks and Avaya combined solutions can help provide customers with an open, secure and available network with advanced communication solutions for IP telephony, contact centers, IP messaging, systems management and unified communications. In addition, Extreme Networks is a member of the Avaya DeveloperConnection program, an initiative to develop, market and sell innovative third-party products that interoperate with Avaya technology and extend the value of a company's investment in its network.

"Anixter gives Extreme Networks a strong presence in Mexico, extending our reach and depth in this key country," said Dan Sibille senior director of America's channels for Extreme Networks. "Together, we will deliver Extreme Networks' converged network solutions to businesses, government and education customers. This combination of resiliency, security and scalability results in an improved investment choice for combining data and voice on one network."

"Anixter is working to bring technology closer to enterprises and our relationship with Extreme Networks will expand our product and solution offerings for both our business partners and for end-users," said Joaquin Martinez, country manager for Anixter Mexico.

"We are excited with this alliance as it opens new opportunities for qualified Avaya channel partners to deliver solutions that include Extreme Networks, thus providing greater value for clients," said Rafael Galvez, channel director for Avaya Mexico. "This has a positive impact for our common resellers because delivery of both solution sets will be available through a single channel which helps reduce costs and implementation risk."

Anixter Mexico

Anixter International is the world's leading distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable and a leading distributor of fasteners and other small parts ("C" Class inventory components) to Original Equipment Manufacturers. The company adds value to the distribution process by providing its customers access to 1) innovative inventory management programs, 2) more than 325,000 products and over $650 million in inventory, 3) 200 warehouses with more than 5 million square feet of space, and 4) locations in 220 cities in 45 countries. Founded in 1957 and headquartered near Chicago, Anixter trades on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AXE. http://www.extremenetworks.com www.anixter.com

insideCE And Bedrock Learning Team Up

insideCE, the new vertical search engine created exclusively for the Consumer Electronics industry,  announced an exclusive partnership with Bedrock Learning, provider of home technologies training solutions. Through the agreement, Bedrock Learning is supplying an online glossary tool to all insideCE patrons.  The glossary is freely accessible on the insideCE website at www.insideCE.com. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Bedrock Learning, a leader in consumer electronics training and education”, said Ron Repking, CEO insideCE.  “The online glossary tool is just one example of their expertise, and is a great compliment to our industry specific search site”, he added.

The online glossary covers all aspects of the residential technology industry.  The confusion is simplified for topics such as audio/video, home theater, security, lighting control and home networking.  Using the online tool is easy: just enter in a search word, and up comes the definition.  If you want more information, click again to see all the definitions containing the search word. 

 

“The breadth of topics covered in the digital home can be overwhelming.  Our easy to understand definitions help anyone learn more about the industry.  insideCE is the perfect channel for us to share our 15+ years of industry knowledge by making our glossary available online”, said Helen Heneveld, President, Bedrock Learning.

To experience the value of the Bedrock Learning glossary, visit insideCE at www.insideCE.com, select the glossary, and enter a search word.  Along with the glossary, Bedrock Learning offers a comprehensive selection of Internet-based courses and classroom training services.  Visit Bedrock Learning at www.BedrockLearning.com to learn more.

About insideCE
insideCE is the only vertical search engine created exclusively for Consumer Electronics professionals. By eliminating the noise of general-purpose search engines, insideCE saves time and provides the most valuable information to the thousands of installers, distributors, retailers and manufacturers inside the industry. The insideCE search engine is the first of a set of online tools Capable Networks is creating to help the CE business professional quickly find the right information for their individual tasks, utilize the Internet and the growing set of tools that are enabled by it. For more information on insideCE or Capable Networks, contact insidece@capablenetworks.com.

About Bedrock Learning
Bedrock Learning provides foundation level training and resources for the residential technologies industry. Based on more than 25 years of training and curriculum development experience, the company was founded in 2004 by long time industry leader, Helen Heneveld. Bedrock Learning provides students with convenient 24/7 access to online training through its Online Training Center along with printed books and materials. Students completing online courses can earn CEUs from organizations such as CEDIA and NBFAA. Custom curriculum and online training/learning management system development are also available from Bedrock Learning. Learn more at www.bedrocklearning.com.

Corning Cable Systems Introduces Best-in-Class Optical Fusion Splicer

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) telecommunications segment, introduces the OptiSplice Premier M90i Fusion Splicer, a feature-rich optical splicer with the lowest field-splice loss commercially available.

The OptiSplice Premier M90i Fusion Splicer replaces Corning Cable Systems’ OptiSplice Premier iLID and M90 Fusion Splicers, combining all the features into one unit. The M90i Splicer includes core detection system (CDS) technology for fast video core alignment, while the LID-SYSTEM® Unit (a local injection and detection system) monitors light injected into the core of the fibers for precise core alignment, real-time splice optimization during fusion and extremely accurate splice loss evaluation.

The Corning Cable Systems M90i Fusion Splicer is the most advanced machine in the industry, with features such as on-board training videos, remote service capabilities via the Internet, buttonless splice process operation, an ultra-fast heat-shrink oven, and graphical user interface with touchscreen.

The splicer also contains precise and durable (P&D) electrodes, which are maintenance-free, worry-free, and can reduce the average splice loss up to 50 percent when compared to standard electrodes. Permanently attached arc stabilizers guarantee both high precision and long-term durability.  www.corning.com/cablesystems            www.corning.com

NEMA Calls On Washington And Brussels For Action At U.S.-EU Summit

NEMA President Evan Gaddis outlined these electroindustry’s concerns in a letter to Ambassador Susan Schwab, the new United States Trade Representative.  They include:

  • Energy: NEMA strongly believes that the U.S. and EU should establish an action program to accelerate the adoption of cleaner, more efficient and more secure uses of energy.  NEMA is a leading organization in the development and promotion of energy efficiency standards and new technologies.
  • Intellectual Property Protection, Particularly With Respect to China: While worldwide intellectual property rights protection is a fundamental concern for U.S. electrical equipment manufacturers, in China is especially problematic.  The national government in Beijing has taken some initiatives against counterfeiting in recent years, but NEMA members are still too often victimized by trademark infringement and piracy.  Since European industry counterparts are experiencing the same difficulties, the governments of the United States and European Union need to work together to ensure that China takes concrete steps to eliminate the problem.  Further, the protection of intellectual property rights in China should be an essential precondition for any consideration of improvements in China's trading status.
  • EU Metric-Only Labeling Directive: A considerable amount of existing two-way Trans-Atlantic electrical equipment trade is currently shipped with markings in both metric and non-metric units.  According to European Council Directive 80/181, however, starting on January 1, 2010, only the metric system may be used for the labeling of products and components used within the European Union.  In practice, this means that both American and European manufacturers will need to take on the additional expense of maintaining dual product inventories.  European industry groups such as Union of European Employers Confederation (UNICE) and the European Engineering Industries Association (ORGALIME) have also expressed their concerns on this matter.

American electrical equipment manufacturers are neither opposed to the metric system, nor opposed to permitting flexibility to use metric or dual-labeling where appropriate.  It is not a question of the whether the U.S. will “go metric,” but of irreconcilable electro-technical differences between the built infrastructures in the U.S. and many European countries.  Dual-labeling ensures that electrical equipment can be safely selected and installed in each market.  So that electrical manufacturers could have any required changes in place by 2010, NEMA members have indicated that they need to have a definitive indication of the European Commission’s intent by the end of this year.  U.S. and EU officials should therefore be working to resolve this common problem as soon as possible.

  • EU RoHS Directive:  Following lengthy efforts to obtain definitive guidance on multiple scope and compliance issues with the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, companies within several of NEMA’s product areas feel their paths to market may be obstructed as the July 1 implementation deadline approaches, primarily due to the Commission’s failure to respond and the resulting divergence among member states.  Costly uncertainty extends from component manufacturers to makers of large-scale industrial equipment.  The USTR’s assistance in obtaining clear answers from the Commission and the member states would be greatly appreciated.
  • Proposed “REACH” Chemicals Regulation: NEMA expressed its concerns to the European Commission about the potential scope and trade impacts on manufactured goods of the proposed chemical safety regulation.  NEMA encouraged the USTR to discuss the scope of REACH at the U.S.-EU Summit. . www.nema.org

Disaster After The Disaster?

Safety issues in reconnecting New Orleans and the Gulf

By Jeff Griffin

Soon it will be one year since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, causing devastating flooding. While recovery continues at a frustratingly slow pace, a new hurricane season approaches. With repairs to damaged levees incomplete, many areas are left vulnerable to new flooding from future storms.

As cities and towns struggle to rebuild, those responsible find that they are hopelessly entangled in multiple Catch-22 dilemmas. Solutions to pressing issues depend on first solving other equally serious problems, and available options are often incompatible. Action taken to address one crisis complicates or prevents resolution of another, or it reveals new, unanticipated issues.

Emergency procedures adopted

From the outset, a priority for recovery has been restoration of electrical power—without electricity, a return to normal life is impossible.

Yet months after the storms, thousands of homes and businesses remain without power, even though rebuilding and repairs of infrastructure makes electrical service available in most areas. Emergency steps—allowing electricians, rather than city or parish inspectors, to certify that electrical systems are safe to accommodate power—were taken to expedite the process. This measure may have resulted in service being restored to buildings that contain flood-damaged wiring and equipment, posing serious safety risks.

While the practice of allowing electrical workers to make inspections apparently has been discontinued along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the city of New Orleans is operating under an emergency ordinance that allows residential property owners to waive city inspections and have electrical inspections conducted by licensed electricians. Once the homeowner and electrician complete necessary paperwork, the electrical service provider, Entergy New Orleans, is authorized to restore service. There are several concerns:

  • The emergency ordinance in New Orleans provides the opportunity for numerous abuses such as compromising the inspection process, which could lead to serious safety issues.
  • Buildings in other areas previously inspected under other emergency procedures may have been reconnected to power even though electrical components were damaged by floodwater and should have been replaced (see Electrical Contractor Jan. 2006).
  • For contractors making inspections, there is the risk of liability should failures occur in properties they inspected.
  • In addition, unconfirmed reports recently surfaced that buildings in other south Louisiana jurisdictions are being reconnected to power without replacement of water-damaged electrical components.

Unaware of dangers?

The mainstream media and business press have not covered these issues, and it is likely most owners of property containing damaged electrical components are unaware of the potential dangers if power is activated.

Floodwater can compromise the integrity of electrical components: insulation can be destroyed, metals can rust, trip units in molded-case circuit breakers can be impaired, and filler material in fuses can degrade their interruption capabilities. In addition, motors, power equipment, transformers, wire, cable, ground-fault circuit interrupters, surge protectors, lighting fixtures and electronic devices can be affected. These components must be replaced.

Are there hundreds or thousands of structures in storm-affected- areas that will suddenly go up in flames when water-damaged -wiring shorts out and faulty breakers fail to shut off power?

“When electrical wiring and equipment have been submerged under water, they need to be replaced,” said Brooke Stauffer, executive director for standards and safety at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). “It is not safe to try and put these items back into service, because it is impossible to know what kind of long-term hidden problems may occur.”

A number of sections of NECA National Electrical Installation Standards say that electrical equipment and inside wiring that  have been submerged in water—especially dirty water—should be replaced, Stauffer said.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) states that equipment cannot be exposed to agents, including fumes, vapors and liquids that can have a deteriorating effect on the equipment. Apparently, however, many property owners think that if wiring and electrical components were dried out and cleaned up, service could be safely reconnected.

And, it appears that many property owners and workers they hired did, in fact, clean debris from components and flush them with water—a step that can cause further damage and create a false sense of security.

 Once clean and dry, this electrical equipment showed no evidence of being exposed to flood water, and a cursory inspection by inexperienced or disinterested personnel would not identify the equipment as needing replacement.

Soon after recovery began, David, a volunteer, was working along the Gulf Coast with a group from his Atlanta church.

“We were doing what they called ‘mud out’—clean up work so repairs could begin,” he said. “I was tearing out Sheetrock and insulation and removing electrical outlets and switches for replacement. When I cut the cable, water began dripping out of it. That didn’t seem to concern anyone, but I cut the cable as high up as possible in hopes I was removing cable high enough that new cable would replace what had [been] wet. I know I wouldn’t want that cable in my house, but I’m afraid a lot of those homes probably left wet cable in place.”

Put yourself in the position of a homeowner, suggested an industry representative who has been working in affected areas since immediately after the storms struck.

“You’ve finally got everything cleaned up and repaired and are preparing to move home,” he said. “The last thing you want to hear is that you have to have the place rewired. Thousands of dollars, and you’re still having trouble collecting insurance claims for other work. The breaker boxes look okay. If you can find someone who says it’s probably all right to hook up, great. You just want to come home.”

The issue is safety

Safety is the reason for electrical inspections. The long-established and accepted practice is for inspections to be conducted by qualified professionals representing the jurisdiction in which properties are located.

However, confronted with the aftereffects of an overwhelming disaster with no precedent providing guidance for what to do, some cities found amending standard inspection procedures to be a practical option that would help expedite recovery.

Is such action justified? While recognizing that Katrina and Rita caused many problems on a massive scale, no industry organization endorses compromising the inspection process.

In fact, Jefferson Parish, adjacent to New Orleans, never waived inspections by parish personnel and, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, electrical inspectors in Gulfport, Biloxi and Bay St. Louis said that all electrical inspections are currently being made by city inspectors (see sidebar, page 44).

New Orleans, however, is a different story.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press filed a report that frustrated property owners, tired of waiting for power to be reconnected, were playing electrician by connecting their property to live power. The article quoted the residents about how they accomplished the do-it-yourself hookups. While the article did recognize the danger of taking such action, it did not mention the risks of reconnecting a home that contained damaged electrical components.

New Orleans emergency ordinance

In late January, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin signed the emergency ordinance approved by the city council. The ordinance -allows owners of residential properties with no more than four family units to waive electrical inspections by the city and -authorize a licensed electrician to certify that work performed is complete and the property is ready for power to be restored. The affidavit completed and signed by the homeowner agrees to release the city and Entergy New Orleans from any liability for defects or damages from the electrical work or the property owner’s decision to use the emergency procedure.

The electrician is required to complete a short Electrical Inspection Certification form, which states that he is a licensed electrical contractor or electrician who meets all required qualifications of the Electrical Inspection Division of the city’s Department of Safety and Permits. It also states that the electrical work completed meets or exceeds all specifications of Chapter 27 of the 2000 International Building Code (IBC). Upon completion of work and submission of the certification form, the city authorizes Entergy to connect the service.

