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Wireville.com

Issue: July 2007
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

In the world of Communication Cabling Infrastructure, Education is has become a survival imperative. OJT (On the Job Training) used to be sufficient for cabling installers, but not anymore. Both copper and fiber optic cabling have become extremely craft intensive in order to maximize the value and performance of the installations. With high performance cabling designs, even small errors can really foul things up.

The changes in the cabling world have come at us faster than anyone expected. Yesterday’s rules may not be the best methods today. The cable manufacturers have some brand specific training available for their warranty programs and the makers of test equipment have cutting edge support programs and training for their equipment. There are also some excellent programs offered by specialized training firms for copper cabling or fiber optic cabling. Many associations also offer outstanding generic training programs for the design and implementation of cabling infrastructure for inside, outside, and wireless plant. We have found these training programs to be affordable and up-to date.

However affordable the above referenced training choices are, they pale in comparison to the communication industry’s publications. Virtually all of the industry publications are advertiser paid and are available at no charge to the readers. Many of the publications have the entire magazines online and a host of other values available like webinars. There is really no excuse for not staying current and educated in this rapidly changing industry.

Resources include but are not limited to:

CABLE

HCM Hitachi Cable www.hcm.hitachi.com

Berk-Tek Nexans www.berktek.com

General Cable www.generalcable.com

CommScope cable www.commscope.com

Superior Essex cable www.superioressex.com

Coleman cable www.coleman-cable.com

ADC cable www.adc.com

Corning www.corning.com

Optical Cable Corp www.occfiber.com

CONNECTORS

SMP Data www.smpdata.com

Ortronics www.ortronics.com

Leviton www.leviton.com

Panduit www.panduit.com

Siemon www.siemon.com

INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

ERICO www.erico.com

Snake Tray www.snaketray.com

Cooper B-Line www.cooperbline.com

Wiremold/Legrand www.wiremold.com

DYMO – Rhino Pro  www.rhinolabeling.com

Beast Cabling Systems www.beastcablingsystems.com

Unique Firestop Products www.uniquefirestop.com

Hellermann Tyton www.hellermann.tyton.com

Minuteman UPS www.minutemanups.com

Preformed Line Products www.preformed.com

TESTING

Fluke Networks www.flukenetworks.com

Ideal www.idealindustries.com

Fiber Instrument Sales www.fiberinstrumentsales.com

ByteBrothers www.bytebrothers.com

TRAINING

Light Brigade Fiber Optic Training (the #1 rated) www.lightbrigade.com

Fiber Optic Assn (FOA) www.thefoa.org

NAED Natl. Assn. of Electrical Distributors www.naed.org

CABA Continental Automated Buildings Assn. www.caba.org

NECA Natl. Electrical Contractors Assn www.necanet.org

NJATC Natl. Joint Apprentice Training Committee www.njatc.org

BICSI – Telecommunications Cabling Assn. www.bicsi.org

AFCOM – Data Center World www.afcom.com

PUBLICATIONS

Electrical Contractor Magazine www.ecmag.com

Cabling Business Magazine www.cablingbusiness.com

CNS (Cable Networking Systems) Magazine www.cnsmagazine.com

Communications News www.comnews.com

Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine www.cable-install.com

TED ( The Electrical Distributor) Magazine www.tedmag.com

Power Outlet Magazine www.rexelusa.com/power_outlet/power_outlet.aspx

Wireville.com (online only) www.wireville.com

Lightwave Magazine www.lightwaveonline.com

Education is essential. And…Safety is too important to ignore.

But that’s just my opinion,

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


Polymer Dynamix to Develop Non-Halogen Plenum Cable Compounds

Veerag Mehta announced that Polymer Dynamix has initiated a program to develop and produce non-halogen cable compounds to meet plenum cable requirements including the flame performance in the NFPA 262 cable fire and smoke test.  Through development of a proprietary flame retardant and synergist technology, Polymer Dynamix is preparing to launch the largest technological shift in this market in over 20 years.

According to the president for compound innovator Polymer Dynamix, the cable market is moving to more environmentally friendly solutions and current compounds for cable types like FT-6 are only available in halogenated forms.  The use of halogen cable compounds has limited the acceptance and availability of cable types meeting stringent plenum cable standards anywhere except in North America.  The hope is that the new compounds will not only provide an alternative to fluorinated and chlorinated compounds used by North American cable manufacturers, but also open up a new market for plenum cable across other continents.

While the project is still in its infancy, Mehta noted that a long standing debate over minimum flame requirements for plenum cable within the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has stymied development of new plenum cable compound technology for more than 10 years.  “It is time that new compounds targeted to environmentally friendly standards and the reduction of incapacitation factor during fires are developed and provided as alternatives for markets where current plenum cable compounds are precluded.”

Polymer Dynamix is a plastics technology company specializing in development and commercialization of innovative materials.  Core competencies include flame retardant compounds, conductive and static dissipative compounds, high strength/wear and surface property modification. For more information, please visit the website at www.polymerdynamix.com. Polymer Dynamix... formulations that free your imagination.


HCM Working To Protect The Environment & Preserve Natural Resources

Since 1986, HCM has been manufacturing cable products at our Manchester, NH facility.  And before the very first reel of cable rolled off the manufacturing floor, HCM’s goal, like that of its parent company HITACHI, has always been to make not only the best products, but to contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way. Through charitable donations, community involvement and employee empowerment, HCM has taken steps to not only be a leader in its market, but to be an example of how a company can grow in harmony with its community and the environment. Although many of the products that HCM manufactures have changed over the years, our commitment to be a steward of the environment has not. 

Environmentally friendly products.

Though HCM does not manufacture any hazardous products, recent discoveries regarding the breakdown of landfill waste has brought attention to a number of substances used in the manufacture of cable that, over time, can contaminate ground water.  Other everyday electrical products, such as blenders, computers, hair dryers, etc. can also contribute to contaminating ground water when discarded in a landfill.  So, in September of 2005, HCM adopted the RoHS guidelines in manufacturing all of its cable products.  RoHS, short for Restriction of Hazardous Substances is a European environmental directive that was instituted in July of 2006.  The directive, know technically as 2002/95/EC, restricts the use of certain substances including lead, mercury and cadmium.  The restricted substances were found to be very harmful to the environment and would contaminate soil and groundwater when disposed of in a landfill.  HCM took it upon itself to become compliant to the directive well in advance of the European deadline.   

Water is a precious resource.

HCM utilizes over 35,000 gallons of water a month in the cooling of products and equipment.  Virtually all of that water is recycled.  HCM utilizes a closed-loop system that feeds water to equipment.  The equipment raises the water temperature.  When the water leaves the manufacturing line, it is sent to a cooling tank located outside the facility.  Once the water cools, it is drawn back into the system, filtered and re-used. Only water that is lost to evaporation is replaced with water from the local water supply.

Cutting electrical use.

Regarding electrical use, HCM recently replaced over 300 light fixtures throughout our 300,000 square foot facility with high efficiency florescent lighting. By replacing all the light fixtures, HCM was able to reduce overall energy consumption by 11%.    Also, the light bulbs in these new fixtures contain 75% less mercury than the previous bulbs, making them less harmful to the environment when they are disposed of.  Many of these lights also operate on motion detection sensors.  So, aisles in the warehouse are not lit unless someone enters an aisle and triggers a motion sensor.  To add additional light, there are 90 skylights spread through the manufacturing and warehouse areas.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle…

HCM is recognized in New Hampshire as a Small Quantity Generator.  This status indicates that the entire facility generates less than 220 lbs of non-recyclable trash a month.  That is less trash than the average American family generates in a month.  This is an outstanding achievement for a 300,000 square foot manufacturing facility that employs over 160 people and operates three shifts.

HCM recycles 100% its cardboard waste and 100% of its office paper waste.  During an average month, HCM recycles nearly 14,000 pounds of cardboard and 2,000 pounds of office paper.

Even hazardous chemical waste is recycled.  Methyl Ethyl Ketone, used for color striping on a handful of products is recycled to be used a fuel.  However, to reduce the amount of MEK used, HCM has been converting to water based inks.  In the last year, HCM has reduced the amount of MEK used by 54% to approximately 62 pounds a month.

HCM also recycles all wood pallets (400 a month) and reels both plastic and wood.  We also purchase products based upon the content of recycled material they contain.  For example, our boxed cable products, which we sold over 600,000 of in 2006, use a box which contains a minimum of 50% recycled cardboard.

So, as you can see, HCM has been paying attention to how its facility and its employees impact the environment.  And, as technology permits even greater reductions in waste and environmental impact, HCM will be there to ensure that we truly are a steward of the environment.  www.hcm.hitachi.com


Chicago: No Olympics Without Solid Network Infrastructure  Published on 6/20/2007

With Chicago trying to add the Olympics to its list of great accomplishments, the city better include updating its network infrastructure and move beyond just a third-party Wi-Fi agreement.

The “city that networks” has to look beyond national Wi-Fi comparisons and into the real competition of global cities that have significant investments in fiber.

Word of Caution: Wi-Fi Projects Are Failing

Anyone thinking that third-party Wi-Fi is the ultimate answer is fooling themselves. There is no getting around the issue that a network infrastructure is a big capital investment that can provide great results if implemented correctly.

Initial hype that Wi-Fi is a cheap way to go is getting replaced by excuses when network topologies don’t provide what was hyped. In a recent article, the argument was that they are overhyped as universal solutions.

“They are the monorails of this decade: the wrong technology, totally over promised and completely undelivered,” said Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute for the Future.

Municipal Wi-Fi projects use the same technology behind wireless access in coffee shops, airports and home networks.

Many cities and vendors underestimated the number of wireless antennas needed. MobilePro’s Kite Networks wound up tripling the access points in Tempe, Ariz. by adding roughly $1 million or more than doubling its costs.

“The industry is really in its infancy. What works on paper doesn’t work that same way once you get into the real world,” said Kite COE Jerry Sullivan.

One blog put it succinctly:

Communities need to regard telecom as essential public infrastructure that’s critical to community and economic development. That well-designed community infrastructure includes both wireless access and fiber to every home and business.

With the right business and financial planning, such systems can pay for themselves and provide new revenue streams to local government while lowering the cost of telecom services. Everybody wins.

In past columns, I have made the argument that we are supporting a stagecoach-era network infrastructure that doesn’t provide what we need to compete globally. While some have agreed with me, many still don’t see the light. Having a Wi-Fi network in place will not suffice.

The following is from Technology Futures. I couldn’t have said it any better.

Wi-Fi is expensive if you truly want total coverage. Many Wi-Fi projects underestimate the number of access points that are needed. This is something that is causing problems with the much-touted Philadelphia Wi-Fi effort.

Some contractors and vendors may be underestimating the number of access points to keep costs lower. It is important to be realistic during the planning stages about what a community can do.

Wi-Fi is not a business-class solution. Few businesses of any size are willing to run their business on a Wi-Fi connection. While it may be OK for small, one- or two-person businesses, most businesses want a more secure and reliable wired connection.

Wi-Fi has reliability problems. Even if you are in range of an access point, foliage on trees, building walls, rain, snow and other access points can degrade the signal. Because Wi-Fi is an unlicensed service, anyone can run an access point.

All those home wireless routers can cause interference and slow down other access points. Wi-Fi – even the newer “G” and “N” services – can’t handle video very well.

This limits the potential of such a service to be financially viable. A municipal broadband system has to have a solid business model that is financially sustainable. That means being able to carry business and residential video services.

No one seems to be talking about making a real investment in network infrastructure. This would include a significant fiber-optic network. That is what it’s going to take in addition to all the other upgrades Chicago is talking about.

While it’s great to hear about new harbors being built, that is only one part of the total infrastructure. The part of the city’s infrastructure that really needs some heavy investment is its network infrastructure. How can I get that point across?

If we look at sports comparisons, maybe more people would get it.

Anything less than having 1 Gbps as a goal for 2011 would be like saying the Bears will try to win 10 percent of their games next season, the White Sox will show up for every home game this season or the Cubs will definitely serve hot dogs at home games.

Do these sound like lame goals to all you sports fanatics? That’s how bad lame objectives for network infrastructure sound to those of us who truly understand where we have to be in a global market.

Top 10 Cities: Forget the Midwest

In a new study, the top 10 digital cities were recently ranked according to the following criteria: broadband speed, cost and availability; wireless Internet access; technology adoption; government support for technology; education and technology culture; and future potential.

If Chicago is to compete globally, it needs a world-class network infrastructure. What it has now isn’t even close. These are the top 10 digital cities according to the article:

  1. Seoul
  2. Singapore
  3. Tokyo
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Stockholm
  6. San Francisco and Silicon Valley
  7. Tallinn
  8. New York
  9. Beijing
  10. New Songdo City

Stockholm, San Francisco and Silicon Valley lack the affordability of fast broadband in Asian cities but enjoy high levels of education and a culture in favor of technology. In New York, access to wireless hot spots is also exceedingly good.

Where are Midwest cities on the list? They’re not there.

When you look at what subscribers receive in other cities, our network services don’t come close. All the rhetoric by network carriers, local politicians and lobbyists doesn’t get us any closer to the current speeds others use in countries like Japan, Korea and some cities in China.

The Cost of Network Services

In Hong Kong – where broadband exists in 73 percent of households – the price is $40 a month. That is pretty reasonable.

Very few people know that Japan had nearly 8 million fiber-to-the-home broadband subscribers by the end of 2006. According to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, 75 percent of Japanese residents have the benefit of a full 100 Mbps fiber-optic broadband at $30 a month. That’s 100 Mbps.

The closest comparison would be Fort Wayne, Ind., which has 128,000 subscribers with fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP). They get 50 Mbps to the house. What does Chicago have? What does Milwaukee have? What does Detroit have? What do these cities think they need in order to compete globally?

Look at the speeds offered in current packages.

Anyone touting DSL as sufficient broadband doesn’t know what they are talking about. Maybe that is the problem in the Midwest. Too many people have bought off on phony definitions of what broadband connectivity is when it’s not even close to reality on the global scale. The article goes on to say:

Sixty-five percent of Singaporean households have broadband. In Dec. 2006, the Singapore government said it would roll out free wireless broadband across the island. More than 400,000 Singaporeans already have registered for the service.

The government also plans to deliver wired broadband speeds of up 1 Gbps by 2012.

Declining Infrastructure Equals Declining Stature

Unless we have some objective that matches or exceeds 1 Gbps, we are woefully behind. Broadband connectivity should be defined as 1 Gbps. Period. Anything less than that as a goal for the near future is obsolete.

There are new applications that we are not even thinking about in the Midwest. What we consider to be “embryonic technology” – or technology that hasn’t even been proven in the market – is clearly accepted technology in the top 10 digital cities. We see this in the same article:

Digital mobile TV broadcasting or “digital multimedia broadcasting” was launched in South Korea in 2005. Nearly 2 million Koreans now use the service to watch TV on their phones while riding trains and buses.

In speaking about South Korea, the latest ratings are a wake-up call, according to this article from Great Britain:

Based on broadband penetration, South Korea is by far the world’s top broadband user with nearly 90 percent of households online. Several small, economically vibrant and densely populated states are also high on the list such as Hong Kong, Monaco and Macau.

The U.S. – with broadband penetration at just under 53 percent – is No. 24.

Penetration in China, meanwhile, is 14.35 percent. In India, which is often mentioned in the same breath as China in discussions of emerging markets, broadband penetration stands at just 1.15 percent of the country’s estimated 200 million households.

The U.S. has now dropped to No. 24 in broadband penetration as compared to other countries. This shows that many decision makers and their technical advisors don’t understand what it takes to be world class in this arena.

They are kidding themselves when it comes to buying off on over-hyped municipal solutions that are touted by those who aren’t network infrastructure experts. They are succumbing to lobbyists who want to protect touch-tone in the era of the iPhone.

Carlinism: Slogans and hype are no substitute for real network infrastructure.


James Carlini will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Mason’s Martini & Grill in East Dundee, Ill. on June 27. He will address East Dundee development and the three major concerns facing regional sustainability in Illinois: network infrastructure, job erosion and education. The luncheon starts at 11:30 a.m. Reservations can be made by calling 847-426-8565. Advance registration is $10 per person or $15 at the door.

Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


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


Graybar Awarded DLA Prime Vendor Contract

Graybar, a leading distributor of communications and electrical products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has announced it has been awarded a one-year contract renewal with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) valued at an estimated $74 million.  The U.S. Department of Defense made the announcement May 16. 

Under the Prime Vendor Contract, Graybar provides maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) supplies and related services to the U.S. Military and federal civilian agencies in the DLA Southwest Region — Zone 1, which includes Nevada and California.  This is the first DLA contract renewal for Graybar this year.

Graybar was one of seven companies that originally competed for the contract and was the incumbent contract holder for this region.  Graybar has been serving the DLA Southwest Region — Zone 1 since 1998.

“We have been providing first-class service and support to our DLA customers in the Southwest region for nearly ten years and look forward to continuing to do so,” commented John Mansfield, vice president-corporate accounts, Graybar.  “The longevity of this relationship is a true testament to our dedication to working to our customer’s advantage.”  

In addition to its DLA contracts, Graybar holds contracts with the General Services Administration (GSA) and U.S. Communities through which government buyers can purchase products and distribution services from Graybar.

About Graybar

Graybar, a Fortune 500 corporation and one of the largest employee-owned companies in North America, is a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical, telecommunications and networking products, and specializes in related supply chain management and logistics services.  Through its network of more than 250 North American distribution facilities, it stocks and sells products from thousands of manufacturers, serving as the vital link to hundreds of thousands of customers.  For more information, visit http://graybar.com/


BICSI Fall Conference To Be Held In Las Vegas At The MGM Grand

Information transport systems designers and installers from around the globe will be converging in Las Vegas for the upcoming 2007 BICSI Fall Conference being held September 10-13 at the MGM Grand. This conference promises to offer attendees an unrivaled educational line-up of interactive seminars, presentations, courses and state-of-the-art exhibits. The featured keynote speakers for the event are Stedman Graham and comedienne Rita Rudner. Advance your education, your success and your fun all in one place. Find out more details about the conference at www.bicsi.org.


