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Issue: July 2008
By: Frank Bisbee

Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


Technology has a powerful future 2008-2010

I heard that we’re having a recession.

You already know that we are dealing with many less than ideal economic conditions and the politicos certainly will remind us over and over. However, the solutions may be in your hands, not some mammoth government program.

a recession is generally associated with a decline in a country's economic activity and growth According to one widespread definition, a recession occurs when real growth is negative for two or more successive quarters of a year. "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales.”

A recession may involve simultaneous declines in coincident measures of overall economic activity such as employment, investment, and corporate profits. A severe or long recession is referred to as an economic depression. Although the distinction between a recession and a depression is not clearly defined, it is often said that a decline in GDP of more than 10% constitutes a depression. A devastating breakdown of an economy (essentially, a severe depression, , depending on the circumstances) is called economic colapse.

Recession is one of the major themes, in the mainstream media, when discussing the economy. With the fall out from subprime mortgages, increasing numbers of housing foreclosures, and balance sheet write downs among the financial corporations, many business people are worried about the future of the economy. Instead of losing sleep, it is always best to take the initiative and a proactive approach with your company.

Making your company recession proof, or at least able to survive an economic downturn, requires some planning and creative decision-making. It is all too easy to simply say cut back on expenses and lay off staff. In fact, these rather simplistic steps may be counterproductive. It is of little value to an organization to leave a recession unable to capitalize on the return of better times. 

A recession proof company:

  • is a creative company
  • listens to its customers.
  • values its employees.
  • understands its costs of providing its products and services.
  • lowers its debt levels.
  • is flexible and seeks opportunities where other companies see only doom and gloom.
  • Is not afraid to change the business model as the markets shift.

Are You Ready For Some Good News?

We are in the beginning of a technology revolution that will eclipse the Recession of 2008 and virtually every goal we set today. The near future is bright. The next decade is dazzling. The improbale we do right away, but the impossible may take slightly longer. Read on:


Many of today’s leading communications industry associations are dedicated to research into advanced aspects of the networked world. The key is technology in moderation…. in the beginning.

The age of the Smart Building is here now and the increased savings are huge in many areas: POWER – CONTROL – COMMUNICATIONS – SECURITY – LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS.

Continental Automated Building Association

CABA is a not-for-profit industry association that promotes advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings in North America.

The knowledge-based forum for industry leaders who advance the use of technology and integrated systems in the global home and building industry.


We are dedicated to advancing technology and integrated systems in homes and buildings, creating opportunities for our members' business activities and serving as a preferred global source of information, knowledge and networking for key stakeholders.

1. To be recognized as the knowledge-based forum for leaders who advance the definition, development and delivery of the use of technology and integrated systems in the global home and building industry.

2. To provide members with timely and valuable information, products and services.

3. To encourage research and development in the use of technology and integrated systems in homes and buildings.

4. To represent CABA membership interests to selected external bodies.

5. To encourage creation of industry-wide interoperability of protocols and standards.

6. To maintain financial stability and seek opportunities to maximize member dues and non-dues revenue.

7. To ensure a strong, efficient and effective governance and a supportive

………………………………………………………………………………. 2nd Decade (2001-2010) is bigger & better than anyone ever imagined.

In 1969, four research computers were connected to create the genesis of the Internet at the blazing server speed of 56 Kb. By 1990, there were 313,000 servers on the Internet. Today, by itself has more than 458,000 servers on line and some servers can operate at speeds of 92 terabits/second (two (2) billion times faster than the 1969 speeds).

Some experts estimate that 17% of the world population has used the Internet and the hypertext World Wide Web (August 6,1991). We may see that user group swell to 50% in the next few years. Internet growth has not slowed. In 1994, the Internet usage growing 2300% per year and Internet growth has not slowed.

Shocking statistics show the USA is third in usage behind China & Europe. However, the USA e-mail traffic has surpassed telecommunications and printed mail. Last year, there were about 170 billion e-mails per day (2 million each second). The introduction of cell phones/portable devices like the Blackberry and other smart phones is increasing the volume significantly. Estimates indicate that by 2010, the information flowing over the Internet will double every eleven hours.


accelerating change is an increase in the rate of technological (and sometimes social and cultural) progress throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future.


Kurzweil and The Law of Accelerating Returns

Kurzweil in his 2001 essay The Law of Accelerating Returns extends "technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history." He believes the Law of Accelerating Returns implies that a technological singularity will occur before the end of the 21st century, in 2045.

The essay begins:

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common sense 'intuitive linear' view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to  technological singularity —technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

Moore's Law expanded

“The rate of technical progress amongst humans has also been exponentially increasing, as we discover more effective ways to do things, we also discover more effective ways to learn. Already within the past sixty years, life in the industrialized world has changed almost beyond recognition except for living memories from the first half of the 20th century.” This pattern will culminate in unimaginable technological progress in the 21st century, leading to a singularity. Kurzweil elaborates on his views in his book “The Singularity Is Near”.

Check out:


Once we install the infrastructure network, we can start teaching the systems to monitor and respond to our needs. Then we need the senses.

A sensor is any device that can take a stimulus, such as heat, light, magnetism, or exposure to a particular chemical, and convert it to a signal. Sensors have certainly been around for a very long time. Scales–weight sensors–were used by the Sumerians at least 9000 years ago. Thermometers–temperature sensors-were developed in the late 16th century by Galileo and others. Barometers–pressure sensors–were invented a few decades later by Galileo's assistant, Torricelli. More recently, scientists and engineers have come up with devices to sense light (photocells), sound (microphones), ground vibrations (seismometers), and force (accelerometers), as well as sensors for magnetic and electric fields, radiation, strain, acidity, and many other phenomena. From the metal detectors we pass through at airports to the smoke detectors that protect our homes, our modern civilization is utterly dependent on sensors.

While the concept of sensors is nothing new, the technology of sensors is undergoing a rapid transformation. Indeed, the forces that have already revolutionized the computer, electronics, and biotech industries are converging on the world of sensors from at least three different directions:

  • Smaller: Rapid advances in fields such as nanotechnology and (micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)) have not only led to ultra-compact versions of traditional sensors, but have inspired the creation of sensors based on entirely new principles.
  • Smarter: The exponentially increasing power of microelectronics has made it possible to create sensors with built-in "intelligence." In principle, at least, sensors today can store and process data on the spot, selecting only the most relevant and critical items to report.
  • 3. More Mobile: The rapid proliferation of wireless networking technologies has cut the tether. Today, many sensors send back their data from remote locations, or even while they're in motion.

As these forces converge, however, they pose daunting new challenges for researchers and society alike.

We have many things to be excited about. Think positive and look to the future for changes to evolve rapidly in your growing companies. Some business revenues that are only a few points of revenue today may end up “wagging the dog” in the very near future. Knowledge is power, and education is a very good road to that power.

Check out: for more training opportunities.

Whatever you do keep up to date by reading the top trade publications in the communications and cabling industries. Don’t forget the top magazine in Canada

Cabling Networking Systems magazine They bring it all together.

But that’s just my opinion,

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

Industry News

TXP Introduces RF Return Capability in Optical Network Terminals, Paving Way for Widespread Telco TV Deployments over GPON

TXP Corporation (OTCBB: TXPO), an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) for the telecommunications industry, has introduced the first of its standards-compliant RF return capable Optical Network Terminals (ONT), giving service providers a practical solution for delivering video and television services to residential customers over GPON while maintaining backward compatibility with existing set-top boxes (STB).

TXP’s RF return implementation is compliant with FSAN standards for three-wavelength GPON deployments, as well as SCTE 55-1 and 55-2 standards that support STBs from the two major brands – Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta. TXP has proven interoperability with 16 OLT platforms and is capable of working with any standards-based OLT. This broad-ranging interoperability, coupled with RF return and all supported through a common software load, makes TXP ONTs almost universally deployable.

“Backwards compatibility with existing set-top boxes is a major concern for telcos contemplating GPON deployments, which is why TXP closely followed all the relevant standards in our implementation of RF return,” said Joel Futterman, General Manager of TXP’s ONT Solutions Group. “This capability in optical network terminals opens the door for wide-ranging deployment of interactive video services over GPON without the need to replace thousands of existing set-top boxes.”

RF return enables telcos to install ONTs at the customer site and interoperate with existing coaxial cable wiring and set top boxes. The RF return channel in the current model is used as an upstream path for customers to send data to the service provider, such as requesting pay-per-view broadcasts or other video on demand applications. The coaxial cable connects directly to the ONT, and the standard 1310 nm GPON wavelength is used for the upstream transmission of voice, data, and video RF return traffic.

The TXP standards-compliant approach is in contrast to other recently announced approaches that require a fourth wavelength in order to enable an RF return channel. As Futterman noted, “There is no ratified standard involving a four-wavelength RF return solution over GPON, and under competitive pressure from cable operators, telcos simply don’t have the time to wait. The three-wavelength approach adds less cost to the ONT, requires less overall equipment per PON and does not limit PON reach like competing four-wavelength RFoG solutions. ”

TXP will demonstrate the unit at the NXTcomm conference in Las Vegas June 17-19, where TXP is in Booth SU 3921.

About TXP

TXP is an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) for the telecommunications industry. Based in Richardson, Texas, TXP has three primary business units: TXP-Prototyping Solutions, TXP-ONT Solutions and Retrofit Solutions. TXP-Prototyping Solutions provides pre-manufacturing services for the electronics industry that help Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) bring products to market both faster and more cost effectively. TXP-ONT Solutions develops and markets, via an ODM model, a line of Carrier-Class CPE products including home gateways and the world's broadest independent family of ONT products to both OEMs and ILECs. ONTs are used in FTTH-based services to terminate the passive optical network at the home or business location, and enable integrated voice, video and high-speed internet access. TXP-Retrofit Solutions provides custom engineered kits that enable ILEC's to upgrade their local access service delivery infrastructure at minimum cost and time, enabling a wide range of next generation telecom platforms to easily fit into the variety of remote OSP cabinets that have been broadly deployed over the last 30 years. For more information visit:

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: The statements which are not historical facts contained in this press release are "forward-looking statements" that involve certain risks and uncertainties including but not limited to risks associated with the uncertainty of future financial results, additional financing requirements, development of new products, government approval processes, the impact of competitive products or pricing, technological changes, the effect of economic conditions and other uncertainties detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission which may cause actual results, performance and achievements of the company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied.


ADC Launches RealFlex Reduced Bend Radius Fiber Solutions at NXTcomm

NXTcomm – LAS VEGAS – June 10, 2008 – ADC (NASDAQ: ADCT; today announced the launch of the RealFlex brand name for its reduced bend radius fiber (RBRF) drop cable solutions. The RealFlex 3mm drop cable will be demonstrated in ADC’s NXTcomm booth, #3916, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, June 16-19.

RealFlex solutions overcome installation challenges encountered in today’s multiple dwelling unit (MDU) buildings by helping service providers optimize fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) installation times and maintain fiber performance.

Already available and shipping, ADC offers three RealFlex MDU drop cables: indoor/outdoor, riser, and plenum type cables.

“RealFlex is the solution that service providers need to get FTTP into today’s Multiple Dwelling Unit buildings, with its quick installation and reliable bandwidth delivery,” said Jaxon Lang, vice president of Global Connectivity Solutions-Americas for ADC. “In short, RealFlex-enabled installations translate into faster turn-up time and revenue generation for service providers.”

Additionally, RealFlex solutions allow for a bend radius as small as 7.5 mm without changing attenuation characteristics of the cable, and they provide improved insertion loss performance for the many 90-degree bend locations found in MDU environments.

RealFlex products also meet increased standards of durability required in MDU environments. ADC’s unique ruggedized indoor/outdoor jacketing can be stapled without compromising insertion loss performance, a feature that gives RealFlex MDU drop cables a competitive advantage in the market.

“If service providers are going to treat it like coax, it better be as tough as coax,” said Lang, noting that the long term reliability and reduced installation issues of RealFlex are key reasons that operators have selected ADC’s FTTX products with RBRF since the company began shipping these solutions in November 2006. 

For more information on ADC's comprehensive portfolio of MDU solutions, visit: and .

About ADC

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


Aktino’s new AKFLEX TDM/ATM/Ethernet solution DELIVERs 90+ Mbps OF Cell Site OR DSLAM backhaul capacity

Meeting carriers’ needs for generating more bandwidth from their existing copper infrastructure, Aktino today introduced a flexible new 90+ Mbps  product that features new AKflex capability, allowing it to be used to transport either DS3 TDM/ATM  or Carrier Ethernet.  It gives providers the adaptable solution they need to support network evolution strategies, but minimizes the investment required to do so.

Aktino, the leader in delivery of Carrier Ethernet and broadband services over bonded copper, will show the new product for the first time at NXTcomm in Las Vegas June 17-19, where Aktino is in Booth SL 1012.

The robust solution, which combines features from Aktino’s DS3 and Carrier Ethernet over copper product lines, helps carriers address three key applications with maximum flexibility: Carrier Ethernet services, DSLAM backhaul, and cell site backhaul. The new product delivers either a DS3 or up to 90+ Mbps of Carrier Ethernet bandwidth throughout the entire CSA (Carrier Serving Area or 12,000 feet) and beyond. It switches from a DS3 to Carrier Ethernet product and back via a simple user command

For carriers, it offers a choice of providing asymmetric services to cover their entire CSA with bandwidth of up to 90+ Mbps, or symmetric services of up to 90+ Mbps at shorter reaches.

“Asymmetric services, in which carriers offer far more bandwidth downstream than they do upstream, is ideal for many applications, such as DSLAM or cell site backhaul,” said Hossam Salib, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Aktino. “By adjusting the bandwidth to the specific needs of the application, carriers can achieve nearly 8 Mbps per copper pair throughout the CSA, which is 10 times more than legacy HDSL technologies

“This solution gives carriers fiber impact on a copper budget, in the form of a cost-effective solution that supports their network migration strategies.”

Salib added that in tandem with this solution, Aktino is introducing an updated version of its 8-pair Ethernet solution, which provides 50 Mbps symmetric bandwidth at up to 5,000-foot reaches.

By configuring the product in asymmetric mode, a carrier can double the downstream bandwidth over Aktino’s already high symmetric MIMO-on-DMT (Multiple Input, Multiple Out on Discrete Multi-Tone) bandwidth, and more than quadruple the bandwidth provided by G.SHDSL. Aktino is the only bonded copper solution vendor that offers asymmetric bandwidth capability.

With the ability to switch from DS3 to Ethernet, the AKflex functionality enables a particularly cost-effective migration strategy for carriers from ATM- and TDM-based networks to Ethernet, since there is no need to change the hardware. This latest offering continues Aktino’s reputation for providing cost-effective solutions to carriers’ needs both today and for as long as they want to continue leveraging their copper infrastructure in areas where fiber is unavailable or impractical.

About Aktino

Aktino provides carrier-class bonded copper solutions that enable ILEC’s to respond to customer hunger for bandwidth fast and network-wide by leveraging their considerable in-place copper loop infrastructure. Aktino invented MIMO-on-DMT technology for the copper loop environment because of its superiority over earlier G.SHDSL approaches.  In so doing Aktino gave ILECs a real ability to postpone many fiber deployment investments and still remain very competitive in their service offering as well as drive their broadband service revenues.   Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Irvine, California, Aktino products are deployed worldwide for the transport of DS3 and high speed Ethernet.  For more information, please visit


AppliedSensor Indoor Air Quality Module Detects Odors and VOCsin Commercial Facilities, Office Buildings, Classrooms and Homes

To address growing concern about the effects of poor indoor air quality, AppliedSensor, a provider of chemical sensor components and modules, has developed the IAQ-100 Indoor Air Quality Module. A sensitive, low-cost solution for detecting poor air quality caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as cooking odors, bio-effluence and outdoor pollutants, the IAQ-100 can be integrated into any demand-controlled ventilation environment, including commercial facilities, offices, classrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

In classrooms, the air quality can affect students’ health, their ability to learn, and the productivity of the teaching staff.  Professor David Wyon, International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark, said, “It has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity as high as six to nine percent.”

“Odors are the pollutants found most objectionable by a room’s occupants,” said Tom Aiken, AppliedSensor Director of Marketing and Business Development. “Carbon dioxide sensors cannot respond to changes in air quality caused by odors. Our IAQ-100 module is highly sensitive to odors and other volatile organic compounds. Plus, it’s compact and energy efficient, making it the ideal solution for any clean air initiative.”

The IAQ-100 is equipped with a sensor element based on micro-machined metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) technology. A change of resistance in the presence of reducing gases such as CO and VOCs generates a signal that is translated into specific air quality levels and linked to specific gas concentration ranges. When the threshold of air quality levels for target gases is exceeded, the module can signal a climate control system to increase air flow by turning on a fan, opening a window, or emitting an odor-masking fragrance. When referenced against traditional CO2 sensors, the IAQ-100 module provides direct, consistent and reliable correlation to CO2 levels.

AppliedSensor ( is a leading provider of chemical sensor solutions for air quality, safety and control. With a 25-year legacy of research and development, the company provides chemical sensor systems to a broad range of industries and applications – from automotive and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) to safety and air quality control. AppliedSensor operates facilities in Sweden, Germany and the United States. 