The emergency ordinance does not cover commercial or industrial structures or the thousands of trailers brought into the area to house homeless residents who want to return to the city. Unless extended or rescinded, the ordinance remains in effect until July 31, 2006.

Industry concern voiced

The electrical industry’s reaction to the ordinance is not positive.

“It is ironic that a basic safeguard designed to protect people from deadly electrical hazards would be waived in a city so recently devastated by disaster,” said Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International. “Trained electrical inspectors perform an invaluable public service on behalf of public safety. Public safety should not be compromised.”

Alvin B. Scolnik, vice president of technical services for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), said his organization recognizes the unfortunate and unique situation last year’s storms have caused for residents of New Orleans.

“NEMA also believes that proper electrical inspections should be conducted by technically competent,- recognized authorities having jurisdiction,” Scolnik- said. “While an expedient approach, allowing ‘self- inspections’ by installers removes a critical element of the electrical safety system that electrical manufacturers and NEMA would not like to see happen. Relying on harried homeowners to make an uninformed decision to eliminate experienced and technically competent inspectors from the process of inspection and verification, while well intentioned, could lead to an unanticipated fire/shock hazard later on.”

According to Scolnik, NEMA recognizes the difficulties being faced by New Orleans officials in getting the city up and running again.

“NEMA and its electrical manufacturer members certainly are willing to work with local officials in the disaster areas to provide information and assistance that would help to speed up the inspection process without risking personal safety and property damage down the road,” he said.

Larry Chan, New Orleans chief electrical inspector, is aware of the criticisms of the emergency inspection procedure. Chan is in an extremely difficult spot: he is not responsible for the emergency ordinance because the city council adopted it.

But Chan, with a diminished staff, is charged with implementation of what many believe is a badly flawed emergency residential inspection procedure and is responsible for implementing it, in addition to the inspections for apartments and commercial and industrial buildings. As of May 1, the number of city inspectors had dropped to three—Chan being one of them. Lack of funds prevents hiring additional inspectors. Chan’s job may not be the most frustrating one in a town, but surely it is near the top of the list.

“About half the residential inspections now are being made by contractors through the affidavit and certification program,” Chan said. “Many appear not to be making proper inspections—just signing off—and we are beginning to monitor that now, trying to do quality control.”

Many electricians and contractors working in New Orleans are from other parts of the country, and Chan said a performance bond could be helpful if problems with work inspected develop later. However, the ordinance does not require such a bond.

Chan said that some relief in the inspection workload is coming from a city contract providing third-party inspectors.

“Most of them are former city inspectors. They are working under my control and beginning to have some impact,” Chan said.

Volunteer inspectors from other cities have helped to an extent, but finding living quarters continues to limit the number of volunteers who can work, practically, in the city.

Even if money was available to hire additional inspectors, the city’s low pay scale for the job makes it difficult to hire qualified people. The temporary inspectors are able to make much more money in that capacity than working as a city inspector. The city is searching for solutions for these problems, he added.

Chan is very aware of the damage floodwater does to electrical components, and said water that flooded portions of New Orleans was especially damaging.

The dark, brackish floodwater that poured into many New Orleans buildings was highly corrosive, and tests of cable and equipment removed after water levels subsided showed even after they were cleaned for examination, corrosion continued to occur. Chan said the city requires replacement of all electrical components that were submerged.

Jim Pauley, P.E., vice president, industry and government relations at Schneider Electric, manufacturer of Square D electrical distribution and control products, recalled seeing equipment removed from damaged buildings for examination.

“From the outside, they didn’t show the effects of exposure to water,” he said. “But some of the breakers that were taken apart had significant corrosion inside, along with debris and residue from the floodwaters.”

The manufacturing industry has worked hard to provide to help get storm areas reconnected and intensive efforts have been made to educate city officials, electrical workers and the public about the dangers inherent in not replacing damaged electrical components (for more, see sidebar on page 41).

Electrical inspectors, power utility company personnel, electrical contractors and electricians throughout affected areas understand the importance of replacing water-damaged components, but most government officials and property owners do not fully understand the ramifications of reconnecting power to structures with damaged electrical systems

What now?

Progress along the Mississippi Gulf is slow, but steady. In Jefferson Parish, for example, most residents are back.

In New Orleans, the Central Business District (CBD) and French Quarter outwardly are looking like they did before the storms. But the city is a shadow of itself, and not far away, the damage stands in stark contrast.

 A study conducted by the city cited a citywide 2000 census populate of 484,674 with current (end of January 2006) residents estimated at 181,400 living in residential structures. In mid-April, Entergy New Orleans served about 70,000 electricity customers, compared to 190,000 before the storm.

Will three electrical inspectors and a collection of contract workers be able to get to businesses and residences still without power in a timely manner?

Some close to the situation believe that to expedite the recovery, the city must take over the electrical inspection process—hiring enough trained personnel to do the job—and revoke the emergency ordinance even before it expires in July, both recommendations obviously easier to suggest than to do.

Should structures certified under the city’s emergency ordinance be reinspected? And should properties that were allowed to be reconnected by electricians in other areas also be reinspected? Clearly these suggestions are easier to offer than they are to implement.

GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City,

Reprinted with full permission from Electrical Contractor Magazine May 2006 issue www.ecmag.com

LBA Realty Dedicated To Energy Efficiency With $10,000 Contribution To BEEP Education Series

LBA Realty, one of the leading real estate investment companies in the Western United States, is the latest organization to make energy efficiency a top priority by contributing $10,000 to support the BOMA International Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP).  The groundbreaking program, which was developed by the BOMA Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® program, offers cutting-edge energy savings solutions through a series of Web-assisted audio seminars.

“Energy management is one of the chief issues facing our industry today,” said Perry Schonfeld, partner, LBA Realty.  “LBA Realty is proud to support BOMA International’s BEEP education series because it delivers practical and innovative solutions to reduce emissions, improve tenant comfort and increase the value and profitability of buildings.”

To date, thousands of participants at hundreds of sites have benefited from the BEEP seminars.  Upcoming courses include How to Benchmark Energy Performance on August 3, and No- and Low-Cost Operational Adjustments to Improve Energy Performance on September 8, which presents best practices for operations and maintenance measures to improve the energy efficiency of commercial real estate without capital expenditures.

“The success of BEEP is sparking a revolution in the commercial real estate industry, and we are excited that LBA Realty is taking a lead role as our latest Champion Sponsor,” remarked Gary Wood, RPA, chair of the BOMA Foundation.  “The low-risk, low-cost strategies offered by the BEEP seminars are improving energy efficiency with high returns.  It’s the ultimate “win-win” situation—lower energy and building costs while benefiting the environment through reduced carbon dioxide emissions.”

The BEEP courses are offered as Web-assisted audio seminars, with support materials delivered over the Internet in real time.  With registration by site for one low fee, one or more individuals may participate from the same location. www.boma.org/aboutboma/beep.

TIA Publishes New Fiber Optic Connector Standard

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has published a new standard, "Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standard -- Type LSH (FOCIS 16)," TIA-604-16-B. The document is a revision of TIA-604-16-A.

The document presents the intermateability standard for simplex and duplex connectors with the commercial designation layer specification header (LSH). Intermateability standards define the minimum physical attributes of mating connector components. Fully dimensioned components are not within the scope or intent of FOCIS 16.

The requirements in the standard have been selected with the objective of ensuring that any combination of plugs and adapters conforming to the requirements of FOCIS 16 will mechanically intermate, and that intermated connector assemblies will meet a common level of performance.

TIA-604-16-B was created by TIA FO-4.3.2 Subcommittee on Interconnecting Devices and released in January. http://www.tiaonline.org/

Hitachi Announces Major Support For Its New ISV Partner Program

Hitachi Data Systems, provider of Application Optimized Storage(TM) solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT - News), announced worldwide support for its new independent software vendor (ISV) partner program. The program offers key services to companies that develop software that is interoperable with Hitachi storage solutions, particularly the newly announced Hitachi Content Archive Platform.

"We are creating an ecosystem of ISV partners to deliver an integrated, best-of-breed portfolio of hardware and software components from the industry's leading vendors," said Jack Domme, senior vice president, Global Solutions Strategy and Development, Hitachi Data Systems. "With comprehensive interoperability testing and validation programs in place, we are demonstrating a strong commitment to our customers to deliver cost-effective storage solutions optimized with their applications that match their business environment and safeguard their data for the long term."

"The Hitachi Data Systems ISV Partner Program provides its customers and partners a valuable service in ensuring that hardware and software components have undergone intensive quality assurance and interoperability testing," said Janet Waxman, vice president, Hardware, Channels and Alliances, IDC. "The strong collaboration between Hitachi Data Systems and some of the leading software vendors will enable clients to obtain and optimize the functionality from each company's products, while reducing potential IT support costs."

Fortifying Hitachi's entrance into the active archive market today, Hitachi welcomes several new application, file system, enterprise content management, and database archiving partners into its ISV program. (See related press release announced today, "Hitachi Introduces 21st Century Digital Archive Solution.") The Hitachi Data Systems ISV Partner Program is structured to recognize partner investments in and contributions to delivering solutions that drive joint success. Hitachi ISV partners receive marketing and technical support resources which scale up based on program participation. There are three levels of ISV partner participation in the program: platinum, gold and silver.

Platinum Hitachi ISV partners include: CA, Open Text and Symantec.

Program Recognition

"IT organizations have to better align data storage with their business applications in order to control infrastructure costs, minimize risk and fulfill evolving compliance and legal discovery requirements," said Mike Gundling, vice president of product management at CA. "Our participation in Hitachi's ISV program and our support for their Content Archive Platform is designed to help customers meet this challenge with seamlessly integrated, best-in-class solutions."

"We look forward to working with Hitachi Data Systems to deliver advanced solutions that will help companies improve the way they manage and store documents, e-mails and other content, while reducing costs and compliance risks," said Joseph McLaughlin, senior vice president of Global Partners at Open Text. "We're committed to maintaining the integration of our enterprise content management solutions with the Hitachi Content Archive Platform so that our mutual customers will be able to reap the business benefits of our best-of-breed content archiving solutions."

"Organizations rely on Symantec Enterprise Vault not only to safely and cost-effectively retain content, but also to grant easy and rapid access to the content when needed for business or legal purposes," said Nick Mehta, senior director, product management, Symantec. "The ability to leverage enterprise quality storage infrastructures, such as those offered by Hitachi Data Systems, creates a powerful and dependable archiving offering for customers."

Other participating ISVs include: Alero Technology, Arkivio, CaminoSoft, CommVault, Enigma Data Solutions, Kazeon, Mimosa Systems, Princeton Softech, Scentric, Signiant and StoredIQ.

Program Highlights

The Hitachi ISV Partner Program offers partners:

·         Marketing Support -- Provides partners with jointly developed collateral such as customer case studies, datasheets, solutions briefs, and the opportunity to post information on the Hitachi Data Systems corporate web site

·         Events and Webinars -- Enables partners to participate in dedicated sales webinars and Hitachi Data Systems corporate and regional events

·         Technical Training and Support -- Offers partners technical support and alliance management, access to Hitachi Data Systems interoperability laboratories and a range of complimentary or discounted Hitachi Data Systems equipment for development/testing

·         Technology Collaboration -- Access to product roadmaps and provides partners an opportunity to collaborate on future product offerings

www.hds.com http://www.hitachi.com

Interactive Intelligence Wins Network Computing Magazine’s Well-Connected Award for Unified Communications Software

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), a global developer of business communications software, received Network Computing magazine’s 2006 Well-Connected Award for Messaging and Collaboration based on the company’s unified communications software, Communité®.

Following a hands-on test designed to show real-world business use and integration, Network Computing editors selected Communité based on its breadth of features, user management interface, and customization options.

“Today's communication systems combine more than just e-mail, fax and voice mail,” said Network Computing technology editor, Mike DeMaria. “You must deal with instant messaging, presence management and call routing. Interactive Intelligence's Communité offers all these features and more, with a superior user management interface and customization options.”

Interactive Intelligence first introduced Communité in 2001 as a standards-based, unified communications system offering unified messaging, voice mail and real-time communications services for large organizations. The product has been especially successful in higher education institutions.

The company designed Communité to enable organizations to make use of their existing PBX infrastructure, while gradually leveraging IP without incurring large up-front costs. Communité makes use of LDAP-compliant directories to support hundreds of thousands of users in distributed environments.

In addition to providing voice mail and unified messaging, Communité offers multi-modal access by phone, desktop, Web browser or any PDA device; presence management; call control with call screening and rules-based call routing; find-me/follow-me services; conferencing; fax services; automated message notification; a Web-based administrative interface; and more.

“Not only does Communité offer major competitive advantages through its wide range of productivity-enhancing applications and cost-effective migration path to IP, it also differentiates itself with a unique ‘universal ports’ capability for deploying different applications for different user needs all running on the same platform,” said Interactive Intelligence senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Joseph A. Staples. “This lets organizations deploy Communité on a flexible ‘choose-by-function’ basis -- from voice mail only, to advanced unified communications applications.”

According to Network Computing, similar to current contact center trends, unified messaging is largely being driven by the uptake of VoIP and SIP.

“IP contact centers, rather than telephony-only solutions, make sense, since they deal with e-mail, fax, instant messaging and Web chats,” DeMaria said. “Similarly, unified messaging is gaining in popularity, largely because of the growth and adoption of VoIP and SIP. With products such as Interactive Intelligence's Communité, e-mail, voice mail, fax, instant messaging and presence management are all tied together.”

Interactive Intelligence was the exclusive winner of this year’s Well-Connected Award for Messaging and Collaboration in the category of Unified Messaging. This is the second time the company has been honored with the award.

Results of Network Computing’s 12th annual Well-Connected Awards for Messaging and Collaboration were published in the April issue and can be accessed online at http://www.networkcomputing.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=185303235.

http://www.inin.com

Hitachi Introduces New UltraVision(R) 120Hz LCD Displays

The Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division of Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT - News), www.hitachi.us/tv,  introduced its 2006 line-up of LCD flat panel HDTVs featuring four new UltraVision® models including two advanced Director's Series(TM) displays. Combining market-leading LCD technology with a sleek, sophisticated design, Hitachi's new LCD displays arrive in 32- and 37-inch sizes and deliver the best picture quality possible as a result of Hitachi's proprietary black frame insertion technology and 120Hz high speed double refresh drive.