Circa Telecom Evolves Through Strategic Growth And Branding

Circa Telecom is pleased to announce the promotion of Mark Stephenson to Sales Manager of its Inside Sales and CirPlus departments.  Mark previously represented Circa in Outside Sales for the Southeastern U.S. and has been an integral part of a series of recent internal systems enhancements.

New Faces, New Look:  In a concentrated effort to achieve greater consistency and reliability, Circa Telecom hired two additional sales and marketing support positions.  Anne Westley joined the company in February this year to fulfill the role of Executive Assistant.  In the same month, Stephanie Griffin was hired as Marketing Coordinator to spearhead the company’s strategic initiatives.

“Circa Telecom is experiencing unprecedented staff development and branding success”, says Benjamin Biggs, Director of Sales and Marketing.  “We look forward to more people taking notice of Circa Telecom’s efforts to educate consumers and raise the quality and value of the products we produce”.

A branding renaissance has occurred for Circa Telecom.  A cohesive identity is reinforced with the introduction of new marketing and sales literature as well circatelecom.com, their new website.  Future conference and trade show appearances promise to bring more enhancements and new product introductions. http://www.circatelecom.com/intro_blue.html


TIA Urges FCC To Find Balance Between Connectivity Ad Network Management

Consumers should have the right to connect to the Internet and enjoy the content, services and devices of their choice, the Telecommunications Industry Association told the Federal Communications Commission today in a filing in response to the FCC’s Broadband Industry Practices Notice of Inquiry (NOI).

The FCC can protect consumers’ connection rights, a principle goal of the NOI, while preserving network service providers’ ability to provide enriched and robust services. In a rapidly converging communications environment, in which ever more data-rich services are demanded at ever higher speeds, carriers must be able to manage the increased data flow nimbly and effectively. “A competitive broadband market in the United States has thrived partly as a result of the light-touch regulatory approach the Commission has taken” on this kind of issue, the filing said.

TIA believes several core principles, such as full disclosure of providers’ broadband plans and unfettered choice of applications over any network, are enough to ensure consumers’ rights without taking a noble goal to a pernicious end by disallowing packet management and competitive pricing. Such onerous regulation would surely diminish quality of service and investment in our nation’s next-generation network.

About TIA
The Telecommunications Industry Association is the leading trade association in Washington, D.C., for the information, communications and entertainment technology industry. TIA serves suppliers to global markets through its leadership in standards development, domestic and international policy advocacy, and facilitating member business opportunities such as the co-owned NXTcomm. TIA represents the communications sector of the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA). www.tiaonline.org


Hiring Practices: More Talent Often On The Street Than At Many Companies

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


CHICAGO – This is one reason why Johnny can’t find a job.

If you thought some of the CEOs caught up in the scandals of WorldCom, Enron and Tyco were heartless and greedy, watch this video by the immigration attorneys at Cohen & Grigsby:

The people on this video make those CEOs look like saints. They have no regard for people trying to make a living to support their families.

Think about all the average Joes and Janes out there in the last couple years who haven’t been able to find a good job in IT, finance and many other disciplines. They had skills, a degree or two and had all the experience and certifications required by many companies.

They were told they were overqualified. They were told they weren’t right for the job.

They were told they weren’t experienced in a certain area along with many other lame HR excuses that told them something wasn’t right. Still, they couldn’t prove that their concerns were valid. This left many people concerned about their future and their financial security.

One person said this after viewing the video: “I’ve wondered about this phenomenon (not getting a response) and now I know the reason why.”

So many people have taken lesser-paying jobs in the last several years because the doors were systematically closed on them by some who thought “cheaper was better”. I highlighted this in several columns going back to 2002 when I wrote this:

“Hire cheap or hire well. What happens at your company, time will tell.”

Someone who takes a job that [doesn’t pay a lot] is just using it as a temporary desk and phone to arrange their next position. Someone who is paid well is going to work well. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

The people on the video have to rate very high on the “sell your brother out to make a buck” scale. This is discrimination on a massive scale. Phony ads in the newspaper when there really are no jobs? Disqualifying people because they are “overqualified” is just corporate talk for “too expensive”.

Bring in qualified people and go through the motions to interview them so you can justify hiring a non-citizen by claiming there were no qualified applicants who are citizens. This is just one trick these people have suggested and companies have implemented in order to bring in cheaper labor.

Any HR person who follows this doctrine has absolutely no integrity. Still, they probably did it in order to keep their own job. A friend of mine once said: “This business has gotten so bad that it has gone from dog eat dog to rat eat rat.”

While Lou Dobbs weighed in on this, it should be played as much as Paris Hilton getting out of jail. Where is the outrage? Where are the unions?

What Has All This Brought About?

With some letters from senators going to the U.S. Department of Labor, the department says they are going to look into this. Perhaps we should take the people in the department and let them find new jobs because they haven’t done anything on this issue.

Perhaps the best way they could understand the plight of these Americans would be to be laid off themselves. They’d have to look for a job and they’d be told they have no skills by one company and then another would say they’re “overqualified”.

Think about the frustration people have gone through. Some are still going through it. I know of several people who sent hundreds of resumes into companies and didn’t even get one response. I sent the link to this video to them.

Perhaps just getting their resumes was justification enough for the company to claim they had ample interest from American citizens who they deemed unqualified or “overqualified” so they could hire a cheaper foreign worker. One person called after watching and said he felt he wasted days trying to send resumes that were just going into the garbage.

“Best practices” aren’t found in bureaucracies.

The best workers are not always found halfway around the world. While unemployment rates may be at 4.5 percent, underemployment rates are very high. As no one tracks that, we can only estimate. It is a real issue as many in the Midwest still suffer from job losses that happened four to five years ago.

The long-term aftermath of this fiasco is a flurry of foreclosures that is still on the increase, more credit card spending, the significant rise of balances on credit cards and the general weakening of the economy that economists either fail to recognize or just fail to incorporate into their findings.

Carlinism: Hiring practices are often a sham. There is often more talent on the street than there is at many companies.


Anixter Inc. Holds Open House To Introduce New Infrastructure Solutions Lab

Anixter Inc., 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 (OEMs), held an open house on May 15th to introduce its new Infrastructure Solutions Lab, the only distributor-operated lab in the world to be UL-certified. Replacing separate networking and security labs, the 4,000-square-foot lab integrates networking and security solutions to reflect the latest technologies being deployed in the market. Held at Anixter’s Glenview corporate headquarters, the event was attended by representatives from Anixter’s senior management and leading domestic and international networking and security-focused trade publications.

With its mission to educate, demonstrate and evaluate networking and security infrastructure products for Anixter’s customers, the Infrastructure Solutions Lab features the latest security and networking best practices and highlights the standards and technologies being deployed in the networking and security market. The Lab also showcases the leading enterprise cabling and security solutions available from Anixter’s key manufacturer partners. Customers, including manufacturers who partner with Anixter for R&D to support their product development, will benefit from the Lab’s well-designed layout which has separate demonstration, education and evaluation areas.

The new Infrastructure Solutions Lab will build on the legacy of “industry firsts” uncovered by previous Anixter laboratories.  Some of them include defining different performance levels for UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cabling, developing and implementing non-destructive patch cord testing and simulating real world network applications over copper and fiber optic cabling.

Staffed by industry professionals with extensive experience in a wide array of technology disciplines, Anixter is able to provide actionable insights and relevant demonstrations in one convenient location. The Infrastructure Solutions Lab makes it possible for customers to evaluate networking and security infrastructure solutions in a vendor-neutral, real-world environment to help them select the right system for their specific needs, prior to incurring the investment of time and money involved in an actual technology deployment.

“Our new Lab continues Anixter’s tradition of delivering meaningful technology recommendations to the markets we serve. The lab is the latest example of our commitment to providing customers with the tools and information they need to profitably and effectively operate their business,” said Steve Leatherwood, Senior Vice

President Marketing, Anixter Enterprise Cabling & Security Solutions. “The fact that we present solutions in a vendor-neutral environment means that customers can make critical business decisions based on real-world testing and unbiased analysis.”

In addition to being the only distributor that conducts 10 Gigabit performance testing on the cabling they sell, the Infrastructure Solutions Lab makes Anixter the world’s only distributor that can demonstrate networking and security products running over a single IP network, the amount of bandwidth an IP camera or any other networkable device will take up on the network, and the impact that environmental effects have on overall cabling performance.

Following a continental breakfast, the open house program featured an introductory presentation by Bob Grubbs, Anixter President & CEO, which was followed by a lab overview and case study session as well as a tour of the Lab and a demonstration of its capabilities. There was also a separate media Q&A session. 

About Anixter
Anixter International (www.anixter.com) 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 350,000 products and over $900 million in inventory, 3) 220 warehouses with more than 5.5 million square feet of space, and 4) locations in 247 cities in 49 countries.  Founded in 1957 and headquartered near Chicago, Anixter trades on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AXE.


Sending The Troops To Boot Camp: Integrated building System Training

By Darlene Bremer

Integrated Building Systems (IBS) represent tremendous opportunities for electrical contractors and are predicted to eventually outgrow the traditional electrical market. Success will depend on the electrical contractor being able to provide its customers with trained, highly qualified electricians that can deliver the final integrated product, fulfilling customer’s needs.

To position itself, the electrical contractor needs to study the market and be prepared to invest in training personnel to work effectively in it. Industry organizations and associations, manufacturers of IBS systems and components, and providers of the communication protocols that truly integrated systems rely on to operate can provide the training resources required to build a team that can successfully demonstrate contractors’ capabilities and add value to their offerings. The following is a sampling of what is available.

Organizations

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) offers a new course through its Management Education Institute (MEI) for IBS project supervision. Customized for IBS contractors, the objective is to provide fundamental information vital to supervisors’ success.

Seminars are scheduled on an ongoing basis and include an introduction to the IBS supervisor program, the history and development of the program, a definition of IBS and the various synonyms by which it may be known, the key attributes and characteristics of IBS construction, and a definition of the key role IBS supervisors perform in achieving the success of these projects.

NECA also offers a number of publications to educate electrical contractors about IBS projects, including intelligent building distributed networks and specifying integrated building systems, which are designed to assist the electrical design, construction and specification communities incorporate the technology into the built environment.

As a joint program between NECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) develops and standardizes training to ensure the electrical construction industry is equipped with the most highly trained and skilled work force possible.

Through its local affiliates, the NJATC offers a number of courses that focus on IBS projects, including the following:

Installing and configuring Internet servers and routers to connect, manage and route LonWorks network information over Internet protocol (IP)

Designing LonWorks networks

Troubleshooting IBS networks

Selecting the best components, devices and architectures necessary to build open, interoperable LonWorks networks for building controls applications

Extensive hands-on experience designing LonWorks network devices that meet LonMark interoperability guidelines

A 40-hour, hands-on train-the-trainer course designed to prepare journeymen, technicians and electrical contractors to design, install, configure and troubleshoot distributed intelligent control systems, using the Echelon LonWorks control platform.

BICSI, Tampa, Fla., sets the standards for cabling infrastructure design, installation and maintenance and addresses the educational concerns of the telecommunications industry. Its registered communications distribution designer (RCDD) professional credentialing program is now recognized as the benchmark for information transport systems (ITS) professionals.

BICSI offers courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs in support of the growth of the convergence in the ITS industry. RCDD certification demonstrates to the customer the contractor’s knowledge in the design, implementation and integration of information transport systems and related infrastructure, while the goal of BICSI’s installation registration program (IRP) is to produce highly competent cabling installers at three levels: Installer, Level 1; Installer, Level 2; and Technician. The program offers core skills training, registration examinations and structured on-the-job training to meet the diverse needs of the telecommunications cabling industry.

In addition, publications such as the Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual cover horizontal and backbone distribution systems; building automation systems; and design, construction and project management.

Manufacturers

Honeywell International Inc., Morristown, N.J., provides modular IBS technology built around open architecture, allowing economical system expansion and lifecycle savings. The company takes full advantage of leading open standards, including BACnet, LonWorks, OPC, ODBC, AdvanceDDE and Modbus, for easy configuration and seamless, third-party communication. Honeywell building systems also meet Continental Automated Buildings Association and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.

The company’s Building Solutions Training Center enables contractors to take advantage of the latest building automation solutions and improve their customers’ business results through professional quality training on Honeywell products such as enterprise building integrator (EBI), building management, security and access control, Excel 5000 CARE and CARE LON engineering, digital video manager (DVM), fire and life safety solutions, SymmetrE building manager, and legacy solutions such as XBS, XBSi, XLPlus and E-Vision.

Professional trainers offer both technical expertise and interpersonal teaching skills. Honeywell’s training center provides fully operational lab equipment that mirror real world installations and provide hands-on training and interactive instruction.

ABB University, from ABB Inc., offers a comprehensive training portfolio on the company’s products, processes and applications, and general technology, as well as training contracts and training assessment programs. Training courses on control systems, motors, drives, power systems, robotics, utility automation, paper systems and more can be taken on-site, over the Internet or can be customized to the contractor’s specific needs.

On-site training is beneficial if the contractor has multiple people to train with similar needs. With on-site training, the contractor can reduce its training costs, while providing its staff with the same education they would receive at one of the company’s training centers. In addition, ABB’s instructors are able to maximize contractors’ exposure to the IBS technology unique to their situation.

Web-based training allows contractors to narrow down the courses they are seeking by specifying the type of training, language or country, while ABB University’s customized training programs are targeted to a mainstream audience that may need a more focused approach.

To enable contractors to improve their job performance and the performance of their customers’ automation assets, Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee, Wis., offers technical knowledge, from installing new building automation equipment to maintaining an existing system. Rockwell Automation Training Services provide a systematic, performance-based, training methodology that offers the right combination of traditional instruction, hands-on practice and refresher exercises to maximize knowledge retention.

Instructor-led training provides in-person instruction on a wide range of automation topics, or contractors can choose from more than 250 open enrollment classes designed around the use of automation technologies by job function. Rockwell also offers tailored and custom courses to meet contractors’ specific needs.

Finally, the Rockwell Automation Certification program is designed to produce an exclusive base of proven professionals who have demonstrated exceptional technical competencies and expertise in the area of controls and networks. The program is open to all individuals using Rockwell Automation controls and network technologies in their business.

Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill., offers a variety of training to help maximize the customer’s building systems investment. Siemens’ Learning Center provides an online, interactive learning environment on the operation and maintenance of the APOGEE Automation System product line, from fire detection and alarm system basics, the basics of HVAC, and APOGEE basics, to an introduction to distributed digital controls and network basics.

Hands-on, classroom training includes an overview of building automation, including an introduction to APOGEE field panel communications, APOGEE terminal equipment controllers, and an introduction to pneumatic controls and HVAC basics. Other building automation classroom training opportunities include APOGEE workstation and advanced operations, programming for efficient building operations and energy management, and principles of troubleshooting.

Building Automation self-study, which is Web- or CD-based, offers APOGEE basics, instruction on field panel operations, and an introduction to terminal boxes, PPCL programming, and distributed digital controls. Other offerings include introductions to modular equipment and building controllers, interpreting sequences of operations and an introduction to open communication protocols. For Web-based training, go to www.learningcenter.sbt.siemens.com.

Communication protocols

There are various ways a building’s systems can be integrated, but they all rely on communications protocols. LonWorks, developed by Echelon Corp., San Jose, Calif., is a flexible and expandable standards-based control networking platform upon which manufacturers can build products and applications. The company offers free eTraining courses with Macromedia Flash-based lessons that demonstrate how to design and install LonWorks products and control networks faster. Courses include an introduction to the LonWorks platform, transceivers and neuron processors, the interoperable self-installation protocol, and interfacing LonWorks devices to TCP/IP networks.

In addition, Echelon offers on-site training for companies with six or more employees who need training on the same topic. Custom and on-site training courses range from an introduction to the LonWorks platform, network design, integration tools, and network troubleshooting to iLON installation and configuration, LonWorks device development, and network tools development. Courses can be held at the contractor’s convenience and are designed to focus on what is relevant to the company.

BACnet, developed under the sponsorship of the ASHRAE, is a data communication protocol for building automation and controls networks, and its governing set of rules cover everything from what kind of cable to use to how to perform a particular request or command in a standard way. ASHRAE offers two BACnet training courses. In an Introduction to BACnet, contractors learn the fundamental principles of BACnet and how to relate them to a simple model for describing BACnet systems. The course also discusses the basic components of any multivendor BACnet control system, how different systems can be merged together using BACnet and how BACnet facilitates the integration of older systems with BACnet-based systems. The Understanding and Specifying BACnet Systems Seminar prepares contractors for writing and understanding specifications that make use of the BACnet standard. Conformance classes, functional groups, PICS and other relevant materials for specification are reviewed, and contractors also learn the basic questions and answers useful in determining the appropriate pieces of BACnet to be specified.

In addition, several BACnet tutorials are available online, including BACnet—A Tutorial Overview, BACnet/IP and Understanding BACnet Encoding.

find out more online

For more information, visit these Web sites:

NECA www.necanet.org, www.neca-mei.org

NJATC www.njatc.org

BICSI www.bicsi.org

Honeywell International Inc.

www.honeywell.com

ABB Inc. www.abb.com

Rockwell Automation Inc.

www.rockwellautomation.com

Siemens Building Technologies

www.siemens.com

Echelon Corp. (LonWorks)

www.echelon.com

BACnet (ASHRAE) www.bacnet.org                                        EC

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


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

Check out what’s new for Cabling Business Magazine’s August 2007 issue! Packed full of hot new products, timely industry columns and of course, the latest technology news you’ve come to expect every month!

Features:

  • How Bend-Optimized Fiber is Designed and Applied

By Stephen Cardone

  • Fiber Optic Cables Bring Bandwidth into the Factory

By Dave Rizzo

  • Abandoned Cable Issues – What’s New?