Belden Announces Plan to Acquire Enterprise Wireless Technology Leader Trapeze Networks

Acquisition expands Belden's enterprise offerings to cover the full range of wired and wireless communication solutions for voice, video and data

Belden (NYSE: BDC - News) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trapeze Networks, a leading provider of wireless local area networking (WLAN) equipment and management software, for $133 million in cash. The acquisition builds on Belden's market-leading position as a complete signal transmission solutions provider by adding a recognized leader in the wireless LAN market.

Wireless extends the reach of Belden's physical-layer cable and connectivity products and enables the company to address the growing mobility needs of customers. "Belden's strategic vision is to provide the best signal transmission solutions to our customers regardless of technology," said John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Belden. "We believe the acquisition of Trapeze Networks uniquely positions Belden to offer our enterprise customers tailored connectivity solutions that benefit from blending the strengths of copper, fiber and wireless technologies. Trapeze Networks Smart Mobile wireless LAN solutions deliver superior performance, security, reliability and management capabilities, making this a highly attractive wireless investment for Belden's future. The acquisition will make Belden the world's largest unified wired and wireless solutions provider and will provide expanded market access for Trapeze Networks' Smart Mobile solutions.

"We believe we are at an inflection point in enterprise wireless LAN expansion, a market that is already growing nearly 25 percent per year, and that wireless connectivity is no longer considered a luxury but is a customer expectation," added Mr. Stroup.

Trapeze Networks, a privately held company based in Pleasanton, California, with 2007 revenues of $56 million, sells its products into healthcare, education, manufacturing, retail, government and other enterprise verticals through OEMs and distribution channels. The Trapeze product portfolio is an end-to-end WLAN system built on a highly scalable and secure wireless operating system running on Trapeze Networks access points and controllers and features the industry's most robust management software capabilities. More than 4,000 organizations around the world have deployed Trapeze wireless platforms.

Jim Vogt, President and Chief Executive Officer of Trapeze, said, "During the past six years, enterprise customers around the world have invested in Trapeze Networks Smart Mobile because they can depend on it for constant connectivity and reliable mobility. The superior performance and cost benefits of our highly acclaimed wireless LAN products have fueled our global growth through distribution and through our OEM relationships with 3Com, Enterasys, Nortel and other large networking companies. Our customers can now be assured of continued product innovation and new capabilities from the combined resources of Belden and Trapeze."

Impact on Belden's Outlook

Because Trapeze Networks sells software as well as hardware and services, the company is required under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States to defer and amortize certain revenues over the lives of contracts until it can establish vendor-specific objective evidence of the fair market value of each separate deliverable. The majority of Trapeze Networks' revenue is deferred and is typically amortized over periods of a year or more. This accounting treatment makes the acquisition more dilutive to Belden's expected earnings in 2008 and 2009 than would otherwise be the case.

John Stroup said, "The acquisition of Trapeze Networks furthers our strategy, and we expect that it will provide a return on invested capital for Belden consistent with or better than that of our successful 2007 acquisitions. We expect that the total dilutive impact of revenue deferral and amortization for 6 months in 2008 to be $0.15 to $0.20 and in 2009 $0.25 to $0.30. Despite this impact, we expect the transaction to be neutral in operating cash flow in 2008 and a positive contributor to operating cash flow in 2009 and beyond.

"The expected dilution from the Trapeze acquisition, including the impact of revenue deferral and the recurring amortization of intangible assets resulting from the purchase, but excluding short-term, nonrecurring amortization, will be in the range of $0.27 to $0.32 in 2008 and $0.25 to $0.30 in 2009," said Mr. Stroup. "We expect that the acquisition will be accretive on a GAAP basis in 2010 and beyond.

"Our outlook for 2008 remains unchanged except for the expected effects of the planned acquisition. Because of the mid-year timing of the closing of this transaction and the deferral of Trapeze Networks' revenue, our expectations for consolidated revenue remain in the range of $2.2 to $2.3 billion. We expect our operating margin to be in the range of 11 to 12 percent, and we are adjusting our expectation for 2008 earnings per diluted share to the range of $3.15 to $3.35."

Conference Call

Belden will host a conference call with investors and analysts at 8:30 a.m. eastern time on Monday, June 9, 2008 to discuss the acquisition. To participate in the conference call, please dial 1-866-304-1238 or 1-913-312-6650 (no passcode is required). To listen to the Webcast, please go to A slide presentation supporting the conference call will be available within the Webcast and will be posted at A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available for a limited time at 1-888-203-1112 with the passcode 4537617.

Forward Looking Statements

Statements in this release other than historical facts are "forward looking statements" made in reliance upon the safe harbor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward looking statements are based on forecasts and projections about the industries served by the Company and about general economic conditions. They reflect management's beliefs and expectations. They are not guarantees of future performance and they involve risk and uncertainty. The Company's actual results may differ materially from these expectations. Some of the factors that may cause actual results to differ from the Company's expectations include demand for the Company's products; the cost and availability of materials including copper, plastic compounds derived from fossil fuels, and other materials; energy costs; the Company's ability to integrate successfully the acquired businesses; and other factors. For a more complete discussion of risk factors, please see our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, filed with the SEC on February 29, 2008. Belden disclaims any duty to update any forward looking statements as a result of new information, future developments, or otherwise.

About Belden

Sending All the Right Signals -- from industrial automation to data centers, from broadcast studios to aerospace, from cutting-edge wireless communications to consumer electronics, Belden people are committed to delivering the best signal transmission solutions in the world. Our 8,000 associates worldwide work in copper cable, fiber, wireless technology, connectors, switches and active components to bring voice, video and data to your mission-critical application. With 2007 revenue of $2.0 billion, Belden has manufacturing capability in North America, Europe and Asia. To obtain additional information contact Investor Relations at 314-854-8054, or visit our website at


CIOZone Names Interactive Intelligence Among 60 Fastest Growing Software Companies

Interactive Intelligence (Nasdaq: ININ), a global provider of unified IP business communications solutions, was named by CIOZone among the 60 fastest growing software companies in the United States.

Interactive Intelligence was seventh among CIOZone’s 20 fastest growing small software companies (qualified as companies that started 2007 with no less than $50 million in sales and no more than $149.9 million).

The CIOZone ranking is based on 2007 revenues and profits of publicly held U.S. software companies.

Interactive Intelligence 2007 revenue was $109.9 million, an increase of 32 percent from $83 million in 2006. The company has reported consecutive quarterly profitability since 2004.

“We attribute much of our growth to the value our unique all-in-one communications software suite delivers as organizations increasingly make the transition to voice over IP,” said Interactive Intelligence CEO, Dr. Donald E. Brown. “We’re pleased to have exceeded our original growth targets for the year, which beat overall market growth, and look forward to continuing to deliver innovative communications products that help customers lower costs and improve service.”

Interactive Intelligence first released its all-in-one IP communications software suite in 1997 offering standards-based, single-platform architecture designed to eliminate the cost and complexity introduced by multi-point products. The company’s product line includes multi-channel routing, outbound predictive dialing, IP PBX functionality, call and screen recording, workforce management, unified messaging, and more.

Today, the company gives its more than 3,000 global customers a comprehensive solution-set comprised of premise-based and hosted offerings, including software, hardware, consulting, support, education and implementation services.

CIOZone is an online business technology information source designed to facilitate CIO networking and collaboration with peers, on-demand.

For more information about CIOZone’s 60 fastest growing software companies, visit

About Interactive Intelligence

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of unified business communications solutions for contact center automation, enterprise IP telephony, and enterprise messaging. The company was founded in 1994 and has more than 3,000 customers worldwide. Interactive Intelligence is among the top 500 global software and services suppliers, and is ranked among the top 200 North American networking vendors. The company employs approximately 600 people and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has six global corporate offices, with additional sales offices throughout North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Interactive Intelligence can be reached at +1 317.872.3000 or; on the Net:

This release contains certain forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are described in the company's SEC filings.

Interactive Intelligence Inc. is the owner of the marks INTERACTIVE INTELLIGENCE, its associated LOGO and numerous other marks. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.


Christine Holley

Director of Market Communications

Interactive Intelligence Inc.

+1 317.715.8220

This press release e-mailing is provided to you by Interactive Intelligence Inc. in response to your request or consent to receive these materials, or your participation in a third-party news service. It may contain material that describes and promotes Interactive Intelligence's products or services. If you do not wish to receive further press release e-mailings, please FORWARD this message with the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line to Interactive Intelligence Inc. is located at 7601 Interactive Way, Indianapolis, IN 46278, Phone +1 317.872.3000.


DuPont plans cancer study at W.Va. plant; company says no known link to chemical in Teflon

DuPont is planning a detailed study looking at why workers at a West Virginia plant appear to be getting a rare form of cancer at a higher rate than normal.

The study DuPont hopes to start this summer is designed to help determine whether anything at the Washington Works plant near Parkersburg is causing carcinoid tumors, company epidemiologist Morel Symons said Monday. Early work suggests there are more cases than would be expected at the plant, he said.

But that's merely a suggestion, because Symons says little is known about what causes carcinoid tumors, which tend to appear in the gastrointestinal tract and sometimes the lungs. "We're facing a situation where we have limited information."

DuPont first began looking into the situation in 2006 after two workers at the plant were diagnosed with carcinoid tumors.

"That raised a flag for us," plant manager Bill Hopkins said. DuPont has since found 18 more instances of employees with carcinoid tumors across the country, including five more at Washington Works. The cancer cases date back to the 1980s and include current and retired employees.

Washington Works, however, is the only DuPont plant with enough cases to warrant further study, Symons said.

The plant has a significant public health history. DuPont uses the chemical ammonium perfluorooctanoate -- commonly referred to as C8 -- to make the nonstick product Teflon at Washington Works.

C8 releases from the plant resulted in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the chemical contaminated six Ohio Valley water districts. Scientists researching whether C8 poses a health risk are conducting 10 studies to follow up on health screening of residents involved in the lawsuit.

Hopkins said there's no reason to believe the cancer situation at Washington Works is related to C8 or any other chemical.

DuPont maintains the chemical is not hazardous to human health. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency science panel has said C8 is a "likely" carcinogen.

DuPont is following a standard approach recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for studying the cancer situation at the plant, Symons said.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have a fairly substantial report on what we've determined occupationally," he said.


Polymer Dynamix Announces New Breakthrough in Static Control Thermoplastic Compounds

Polymer Dynamix has recently introduced a new family of permanently anti-static thermoplastic compounds.  DynaStat thermoplastic compounds are designed to deliver surface and volume resistivity within10e7 to 10e10 ohm-square, a critical range for sensitive electronic equipment. The proprietary DynaStat technology is available in a wide variety thermoplastics including nylon, acetal (POM), ABS, PC, PP and PE.  Grades are suitable for extrusion and injection molding.  DynaStat is also available in rod and sheet form for machining into parts.

DynaStat products are fully compounded thermoplastics that feature breakthrough IDP (intrinsically dissipative polymer) technology that utilizes PEBAX® TPE made by ARKEMA Corp.  This unique material advancement allows for more efficient development of electrical pathways for controlled static dissipation.  The fully compounded products are UV stable and permanent in nature.  There is no migration of undesirable additives that can contaminate or interfere with polymer performance.

DynaStat compounds retain the properties of the base resin while offering conductive performance that is independent of environmental conditions.  Electrical properties will not degrade over time or change after repeated cleaning or washing.  DynaStat products maintain their static control properties even at low humidity (15% RH)

“The addition of DynaStat to our product portfolio of engineering thermoplastics provides our customers with increased productivity and significant cost savings by eliminating catastrophic losses associated with uncontrolled static discharges,” said  Veerag Mehta, Technology Director at Polymer Dynamix.  “We are very excited to offer these compounds and believe they will find their way into applications where customers were previously unable to meet material performance requirements.”

Other benefits include:

Non-sloughing or contaminating, dissipates 5000V < 2.0 seconds, excellent machinability, superior dimensional stability (low moisture absorption) and low/no out gassing.

DynaStat products are suitable for use in a wide array of industries including semiconductor manufacturing, electronic packaging, aerospace and automotive.  Applications include hard disk drives, tote boxes, chip carriers, storage trays, pallets, equipment cases, cassettes, wafer carriers, DIP tubes, card enclosures photographic equipment, fuel handling, filters and conveying equipment. 


GM closing 4 truck, SUV plants in North America

GM closing 4 North American truck, SUV plants, affecting 10K workers, reviews Hummer plans

General Motors is closing four truck and SUV plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, affecting 10,000 workers, as surging fuel prices hasten a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles.

CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday before the automaker's annual meeting in Delaware the plants to be idled are in Oshawa, Ontario; Moraine, Ohio; Janesville, Wis.; and Toluca, Mexico. He also said the iconic Hummer brand will be reviewed and potentially sold or revamped.

Wagoner said the GM board has approved production of a new small Chevrolet car at a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in mid-2010 and production of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle in Detroit.

Wagoner announced the moves in response to slumping sales of pickups and SUVs brought on by high oil prices. He said a market shift to smaller vehicles is permanent.

GM shares rose 43 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $17.87 in midday trading.

The cuts will affect 10,000 hourly and salaried workers. Many will be able to take openings created when 19,000 more U.S. hourly workers leave later this year through early retirement and buyout offers.

Wagoner said the company has no plans to allocate products to the four plants in the future.

"We really would not foresee the likely prospect of new products in the plants that we're announcing today that we'll cease production in," he told a Moraine, Ohio, city official who asked a question in a telephone conference call.

More cuts will be announced later. Wagoner said GM will consolidate engine, transmission and other parts operations to go with the assembly plant actions.

The actions add to a string of plant closures by the Big Three in the last several years. GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC have announced the shutdown of 35 plants since 2005, according to Sean McAlinden, chief economist with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. Along with 35 additional closures at GM and Ford's chief suppliers, Delphi Corp. and Automotive Components Holdings LLC, he said the total hourly and salaried jobs eliminated comes to 149,000.

In that same time period, foreign automakers have built or announced plans to build five U.S. assembly plants, he said. In 2007, foreign auto companies employed 113,000 people in the U.S., a number McAlinden projects will rise to 152,000 by 2011.

The Oshawa truck plant, which builds the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, likely will be shuttered next year. The Moraine plant near Dayton, will stop making Chevy TrailBlazer and other mid-size SUVs in 2010 "or sooner if demand dictates," Wagoner said. In Janesville, the plant that builds medium-duty trucks and big SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, will cease production starting at the end of 2009, finishing in 2010 or sooner if demand stays weak. In Toluca, production of medium-duty trucks will end by the end of 2008, Wagoner said.

The moves will save the company $1 billion per year starting in 2010. Combined with previous efforts, GM by 2011 will have cut costs by $15 billion a year over in 2005, Wagoner said.

Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove said GM's decision to close its Oshawa truck plant betrays the labor agreement reached two weeks ago. He said the union will consider all options, including a strike.

GM committed to keep the plant of 2,600 people open throughout the three-year agreement, Hargrove said.

Wagoner said General Motors Corp.'s board approved the production schedule of the Chevrolet Volt, and the company plans to bring the plug-in electric car to showrooms by the end of 2010.

Fully charged, the Volt could drive about 40 miles without using any gasoline, and a small conventional engine would recharge the vehicle, extending its range and allowing it to get the equivalent of 150 miles per gallon. GM plans to sell about 100,000 Volts a year by 2012.

Wagoner said the change in the U.S. market to smaller vehicles likely is permanent. "We at GM don't think this is a spike or a temporary shift," Wagoner said.

On the Hummer, Wagoner said GM is "undertaking a strategic review of the Hummer brand, to determine its fit with GM's evolving product portfolio" in light of changing market conditions.

"At this point, we are considering all options for the Hummer brand... everything from a complete revamp of the product lineup to partial or complete sale of the brand," he said.

Detroit's automakers have been making the shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles, but not at the pace that matches consumers' drive to hybrids and high mileage models made overseas. Gas prices have accelerated the retreat from trucks and sport utility vehicles, leaving the Big Three at the most critical crossroads in 30 years.

The U.S. market is difficult for every automaker, with consumer confidence weak and 2008 sales expected to be the lowest in more than a decade. But it is most difficult for the Detroit Three, who have relied more heavily on sales of trucks and SUVs than their foreign counterparts. Trucks make up 70 percent of Chrysler LLC's U.S. sales, for example, compared to 41 percent at Toyota Motor Corp.

GM President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said the new small car to be built in Lordstown would get 9 miles per gallon better fuel economy than the company's current small cars, the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 when equipped with a manual transmission. The most efficient Cobalt now gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway, although Henderson would not give a total mileage number.

It would be powered by a 1- to 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that could be turbocharged for additional power, GM said. The new engine would be built in Flint.

Henderson said the plant closure measures would reduce the company's capacity to produce pickups and large SUVs by 700,000 per year, about 35 percent.

He also said GM is planning for gasoline prices to stay around $4 per gallon for the foreseeable future, "with a bias upwards."

When asked if GM should have moved more quickly to smaller vehicles, Henderson said he doesn't spend time looking in the rearview mirror.

"There's not much I can do about what I didn't do in the past," he said.

Pete Hastings, senior analyst with Memphis, Tenn.-based Morgan Keegan & Co., said GM's moves are painful yet prudent.