"Hitachi's investment in proprietary LCD technologies delivers the most realistic picture possible for the absolute best LCD home theater experience," said Bill Whalen, senior product manager, Hitachi America, Ltd., Ubiquitous Platform Systems, Consumer Group. "Our latest LCD models produce the sharpest images and motion picture clarity using next-generation LCD technology."

Hitachi's 2006 LCD HDTVs include the next-generation PictureMaster(TM) HD III video processor with advanced 1080p histogram processing for dynamic image contrast, maximum 16 bit/281 trillion color capability and motion overdrive technology for a clearer picture. To enhance the consumer experience, all Hitachi LCD HDTVs include four high-definition and six standard-definition aspect modes, split screen/picture-in-picture. All of these features are packed into an ultra-slim, modern and stylish display that is destined to become the highlight of any room, measuring just inches deep and ready for viewing with either matching power swivel tabletop stand or mounted on the wall.

High-quality audio performance is delivered through a 20-watt speaker system packing MTS stereo/SAP with simulated surround sound, optical digital audio output, and bass boost that offers the viewer mute, soft mute and TV-as-center speaker options. Both LCD models also include a quick start seamless HDTV (ATSC) and NTSC tuner and come CableCARD(TM) compatible and digital cable-ready.

UltraVision® HLT79 Series 120Hz LCD HDTV

The 32-inch UltraVision® 32HLT79 and 37-inch UltraVision® 37HLT79 120Hz LCD flat panel HDTVs have been designed to deliver a superior image and a design statement. The HLT79 series' display is framed by a deep black finish trim and includes a titanium gray lower speaker panel and matching swivel tabletop stand. Convenience features for the displays include side panel menu controls, a preprogrammed fully illuminated remote control, day and night memory by input with timer, new day dynamic picture memory, three-language on-screen display, parental locks (V-Chip), on/sleep timers, auto link input sensor, discrete IR codes and three HDMI and component inputs each. The 32HLT79 and 37HLT79 will be available in November at the suggested retail prices of $2,199 and $2,699, respectively.

UltraVision® HLX99 Director's Series(TM) 120Hz LCD HDTV

The Director's Series(TM) represents Hitachi's top-line engineering technology and includes the UltraVision® 32HLX99 and 37HLX99 120Hz LCD models. These superior black gloss home theater displays feature the very best of Hitachi's industry-leading advancements in LCD technology, providing film quality image tuning, black and white color temperatures and custom color temperatures, an adjustable color decoder, auto color and Hitachi's own Digital Color Management III technology. HLX99 series displays come with a convenient power swivel tabletop stand, TV Guide On-Screen® IPG, a Roll and Click(TM) illuminated remote control and separate simple remote control and a two year parts and labor warranty with in-home service, all in addition to the HLS69 series features. The 37HLX99 and 32HLX99 will be available in October and November at the suggested retail prices of $2,999 and $2,499, respectively.

About Hitachi
Hitachi America, Ltd., Ubiquitous Platform Systems Division, produces and markets a wide variety of digital products for business and consumers. The division's Consumer Group markets high-definition plasma televisions and monitors, LCD projection and flat panel HDTVs, LCD projectors, and DVD camcorders and DVD players. The division's Business Group markets LCD projectors, professional plasma monitors, interactive panels and whiteboards and security and observation system products through value added resellers, system integrators, distributors and OEM.

Hitachi has a unique position in the marketplace by manufacturing and developing its own core technologies to provide consumers and businesses with optimal product performance in each of Hitachi's product categories. For consumer products, please visit www.hitachi.us/tv. For business products, please visit www.hitachi.us/digitalmedia.

For more information about electronic whiteboards and Starboard software, please visit Hitachi Software at www.hitachi-soft.com. Hitachi brand business products are connected through Hitachi's OneVision program, which makes it possible for any Hitachi business unit dealer to sell Hitachi products from other Hitachi business units.

Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., markets and manufactures a broad range of electronics, computer systems and products, and consumer electronics, and provides industrial equipment and services throughout North America. For more information, visit www.hitachi.us.

Hitachi, Ltd., (NYSE:HIT - News; TOKYO:6501 - News), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global electronics company with approximately 356,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2005 (ended March 31, 2006) consolidated sales totaled 9,464 billion yen ($80.9 billion). The company offers a wide range of systems, products and services in market sectors including information systems, electronic devices, power and industrial systems, consumer products, materials and financial services. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at www.hitachi.com.

MasTec Inc. Becomes Newest Member Of The Corning Total Access Program (TAP)

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment, announces MasTec, Inc. as the newest member of the selective Corning Total Access ProgramSM (TAP).

Corning’s TAP provides highly qualified design, engineering, furnishing and installation companies with the tools necessary to ensure successful fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments. Certified TAP members receive all-inclusive access to Corning’s innovative and reliable FTTH solutions. After completing specialized training in the installation of optical access networks, TAP members are able to offer their customers up to a 10-year extended product warranty on complete Corning FTTH solutions (drop cables and assemblies carry a 3-year warranty).

With more than 30 years of experience, MasTec has been selected repeatedly to engineer, design, construct and maintain the most advanced fiber optic, copper and coax networks. By combining cutting-edge technology with world-class engineering, design, construction and maintenance capabilities, the company provides its customers with quality networks that carry voice, video, data and Internet services to their end-users.

Through the Total Access Program and its extended warranty, MasTec will be able to provide value to their end customers. With Corning’s preconnectorized product solutions, MasTec can also offer its customers a total turn-key solution faster and easier than ever before.

“MasTec is a leading EF&I company and a valuable and welcome addition to the Total Access Program,” said Dr. Bernhard Deutsch, director of marketing and market development for Corning Cable Systems. “The company has extensive

FTTH experience and is dedicated to providing solutions to meet the needs of its customers.” www.corning.com/ cablesystems             www.corning.com                   www.mastec.com

TIA And BICSI Sign Agreement At GlobalComm 2006

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and BICSI have signed a cooperation agreement that the two sides say is intended to formalize a long-standing relationship that has been a cornerstone of the industry for many years.  "This will jump start a fresh approach to our relationship with BICSI that will enhance member services for both organizations," said TIA President Matthew Flanigan.

"TIA will continue to be a home for BICSI members to develop critical standards for our industry and both organizations will work toward finding solutions to our industry's challenges."

BICSI president John Bakowski said that just like there is a convergence in network design and services, the relationship with TIA is a convergence of standards development.

BICSI president-elect Ed Donelan added that there has always been an industry need to have a qualified and skilled workforce for the installation and maintenance of information transportation networks.

"BICSI and TIA will drive increased awareness of (our) accreditation programs," he said.

www.bicsi.org   http://www.tiaonline.org

Berk-Tek Introduces LANmark™ FTP Shielded Cable Solutions

Copper and fiber optic cabling technology and solutions leader Berk-Tek, announced that its Foil Twisted Pair (FTP) cable series—formerly known as GUARDmark—has been re-launched as part of the LANmark™ family of high performance twisted pair cables.

The Berk-Tek LANmark FTP cable series are designed specifically for high-performance applications that require additional signal isolation. Berk-Tek’s offer features the first ETL-verified Category 6 FTP cable that fully supports the recently ratified 802.3an 10GBASE-T standard as part of the NetClear GTS channel solution.

Other cables in the LANmark FTP cables series are the LANmark Premium 5e FTP and the LANmark 5e FTP cables. 

Effective July 1, 2006, Berk-Tek will no longer use the GUARDmark trade name.

“This re-branding will allow us to further leverage the successful LANmark brand identity and present all of our premium twisted pair copper cables in a clear and unified manner,” said James A. Frey, copper products manager at Berk-Tek.

LANmark FTP products are ideal for those applications that require extra control of signal emission or absorption, requiring an additional layer of security, or when installing in areas with high levels of EMI or RFI. Additionally the LANmark-6 FTP cables provide alien crosstalk performance well beyond the capabilities of 10G UTP cables available today.  www.berktek.com www.nexans.com.

Electrical Distributors Report 2005 Profit Margins Highest In Ten Years, According To Par Survey

Electrical distributors in 2005 produced their highest profit margins in at least a decade, according to the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) in its annual Performance Analysis Report (PAR) Highlights.

The average net profit for electrical distributors in 2005 was 2.9%, up from 2.1% in 2004 and just 1.3% in 2003, the report said. The 2.9% figure represents the highest profit margin reported in the past 10 years that NAED has conducted the PAR survey. Among a select group of “high profit” distributors, the 2005 profit margin was more than twice as high at 6.0%.

NAED conducts the PAR survey annually to provide industry financial benchmarks. The results from the 2006 survey are based on data from 179 NAED-member electrical distributors.

Accompanying the increase in profit were sales increases averaging 11.1%, a lower rate than the 16.5% sales increase average of 2004. Gross margins, representing profit on the cost of goods sold, remained steady at 22.2% on average. The increase in net profit came as distributors reduced their operating expenses to an average of 19.7% of sales, from 20.4% the year before.

The PAR Highlights contains a wealth of information to help distributors analyze the financial performance of their operations. Other measures covered in the report include inventory turnover, sales per employee, average collection period, return on assets and much more. Also included is a five-year trend analysis of key financial ratios.

Copies of the PAR Highlights report can be purchased by NAED members for $300 each (first copy) and $20 (additional copies). However, distributors who participate in the survey receive the PAR Highlights at no charge. For more information about PAR highlights, contact NAED Customer Service at (888) 791-2512 or customerservice@naed.org. Survey forms for the next Performance Analysis Report will be distributed in January 2007.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution channel. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps distributors and manufacturers increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership represents approximately 4,100 locations internationally. www.naed.org

Bandon, Oregon Turning Up Services Using Hitachi GPON Equipment

Hitachi Telecom (USA), Inc., confirmed that the company's AMN1220 GPON Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) solution is currently being used to turn up video, data, and voice services in Bandon, Oregon.  The Bandon network will be formally inaugurated in a public "Light Up Bandon" ceremony on June 21.  The network is being implemented by the service provider, ComSpan Bandon Networks, which is a join venture of ComSpanUSA and Ledcor Technical Services, Ltd. (LTS).

The Hitachi AMN1220 is compliant with ITU-T G.984 standards and provides data rates of 2.488Gbps downstream and 1.244Gbps upstream.  According to Dean Coons, Sr. VP/COO of LTS, "We chose to implement standard cable TV services, or RF video, for basic video services, plus IPTV for enhanced services such as Video on Demand. The ability of Hitachi's GPON system to provide the RF video overlay in addition to the bandwidth to support multiple high definition IPTV channels is key to the success of the network."

Take rates will not be disclosed until the June 21st event. According to John Stadter, CEO of ComSpanUSA, "We have been extremely pleased with the acceptance of this new technology by the citizens of Bandon. The penetration rate has exceeded our expectations, and the subscribers who are already online are extremely satisfied with the performance and mix of services."

"Hitachi is pleased to work with ComSpanUSA, Ledcor Technical Services, and the providers of other network equipment to make this installation happen," said Frank Banks, Hitachi Telecom VP of sales. This deployment represents a milestone for GPON technology in North America, providing both RF and IP video services, along with high speed data and voice."  www.hitachi.com.

Fluke Networks Announced the availability Of EtherScope Series II Network Assistant

Fluke Networks announced the availability of EtherScope Series II Network Assistant.  This versatile, next generation tool now provides complete vision into twisted pair, fiber optic and wireless LANs, vision which is essential for network professionals who are first responders to everyday network problems. New to the product are Gigabit fiber connections, 802.1X authentication, a robust connection log, and improved Power over Ethernet (PoE) verification. The versatile EtherScope Series II analyzer costs substantially less and drives a 66% time savings over a collection of single-purpose solutions.

EtherScope Series II now connects easily to both fiber optic and twisted pair networks for vision into mixed-medium networks. A SFP cage accepts optional 1000BASE-SX/ LX/ZX optical transceivers, alongside a permanent full-duplex 10/100/1000 twisted pair RJ-45 interface.

See network connection problems clearly

Problems with the client-network connection process are now easily seen and diagnosed via EtherScope's new Connection Log. Users can troubleshoot the cause of 802.1X security authentication problems (more than 10 EAP types) faster and easier than with other tools. The Connection Log also simplifies dynamic addressing (DHCP IP) and WLAN association troubleshooting.

Now test for Power over Ethernet by emulating a powered device

The growth of Power over Ethernet (PoE) use is matching that of powered devices (PDs), notably VoIP phones, wireless access points and IP security cameras. EtherScope Series II speeds the diagnosis and repair of PoE systems. By emulating a powered device (PD), it can solicit and measure DC voltage on each pin.  This eliminates the need for a separate PoE detector, further reducing the number of tools the technician must purchase, carry, connect, and interpret.

Vision into wired and wireless networks

EtherScope Series II continues to be the most versatile solution to everyday network problems, with recently added support for 802.11 a/b/g wireless LANs. A full suite of tests, including detailed information about RF signal strength, access point and client configurations, and network utilization, provides visibility to identify, locate and disable rogue access points and unauthorized ad-hoc networks. Wireless EtherScope lists the security settings of all discovered wireless devices and provides alerts for potential security problems.

In addition to new functionality, EtherScope Series II is easier to use. The user interface, including on-board help, is viewable in eight different languages, including Russian. EtherScope analyzer's discovery library now supports and discovers more devices, including many Huawei switches. Users can locate and view more than 1,000 network devices in the on-board database. www.flukenetworks.com

North American Business Conditions Dip Slightly In June But Remain Indicative Of Growth

NEMA’s Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) for current North American conditions measured 53.6 in June, its 39th consecutive month above the 50-point threshold indicating conditions favorable to growth. Although the index declined on the month, the drop was a modest one of only 2.2 points from a reading of 55.8 in May. Meanwhile, the index for future North American conditions rose slightly from last month’s low water mark, climbing 0.9 points to 27.8.

The business environments in each of the other world regions included in the survey were somewhat stronger. Current conditions in Latin America, Europe, and the Asia/Pacific region all posted strong readings in the low 60s, while future conditions measures for each of these regions reached or exceeded 50.