By Frank Bisbee

  • Broadband Over Powerlines – the Latest

By Lee Badman

  • TIA - 942 Cables and Hardware

By Steve Paulov

Industry Expert Columns:

  • The Leadership Link By New Commons

§         Reel Time By Berk-Tek, A Nexans Company

  • Testing the Experts By Fluke Networks
  • Engineering and Design Professionals

Hot Products:

Fiber, Outside Plant, Splice Tools, Crimping Tools, Testers, Surge Protectors, CAT5 Compliant RJ45 Switches, Ethernet switch product lines, Broadband, Wireless, Ethernet Services, Copper Certification Tools Compression Assembly Tools, Optical Network Terminals and much, much more!

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


HOT NEWS On The Fiber Optic Training Front

The Light Brigade's series of Staff Development DVDs were recently recognized by BICSI for Continuing Education Credits. Seven of the DVDs are each eligible for one RCDD, 1 OSP and 1 Installer credit. Our two-hour DVD on Fiber Optic Connectors was recognized for 2 RCDD, 2 OSP and 2 Installer credits. We have certificates available through our training or sales staff for anyone who wishes to use the DVD and apply for credits.

 www.lightbrigade.com

TLB's currently-available DVDs are:

  • Fundamentals of Fiber Optics
  • OTDR Theory and Operation
  • Fiber Optic Test Equipment
  • Troubleshooting a Fiber Optic Link
  • Fiber Optic Cable
  • Fiber Optic Splicing
  • Fiber Optic Patch Panels, Splice Closures and Pedestals
  • Fiber Optic Connectors


CrossBow Communications In Association With Computer Training Consultants Is Offering Standards Based Training On Wireless Technologies

CrossBow Communications in association with Computer Training Consultants Offers Industry Recognized Wireless Certification Preparation Series BootCamps – Special Pricing Offers through Wireville!

As Wireless technologies and their applications are growing at a phenomenal pace, what is required is adherence to standards.

http://www.crossbowcom.com/wireless_security_certifications_training.html

…a lack of standards is confusing the market…… - Forrester Research.

CrossBow Communications in association with Computer Training Consultants is offering standards based training on wireless technologies.

Wireless Certification Preparation Series:

The Wireless# (wireless sharp) certification is the entry-level wireless certification for the IT industry.

Your Wireless# certification will get you started in your IT career by ensuring you have a solid base of applicable knowledge of:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • WiMAX
  • ZigBee
  • Infrared
  • RFID
  • VoWLAN

Benefits of Your Wireless# Certification

·         Perfect entry into an IT career in wireless

·         Offers a career differentiator, with enhanced credibility and marketability

·         Proves you have a broad base of knowledge and competency in wireless

·         Demonstrates your understanding of the differentiators among the latest wireless networking technologies

Exam Preparation and Details:

Preparation Guide for Exam PW0-050 (PW1-050 for beta) and more details are available at the following URL:

http://www.cwnp.com/exams/pw0050.html


The Urge To Merge

By Dr. Thomas E. Glavinich

The concept of what a building is and how it should function is changing rapidly in the 21st century. Traditionally, a building is simply a physical object composed of a structural skeleton, an outer skin that provides a boundary between the building occupants and the outside environment, and a collection of independent systems that establish the building’s internal environment. The primary building purpose—providing people with a safe environment that promotes inhabitant well-being and provides a space that supports the intended building use—has not changed. Today, however, buildings are increasingly being viewed as a whole system rather than a structure.

This seemingly subtle change in the concept of a building really is a major paradigm shift in the construction industry, and it is beginning to have a major impact on how buildings are being designed, constructed and operated. Once a building is viewed as a system, the concept that a building is just a collection of independent systems, including everything from the building roof to lighting controls, is no longer valid. As a result, the focus in building design, construction and operation shifts from optimizing individual and independent building systems to optimizing the building as a whole system. This change in perspective turns previously independent building systems into interdependent building subsystems that must communicate and work together to provide an optimal environment for inhabitants. The emerging integrated building systems’ (IBS) market is the result of this paradigm shift in the building industry and will provide growth opportunities for electrical contracting firms prepared to take advantage of it.

Why IBS today?

The question that the electrical contracting firm contemplating entry into the IBS market needs to ask is “Why IBS today?” What has happened to make IBS a growth market today? For decades, the building industry has talked about “smart” and “intelligent” buildings, but little has happened. Buildings continue to be built as a collection of independent systems. Why should the electrical contracting firm consider investing time and money in the IBS market today?

The answer to these questions is a number of factors have come together in recent years that currently are driving the IBS market and will continue to do so in the future. These factors have resulted in the IBS market evolving from a “push” market to a “pull” market.

For years, a push market existed, which was driven by equipment and system manufacturers that were trying to sell IBS to building owners. Building owners did not see the value of IBS or the payback resulting from an investment in systems and technology. Today this has changed. IBS has become a pull market with building owners demanding buildings that operate efficiently and provide a safe and productive environment for building occupants. IBS depends on building power, communications and control systems, and as a result, the electrical contracting firm is perfectly suited to take advantage of this emerging market.

As noted above, there are a variety of factors that have come together to make IBS a growth market for electrical contracting firms. These factors include the following:

Advancing technology

Energy efficiency

Environmental concerns

Security and life safety needs

The following paragraphs will discuss each of these four market drivers.

Advancing technology

First and foremost, rapidly advancing power, communications and control technology is driving IBS. The advances are not only about the technology embedded into the component, equipment or system but the manufacturing technology that produces it. For instance, photovoltaics (PV) provide a prime example of how both advancing product and manufacturing technologies are coming together to make PV both a technologically and economically viable form of distributed generation (DG). Advances in PV technology have improved the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity and allowed the integration of PV into a variety of building materials using thin film. Integrating PV into building materials, such as glass and roofing, reduces installation cost and has the potential of turning the entire building envelope into an electric power generator. In addition, advances in PV manufacturing technology are increasing production efficiency, which will reduce the cost of PV materials in the future as new PV facilities come on line.

Energy efficiency

Energy costs continue to climb, and building owners are looking for more efficient buildings to lower their operating costs in order to stay competitive. In addition, many federal, state and local jurisdictions are adopting energy codes such as the International Code Council’s (ICC) model International Energy Conservation Code or jurisdictional-specific energy codes, such as the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings.

IBS is the key to high-performance buildings that go beyond using more insulation or installing energy-efficient lighting and mechanical equipment. High-performance buildings require that building systems be interoperable and work together in order to optimize the building as a system and significantly reduce energy use. In the future, building components that are considered “dumb” today will become intelligent, which will allow further gains in energy efficiency and increased occupant comfort. For example, the ability to control the transmittance of a building’s glass curtain wall via IBS will be a way to reduce the amount of light and solar heat allowed into the building.

Related to energy efficiency is the fact that the public is becoming increasingly concerned about the environment. Commercial buildings use a significant amount of the energy produced in the United States that results in the production of a large amount of greenhouse gases each year. As a result, federal, state and local governments as well as private owners now are requiring their buildings to be certified or certifiable as green buildings, using third-party criteria such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

LEED requirements for certification as a green building state that the building meets the provisions of ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, titled Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, as a minimum. Accruing more points toward certification requires further optimization of building energy performance, which includes integrated control of lighting, HVAC and other related building systems. Additionally, LEED includes points for integrating on-site renewable energy sources, such as PV into the building and comprehensive building commissioning. IBS is a key element in sustainable buildings.

Security and life safety needs

Concerns about security and life safety also are propelling IBS growth because these systems must be integrated with other building systems to be effective. Expenditures on security and life safety systems by building owners have been on the rise since 2001. Investment in security and life safety systems by building owners will continue to increase because of the public’s concern about crime and terrorism. Today, these systems use state-of-the-art access control, surveillance and intrusion-detection systems and are found in public and private buildings of all types and sizes.

Increasing the effectiveness of building security and life safety systems requires them to be integrated with others, such as the HVAC, building management, lighting control and other related systems. It no longer is enough to be vigilant about fire and physical intrusion. Security and life safety systems today need to be able to detect chemical and biological threats, automatically take action to isolate and contain these threats, evacuate noncontaminated areas of the building, and notify the proper authorities. Modern security and life safety systems are not possible without IBS, because the effective operation of these systems is dependent on building system interoperability.

IBS market participation

The shift in paradigm—from a building being viewed as a collection of independent systems need to be individually optimized, to the building itself being the system that consists of a number of subsystems that need to be optimized collectively—has created the IBS market. Achieving energy efficiency, addressing environmental concerns, and providing a secure and safe environment for building occupants, in conjunction with advancing technology, makes IBS a growth market for the electrical contracting firm. In order to profit from this emerging market, the electrical contracting firm needs to understand the market’s direction, its customers’ needs and its ability to meet those needs.

The important thing for the electrical contractor to understand about the IBS market is that they do not have to know how to do everything. In fact, with rapidly changing technology, it is not possible for the electrical contracting firm to do everything. Even if it wanted to, by the time the firm had acquired the necessary in-house technical expertise, the market and its customers may have moved on to a newer technology.

A more effective way of approaching the IBS market is for the electrical contracting firm to identify and stick to its core technical competencies and capitalize on its project management abilities. The electrical contracting firm’s value lies in its ability to find specialized individuals, contractors and manufacturers who understand the technology and can perform the work; subcontract the specialized portions of the work to them; and then manage the project to ensure that it is completed on time, within budget and meets the needs of the customer.                       EC

This article is the result of a research project investigating the future of the IBS market that is being sponsored by ELECTRI International Inc.

GLAVINICH is an associate professor of the Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at The University of Kansas. He can be reached at 785.864.3435 or tglavinich@ku.edu.

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


Draka Comteq Sued By OFS Over Patent Infringement

Furukawa Electric North America Inc. (FENA) and its wholly-owned subsidiary OFS Fitel LLC, a designer, manufacturer, and supplier of fiber optic products, has launched a lawsuit against Draka Comteq Inc.

Furukawa alleges that the North Carolina-based company infringed several U.S. patents related to single-mode and multi-mode optical fiber, processes for making optical fiber and optical fiber cables.

OFS, formerly the U.S. optical fiber business of Lucent Technologies purchased by FENA in 2001, was an early pioneer in a range of optical fiber design, manufacturing processes, and systems-related products for telecommunications technologies.

"The decision to proceed with this patent infringement filing was carefully considered," said Timothy Murray, head of operations and engineering at OFS.

"OFS invests millions of dollars each year in research and development to create new, patented inventions that bring significant value to our customers.”

The proceedings instituted by FENA on behalf of OFS come at a time when the optical telecommunications industry is focusing on new fiber and system designs to enhance, among other things, Fiber to the Home (FTTH) applications.

"The telecommunications industry is focusing on fiber optic based solutions to increase their offerings of valuable services to their customers,” Murray said. “New fiber and systems designs will be needed for the next generation of optical fiber-based telecommunications."  www.cablingsystems.com

 Reprinted with full permission of CNS Magazine – 2007 www.cablingsystems.com


BICSI European Conference Advances Information Transport Systems Industry

Noel Dempsey, TD, the Ireland Minister for Transport and the Marine, delivered the opening keynote during the 2007 BICSI® European Conference, held recently at the Citywest Hotel just outside of Dublin. The conference was well attended, with nearly 500 registrars including industry professionals and exhibitors dedicated to advancing the information transport systems (ITS) industry.

In addition to highlighting advances in the telecommunications industry in Ireland, Minister Dempsey commended BICSI on its vision and dedication to providing education and establishing global best practices in cabling design and installation.

“It was a great honor to hear Minister Dempsey speak to BICSI conference delegates. This event sets the standard for future BICSI European conferences,” said John Bakowski, RCDD®/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist, BICSI President. “I am delighted to be here to witness the gathering of professionals dedicated to leading the information transport systems in Europe and worldwide.”

During the evening session on Monday, a group of cabling manufacturers and industry specialists assembled to discuss the impact that changes in standards and requirements are having on how copper cabling systems are chosen, especially for data intensive environments like data centres and storage area networks.

The session attracted more than 150 delegates, who shared opinions and information around this critical topic. Manufacturers Corning, Siemon and Tyco Electronics sponsored the event and invited as panel members infrastructure solution specialist Comunica and test house Delta. Alan Flatman, consultant and expert in copper cabling systems, opened the event, and the lively Q&A session was moderated by Rob Shepherd, editor of Network Cabling News.

“The sponsors of this event felt that it was important to bring industry experts together in a forum setting to discuss copper solutions for high data rate applications,” said Oben Uluc, executive director of marketing for Corning Cable Systems EMEA. “The interaction between installer, end user, consultant and manufacturer provided a range of complex insights.”

Another highlight of the conference was the exclusive tour of The Guinness Storehouse, sponsored by Fluke Networks. More than 150 delegates and guests had the opportunity to experience a truly Irish tradition and go behind the scenes for a look at the brewing process of Guinness, followed by brew samples and dinner.

Said Greg Sherry, RCDD/NTS/WD Specialist, BICSI European Region Director, “We are extremely pleased with the attendance at the conference and are now looking forward to using this event to expand BICSI’s presence in Europe and to make it the association of choice in the ITS industry.”

BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

www.bicsi.org


Preformed Line Products Announces Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Preformed Line Products (NASDAQ: PLPC - News) on June 19, 2007 declared a regular quarterly dividend in the amount of $.20 per share on the Company's common shares, payable July 20, 2007 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 2, 2007.

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

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


ACUTA's 36th Annual Conference And Exhibition

ACUTA's 36th Annual Conference and Exhibition will be held July 29-Aug. 2, 2007 in Hollywood, Florida, at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa. For information about the 50+ breakouts, keynotes speakers, exhibit hall, preconference sessions, user groups and more, see http://www.acuta.org.
We GUARANTEE your satisfaction.

For colleges and universities and those who market to them, this is the event to attend in 2007. Hundreds of campuses from across North America will be represented at this event, which is consistently rated extremely high for its professional networking opportunities.

Register today at http://www.acuta.org or call 859/278-3338 for more information.


Precision Contracting Services Joins Corning Total Access ProgramSM

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, announces Precision Contracting Services, Inc. (PCS) 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) and wireless deployments. Certified TAP members receive all-inclusive access to Corning’s innovative and reliable FTTH and wireless 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 solutions (drop cables and assemblies carry a 3-year warranty).

PCS, which is already a member of Corning Cable Systems Extended WarrantySM Program, provides design, installation, integration, maintenance, and asset management services for fiber optic communication infrastructure applications. Since its inception, the company has installed more than 2,000 fiber optic installations, and it recently completed a FTTH project in Indiantown, Fla. Through the Total Access Program and its extended warranty, PCS plans to extend its capabilities and expertise in the FTTH marketplace throughout the Southeastern United States.

“Since our inception, PCS has developed a valued relationship with Corning, selecting Corning products in the majority of our fiber optic network installations and participating in numerous Corning-sponsored training classes,” said Cindy Boyd, president of PCS. “PCS has built a reputation as an exceptional provider of fiber optic network design, installation, deployment, maintenance and documentation services, and our membership in the Total Access Program will allow us to offer our FTTH customers these same capabilities.”

Through its Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers

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

About Corning
Corning Incorporated (www.corning.com) is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics.  Drawing on more than 150 years of materials science and process engineering knowledge, Corning creates and makes keystone components that enable high-technology systems for consumer electronics, mobile emissions control, telecommunications and life sciences.  Our products include glass substrates for LCD televisions, computer monitors and laptops; ceramic substrates and filters for mobile emission control systems; optical fiber, cable, hardware & equipment for telecommunications networks; optical biosensors for drug discovery;  and other advanced optics and specialty glass solutions for a number of industries including semiconductor, aerospace, defense, astronomy and metrology.

About PCS
Precision Contracting Services, Inc. (PCS) is a multi-faceted professional services firm providing design, installation, integration, maintenance, and asset management services for fiber optic communication infrastructure applications. PCS’s commitment to quality and customer service has earned its reputation as an industry leader. The company’s certified technicians and state-of-the-art equipment enable it to deploy efficient, effective fiber optic networks in support of intelligent transportation, CCTV/security systems, CATV distribution, and fiber-to-the-x networks. Since its inception in 1989 and through 2007, PCS has completed in excess of 2,000 fiber optic installation projects exceeding 4000 miles while being recognized for the highest Quality of Service within the industry.


NEBB To Hold Retro-Commissioning Seminar In September

The National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) will hold a Retro-Commissioning Seminar on September 26-29, 2007 at the NEBB Training & Educational Center (TEC) in Tempe, Arizona.

Retro-Commissioning is the process that corrects under performing buildings, improves indoor environmental conditions and comfort, and optimizes energy usage. NEBB’s Retro-Commissioning Seminar is designed to respond to the USGBC program for existing buildings (LEED EB), which focuses on Retro-Commissioning and qualifying buildings as energy responsible.

“Retro-commissioning is a unique opportunity for engineers and contractors since this emerging niche market is eight times the size of the new building commissioning market,” said NEBB Building Systems Commissioning Committee Chairman Steve Wiggins of Atlanta-based Newcomb & Boyd.

The NEBB Training and Educational Center (NEBB TEC) includes two active classrooms and separate, hands-on laboratories equipped with the latest testing equipment.  NEBB TEC provides distinct advantages that translate into outstanding educational and training opportunities for anyone who attends NEBB seminars.

For more information on this seminar, please visit www.nebb.org/seminars.htm, or contact Sheila Simms at 301-977-3698 or sheila@nebb.org. Prospective participants should confirm that space is available prior to purchasing airline tickets or committing to other expenses.

Established in 1971, the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) has become the premier international organization for certifying firms that perform testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems,  building systems commissioning, sound and vibration measurement, fumehood and cleanroom performance testing. In addition to certifying firms, NEBB is the leading source of industry information providing industry standards, publications, text books, study courses and newsletters.  Today, NEBB is proud to have over 600 certified firms with over 1200 qualified supervisors worldwide.


Apples & Oranges: Comparing VDV And IBS

By Dr. Thomas E. Glavinich

The term “integrated building systems” (IBS) has almost completely supplanted the term “voice/data/video” (VDV) in the electrical contracting industry. In both conversation and writing, no one seems to refer to VDV anymore. IBS is used almost exclusively when referring to today’s building communications and control systems. But, are these two terms synonymous?