"It's a permanent shift, and they're right to recognize it," he said. "But is it enough? It's a bit early to tell. ... That's the hard part of gauging where we are in the economy -- and how deep or strong the shift in demand is for more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Analyst Kevin Tynan of New York-based Argus Research Corp. said the Detroit Three automakers have been "caught with the market running away from them." While he recognizes GM's plight and efforts to overcome it, he still questions the aggressive push to market with the Volt, which is demanding heavy investment at a time when money is tight.

"It's very bad timing, very late in the game to be making big bets," he said. "At the same time, you don't have a choice."

The announcement is an economic blow to Janesville, which long has been entwined with automaking. The sprawling GM plant has survived the Depression, a world war and GM's major layoffs in the 1980s, but it will not escape the latest round of corporate belt-tightening.

"There were some tears and a lot of people were kind of ticked off, but it's part of the business," said Scott Lambert, 39, who has worked at the plant for 13 years.

He said he was headed to buy an atlas to figure where other GM plants were that might be hiring.

The plant, GM's oldest, opened in 1919 and long was the largest employer in Janesville, a city of 60,000 about 100 miles northwest of Chicago. But cutbacks have shrunk the work force to about 2,600, so it's no longer the city's biggest employer.

Detroit-based GM also has just emerged from a spate of labor problems, with two local union strikes at key factories and a nearly three-month strike at key parts maker American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc.

GM said in a recent regulatory filing the strikes will cost it a total of $2 billion before taxes in the second quarter.

AP Business Writers Emily Fredrix in Janesville, Wis., and Jeff Karoub in Detroit and AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit and Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.


Ford's US sales drop 15 pct as trucks, SUVs take a hit and buyers opt for small cars

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its U.S. sales fell 15 percent in May as consumers continued to abandon pickups and sport utility vehicles in favor of smaller cars, an industry-wide shift that will force plant closures at General Motors Corp. and production cuts at Ford.

Ford said its car sales were up 3 percent compared with last May, and it sold more than 30,000 Ford Focus small cars for only the second time in the car's nine-year history. But pickup and SUV sales dropped 24 percent. No truck was immune: Ford's F-series trucks, the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. for 31 years, plummeted 31 percent.

The rapid decline in truck and SUV sales caused GM to announce Tuesday that it plans to close four truck and SUV plants by 2010, costing 10,000 jobs. Ford said last month it plans to slash North American production of trucks and SUVs for the rest of the year. Ford also is planning to lay off salaried workers. Ford promised more details on its restructuring plan in July.

Other automakers were scheduled to report May sales later Tuesday.

GM shares rose 35 cents, or 2 percent, to $17.79 in afternoon trading. Ford shares rose 3 cents to $6.67.

The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days. There were 27 sales days last month and 26 in May 2007.


Graybar Introduces New ESP Brochure

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, announced today that it has published a new Graybar ESP brochure featuring products and services to help electrical contractors improve their efficiency, safety and productivity.

The 36-page Graybar ESP brochure includes new products from more than 20 brand-preferred suppliers, such as Cooper Industries, GE and Square D.  This is the company’s second ESP Brochure, which follows the premier issue published last year with the launch of the Graybar ESP program.

“Graybar developed the ESP program in response to what electrical contractors told us they needed – products and services that can help them improve labor efficiency, electrician safety and their ability to complete more jobs in the same amount of time,” said Dave Moeller, national market manager – construction, at Graybar. “The Graybar ESP brochure is part of the company’s ongoing effort to bring contractors new ways to work safer, smarter and faster.  Ultimately, we want to help our customers win more business and be more profitable.”

The Graybar ESP Brochure is available at Graybar locations nationwide or by calling 1-800-GRAYBAR (472-9227).  A PDF of the catalog is available for viewing or download from


Note to editors:  A cover photo of the Graybar ESP Brochure is available.

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  


Graybar Opens in Gulfport, Miss.

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has announced it has opened a 12,000-sq.-ft. distribution facility in Gulfport, Miss.  An open house and trade show featuring more than 20 suppliers of electrical and communication solutions marks the official opening today. 

Located at 10352 Express Drive in the Seaway Industrial Park just south of Interstate 10, the $1.5 million branch inventory is backed by a $19 million inventory in the Austell, Ga., regional distribution center.  With the addition of the Gulfport facility, the company now has 64 locations throughout the Southeast.

Graybar Gulfport offers counter/will-call service and local truck deliveries Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with after-normal-business-hours emergency service as needed.  The phone number is (228) 604-2579. 

Leading Graybar Gulfport is Branch Supervisor Chris Nichols, a 14-year Graybar veteran who transferred from the Graybar Pensacola, Fla., branch. He and his staff of six include sales, customer service, warehouse and delivery personnel.

“With the opening of our new location, Graybar can better serve the city of Gulfport and the surrounding coastal region,” said Graybar Branch Supervisor Chris Nichols.  “We are ready to help our customers power and network their facilities, offices and housing with speed, intelligence and efficiency.”

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


The Light Brigade’s August 2008 Training Schedule

Fiber Optics 1-2-3

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






August 4-7

Philadelphia, PA


August 18-21

Toledo, OH


Las Vegas, NV



Richland, WA


Denver, CO



Honolulu, HI








August 11-14

Atlanta, GA


August 25-28

Seattle, WA





Columbia, SC






Advanced Hands-on Modules

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

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

Module 2: Fiber Optic Connectorization

Module 3: Optical Loss Testing, Troubleshooting & Documentation

Module 4: OTDR Theory, Operation & Emergency Restoration

Module 5: Fiber Optic Splicing (Fusion & Mechanical)

August 11-15

San Jose, CA

August 25-29

Las Vegas, NV

FTTx for Installers and Planners

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



August 11-14

Denver, CO





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



Mohawk, a leading manufacturer of fiber optic and copper cable products, is pleased to announce the appointment of Premier Network Solutions to Mohawk’s field sales force covering NY, NJ and E.PA/DE.

Premier is composed of a group of high caliber individuals that each brings a unique perspective to the organization.  Not only does the team have significant experience in their assigned geography, each has also interfaced within the market in different capacities from channel management and construction to consulting. This unique composition makes them well qualified to support the needs of Mohawk customers. 

The firm is headed by John Collichio who has been employed by Mohawk over the past 12 years. His most recent position was Regional Vice President of the Eastern Region. John has over twenty years of sales and management experience in the New York and New Jersey markets.

In addition to John, Premier’s other associates include Keith Fogarty, Jason Gonzalez and Christy Collichio. Keith served as Executive Vice President for Atlantic Coast Communications over the past three years. He led the operations team for Voice/ Data / Video installations as well as Access Control, CCTV, Intercom, Clock and Sound installations during his tenure there. Prior to ACC, Keith served as VP of Operations for Black Box Network Services in Blue Bell, PA. Keith has over twenty years experience in voice, data and electrical products. Jason has been with Commsult Communications, a leading consulting firm in Jersey City, N.J., serving as a Project Manager over the past three years. Prior to that, Jason spent a year with M&M Construction and an additional fourteen years at Align Communications. Jason has a vast knowledge of data center applications, building infrastructure, network, and cable management. Jason brings over fifteen years experience in the business. Christy served as Director of Operations at Computer Crafts, a cable assembly OEM located in Hawthorne, N.J. for over five years. Christy also developed a rep firm, Channel Technology Group, who represented various manufacturers in the NY/ NJ/ PA/ DE region. Christy is a multi-faceted individual adept in sales, finance and office automation. Christy has over twenty years experience in various capacities in the structured cabling industry.

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


my1voice Virtual PBX Phone Service Connects Today’s Workforce with Customers

New service allows even the smallest businesses to “never miss a call”

Protus, the provider of the fastest growing Internet fax service MyFaxT, today announced the introduction of its new virtual PBX phone service, my1voiceT. This solution, designed for home and small offices - particularly those mobile professionals always on the go - offers a convenient, cost effective and easy-to-use voice service that works with your existing phones.

my1voice uses existing telephone equipment to provide auto-attendant and voicemail services that provide a professional face to callers while allowing employees to stay in touch with the office via phone, e-mail or the web. Since there is no additional hardware or software to install or maintain, all of this can be accomplished for a fraction of the cost of installing a traditional PBX system. Features include the ability to customize a recorded greeting, automate call routing, set individual voicemail boxes for each employee, and receive automatic voicemail notifications.

Because it is software rather than hardware-based, my1voice also offers features not found on traditional PBX systems. For example, its “Find Me / Follow me” feature connects incoming calls to designated employees regardless of location and phone type. The call forward feature works with a mobile, home or office phone - or to all in a sequential order - assuring that callers never experience a busy signal or a dropped call. Voicemail may be checked over the phone, read as e-mail, or viewed over a secure Web server, making it even easier for mobile personnel to stay in touch while out of the office.

“The traditional office model, where all employees go to one location, sit at their desks throughout the day, and conduct business is no longer the gold standard,” said Joseph Nour, CEO of Protus. “Increasingly, today’s business world consists of mobile workers, distributed workforces, and even entire virtual companies. We designed my1voice to cater to the business communications needs of the small/home business world that is working this way. With my1voice, even if you’re splitting your work hours between your home office, the local coffee shop with Wi-Fi access and your car, you can have the same voice options and phone service as the largest corporations.”

Additional my1voice features include:

Choice of toll-free or local phone number with multiple extensions
24/7 Customer Support
Initial and Main Greetings
Day and Night Modes
Holding Music
Dial-by-Name Directory
Find-Me and Follow-Me Call Forwarding
Call Scheduling
Custom Settings
History Reports
Caller ID Screening
Virtual Calling Cards
Load-Balanced Routing

my1voice offers three service options to meet the requirements of different types of organizations, including businesses with one-to-five employees, six-to-ten employees, and 11 to 25 employees. These services range from $10 to $50 USD per month with a variety of minutes, extensions and custom greetings. All three options include free set-up and customer service support. For more information, visit

About Protus
Protus® provides the highest quality software as a service (SaaS) communications tools for small-to-medium-businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations, including award-winning MyFax, the fastest growing Internet fax service and my1voice, the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual PBX phone service that travels with the user from phone to web. Protus’ commitment to delivering a superior user experience has resulted in a continually growing and loyal customer base, allowing market leadership in industries including finance, insurance, real estate, healthcare, transportation and government. For more information about Protus and its family of communication tools, call 888-733-7007 or visit,, and

Preformed Line Products Announces Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Preformed Line Products (Nasdaq: PLPC - News) on June 20, 2008 declared a regular quarterly dividend in the amount of $.20 per share on the Company's common shares, payable July 18, 2008 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 1, 2008.

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 four domestic manufacturing centers, located in Rogers, Arkansas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Albemarle, North Carolina. The Company serves its worldwide market through international operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.

Association News


ACUTA Offering Hurricane Preparation Checklist to All Colleges and Universities

Just in time for the beginning of the 2008 hurricane season, ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is making available a communications- and networking-focused hurricane preparation checklist to all higher education institutions.

The 13-page document covers a broad range of pre-storm and post-storm activities and considerations, tailored to the needs of the college and university information communications technology personnel who make up ACUTA’s membership. ACUTA is the only international association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education information communications technology professionals. It represents nearly 2,000 individuals at some 780 institutions.

The checklist can be accessed by both ACUTA members and non-members through the ACUTA website (, specifically at this URL: or by searching for “hurricane checklist.”

 “Colleges and universities play an important role in disaster preparedness and recovery for both their campus constituencies and their communities in general,” said Dr. Walt Magnussen of Texas A&M University, president of ACUTA. “In the event of a major disaster such as a hurricane, these schools often provide emergency medical care, temporary shelter, communication services, and a variety of other functions in addition to providing for the safety of life and property on campus.”

Magnussen added, “I can’t overemphasize the importance of maintaining communication services to a campus community during an emergency situation.”

In the wake of the devastation wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, ACUTA began working closely with the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), a technical planning and standards development organization, and its Network Reliability Steering Committee. As a result, ACUTA adapted a master ATIS checklist to the specific needs of information communications technology professionals at colleges and universities.

The checklist covers areas such as emergency facilities and lodging, creation of contact lists, physical power and fuel, staffing, computer and network services, damage assessments and other post-storm activities, and training.

“One major advantage of the hurricane preparation checklist is that it covers very extensively the basic considerations, and schools can build on those to add specific activities and preparations of their own,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “Our goal in preparing this checklist is to do what we can to help our members and others contribute to the health and safety of everyone on campus.”

ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is an international non-profit educational association serving colleges and universities. Its core purpose is to support higher education information communications technology professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions. ACUTA represents nearly 2000 individuals at some 780 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the 50 largest U.S. institutions. ACUTA’s Corporate Affiliate members represent all categories of communications technology vendors serving the college/university market. For more information, visit or call 859-278-3338.

Contacts: Pat Scott, ACUTA, 859-278-3338, ext. 221, or

     Kevin Tanzillo, Dux PR, 972-889-9577 or


ACUTA Name Change Reflects Evolving Roles That Its Member Play At Colleges, Universities

Responding to the changes in its members’ roles on college and university campuses, ACUTA today formally announced its name change, becoming the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

Addition of the word “Information” in the name reflects the evolving roles that ACUTA members play in their institutions, as they manage the converging voice and data networks that are the foundation for all the communications that take place on campus.

The change, which is being made in advance of the 37th annual ACUTA Conference (July 13-17 in Las Vegas), continues the evolution of ACUTA, the only international  association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education information communications technology professionals. It represents nearly 2,000 individuals at some 780 institutions.


“On campuses and in business, with the convergence of telecommunications and data networking, the term Information Communications Technology has emerged in the global technical community,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “We think this description is perfectly suited to the roles of our membership, and have decided to make it part of our identity.”

ACUTA began in 1972 as the Association of College and University Telecommunications Administrators, at a time when campus communications were almost entirely telephone system-based. ACUTA adopted its most recent name, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, in 2002, but retained the ACUTA “brand” because it is so well known, Semer said. 



AFCOM® will host its next Data Center World® at the Orlando World Marriott from October 5 to 7. Considered one of the industry’s premier events for education and professional development, the conference will offer 50+ sessions across four tracks: Facilities/Greening, Data Center Management, Automation, and Disaster Recovery. Optional tutorials, product information sessions, and virtual data center tours round out the educational agenda. The expo will boast 125 vendors showcasing the latest in products and services.


BICSI Courses are Coming to Las Vegas

Tampa, Fla., USA - With over 20 courses planned, it’s easy to coordinate your schedule around the 2008 BICSI Fall Conference and maximize your travel time. Register for the conference or a pre-conference seminar, attend the Exhibit Hall or take a course. All are at your finger tips this September and October in Las Vegas. Whether you’re looking to take a refresher design course or need several employees trained in optical fiber installation, BICSI has you covered. Follow the below links for course descriptions and registration.

Design Courses:

Design Examinations (RCDD, NTS, OSP, WD) will be held on Monday, September 29.

Installation Courses:

Installation exams will be offered on September 26-27 and October 3-4. Space is limited! Follow the above links or call now to reserve your seat.

Save Now!
Don’t forget—register for three or more courses at the same time and save 10 percent! Offer also valid if three or more students from the same company preregister for the same class at the same time. Register today! For more information or to reserve your seat, follow the above links, or contact BICSI toll-free at 800.242.7405.


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 23,000 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, BICSI membership spans nearly 100 countries.

Contact:  Tom Damico,, or Maarja Kolberg,, 813.979.1991


Starting with the 2008 Fall Conference Final Announcement

 BICSI is going digital!

The electronic version of the announcement is a fast and convenient way for you to get the important information you need to schedule your trip to Las Vegas. Frank, please join and support us in our effort to be environmentally conscious as we aim to produce less printed materials. BICSI


BICSI Reinvests Its Installation Education

BICSI, the association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment, announces the release of the Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM), fifth edition.

This standards-based, vendor-neutral publication is an invaluable resource for cabling installation personnel and those seeking extensive and detailed information on pathways, spaces, associated hardware, and structured cabling and optical fiber systems within commercial buildings. Reflecting the latest technologies, the ITSIMM provides the fundamental knowledge for anyone working to achieve BICSI’s ITS Installer 1; ITS Installer 2, Copper; ITS Installer 2, Optical Fiber; or ITS Technician registration designations.

“The fifth edition is unique because it provides both an educational and reference document for the purpose of providing a solid foundation for the proper design of current infrastructure and training/education of today’s ITS installation personnel,” said Ray Craig, RCDD, NTS, owner of Craig Consulting Services in Coppell, Texas, and BICSI’s Technical Information and Methods (TI&M) Committee ITSIMM subject matter expert team leader (SMETL).

With ITS forming the new fourth utility and the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, the proper installation of copper and optical fiber systems has become paramount. The ITSIMM includes nine chapters with 320 figures and 55 tables formatted into specific copper and optical fiber sections that allow for concentrated study and review of BICSI best practices.

In addition to the single-volume, three-ring binder manual, the ITSIMM is available on a searchable CD-ROM and includes all text and graphics. The manual or CD-ROM may be purchased separately for US$129, or as a combination set for US$258.

Originally published in 1997 as the Telecommunications Cabling Installation Manual (TCIM), about 35 percent of the fifth edition consists of new or modified text and about 60 percent of the manual has undergone a formatting change from the previous edition. “In keeping with the BICSI strategic plan, the significant contributions by international volunteers has resulted in a universally oriented document which was a major goal of the update,” said Craig.