For a complete summary of the June 2006 index, including charts and a list of participating companies, visit http://www.nema.org/econ/ebci/upload/06_2006_EBCI.pdf.

 www.nema.org

IRS Issues Guidance On Energy Efficiency Deductions For Commercial Properties

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) just released its advanced notice detailing how commercial building owners or leaseholders can qualify for the tax deduction for making their buildings energy efficient. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International welcomes these highly-anticipated guidelines to the energy efficient commercial buildings section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which will benefit the many commercial property owners and managers who are making significant changes and improvements to reduce energy consumption.

The Energy Policy Act, which was signed by President Bush last August, allows taxpayers to deduct the cost of energy-efficient property installed in commercial buildings for upgrades put into service from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007. The amount deductible may be as much as $1.80 per square foot of building floor area for buildings that achieve a 50-percent energy savings when compared to a reference building which meets the minimum requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 – 2001. Buildings below the 50-percent threshold may also qualify for a deduction of up to 60 cents per square foot of building floor area if they meet a 16 2/3-percent energy savings target.

“The IRS notice is a crucial step in pushing forward the incentives of the energy bill,” remarked BOMA International Chairman, David W. Hewett, RPA, CPM, CCIM, FMA, CFM, principal for Trammell Crow Company, Auburn Hills, Michigan. “There has been a groundswell of activity among BOMA International members who are dedicated to conserving energy as a way to both cut building costs and to contribute to cleaner air and a healthier overall environment. We thank Congress, the Administration and the Department of Energy for working with us to help meet our energy efficiency goals.”

The IRS notice also establishes a process to certify the required energy savings in order to claim the deduction and explains how taxpayers can obtain certification. For full details, visit www.irs.gov or click here.

BOMA International is a recognized and committed leader in the area of energy efficiency. BOMA International recently joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to challenge building managers to reduce their energy consumption by 10 percent in conjunction with the agency’s ENERGY STAR® program. The popular BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) provides groundbreaking, educational seminars designed to help building managers reduce energy consumption and cut costs.

BOMA International and its partners in the Commercial Building Tax Deduction Coalition are now working to pass legislation in Congress to extend the program beyond its December 31, 2007 expiration date.  www.boma.org

Corning Cable Systems Granted RDUP Acceptance On LCP Cabinets

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment, has been granted Rural Development Utilities Program (RDUP) acceptance for its OptiTect Advantage and Premier Local Convergence Point (LCP) Cabinets.

With this listing, Corning Cable Systems is the only manufacturer to have the complete series of both Advantage and Premier LCP cabinets accepted by the RDUP. In addition to the OptiTect Cabinet family, the RDUP has approved Corning Cable Systems’ OptiSheath Classic and Advantage Terminals and Closures, OptiDrop Pedestals, and SST-Drop, SOLO® and ALTOS® Cable families.

The RDUP (formerly RUS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers loans and grants in order to increase the rate of deployment of technology to small towns in rural areas. RDUP acceptance allows service providers to purchase Corning Cable Systems products with these funds. The products are listed in the “List of Materials Acceptable for Use on Telecommunications Systems of RUS Borrowers.” The complete list of products can be found at www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/index.htm.

These RDUP-accepted products are part of Corning Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions.

Through its Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile. Evolant Solutions for Access Networks encompasses state-of-the-art products that reduce the cost of deployment and increase the networks efficiency and reliability. www.corning.com/cablesystems.  www.corning.com

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment, has been granted Rural Development Utilities Program (RDUP) acceptance for its OptiTect Advantage and Premier Local Convergence Point (LCP) Cabinets.

With this listing, Corning Cable Systems is the only manufacturer to have the complete series of both Advantage and Premier LCP cabinets accepted by the RDUP. In addition to the OptiTect Cabinet family, the RDUP has approved Corning Cable Systems’ OptiSheath Classic and Advantage Terminals and Closures, OptiDrop Pedestals, and SST-Drop, SOLO® and ALTOS® Cable families.

The RDUP (formerly RUS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers loans and grants in order to increase the rate of deployment of technology to small towns in rural areas. RDUP acceptance allows service providers to purchase Corning Cable Systems products with these funds. The products are listed in the “List of Materials Acceptable for Use on Telecommunications Systems of RUS Borrowers.” The complete list of products can be found at www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/index.htm.

These RDUP-accepted products are part of Corning Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions.

Through its Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-

effectively deploy fiber in the last mile. Evolant Solutions for Access Networks

encompasses state-of-the-art products that reduce the cost of deployment and increase the networks efficiency and reliability. www.corning.com/cablesystems.  www.corning.com

First Combined Analog/Digital Toner and Probe Verifies Routing and Termination of Any Type of Cable

Fluke Networks has introduced the IntelliTonetm Pro Toner and Probe, the first and only toner and probe set which combines advanced analog and digital toning technology.  IntelliTone Pro performs a range of tasks, from positively identifying a single cable in an electrically noisy bundle, to pinpointing specific pairs within a cable, to testing wiremap and continuity.

The new tool set can dramatically reduce the time required for local area network (LAN) technicians and voice-data-video (VDV) installers to locate and isolate all types of copper cabling. In many cases the new tool can reduce what would normally be 60 minutes of frustrating guesswork to five minutes of definitive cable identification. 

"Digital plus analog puts the best of both worlds into one package," said Steve Gottlieb, President, SK Electronics.  "That saved us a ton of time by not having to use two different tools." 

In addition to time savings, IntelliTone Pro can also reduce tool ownership costs up to 50%.  The unit's built-in cable wiremap and network service detection capabilities eliminate the need for separate cable and service verification tools.

Troubleshoot multiple wire types with new SmartTone function

New to the IntelliTone Pro is an advanced analog tone called "SmartTonetm."  The SmartTone analog signal eliminates guesswork during installation of single-pair applications such as traditional telecom systems. It features five distinct tones which alternate every time the pair under test is shorted.

"The SmartTone feature is a fool-proof method of confirming you have indeed found the right pair.  I wish the feature had been around 20 years ago when I started in the business," said SK Electronics' Gottlieb.

SmartTone provides telecom technicians with the certainty that they have identified the correct wire pair before punching down on a jack or a block or when diagnosing voice transmission problems.   It can also be used on other cable types supported by IntelliTone Pro: UTP, coax, telephone wire, as well as audio, security and other types of two-conductor wire.

Test without shutting down the network

Unlike analog-only toners, IntelliTone Pro's digital signal is designed for safe and effective use on active networks.  Even cables terminated on a switch or patch panel can be quickly located with IntelliTone Pro's digital signal despite ambient electrical or other noise interference.  This means technicians can locate and trace cables without causing user or network downtime. www.flukenetworks.com 

Interactive Intelligence Executives Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

Customer Interaction Solutions magazine honored Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) CEO, Dr. Donald E. Brown, and the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Joseph A. Staples, with Lifetime Achievement Awards in recognition of their contributions to the contact center industry.

The magazine recognized Dr. Brown and Mr. Staples for their industry accomplishments and leadership at Interactive Intelligence -- a company whose business communications software includes award-winning contact center automation solutions used by some of the top teleservices firms in the world, including Alta Resources, DialAmerica Marketing, Inc., InfoCision Management Corp., SITEL Corp., SR. Teleperformance, and others.

“With its innovative, standards-based ‘all-in-one’ architecture, the Interactive Intelligence software has helped teleservices firms worldwide become leaders in their field by significantly reducing costs, increasing productivity and improving customer service,” said Customer Interaction Solutions magazine publisher, Nadji Tehrani.  “For their pioneering efforts in developing and marketing this unique software, along with their industry contributions over the past decade, we’re very proud to honor Dr. Brown and Mr. Staples with the industry’s highest individual accolade.”
 
Dr. Brown has founded three successful software companies, including Interactive Intelligence, a company that delivered a breakthrough, all-in-one contact center software suite at a critical point in the industry’s evolution.  Mr. Staples has been a public figure for the convergence industry since his work with Novell and AT&T in the early 1990s.  He has been an advocate and evangelist for innovative communications technology, and over the years has forged business relationships with a significant number of the world’s largest telecommunications and software companies.

“Based on a wealth of benefits we realized after standardizing on the Interactive Intelligence software -- ranging from lower costs due to a unique converged applications approach, to improved customer service as a result of a powerful, yet intuitive customization tool -- we’re living proof that the achievements of Dr. Brown and Mr. Staples have had a significant impact on our industry,” said Scott Armstrong, vice president of call center technology and data communications for InfoCision, the third largest outbound teleservices firm in the nation, according to Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

This is the inaugural year for Customer Interaction Solutions magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, which were designed to recognize pioneering individuals and companies that have made significant contributions to the call center industry over the past 25 years.  Qualifying recipients include individuals and companies that have founded the world's largest teleservices agencies, developed ground-breaking technologies for contact centers, or expanded the economic base of entire geographic regions where their call centers are located.

The Lifetime Achievement Award winners were honored at a gala dinner held in May in New York to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.  The event, which was sponsored by Customer Interaction Solutions magazine publisher, Technology Marketing Corp. (TMC), also honored winners of the magazine’s Annual Top 50 Teleservices Agencies & MVP Quality Awards.  The event was attended by about 130 people.

An article about the Customer Interaction Solutions Lifetime Achievement Award winners was published in the magazine’s June issue, and can be accessed online at http://www.cismag.com. http://www.inin.com.

Make Safe Work a Standard Practice

National Electrical Safety Month lasts only until May 31. But, if you visit the Web site of the Electrical Safety Foundation International, which sponsors this annual campaign with support from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and other allies, you will find tools to help promote year-round electrical safety awareness.

Something else you’ll find at http://esfi.org is the “Test Before You Touch” brochure, which emphasizes that “electrical hazards on the job can be avoided by following approved NFPA 70E and OSHA guidelines.” That is a fact contractors should keep in mind—and share with customers.

NFPA 70E, the standard on “Electrical Safety in the Workplace” and the National Electrical Code are the two most important standards governing electrical work. Both are published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and NECA, and its members assist in keeping both up to date.

One major difference: While the Code is the vital link between electrical equipment installation and safe use by consumers, it does not really address the “how-to’s”—the very reason why NECA undertook production of a series of National Electrical Installation Standards. On the other hand, 70E provides the “how.” NFPA developed the first edition in 1979 to supply compliance details that OSHA left out of its electrical safety regulations.

NFPA 70E explains electrical safety requirements necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees. One of its most important aspects is that it spells out techniques for preventing injury during servicing and maintenance of electrical systems by turning off and/or blocking sources of energy, along with posting signs (tags) to warn other personnel when systems are being worked on.

Thus, 70E is consistent with OSHA lockout/ tagout regulations, which allow work on energized electrical parts only if continuity of service is required or if de-energizing equipment would create additional hazards. If customers demand that work be done live, they have to sign a release to that effect, shifting liability to the customer and away from the contractor in case of an accident. If electricians have to work live, they must use the appropriate protective equipment, which 70E identifies for varying tasks and conditions.

NFPA 70E was developed with the consensus of the electrical industry participants whose work it concerns and is available for voluntary adoption. NECA and others continue to push OSHA to adopt it officially or incorporate it by reference into federal regulations. But, even without providing an official stamp of approval, OSHA can still cite an employer under the “general duty clause” of the OSH Act if the agency determines that compliance with 70E requirements would have prevented or mitigated a citable incident in the workplace. Changes introduced with the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code also subject contractors to some mandatory 70E requirements under certain conditions.

Obviously, many customers—particularly those in the industrial sector—dislike having to power down their facilities and suspend operations, but incidents of safety-conscious contractors losing business to competitors willing to take risks and work live are on the decline.

In fact, more and more customers, including major corporations, are embracing the safety standard on their own and even having their in-house personnel trained on its requirements. Some of the biggest—including Intel, Disney and Motorola—acquired that training through the organized electrical contracting industry’s National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.

In addition to training our work force and customers on this standard, NECA has also incorporated it into a new management education program and new safety resources. The reason is both simple and profound: 70E saves lives.

Milner Irvin
President, NECA

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine May 2006 Issue

www.ecmag.com

NAED’s Adventure 2006 Conference To Feature TOP Sales & Marketing Consultants

The Electrical Sales & Marketing Conference, August 13-15, 2006 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in Chicago, Ill. The purpose of the conference is to increase and improve marketing and sales efforts in the electrical distribution industry through best practices, networking and a combined effort to improve skills and knowledge. Highlights include separate breakout sessions for sales and marketing, combined sessions, roundtable discussions, expert panels, sessions on TED Magazine’s Best of the Best marketing awards, and a sales-marketing team focus.

A committee of electrical industry sales and marketing executives developed the content for AdVenture 2006 based on feedback from previous years’ attendees. In several information-packed, workshop-style sessions, real-world consultants will provide attendees with answers to their most vexing sales and marketing questions. Topics include improving the sales-marketing relationship, overcoming sales and price objections, creating powerful marketing messages, marketing planning, and increasing profit and productivity.

“To me, the best part of AdVenture is the opportunity to meet and spend time with the industry's top marketing professionals. This is one of the rare opportunities in our industry where marketing people can get together and get to know each other, as well as exchange ideas and best practices,” said AdVenture Committee Member Sheila Hernandez, V.P. Marketing, Summit Electric Supply Co., Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M. 

The keynote presentation for this year’s AdVenture conference will be delivered by Ed Rigs bee, nationally recognized expert on strategic alliance development and implementation and author of five books including Partner Shift–How to Profit from the Partnering Trend. Rigs bee will offer advice on how to develop successful sales and marketing relationships and sell to customers from their perspective. In addition, he will conduct an industry-wide roundtable discussion on the hottest topics in the electrical distribution industry.

The conference is for anyone in the electrical industry from distributorships, manufacturing companies, or manufacturers’ rep firms who directs or supervises marketing, sales, or advertising, including agency personnel.

This premier sales and marketing conference is co-sponsored by TED Magazine, along with the Electro-Federation of Canada (EFC), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), and National Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives Association (NEMRA), and the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA). The conference is also endorsed by Affiliated Distributors (A-D), IMARK, Equity/EDN and the Electric Association of Chicago. www.naed.org

Hitachi Consulting Sets A New Course To Drive Solutions & Infrastructure Globally

Marking new beginnings both domestically and internationally, Hitachi Consulting, the business and IT consulting company of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT - News), has refined its roadmap to drive 2006 high priority initiatives, that being globalization, increasing value to its clients and a focus on people.