Building communications and control systems began to emerge as a market for the electrical contracting firm in the early 1990s. Prior to this, building communications and control systems in most commercial buildings were limited to the telephone system for communications, fire alarm and security systems for the protection of occupants and property, and HVAC controls for building comfort, which still were pneumatic in many instances. Businesses were just beginning to see the value of networking stand-alone personal computers and peripherals, local area networks (LANs) that used nonproprietary structured cabling systems were just starting to emerge, and building communications and control systems were starting to go digital.

As a result, electrical contracting firms were faced with a whole new market almost overnight that needed to be understood and profitably entered.

VDV origins

The industry needed a term to describe this new market. It was referred to by a variety of names, which included low-voltage, electronic and information technology (IT) systems, among others. Each of these names seemed to have its own special limitation. Low-voltage systems seemed to conflict with the National Electrical Code’s (NEC) terminology used to describe power distribution systems 600V and below, not to mention low-voltage lighting systems covered in NEC Article 411. Electronic systems also seemed too broad and all encompassing for the building market and IT implied communications systems only and excluded control systems. A task force composed of a number of electrical contracting firms already working on these systems selected the term “limited-energy systems” (LES) to describe this market in the mid 1990s.

As the market evolved and matured in the late 1990s, the term “voice/data/video” systems supplanted LES because these systems could be categorized as voice, data or video, and most electrical contracting firms were marketing themselves using these terms.

IBS enters the scene

The increasing sophistication of building communications and control systems, along with decreasing size and cost of components and the proliferation of wired and wireless building networks suddenly made building system integration and interoperability a real possibility.

The intelligent building concept had been around for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that the ability to interconnect building power, communications and control (PC2) systems became practical and economical for commercial buildings. The ability of IBS coupled with the owners’ need to conserve energy through more efficient building operation, improve building life safety and security for occupants, and protect the environment has resulted in the next step in building evolution and another new market for electrical contracting firms.

The use of open-architecture control systems based on industry standards such as Echelon Corp.’s LonWorks’ communications protocol LonTalk or the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) building automation and control network, referred to simply as BACnet, are further paving the way for building system integration in a multivendor environment and providing new opportunities for electrical contractors.

Same or different?

Are VDV and IBS the same? No. VDV refers to the individual communications and control systems that have become common in commercial buildings over the past two decades and still represent a viable market for electrical contracting firms. IBS, on the other hand, refers to the integration of these communication and control systems in addition to power distribution and on-site distributed generation in order to optimize overall building performance. IBS is an emerging market, whereas the installation of individual building communications and control systems is a maturing market.

The electrical contracting firm needs to be aware of the difference between VDV and IBS in order to develop an effective strategy for entering the emerging IBS market, gain the skills needed to participate and effectively market its capabilities as an IBS contractor to building owners.      EC

This article is the result of a research project that is being sponsored ELECTRI International (EI). The author would like to thank EI for its support.

Glavinich is an associate professor of the Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at The University of Kansas. He can be reached at 785.864.3435 or tglavinich@ku.edu.

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


Minuteman UPS Introduces New PDU Sizing Tool

Maple Valley WA: Minuteman UPS, the leader of UPS and power technologies up to 10 kVA, announces a powerful new sizing tool for PDU products- www.sizemypdu.com- this tool allows customer to input their specific parameters for PDUs and come up with options for various basic and AMP-metered PDU products.  “This tool is very easy to use and is a dream for sizing the right UPS.” Michelle Gilleo, VP – Operations, Communication Planning Corp. (Jacksonville, FL)  www.minutemanups.com


New Solution Center On FlukeNetworks.com Helps Customers Find Answers to VoIP Deployment Problems

A new Solution Center on Fluke Networks' web site is helping customers solve real-world network Voice over IP (VoIP) problems.  As noted by Forrester Research, VoIP continues to attract attention, but widespread use is slow to come. "Enterprises are aggressively moving forward with experiments and limited deployments .... More customers are evaluating these technologies or conducting initial rollouts than ever before; only their complete deployments are stalled."

The VoIP performance management Solution Center

(www.flukenetworks.com/voip) leads the user through the basic concepts of VoIP management and why it is not just another application.  Lance Stovall, COO for IElement, Inc, in Dallas, Texas, said his company needed to know "how IT Services are impacted by the introduction of VoIP into the LAN.  The information (on FlukeNetworks.com) was very helpful, insightful and helped confirm some of my hypotheses about this subject."

Nine technical documents are offered, ranging from "VoIP Performance Management in the Converged Network"  to "VoIP Basics for IT Technicians," are specific topics from the Knowledge Base.

Customers are also using the Solution Center to learn how managing both VoIP and APM in a converged network environment can help their business.   "The information I needed is part of the SLA management solution," said Wichit Jitman, BSS/OSS Solution Architect for Datacraft Thailand Ltd. In Bangkok, Thailand.  "The Solution Center provided not only technology and product information, but also a business perspective.  Fluke Networks has developed technology to focus more on application monitoring and become to competitive player in the system & application management market."

Visitors to the Solution Center also have reported discovering new and valuable material they were not specifically seeking.

"The information on the (Fluke Networks) website allowed us to compare the options and decide what we would need to help insure the quality and uptime of our network," said Jeremy Carter, Assistant Director of IT for Bartholomew County, Indiana.  "When we started looking at options for the physical plant but saw what great tools Fluke Networks had on the management side as well." 

Fluke Networks' Solution Center provides answers to real-world technical problems.  Content is centered around case studies, product information, technical documentation, virtual product demonstrations, upcoming events related to the topic, and an in-depth knowledge base of customer-tested solutions.

"We understand that for IT professionals, a solution is more than a point product," said Jeff Lime, Fluke Networks' Senior Vice President of Marketing.  "A solution includes knowledge and information ranging from general industry trends to specific application details.  When combined with our award winning products, we can truly offer our customers Network SuperVision."

Fluke Networks' Solution Center provides detailed information organized around datacom cabling, IT networking, and telecommunications providers, and is located at http://www.flukenetworks.com/solutions.

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

A new Solution Center on Fluke Networks' web site is helping customers solve real-world network Voice over IP (VoIP) problems.  As noted by Forrester Research, VoIP continues to attract attention, but widespread use is slow to come. "Enterprises are aggressively moving forward with experiments and limited deployments .... More customers are evaluating these technologies or conducting initial rollouts than ever before; only their complete deployments are stalled."

The VoIP performance management Solution Center

(www.flukenetworks.com/voip) leads the user through the basic concepts of VoIP management and why it is not just another application.  Lance Stovall, COO for IElement, Inc, in Dallas, Texas, said his company needed to know "how IT Services are impacted by the introduction of VoIP into the LAN.  The information (on FlukeNetworks.com) was very helpful, insightful and helped confirm some of my hypotheses about this subject."

Nine technical documents are offered, ranging from "VoIP Performance Management in the Converged Network"  to "VoIP Basics for IT Technicians," are specific topics from the Knowledge Base.

Customers are also using the Solution Center to learn how managing both VoIP and APM in a converged network environment can help their business.   "The information I needed is part of the SLA management solution," said Wichit Jitman, BSS/OSS Solution Architect for Datacraft Thailand Ltd. In Bangkok, Thailand.  "The Solution Center provided not only technology and product information, but also a business perspective.  Fluke Networks has developed technology to focus more on application monitoring and become to competitive player in the system & application management market."

Visitors to the Solution Center also have reported discovering new and valuable material they were not specifically seeking.

"The information on the (Fluke Networks) website allowed us to compare the options and decide what we would need to help insure the quality and uptime of our network," said Jeremy Carter, Assistant Director of IT for Bartholomew County, Indiana.  "When we started looking at options for the physical plant but saw what great tools Fluke Networks had on the management side as well." 

Fluke Networks' Solution Center provides answers to real-world technical problems.  Content is centered around case studies, product information, technical documentation, virtual product demonstrations, upcoming events related to the topic, and an in-depth knowledge base of customer-tested solutions.

"We understand that for IT professionals, a solution is more than a point product," said Jeff Lime, Fluke Networks' Senior Vice President of Marketing.  "A solution includes knowledge and information ranging from general industry trends to specific application details.  When combined with our award winning products, we can truly offer our customers Network SuperVision."

Fluke Networks' Solution Center provides detailed information organized around datacom cabling, IT networking, and telecommunications providers, and is located at http://www.flukenetworks.com/solutions.

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


Managing Business Communications In The 21st Century

Oddly enough, some things in business communication are the same today as they have been since the advent of the telephone. For generations, most businesses have not wanted employees to have their own direct outside lines, each of which would incur a connection and line charge. The solution has been for businesses to have fewer outside lines than inside extensions, sharing those outside lines among all the users. Over the decades, technology has changed how those lines are managed.

Starting around the 1920s, businesses had switchboard operators with “cord boards” and handfuls of wiring plugs connecting outside calls with inside extensions (think of Lily Tomlin—“Ernestine”—laughing to herself and snorting as she called out, “One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy ...”). Operators performed the same basic functions that automated telephone operating systems perform today: providing switching and connection between telephone users, making sure the connection remains in place until the call finished, ending the connection properly and recording basic metering and tracking statistics for accounting purposes.

It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that switchboard operators at cord boards were replaced by automated analog switches, often called private branch exchanges (PBXs). Those enabled inside users to automatically access outside lines (or trunks) without operator assistance (typically by pushing “9” to get a dial tone), and company operators could direct incoming calls with the push of a button instead of the insertion of cords.

Automated PBXs remain industry-standard devices today, and their basic calling-out function features (push “9” to get a dial tone) work much the same as they always have from the user perspective. Of course, the back ends function in a significantly different way.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, along with a whole new wave of telecommunications technology, digital PBXs began to replace analog PBXs. That provided businesses with many previously out-of-reach features, such as voicemail, custom greetings, conference calls, automated attendants, speed dialing, call waiting, call forwarding, call accounting, call transferring, music on hold, direct inward system access (the ability to access internal features from an outside telephone line) and many other features that we now consider commonplace.

The continuing Internet revolution, which began in the mid- to late-1990s, has brought another new wave of telecommunications technology in the 2000s, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, defined by the FCC in 2004: “Internet Voice, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.” VoIP initially made headway in the business telecom equipment industry by interconnecting physically distant switches and reducing long-distance tolls by routing interoffice voice traffic over company-wide area networks.

PBX vendors responded by beginning to support VoIP directly, with one result being the advent of the IP PBX. Initially, PBX manufacturers did not fundamentally change their PBX hardware architecture in these devices. That has begun to change, and some companies now have made fundamental changes to IP PBX architecture. IP PBXs allow, among other things, an organization to combine (or converge) voice and data networks into a single system for cost savings, simpler management and greater functionality. Both traditional—or legacy—PBXs and IP PBXs remain available to businesses, depending on the needs of the organization.

Modern PBXs still consist of a set of external phone lines that digitally connect a set of internal phone lines; depending on a company’s needs, there may be a console for manual control (e.g., a company operator). They also have highly programmable computer server systems that manage call switching and allow them to perform truly amazing functions when compared to PBXs from years past. Their “outside” functions include the ability to accept all types and sizes of lines, including integrated services digital network (ISDN), T1, inbound direct inward dial (DID) and standard single-pair trunk lines.

In addition to voice mail systems, the inside functions of modern PBXs include the ability not only to display incoming CallerID data on user phones, but to tie into networks and to interface voice mail with “screen pop” software on a PC.

Some PBXs can switch desktop video. Similarly, they can offer click-to-call features, whereby users click on a contact record from a data network on a PC screen to initiate a voice call. They can out-dial transferred calls so that employees working remotely can receive calls as if they were in a central building. Conversely, users can dial into modern PBXs via modem or telnet over a network. They offer superior conferencing abilities, in that they can conference many calls together; similarly, multiple PBXs can be tied together seamlessly so that large organizations can transfer both voice mail messages and calls transparently across town or across the world. They can provide station management detail recording (SMDR) billing information, which is the ability of network access equipment to track call statistics and performance information for tabulation and analysis. And even this abbreviated list of features must include PBXs’ ability to be programmed remotely, which makes maintenance painless and relatively low-cost.

IP PBXs can perform additional advanced functions, as well, such as a Web-based control panel for managing extensions and the system in general; an almost infinite number of voice mailboxes with far more flexibility than regular phone systems (including the ability to automatically record all incoming and outgoing conversations); voice mail to e-mail service; automatic, programmed or manual call forwarding to any number; and the ability to manage and remotely administer extensions at other offices just as easily as if they were local. While large enterprises and big call centers have had many of these features for some time, some of the features were never previously available before recent years; smaller organizations never had access to any of them, even if they could have afforded them. Anyone who is old enough to remember business phone systems before the days of such miracle machines should still find that list to be jaw-dropping.

Nonetheless, there always have been drawbacks to automated PBX systems, with cost at the top of that list. So while PBX systems were, and continue to be, practically required in any organization with more than 200 extensions because they are the most versatile kind of phone system available, there remained until recently (and perhaps still) plenty of businesses for which purchasing a PBX was not the right financial choice. Options in the past were to pay the big bucks for the fancy, expensive machine or do without.

IP PBX systems appear to be changing that major hurdle. They are significantly less expensive than legacy PBXs. Recent technological advances coupled with pressure from open-source (or nonproprietary) solutions have brought down the cost of low-end IP PBX systems to under $1,000, making them economical to organizations with as few as five users. From there, however, the costs can grow to tens of thousands, or even higher if the numbers of users grows to the thousands. And, any organization—even a small one—that uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology or IP telephony will need an IP PBX system, especially if it has extensions for each user.

Typically, an IP PBX system is a piece of software running on a server. That server can perform additional tasks, but it usually is dedicated and also acts as the VoIP system’s connection to the Internet. Some manufacturers now make hub-like devices that primarily use VoIP for interswitch communication and support any combination of VoIP or conventional telephone handsets cabled to each hub. Such systems are more analogous to an Ethernet switch than the mainframe-like design of a conventional PBX. 

Depending on the manufacturer, IP PBX benefits can include the ease of adding workstations by simply moving phones equipped with plug-and-play technology to open network connections, the ability for new IP phones to coexist on an existing data cable plant, the ease and relative low cost of managing and monitoring the IP-based system, and its ease integrating new applications.

However, IP PBX systems come with their own sets of issues and concerns, as well. Despite the rather loud claims of the VoIP industry, VoIP has been slow to take off and continues to face resistance in the marketplace. Also of concern is VoIPs’ vulnerability to attacks on a client server system, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) and attacks, eavesdropping, toll fraud, spam, and viruses. Diligence and vigilance (read: billable hours on the clock) by the IT department are vital. Speaking of the IT department, IP PBX systems put the responsibility of the telephone system onto a company’s IT staff, which is not its traditional home, thus opening the increased possibility for startup (and perhaps ongoing) stumbles and errors.

As with any new technology, a new IP PBX can be difficult to integrate or incorporate into an organization’s existing infrastructure. Further, IP PBX, VoIP and IP telephony technology are not as real-world tested and proven to the degree of legacy PBXs, which is a technology with more than 30 years of field testing and customizing.

Having said that, the words of one IP PBX market advocacy group remain true: “IP PBX systems are the wave of the future. They provide small- to medium-sized businesses the abilities and features that are available to large enterprises, and they do it while providing the potential to reduce long-term operating costs considerably. As with any rapidly growing technology, there are a wide variety of providers and a range of features at a widely varying set of price points.” Furthermore, it is noteworthy that there is not a single major manufacturer of legacy PBXs that is not rushing full-speed into providing IP PBX systems, as well.

IP PBX systems may indeed be the death of legacy PBX systems. Granted, that is not a new assertion; people have been predicting the death of the PBX for nearly 10 years now, and they are still around. But time and the IT industry’s propensity for innovation are both on the side of the IP PBX, and of legacy PBXs going the way of the rotary dial telephone, like the cord board before that.        EC

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

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


Master Equipment Catalog

Harger Lightning & Grounding proudly introduces the release of its NEW Master Equipment Catalog. The catalog represents a compilation of products to provide total system protection for any facility or site. The Master Equipment Catalog includes the following products; grounding and bonding, Ultraweld exothermic welding products, lightning protection equipment, ground testing equipment, AC and RF surge suppression, and telecommunications products. The catalog also has a technical support section complete with specifications. In addition, the catalog has two indexes (Part Number and Key Word) for ease in locating products. The Harger Catalog is available in either a Perfect Bound (paper) or a CD-ROM format. The CD catalog includes links to AutoCAD® detail drawings showing typical lightning protection and grounding applications. For more information or to request your free copy of the catalog, contact our Sales Department at 800-842-7437 or email at www.hargersales@harger.com.

Harger Lightning & Grounding is a leading manufacturer of lightning protection and grounding equipment, as well as exothermic welding materials for the communications and electrical industries. Harger also provides design and engineering services and specializes in offering total systems solutions for their customers. Let Harger apply its systemic approach to total system protection to provide you with the most cost effective solution to protect your personnel and equipment against the effects of electrical transients. hargersales@harger.com


VoIP, Cable Telephony Growing Together

As one technology catches on, so does another. According to the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based market research firm, In-Stat, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) usage is up and will continue to grow. The firm reports that 20 percent of U.S. businesses currently use VoIP, and more will jump on the bandwagon. By 2011, two-thirds of U.S. businesses will have some form of VoIP service.

At the same time, there was an almost two-fold increase in the number of North American subscribers to cable telephony services in 2006, and the two trends are related. In-Stat finds the increasing availability of VoIP services in North America was directly responsible for the jump in cable telephony subscribers because it is generally less expensive than traditional circuit-switched telephony. Worldwide, the company reports, cable telephony subscribers increased to more than 22 million in 2006, up sharply from 15.8 million in 2005.

“VoIP is particularly attractive to businesses with dispersed work forces, where long-distance savings can be easily achieved,” said David Lemelin, In-Stat analyst.

 Businesses also are drawn to the technology in part because of the choices it gives them. The firm reports multiple VoIP solutions are used by 36 percent of businesses that have adopted VoIP, with broadband IP telephony solutions resonating most strongly with smaller and IP PBX with larger ones.