The most notable change is a new chapter providing information relative to specific applications such as health care facilities, wireless applications, security, building automation systems and installation of special circuits. Furthermore, it contains an updated appendix outlining available Codes and Standards around the world.

BICSI’s TI&M Committee works to develop and produce the technical information in BICSI manuals like the ITSIMM. “The knowledge gained by using this new manual will be an important asset to students taking BICSI installation training courses, and candidates for the new Installer 2, Copper; Installer 2, Optical Fiber; and Technician exams,” said David Labuskes, RCDD, NTS, OSP, vice president of RTKL Associates' special systems design group and TI&M Committee Chair.

For more information about the ITSIMM and BICSI’s ITS Installation Program, please visit



NAED's Life Upgrades Provides Contractors with Selling Tools
Turn Product Upgrades in Residential Construction and Remodeling into Profit Upgrades
LOUIS... The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) introduces another new business development program created primarily for contractors called Life Upgrades: Electrical Options for Better LivingSM.

NAED Channel Advantage Partnership Announces New Research Project
Study to Assess and Address the Liability Exposures Electrical Distributors Face When Providing Value-Added Services
LOUIS... A new study from the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) Education & Research Foundation is underway.

NAED 2008 LEAD Conference Scheduled for July 17-20 in Washington, D.C.
Lead Your Company From Good to Great and Take Your Career to the Next Level
LOUIS… The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) invites emerging industry leaders to Washington, D.C., for this summer’s 2008 LEAD (Leadership Enhancement and Development) Conference.

NAED Launching New Certification Program
First “Certified Electrical Professional” Exam to be Offered June 2009
ST. LOUIS... The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is currently developing a new certification program for distributors, manufacturers and others in the channel: the Certified Electrical Professional (CEP).

NAED Announces “Trip of the Century” Winner
Congratulations to Jodi Saladucha of Swift Electrical Supply
LOUIS – The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) recently announced the winner of NAED’s “Trip of the Century” at the 2008 National Electrical Leadership Summit.

NAED Announces 2008-2009 Board of Directors
Waterman to Lead as Chair in 2008-2009, Followed by Schraga in 2009-2010
ST. LOUIS – The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is pleased to announce its new Board of Directors for 2008-2009.


NAED 2008 LEAD Conference Scheduled for July 17-20 in Washington D.C.

Lead Your Company From Good to Great and Take Your Career to the Next Level

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) invites emerging industry leaders  to Washington, D.C., for this summer's 2008 LEAD (Leadership Enhancement and Development) Conference. The LEAD Conference is developed by industry professionals who volunteer their time serving on the NAED LEAD Committee. This annual conference is an industry favorite for "up and comers" in electrical distribution and gives participants the opportunity to improve their management skills, network with peers and trading partners in small group settings, and learn from two Dale Carnegie experts, Dr. Earl Taylor and Jack Messenger.

Education sessions for this year include:

  • "LEAD Your Company From Good to Great and Take Your Career to the Next Level" – This keynote presentation will focus on how to get the best from employees using motivation instead of manipulation, and commitment instead of compliance. Attendees will learn how to use the cycle of self-development to take their employees and themselves to the next level of success.
  • "How to Effectively Communicate and Improve Your Public Speaking Skills" – This session is for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills, for their company's and their own success. Table exercises will facilitate sharing best practices between peers and trading partners.
  • "How to Stop Wasting Time, Stay Focused, and Get Results" – From e-mails and phone calls, to "drop-ins" from visitors and co-workers, days are filled with disruptions. In this hands-on session, specific tips, tricks and methods on how to take control will be presented.

In addition to these informative sessions, the conference also offers networking opportunities, including an opening reception at L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Dine-Around Washington, D.C., and a closing reception with dinner and entertainment at the US Capitol Building.

The following manufacturers are also supporting the event by inviting distributors to use their co-op/market development funds to attend: Advance, IDEAL Industries, Hubbell Wiring Systems, Panduit, Sea Gull Lighting, Philips Lighting and Siemens Energy & Automation.

Registration for the LEAD Conference is currently underway. Hotel cut-off is June 18. The early bird deadline to save $150 has been extended to June 18. For more information, contact the NAED Conference Department at (888) 791-2512 or e-mail Rhonda Parkinson at To register online, visit

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


NAED Announces 2008-2009 Board of Directors

Waterman to Lead as Chair in 2008-2009, Followed by Schraga in 2009-2010

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is pleased to announce its new Board of Directors for 2008-2009. Led by the NAED chair, the Board of Directors is a dedicated group of industry leaders who volunteer their time and efforts to improve the association and the electrical distribution channel.

The 2008-2009 NAED Board Chair is Richard (Dick) Waterman, senior advisor and former executive vice president and CEO of International Electric Supply Corporation (IESC) in Dallas, Texas. IESC is the holding company of Rexel U.S. and Gexpro.

Waterman has worked in the electrical industry for more than 40 years. Over the course of his career, he has served on many NAED committees, councils and boards. In addition to his service to NAED, Waterman also served as chairman of the Electro Federation of Canada. Waterman's new role became official at the conclusion of the 2008 National Electrical Leadership Summit, held May 17-21 in San Francisco, Calif.

"As we begin our second century as an association we have much to look forward to. Our industry is strong and innovation is everywhere. Markets are changing and creating opportunities to 'expand our horizons', a phrase that I feel makes a fitting theme for this year," Waterman said. "With opportunities there are always challenges that will surface. Be it infrastructure, technology or any other problem, NAED will be there to work with all parties in our industry to help develop and supply solutions."

Burt Schraga, CEO of Bell Electrical Supply, is Chair-Elect. He will work closely with Waterman to prepare for assuming NAED board leadership in 2009-2010.

Bell Electrical Supply has been in business for over 50 years. Earlier this month, Bell Electrical merged with Industrial Control Components to further expand its offerings. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Bell Electrical Supply received the Affiliated Distributors Affiliate of the Year Award 2007-2008.  

Throughout his career, Schraga has taken on many leadership positions within NAED. He served two terms on the association's board of directors from 1985-1987 and 1994-1996, and was also Western Region Vice President. He has also chaired both the NAED Strategic Focus and Executive Conference Committees. Schraga is currently chairman of the Elite Distributors Insurance Co. (EDIC) and is a member of the Affiliated Distributors (A-D) U.S. Electrical Board.

Members of the 2008-2009 NAED Board of Directors are:

  • Richard (Dick) Waterman, NAED Board Chair, International Electric Supply Corporation, Dallas, Texas
  • Burt Schraga, NAED Chair-Elect, Bell Electrical Supply, Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Tammy Miller, NAED Past Chair, Border States Electric Supply, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Richard Williams, NAED Eastern Region Vice President, Dominion Electric Supply Company, Inc.,
    Arlington, Va.
  • Glenn Goedecke, NAED South Central Region Vice President, Mayer Electric Supply Co., Inc.,
    Birmingham, Ala.
  • Jack Henderson, NAED Western Region Vice President, Hunzicker Brothers, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Douglas Borchers, NAED Eastern Region Vice President-Elect, Dickman Supply, Inc., Sidney, Ohio
  • Steve Anixter, NAED South Central Region Vice President-Elect, Advance Electrical Supply Company, Inc., Chicago, Ill.
  • Bill Squires, NAED Western Region Vice President-Elect, SMC Electric Supply, Springfield, Mo.
  • Scott Lawhead, NAED Finance Committee Chair, The Hite Company, Altoona, Pa.
  • Robert A. Reynolds, Jr., NAED Member-At-Large, Graybar Electric Company, Inc., St. Louis, Mo.
  • Clifton Kelly, NAED Member-At-Large, Stoneway Electric Supply, Spokane, Wash.
  • David White, NAED Member-At-Large, Shealy Electrical Wholesalers, Inc., Columbia, S.C.
  • Peter Bellwoar, NAED Member-At-Large, Colonial Electric Supply Company, Inc., King of Prussia, Pa.
  • Joe Huffman, NAED Member-At-Large, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.
  • John Spoor, NAED Foundation Chair, State Electric Supply Company, Huntington, W.Va.
  • Jim Etheredge, NAED Foundation Chair-Elect, Crescent Electric Supply Company, East Dubuque, Ill.
  • Larry Powers, NAED Manufacturer Representative, Genlyte Group, LLC, Louisville, Ky.
  • Todd Kumm, IDEA Vice Chair, Dakota Supply Group, Fargo, N.D.
  • Chris Scarbrough, LEAD Committee Chair, Springfield Electric Supply Company, Mount Vernon, Ill.

As the governing body of NAED, the Board of Directors is accountable for the effective performance and direction of the association, as well as communicating to the membership about NAED's activities and policies. Within the framework of the association's by-laws and policies, the Board of Directors determines measurements for success, establishes policy imperatives, defines the organization's vision for the future, fulfills fiduciary obligations and serves as champions of the association. NAED officers attend two NAED Board meetings a year and are encouraged to attend all NAED Regional and Annual Meetings.

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

Article Contributions

Cabling Installation and Maintenance

Is your data center efficient?

Standardized metrics will help drive the measuring of data center efficiency, but until those metrics are available, data center managers can conduct assessments today.

Many consultants and companies, including Emerson Network Power ( and NetApp (, offer assessment services to help data center managers determine whether their data center is efficient and can provide recommendations for lowering costs and eliminating vulnerabilities.

Liebert Service, a division of Emerson Network Power, was started in the late 1980s to service Liebert cooling and power products. Since then, it has expanded into a full data center assessment service that identifies hot spots, resolves power and cooling inefficiencies and problems, and ensures proper capacity.

“We typically send in two or more engineers that go through a huge data gathering process,” explains Omar McKee, manager of service solutions for Emerson Network Power Liebert Service ( “They meet with the customer to gather as much qualitative information as possible about their operations and business objectives, and then they literally map out the space with a detailed data center floor plan and information about all the equipment, including capacity, temperature, airflow, load ratings, etc.”

McKee says the information is then “put through a computational fluid dynamics analysis to provide 3D renderings that model temperature and airflow, show the customer exactly what’s in their space, and make recommendations to solve power and cooling issues, improve efficiency, and provide guidelines for future growth.”

In addition to capacity and efficiency, the data center assessment includes everything from checking the height of the raised floor, cabling, and airflow obstructions to hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, safety concerns, and grounding and bonding.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a single common issue that we see with data center assessments--it’s really a culmination of many problems, and the issues are the same across vertical markets and geographies,” says Jeff Powers, senior product manager, Emerson Network Power Liebert Service. “The one issue we find time and time again is the lack of knowledge of what equipment is actually in the data center and what’s it’s doing.—Betsy Ziobron

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Don’t get greenwashed

In the few months since I wrote the opinion column entitled “Green on green” (February, page 4) I have had many conversations on the topic. At the risk of oversimplifying things, here’s how I size up a situation that I admittedly haven’t entirely gotten my arms around. The notion of planning and building green (environmentally friendly) structured cabling systems today is like the Wild West. There are very few rules, and for those that are in place, there’s no sheriff to enforce them. My frustration comes from some alleged acts of lawlessness within our industry that have tried to take advantage of the situation.

For many so-called green cabling projects, the common denominator is the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Construction projects can accomplish LEED certification by documenting the USGBC’s detailed process. The extent to which structured cabling systems are part of that process might accurately be described as minute.

With that in mind, please do not believe anybody who tries to tell you about a LEED-certified cable. Or LEED-certified patch panel. Or LEED-certified cabling product of any kind. There is no such thing. LEED certification is a complex process and a significant undertaking. Any claim that LEED certification is as simple as choosing one brand over another is a shameful manipulation that preys on the good intentions of product purchasers who want to be environmentally conscious but do not fully understand the rigors of LEED certification.

Now with that off my chest … while cabling systems’ impact on LEED certification is minimal, the choices you make concerning product types and system design can affect your cabling system’s environmental friendliness. That statement sounds contradictory, I know, but the LEED program covers an encyclopedic group of building materials and systems. It simply doesn’t pay much (some say it doesn’t pay any) attention to structured cabling systems. But look at it from the inside out—that is, from the vantage point of the structured cabling system, consider its impact on other building systems and ultimately on the environment. Then ask yourself two questions: 1) Do I want to achieve LEED certification? 2) Do I want to be environmentally friendly? The answers to both questions do not necessarily have to be the same.

In data centers, for example, it’s possible to achieve the former while snubbing the latter. The most compelling story I heard is that of the data center that got points toward LEED certification by installing a bicycle rack so that employees could bike to work rather than drive, yet the data center did nothing to cut down on the enormous amounts of energy consumed by its everyday operation. This example shows there are blindspots in the LEED certification process. I’m sure the system will be refined, and in the future it will more holistically evaluate a building’s environmental impact. But for now, understand you’re facing the proverbial double-edged sword. You’re likely to hear bombastic claims of LEED-compliant products that are at the very least misleading. You also will have the opportunity to have a positive environmental impact by taking actions that won’t get you any closer to LEED certification.

As always, the most important information on the topic is your actual experience. I invite you to share, with me and/or with this publication’s entire audience.

Chief Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Deploying multimode fiber

Careful product, technology, and architecture choices can enable low-loss performance in high-data-rate applications.

ALAN UGOLINI is manager of data center market development with Corning Cable Systems (www.corningcablesystems).

When selecting a fiber-optic cabling solution for the data center, it makes strategic and good economical sense to choose one that will maximize lifecycle and reduce capital and operational expense. An optical-cable infrastructure that can be fully utilized for 15 to 20 years will more than likely have to be operational through multiple generations of system equipment and at least two generations of data-rate increases.

Consideration of solution specifications, such as cabled fiber skew rate, optical-fiber bandwidth, connector-termination interface, modal noise, and connectivity performance, play an important role in realizing long lifecycles for the optical-cable infrastructure. Another attribute that is gaining importance in guaranteeing longevity of the optical physical layer in the data center is the channel insertion loss.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Center TIA-942 defines a channel as the end-to-end transmission path between two points at which application-specific equipment is connected. The performance of optical networks depends on the ability of each channel to meet bit error rate (BER) requirements as specified in the respective transmission standard.

Maximum multimode fiber channel distances are defined in the particular standard, which is linked to a specific fiber-bandwidth performance specification and channel insertion loss budget. For example, the channel insertion loss budget for a 300-meter 10GBase-SR link using OM3 fiber at 850 nanometers (nm) is 2.6 dB. Of this 2.6 dB budget, 1.1 dB is allocated to the intrinsic fiber loss itself. Fiber splices and/or connector losses take up the remaining 1.5 dB of the budget.

Channel insertion loss budgets for higher data rates are restrictive compared to historical, lower-speed variants. Additionally, with every increase in data rate, the supporting multimode fiber end-to-end distances have decreased. This trend of restrictive channel insertion loss and decreased supported channel distances should be noted when deploying a structured optical cabling network in combination with modular high-density MPO cabling solutions.

Going structured for flexibility

Implementing a structured cabling system in the data center is important to maximize the efficiency and lifecycle of the cabling infrastructure. A structured cabling solution, as recommended in the TIA-942 standard, optimizes the cabling plant’s flexibility to meet current and future networking requirements by facilitating moves, adds and changes (MACs).

The data center main distribution area (MDA) includes the main crossconnect (MC), which is the central point of distribution for the data center structured cabling system. Backbone cabling is star-networked from the MC throughout the data center and, in particular, to horizontal distribution areas (HDA). Likewise, horizontal cabling is installed in a star topology from the horizontal crossconnect in the HDA to each equipment distribution area (EDA) or, alternatively, to a zone distribution area (ZDA) located between the HDA and EDA.

A horizontal crossconnect is not mandatory. For example, data centers using optical fiber may implement data networks with centralized electronics rather then distributed electronics. Centralized optical-fiber cabling is designed as an alternative to the optical crossconnect located in the HDA in the support of centralized electronics. Centralized optical cabling provides connections from the data center’s EDA to the centralized crossconnect by allowing the use of pull-thru cables, an interconnect, or a splice in the HDA. When the horizontal crossconnects are not used, cabling is extended from the main crossconnect in the MDA directly to the ZDA or EDA.

Choosing a centralized optical infrastructure may increase link distances and add connector mated pairs within the channel that increase the overall channel insertion loss. You’ll need to consider these factors for meeting the requirements of future data rates in regard to channel distance and insertion loss.

In all cases, the cabling infrastructure should be planned to reduce ongoing network cabling maintenance and relocation. It should also accommodate system equipment churn, service changes, and scaling.

As an example, structured optical cabling has become an essential ingredient in efficiently scaling storage area networks (SANs) in data centers from hundreds of ports to thousands of ports. But implementing structured cabling alone may not be the entire answer to the problems in the data center. As more and more servers get networked into the SAN, limitations in traditional optical cabling solutions are exposed. In particular, cabinets housing SAN directors are scaling from hundreds of fibers to thousands. Deploying newer, modular, high-density cabling solutions in a structured cabling architecture offer the best practice for meeting physical layer requirements for manageability, scalability and reliability.

High-density, modular connectivity

Benefits of deploying modular, high-density optical solutions--such as MPO-based connectivity including MPO trunk assemblies, breakout modules and breakout harnesses in a structured wiring architecture--include 50% cable-tray space savings, 80% improvement in deployment time, and 70% bulk-cable reduction in cabinets and racks. A modular, high-density solution deployed in a structured wiring topology can easily scale to hundreds of thousands of ports and significantly reduce the time to conduct MACs in the data center, thus reducing operational costs.