Recently announcing leadership changes to support its global strategy and increased focus on its people, while providing greater value to its clients, Hitachi Consulting is now charging Managing Vice President of Global Solutions and People Tamra Chandler with the additional responsibility of driving the company's solutions and infrastructure on a global basis.

In this refined role, Ms. Chandler will facilitate the development of intellectual property and service offerings through Hitachi Consulting's Solution and Industry Teams. In addition, she will work closely with the company's Global Consulting Committee and leadership in Europe and Japan to ensure appropriate consistency around the globe in the firm's solutions and delivery infrastructure, including its methodology and other tools. On the people side, Ms. Chandler is leading initiatives to make Hitachi Consulting an even better company to establish a career.

"As a global company, we need to set the course to not only be a best employer, but to also provide high-value solutions and services with consistent delivery quality for our clients around the world," Ms. Chandler said. "Building stronger capabilities and ensuring we share our knowledge globally is key to attaining our place as a leading global consultancy."

Expansion into Europe was announced in February, at a press conference in Tokyo, by Kazuo Furukawa, newly appointed president of Hitachi, Ltd. The announcement included the introduction of Hitachi Consulting Europe Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Consulting Corporation. The new company is now operating in three countries -- the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal.

In April, EXSURGE, Inc., a Hitachi Group company in Japan engaged in the consulting business, was renamed Hitachi Consulting Co., Ltd. The consulting resources of Hitachi, Ltd. and group companies in Japan and Asia will be consolidated in this company. This consolidation will further strengthen Hitachi's Japan and Asia-based consulting business and make it easier to standardize offerings and methodologies for seamless delivery across Asia.

About Hitachi Consulting
As Hitachi, Ltd.'s (NYSE:HIT - News) global consulting company, Hitachi Consulting is a recognized leader in delivering proven business and IT solutions to Global 2000 companies. We leverage decades of business process, vertical industry, and leading-edge technology experience to understand each company's unique needs. From business strategy development through application deployment, we are committed to helping clients quickly realize measurable business value and achieve sustainable ROI.

With offices in the U.S., Japan, and Europe, Hitachi Consulting's client base includes nearly 35 percent of the Fortune 100, 25 percent of the Global 100, as well as many leading mid-market companies. We offer a client-focused, collaborative approach, which integrates strategy, people, process and technology, and we transfer knowledge throughout each engagement. For more information, call 1.877.664.0010 or visit www.hitachiconsulting.com.   http://www.hitachi.com.

Corning Cable Systems Reduced-Size OptiWay Premier NID

Supports State-of-the-Art Electronics

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, introduces the OptiWay Premier Network Interface Device (NID). The all-plastic enclosure is specifically designed to house electronic circuits for the growing FTTx and broadband access markets.

Corning Cable Systems’ OptiWay Premier NID can both replace and supplement existing fiber or standard copper NIDs. Suitable for outdoor environments, it utilizes an aesthetically pleasing smaller enclosure to accommodate the shrinking size of today’s state-of-the-art electronics for GPON, BPON or EPON. The NID also incorporates a hinged interface for access to OEM electronics, while improving the ability to dissipate heat when compared to standard NIDs.

The UL-listed OptiWay Premier NID is weather-resistant and protects sensitive electronics from the outside plant environment. Its flame-retardant and impact-resistant engineering-grade thermoplastic ensures maximum product life. The NID features a flexible design to accommodate various applications, including universal mounting provisions for active or passive electronics. It is also secure, providing subscriber access while protecting service provider components.

The incorporation of OptiFit® Advantage Drop Cable Assemblies allows for one-step installation of the subscriber drop, with no fusion splicing or field termination required at the subscriber premises. This preconnectorized technology reduces installation time and complexity, simplifying the process of deploying FTTx networks.

The OptiWay Premier NID is part of Corning Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions.

Through its Evolant Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile. Evolant Solutions for Access Networks encompasses state-of-the-art products that reduce the cost of deployment and increase the networks efficiency and reliability. www.corning.com/cablesystems. www.corning.com

The Facts About Category 6 Cabling

Why do I need a different category of cable?

Not too long ago, when local area networks were being designed, each work area outlet typically consisted of one Category 3 circuit for voice and one Category 5e circuit for data.  Category 3 cables consisted of four loosely twisted pairs under an overall jacket and were tested to 16 megahertz.  Category 5e cables, on the other hand, had its four pairs more tightly twisted than the Category 3 and were tested up to 100 megahertz.  The design allowed for voice on one circuit and data on the other.  As network equipment data rates increased and more network devices were finding their way onto the network, this design quickly became obsolete.  Companies wisely began installing all Category 5e circuits with often three or more circuits per work area outlet.  Often, all circuits, including voice, were fed off of patch panels.  This design allowed information technology managers to use any circuit as either a voice or a data circuit.  Overbuilding the system upfront, though it added costs to the original project, ultimately saved money since future cable additions or cable upgrades would cost significantly more after construction than during original construction phase.  By installing all Category 5e cables, they knew their infrastructure would accommodate all their network needs for a number of years and that they would be ready for the next generation of network technology coming down the road.  Though a Category 5e cable infrastructure will safely accommodate the widely used 10 and 100 megabit-per-second (Mbits/sec) Ethernet protocols, 10Base-T and 100Base-T respectively, it may not satisfy the needs of the next Ethernet protocol, gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbits/sec), also referred to as 1000Base-T.  Thus, those IT managers looking to increase their network’s speed may be limited by the cable that was installed in their facility.  Though testing of the Category 5e infrastructure could determine its efficacy, the quality of both the cable and its installation could play a role in whether or not 1000Base-T will operate properly over the cable.  Category 6 Cable was developed to ensure 1000Base-T performance as well as accommodate other protocols.

Why do I need Category 6 cabling?

10Base-T and 100Base-T operated over only two of the four pairs in the cable.  One pair is dedicated to sending data while the other is dedicated to receiving data.  Two pairs go unused.  1000Base-T, however, operates over all four pairs.  There are two gigabit Ethernet protocols currently in use, 1000Base-T and 1000Base-TX.   1000Base-T transmits and receives data at 250 Mbits/sec on each of the four pairs, for a total transfer rate of 1000 Mbits/sec.  The transfer of data is bi-directional on each of the four pairs.  1000Base-TX transmits data at 500 Mbits/sec on two pairs and receives data on the remaining two pairs at the same data rate.  Well, Category 5e cable has four pairs.  Why won’t it work?  Well, it may and it may not.

As the transfer speeds increase, so do the performance requirements of the cable being used.  Delay skew, which is the difference between the slowest and fastest pairs within a cable, becomes increasingly important as data rates increase.  In the past, shortages of some materials, including those used in making plenum rated cables, forced manufacturers to find alternative compounds and alternative construction methods that would allow them to continue manufacturing and to pass the appropriate UL burn tests required for plenum rated cables.  Many manufacturers chose alternative compounds for use as insulation on two of the four pairs.  These compounds have a direct impact on the speed at which a signal will travel down the conductor. The nominal velocity of propagation, NVP, is the speed of a signal down a conductor measured as a percentage of the speed of light.  Though not an issue with protocols that utilize only two pairs, such as 10Base-T and 100Base-T, a cable that has different NVP values for two of its four pairs would have a negative impact on protocols that utilize all four pairs, such as gigabit Ethernet.  1000Base-T and 1000Bas-TX may not work properly over these cables.  For end users with these cables installed, new cabling will have to be installed if protocols requiring all four pairs are desired. 

Though they may be capable of carry gigabit Ethernet, Category 5e cables also limit the future uses of the infrastructure.  Streaming media applications such as video and multi-media have created an ever-growing demand for bandwidth that shows no sign of slowing down. Today’s data requirements have made Category 3 virtually obsolete.  With the speed at which electronics have advanced, it is quite likely that the bandwidth provided by Category 5e will be exceeded in the very near future, making it for all intents and purposes, obsolete as well. Bandwidth is the highest frequency to which a cable will perform.  As frequency injected onto a conductor increases, so does the likelihood of noise on adjacent conductor.  Once noise overcomes the signal, the cable will no longer function properly.  This is important to keep in mind since the cabling infrastructure should be designed to last at least 10 years and accommodate three to four generations of electronics. 

While Category 5e is tested to 100 MHz, Category 6 cabling is tested to 250 MHz.  Test parameters such as near end crosstalk (NEXT), return loss, and insertion loss are elevated for Category 6 and as result, ensure better performance over Category 5e cables.  Category 6 cabling is also physically different from Category 5e.  A center filler or star filler is used to separate the pairs from each other and the insulation on the individual conductors is thicker than that of Category 5e cable.  These features allow it to accommodate higher frequencies as well as provide better immunity from external noise.  As frequencies increase, the likely hood of alien crosstalk (crosstalk from adjacent cables) becomes more likely.  Category 6 is more immune from alien crosstalk than Category 5e.

Why are there different grades of Category 6 Cables?

The Honda Accord, one of the highest rated automotives on the road, is available in three levels of trim, DX, LX and EX.  All are Accords, yet all offer slightly different features.  The EX, the most luxurious, offers features the others do not and comes equipped with a large V-6 engine that will get you there faster.  Just like the auto manufacturers, cable manufacturers offer various levels of performance in their category cables.  And just like the Accord EX, some will get you there faster.

Hitachi Cable Manchester, the first cable manufacturer to incorporate a center filler in a Category 6 cable, through constant development, has found ways to improve and otherwise modify Category 6 performance. As a result, HCM manufactures three grades of Category 6 cables.  They are Plus, Premium and Supra.  The Plus cable offers 1dB of guaranteed NEXT (near-end crosstalk) and 6.5dB of ACR (attenuation to crosstalk ratio) headroom at 250MHz.  In contrast, the Supra guarantees 8dB of NEXT and 14.5dB of ACR headroom at the same frequency.  The Premium offers performance characteristics in between the Plus and the Supra.  Supra, due to its high level of performance, is considered an enhanced Category 6 cable.  Each cable, however, is engineered to provide a specific level of performance.  The purpose behind offering three levels of performance is to ensure that a product is available to meet the needs of every potential customer.  A customer’s likely use of their cable infrastructure will help determine which level of performance they may want to select.  End users who want to ensure that their networks perform to the best of their ability often opt for the cable that offers the highest performance. This high performance, as we described early, is measured in headroom above the Category 6 standards’ requirements.  The HCM Supra, for example, guarantees a delay skew of 20 nanoseconds.  The Category 6 standard requires a delay skew of 45 nanoseconds.  Supra, because it is an enhanced Category 6 cable, gives its user greater assurances that data will not be lost or corrupted during exchanges.  Unlike the electronics used in the network that are likely to change in only a couple years, the cable infrastructure you choose is likely to remain for ten or more years.  When permissible, end users should always opt for the best possible cable.

Do I need an enhanced Category 6 Cable?

Though a number of factors influence which grade of Category 6 cable a building owner or IT professional may choose, performance is typically the driving factor.  Category 6 Supra, HCM’s highest performing Cat 6 cable, has a slightly larger diameter copper conductor and thicker insulation than other Category 6 cables.  These features and others enable the Supra to provide a Zero Bit Error Rate.  A zero bit error rate ensures all data packets reach their destination complete.  As frequencies increase to accommodate the faster protocols, opportunities for dropped data packets increase.  In TCP/IP, (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) the basic communications language, if packets are dropped during communication, TCP/IP simply resends the packets until they all arrive.  Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP), a growing technology that utilizes Ethernet technology to send voice signals, operates using UDP (User Datagram Protocol).  While TCP/IP retransmits lost or corrupted packets, UDP does not.  Due to the nature of voice communication, if packets of data are dropped, they are not retransmitted.  Dropped packets in VOIP result in an inferior audio signal. For those end-users who anticipate using a VOIP telephone system, the performance of the cable will have a direct impact on the performance of the VOIP system. To ensure the best possible performance from the system, use of an enhanced Category 6 cable such as HCM’s Supra would be appropriate.

An enhanced Category 6 cable can also be used for 10G Base-T, or 10 gigabit Ethernet (10,000 Mbts/sec). The standard for 10G Base-T, also known as IEEE 802.3an, is expected to be released in July 2006.  The cabling standard addressing cable performance for 10G Base-T, TIA 568-B.2-10, will also soon be released. TSB-155 permits the use of existing Category 6 cable for 10G Base-T up to a distance of 37 meters.  This is due to the high frequencies at which 10G Base-T will operate.  Tested to 500MHz, Category 6 cables used for 10G Base-T must be capable of exceptional performance in regards to both individual cable performance and cable performance in a bundle.  The higher frequencies of 10G Base-T will induce alien crosstalk in adjacent cables and challenge the performance of a standard Category 6 cable.  Just like 1000Base-T pushes the performance levels of Category 5e cabling, 10G Base-T will push the limits of standard Category 6 cabling. HCM Supra, however, is designed with high performance in mind.  Tested to 660MHz, Supra, with its Zero Bit Error Rate will provide superior 10G Base-T performance to the full 37 meters. By installing an enhanced Category 6 infrastructure, you can be confident that the infrastructure will support all current applications and most future applications as well. 

www.hcm.hitachi.com

New hope for the BAS

By Jerry L. Bowman

Recent advances in the underlying technology and adoption of industry-wide standards have stimulated the efforts launched in the late 1980s and early 1990s to improve communications between the various low-voltage systems in commercial office buildings.

These efforts were initially called Smart Buildings, Intelligent Building Systems (IBS) or Building Automation Systems (BAS).

There are many approaches, interpretations and definitions of an intelligent building. We’ve also learned that “intelligence” can occur at much lower layers of the OSI model than the

Network Layer

The business case for completely converged building systems has sometimes not been strong enough to justify a completely Ethernet/IP communications network for all low voltage building systems.

While a strong business case for IBS may be an obstacle to a fully converged low-voltage infrastructure, it may not eliminate the financial and operational benefits of installing a generic cabling system described in TIA’s Building Automation Systems Cabling Standard for Commercial Buildings and serving the 15 low-voltage systems that are installed in the average commercial office space.

In spite of significant investments of financial and other resources by manufacturers and industry associations the BAS/IBS effort never really gained momentum with building owners, facility management professionals or the corporate decision-makers.

Subhead: Showcase projects

There are several reasons why the Smart Building effort was not overly successful;

The initial approach by many IBS/BAS proponents was to propose larger up front costs, in exchange for “future” savings and ROI.

Current designs are providing significant cost savings up-front and increased savings during the management phase of a building.