However, VoIP is not poised to completely dominate the landscape. Lemelin said, “It is not typically embraced as the sole source of voice communications for the vast majority of businesses that have adopted VoIP to date.” In fact, 44 percent of the businesses that use VoIP continue to use traditional voice lines as well.          EC

—Rick Laezman

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


Code Change Brings Twist to Military Facility Fire Alarms

By Wayne D. Moore

If you have not purchased and read the 2007 edition of the National Fire Alarm Code, it is possible your next fire alarm system installation in a military or government facility will hold a surprise.

Based on a requirement of a military standard, the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC); 4-021-01, Design and O&M: Mass Notification Systems, every military facility must have a mass notification system (MNS).

The December 2002 edition of the UFC defines mass notification as “the capability to provide real-time information to all building occupants or personnel in the immediate vicinity of a building during emergency situations. To reduce the risk of mass casualties, there must be a timely means to notify building occupants of threats and what should be done in response to those threats. Prerecorded and live voice emergency messages are required by this UFC to provide this capability.”

The goal of the UFC is to ensure consistency between government agencies. However, establishing uniformity among a disparate group of military and government agencies is difficult at best.

In addition, the UFC requires the following:

Systems shall be designed to operate from one or more locations within the building.

The Department of Defense (DoD) MNS are required in all new inhabited (more than 11 people normally working in the building) and new billeting buildings.

The UFC provides guidance that, in most cases, a combined fire alarm and MNS system is the most economical approach.

Systems shall be designed under the supervision of a registered fire protection engineer, by a registered professional engineer having at least four years of current experience in the design of fire protection and detection systems or by an engineering technician certified at National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technologies (NICET) Level IV in fire alarm systems.

Systems shall be capable of interfacing with wide-area MNS.

Systems are required to satisfy speech intelligibility requirements. Specific common intelligibility scale (CIS) scores are defined in the UFC for various conditions and branches of the military.

NFPA 72-2007, section 3.3.102 defines mass notification as a “system used to provide information and instructions to people, in a building, area site or other space.”

The code adds in the annex, a “mass notification system may use intelligible voice communications, visible signals, text, graphics, tactile or other communications methods.” The system may be used to initiate evacuation or relocation or to provide information to occupants. The system may be intended for fire emergencies, weather emergencies, terrorist events, biological, chemical or nuclear emergencies, or any combination of these. The system may be automatic, manual or both. Access to and control of the system may be from a single, on-site location or may include multiple command locations, including some remote from the area served. Systems may be wired, wireless or some combination of the two.”

Be smart about the code

This may sound innocent enough, but if you are not aware of the impact that UFC 4-021-0 had on the National Fire Alarm Code, you will lose money on your next military facility fire alarm system installation.

For the first time in the history of the code, it is allowing a nonfire alarm system notification to take precedence over a fire alarm system in an alarm condition. Specifically, NFPA 72-2007, section 6.8.4.7 states in part that in “combination systems, fire alarm signals shall be distinctive, clearly recognizable and with the exception of mass notification inputs, [emphasis added] take precedence over any other signal even when a non-fire alarm signal is initiated first.”

These systems have been required due to the threat of terrorism in our country, but also can be used for other emergencies. Although it is unlikely the fire alarm system will be in an alarm condition when the other emergency occurs, the system designer must assume a worst-case scenario.

Combo voice alarm and MNS

The audible notification appliances used in a mass notification system are obviously speakers. Now with the change to the code, all fire alarm systems in a military facility will be voice communication systems and will be integrated (most of the time, depending on the branch of the military) with MNS. The various military services have realized a combination voice communication fire alarm and mass notification is the most economical approach, although the code and the UFC allow separate systems that are interfaced.

NFPA 72-2007 now has an entire Annex E dedicated to mass notification systems with plans in the future for this annex to become a separate chapter within the code. The annex contains additional information as it relates to each chapter of the code and offers guidance to those who will be installing these new systems.

The importance of coordinating the functions of a mass notification system with those of a fire alarm system to ensure effective communication in an emergency situation is stressed. Obviously, conflicting or competing signals or messages could be very confusing to the occupants and have a negative impact on their expected response. If independent systems are used, it is critical to interface the systems properly to ensure all related control functions are coordinated and response or egress is not hindered.

MNS and emergency voice/alarm communications (EVAC) are designed for the protection of life by indicating an emergency condition exists and providing instructions, either manually or automatically, to the occupants to ensure they will take the necessary and appropriate response and action. The properly designed MNS/EVAC system will provide the occupants with concise, accurate, timely and well-directed messages that communicate how the occupants should react during a variety of emergency situations.

It is important that the contractor be aware of the different requirements as specified in each branch of the military. As stated earlier, the goal of the UFC is to ensure consistency between government agencies. The sidebar highlights some requirements for each branch of the military.

There are many military installations where mass notification systems already have been installed. One of the major issues for the contractor is how to hit the moving target of requirements. Obviously, it will be important for the contractor to work closely with a supplier who understands the nuances and different requirements for each branch of the military (and General Services Administration) for these important systems.

Partly because of the work of the U.S. Air Force with the National Fire Alarm Code Technical Committees, there are many commercial, nonmilitary institutions requiring MNS in their facilities. Educational, industrial and large corporate entities have embraced the mass notification concept and are installing these systems in their new buildings.

As with any system affecting the life safety of building occupants, contractors should be aware of the owner’s objectives and goals. For those who wish to review the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC); 4-021-01, Design and O&M: Mass Notification Systems in more detail, a downloadable version of the standard is available on the Internet.

Remember the professional installing technician and contractor has an obligation to stay abreast of new developments in the field, such as MNS, and use that knowledge to help support the life safety parameters of the building and its occupants.

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an
expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire
Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc.
at the Warwick, R.I., office.

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


BICSI Publication Wins National Award

BICSI News, the bi-monthly publication for members of BICSI, recently won the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) & The Center for Association Leadership 2007 Gold Circle Award.

Recognizing the finest periodicals published for an organization’s membership, the award was received in the Print Publishing category for four-color membership newsletters produced by associations with an annual budget of more than $2 million. Judging was based on several criteria including overall content, effectiveness of articles, graphic design/layout and photography/illustration.

"Our goal is to publish a magazine that offers BICSI members valuable information they can use to stay knowledgeable on current industry trends and continually improve their business," says Michael McCahey, editor. "We are proud BICSI News has achieved the recognition it deserves with this award. It is definitely an added bonus."

The BICSI News staff includes Wendy Hummel, publication coordinator/designer; and Karen Jacob and Joan Hersh, copy editors. An awards presentation will be held during the ASAE & The Center Annual Meeting & Exposition, August 11-14, 2007, in Chicago. The award announcement also will be highlighted in ASAE & The Center publications.

BICSI News provides members of the association with the most up-to-date information transport systems (ITS) industry news. It offers relevant, best practices, vendor-neutral and authoritative information to help ITS design and installation professionals improve their skills and knowledge, enhance their professional stature and expand the scope of their work in the ITS industry.  

###

BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA, BICSI membership spans nearly 100 countries.  www.bicsi.org


Are U.S. Corporate Assets Protected Against EMP Threats?

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


In a presentation to Congress in 1997, George W. Ullrich (deputy director of the Defense Special Weapons Agency) pointed out many issues regarding EMP (electromagnetic pulse) and HEMP (high-altitude electromagnetic pulse) weaponry.

In addition to discussing the potential damages an EMP bomb could wreak on the U.S., he stated:

EMP protection is also affordable. If accomplished during the design phase, the cost of EMP protection is a small fraction – 1 percent to 5 percent – of overall system development costs. Done after the fact when the unprotected system has already been fielded, it can be significantly more expensive.

This leads to the question of whether or not corporate assets like call centers and data centers are adequately protected against this type of threat.

What about the utilities and companies providing infrastructure? Do municipalities safeguard their 911 centers or fresh water and wastewater treatment plants? Have many organizations even considered implementing any safeguards against an EMP threat? These are all questions that raise concern.

Should Homeland Security Require Testing?

After the dismal government response in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, you wonder how prepared all levels of government are in responding to a widespread crisis. In the case of an EMP attack, it is not a matter of who will be eft standing. It is a matter of who will still have power to conduct business along with the operation of government.

This includes keeping the critical electronics that control emergency services, water purification and other services up and running so society doesn’t deteriorate into roving bands of individuals scavenging for food and water. This comes from a Christian Science Monitor article:

While U.S. military standards often require electronic components to be protected against an EMP, commercial standards do not. While our power grid is shielded against things such as lightning strikes, it is not tested for protection against an EMP.

Upgrading to shield against an EMP would entail using more robust shielding materials especially for the cords, cables and/or wires that connect devices to external entities. Cables and wires act as antennas through which an EMP travels directly into a device.

The only way to know the extent to which an EMP would knock out electronics is to conduct testing with EMP simulators. Since the end of the cold war, most EMP simulators in the U.S. have been closed, according to Radasky.

The few that remain open are for military use [rather than] civilian use. Businesses and government agencies should install EMP protection at the system level. This also would provide protection against other electromagnetic disturbances such as lightning.

One positive development is the increasing use of fiber-optic cables. Most of them do not contain metal and they are invulnerable to an EMP, according to Radasky. The more common they become, the less exposed systems are to an EMP.

No Significant Launch Mechanism is Required

An EMP bomb is an explosive weapon that is shot into the atmosphere and exploded 100 miles above the earth. This creates an electromagnetic pulse that fries any unprotected electronics device and/or power grid within a large geographic area.

An EMP was used in the film “Ocean’s Eleven” and a “fire sale” – different from the desperate selling of a company – in the new film “Live Free or Die Hard” explores a similar outcome following a three-stage computer attack on the U.S.

It does not require a sophisticated GPS guidance system or an on-board navigation system. It just needs to be shot up and exploded into the general vicinity of people. This creates an umbrella effect of chaos that could stretch miles and miles in diameter.

In 2005, Joseph Farah stated:

The EMP threat is not a new one considered by U.S. defense planners. The Soviet Union had experimented with the idea as a kind of super weapon against the U.S.

“What is different now is that some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter. They can be terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or a few weapons and are motivated to attack the U.S. without regard for their own safety,” a commission report [stated].

“Rogue states – such as North Korea and Iran – may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the U.S. [They] may be unpredictable and difficult to deter.”

[There is a] potential “cascading effect” of an EMP attack. If electrical power is knocked out and circuit boards fried, telecommunications are disrupted, energy deliveries are impeded, the financial system breaks down and food, water and gasoline become scarce.

That rapid breakdown of social order is very important to understand.

It would not be too big a stretch of the imagination to envision the breakdown of society into something like in the movie “Mad Max” where people are fighting for basic necessities. That may sound very improbable to those who don’t think society would quickly break down in the event of a major disaster.

For those who have their proverbial head in the sand, just look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Anyone thinking the local and state government is really going to protect you with a rapid response is sadly mistaken. Protection from an EMP attack should be on any mission-critical application in both the public and private sector so there is the possibility for some type of response.

Carlinism: Some weapons need pinpoint accuracy to be effective. An EMP just needs to be aimed at a general vicinity to be effective.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


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


NECA’s Focus On Green Building

With America’s most populous state leading the nation in the use of solar and other energy alternatives, the term “Sunny California” is even more appropriate. Also appropriate, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) chose this trend-setting locale to step up its efforts to make our industry pre-eminent in the growing green market.

The market is growing—exponentially. The National Association of Home Builders said close to 50 percent of homes produced between now and 2010 will be built with sustainable products using environmentally friendly techniques. McGraw-Hill Construction projects up to 10 percent of new nonresidential construction will be designed using green principles by 2010. This translates to the market topping more than $205 billion within just three years.

One reason: Recent polls show well over 85 percent of Americans want to see more invested in developing solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy, and they’re getting their wish thanks to a proliferation of green laws. To date, 11 federal agencies, 17 states, 14 counties and an estimated 75 cities have adopted requirements on energy efficiency and sustainability for public construction, and more jurisdictions are joining them every month, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Obviously, then, thinking green is not just a California state of mind. But, with San Francisco planning to break ground for a government structure, which reportedly will be more energy-efficient than any large office building in the United States, it is most fitting that when the NECA Show is held there, our association will dedicate an entire day and an entire section of the show floor to renewable energy and cutting-edge green technologies.

“Think Green Day” will be held Sunday, Oct.  7. The “NECA Notes” section of this magazine provides more information. I am proud and excited that my association is sponsoring this event, but I want to emphasize that this is not the beginning—and certainly not the end—of NECA’s work in cultivating the green market.

For several years now, various elements of energy management and related issues have been part of the education NECA offers contractors and the training we co-sponsor for electrical workers, as well as subjects addressed by our independent research affiliate, ELECTRI International. Now, we’re refining our efforts and filling in the gaps, so both contractors and electricians have a more integrated understanding.

“Integrated” is, in fact, a key concept here. The electrical contractor’s role in the green market is facilitated by the confluence of several trends and topics NECA has been addressing for some time—integrated building systems (IBS) and low-voltage work, power conditioning and energy management, design/build contracting, and the EC’s growing responsibility in project delivery. I look forward to discussing in future columns how these issues intersect.

Right now, however, I’ll close with a quote from Lance A. Williams, Ph.D., executive director of the Los Angeles Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-LA): “USGBC-LA wholeheartedly supports NECA as an early adopter of green building and sustainable design. NECA has a history of doing the right thing by its members. Now, being in the forefront of promoting energy-efficient measures is the most recent manifestation of its vision. 

There are many compelling reasons why NECA should advocate for sustainability. Both nationally and internationally, NECA members have new business opportunities that will become more and more evident as the emerging green building industry takes shape. In making this step, NECA also aligns itself with the many private and public sector organizations that practice the truism that you can ‘do well by doing good.’”

Milner Irvin

President, NECA


Certified Training Schedule June –December, 2007

Certified Training Schedule

June – December, 2007

Dates                                                    Class

JUNE

6/8 – 6/16                                              ITS Installer 2   (Night Class)

6/22 – 6/30                                            ITS Installer 2   (Night Class)

JULY

7/9 – 7/13                                              ITS Installer 1

AUGUST

8/6 – 8/10                                              Technician

SEPTEMBER

9/17 – 9/21                                            ITS Installer 1

OCTOBER

10/8 – 10/12                                          ITS Installer 2

NOVEMBER

11/12 - 11/16                             Technician        

DECEMBER

12/10 – 12/14                            ITS Installer-2

This schedule is subject to change based upon Customer requests.

James R. (Ray) Craig RCDD/ITS Specialist

Corporate Trainer

Certified Communications, Inc.

15928 Midway Road

Addison, TX  75001

Office    972-432-8310


Another Hit To The Cabling Budget: Electrician Shortage = Higher Cabling Costs

Gary Audin

Delphi, Inc.
delphi-inc@att.net

I posted a blog on January 3, 2007, entitled “Future Proofing Your Cabling.” In that blog I discussed the issues around upgrading the cabling infrastructure and the associated costs. I have now learned that there will be another cost increase because of the predicted shortage of electricians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By 2014, the U.S. requirement for electrical workers will increase to more than 734,000. This is 78,000 more electricians then are currently employed in the field.In the January blog I said, “The cost to pull, terminate, label, and test each run for a small installation (48 users) for a 150 foot cable is about $100 per run. This cost will vary dependent upon the local cost of labor. Over five years with an annual labor rate increase, the cost escalates to about $155 per run for the same installation.” This statement was made before the report on the anticipated electrician shortage, and so I estimate that the cost per run will be even higher.

There are two reasons for the shortage, according to Edwin D. Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). First, the existing worker population is aging and will be retiring faster than their replacements will be trained. Second, the new high-tech demands, as cables carry more speed and power, are producing a different shortage—that of knowledge and experience.

Hill said, “The task ahead is not only to recruit and train more electricians to meet the demands of a growing industry, but to make provisions to replace current electricians who will retire.”

The electrician shortage is occurring in other countries as well: Germany, UK, Austria, Belgium, and Finland. There are an estimated 37,000 vacancies in the UK. Canada is expecting that most of the skilled trades will retire in the next 10 years. A recent survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry notes this is the number one constraint on business investment.

E. Milner Irvin, president of the National Electrical Contactors Association (NECA) is quoted as saying; “The predicted shortfall of electricians in the U.S. won’t be just the industry’s problem. Shortages affect all businesses up and down the line, by generally driving up the cost and driving down the quality of service.”

So what is being done in the U.S. to reduce the shortage problem? The NECA and IBEW are addressing the problem in a multifaceted approach through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC). The NJATC is actively promoting an apprenticeship program. There are about 40,000 apprentices in 290 programs around the U.S. $100 million is committed annually to develop the electrical workforce that will be required in the future.
Students considering a career as an electrician can go to www.electrifyingcareers.com for more information. This site describes 60 different types of jobs available. There may also be recruitment overseas for U.S. opportunities. Australia is already sending out recruiters to encourage skilled electricians to immigrate.

All of this means that the future costs for cabling and its installation will increase faster than expected. The shortage problem may not manifest itself in the next year or two, but it will be coming soon. The ROI and TCO calculations for the deployment of new technologies in IT and telecom will have to anticipate the rising costs. I suspect that the cabling costs for installation will rise quite a bit faster than the inflation rate overall. Be prepared to pay a bigger bill than expected.  

The cabling upgrade issue is not important to the IP phone since category 5 cable will support the vast majority of IP phones and PoE. Gigabit IP phones exist for the gigabit PC connected to the IP phone so that the IP phone does not restrict the bandwidth of the PC. In this latter case, the cabling will have to be upgraded to category 5e or 6 to meet the bandwidth required and the cost of this upgrade will continue to rise with the installer shortage.
This article was published in the June 2007 ACUTA eNews. Used here with permission. www.acuta.org


VEGAS.com Wins Top Technology Award For Interactive Intelligence-Powered Contact Center

VEGAS.com was selected for a best technology award by industry peers from among 200 entrants across North, South, and Central America for its Interactive Intelligence-powered contact center deployment.

VEGAS.com won the Best Technology Innovation Award at Contact Center World’s “Best of the Best in Americas” conference held June 4 and 5 in Orlando, Fla. The awards ceremony followed a rigorous selection process, during which VEGAS.com underwent two rounds of judging by industry peers and was required to present findings based on its contact center deployment.