So now, we have the means to cope with future growth and churn in the data center. Now, let’s address the issue of keeping this modular high-density structured cabling system in place to handle future higher-data-rate applications.

In addition to manageability and scalability, a benefit to deploying a modular, high-density MPO-based cabling system is the available migration path to increased data rates. With some consideration of performance specifications, the infrastructure can easily migrate to future higher-data-rate technologies, such as parallel optics, which will be used in 32-, 64-, and 128-Gigabit Fibre Channel; and 40- and 100-Gigabit Ethernet. In fact, by deploying an optical cabling system that meets InfiniBand 12X-QDR (120-Gbit) cable skew performance requirements of ≤ 0.75 ns and distance specifications, the same infrastructure that is carrying serial transmission today can be easily migrated to transmit parallel-optic InfiniBand signals.

The challenge, then, is to stay farsighted and to deploy the best combination of fiber-optic cabling and connector performance today to meet both current and future channel insertion loss budgets and distance guarantees for these higher speed applications.

The majority of networking links in the data center is less than 150 meters. This enables the use of electronics with short-wavelength 850-nm VCSEL-based limiting transceivers. These lower-cost electronics are optimized for use with OM3 fiber, which has a bandwidth length product (BWLP) of 2,000 MHz*km--four times greater than that of OM2 fiber. Specifying a higher grade fiber such as OM3 in the cabling infrastructure lowers power penalties associated with intersymbol interference (ISI) noise, and extends the operating distance when compared to OM2 and OM1 fiber at the same specified channel insertion loss.

A review of our data center best practices to improve the optical cabling infrastructure life cycle includes:

Deploying a structured cabling system;

Using modular high-density MPO-based optical solutions;

Specifying OM3 fiber and cabling solutions with a skew performance of ≤ 0.75 ns.

Low-loss connectivity

An additional and important topic must be considered for improving the return on investment of a cabling infrastructure: Implementing a structured cabling solution with modular, high-density, MPO-based connectivity can increase channel insertion loss due to the increased number of connector mated pairs in the channel.

To ensure low BER, installed channel distances and channel insertion loss should be less than the distances and channel insertion loss specified in the particular standard. Exceeding link distances and channel losses result in exceeding system BERs.

To mitigate this issue and increase the lifecycle of an optical-cabling infrastructure, deploy high-quality low-loss optical components. Low-loss MPO trunks, breakout harnesses, modules and jumpers minimize channel insertion loss and enable the cabling infrastructure to easily migrate to future higher data rates.

For example, 8-Gigabit Fibre Channel will support a distance of 100 meters using OM3 fiber and a connector budget no greater than 2.4 dB. In the nearby illustration of a structured wiring system, if the MPO mated pair had a maximum insertion loss of 0.5 dB, and each MTP-to-LC breakout module was specified at a maximum insertion loss of 0.75 dB, then the resulting maximum connector loss in the channel will be 2.75 dB.

This exceeds the recommended maximum 2.4 dB connector loss budget of 8-Gigabit Fibre Channel at 100 meters, thereby reducing the supportable distance at 8-Gigabit Fibre Channel; however, if low-loss components were specified into the same cable plant at 0.5-dB maximum insertion loss per MTP-to-LC breakout module and 0.35-dB maximum per MTP mated pair, then the resulting maximum connector loss in the channel will be 1.85 dB, providing support of 8-Gigabit Fibre Channel beyond 100 meters.

As previously discussed, TIA-942 addresses the use of ZDAs as part of the recommended topology for data centers. Implementing a distributed zone solution reduces pathway congestion and facilitates the implementation of MACs common in the data center environment. The implementation of a zone topology can increase the number of connection points in a given channel. Using components with low-loss performance enables zone connectivity without sacrificing distance capabilities due to channel insertion loss.

Additional methods to implement zone distribution with reduced channel insertion loss include using components that are optimized for the architecture. Solutions that offer a combined MPO-based trunk assembly and breakout module can eliminate connector pairs while still offering the flexibility of zone cabling, thereby reducing total channel insertion loss.

An eye toward the future

Implementing a structured cabling solution in the data center is important to maximizing the efficiency of the cabling infrastructure. But as link distances, connectivity, and data rates increase, the resulting supportable channel distances decrease and may cause limitations in the future use of the cabling infrastructure.

A strategy to offset this distance limitation is to minimize the channel insertion loss by deploying low-loss connectivity solutions within the link. Using low-loss components, such as MPO trunk assemblies, breakout modules, breakout harnesses, and patch cords minimizes channel insertion loss and maximizes supported link distances. Implementing an infrastructure with these components provides for a migration path to future higher-data-rate applications, leveraging the likelihood of a long lifecycle for optical connectivity in the data center.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


ITS professionals charting: new route to credentials

BICSI’s NxtGEN program promises to reshape the course of gaining the industry’s most coveted designations.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Last November, BICSI (, the educational association of the information-transport systems (ITS) industry, announced NxtGEN, the program that will revise the means by which professionals can obtain the credentials BICSI awards.

The Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) designation is widely recognized as the centerpiece credential of the ITS industry, and to date has been a requirement for professionals who have pursued other specialties offered by BICSI, including the NTS (LAN) Specialist, Outside Plant (OSP) Specialist, and Wireless Design (WD) Specialist. Separately, BICSI has for more than a decade offered Installer and Technician designations. Industry professionals have the opportunity to achieve these credentials through a combination of work experience and knowledge demonstrated through examination.

At the association’s Winter Conference held in January, BICSI’s outgoing president, John Bakowski, explained the project that has since been named NxtGEN began more than two years ago, and is far from over. “This is a work-in-progress,” he said at the time. “We know where we want to go.” Incoming president Ed Donelan also commented at the time, “NxtGEN has completed its second stage—discovery—which allows us to move ahead to implementation. The heavy lifting is now ahead of us.” As those two quotes indicate, the NxtGEN program likely will come to fruition and be rolled out over some period of time.

Recently, Cabling Installation & Maintenance held a “virtual roundtable” discussion with several of the major players within BICSI and the NxtGEN program. That is, the individuals involved did not, either physically or digitally, meet in a single place at a single time and discuss the program’s details in one sitting. Rather, this writer interviewed participants by submitting a list of questions related to NxtGEN. BICSI representatives’ responses to those questions appear in this forum.

As the interview shows, one of BICSI’s objectives with NxtGEN is to build the level of participation in the credentialing program by professionals who are not BICSI members. In that vein, this Q&A-style article is not intended exclusively for BICSI members. Cabling Installation & Maintenance offers this roundtable discussion, hopefully as a useful reference, to professionals throughout the ITS industry.

The NxtGEN initiative

CI&M: What were the specific circumstances that led BICSI to embark on the NxtGEN initiative?

Bakowski: NxtGEN Program was born out of a strategic vision based on discussions within the board, BICSI membership, committees, and volunteers. We saw that in order to maintain our leadership position in the industry, BICSI needed to draw on its industry expertise representatives to chart our past, present and future business models. To provide those details, we assigned a group of individuals having the expertise to do a fast-track study and report back to the BICSI board. Steve Calderon and Bob Erickson championed that team in January 2006.

Donelan: Going back even further, in 2005, the BICSI board of directors began a process to develop a strategic plan for our association. We determined specific objectives, goals, and outcomes. One outcome was the three- to five-year credentialing and knowledge-transfer goal coupled with conditions, trends, and assumptions. These were some very specific conversations that led us to decide upon a more-open platform to give our customers better access to expanded knowledge and credentials.

Bakowski: Through the Committee’s work in Phase 1, we uncovered that there was a lot more to what our industry needed. We believe that through the NxtGEN initiative, we will be able to deliver this to our customers in a much more meaningful way. Upon completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 was implemented in June 2007, now led by Jerry Bowman and Bob Erickson. During this phase the project was officially named the BICSI NxtGEN Project. This was the most ambitious and far-reaching project BICSI had undertaken to date, involving almost every aspect of BICSI’s board, staff, committees, and volunteers.

Bowman: We’ve all been in the ITS business in one facet or another for a long time. For some time, we were observing evolutions in the educational and credentialing needs of our members and customers. These changes involved not only the content, which began expanding to include other disciplines and technologies, but also affected the expectations that the corporate enterprise, ITS professional, and technician had for the credentialing process. As the ITS industry has matured the needs of those who count on BICSI have also changed.

Erickson: Historically speaking, BICSI was established upon the needs of an industry and workforce that was operating over 30 years ago. Because today’s industry and technology are vastly different, we were forced to realign our programs with the needs of today’s industry and workforce.

Working with other organizations

CI&M: Over the past several years BICSI has established partnerships or working relationships with other organizations, some of which offer credentialing programs. Did BICSI examine those organizations’, and/or other organizations’, credentialing programs when developing its NxtGEN strategy?

Donelan: Absolutely. BICSI underwent a most comprehensive comparison of other credentialing-based organizations in order to better understand the state of the industry. This market study included strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, better enabling us to make decisions based on facts.

Dunfee: BICSI actually investigated 48 associations when we were developing the strategy. Twenty of those 48 associations provided credentialing and were closely reviewed specifically for their industry relevance and credentialing methodology. Some of the parameters investigated were credentialing prerequisites, experience and formal training requirements, the need for verifiable references, the type of exams (e.g. written, simulated, hands-on), the requirement for continuing education, time period of the credential, and cost of the credential.

Bowman: The associations and companies we talked to covered a broad spectrum of ITS, engineering, IT, security, and others. We were looking for a representative cross-section of organizations that would embody the new, expanded BICSI stakeholder and address the full range of technical challenges faced by our members, stakeholders, and customers in their professional lives.

CI&M: Can you share information, if you have such information, about the organizations that employ holders of BICSI’s RCDD designation? In other words, is there an equal distribution among design firms, installation contractors, consulting firms, end-user organizations, cabling-product manufacturers, etc.?

Bowman: One of the key initiatives that came out of the NxtGEN Program during the organizational phase was the creation of a tool that will provide an ongoing quantitative analysis of the value of BICSI manuals, training, and credentials to the service-delivery organizations and their customers. After reviewing the various categories used for tracking and reporting, the NxtGEN Stakeholders Working Group identified a number of new categories and lines of business that we will begin using going forward. The BICSI Membership & Marketing Committee has been given ownership of the tool and the responsibility of updating it with current information. We are looking forward to the information that the Membership & Marketing Committee provides us using this new tool.

NxtGEN and other organizations

CI&M: As a follow-on, do you expect that the NxtGEN program will serve all of these organization types equally, or is it likely that some organization types will participate to a greater extent than others?

Donelan: I’m glad that you asked this question. This is truly where BICSI maintains a vendor-neutral philosophy when it comes to promotion of any specific segment of ITS industry, product, practice, or process. This essential element of accepting best practices coupled with our community-based goal of nurturing unique, relevant, dynamic and sustainable professional communities around the world allows equal and greater access to all organizations.

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Dunfee: Of course, there are some organizations for which the BICSI credential may enhance the organization’s own credentials. In other cases, BICSI may find that its publications may be of value to another association, or that a combination of publications and training may provide the best mix. BICSI may also find the same potential for its members by aligning closely with the other organizations.

Hansen: How exactly the BICSI NxtGEN program will benefit these organization types will be determined during this next process of careful and calculated implementation of each part of the NxtGEN initiative. We have tasked our Membership & Marketing Committee with continuously evaluating the stakeholders for the organization so that we could better understand how we can serve them.

Bowman: We could only serve them equally if their needs were all the same. However, the diverse and mature ITS market has seen the needs of the various stakeholders move in very different directions. Some of our stakeholders may have a tremendous need for our publications or training, but almost no need for credentialing. In contrast, others may need the knowledge and skills of one of the Specialties, but not the broad knowledge of an RCDD. One example might be a service provider or contractor with a great deal of outside-plant construction activity. This stakeholder may need to mobilize a number of resources with the knowledge and skills of an OSP Specialist, but may not have the time to wait on them to study for and pass the RCDD. In this example, we will be addressing a very real need if we’re able to provide the OSP knowledge and skills to the service provider or contractor when they need it.

What is RCDD-E?

CI&M: One term that has been discussed within the context of NxtGEN is “RCDD-E.” Truthfully, I’m not certain whether or not that is an actual term that BICSI intends to use. As I understand it, individuals may be eligible for the “RCDD-E” designation by demonstrating a certain level of knowledge about structured cabling system design–without necessarily having designed those systems professionally. Can you detail what the “RCDD-E” will be and, perhaps more specifically, how it will compare and contrast to the long-standing RCDD designation?

Bakowski: The RCDD-E is a concept under intense review by the BICSI NxtGEN Committee. It would be premature to speculate if that part of the program is feasible or how it would be designed to fit the overall needs of the BICSI membership.

Erickson: The RCDD-E is currently a “nameholder”. The term may change as the program evolves.

Donelan: To a certain extent, you are correct in your definition of the RCDD-E. The idea behind this is again to open our doors to more than the select few of the industry. Conceptually, the RCDD-E would be intended for those who want to pursue a career in ITS, but do not have the needed experience. In our industry there are areas such as project management, manufacturing, wholesale and retail supply, business management, IS administration, and education, where there is great need for people with a fundamental understanding of the technology. Experience, per se, is not necessarily a requirement for them.

Dunfee: Within this program, educational and experience equivalents would be allowed as substitutes for experience. Additional ITS training, of sufficient scope, will be required to ensure that the individual knows the ITS industry. Since this group has most of the knowledge needed to become an RCDD, but lacks practical experience in design processes and project research, the designation of RCDD-E is recommended.

However, the RCDD-E will require further study to determine formal-education industry-related relevance when pursuing the RCDD-E. It is anticipated that this program will not be in place until sometime in 2010.

Bowman: We are especially concerned about those potential RCDDs who don’t need or want design skills or experience for their professional pursuits. Professionals in fields such as education, sales, project management, or IT management may use the knowledge they obtain from the RCDD in their work life. Previously, without the RCDD-E these professionals would not be able to obtain the knowledge or obtain this designation without first obtaining the 2 years of field design experience—now 5 years of design experience—and then entering the RCDD program. We feel many talented educational, sales, project-management, IT, and other professionals will be able to enter the RCDD-E program and obtain the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their given professions. The RCDD-E program is one of many examples of BICSI NxtGEN adapting our publications, training, and credentialing programs to the needs of our members, stakeholders and customers.

What about elevating RCDD?

CI&M: I believe one of the objectives of NxtGEN is to elevate the existing RCDD designation. What plans are in place to do so?

Donelan: The RCDD is BICSI’s core customer and, as such, is very important to us. Our goal is to protect the status of the RCDD while at the same time elevate the RCDD designation by requiring more experience to qualify to sit for the exam. We will require at least 5 years’ experience in the design of ITS and change our examination process to be more focused on application-based knowledge. We will be moving away from a memorization-based exam to an exam that tests the individual’s core design knowledge. This new process will establish an RCDD credential to be the most coveted designation in the ITS industry.

Erickson: Although this is what we are currently assuming the program will look like, the final changes to the RCDD program will be dependent on the outcomes of the NxtGEN implementation team’s work. The team will look very closely at the experience requirements and also at the examination processes to ensure that our customers’ needs for the RCDD program will be met.

Bowman: Elevating the RCDD is just another way of saying that we are making it more valuable–valuable to employers who hire the RCDD, and valuable to the end users who benefit from their ITS design skills. Making the RCDD more valuable involves two metrics. First, we must ensure that the processes and programs are in place ensuring that BICSI’s curriculum development is in step with what’s going on in the ITS design and construction workplace and the technology found there. Second, we have to ensure that our qualification, training, and testing methods are current and meet existing and future industry standards. By continuing to ensure world-class content and bulletproof training and testing, the RCDD will be elevated in the eyes of those with the designation and those employing or interacting with them.

I would add that we have to ensure that we fully understand how the RCDD and other credentials are viewed by the ITS community. We have always done a great job of recruiting RCDDs, but we haven’t always done a great job of informing the employers and customers of the RCDD of the benefit of hiring or using them. Part of the NxtGEN focus will be to ensure that we get the word out to potential consumers of the RCDD program.

Grandfather clause

CI&M: How will the existing BICSI credential holders fit into this new program? What does this mean to the BICSI ITS Technician?

Hansen: The good news for our existing customers is that all RCDDs and Specialty credential holders will be grandfathered into the new program.

Donelan: BICSI has established new career-path flowcharts to assist new candidates for credentials, allowing a better understanding of the application process. BICSI will recognize other credential-based organizations as well academic-based organizations toward the qualification for credential process. By acknowledging other organizations BICSI is continually improving and remaining constantly aware of market innovation as well as being flexible and adaptable to change.

Dunfee: The NxtGEN program allows the BICSI Technician credential as a qualifier for the RCDD designation. This Installer and Technician are being redefined as one of the major stakeholders of the association. It is recognized that a large portion of this group may remain at the Installer/Technician level. However, the intent of BICSI will be to provide a career path for this group to allow them all to reach their highest potential.

Bakowski: The BICSI NxtGEN program will play a major role in providing new opportunities for current credential holders, including our ITS Technicians. To quote Ed Donelan, “BICSI is about talent and not turf.” We are practicing what we preach, so our programs will be looking at enhancing the career opportunities for the Technicians, while providing new venues for all BICSI credential holders who want to grow with the industry.