Most intelligent building projects have been showcase projects without seriously quantifying the costs and the rewards. This makes it difficult to know whether the costs and efforts involved were justified.

The traditional construction process requires each of the specialized construction trades to complete their task independently of all others.

The IBS/BAS concept requires a level of interoperability and cooperation not generally seen in the construction process.

Addressing the shortcomings of previous IBS/BAS efforts is paramount to future success. One of the most significant obstacles to overcome is documenting the post construction financial and operational benefits of an IBS/BAS design for commercial office space. The ANSI/EIA/TIA-862-2002 Building Automations Systems Cabling Standard For Commercial Buildings is acting as a catalyst to trigger more interest in the design community about the benefits of a generic cabling system.

According to the TIA, “the purpose of this standard is to enable the planning and installation of a structured cabling system for BAS applications used in new or renovated construction of commercial buildings.” 

Although most industry associations generally acknowledge that about 30% of the cost of every low-voltage building system is composed of physical infrastructure, cabling, owners, designers, and construction professionals have been slow to integrate the generic cabling system into the commercial office building design and construction process.

One reason may be the lack of utilization of zone-based distribution topologies (called consolidation points or CP’s in TIA-568) for horizontal cabling systems. Looking through the eyes of the electrical, mechanical or security engineer it might be difficult to imagine how to utilize the workstation area outlets located next to the electrical outlets a mere 14 or so inches above the finished floor.

It is only when the zone-based horizontal connection point (HCP) is reintroduced as an approved topology in TIA-862 that a common generic cabling system begins to make sense.

By using the TIA-862 zone-based BAS topology, providing a generic cabling system and consolidating the horizontal pathways for all the systems, the design team can reduce the initial construction costs of a commercial office space by 10-15%, and up to 30%, for the cabling infrastructure of a modern intelligent building.

The lifecycle savings from reduced management expenses may be attractive. The costs for cabling-related changes can typically be reduced by 25-40% for a new or renovated facility when using a total systems integration approach.

While there are many more benefits from the IBS/BAS approach, none have the impact of potentially millions of dollars of the up-front and lifecycle savings seen here. In spite of the financial benefits, adoption of the generic cabling system for BAS has been sluggish at best.

New BAS drivers

Two construction-related issues may be drivers for the adoption of zone-based generic cabling systems for BAS. The first issue surfaced with the release of NFPA’s 2002 National Electrical Code.

Within the pages of this electrical safety code was the new requirement that under certain conditions a wide variety of communications must be removed when no longer in use. Although the new abandoned cabling regulations address the low-voltage cabling for a variety of systems, voice/data section, or Article 800 became the common name.

The premise for the Article 800 requirements was fire safety. It is generally accepted that each 1,000 feet of riser or plenum-rated data cabling contain just over 13 pounds of combustible material.

Prior to the attention created by NEC 2002 and its more stringent successor, NEC 2005, many landlords and tenants weren’t all that concerned about the removal of old cabling when moving out or upgrading their network infrastructure. This has led to tightening up of lease language, forcing tenants to assume responsibility for any voice or data cabling they install in their leased space.

Unfortunately, many are ignorant about the NEC 2002/2005 requirements concerning other low-voltage systems, including fire alarm. The generic common cabling system described in TIA-862 offers one solution to the abandoned cabling problem.

The TIA BAS cabling standard allows for the construction of a common zone-based distribution system for both data and BAS systems.

Since TIA permits common rooms (closets), pathways and zone boxes, when the common cabling system has reached the end of its lifecycle, there is but a single pull path for each zone box, and the spider’s web created by 15 discreet low-voltage systems and their supporting cabling infrastructure can be avoided.

By utilizing a zone-based BAS cabling system, cost of removing abandoned cable, estimated by Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to be $2.50 per square foot today, can be totally avoided.

The second construction-related issue which may drive the adoption of a more intelligent physical layer design has its roots in the health care industry. According to Andrew J. Streifel of the University of Minnesota’s Hospital Accreditation for Airborne Infection Control, “there are 2.5 million patients afflicted by nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections each year and 90,000 fatalities … an increasing number are due to failures in the conditions in the environment of care.” 

Infection-control practice as part of building systems has become an important issue in health care, and day 2 construction practices have been identified as a potential contributing factor in infectious control risk assessment (ICRA) guidelines.

With increasing frequency, health care providers are implementing strict guidelines surrounding any moves, adds or changes for their building systems. The primary concern with communications and other low-voltage cabling installation is the necessity to remove ceiling tiles, thereby altering the positive air pressure and providing a path for infectious transfer to occur.

A significant factor adding to the problem in the health care environment is the number of low-voltage systems found there. While the average commercial office building has 15 low-voltage systems, the average hospital will average 32 low-voltage systems and may have as many as 64.

With the increased number of systems, any day 2 moves, adds or changes could result in an unacceptable disruption and risk of nosocomial infection to patients.

Meanwhile, the TIA-862 standard, when combined with other advances in the IBS/BAS effort strike a dramatic parallel to the evolution of the Ethernet-based network. Since the passage in April 2002 of TIA-862, construction professionals have displayed a very similar reluctance to abandon the costly and unnecessary separation between various building systems. This continues to penalize building owners and other corporate end users, preventing them from enjoying the multiple benefits of the integration of building systems onto a common infrastructure.

Many changes and initiatives must occur for these technologies to become widespread; and there is a strong need for promotion and education at all levels and in all segments.

The adoption of ANSI/TIA/EIA-862 Building Automation Cabling Standard will encourage the use of a generic cabling system to support building services as well as voice/data systems.

Jerry L. Bowman, RCDD/NTS, CISSP, CPP is the Director of ACE & Advanced Technologies for CommScope. He is also the BICSI US North-Central Region Director and can be reached at 614.853.3812 or Jlbowman@commscope.com.

Reprinted with permission of Cabling Networking Systems Magazine www.cablingsystems.com

Preformed Line Products Announces Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Preformed Line Products (Nasdaq: PLPC - News) on June 12, 2006 declared a regular quarterly dividend in the amount of $.20 per share on the Company's common shares, payable July 20, 2006 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 3, 2006.

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

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

Corning Cable Systems, Charles Industries Jointly Promote RDUP-Accepted Fiber Pedestal Solution

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment and Charles Industries, Ltd., have established a strategic relationship to provide best in class Telcordia and RDUP-accepted (formerly RUS) fiber pedestal solutions.

Because of this collaboration, Charles will provide their time-proven pedestal products, while Corning will continue to offer its fiber connectivity solutions within the unit.

Charles fiber pedestals are optimized for use with Corning Cable Systems fiber management, including OptiSheath Advantage Terminals. The two companies will also work together on current and future pedestal designs to ensure the fiber management is optimized to support Corning fiber terminals. This allows both companies to focus on their core strengths, providing the best value to the customer. Customers will be able to purchase the pedestals through both Corning Cable Systems and Charles.  

“With Charles’ industry-leading pedestal design capabilities and Corning’s industry-leading fiber management knowledge, this relationship is a win-win for carriers using fiber pedestals in their networks,” said Dr. Bernhard Deutsch, director of marketing and market development for Corning Cable Systems public networks.

“Charles’ and Corning’s complementary roles in this strategic relationship provide the industry the best combination of product performance, range of application, customer service and overall value for OSP fiber pedestal solutions,” said Dick Hood, vice president of Charles Industries’ outside plant business unit. www.corning.com/cablesystems.

Accu-Tech Corporation Announces The Opening Of It’s Newest Sales Branch

Accu-Tech Corporation announces the opening of it’s newest sales branch in Sacramento, California.  Located at 830 West National Drive, Suite 100, the location features a stocking warehouse with seasoned industry Sales Executives, who are intent on delivering the best products and the best service to Sacramento’s network cabling professionals.

Accu-Tech Corporation was founded in 1984 and has since focused on becoming the premier distributor of structured cabling solutions in the U.S.  Accu-Tech’s Sacramento facility is the 26th location to open since 1984 and is our second California operation.  Whether your structured cabling needs are for voice, data, sound, video, or security applications, Accu-Tech Sacramento will provide you with the right products for your job.

For additional information on Accu-Tech Sacramento, please visit our new facility or call Branch Manager Kevin Green at 916-574-9257 (toll free 800-470-2759).  www.accu-tech.com

CommScope Receives Payment of $30.3 Million From OFS, Which Satisfies Outstanding Loan

CommScope, Inc. (NYSE: CTV - News) announced that it received payment of $29.8 million plus accrued interest of approximately $0.5 million from OFS BrightWave, LLC. This payment satisfies and cancels the $30.0 million outstanding note issued under a revolving credit facility between CommScope and OFS BrightWave, a venture formed in 2001 by CommScope and The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. The companies also agreed to terminate the revolving credit facility, which was created in 2001 and was scheduled to mature in November 2006.

The $30 million long-term investment had been considered fully impaired by CommScope at the time the Company exited the venture in June 2004.

"We are pleased to receive this payment and look forward to continuing our long-term relationship with OFS and Furukawa," said CommScope Chairman and CEO Frank M. Drendel.

CommScope expects to record the gain on the payment from OFS during the second quarter of 2006. www.commscope.com

Increased Savings with Shielding – The Hidden Costs of Category 6A UTP Systems

While UTP copper cabling systems have been the de facto norm for years in many markets, screened and fully shielded solutions have maintained a stronghold in others.  With the increase in bandwidth to 10 Gb/s transmission, the overall channel length allowed by the standards for 10 Gb/s transmission has decreased in legacy category 6 installations, while the overall cable diameter for augmented category 6 (6A) UTP systems has increased.  When looking at installation costs for UTP systems, the proper cost calculations should include not only the cable and components, but also the pathways and spaces through which the cable will be routed. 

A Brief Word About the Standards

In 10 Gb/s transmissions, alien crosstalk, defined as cable-to-cable noise, is a major disturber to a system. If you strip back a portion of the sheath on a twisted-pair cable, you will notice that each pair has a different twist rate.  These varying twist rates reduce interference generated by coupled noise between pairs within the sheath.  However, if you have several channels of cable run side by side, the pairs of like color (for instance blue/white) will have the same twist lay as the same pair in the adjacent cable.  At higher frequencies, these pairs will interfere with each other through what is called alien crosstalk.  As this phenomenon cannot be truly modeled and subsequently cannot be cancelled via active equipment processing, it must be mitigated by cable design and installation practices.

Cable that is approved for 10 Gb/s transmission includes up to 55 meters of category 6 (with installation mitigation techniques), 100m of augmented category 6 UTP or F/UTP (screened) and 100m of S/FTP (fully-shielded) category 7/class F. Augmented category 6 UTP cabling has an overall allowable diameter of 0.354 in. (9.0mm).  This contrasts to category 6 cabling, which has an overall diameter of 0.250 in. (6.35mm).  In between the two are category 7/class F and F/UTP augmented category 6 systems which have an average diameter of 0.330 in. (8.38mm) and 0.265 in. (6.73mm) respectively.  While this does not appear to be a large difference in diameter, it creates a significant difference in large installations where pathways and spaces are concerned.

In order to support 10Gb/s over 55m with a category 6 system, there are several methods addressed in TIA TSB-155 to mitigate alien crosstalk.  These include switching to shielded patch cords, unbundling cables in the first and last 15m of the cabling channel, providing port separation for energized ports (i.e.: only allowing odd number ports to be energized to 10 Gb/s) and other methods.  This creates additional labor and the possibility of increased material costs to achieve the same transmission performance as the higher performing systems. Where category 6 channels already exist, any channel over 180 ft. (55m) that cannot be mitigated for alien crosstalk will have to be replaced, increasing the overall total cost of ownership of the original system. 

In both TIA and ISO standards, the alien crosstalk mitigation steps are essentially the same and require the same costly component - labor.  In many cases, both would call for a change in connectors, patch panels and cross-connect fields, increasing labor as well as material costs.  It is important to note that augmented category 6A cables utilize a larger diameter that increases the separation between individual pairs in other cables to reduce alien crosstalk.  Screened (F/UTP) and fully shielded (S/FTP) systems prevent alien crosstalk through their cable shield. While the highest performance and lowest cost of ownership belongs to category 7/class F, which does not require costly mitigation steps and provides a longer lifecycle through its ability to support applications beyond 10Gb/s, some companies still have a preference to either keep their existing category 6 plant, or use unshielded systems.  In order to effectively evaluate the various systems, a total cost of ownership analysis should be performed to determine the additional costs of not only labor, but also the costs of preparing pathways and spaces.  In particular, UTP, F/UTP and S/FTP systems will be examined with their pathways and spaces.

Fill Ratios

A fill ratio equates to the amount of cabling that can be run in a pathway or space.  In order to preserve warranties on fire-stopping materials and to  reduce the effect of alien crosstalk, these ratios must be maintained according to the standards.  For larger cabling diameters such as those allowed in augmented category 6 UTP designs, the number of cables permitted in a particular space will decrease and in many cases, larger pathways and spaces will be required.  In some jurisdictions where all cabling must be run in conduit due to code, this can increase initial construction and retrofit costs significantly. For areas in office walls where pathways must be provided, larger conduit sizes would be needed for the newer 6A UTP systems.

Conduit Trade sizes and areas are shown in the table below.

SAE Measurements

Metric Measurements

Trade Size

Internal Diameter (in)

Area (in2)

Metric Designator

Internal diameter (mm)

Area (mm2)

1/2

0.62

0.30

16

15.7

193

3/4

0.82

0.53

21

20.8

340

1

1.05

0.86

27

26.7

560

1 1/2

1.61

2.04

41

40.9

1313

2

2.07

3.36

53

52.6

2172

2 1/2

2.47

4.79

63

62.7

3086

3

3.07

7.38

78

80.0

5024

3 1/2

3.55

9.90

91

90.2

6387

4

4.03

12.72

103

102.4

8231

Conduit size is expressed by trade size in either inches or millimeters.  The area is the inside area that can be occupied by cable. It is recommended that a 40% fill ratio be used for the initial runs to accommodate any room for new runs that would be needed in the future. The formula for calculating fill ratio is as follows:

fill ratio =          (# cables) x cable cross-sectional area

                        inside cross-sectional conduit area

            cable cross-sectional area = π (Ø/2)2     where π = 3.14 and  Ø = outside cable diameter

            inside cross-sectional conduit area = π (Ø/2)2    where Ø = inside conduit diameter

Conduit bends must also be factored in and directly affect conduit capacity.  A derating factor of 15% should be included for each bend to ensure that pulling tension is not significantly affected.  As a result, a conduit run with a 40% fill and 3 bends would be limited to a calculated capacity of:

 100%-15%-15%-15%= 55% ;  40% fill x 55% capacity = 22% available fill ratio

Using a trade size 3/4 (metric designator 21) for this conduit example, 2 category 6 UTP cables with a typical diameter of 0.25 in. (6.35mm) could be placed in the conduit.  A category 6A UTP cable, with a diameter of 0.35 in. (9.0mm) would decrease conduit fill to a single cable.