In his presentation to peers, VEGAS.com’s director of customer contact, Rob Cate, reported how the company used contact center automation software by Interactive Intelligence to achieve a dramatic return on investment.

“Before we deployed the Interactive Intelligence software we had 128 agents who handled about 37,000 calls per month,” Cate said. “With CIC’s ability to consolidate multiple systems and interfaces, we now employ 48 agents who handle about 90,000 interactions per month. That’s a 57 percent reduction in agents, and a 117 percent increase in interaction handling.”

During his presentation, Cate also credited the software for a 90 percent reduction in agent errors, faster speed-to-answer and fewer abandoned calls.

VEGAS.com first installed the Interactive Intelligence software in 2005 with the help of Rocklin, Calif.-based communications solutions provider, SOS (www.team-sos.com/about-us). Today, VEGAS.com uses the full Interactive Intelligence unified communications suite, including its Customer Interaction Center® (CIC) software, and add-on modules for multimedia recording, quality monitoring, e-mail response management, Web self-service and workforce automation.

“The entire voting delegation was blown away by how fully we exploited CIC’s breadth of applications and flexible customization options to maximize agent productivity and improve customer service,” Cate said. “We hope this award further validates our performance measures and demonstrates the clear fact that a consolidated all-in-one solution can also be best-of-breed.”

Interactive Intelligence developed its unified communications software suite more than a decade ago in order to eliminate the cost and complexity introduced by individual point products.

“VEGAS.com is an incredible illustration of the benefits a company can realize by migrating from a traditional phone-only call center, to an ‘intelligent’ multi-channel contact center using open, standards-based architecture,” said Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO, Dr. Donald E. Brown. “Now unrestrained by technology limitations, VEGAS.com is fully realizing its commitment to the customer experience – from its ability to timely respond to customers regardless of the communications channel used, to automated quality monitoring for superior customer service.”

As the Best Technology Innovation Award winner for the Americas, VEGAS.com qualifies to compete against award winners from other regions at Contact Center World’s “Best of the Best in the World” conference held in November in Las Vegas. For more information about these world awards, visit www.ContactCenterWorld.com/worldawards.

About VEGAS.com
VEGAS.com is the largest city destination travel website in the world with extensive, constantly updated information and a full range of travel products including hotel rooms, air-hotel packages, show tickets, tours and golf. A state-of-the-art contact center provides customer support, expert information and sales 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to complement the information on www.VEGAS.com and www.espanol.Vegas.com. VEGAS.com, through its Casino Travel & Tours unit, operates retail and concierge desks at more than 50 locations including the Palms, Paris, MGM Grand, Bally’s, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, New York-New York, Luxor and more. The company also offers a variety of excursions including city tours, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. VEGAS.com is a member of the Greenspun Family of Companies, privately owned and operating in Southern Nevada for more than 60 years.

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


AT&T Honors Fluke Networks

Fluke Networks Honored by AT&T as Outstanding Supplier

Commitment to excellence over the past year has earned Fluke Networks recognition as an outstanding supplier to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), one of the world's leading data, voice, wireless and Internet service providers.

"We are proud of our long-standing tradition of providing unparalleled products and services to our business and residential customers," said Maureen Merkle, President, AT&T Procurement.  "We're successful on that front in large part thanks to suppliers like Fluke Networks that consistently go above and beyond the call of duty."

Fluke Networks received one of 39 supplier recognition awards for its work in helping AT&T deliver outstanding service to its customers during the past year.  Fluke Networks was recognized for its contributions in the Creative Cost Management Solutions category.

"This is a great honor for Fluke Networks, as we position ourselves to become a leading supplier of Enterprise Performance Management solutions," said Paul Caragher, President of Fluke Networks. "By acknowledging our efforts, AT&T has recognized our commitment to working with key customers to help them provide a total solution for enterprise-wide networks."

As part of its annual supplier recognition program, AT&T took out a half-page ad in the June 5, 2007, edition of The Wall Street Journal to publicly thank the selected companies.

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


An Advisory To JMME, INC. Clients And Associates Regarding Allegations Against Steel Conduit Couplings

June 22, 2007

NFPA has been provided information on alleged steel conduit coupling failure

Profit motivated information has been submitted informally to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in an apparent attempt by a fluoropolymer chemical manufacturer seeking to discredit non-fire rated cable used in steel electrical metallic tubing (EMT) conduit to potentially increase demand for “plenum rated cable” or “other fire-rated cables to be installed in conduit.”  This follows 11-years of attempts by allied fluoropolymer interests to eliminate or grossly modify codes and building regulations for installation requirements of non-fluoropolymer products in competing industries.  In doing so, the recent deceptive and misleading information being submitted to NFPA suggests that “steel” is failing at low temperatures and that “steel conduit couplings” are failing on EMT conduit.  In fact, given the temperature of 450ºC as noted in their latest information, the attack is rather on:

  • Zinc couplings [zinc melts at 420ºC, (842ºF)],
  • Tin components in electrical systems [tin melts at 232ºC, (450ºF)],
  • Electrical installation practices,
  • Electrical labor practices,
  • Steel engineering and design
  • Steel workmanship
  • Steel labor practice
  • Metal workmanship
  • Metal engineering and design
  • Non-flame retardant cable jacket and insulation

In my opinion, a combination of events has led to this strategy:

While the development of zinc couplings manufactured to UL 514B specifications for use on EMT conduit systems might perform as the information infers, we are unaware of any testing that would demonstrate the findings related to coupling failure and subsequent fire development as is surmised.  It is unknown if any extensive testing by independent third-parties where coupling performance has been studied specifically in the NFPA 262 test with plenum-rated or other cable types.   Further, the existence of any fire data supporting the conclusions presented on the transmission of combustible gases in spreading actual fire beyond the fire zone is not available.  This would need to be researched more conclusively and if necessary addressed through engineering, design or product development.  Steel couplings likely do not perform as stated in the information; the direct statement that “the steel conduit couplings 'melting and failing' at temperatures beginning as low as 450 degrees C” appears to be inaccurate based on melting temperatures for steel and at best is a poorly or deliberately worded sentence intended to besmirch “steel” products.

We need to consider where this is headed with yet another round of misinformation, but I believe that a broad-based advocacy for steel, zinc, tin and plastic products used in electrical systems in accordance with the NEC and meeting UL and other manufacturing certification and listing requirements is becoming necessary.  Additionally, because the citation is specific to couplings, this brings in the need to have labor involved in the advocacy of the systems they install and the practices used to assure that the systems will perform as intended. 

We would like to propose that JMME develop such an advocacy plan and I respectfully seek your input on the need for such a partnership (a Partnership for Safe Electrical Systems administered through JMME, Inc.).  The efforts of the partnership would not only be intended to address issues presented at NFPA, but at any code or legislative body where similar issues would present themselves (like Massachusetts where a Dupont marketing partner was on the subcommittee overseeing the proposed regulation changes).  Partnership would be open to trade associations, labor organizations, and manufacturers of electrical components or integrated components used in electrical systems with specific interest in the advancement of the partnership; new members could be subject to a 2/3 approval of the directing vote of the partnership.

I welcome your commentary and relative interest in such a partnership.  I also welcome any input you would have on possible member partners.

If we can get this up and running, I would like to have representation ready to speak at the NFPA 90A Comments meeting.  I would go one step further by introducing the organization to NFPA Standards Council and NFPA President Jim Shannon personally during the fall of 2007.

John Moritz is President of JMME, Inc. , (http://www.jmme.com) a consulting firm providing manufacturers, end users and regulators with advice and strategic guidance on the important role plastics play in today's corporate and personal worlds. Since its inception, JMME has been dedicated to corporate responsibility for developing safe products, effective protections provided by codes and standards for the safe use of plastic products and the overall protection of sports participants and spectators through effective testing and development of plastic sports equipment. John has written numerous articles and presentations on issues related to the selection of plastics in various industries and their potential effects on the marketplace, environment and regulatory processes. John serves on numerous codes and standards technical committees where he has fought diligently to preserve the consensus process and the integrity of the documents. Inquiries are encouraged and welcomed.

©Copyright 2007, JMME, Inc.  All rights reserved.


Multimode Fiber Testing Gets International Attention

I  almost feel obligated to aplogize for writing about technical issues related to multimode fiber again. However, multimode fiber is undergoing a revival in both interest and performance that is creating new issues users and installers must be aware of to guarantee successful usage. So here we go again.

Multimode fiber research and development was shoved aside in the mid-1980s when the phone companies switched to single-mode fiber for their long-haul networks. As the telcos expanded their fiber usage, fiber manufacturers developed new and better types of single-mode fiber and perfected the manufacturing techniques, so single-mode fiber became incredibly high-performance with costs less than kite string or fishing line.

Meanwhile, the premises networking market developed around the PC and adopted multimode fiber for its use. Multimode was preferred for its easier on-site termination and its ability to use inexpensive LED sources at the lower speeds PC networks required. One fiber, 62.5/125 micron, was used for virtually all multimode premises fiber in the United States. Everything worked well on multimode fiber until network speeds approached 1 gigabit (billion bits) per second.

Networks using speeds up to 100 megabits (million bits) per second used inexpensive LED sources. These slower networks had relatively high loss margins, typically tolerating cable plant losses of 6 to 20 dB. Most were distance-limited by cable plant loss; although, bandwidth limitations caused by multimode dispersion was an issue at distances around 2 km.

With the introduction of gigabit Ethernet, LED sources were too slow. Only lasers offered adequate modulation capability. New inexpensive lasers, called VCSELs, had been developed that offered plenty of power and speed. The FDDI-grade 62.5/125 multimode fiber commonly used in premises networks had inadequate bandwidth capability and limited the distances over which gigabit links would operate, so networks moved toward laser-optimized 50/125 micron multimode fiber.

As transmission speeds get higher, the transmitter pulses get shorter, since you need to squeeze more pulses in the same time frame. A shorter pulse has less total power content, but the receiver still needs a certain power level to recognize the signal. So, the loss margin goes down. For example, if a 100 Mb/s link works with a 14 dB link margin, the same link modulated 10 times faster at 1 Gb/s would have a link margin 10 times (or 10 dB) less, or 4 dB.

In addition, the bandwidth limitation of multimode fiber reduced the link margin even further. The pulse spreading caused by the fiber dispersion reduced the link margin of gigabit Ethernet to a worst-case value of about 2.3 dB.

Now, a link that can operate over a cable plant loss range of 0 to 14 dB provides a lot of latitude in installing and testing the cable plant. It obviously can tolerate higher loss connectors, and the need for accurate loss testing is minimal. But, a link that has a margin of only 2–4 dB is more critical. Connectors must be lower loss, well below the TIA-allowed 0.75 dB per connector. Testing also needs to be more accurate, since an uncertainty of 0.5 dB in loss measurements is a lot more worrisome in testing a 2–4 dB link than a 14 dB one.

The biggest factor in testing uncertainty for multimode fiber is mode power distribution, which I covered in the April column. At a recent TIA fiber optic standards meeting, multimode fiber testing was the primary subject of discussion. This much seemed to be agreed on:

1. Multimode testing requires controlled test source launch conditions.

2. Current methods of specifying launch conditions are inadequate.

3. OTDR testing (covered in July 2006) is not comparable to light source and power meter testing (insertion loss).

4. Test equipment manufacturers are lax in understanding the issues, specifying their instruments and educating customers on the proper way to test multimode fiber.

5. U.S. and international standards are not in agreement.

As a result of discussing these issues, the TIA FO-4 fiber optic group is starting a task group with high priority to address these issues. The group includes enough technical talent that a solution is finally likely. How long will it take? Probably, at least a year, but once the work is completed, we should be able to address the above issues and create a reasonable test method that will reduce multimode testing uncertainty and facilitate the continued use of multimode fiber for gigabit and 10 gigabit networks and maybe even higher. The next step will be to get the methods incorporated in industry standards, which is, alas, another time-consuming project.

EC

The FOA, which I represent at TIA meetings, is considering starting a multimode test round robin, sending a simulated cable plant around to any interested parties willing to test it using their methods and test equipment and allow the results to be included in a report to the TIA committees. Any fiber optic contractors interested in participating should contact me directly.

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


Daikin Introduces "Unidyne TechnaGard™ Series" Product Line for Fabric Stain Protection and Repellency

Daikin's introduction of a new line of protective and repellent products offers the best of both worlds:  superior fluorine based water and oil repellency and stain release in a C6 platform which enhances the environmental performance of the protective chemistry.

Daikin's Unidyne TechnaGard Series maintains the superior level of performance the market has come to expect from Daikin's current Unidyne Series products--C8 based products that have risen to become the industry standard.  The new technology provides excellent and durable repellency and general stain protection and soon, stain    release, for a broad spectrum of stains and soiling on an array of textile, carpet, nonwoven, and other substrates.  A product is also in the regulatory approval process for paper treatment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rigorously reviewed Daikin's Unidyne TechnaGard Series of protective and repellent products in 2007, and has given approval for manufacture and sales.

Unidyne Business Manager Mike Ladd noted that, "High performance is certainly the hallmark of the traditional platform, but our customers felt that they were spending too much time explaining levels of PFOA contained  therein.  With Daikin's new C6 platform, customers can concentrate on selling the added value of stain and soil protection, an area where resources are much better spent".

Tison Keel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Daikin America commented that, "We are committing significant resources to assure the continuing attractiveness of both the performance and environmental sustainability of this technology platform and product line.  We are excited that the C6 technology platform will give us the base to develop a broad line up of protective coatings, mold releases, fire fighting compounds and other products which are ready for new consumer trends and regulatory environments in both North America and globally."

Daikin America, Inc., (www.daikin-america.com ) is a leader in the fluorochemicals industry, offering superior products, including repellents, protectants, stain releases, fluoropolymers and elastomers, to customers worldwide.   Daikin is committed to developing new uses for fluorochemicals in the years ahead, both in everyday products and advanced applications.  With affiliated operations in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe, Daikin is positioned to meet the needs of an increasingly borderless business environment.


Corning Cable Systems Introduces Field-Installable Connector To Simplify FTTx Deployments

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) telecommunications segment, introduces the OptiSnap Connector, a field-installable no-epoxy, no-polish connector that enables quick and cost-effective termination of fiber optic cables.

The OptiSnap Connector installs in less than one minute through the use of Corning Cable Systems’ patented, high-precision mechanical splice technology. It is ideal for single-mode fiber-to-the-x applications, maintenance and restoration of building cable, and MDU applications where installation setup and teardown time is critical.

The installation system features an on-tool patented go/no-go feedback signal to confirm installation is performed correctly every time. When the fiber is inserted and the cam activated, a pass/fail light on the installation tool signals that the installation was successful.

The connector’s factory-polished ceramic ferrule provides superior end-face geometry, ensuring consistently low insertion loss and high-performance return loss. The OptiSnap Connector is available in single-mode SC, ST and LC connector styles and features a typical insertion loss of 0.2 dB for UPC versions and 0.4 dB for APC versions.

The OptiSnap Connector Installation Tool Kit contains everything needed for installation of the different connector styles. No epoxy, polishing film or other consumables are required, and there is no need for electrical power for ovens or lights. The tool kit requires virtually no set-up or tear down time, allowing installers to get in and out of installation sites quickly. It is available with either a high-precision flat or angled cleaver to provide the connector reflectance performance for a variety of applications.

The OptiSnap Connector will be featured in Corning Cable Systems’ booth (#4440) at NXTcomm 2007, June 19-21 in Chicago.

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


Some Straight Talk About Installer Training

By Bill Graham:

As an electrician and electrical contractor, entering the data communications field in the early 1990s was an exciting new endeavor. It would end up also being both rewarding and frustrating.

Exciting because as an electrician I had every qualification I could obtain in the electrical construction and industrial field including being a master electrician and licensed electrical contractor in Toronto, as well as holding licenses from other provinces.

In 1993 as I entered data communications and more specifically fiber optics as a sideways move from the electrical field, I realized that there were so many new things I had to learn and quickly in order to get up to speed.

I often joke that I spent the first two years on the telephone as I gathered information on materials, tools and methods, creating files on all these products and making good use of the companies’ 1-800 numbers and mail-in reply cards.

And all the while getting fiber optic product training and certification courses from companies such as Corning and AT&T at whatever place I had to travel.

The Rewards: I soon realized that data communications installers and fiber optics installers in particular, were generally being paid 20–50% more per hour than electricians.

A lot of work was piece based, which paid installers extremely well.

At the same time, electricians went through four or more years of an apprenticeship, passed rigid exams and were required to hold a license, and with this came some liability.

The data communications installer, at least at the time, needed no certification and often was on the job with very meager experience -- and for this received much higher compensation.

The Frustration: My first awakening into the data communications business occurred in 1994 when I attempted to buy 10 sets of tools to equip a fiber optic class. I faxed in the order to a supplier and received no reply.

A few days later another supplier called up and told me that if I wanted fiber optic tools and materials I had to buy them through his company.

Imagine the surprise and frustration I felt. I had been purchasing electrical materials, tools and services for 25 years and had never been told whom I had to purchase from.

If that was not bad enough, vendors started approaching me. They wanted me to be part of their certification courses so that I could install their products.

I quickly realized that data-communications was much different from the electrical industry.

Questionable warranties

I also found that the certification from a vendor was considered very important to the customer and also that this “vendor certification” meant the following: the installed system (vendor A) must contain only their products. If I installed another company’s products I could lose (Vendor A) certification. If I did not purchase a specific amount of product a year I could lose my (Vendor A) certification.

I also found that a Vendor A system was easy to sell to my customer because it had a “lifetime” warranty rather than their competitor’s only “15-year” warranty.

Now, the vendor didn’t specify whether it was the customer’s life, the system life or heaven forbid my life that this time period applied to. But they did have inserted in the fine print that any change made to the system by anyone other than them would void all warranty.

In other words, if an installer changed a pair of wires on a block, the warranty could be technically void. And the most amazing thing to me was that they were able to sell this to a customer.

The data communications customer and installer are obviously subservient to the vendors and manufacturers. And to the vendors and manufacturers this was an arrangement made in heaven.