Bowman: While existing credential holders will be grandfathered, it is also important to provide some level of crossover capability. For example, in the past there was almost no crossover capability between the Installation and the Design Programs. One of the tenets of the NxtGEN effort is to recognize the knowledge and skills gained in any ITS or related credential, and also, importantly, to put in place the processes to allow candidates to leverage their existing credentials to achieve higher professional designations. This is also true of those who hold non-BICSI credentials. BICSI staff will begin the process of evaluating qualified BICSI and non-BICSI credentials, certifications and training to see if they can be counted toward the requirements to enter a new program. This spirit of inclusiveness is unparalleled and will allow BICSI to embrace new professionals and disciplines.

Specialty credential changes

CI&M: I heard that the first change to the BICSI credentialing program is to remove the requirement of having to be an RCDD to achieve a BICSI Specialty credential. Can you explain the reasons behind this change?

Erickson: The Specialties will have the RCDD requirement removed. The reason is that our industry has undergone enormous changes in the past 15 years. When the RCDD program started, there were many highly trained communications designers and engineers. These individuals had training and experience in many areas within telecommunications. Many were proficient in outside cable plant, inside cable plant, conduit and underground systems, PBX and key systems, planning, project management, traffic studies, etc. They were “generalists” and the employers had great amounts of resources invested in them.

Today, the industry is too competitive and the workforce too mobile for a company to invest so heavily in its employees. Training is much more focused and not nearly as intense. Much of the work in today’s environment is done by contractors who are much more focused and too small to afford to send its employees off to long or frequent training sessions. The employees who manage to gain recognition and experience in their area of expertise are often lured away by other companies. They are specialists.

In the past, a generalist could specialize in a few areas to make them experts, thereby adding value and prestige to the organization and themselves. The reality of today’s industry is that an individual must specialize in many focused areas in an effort to acquire a greater understanding of the industry.

Dunfee: The first driver is that the RCDD program has become somewhat of a barrier to entry for those who desire the more job-specific knowledge and credential, but are faced with the sometimes daunting task of obtaining the gold standard of the RCDD, before they can even try for a Specialty.

The second driver of the NxtGEN program is the narrow requirements that qualify a candidate to sit for the RCDD. Quite simply, qualification for the RCDD as it exists now is based primarily upon ITS design experience in support of an application, and three references. This eliminates the opportunity for internal candidates, such as BICSI Technicians, from leveraging their considerable overlapping ITS knowledge and applying it toward qualification for the RCDD. A similar condition exists for those who have demonstrated industry experience, secondary education, and ITS-related certifications or credentials but have no way to leverage their education and experience by using it to qualify for the RCDD. At a minimum, this excludes very educated and experienced candidates from even considering the RCDD, and may influence negative feelings within the design, construction, or end-user communities toward BICSI and its suite of publications, training, and credentialing programs. As with the previous driver, this one potentially deprives many worthy candidates of the access to BICSI’s publications and training and ultimately taking the RCDD exam.

The final driver rests on the momentum being created as technology begins to converge onto the very communications structure in which BICSI is expert. Many market sectors such as security, building automation, audio/video (A/V), and others are evolving into Internet Protocol (IP)based systems, and those systems along with their analog cousins all require a communications infrastructure. Both the designers of these emerging IP-friendly technologies and the contractor base that installs and integrates them, often find themselves in need of the basic ITS knowledge that BICSI has accumulated and refined for more than three decades. For that reason, many of these industries, their designers and contractors are beginning to look to BICSI to fill the publication, training, and credentialing void for IP-based ITS infrastructure for emerging and converging technologies. Because many industries stipulate that up to 30% of the overall budget for their respective low-voltage system consists of ITS infrastructure, this means that unless BICSI becomes the source for converged publications, training, and credentials, the increased resources needed simply to train installation personnel could become a barrier to convergence. ITS contractors are already beginning to complain about the requirements from each manufacturer to attend proprietary design and installation training. This problem would increase exponentially, if it were multiplied by each new system, subsystem and manufacturer supplying low-voltage equipment for building automation, industrial, security, A/V and others.

Hansen: Several of our members have told us they want to be an “NTS” or “OSP” or “WD” Specialist, but they don’t want to take the RCDD in order to do it. This has been a very consistent message for many years. It only makes sense to open these up to our members without having to be an RCDD in order to get their Specialty.

Communication plans

CI&M: Has BICSI taken measures to communicate its plans for NxtGEN to current credential holders? If so, what has the feedback been?

Dunfee: The BICSI President and Board of Directors are committed to informing the BICSI members about the NxtGEN Program through PowerPoint presentations, regional meetings, conference sessions, BICSI News, the BICSI Web site, and news articles such as this.

To date there have been relatively few issues or concerns regarding the NxtGEN Program. As the program is implemented there will most assuredly be more questions to answer. Every question, concern, and issue will be considered as important, and will be addressed and relayed to the membership through methods as mentioned above.

Hansen: I have heard only good things from our members at Breakfast Clubs and Region Meetings. They like the fact that they could get their Specialty without having to hold the RCDD, and they also like the fact that we are “grandfathering” in the existing RCDDs.

Bakowski: I agree—feedback has been very positive. Once people hear about what we are doing, inevitably everyone realizes this is a good step in the right direction for BICSI. Our members are forward-thinking, and they recognize that our industry is fast-moving. BICSI needs to deliver the industry what it demands.

What about non-members?

CI&M: One of the effects of NxtGEN will be that non-BICSI members will attain BICSI credentials. For those non-members—as well as BICSI members who are not very familiar with your credentialing program—what should their first step be?

Dunfee: Most of the success of the NxtGEN program will be dependent upon the efforts of BICSI itself. BICSI has already instituted a general awareness ad campaign through popular magazines and periodicals that will introduce the BICSI name and prestige to other groups.

In addition, BICSI is spending the time and resources to clarify its present and future stakeholders, and will be developing strategies to effectively bring these stakeholders into our fold. This will mean developing simple and painless procedures for not only awareness, but to create a demand that will spur on action from these stakeholders.

BICSI intends to re-educate its staff to know, believe, and show that customer satisfaction will be the key to its success. This will be the guiding principal for the NxtGEN program.

Bowman: One of the drivers of the NxtGEN effort is to adapt the formats and delivery methods of our publications, training, and certifications. We are exploring new methods of communicating with our members, customers, and credential holders. Consistent with our efforts to do a better job of using diverse methods and media, we also offer a variety of ways for potential customers and/or candidates for credentialing to assess the best credentialing path and the appropriate next steps. In addition to the tremendous amount of information on the BICSI Web site about the RCDD, Specialties, and Technician program as well as the supporting classes and publications, we also publish an exhaustive catalog and for some time have offered real-time one-on-one career counseling via our 800 number. As the media and methods of communication continue to evolve, we will evolve with them. We are already providing a variety of Web-based tools and services, such as our Forums Community, MySpace, YouTube and other social mass collaboration-type media.

Donelan: The implementation phase is anticipated to take upwards of two years for the entire BICSI NxtGEN business plan to take effect. During this phase, BICSI will provide a variety of media resources to assist the BICSI NxtGEN candidate in determining the next steps toward success in their careers. We remain committed to advancing the knowledge and success of our members, their customers, and the ITS industry.


We feel many talented educational, sales, project-management, IT, and other professionals will be able to enter the RCDD-E program and obtain the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their given professions. T

The Specialties will have the RCDD requirement removed. The reason is that our industry has undergone enormous changes in the past 15 years.

The reality of today’s industry is that an individual must specialize in many focused areas in an effort to acquire a greater understanding of the industry.

One of the drivers of the NxtGEN effort is to adapt the formats and delivery methods of our publications, training, and certifications. We are exploring new methods of communicating with our members, customers, and credential holders.

Speaking for BICSI

The following individuals, listed alphabetically, offered responses on behalf of BICSI for this article:

• John Bakowski, RCDD/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist; BICSI Past President (Term 2006-2008)

• Jerry L. Bowman, RCDD/NTS Specialist, CISSP, CPP; BICSI U.S. North-Central Region Director/Chair, NxtGEN Committee

• Edward J. Donelan, RCDD/NTS Specialist, TLT; BICSI President (Term 2008-2010)

• Richard Dunfee, RCDD/OSP Specialist; BICSI Director of Professional Development

• R.S. (Bob) Erickson, RCDD/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist; Chair, BICSI Registration & Specialties Supervision Committee/Vice-Chair, NxtGEN Committee

• Brian Hansen, RCDD/NTS Specialist; BICSI President-Elect (Term as President 2010-2012)

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 

Cabling Networking Systems

Network & Cabling announces NETcomm Maritimes 2008 Conference

Network & Cabling Magazine, Canada’s information transport systems magazine, is pleased to introduce the NETcomm Maritimes 2008 Conference in Halifax, N.S., on September 3 & 4, 2008.

This unique conference combines a trade show-like forum and a series of training seminars and technical workshops related to the telecom/datacom sectors. The conference will be held at the Delta Halifax, surrounded by historic ambience in the heart of Halifax’s business district.

The forum will have a limited number of Table Top exhibit spaces available for exhibitors to present their products and services to attendees. Attendees will consist of contractors, network installers, integrators, designers, engineers, communications specialists, information systems specialists, etc., from industry sectors such as public administration, transportation, telecommunications, institutional, utilities, electrical & cabling installation, and maintenance service providers.

Do not miss this exciting new cost-effective opportunity to meet with your valued customers and reach new prospects! Exhibit space is available based on a first-come, first-paid basis. Special sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Download NETcomm Promo: netcomm promo_2.pdf (215.27 KB)

Download Exhibitor Registration Form: netcomm 2008 exhibitor reg.pdf (27.52 KB)

About Network & Cabling
Network & Cabling, Canada’s ITS magazine, targets the information transport systems (ITS) industry, and boasts a wide readership comprising information cabling contractors, installers, network administrators and IT end users. It also publishes a monthly newsletter entitled “E-News” as well an annual buyers’ guide called “The Bluebook”. For more information, contact Network & Cabling at (905) 727-0077 or visit us online at

Network & Cabling Magazine, Canada’s information transport systems magazine, is pleased to introduce the NETcomm Maritimes 2008 Conference in Halifax, N.S., on September 3 & 4, 2008.

This unique conference combines a trade show-like forum and a series of training seminars and technical workshops related to the telecom/datacom sectors. The conference will be held at the Delta Halifax, surrounded by historic ambience in the heart of Halifax’s business district.

The forum will have a limited number of Table Top exhibit spaces available for exhibitors to present their products and services to attendees. Attendees will consist of contractors, network installers, integrators, designers, engineers, communications specialists, information systems specialists, etc., from industry sectors such as public administration, transportation, telecommunications, institutional, utilities, electrical & cabling installation, and maintenance service providers.

Do not miss this exciting new cost-effective opportunity to meet with your valued customers and reach new prospects! Exhibit space is available based on a first-come, first-paid basis. Special sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Download NETcomm Promo:

Download Exhibitor Registration Form:

To reserve your booth space contact:

Scott Hoy

T: (905) 726-4664

E: shoy@clbmedia.caThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

John MacPherson

T: (905) 713-4335

E: jmacpherson@clbmedia.caThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

To enquire about facilitating a seminar or technical workshop, please contact:

Anthony Capkun

T: (905) 713-4391

E: acapkun@clbmedia.caThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

About Network & Cabling

Network & Cabling, Canada’s ITS magazine, targets the information transport systems (ITS) industry, and boasts a wide readership comprising information cabling contractors, installers, network administrators and IT end users. It also publishes a monthly newsletter entitled “E-News” as well an annual buyers’ guide called “The Bluebook”. For more information, contact Network & Cabling at (905) 727-0077 or visit us online at

Communications News

Security as a service

By Ken Anderberg


Communications News

One of the interesting takeaways from the bustling RSA Conference last month was the plethora of companies offering managed security services. I talked with at least seven companies at the San Francisco event that provide such services, which equates to about one-fourth of the vendors I met with. But are their customers ready to hand over their network security oversight?

I asked that question repeatedly at RSA and received the predictable responses. Security as a service unburdens IT departments and lowers costs, vendors said–almost as if they had rehearsed their lines together before arriving at the show. Both of those benefits are most likely true, generally speaking, but I am not convinced that IT departments are comfortable with handing over the reins of this job responsibility just yet.

In our recently completed Subscriber Profile Survey, only 11 percent of respondents said they plan to purchase any managed services this year, with a smaller percentage than that presumably in the market for managed security services. (The survey did not ask specifically about managed security services.) In contrast, 39 percent of those polled plan to buy security hardware or software in 2008.

According to an annual survey by the Computer Security Institute, security outsourcing has not shown any increase in interest in the last three years. Only 2 percent of the 479 security professionals surveyed said their organizations outsourced at least 81 percent of their security functions–61 percent said none of those functions were outsourced.

Security as a service has some attraction, given the fast pace of change in technologies and the shortage of experienced security staff many organizations are dealing with. Theoretically, a service provider will have the necessary trained staff and will keep its hardware and software up to date. But will that service provider feel the urgency to fix problems that the customer experiences when there is a security problem? Will that outsourcer really understand the customer’s pain? And who gets blamed if something goes wrong?

Many of today’s security tasks do lend themselves to a services approach–patch and vulnerability management and antivirus support come to mind–but for many tasks, most IT organizations still prefer to have control. And today’s security monitoring tools often make managing security functions less daunting to IT staffs, many of who contend they still have to monitor the service provider anyway. So why not just handle security themselves?

For many of the vendors at RSA I talked with, the small and midsize enterprise market is the sweet spot for managed security services. That makes sense, as those organizations are more likely to have staffing and budget restraints that would lead them to use managed services. Those smaller enterprises, however, may also need more education to convince them that a security service is secure.

That is where the vendors will have to step up. They will need to venture out of their vertically oriented editorial and marketing comfort zone and get their messages to a more horizontal audience of enterprise IT professionals and operations management. Preaching to the “security professionals choir” is not enough.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Managing voice matters

by Benjamin Ellis

Benjamin Ellis is the vice president of global marketing at Psytechnics, Portsmouth, N.H.

Today, quality of service (QoS) is the foundation for deploying voice over IP. As IP applications started to proliferate, QoS started to emerge as the way to prioritize between different applications.

The normal approach to QoS takes a network perspective. A network link may have poor QoS, but if it is carrying hundreds of voice calls, it is not clear what that means for the performance of a specific user’s call. The view only comes from taking a user perspective. Moving from managing network availability to managing network performance also opens up other new dimensions.

QoS can be described in terms of packet loss, jitter and delay. Each of these can cause problems for voice-over-IP (VoIP) clients and devices, but only when they appear in certain combinations. An IP phone may cope with jitter or with packet loss, but not be able to compensate for both at the same time. There are also other, harder-to-detect network disturbances that can affect voice performance, such as out-of-order packets and asymmetric routing.

The original architecture for IP had traffic flowing from workstations to a concentrated set of dedicated servers. This system still exists today with the focus on high-capacity servers delivering applications from the data center.

Voice is different from other IP applications in a number of ways:

      Voice is a real-time application, highly sensitive to network performance.

      Voice traffic is often any-to-any, like peer-to-peer applications.

      Voice performance directly impacts the human user experience.

      Voice is bidirectional and interactive.

      Voice crosses the analog and digital domains.

If part of a word is cut out or distorted during a call, that conversation is disrupted in a way that is impossible for users to miss. Retransmitting packets does not help, as they will no longer be useful when they arrive. The network has to get it right the first time, every time. The management tools have to be able to detect that the network got it wrong. Not all voice faults, however, are caused by the IP network.

Voice depends on the IP network infrastructure, but it also depends on the performance of the public telephone network (PSTN), voice gateways and phone handsets or soft clients. The most common voice performance issues are ones that were familiar in the early days of the cellular phone networks: echo on the line, background noise, distorted sound, or overly quiet or loud speech.

Even the most sophisticated QoS tools cannot account for these problems, because they are not IP network issues. They are actually invisible to the network domain, as they take place inside the IP packets and outside the IP network.

Network-management tools focus strictly on monitoring packets, and do not go beyond the IP headers. The industry is now starting to talk about quality of experience as a phrase to describe the performance parameters that go beyond QoS. These parameters are familiar to the voice community, but just as IP QoS parameters combine to affect performance, these voice parameters also combine.

There are two main measures of voice quality. The first is listening quality, which can be described for each direction of the call. Second is conversational quality, which looks at both directions of the call combined.

Voice and video are unique in bridging between the analog world of human beings, and the digital world of IP. That uniqueness requires a different approach to managing them and dealing with their specific issues. Network managers will have to analyze voice from an end-user, rather than a network perspective.

Voice performance issues can remain invisible to network-management tools, but still cause user dissatisfaction. These tools should move seamlessly from an overall view of performance across the network and beyond it, down to identifying a fault in a single call.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


The advantages of a hosted PBX

The key benefit (besides cost savings) is that the service can send calls anywhere.

by Greg Brashier

Greg Brashier is vice president of marketing for Virtual PBX, San Jose, Calif.