An average 50 ft. (15.2m) run 3/4 EMT conduit including labor and wood bores, 3 bends and a national average labor rate of $33.86 per hour, would cost  $903.63. Pricing is based on the Craftsman National Estimator. To accommodate two larger diameter category 6A UTP cables, one would need to increase the trade size to 1.0 in. (25mm) conduit.  The cost for labor and materials in a 1.0 in. (25mm) trade size is $1163.62 for the same 50 ft (15.2m) run.  The increase in conduit diameter and labor is not needed for augmented category 6 F/UTP.  These figures do not include cabling or connectivity, but rather the conduit only.  In short, for each work area, an incremental cost of $259.99 is necessary to accommodate the increased diameter of a category 6A UTP cabling channel in the pathway.  An average network has 1000 drops, increasing construction costs by $259,990.00.  Again, this does not include cabling and connectivity.

Including cabling and connectivity materials for the same 50 ft. (15.2m) runs (based on 2 drops per work area, average plenum cable pricing, full retail) the following chart shows the savings based on a 1000 node network with two drops per work area location.  Channel pricing includes the patch panel, work area outlet, installation/termination labor and a 3-meter patch cord at each end.

Cabling / Connectivity Installation

Conduit Installation

Total Per Channel

Total for 1000 Drops

Category 6A UTP

 $          285.68

 $       1,163.82

 $       1,449.50

 $ 1,449,500.00

Category 6A F/UTP

 $          356.34

 $          903.63

 $       1,259.97

 $ 1,259,970.00

Category 7 / Class F

 $          468.96

 $       1,163.82

 $       1,632.78

 $ 1,632,780.00

Table 1: 50 ft. (15.2m) channels

It is clear to see that pathways and spaces become a significant factor in overall infrastructure cost.  Category 6A F/UTP provides a project savings of $169,010.00 over its UTP counterpart.  Note:  Plenum cable may not be required if the cabling is encased in conduit.  Consult local codes for requirements.  While the total dollars may change due to non-plenum pricing, this would translate to all channels, not the pathways.  It is also clear to see that category 7/class F is roughly equal to that of category 6A when pathways are considered.  However category 7/class F systems provide an application upgrade path beyond 10Gb/s.

In areas where conduit is not used and pathways consist of cable tray, ladder rack and/or J-hooks, the same level of increase in pathway space should be factored into overall installation costs.  Cable tray is typically recommended to have a 50% fill ratio and ladder rack size is based on cable diameter and weight with specs varying by manufacturer.  The same applies to J-hooks.  Beyond facility spaces, the capacity of existing wire management in racks may need to be increased as well.

Another benefit to category 7/class F systems such as Siemon’s TERA® is the ability to run multiple applications over the same channel, commonly referred to as cable sharing.  Two TERA channels can provide a 4-pair high-speed application and any combination of 1 and 2-pair applications from the chart below. Cable sharing is facilitated by 1 and 2-pair patch cords (not to be confused with splitting pairs behind the faceplate into separate outlets).  This ability further maximizes pathway space by combining multiple applications over a single 4-pair cable, versus running individual 4-pair cables for each application.

Gigabit Applications (4-pair)

10/100 Applications  (2-pair)

1-Pair Applications

Gigabit PC

Workstation

Phone (analog voice)

Gigabit Switch port

Print server

Video Camera (CCTV)

Wireless Access point

VoIP phone

Network Printer

IP Camera

Monitoring Phone

Blade Server Port

Network Jack/Intellijack

A Word About Grounding

While the cost savings presented by a screened or fully shielded system may be significant, the prospect of installing a system that needs additional grounding steps may cause some concern in markets where UTP cable is the primary media.    In the old IBM Type-1 cabling days, many systems were ungrounded, improperly grounded or grounded to different points within a network.  Today, the old mysteries surrounding grounding are solved.  Newer shielded and screened connectors automatically terminate the cable shield during termination, without additional steps.  The connectors are then snapped into a patch panel where they make contact with an integral grounding bar. There is a single grounding lug connection on the back of the patch panel that terminates to the Telecommunications Grounding Busbar (TGB) that should already exist.

Most of the newer active electronics require both chassis and electrical grounds.  Ladder rack, cable tray and other components are also required to be connected to a ground/bond.

Today, standards exist (ANSI-J-STD- 607) for grounding and with newer connectivity self-terminating the ground from many outlets to a single point, the costs and complexity of grounding these systems is greatly reduced. 

Screened and shielded systems may not be as foreign as people think. If you look at your active electronics, they are all shielded.  The shield that surrounds each port on a switch, router or network interface card is there because the active electronics manufacturers have known for years that grounding decreases complexity and noise related issues in their components.  Apprehensions of the past should be eliminated.

Summary

Regardless of your labor rates or which standards you follow, screened and fully shielded systems can provide a significant cost benefit while allowing increased bandwidth and application speeds.  In any system, the cabling is a minor portion of the overall network.  Increased pathway and space cost, along with mitigation costs for existing category 6 systems can negate any savings realized on cabling components .  The additional pathway spaces can cause a category 6A UTP system to be more expensive than category 6A F/UTP systems. Retrofit situations will benefit most from a screened category 6A system due to the smaller cable diameter.

Grounding/bonding/earthing is a very easy task when done properly and is really just an additional connection to a grounding system that should already exist.  Selection of your cabling system, of course, will depend on your preferences, but bear in mind, the goal is to have a system that will function for 10-20 years depending on your network needs, and every time the systems are revisited, the total cost of ownership increases, in particular where labor is added and re-added. 

Consisting of 10G 6A UTP and F/UTP solutions, as well as Category 7/Class F TERA (S/FTP), Siemon's 10G ip family of copper cabling products represents the most comprehensive line of end-to end 10Gb/s capable solutions available.  The entire Siemon 10G ip line meets or exceeds all requirements under the pending 10GBASE-T standards, including alien crosstalk. For a complete description of all systems, please visit www.siemon.com. 

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Business Magazine June 2006 issue

www.cablingbusiness.com

Interactive Intelligence Releases Enhanced Multi-Site Call Routing Software

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), a global developer of business communications software, has made available a new version of its multi-site call routing software, Interaction Director®, which adds “generic object routing” to enable distributed contact centers and enterprises to more effectively route and process virtually any type of work task -- from customer service trouble tickets and loan applications, to catalog orders and address updates.

“The latest version of Interaction Director marks a breakthrough by extending network-based, multi-site call routing to nearly any type of work request imaginable,” said Ken Landoline, senior analyst for Yankee Group, a leading IT research advisory and consulting services firm. “This unique generic object routing across sites is yet another step in the trend we’re seeing toward the increasing interest in remote agent support, the blending of internal and external workforces, and overall multi-site performance optimization.”

Interactive Intelligence customers with distributed operations were key drivers in the decision to add generic object routing, according to the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Joseph A. Staples.

“We already had a large number of customers using our contact center automation software’s remote agent and supervisory features, so based on their feedback, the logical next step for us was to create even more effective add-on options for the virtual contact center,” Staples said.

Interaction Director was first released in 1999 as a network-based pre- and post-call routing product designed to work with the company’s contact center automation software, Customer Interaction Center® (CIC). Interaction Director helps organizations improve operational efficiencies by more evenly distributing calls across sites based on real-time information, such as agent availability, skill-sets, and other pre-configured rules. This includes the ability to route faxes, e-mails, and other multimedia interactions from ACD queues across multiple sites and groups.

“We developed Interaction Director as an alternative to competing products with distributed architectures that proved difficult to manage, as well as products offered as part of vendor acquisitions that have typically led to costly and complex integration projects,” Staples said. “Because it shares a common architecture with CIC, including a single administrative interface, Interaction Director minimizes hardware requirements and simplifies management, thus resulting in a lower total cost of ownership.”

The latest version of Interaction Director was released last month and is available through the Interactive Intelligence global value-added reseller channel, as well as the company’s direct sales force.  http://www.inin.com.

Rexel Veteran Duke Tackles New Initiative

Mark Duke, who has worked in four other positions over nine years at Rexel’s U.S. headquarters in Dallas, was named recently to the newly created position of Director of Pricing.

Duke’s responsibilities now include developing and maintaining competitive pricing strategies for all products sold by Rexel’s more than 280 U.S. locations.

Most recently, Duke was Corporate Vendor Program Manager for Rexel. Previously, he served as Inventory Asset Manager, Buyer, and E3 Divisional Coordinator.

“Mark’s previous Rexel experience provides him with a solid foundation from which he can take on this important new initiative,” said John Kudlacek, vice president of marketing and pricing. 

About Rexel
Rexel Inc. (www.rexelusa.com) is a unit of Paris-based Rexel SA, the world’s largest electrical/datacom distributor. With more than 4,400 employees operating out of 280 branch locations in the U.S. and Bermuda, U.S. sales of Rexel and a recently acquired company were more than $2.75 billion in 2005.

Rexel SA operates out of nearly 1,700 locations in 24 countries. With more than 21,000 employees, the company as currently constituted had more than $9.1 billion in 2005 sales.  

Take Charge Of Change – NECA 2006

NECA 2006 – BOSTON, OCTOBER 7-10, 2006    This is a MUST ATTEND Event.

Electrical and communication professionals are responding to a dramatic shift moving through the entire electrical construction industry. How will it affect your workforce, your project management, your product specifications, and your bottom line?

NECA 2006 Boston will deliver the power tools electrical contractors need to take charge of change. The event features the opportunities, workshops, and peer-to-peer exchanges that over 3,000 electrical professionals rely on – from the excitement of the Convention Opening Session, to the state-of-the-art products on display at the NECA Show, to the exciting new technical sessions on IBS and lighting. It’s all in Boston, October 7-10.  www.necaconvention.org

The NECA Show has grown into the premier expo for the electrical, power, and cabling industry. At the NECA Show, contractors can view the latest innovations in tools, system controls, software, vehicles and services that can help them run their businesses successfully.

The NECA Show is the once-a-year opportunity for large and small electrical contractors to meet the manufacturers, utilities, inventors, distributors, consultants and engineers that make their companies work.

You can count on NECA to connect you with the products and services you need to make your company work. When Hurricane Katrina cancelled the 2005 NECA Show in New Orleans, Show exhibitors and organizers vowed to make the 2006 Show bigger and better than ever. Take advantage of the amazing exposition they have put together just for you!

Boston is part history lesson, part modern metropolis – a city that’s famous for everything from the curse-breaking Red Sox and Paul Revere to Cheers and "chowdah." The reasons why the Bay State capital is a top destination for conventioneers and tourists alike are too many to list; but with NECA coming to town, Boston is the place electrical contractors want to be, October 7-10!

Download the NECA Convention Brochure PDF

This is a MUST ATTEND Event

AT&T Joins CABA Board Of Directors

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) today announced that AT&T has joined its Board of Directors. CABA is a trade association that promotes advanced technologies for integrated systems and the automation of homes and buildings.

“I am pleased to welcome AT&T to CABA’s Board of Directors,” stated Ronald J. Zimmer, CABA President & CEO. “With the firm’s addition, CABA continues its long tradition of representation from the telecommunications sector.”

Jonathan Cowper, an Associate Director of Customer Knowledge in AT&T’s Consumer Marketing organization will represent AT&T on CABA’s Board and will become inaugural Chair of the new Internet Home Alliance Research Council.

Cowper’s current responsibilities at AT&T include the management of a direct customer feedback system and development of strategic direction in the consumer market.

His previous responsibilities at AT&T included a number of marketing and sales management positions, including regional sales manager, product manager, and a regional manager for sales support. Cowper also served as a performance consultant for the company's international operations in South Africa.

Prior to joining AT&T, Cowper was a Territorial Management Trainee for Sears Roebuck and Company in Oklahoma City. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from the University of Oklahoma.

“I am extremely honored to join CABA’s prestigious board,” said Cowper. “AT&T is enthusiastic about strengthening our relationship with CABA and look forward to a long and mutually-rewarding relationship.”

About CABA
CABA is the only industry association to offer industry intelligence to stakeholders in all areas of home & building automation. CABA's resources cover areas such as HVAC, lighting, security, A/V, communications technologies, energy management and controls. A number of resources are available through the association including iHomes & Buildings magazine, CABA's Summits and Conferences, CABA's monthly eBulletin, Information Series reports, Event Reports and the CABA web site. Please visit www.caba.org for further information.

Fiber Advances

While copper may still rule in most office environments, real-life fiber advances can be found everywhere: from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to FTTx and the new-age home.

By Luigi Benetton

Will fiber ever go mainstream? The answer to that question depends on whom you ask. Fiber vendors say that as long as bandwidth needs continue to rise and equipment costs continue to fall, fiber optic cable will eventually replace copper.

Meanwhile, many analysts and copper vendors continue to chant the same mantras -- it costs more, it is more delicate, it is only justifiable where copper will not suffice.

In terms of this ongoing debate, 2006 will prove to be a more important year than most, since the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is to complete the Augmented Cat 6 standard for 10 Gbps copper in July.

Although several manufacturers already sell 10GBase-T equipment, market penetration thus far is not substantial, according to Thomas Scheibe, manager, product management TMG for Cisco Systems Inc.

When comparing shipments of 10G and 1G port shipments, Scheibe notes: "The 10G market is still in its early growth phase," although he cites "very healthy 10G growth numbers for the last couple years."

While fiber may not currently be mainstream in the eyes of all observers, it is certainly cross-river and inter-country.

Fiber links the U.S.-Canadian border control plazas of the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, which spans the Niagara River. The fiber path delivers security, video surveillance, toll facility, and traffic systems data from the bridge to a new operations center in Lewiston, N.Y.

Common arguments drove the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) to choose fiber over copper- better security, lower cost over the 10,000-foot deployment, and greater bandwidth to handle video surveillance and other data needs.