As an electrician, had any company said to me that their receptacle or switch could only be installed in “their” box with “their” cover plate they would have been laughed at. Materials are produced to interoperability standards to ensure that they are compatible. And interoperability standards include all components in a data communications system to ensure compatibility in the same way as they would in an electrical or a plumbing system.

Had any company said that we must take their training program to install their products and we would lose this certification if we installed another company’s products, again they would have been laughed at by the electrical industry.

I can remember a couple of instances over the past 30 years that this idea was floated within the electrical industry, but it was a non-starter and quickly died. Generic training for most skills has had a long and successful history worldwide.

Somehow at some point in time, the data-communications industry users allowed communications equipment manufacturers to tell them what was best for them, what they should buy and who they should purchase from.

It is time for customers and users to reclaim this right. The result of this is many “total solutions” by manufacturers that end up as the most expensive type of installation, with the most parts, and not necessarily the best system.

The Solution: Certification for fiber optics installers began with my affiliation with the Fiber Optic Association (www.foa.org) around the time it was formed in 1997. Founded by Jim and Karen Hayes, the objective of the association was to set certification standards within the industry and also be non-vendor specific.

At last count, the FOA, which is managed by a five-person board none of whom are part of the vendor community, had upwards of 20,000 certified installers across North America and the Caribbean.

An advisory board has a minority number of vendors. While vendor control is not wanted or possible, the input from them is needed and should be given freely. For the fiber optic industry this has a proven history of success that has served the industry well.

However, for the copper industry there is still the same confusion. Nova Scotia and Ontario at least have a “Network Cabling Specialist” designation and an apprenticeship program.

In Nova Scotia, this program is supported well with appropriate code changes, but in Ontario, the code sections 60 and 54 were removed in 1983. The Electrical Safety Authority and provincial politicians have not yet found the intestinal fortitude to reinstate these sections, despite renewed fire and safety concerns from the insurance industry, with large network systems in buildings installed without the advantage of codes, standards or inspections.

The simple solution is for government, vocational schools and industry to support a standardized training program for structured cabling installers. This ideally would have vendor support, but not control.

A new organization, and a long awaited breath of fresh air to the industry, called the Structured Cabling Association www.scausa.org/ (SCA) recently hit the ground running as the industry’s first “non-profit professional society” focusing specifically on education, certification and standards.

Subhead: Knowledge is power

This is modeled after the Fiber Optic Association and, I feel, is the solution to the problem. Will we see an immediate change? No, certainly not. It will take some time for people to be trained and certified through this program. But it will come to be in time. Customer acceptance is a prime requirement and this comes through non-vendor specific customer education.

Knowledge is power. Venders must be willing to support the training and certification efforts without strings attached and some do a commendable job with this.

Unfortunately, others still think a training institution is a threat to them or is competing with them and will even have the gall to suggest that the training institution should purchase their products to demonstrate in the classroom.

Vendors must readily support the program with product support. Governments at all levels have a role to play and must support this with community college programs as well as providing adequate codes and standards for teachers and industrial instructors to teach to.

Government has an obligation to protect consumers by providing standards that are not vendor controlled.

Lastly, of course is the data communications installer who must realize that he or she is part of an exciting, fast growing and lucrative field.

And that person must commit to becoming knowledgeable and also certified in this skill all the while committing to life-long learning to keep abreast of the flood of new products.

All players in the data-communications industry need to realize that if the customer is served with good products, installed with up-to-date and appropriate standards by trained and skilled individuals, the entire industry will flourish.

William Graham is an electrical contractor, a certified fiber optic specialist in testing, connectorizing and splicing through the Fiber Optic Association. He operates Mississauga Training Consultants, a company that provides fiber optic certification training, grounding expertise, and VDV network cabling systems inspector certification. Over 1,800 installers have been certified through his program He can be reached at 905-785-8012 or via e-mail at mrfiber@canada.com.

Reprinted with full permission of CNS Magazine –2007 www.cablingsystems.com


CABA Enhances Building Intelligence Quotient Tool

http://www.caba.org/aboutus/releases/release131.html

May 30, 2007

CABA LAUNCHES INDUSTRY TASK FORCE TO EXAMINE INTELLIGENT BUILDINGS ROADMAP

RECOMMENDATIONS

http://www.caba.org/aboutus/releases/release131.html


Berk-Tek And Ortronics/Legrand Introduce New Marketing Initiatives For NetClear ESS (Electronic Safety and Security)

Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, are pleased to introduce a new brochure, along with additional web content focusing on the NetClear ESS (Electronic Safety and Security) structured cabling solutions.  To reinforce education on structured cabling in the video surveillance market, a technical session on the “Path to IP” will be presented at the BICSI Region Meeting on July 23 at Hershey Inn (Hershey, PA).

NetClear ESS builds upon the enterprise structured cabling solutions from Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand, and provides added value for the security and surveillance market as technology evolves to include IP-connected devices, such as CCTV cameras, access control and other building automation systems.  The brochure serves as an excellent tool for I.T. managers and security integrators, who recognize that designing their surveillance systems according to TIA industry standards, which are based on structured cabling, will ensure network compatibility with current and future technologies, and improve their return on investment.

The brochure provides a look into the three scenarios that provide a path to IP and includes a city view poster of different vertical markets, video system requirements and suggested cabling systems.  This includes addressing the structured cabling needs for an analog camera environment, a hybrid environment and a total IP-solution utilizing both fiber optic and UTP copper cabling.  “We recognize that traditional legacy analog cameras are still the majority installed base, but that there will be a progression to digital security cameras,” states Todd Harpel, Director of Marketing for Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company.  “However the common thread is that the structured cabling system can be applied to both analog and digital cameras to create a total IP-addressable environment,” he adds.

The NetClear web site (www.netclear-channel.com) features a special section dedicated to NetClear ESS to include the brochure, lab reports, articles and white papers, as they evolve and become available. The NetClear ESS product solution sets include copper, from Category 5e to 10G, and fiber, from indoor to outdoor cables, to suit any environment and any budget for all data, voice and video applications.  “By applying the same cabling expertise as the IT enterprise market, Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek can offer a parallel network specifically designed to migrate CCTV and other building automation applications to run efficiently utilizing the same structured cabling principles,” states Marybeth Marx, Vice President of Marketing, Ortronics/Legrand.

On July 23 at the BICSI Northeast Region meeting, to be held at the Hershey Inn (Hershey, PA), Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, Marketing Analyst for Berk-Tek, will present a technical session entitled “The Path to IP: Structured Cabling for Surveillance and Security” to BICSI members including cable contractors, IT managers, distributors and manufacturers. This will be a “vendor-neutral,” in-depth presentation on the changing goals of the security system as it evolves from a reactionary function to a pro-active function and the procedures needed to achieve this. Moving from a legacy analog system to a digital IP-based system does not mean overhauling existing cameras and equipment investments.   Ms. Oliver will present structured cabling scenarios to address these different surveillance and building environments.

For your free copy of the brochure or more information on NetClear ESS, call 1-888-879-0724 or visit our web site at www.netclear-channel.com.

About the NetClear Alliance
NetClear is a Technology Alliance between Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand to provide advanced, end-to-end co-engineered solutions for enhanced Category 5e, Category 6, Augmented Category 6 – 10 Gigabit and optical fiber channels  – all backed by a 25-year warranty.

About Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company
For more than 45 years, Berk-Tek has been a leading manufacturer of more than 100 different network copper and fiber optic cable products designed to transport high-speed voice, data and video transmissions. For more information, visit www.berktek.com.

About Ortronics/Legrand
Ortronics/Legrand is a global leader in commercial Category 5e, Category
6 and 10 Gig copper, fiber optic, wireless and residential/MDU high performance, high capacity structured cabling systems. For more information, visit www.ortronics.com.


Illinois Cable Franchises: What Does The State Get In Return?

What do we get in exchange for passing HB 1500 in Illinois? Giving up local municipal negotiating rights for one statewide franchise agreement has to at least rank with the Indians selling off Manhattan for a couple trinkets and beads worth $22. It’s in the category of dumbest deals ever made.

Sheep is State Animal in Illinois

The biggest disappointment is to see all Illinois state representatives voting for HB 1500 without even asking for anything for the state in return (like a guarantee for network infrastructure to be upgraded to 1 Gbps by 2011). That would have been a fair deal and would reflect some good negotiating skills on the part of the legislature.

Even if only one representative stood up and said “we demand more in exchange for giving up municipal negotiating rights,” I would have felt better. There would have been some hope that someone “really gets it” when it comes to understanding that the state’s future partially hinges on a solid network infrastructure.

Unfortunately, they don’t get it. Does anyone even have the background to question the deal? There are no hungry wolves in the legislature who are looking to fight for their piece of meat on this table.

There aren’t even any sheep dogs protecting the rest of the flock. What about all the advisors, the Illinois Commerce Commission and staff members on the payroll? Where was their input to question the deal? No one seems to be committed to raising the bar of expectations or the speed of network services.

Wake up.

Illinois is behind the rest of the country in terms of job creation since 2001. It is also lagging behind the other Midwestern states in terms of job creation since 2001. Payroll taxes make up a good part of state funding and those salaries have been shrinking. States that people used to make fun of – like Kentucky – are now ahead of Illinois.

I remember working on a project in Kentucky some 23 years ago and other consultants saying they would never live there because it was so backward. Evidently they have caught up and exceeded our pace in developing a broadband initiative.

They understand my mantra that economic development equals broadband connectivity and broadband connectivity equals jobs. Cutting a deal to install AT&T’s Project Lightspeed (U-verse) will create 1,500 to 2,000 jobs for unions within the phone company. The unions are supportive of that.

If Illinois would have stood some ground and demanded that in exchange for a statewide franchise, AT&T would have to upgrade all facilities to provide 1 Gbps of service by 2011.

We could have seen 15,000 to 20,000 jobs for installation and implementation support teams if we raised the expectations of fiber to the premise. That does not include all the new jobs that would be created by companies locating their corporate facilities here.

Broadband connectivity is one of the top three issues for corporate site-selection committees. If you don’t have it, you won’t make the short list of new facility locations.

If you are serious about competing for new corporate facilities to locate into your area, you better have some serious broadband connectivity available. How much is enough? How much can you offer today? How competitive do you want to be?

Thought you could get a Boeing facility with 1,000 jobs to locate to your municipality with DSL or Wi-Fi? Guess again.

If you want to compete today, you better have double-digit gigabit speeds. If you can provide 10 Gbps service, I know someone who can provide 20 Gbps to corporate tenants. You can provide 40 Gbps today? Though that’s really excellent, I know someone putting in 80 Gbps service.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Set your sights on getting a Dairy Queen or a miniature golf range and promote free Wi-Fi there. I hope you get a lot of vacation traffic through your town.

Give Credit to AT&T’s Lobbying

A lot of independent groups trying to promote municipal broadband, Wi-Fi and other Internet initiatives take on AT&T. They argue ideals like “broadband for everyone” and taking up other consumer causes.

Where is Illinois at in upgrading to fiber-optic infrastructure and investing in a competitive network infrastructure to attract and maintain economic development? While this is a huge undertaking, it has to be done if a state is to remain viable.

Just like roads and airports, network infrastructure is required. Based on the outcome of the Illinois vote, these groups failed.

Their efforts did not influence one legislator. Even though their motto is get Illinois online (GIO), they seemed to be overrun by keep Illinois on stagecoach services (KISS). That is where we are. We’re stagnated with a copper-based infrastructure.

Hopefully those in the Illinois Senate will try to negotiate something tangible for the state’s network infrastructure in exchange for granting a statewide franchise agreement.

For a universal franchise, you’d think you would get some universal coverage and a guarantee to upgrade to real broadband connectivity like 1 Gbps.

No speed. No service. No franchise. Can I be any clearer?

Carlinism: When you get thrown to the wolves, you either become one or you’re eaten.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


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

Copyright 2007 Jim Carlini


The Changing Data Centre Blueprint

By Paul Barker

Hardware consolidation, high-speed structured cabling, improved power management and cooling approaches, virtualization and advanced security techniques will form the cornerstone of a new and improved data centre infrastructure moving forward, says a senior vice president with Cisco Systems Inc.

Jayshree Ullal, head of Cisco’s data centre, switching and security technology group, made the comments in April at the company’s Networkers Solutions Forum 2007 held in Toronto.

When asked how easy or difficult it will be to implement these and other advances, she said that while there is a lot of new technology coming “down the pipe,” the good news is for the most part, it will rely on structured cabling that has already been installed.

“It’s not like you have to rip out your fiber optics or Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable,” said Ullal, who was nominated one of the 20 powerful Women to Watch in 2001 by Newsweek magazine. “You can keep it and maintain it. The change to the cabling infrastructure is minimal.

The same cannot be said for the power equipment requirements in the data centre space moving forward. Mark Weiner, director of market management for data centre solutions at Cisco, pointed out in his blog recently that power and cooling one of top concerns for data centre architects and many CIOs today.

“Simple data points show that power consumption by servers in data centers has doubled from 2003 (5.6 million) to 2005 (10.3 million),” he said. “The power needed for these servers and associated infrastructure would require 5 power plants at 1000 megawatts output each to support this load.”

“Certainly servers are the primary culprit for data centre power consumption and a major area for vendor focus in power reduction. What is not as clear to many data centre, storage and network IT professionals is that nearly all aspects of data centre infrastructure can be optimized for power consumption, as well as lower resulting TCO.”

Organizations today, says Ullal, need to pay far more attention to power consumption issues than they have in the past, a point brought out by Gartner Inc. in a report released late last year (see CNS, Jan./Feb. 2007, p. 16).

In it, the research firm said that during the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase in the deployment of high-density servers, which is leading to significant problems in power and cooling for data centres.

Another supreme challenge is how best to protect the data in a data centre. According to Ullal, the free exchange of applications across multiple networks can open the door to potential abuses if the proper safeguards are not engineered into the network foundation.

“The real issue is that the types of threats are changing,” she says. Increasingly, your devices and applications are more susceptible to attack. Everything is linked.”

Ullal wrote recently that controlling access to a corporate network has become a much more far re-reaching and in-depth endeavor: “Protection built direct into network elements, which can interact with one another in the context of a policy-based framework transparent to all applications, will form a self-defending network of the future. This adaptive network will respond to security events as they take place rather later when an organization may have already suffered damage.”

Reprinted with full permission of CNS Magazine –2007 www.cablingsystems.com


New Patented Deep-Fiber System Provides Cost-Effective Alternative for New Build Networks

CommScope, Inc.(NYSE: CTV), a world leader in infrastructure solutions for communicationnetworks, announced it has successfully deployed the BrightPath(TM)system with three major broadband cable operators, and has installationspending with three additional cable customers.

BrightPath(TM) is an innovative deep-fiber distribution system designed to work seamlessly with existing Hybrid-Fiber-Coax (HFC) networks.

BrightPath(TM) is fully compatible with existing headend and subscriber equipment, allowing operators to cost-effectively deliver their current suite of analog, digital and interactive services over fiber to the home.

BrightPath(TM) can be deployed selectively in new build applications to provide a competitive advantage, with lower upfront cost and maintenance relative to a traditional passive optical network (PON).

"We are pleased to offer this unique solution to our broadband customers," said Jim Hughes, CommScope Executive Vice President, Broadband Sales and Marketing.  "We believe BrightPath(TM) provides them with a competitive, deep-fiber solution that utilizes the current DOCSIS-based infrastructure."

www.commscope.com


Hitachi Ships More Than 6,000 Intelligent Virtual Storage Controllers Worldwide, Extending Its Lead in Storage

Hitachi Data Systems Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT - News) and the only provider of Services Oriented Storage Solutions, announced that Hitachi Ltd. has shipped more than 6,000 intelligent virtual storage controllers worldwide, fueling further market share gains in the storage virtualization space.

"Hitachi continues to lead the industry in enterprise and modular-class storage controller-based virtualization deployments," said Carl Greiner, senior vice president, Infrastructure & Software, OVUM. "With over 6,000 virtual controllers shipped to date, Hitachi continues to deliver to users' desire for a unified, cost-effective, and heterogeneous storage infrastructure with common functionality and management."

Building on the momentum established by the category-defining Hitachi Universal Storage Platform launched in September 2004, Hitachi continues to push the innovation envelop in storage virtualization and expand its leadership position in the industry. The company's latest flagship storage virtualization solution, the all-new Hitachi Universal Storage Platform(TM) V, delivers the benefits of proven large-scale external storage virtualization with thin provisioning -- a new service called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning. This enables customers to allocate virtual disk storage based on their anticipated future needs without needing to dedicate physical disk storage up front. If the need for additional physical disk arises, capacity can be purchased at a later time -- at a lower cost -- and implementation occurs transparently, without any disruption to mission-critical applications.

"Hitachi continues to provide customers the ultimate in enterprise storage innovation -- taking customers Beyond Virtualization -- combining the virtualization of volumes for non-disruptive data mobility with the virtualization of capacity within those volumes to directly address the power, cooling and space costs of allocated but unused space," said Hu Yoshida, CTO, Hitachi Data Systems. "The fact is that Hitachi has reached out beyond the confines of a single 'box' to do what nobody else can do -- manage all Hitachi and non-Hitachi storage products and provide common management and common replication services -- which is not a box, not a system, but a true storage services platform, the all-new Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V."

"The virtualization of storage assets is a high priority for enterprises that want to better manage all IT assets and respond rapidly to changing business requirements. IDC expects spending on block-level storage virtualization to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 53.9% between 2006 and 2010," said Richard Villars, vice president, Storage Systems, at IDC. "Hitachi with its intelligent virtual storage controllers, was an early leader in the delivery of storage virtualization solutions; and with the recent announcement of its Hitachi Universal Platform V, is well positioned to help enterprises further accelerate data center and application consolidation, while providing a clear path for future information growth."

"Hitachi has reached a milestone in its storage products history. Clearly, their focused efforts on storage system innovation is resonating with users, and their successful execution is reflected in unit sales and numbers of third-party storage systems attached in a virtualized environment," said Tom Trainer, senior storage analyst at Evaluator Group, Inc.