While mobile phones, PDAs and landlines allow workers to stay connected with the office, often they cannot synchronize those devices with one preset number that works through the company’s PBX system. This means that callers need to try various numbers to reach a person or that they must leave a voice mail and hope that the recipient returns the call in a timely manner.

Many companies use a traditional on-site PBX, but when mobile professionals need to be connected, setting up a system to handle remote offices and mobile workers can be complex and costly. Most PBX hardware only sends calls to phones that are physically wired to the PBX inside the same building.

One alternative is a hosted PBX system that delivers the functionality of a traditional on-site PBX but as a service. The subscriber does not buy the equipment and can use regular phones. Other than the cost savings, the key benefit of a hosted PBX is that it can make the office virtual by sending calls anywhere, enabling employees to work without constraints.

Employees can receive calls through the company’s main business number whether they are working in the office, at home or on the road. The “follow me” feature allows calls to try several different numbers for each employee.

When a call comes into the sales department, for example, how is the call routed? Will the caller be forced to leave a voice mail if the first person the call is sent to is on the phone or out of the office, or will the call be routed to another representative?

An automatic call distribution (ACD) queue is a standard part of many sales organizations and call centers. ACD queues know, for example, which employees are working, which are already taking a call and which are on a break or out for the day. Calls are then routed immediately to an available agent instead of making the caller wait while different numbers are tried. If all agents are already busy, the caller can be given the option to wait for the next available agent.

In many hosted PBX environments, sales members can log themselves in and out of the ACD queue or have calls routed to mobile phones. Sales managers can choose how they want to route calls, whether it be based on skill level or based on which sales person has been idle the longest amount of time. Policies can be set to identify who is calling and to route those calls to the appropriate sales representative, allowing the representative to know who is calling in advance.

Communications professionals often spend a lot of time maintaining and upgrading premise-based PBXs, or in managing the PBX vendor who provides the service and support. Expanding and upgrading the system also can be challenging.

A hosted PBX reduces upgrade costs and complexity, as the hosting company houses the equipment and is in charge of updating and expanding the technology to meet the needs of its subscriber base. In addition, hosted PBX systems can usually scale to any size. The service provider typically has many thousands of extensions spread across its client base, so adding an additional extension for your company does not tax the provider’s bandwidth.

Another important consideration is possible downtime. If the power goes out, the traditional, hardware-based PBX system goes down. Because a hosted PBX service is always hosted at an off-site location, an outage at the customer site usually does not affect the phone service provider. Calls can still be taken on cell phones or at alternate locations using the follow-me/forwarding feature.

Sometimes a hosted PBX service can be used solely as a backup for existing hardware PBXs. Using a hosted PBX service in this way is usually less expensive than using it full time, and it is almost always cheaper than buying another piece of hardware to put on a shelf in case of an emergency.

When considering a hosted PBX, check that the technology allows for full-featured reporting. With some hosted PBX services, sales managers can print out phone logs for each sales representative to evaluate effective use of the team, or see graphical representations of call traffic through the day to know how best to staff for increased call traffic. Many services offer Web-based voice mail retrieval and control settings, allowing for access from anywhere.

There are two main types of hosted PBX technology available today, the standard hosted PBX and the hosted IP PBX. The standard hosted PBX normally accepts calls from and sends calls to any type of phone, anywhere. Usually, these systems involve some kind of per-minute fee for calls to cover the costs from the underlying phone carriers.

Hosted IP PBX services typically use voice over IP (VoIP) to send calls over the Internet to subscribers. This requires using only VoIP phones sold by the service provider and calls generally cannot go to cell phones or landlines. The tradeoff is that these services typically charge only a monthly flat rate for all calls, allowing better budgeting and control for companies with widely varying call traffic.

Call quality is also a consideration with hosted PBX services. Standard hosted PBX call quality will depend on the transmission medium. The highest quality phone calls come when the service sends calls across standard phone lines. Cell phones and VoIP phones will likely reduce call quality but give benefits in flexibility and/or cost.

Hosted IP PBX systems rely on Internet telephony and have the associated questions about reliability and quality. These can be improved by selecting the most suitable vendor and making sure the adopting company’s own IP infrastructure is done right.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Cabling changes in store for 2008

The U.S. economy is troubled and manufacturers are facing an increased downturn.

by Frank Bisbee

Frank Bisbee is the president of Communication Planning Corp., Jacksonville, Fla., and editor of “Heard on the Streets,” a widely circulated newsletter for the communications cabling industry. The newsletter can be found at

“The enterprise network is undergoing a major shift in emphasis that impacts cabling.” according to Jim Hayes of the Fiber Optic Association, the international non-profit professional society for the fiber-optic industry that develops educational programs and certifies fiber-optic technicians. “Users expect mobility, demonstrated by the sales of laptops exceeding desktop computers and the popularity of mobile platforms like the BlackBerry and iPhone. Wireless has had growing pains, but with the advent of 802.11n, better cell phone data systems and the likelihood of success for WiMAX, users now have adequate wireless bandwidth practically everywhere and are not crazy about being tethered to a patch cord.

“The network of the future is certainly not recabling every couple of years with another UTP upgrade,” he adds. “If 10-Gigabit Ethernet needs to be delivered to the desk, it’s probably going to be on fiber, not just for the bandwidth, but also for the lower power consumption. But I’m betting on more mobile applications, with a backbone of fiber connecting wireless access points. That’s how cell phone networks are built, as well as many metro Wi-Fi networks. With most large enterprises already depending on fiber backbones, adding adequate wireless access is easy, and, of course, upgrades are simply a matter of replacing wireless access-point hardware.”

Fiber-optic cabling is gaining market share with an unusual twist. For every 5 percent of increased fiber-optic cabling installed in the horizontal building infrastructure, the copper-based cabling loses 22 percent of the footage that would have been installed in a traditional structured cabling scenario.

Zone cabling with fiber to the zone hub is the first step to fiber to the desktop (FTTD). Fiber has been a crucial part of the campus and riser solution for years; now, fiber is reaching the horizontal plane in the structure with a host of economic and functional benefits.

Currently, plenum-approved communications cable dominants new building installs in the United States. Return-air plenum design is still less expensive than ducting feed-and-return HVAC. That brings up another area of concern: supply.

Copper continues to be a cost concern, as well as a supply issue. The most significant supply weak point, however, is the fluoropolymer materials used to insulate high-performance copper-based twisted-pair cabling for plenum-approved cable.

There are only two major producers of the fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP; commonly known by their trade names: Teflon from DuPont and Neoflon by Daikin USA). If either or both of these material suppliers have a problem, the entire communications industry may have a problem. The National Electrical Code (NEC) may be changed to allow other cable constructions to be approved, but that process with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) takes three years.

The NFPA might open the plenum-approved cable exemption to include low-smoke zero-halogen RoHS-compliant cable that is already approved by the European Union. That would still take three years to approve, however.

A shortage of FEP has occurred several times in the history of plenum-approved (CMP-rated) copper cable. During each shortage, the prices rose dramatically and hybrid constructions were introduced using a mix of other insulating materials to make up for some of the material shortfall. Today, that may not be possible because the higher-performance copper cables (Category 5e, Category 6 and soon Category 6a) cannot function properly with the resultant delay skew caused by different insulation material properties.

“Fire-safe” fluoropolymer materials used in plenum-approved CMP-rated cables generate toxic gases when the cables are exposed to various levels of heat. Since the original approval of the use of CMP-rated cables in the return-air building plenum spaces, there has been no official testing of the cables for any incapacitation factor or toxicity of the gases generated in fires.

Current flame testing in North America for plenum cables measures fire and smoke but disregards the toxicity and corrosion levels of resulting gases. Even without the event of a fire, the heat decomposition of FEP may emit colorless and odorless hydrogen fluoride (HF) gas, a toxic and halogen.

Canadian and U.S. military departments avoid the use of CMP cable, opting for alternatives such as the European standard low-smoke zero-halogen (LSZH) cabling. LSZH cable is made by all the major domestic manufacturers, is the standard across Europe, is accepted by stringent U.S. military specs, but is not approved for installation in U.S. buildings. While waiting for building codes to reflect the toxicity of Teflon, FEP and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) could take years.

According to Chris Pezoulas, vice president of business development at Canadian wiring manufacturer Electec, “Engineers, consultants, specifiers, building owners and contractors alike should look at the cable they are contemplating installing in their air-handling spaces and consider setting a higher standard, not only for themselves, but for anybody that may ever occupy the space they are using.

“With all that we know today about the toxic nature of Teflon, FEP and PFOA, it astounds me that the policy and code makers in North America have ignored the toxicity of plenum cable flame retardants,” he adds. “Exposed plenum cable in air-handling spaces is a chemical nightmare.”

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Green is also the color of money

Saving money, not corporate social responsibility, is the primary driver in the green IT movement.

By Denise DiRamio, Associate Editor, Communications News

Communications News’ GreenTech column focuses on a variety of issues concerning the Green IT movement. You can contact Associate Editor Denise DiRamio at

As awareness and support for environmentalism increases, technology organizations are implementing green initiatives at a rapid pace. Moves toward greater energy efficiency, however, and the resulting environmental benefits, are motivated primarily by the desire for cost savings, not the much-touted environmental consciousness of big business.

Economic rather than altruistic reasons have been the impetus for green IT initiatives, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 148 technology company executives. The desire to decrease expenditures by reducing energy consumption is the main driver of the sustainability movement in the technology industry, the survey concludes.

A key reason for the growing interest in more energy-efficient products is the rising cost of energy. Companies now spend as much as 10 percent of their technology budgets on energy, says Rakesh Kumar of research firm Gartner. Much of this is spent on cooling, but around half of the budget is used to run servers and computers.

Data center managers are especially concerned with the rapid increase in power and cooling requirements, and the rising cost of electricity. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2008 indicates that the price for electricity increased by an average of 9.3 percent in 2006, the largest one-year jump since 1981. Data centers in the United States spent approximately $4.5 billion in power costs in 2006, and are expected to see that cost increase by 40 percent by 2010, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs.

Energy costs have become a huge area of concern, however, as computing and storage needs escalate and the demand for data centers continues to rise. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of servers in use increased from six million to 28 million, and the average power consumption of each server grew from 150 watts to 400 watts, says Jed Scaramella of IDC, a market-research firm. But things are now starting to change as the computer industry has been overcome with enthusiasm for green computing, he adds.

Most vendors have introduced new systems or options with energy efficiency as a key feature. Microsoft has reduced power consumption in Windows Server 2008 by 40 percent. Dell has developed energy-efficient servers and desktops that consume less power than regular models, delivering up to 25 percent greater performance per watt, while reducing power consumption by up to 24 percent. HP has several solutions that cut cooling costs in the data center by 15 percent to 40 percent. Compellent Technologies has developed a storage solution that utilizes automated tiered storage, thin provisioning and advanced virtualization to cut power consumption.

VMware has brought virtualization to the forefront, offering resource and memory management features that can eliminate server sprawl and reduce power consumption by converting physical machines into virtual machines. Virtualization can dramatically reduce the number of servers needed, which provides significant savings on power and cooling costs.

“Green IT is now being driven as much by an element of business strategy as by a sense of corporate social responsibility,” says Vamshi Mokshagundam, technology analyst at Datamonitor. “Green IT practices such as energy-efficient hardware, hosted infrastructure and data center virtualization have all been around for a while now, it is only recently that companies have begun incorporating green IT in their core business strategy.”

While saving the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and reducing waste are fine objectives in a green initiative, it is an aversion to rising energy costs that is driving change. Energy-saving strategies and solutions deliver the tangible benefit of a smaller electricity bill–and that is green, no matter how you look at it.

Electrical Contractor Magazine

Speak out Against Compromising Electrical Safety

By: President’s Desk by Milner Irvin

National Electrical Safety Month comes once a year. Building-code authorities or others involved in setting regulations within a municipal, county or state jurisdiction weigh in on local adoption of the National Electrical Code (NEC) shortly after each new edition is published, once every three years. The decision to adopt, modify or reject the Code usually is rendered in spring or summer.

Right now, in localities across the country, the annual safety campaign is coinciding with the triennial deliberations on Code adoption. It has happened before, of course, but the tie-in is critically important this time around.

Electrical Safety Foundation International, which orchestrates National Electrical Safety Month with support from sponsors such as NECA, is focusing on three major issues this year: electrical fire prevention with arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), child safety with tamper-resistant outlets, and eliminating electrocutions and burns with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). All three are addressed with expanded requirements in the 2008 NEC, but the new rules for AFCIs are primarily sparking controversy in some jurisdictions.

In the late 1980s, after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission called attention to the high number of residential fires that originated in branch-circuit wiring systems, the Electronic Industries Association launched a serious investigation into arc faults—unintended, self-sustaining discharges of electricity in the air that cause extremely high heat—and determined that additional electrical protection was needed.

Thus, the AFCI was developed, and by 1999, it had earned the approval of Underwriters Laboratories and other safety watchdogs. Though the AFCI has been called a “next-generation GFCI,” there really are important differences. The GFCI is designed to protect people from severe or fatal electrical shocks, while the AFCI protects against fires caused by arcing faults. The GFCI can protect against some electrical fires by detecting arcing and other faults to ground but cannot detect hazardous across-the-line arcing faults that can cause fires.

AFCIs were introduced first in the 2002 NEC with a requirement that all branch circuits that supplied 125V, 15A and 20A receptacle outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms be protected by one of these devices. The 2005 edition further endorsed them by requiring the use of the latest in AFCI technology. The 2008 NEC expands AFCI requirements to all 15A and 20A branch circuits throughout new houses, apartments and condos.

The expanded requirement doesn’t sit well with some folks, particularly members of homebuilders’ associations who are concerned about the $35 to $45 per-unit price adding to the cost of construction. As the National Electrical Manufacturers Association reports on its Web site devoted to promoting AFCI use ( “Questions have been raised regarding their application and even the need for them. Various technical ‘opinions,’ organizational ‘marketing pitches,’ and misinformation are being distributed about AFCIs that further mislead the public about the purpose of the device as a part of overall electrical safety.”

In other words, jurisdictions considering adopting the 2008 NEC are being pressured to reject the new requirements. And, if you want to know more about how selective adoption of the Code compromises safety, be sure to check out this month’s Focus article by Michael Johnston, NECA’s executive director for standards and safety, on page 32.

His article also mentions the Electrical Code Coalition. On an organizational level, NECA will continue to work with this group and through additional means to uphold and promote the integrity of the NEC, but I want to encourage all electrical contractors to jump on board this issue as well.

Arm yourself with thorough knowledge of electrical protection, find out who is responsible for Code adoption in your jurisdiction, and join the process. Lives may depend on it.      

Milner Irvin, President, Neca

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Copper, Fiber or Wireless?

Network design for fiber optics, part 3

While the debate over which is better—copper, fiber or wireless—has enlivened cabling discussions for decades, it is becoming moot. Communications technology and the end-user market, it seems, already have made decisions that generally dictate the media. The designers of cabling networks, especially fiber optic networks, and their customers today generally have a pretty easy task deciding which media to use once the communications systems are chosen.

Designing long-distance or outside plant applications generally means choosing cabling containing single-mode (SM) fiber over all other media. Most of these systems are designed to be used over distances and speeds that preclude anything but SM fiber. Occasionally, other options may be more cost effective. For example, if a company has two buildings on opposite sides of a highway, then a line-of-sight or radio optical wireless network may be easier to use, since it would have lower costs of installation and more easily obtainable permits.

Other than some telco systems that still use copper for the final connection to the home, practically every cable in the telephone system is fiber optic. CATV companies use a high-performance coax into the home, but it connects to a fiber optic backbone. The Internet is all fiber. Even the cellular antenna towers you see along the highways and on tall buildings usually have fiber connections.

Premises cabling is where the fiber/copper/wireless arguments focus. A century and a half of experience with copper communications cabling gives most users a familiarity with copper that makes them skeptical about any other medium. And in many cases, copper has proven to be a valid choice. Most building management systems use proprietary copper cabling-—for example, thermostat wiring—as do paging/audio speaker systems. Security monitoring and entry systems, certainly the lower cost ones, still depend on copper, although high-security facilities, such as government and military installations, often pay the additional cost for fiber’s more secure nature.

Surveillance systems are becoming more prevalent in buildings, especially governmental, banking or other buildings that are considered possible security risks. While coax connections are common in short links, and structured cabling advocates say you can run cameras for limited distances on Cat 5e or Cat 6 UTP like computer networks, fiber has become a much more common choice. Besides offering greater flexibility in camera placement because of its distance capability, fiber optic cabling is much smaller and lightweight. This allows for easier installation, especially in older facilities, such as airports or large buildings that may have available spaces already filled with many generations of copper cabling.

LAN cabling often is perceived as the big battleground of fiber versus copper, but the reality of the marketplace has begun to sink in for many users. The network user, formerly sitting at a desktop computer screen with cables connecting their computer to the corporate network and a phone connected with another cable, is becoming a relic of the past.

People now want to be mobile. More people are using laptops. Even more people who work on desktops at workstations, e.g., engineers or graphic designers, are carrying laptops with them to meetings and on business trips.

Besides laptops on Wi-Fi, people use Blackberrys and iPhones for wireless communications. Some new devices, such as the iPhone, allow Web browsing with connection over either the cellular network or a Wi-Fi network. Some mobile phones are portable voice over Internet protocol devices connecting over Wi-Fi to make phone calls. While Wi-Fi has experienced some growing pains and continual upgrades, at the 802.11n standard, it has become more reliable and offers what seems to be adequate bandwidth for most users.