What makes this project notable is that it is the first international border crossing to deploy Air-Blown Fiber (ABF). NFBC brought in the FutureFlex ABF system from Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corp., a provider of optical fiber products, to reduce future time and labour costs, achieve what Sumitomo calls "bandwidth on demand", and optimize fast response and transmission rates necessary for crisis management.

Compressed nitrogen used

To install ABF, crews first place empty tube cable, then use compressed nitrogen to blow fiber through the cables at speeds of up to 150 feet per minute.

Kurt Templeman, Sumitomo product manager for ABF Enterprise Networks, recalls the initial 7,000-foot bridge "blow" taking less than 80 minutes, once the tube cable was installed.

Dark fiber didn't figure in this project. Should NFBC need more bandwidth in the future, two installers can blow old fiber out of the tube cable (NFBC can reuse this fiber elsewhere, if it so chooses) and blow in newer fiber.

Also, extra empty tubes within the cable can accept more fiber when needed. Upgrades and moves, adds and changes (MACs) are forecast to be much less expensive than if NFBC installed traditional fiber, primarily because they require no construction permits and a fraction of the time and labour. Adding or replacing conventional pulled cable would disrupt traffic on the 4th busiest commercial border crossing between Canada and the United States.

Templeman claims that when customers add forecasted upgrade savings to the initial installation cost, ABF is 97% more cost effective than traditional cabling per network upgrade or MAC.

In use for over 15 years, ABF has grown in popularity in the past few years wherever network designers stipulate that LANs be readier to adopt emerging bandwidth-rich technologies.

The Niagara project showcases fiber in its emerging role as LAN infrastructure. Roberta Fox, senior partner at Mount Albert, Ont. information technology and telecommunications consultancy Fox Group Consulting, followed more conventional thinking when she specified Cat 6 to the desktop at her new head office.

Relative to copper, Fox cites a higher skill level needed to install fiber and its more delicate nature.

Fox had fiber run between buildings on her campus, since "our entire campus will be Ethernet based, using VoIP and other IP-based applications all running on Ethernet over fiber."

Richard Perron, product manager for fiber at Belden CDT, a manufacturer of high-speed electronic cables, provides insight on Fox's views. "Historically, because of technology differences, the overall copper solution becomes less expensive than fiber, due to the cost of electronics," he writes in an e-mail.

"That overall cost will drive the customer decision, even though the difference in deployment cost is getting smaller and smaller."

NCR customer experiences are also similar to Fox's, according to Michael Zoellner, director of multi-vendor and networking for the Dayton, Ohio company’s worldwide customer services division.

Many of the clients of this provider of transaction systems and data warehouses still have not upgraded since they don't need the bandwidth. When it comes to NCR's retail market, Zoellner calls fiber "speed overkill.” Customers use it only in lengths over 300 feet, primarily in larger stores. "(Fiber) will eventually come," he says, "but not in the next five years."

David Knox, global project manager for NCR Site Prep Services, a division that includes a portfolio of cabling and site assessment services as well as power protection products, adds that the proposals that are coming across my desk from almost every spectrum out there are for wireless.

Citing client desire for fewer cables of any kind, he says four or five access points at 100 Mhz cover a large store's needs, including point-of-sale devices, as well as computers, scanners, printers, and other equipment.

FTTx is hot

Also, Knox notes a limiting factor for many customers: "Everyone's communicating over T1 circuits over the Internet. The most you're going to do is 1.4 Mbps.

"The biggest market is cable, where you get movies on demand. Now you're pushing some bandwidth."

Fiber's champions might agree. In March, Anaheim, Calif. hosted a major gathering of fiber's proponents, the OFC/NFOEC 2006.

William Graham, president of fiber optic cable installation and maintenance training firm Mississauga Training Consultants, returned from the show to report widespread talk of FTTx - Fiber to the Home/Premises/anywhere.

FTTx was the show's key buzz to Graham's ears. "Everybody had product for that," he says. Graham gathered books on the topic from major organizations like EXFO, ADC, and IEEE. "People want the bandwidth, and houses that have it are more saleable," he says, citing increasing numbers of telecommuters, home-based businesses, bandwidth-hungry games, rising numbers of online transactions, and the growing trend to bring different services -- television, telephone, Internet access -- into the home through one pipe.

Developments in voice-data-video (VDV) and the need for increased use of fiber in data centres should spur a sales growth of 5-10% this year, according to Frank Murawski, president of FTM Consulting Inc., a market research consultant firm that tracks trends in the structured cabling industry.

He does not see Cat 6 copper making headway in the 10Gbps cable market, since installers typically choose fiber for such speed.

"Copper has always dominated the market. Fiber cabling is expected to become the dominant cabling media for structured cabling system applications, such as data centres, campus and Fiber-to-the-Zone (FTTZ). In addition, fiber cabling will continue to be the dominant cabling used in riser cabling subsystems.


"VCSEL technology offers a low-cost alternative to more expensive regular laser light sources," adds Murawski, and the industry is moving from 62.5 micron to 50 micron laser optimized multimode fiber to accommodate VCSEL used in 1 Gb/s and 10 Gb/s applications.”

In a press release, the Fiber Optic Association (FOA) proclaims skyrocketing demand for FTTx, fiber-optic network installers, and the need for installer training.

To that end, the FOA has introduced a new certification program for Fiber To The Home/Premise (FTTx) technicians.

The aforementioned demand, according to the release, comes mainly from major phone companies, such as Bell Canada and others seeking to replace their current infrastructure with fiber to offer DSL speeds to compete with CATV.

CATV providers themselves are looking at fiber as their installed coax approaches the end of its useful life.

Hospitals are also noted adopters as the days of film x-rays give way to digital images, which are both large and high quality.

Helping to drive this demand are products that are easier to install (including pre-terminated cables), an increasing number of installers familiar with the product, and the availability of better installation and testing tools.

Like other optical technology promoters, Graham cites copper's distance limit of 90 metres as a limit, but in an office environment, that isn't necessarily a barrier.

Doug Coleman, manager of technology and standards for fiber optic telecommunications provider Corning Cable Systems, a division of Corning Inc., claims that innovative optical cabling architecture facilitates copper drops to the desktop.

Extending optical uplinks all the way to the switch in a telecommunications enclosure (TE) deeper into the horizontal space, network installers can then drop short lengths of copper to the desktop. Coleman claims that the overall TE solution price has been shown to be 40%t less than extending copper all the way to the desktop from the telecommunications room.

The upcoming Augmented Cat 6 standard, copper's latest push in the bandwidth demand race to 10GigE, may help such architectures flourish.

As with fiber optics, for which 10-Gig products hit the market in 2001, a year before the standard, 10Gbps copper is already available, even though the two groups finalizing standards for it will not finish their work until later this year.

The TIA, as mentioned, should have a new version of Cat 6 ready by the summer of 2006. At the same time, task force 802.3an, part of the IEEE 802.3 working group, is developing a protocol for 10-Gig Ethernet over augmented Cat 6.

As the standards are set, debate in the market continues. Copper's proponents point to Cat 6a as another reason to stick with copper, while those who push fiber deployment wonder if copper's known weaknesses, such as alien crosstalk, bulkier cables, reduced electronics, 10G port density, and high power requirements (15-20watts/channel), will continue to plague it in its Cat 6a incarnation.

"It's 23-guage, which makes for a thicker cable" than fiber, says Corning's Coleman, who also compares Cat 6a copper's foreseen latency at 3 microseconds to less than 10 nanoseconds for fiber. "Electronics are the bottleneck," he says, since latency restricts where network architects can deploy 10GBaseT.

As for the desktop PCs that house some of those electronics, their usage has long been recognized as below maximum.

For this reason, architects propose another solution that happens to bring fiber to the "desktop" more cost-efficiently. Organizations such as the U.S. federal government and large corporations are currently exploring utility computing configurations.

In utility computing, also known as computing on demand, all computers sit together in a central location. Input/output connections then sprout from the processing centre to keyboard-video-mouse setups at people's desks.

VDV set to push the limits

Organizations thus intend to leverage more of their investment in processing power by making each individual machine run closer to its capacity.

As a consequence, says Bill Schultz, vice president of marketing for hardware-based connectivity solutions provider Transition Networks of Minneapolis, Minn., "this central location would require fiber be used because in most organizations 100 meters would not be sufficient to reach all of the users."

By the same token, for traditional one-PC-to-desktop setups, Schultz opines that a mix of fiber and copper will continue to reign for the foreseeable future outside of applications requiring high bandwidth or stepped-up security.

As the tools people use on the job continue to evolve, their bandwidth needs may make Schultz reconsider his statement.

Kevin Paschal R&D manager, and David Hall, product manager at the fiber optics cable division of communications cable manufacturer Commscope Inc. identify VDV as the technology that will push the limits of today's networks.

Today's growing VDV and other bandwidth-hungry applications include: IP video cameras (currently replacing conventional video surveillance cameras); identification card readers; HVAC monitoring and control; and other status-monitoring devices ready to communicate over IP.

"The logical option is to add this traffic to existing networks, rather than maintain separate networks," they write. Prognostications? Both Paschal and Hall believe that "In the standard horizontal application, copper will remain the dominant player in the near term (next five years)."

Not everybody accepts this widely held belief, however. Consider the experience of one of Graham's clients in Thorold, Ont., who installed fiber throughout a pulp and paper mill in 1980.

"It was really expensive back then," Graham notes. "They were daring to do it, but it's met their needs for the last 26 years. It's still doing fine for them. They've saved one terrific pile of money."  www.cnsmagazine.com

Luigi Benetton is a Toronto-based freelance writer. He can be reached at Luigi@LuigiBenetton.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling networking Systems Magazine – May/June 2006

The Southeast Is Sizzling

The communications marketplace is energized.  We saw major signs of increased business throughout the SE beginning in April and reaching fever pitch during June.  Part of this increase may be due to the migration of people and businesses from other sections of the US.  We surveyed various contractors and distributors to confirm our finding of this business growth pattern.

Graybar, CSC, and Rexel reported similar surges in sales.  Michael Shannahan, Vice President of Communication Planning Corporation (a communications contractor based in Jacksonville FL), said “Due to increased demand and higher sales, we are increasing our capabilities.  We have added technicians, new vehicles, upgraded test equipment and for projects, the new Beast III Cabling System.”  Shannahan commented, “We’ve also added Fluke Networks DTX 1800 test equipment and a certification process.  Now, we are expanding our capabilities on the fiber optics cabling solutions with training by the Light Brigade.” 

Michelle Gilleo, VP Operation  - CPC, also added, “Our old-fashioned customer service is a powerful tool to capture and keep our customer base.  We treat our customers with TLC and we try to respond faster than the fire department.”  www.communicationplanning.com

Internet Home Alliance Research Council Research Documents

We are pleased to announce that the Internet Home Alliance (IHA) Research Council was officially launched on July 1, 2006. For more information, please go to: http://www.caba.org/iha/. CABA is also extremely pleased to announce that the following companies will be presented on the new IHA Research Council Advisory Board and have become new CABA members effective July 1, 2006: General Motors Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, and SupportSoft, Inc.

The following CABA members will also be represented on the IHA Research Council Advisory Board: AT&T, Bell Canada, Cisco Systems, Direct Energy (Centrica North America); Leviton Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Microsoft Corporation, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Whirlpool Corporation, and Visonic Americas.

Regular CABA members are able to access the following Internet Home Alliance executive summaries, research reports and projects as part of the CABA Information Series. Regular CABA members and non-members can purchase more current IHA research through the CABA eStore at the prices listed.

CABA continues to provide timely research and information on integrated systems and home/building automation. To that end, these twenty five (25) IHA research documents have recently been placed in the CABA Research Library at: http://www.caba.org/aboutus/public.html.

CABA Information Series: (Go to http://www.caba.org/iha/iha-docs.html to see the full report descriptions.)

IS-2006-69: Chairman's Roundtable: Sustaining Change Efforts

IS-2006-68: Chairman's Roundtable: Principals of Consumer Privacy

IS-2006-67: Chairman's Roundtable: From Next to Now

IS-2006-66: Chairman's Roundtable: Crossing the Zone of Discomfort

IS-2006-65: Chairman's Roundtable: Connected Home Taxonomy

IS-2006-64: Ecosystem Framework White Paper

IS-2006-63: State of the Connected Home Market: Entertainment

IS-2006-62: State of the Connected Home Market: Family

IS-2006-61: State of the Connected Home Market: Career

IS-2006-60: Mobile Worker IHA Research Pilot

IS-2006-59: Mealtime IHA Research Pilot

IS-2006-58: Energy Management IHA Research Pilot

IS-2006-57: Video Experience Point of Contact

IS-2006-56: Subsidized Media and Location Based Advertising Study

IS-2006-55: Safe, Secure and Comfortable Home

IS-2006-54: Personal Media Storage

IS-2006-53: Web-based Family Calendar User-interface

IS-2006-52: Mobile & Remote Worker Needs Assessment

IS-2006-51: iPTV Demand Study

IS-2006-50: Home Networking in a Box

IS-2006-49: Health & Wellness Web Portal Study

IS-2006-48: Health & Fitness Needs Assessment

IS-2006-47: Digital Entertainment Needs Assessment

IS-2006-46: Digital Entertainment Migration

IS-2006-45: Asset Management (RFID) Study

Does your organization have a research study or white paper, which should be posted in the CABA Research Library? If the answer is yes...or you know of a paper that CABA should pursue, please contact CABA at: caba@caba.org or 613.990.7407. You will earn $50 CABA Bucks for each research paper, document or white paper that are placed on the CABA Research Library. These CABA Bucks can be used to offset your membership, registration fees, or purchase other CABA goods/services. Join the CABA Information Council to earn additional CABA Bucks and to help build the CABA Research Library!

We are encouraging all CABA members and non-members to consider joining the new IHA Research Council. Please note that future research will involve MDU, SMB, and "large building" research. As you consider your decision, new CABA Board member Jonathan Cowper, of AT&T, has indicated that their organization has generated over $7 ROI for every $1 invested into IHA research!

If you have any questions, please contact Fred Bryson (bryson@caba.org, 613.993.7232; David Dern (dern@caba.org, 613.993.6760) or myself. We are holding the inaugural IHA Research Council Advisory Board meeting on July 13 and we hope you are part of this historic meeting!


Regards,

Ron Zimmer, President & CEO
Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA)
mailto:zimmer@caba.org
http://www.caba.org
P: 613.990.7408
F: 613.991.9990


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