"We believe that external storage virtualization will be requisite to storage networking," said Tony Asaro, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "External storage virtualization creates a linkage between otherwise disparate storage systems providing valuable functionality including data migrations, heterogeneous remote mirroring, and intelligent tiered storage. Hitachi truly understands this and is executing successfully on its vision. The quantifiable proof of this is 6,000 USP and NSC systems installed within production environments, which is a really big number especially in the enterprise-class storage market."

Hitachi Data Systems also recently launched the industry's first Services Oriented Storage Solutions. Based on the Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V and a multitude of new storage software innovations, this intelligent architecture will dramatically alter the current stranglehold that storage architectures have on business flexibility by unleashing a services-oriented approach and specific functionality that enables business units and IT to tailor storage services to business needs and ensure that business units only pay for what is actually used.

About Hitachi Data Systems
Hitachi Data Systems Corporation provides Services Oriented Storage Solutions that enable heterogeneous storage to be dynamically provisioned according to business needs and centrally managed via industry-leading Hitachi storage virtualization software. As an integral part of the Hitachi Storage Solutions Group, Hitachi Data Systems delivers storage infrastructure platforms, storage management software, and storage consulting services through direct and indirect channels in over 170 countries and regions. Its customers include nearly 60-percent of Fortune 100 companies. For more information, visit the company's Web site at http://www.hds.com.

About Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi, Ltd., (NYSE:HIT - News; TOKYO:6501 - News), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global electronics company with approximately 384,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2006 (ended March 31, 2007) consolidated revenues totaled 10,247 billion yen ($86.8 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 http://www.hitachi.com.


Revolutionizing Residential Entertainment & Communications Connecting To The Future

Many homes today likely have multiple TVs and PCs, as well as traditional phones, cell phones, numerous portable audio devices such as  MP3 players and an insatiable appetite for connectivity. Most homes have CATV, and many are soon going to have an option for Internet protocol TV (IPTV) or digital TV streamed over the Internet (if they have not already discovered YouTube.com or similar sites). Home theaters are becoming popular in big homes. Almost 10 million homes use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service. Security systems may include intrusion alarms and video monitoring, and they probably connect to a monitoring service. You can also get systems that remotely control heating and AC, lighting or other electrical devices.

Use of these devices is limited, however, since much of this new technology requires high speed connections to the outside world over digital subscriber loop (DSL), cable modem, wireless or fiber to the home. In addition, they need connections to each other for sharing broadband, playing games, music, sharing files, etc., as well as mass data storage for ripped or downloaded music and video for shared viewing and listening.

The utilization issue is partly hardware and partly software, and that goes for both inside and outside the home. Development of appropriate technologies is focusing on how to format content (music and video) so that it is compressed enough to be transmitted easily over communications networks while not materially affecting its quality and protecting copyrights. Transmission technologies are being developed to more efficiently distribute content.

Right now, we are going to concentrate on the connection between the home and the outside world, examining the options and solutions for providing high-bandwidth service.

Connecting the home

There are four options available for broadband connections to the home today: cable modem, DSL, wireless and fiber to the premises (FTTP), with more on the horizon. Availability of each option often is localized, depending on geography, economics and politics. The first broadband connection for the home, cable modem service from CATV operators, continues to have the largest number of subscribers. Of the 70 million homes that have cable TV, almost half also have high-speed Internet access over their cable connection. CATV uses a standard cable modem over a hybrid fiber-coax network, which offers reasonable bandwidth and, of course, easy video connections and large selections of programming, which has helped it become the broadband leader.

In response, the phone companies offered first ISDN and then DSL service. ISDN was too little, too late. At 64 kb/s, it was little faster than analog modems of the era but much more expensive. DSL offers speeds over phone wires comparable to cable modems, but connection speed is affected by the length and the quality of the phone wires. For many phone companies, their copper infrastructure was too old and too long to support DSL. Most DSL service is offered in newer suburban areas, leaving older urban or rural areas without service.

Wireless seems too good to be true (and often it is). Wireless allows connections without cabling for those who have the right hardware or subscribe to the right service. Wireless includes Wi-Fi, what most users have available in their laptop, Internet over cell phones, satellite, WiMax, Bluetooth, Zigbee and more.

Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) is the most popular, available in coffee shops and from municipal networks in many cities. At the current time, the standards for Wi-Fi are at the “n” revision, as the manufacturers keep rolling out new technologies to make it faster. Since not all Wi-Fi versions are compatible with earlier versions, using the latest, fastest version requires new hardware purchases. Wi-Fi is very limited in distance, perfect for coffee shop or inside a small home, but municipal networks require antennas, called access points, spaced closely around city streets. Security is a problem with Wi-Fi; unless properly set up, anyone can access any Wi-Fi network. And finally, limited bandwidth means limited download speeds, number of users or both.

Most of the other options are small players or works in progress. Cell phone networks offer Internet connections also, but the limitations of these voice networks makes access very slow, practically limiting them to e-mail use. They also tend to be expensive. Satellite connections offer Internet along with video, but mostly require a phone line for uplinks, limiting speed. WiMax is a long-distance wireless network still under development for municipal and suburban connections, while broadband over power lines has been around a long time but appears to have both technical and economic issues.

That leaves FTTP. Since the phone companies began deploying fiber more than 20 years ago, they have completely rebuilt their long-distance and municipal networks using fiber.

However, that covers only about 20 percent of their network distance. The final 80 percent, the connection to the home, remains copper. Fiber to the home is the only current option that is either a stable technology or offers virtually unlimited bandwidth and distance reach for future expansion, so it is the only option for connecting every home that can carry all the proposed services for the foreseeable future.

But, market conditions are changing. Telcos are losing landlines to cell phones and VoIP phones. Old copper lines that will not support DSL also are expensive to maintain. Users want all the new entertainment options becoming available online, and telcos want to provide them. Finally, the economics of FTTP are changing. After the dot-com era went bust, the prices of fiber optic components dropped as much as 70 percent. New architectures for FTTP allow sharing expensive components to reduce the cost of connecting a single subscriber to not much more than copper. The telcos are adopting two fiber architectures, FTTP and fiber to the curb (FTTC).

Besides the telcos, others are seeing the advantages of FTTP, as municipalities and private investors are getting into the market, taking advantage of the declining cost of fiber hardware and the desire of local governments to provide a benefit their constituency wants. With all the activity, it is not surprising that fiber connects to more than 1 million homes, a number expected to double annually for the next few years.

Let’s see how the technology works.

Fiber to the premises architecture

There are several ways to implement FTTP, with different architectures having different applications and advantages/disadvantages:

Home run—A fiber is run from central office (CO) directly to every home. Each connection is a full duplex optical link, making this option generally more expensive from the standpoint of fiber and electronics requirements. It is used in some small systems, such as gated communities, sometimes with two fibers, one for digital services such as Internet and VoIP, the other for analog CATV. Some people refer to this as a P2P or point-to-point network.

Active star—An active star network uses fiber from the CO to a local active node (switch) carrying multiplexed signals to be distributed on another fiber link to every customer. At the active node, (electronic) switching selects each customer and connects to a dedicated optical link to the premises. This may be a more expensive network due to the electronics and local powering required, since the node requires uninterruptible local power to support services like 911, or it may be cheaper for small networks that do not need the size or capability of a PON network. Each system needs to be considered carefully in light of all options.

Passive optical network (PON)—Most FTTP systems are based on PON architectures. The PON uses a passive optical splitter near the subscribers to share a single fiber connecting a group of up to 32 subscribers to the CO. Not only does a PON share fiber, it shares electronics, using one transmitter at the CO split at the coupler to connect all 32 homes, greatly reducing connection costs. Basic PON architectures are widely used because they usually are the least expensive way of implementing FTTP. The coupler used near the subscriber is passive, so no power is required except at the CO and subscriber.

A PON system uses wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), which sends multiple signals over a single fiber, each using a different wavelength of light, to send multiple services over a single fiber. Usually a PON network sends voice and data downstream on 1,490 nm and video downstream at 1,550 nm. The upstream signal uses inexpensive 1,310 nm lasers at each subscriber location. Upstream data from multiple subscribers is time-division multiplexed, so each subscriber has a time slot to send data back to the system.

Fiber to the curb

An alternative to FTTP is FTTC, which brings fiber to the neighborhood and installs a local switch, usually in or near a current pedestal. The fiber replaces the copper from the pedestal to the CO, using only the short copper run from the pedestal to the customer premises to make the final connection. These short lengths of copper allow higher DSL speeds than a direct CO connection and, therefore, more flexibility in services offered. Telcos are using FTTC in newer subdivisions where the copper cabling is new enough or short enough to support faster DSL services.

A new standard for Ethernet in the first mile (802.3ah) is possible with higher capability than current DSL. Also, if sufficient fibers are installed from the CO to the pedestal at the time of a FTTC upgrade, the system can be converted to a FTTP PON system later by running fiber optic drop cables to each customer.

FTTP activity

No broadband connection offers either the current performance of FTTP or the future options for even higher speed upgrades. As a result, FTTP is the focus of many telcos and municipalities. More than 1 million homes were connected on fiber in 2006. This is creating new opportunities for contractors and installers, although job skills are not just traditional fiber skills (see Fiber Optics, February 2007), but include traditional telephone and CATV installation plus PC networking. For those with appropriate skills, training and certification, the opportunity is practically unlimited.

For more information on FTTP, see the FTTP section of The Fiber Optic Association Web site: www.thefoa.org/FTTX/.           EC

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

Reprinted with full permission of ECMag – July issue 2007 www.ecmag.com


CCI Provides More Flexibility With High-End RGB Cables For Commercial And Residential Video Systems

Coleman Cable Inc. (CCI) announces a new line of Signal® high-end RGB coax cables to support a wide range of applications for commercial and residential video systems.  The new mini coaxes can be used to transfer HDTV or traditional video, digital or analog audio, and cable TV between electronic components.

A 3-coax version of the CCI line (#99403) transfers the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) signal from the video sources to the displays. A 5-coax version (#99405) can be used with projectors that require horizontal and vertical synchronization, in addition to the RGB signal, or for a combination of digital and analog audio.

CCI’s new line of bundled precision video coaxial cables now include Cat 5e cables which provide solutions for additional applications including internet telephone, networking, IR control, audio/video over baluns and automation.

“Flexibility is the key with our new RGB line,” remarked Deane Myers, product /market manager of CCI’s Security/Home Technology Division. “Custom installers now can easily move audio/video signals between components as diverse as CCTV and HDTV or analog and digital audio.”

CCI’s new precision video coax cables’ solid 23 AWG center conductor offers superior electrical performance over stranded, especially at higher frequencies, and is easier to terminate than stranded. Each mini coax is sweep tested to 3.0 GHz and constructed with 100% foil and 95% tinned copper (TC) braid to offer excellent shielding against EMI and RFI interference. The product also complies with the new proposed SCTE standard for mini coax.

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


New Customized Product From SMP DATA

CISCO SYSTEMS has a “velvet hammer” switch in their Cisco 7600 series. www.cisco.com This powerful product has specialized connectivity requirements. The Custom Design Group at SMP DATA (formerly; Superior Modular Products) took the Cisco concept and customized the SMP Data Shielded Ethernet Telco (RJ21X) to solve Cisco T1-E1 application. This shielded rack mount 24 port patch panel (DCC2484/25T1-S) has been specifically design as an accessory for the Cisco PID SPA-24CHT1-CE-ATM. www.smpdata.com

More information to follow next month: on this exciting new Custom Design Group at SMP DATA. They are focused on the OEM market switch manufacturers and end user specialized needs. Get all the news that you can use in HOTS (Heard On The Street) column on www.wireville.com


CISCO Leads The Market

Cisco Relying on Holistic Approach to Navigate Promising but Challenging Emerging Markets

Logistical, operational and political complexities are all part of doing business in burgeoning national economies

This is the second of a two-part series on Cisco's emerging markets strategy. The first article, which explained Cisco's new global approach and the reasons for its formation, can be found here.

July 9, 2007

by Charles Waltner, News@Cisco

Related Information

Cisco Charting Growth in Emerging Markets

Cisco Relying on Ethics, Education to Navigate Politics of Emerging Markets

Emerging markets sure look good on paper, but as Cisco Systems knows, the devil is in the details.

Great change is happening across the globe as the world economy becomes a more level playing field. Countries once far from the minds of CEOs now represent blossoming markets with a pent-up demand for technology, particularly Internet-based broadband communications that can make a nation more competitive in the global marketplace. Often referred to as "developing" countries, Cisco prefers a term that more accurately characterizes these regions: "emerging."

Emerging countries and their burgeoning marketplaces are on the cusp of dramatic transformations. Their "tornado" economies are certainly promising, and they have inspired Cisco to redouble its efforts in these regions. Emerging markets, however, do pose more than a few logistical, operational, and even political challenges (see sidebar, "Cisco Relying on Ethics, Education to Navigate Politics of Global Markets" HYPERLINK]). But as a company powered by the best engineering minds in the networking business, Cisco is, if nothing else, all about the details. And though Cisco's focus on emerging countries has intensified over the past two years, the company is no stranger to these parts of the planet. During its 22-year history, Cisco has helped build the most advanced Internet protocol (IP)-based networks around the world. But now Cisco's global efforts have a new focus, and the company is following a clear map into the highly promising emerging markets.

In 2005 Cisco responded to the historic changes taking place in the world economy by re-charting its global business strategy to more effectively address the massive market potential of emerging countries. Most importantly, it organized nations by common characteristics rather than by geography, making it possible to group widely scattered countries into their own segment, or "operational theater." Though these national markets are certainly diverse, they do share many similarities, which Cisco executives say can serve as the basis for developing common tools and methods applicable to improving its work throughout this cross section of countries.

Holistic Approach

Cisco's emerging markets operations area spans 130 nations, representing 2.3 billion people. Some of the countries Cisco is working in include Lebanon, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and Egypt. It's a lot of territory to cover, that's for sure. With this in mind, Cisco has established a clearly defined process for building its business in emerging countries.

The company's short-term focus is to rollout the necessary resources to effectively support its sales and services in each country. Such efforts include recruiting employees, establishing sales channels, localizing manufacturing, and building market awareness. Once the basics are in place, it then uses its replicable processes, which are focused on bringing IP-based communications to different industrial and public service segments, such as healthcare, education, banking, tourism, and construction.

In any given country, Cisco will aim to address the overarching needs of a country's government, telecommunications service providers, businesses, and citizens. "These different interests tend to be more interdependent in these countries," says Paul Mountford, president of Cisco's emerging markets operations. "The best results happen when all of these entities are working in concert."

It's no small coincidence that Mountford is the former senior vice president of Cisco's worldwide sales channel operations. One key challenge will be in Cisco's ability to recruit, train and manage a network of "channel partners." These are a force of over 200,000 people in 20,000 independent equipment resellers, systems integrators and network consultancies, accounting for more than 90 percent of Cisco's sales to businesses. Facing such nascent technology markets, Cisco will need excellent local partners to help install and service its networks.

Chris Lewis, a lead analyst for Ovum, a global information technology research firm, says that in many emerging markets Cisco will have to build an ecosystem of various local businesses around its networking projects. Though many of the emerging markets have well-educated populations, these countries often have little in the way of modern communications infrastructure. As a result, few local businesses exist that specialize in such technology. So Cisco will need to nurture these support systems. "Anything that allows the infrastructure to be put in place and maintained is key," Lewis says. "It helps to have shed loads of money to support these efforts because emerging markets require a holistic approach."

Partnering Locally

Tarun Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and author of a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Strategies that Fit Emerging Markets," says that though emerging markets require up-front investments, Cisco is well served in working with and supporting local businesses. "You need to find a win-win for them and your company," he says. "By partnering to help local businesses grow as your company grows is a great way to promote long-term goodwill."

Khanna says emerging markets present the classic business case of risk and reward. The markets are extremely promising, but they are multiples more difficult. "Surely it's harder than succeeding at home, but there's a much higher reward for success," he says. The biggest trap is the cookie-cutter approach. "The characteristics of local businesses and governments can swing to polar-opposites from country to country."

That's one of inspirations for Cisco's strategy. Though the company aims to develop repeatable processes, Cisco's first step in any market is to work closely with a country's government to gain the best possible view into its character and unique needs. After this initial stage, Cisco then develops the blueprints, or strategic frameworks, for how to best rollout network infrastructure and related services in coordination with government initiatives and educational programs.

Cisco focuses its blueprints into such categories as connectivity, government, education, healthcare, local businesses, and digital inclusion. For help with this process, Cisco's emerging markets team brings in Cisco's Internet Business Solutions group, the company's business consultancy branch. Armed with good market intelligence and economic insight, Cisco then uses select teams to set up operations in each country while recruiting local workers and partners.

Country Transformation

All of these efforts lead to the company's long-term strategy of "country transformation," which is Cisco's concept of providing communications equipment and technology assistance to help a country reach its social and economic development goals. "The blueprints include ways to create sustainable economic models to support technology investments," Mountford says. "It's not about handouts. Handouts never work. We focus on putting in place the infrastructure and the processes to build a larger middle-class." He says history shows that larger middle-classes coincide with stable economic and political environments.

Cisco's announcement last year of plans to invest $275 million in Turkey over the next five years highlights the kind of approach the IP pacesetter is taking with emerging countries. Besides focusing its networking expertise on areas important to Turkey's economic and social agenda, Cisco will build 40 new Cisco Networking Academy centers in Turkish high schools over the next five years, hoping to make the program available to all 13 million students in the country.

The Cisco Networking Academy offers students an opportunity to pursue information technology education through online instructor-led training and hands-on lab exercises. In Turkey, Cisco will donate both its e-learning training program and networking equipment for demonstration and practice labs. Cisco's investments in the country will also go towards a technology innovation center and what Cisco terms an "entrepreneurship" institute for helping local businesses adapt to the methods of e-commerce and Internet-based communications.

An analysis by research company IDC found that Turkey has a significant advanced technology "skills gap," almost double that of the European Union. It is these kinds of countries where Cisco believes it can have the greatest success. "Clearly, improving the level of information technology skills in Turkey and other emerging countries will bring new job opportunities and economic growth, helping increase prosperity and stability in these countries," Mountford says.

Charles Waltner is a freelance writer in Piedmont, Calif.

www.cisco.com


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