The desire for mobility, along with the expansion of connected services, appears to lead to a new type of corporate network. More than was common in the past, the norm for corporate networks is fiber optic backbone with copper to the desktop where people want direct connections and multiple wireless access points for full coverage and for maintaining a reasonable number of users per access point.

What about fiber to the desk? Progressive users may opt for FTTD, as a complete fiber network can be a very cost-effective solution, negating the requirement for telecom rooms full of switches, with data quality power and grounds, plus year-round air conditioning. Power users, such as engineers, graphic designers and animators, can use the bandwidth available with FTTD. Others go for a zone system, with fiber to local small-scale switches—close enough to users for those who want cable connectivity instead of wireless—to plug in with a short patchcord.

It’s the job of the designer to understand the technology of communications cabling and the technology of communications, and to keep abreast of the latest developments in the technology and the applications of both.  

fiberoptics BY jim hayes

HAYES is a VDV writer and educator and the president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Adopting the NEC - Electrical safety by choice?

by michael johnston

As the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) nears adoption by jurisdictions across the country and beyond, there are rising concerns about changes and additional new requirements Each edition of the Code brings changes that are driven primarily by the motive of improvements in electrical safety for people and property, the purpose of the Code. The NEC provides the minimum requirements for safe electrical installations. Essentially, this means installations must be equal to or greater than the contained rules. With any change comes anxiety and apprehension, a natural reaction.

There are three new NEC requirements that are receiving an excessive amount of attention. They deal with improvements in safety for unsuspecting children in dwelling occupancies and expanded requirements for protection against arcing faults, and additional requirements for ground-fault circuit interrupter protection. The merits of each change as they relate to safety. Within the throes of debating cost and compliance with minimum safety rules, it is important to remember those who benefit from the requirements: consumers. Typically, the general public is unfamiliar with the electrical rules keeping them safe both at home and at work.

May is designated as Electrical Safety Month, so it is appropriate to review a few key safety improvements resulting from enhanced requirements in the NEC..

Purpose of the NEC

The NEC’s purpose is clearly evident in the introduction of the text. Section 90.1, the very first rule, indicates that the purpose of the Code is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. This long-standing requirement serves as a simple and straightforward reminder of the basics of electrical safety. Compliance with the NEC rules results in electrical installations and systems that are essentially free from hazards. The NEC is the minimum set of electrical rules that must be followed for compliance and assurances that occupancies are safe from potential electrical hazards. Without question, consumers expect electrical safety, even when they are not aware of the rules that make residences and businesses safe.

Adopting the NEC

Code-enforcing jurisdictions are busy with their adoption processes. Entities that adopt and use the NEC have the benefits of a document that has been developed and maintained by qualified technical committees through an open consensus process.

When the NEC is adopted by a jurisdiction, it usually is through a process that makes it law. Where the NEC is adopted legally, anything less is illegal. That is an interesting way of looking at it, but it holds true, especially in a court of law. Often jurisdictions adopt the NEC without amendments because the jurisdiction places trust in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the open consensus Code-development process. Most jurisdictions are not interested in writing their own Code rules when the minimum has been clearly established through substantiation and fair deliberation. Some jurisdictions adopt the NEC with amendments that are usually more restrictive than the minimum set forth in the NEC, and such modifications are necessary because of unique conditions.

Most jurisdictions adopting construction codes, including the electrical Code, understand the importance of maintaining a minimum standard for electrical safety. So why would any jurisdiction delete electrical rules from the already established minimums developed in the NEC? In some unique instances or because of special conditions, it may be necessary to modify or amend the minimum standards, but this usually is done to be more restrictive and for justifiable and defendable reasons.

It is important that jurisdictions consider the risk in such actions. Such modifications to electrical safety rules that lessen the minimum requirements can present liabilities and result in less protection for people and property than consumers deserve. The problem is that the voice of consumers is seldom heard or considered in a jurisdiction’s Code adoption process. The consumers and unsuspecting public just expect their electrical systems to be safe and meet the latest safety requirements. As well they should. After all, the building safety department of any major jurisdiction has the consumer’s safety in the forefront, or at least they should, right?

The development process

Qualified technical committees develop and maintain the rules in the NEC on a three-year cycle. These technical committees have a huge responsibility to review all proposed revisions and new requirements and, through consensus, establish the rules that make electrical systems safer. History has demonstrated that Code rules are typically born from evidence that clearly indicates a need to reduce electrical fires and injuries and deaths of people. Installations that adhere to the minimum requirements in adopted codes and standards result in reduced numbers of electrical fires, electrical injuries and deaths. The data speaks loudly here. The NEC is the most widely adopted Code in the world and the most comprehensive set of electrical safety rules for installations and systems. Its development is through an open consensus process involving everyone, including electrical contractors. Everyone can participate in this development process, resulting in a Code that is the most complete set of rules.

Improved electrical safety in dwelling units

The 2008 edition of the Code has been revised to improve electrical safety in dwellings by the continued expansion of arc-fault circuit interrupter protection, ground-fault circuit interrupter protection, and introducing a new requirement for listed tamper-resistant receptacles in areas and rooms of dwelling units as specified in 210.52. The deletion of Exceptions 1 and 2 to Sections 210.8(A)(2) and (A)(5) result in increased levels of protection against electric shock and electrocution in unfinished dwelling basements, garages for dwellings and accessory buildings. Section 210.12(B) was revised to continue the incremental expansion of arc-fault circuit interrupter protection in most areas and rooms of dwellings. And a new Section 406.11 has been included to require listed tamper-resistant receptacles in all areas where receptacle outlets are specified in 210.52. These three revisions to the Code demonstrate the continued improvement in electrical safety for dwellings and, more importantly, the occupants.

Electrical Code rules are developed and enforced with the objective of protecting people and property. How can anyone argue against revised or new requirements that improve electrical safety for people and property? What does the consumer want and deserve? How significant is the additional cost? The appropriate and responsible responses to these questions are that the consumer deserves the benefit of the latest safety features in electrical systems. The added cost is insignificant when compared to the benefits. If consumers are made aware of the types of protection afforded by these new requirements, they undoubtedly will want them in their home.

Not compromising safety (risk management)

Electrical safety should not be compromised by efforts to circumvent NEC adoption by jurisdictions. The risk management departments of inspection jurisdictions strongly advise not compromising the minimum requirements of national standards that they adopt, especially when the reasons are not safety driven and usually are not defendable. Often the risk management departments are unaware of this type of activity. It is no secret that some groups are actively lobbying jurisdictions to reject adoption of the current edition of the NEC for reasons related to cost. As safety requirements change, so does the cost of doing business. Successful and reputable organizations understand this concept and know the marketing benefits, as well.

Here is something to think about: When the cost of building materials increases, does the cost typically get passed on to the customer? Yes. Yet, when the cost of building materials decreases, does the customer see these discounts? Probably not.

Organizations that are proactive and proficient in business understand the value of keeping current with the latest safety requirements that ultimately affect consumers. It is to the advantage of electrical contractors to understand the latest electrical Code being enforced by jurisdictions where they perform work. This step in the preplanning process of any job is important.

Integrity of the NEC

When the NEC is adopted into law and enforced, the consumer benefits. Any requirements deleted from the Code in the adoption process results in a compromise to already established minimums. It is risky business to selectively choose to delete new electrical Code requirements for reasons related to cost or other reasons that are not related to safety. This results in a compromise in the integrity of the Code.

Nobody wins when the NEC adoption comes under attack by groups that apparently oppose electrical safety, the primary purpose of the NEC. NEMA and NFPA address the cost of this compliance with the additional requirements in the 2008 NEC in detailed fact sheets and comprehensive information they provide to the public free of charge (see box for valuable links on the Web). Get the facts about how the cost of dwelling unit construction is affected before opposing requirements that are driven by well-substantiated revisions that demonstrated clear evidence of improvement needs. The benefits of protection far outweigh the minimal additional cost to meet the 2008 NEC requirements.

The NEC technical committees have a big responsibility to act in the interest of safety and the best interest of protecting people and property. The result is a Code available for adoption and enforcement by building departments, a Code that has the integrity of the most extensive and fair development process in the world. The integrity of the NEC and the electrical safety it provides should not be compromised by selective adoption.

The Electrical Code Coalition

The Electrical Code Coalition is a group of industry organizations concerned with proper Code development, adoption, application and enforcement that supports the safe use of electricity. These organizations include, but are not limited to, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The integrity of the NEC has to be upheld without compromise to have the end result of electrical safety within the home and beyond.

The NEC provides the minimum requirements for safe electrical installations. Compliance with the NEC rules provides electrical systems that are essentially free from hazards to people and property. New rules in the Code will require more GFCI protection, expanded AFCI protection, and enhanced protection for unsuspecting children from shock and electrocution hazards at receptacles.

Efforts to circumvent these new requirements are ongoing and should be carefully considered by Code adoption authorities. There are risks in operating below the minimum electrical safety rules. Subtle reminders through unpleasant statistics are readily apparent. The minimum requirements for electrical safety are compromised when local adoption processes lessen them by deleting rules selectively and without reasonable substantiation. There always should be justifiable reasons to lessen the requirements of already established minimums. Consumers deserve responsible leadership that has their interests and safety first, rather than interests that are not safety driven.

When it comes down to it, the bottom line should always be electrical safety and the integrity and history of the rules that provide that positive result for the consumer        

JOHNSTON, former director of education, codes and standards for IAEI, is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is a member of the IBEW and an active member of the NFPA Electrical Section, Education Section and the UL Electrical Council. Reach him at

More detailed information may be found at the following Web sites.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Record Makes Thin-Film Solar Cell Competitive with Silicon Efficiency

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have moved closer to creating a thin-film solar cell that can compete with the efficiency of the more common silicon-based solar cell.

The copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cell recently reached 19.9 percent efficiency, setting a new world record for this type of cell. Multicrystalline silicon-based solar cells have shown efficiencies as high as 20.3 percent. The energy-conversion efficiency of a solar cell is the percentage of sunlight converted by the cell into electricity.

“This is an important milestone,” said Miguel Contreras, NREL senior scientist. “People have always looked for matching silicon in performance [with thin film], and we are reaching that goal.”

CIGS cells use extremely thin layers of semiconductor material applied to a low-cost backing, such as glass, flexible metallic foils, high-temperature polymers or stainless steel sheets. Thin-film cells require less energy to make and can be fabricated by a variety of processes. Because of this, they provide a promising path for providing more affordable solar cells for residential and other uses. The CIGS cells are suitable in special architectural uses, such as photovoltaic roof shingles, windows, siding and others. Using this technology, a future home’s windows may be able to gather energy as the sun shines through them.        

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


The Power of Safety - OSHA’s jurisdiction

by joe o’conn0r

After OSHA performs an inspection, it may issue citations for any violations. Citations must be in writing and describe the nature of the violation.

Congress created OSHA on Dec. 29, 1970, with Public Law 91-596, “Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.” It applies to employers in every state, the District of Columbia and United States territories. The purpose of the act was as follows: “To [en]sure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to [en]sure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes.”

Most look to the act as an explanation of OSHA’s enforcement, and it is. However, it also is important to note that the act identifies why Congress felt a law was necessary, and it mandated the broad range of activities to fulfill the intended purpose. Congress recognized that occupational injuries and illnesses imposed a substantial burden on business. To alleviate this burden, it created a number of mandates. These ranged from the establishment of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for performing research, to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) to adjudicate citations. Of course, the mandates that create the most angst and questions from employers are those that empower OSHA to set standards and enforce them.

OSHA’s abilities and processes

Before looking at the authority granted OSHA under the act, we must look at the duties established for employers. These duties are the basis for the actions OSHA takes against an employer.

Section 5 of the act requires every employer to comply with standards promulgated by OSHA and provide a safe workplace. Compliance with the standards provides finite parameters to OSHA’s power. If OSHA establishes a standard for safety in accordance with the act, an employer must comply with the elements applicable to its operation.

On the other hand, the general requirement for providing a safe workplace, Section 5(1)(a), broadens OSHA’s authority to any aspect of work. This part of the act is known as the “General Duty Clause,” and it gives OSHA jurisdiction over any hazard that is recognizable and for which a remedy is available. However, the burden of proof for general duty rests with OSHA. Enforcement is most often directed at compliance with established standards.

To create a standard, OSHA must execute an exhaustive procedure, which allows for a thorough review of the need. A new standard or change can be initiated by any person, NIOSH or even OSHA itself. It should be based on information that shows such a rule will improve workplace safety and health.

Once initiated, OSHA seeks advice from the advisory committees established under the act. These committees are the National Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) and the Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). Upon receipt of the recommendation, OSHA can publish a proposed rule. All interested parties may comment on the proposal at hearings OSHA must hold. Comments will be considered and a final standard issued. Each step of the procedure must be completed within the timelines specified by the act and an effective date set, which gives employers time for compliance with the new rule.

For all standards and general duty compliance, OSHA is authorized to perform inspections and investigations. Upon presenting appropriate credentials, a compliance officer can enter any factory, plant, establishment, construction site or environment where work is performed. The request to enter must be during regular working hours or at another reasonable time, and the employer may challenge the request. The compliance officer must then secure a warrant, and then he has the right to inspect conditions, structures, machines, devices, equipment, materials and records that are pertinent to the safety and health of employees or identified in the scope of the warrant. Employees may be questioned privately. A representative of the employer and a representative authorized by the employees must be given an opportunity to accompany the compliance officer during the inspection.

After OSHA performs an inspection, it may issue citations for any violations. Citations must be in writing and describe the nature of the violation, including a reference to the act and standard, and they must set a reasonable time for the abatement.

Penalties authorized under the act include fines as well as possible imprisonment. A violation that is not considered to be serious, or will not lead to death or serious physical harm, is subject to a fine of up to $7,000. Serious violations also are subject to the same penalties. If the violation is considered willful or a repeated violation, fines can go as high as $70,000 for each occurrence. When a willful violation results in death, the employer can be imprisoned for up to six months. A second conviction can result in imprisonment for up to one year under the act. Failure to correct a violation is subject to fines of up to $7,000 per day.

However, within 15 working days from the receipt of a citation, the employer can file a notice of contest. The OSHRC will appoint an administrative law judge to hear the case and render a decision. An appeal may be made to the OSHRC and to the United States Court of Appeals.

In cases where a danger exists that could cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the danger can be eliminated through regular enforcement procedures, a restraining order may be sought. This will prohibit the employment or presence of any individual in the locations or under conditions where the danger exists. However, there is a limitation. OSHA cannot issue a citation after six months following the occurrence of any violation.

State independence

The federal OSHA can relinquish its jurisdiction to set standards and perform inspections to states. Under Section 18 of the act, a state may submit a plan to develop and operate its own job-safety and health programs. If approved, the federal government will cover up to 50 percent of the state plan’s operating costs. To receive approval, a state must assure OSHA that, within three years, it will have in place the elements necessary for an effective occupational safety and health program. These include appropriate legislation, regulations and procedures for standards setting, enforcement, appeal of citations and penalties, and a sufficient number of qualified enforcement personnel. Once these are in place, the state is eligible for certification.

When it appears that the state is capable of independently enforcing standards, OSHA may enter into an operational status agreement with the state. At this point, OSHA will suspend federal enforcement in all or certain activities covered by the state plan.

The last step is final approval. After at least one year following certification, the state can receive final approval if OSHA determines that it is providing worker protection at least as effective as the protection the federal program provides. Jurisdiction then remains with the state until the state withdraws or OSHA finds, by complaint or other means, that the state plan has failed to maintain an effective program.

States with approved plans are listed in the table above. Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands plans cover only public employees. Jurisdiction over private employers remains with the federal OSHA.

Factors outside the act can affect jurisdiction. The act does not prohibit states from developing safety requirements not covered in the OSHA standards. For example, many states enacted chemical right-to-know rules. These were in effect until the Federal Hazard Communication standard was established. Even today, portions of these rules that do not conflict with the federal standard remain in effect.

Congress also has extended or limited OSHA’s jurisdiction by appropriations bills or other legislation. An example of an extension of the rules can be seen in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. This legislation gave OSHA jurisdiction over public hospitals not otherwise covered under OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard.

An example of a limitation caused by appropriations is the restriction on certain enforcement activity toward employers with less than 10 employees. This restriction has generated a lot of confusion among employers. OSHA has jurisdiction over these employers, but the appropriations restriction does not allow OSHA to include those employers in programmed inspections. If an inspection occurs, it must be the result of a complaint or other direct cause.

The limitations and extensions of OSHA’s jurisdiction—as well as the confusion regarding when agencies, such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration or Department of Transportation, cover employees-—can be difficult to determine. The importance of this distinction and the limits the act places on OSHA can make a significant difference in which rights you can exercise. Professional help may be necessary in these circumstances.

Any employer that has questions on jurisdiction should consult their association, legal counsel or other knowledgeable safety professional.

O’CONNOR is with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. Based in Waverly, Pa., he can be reached at 607.624.7159 or

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Integrated building systems

BY edward brown

Question: How Do You Integrate an HVAC System?

Answer: With BACnet

To discuss Heating, Ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), I will return to the categories I used in my first column: power, control and communications. HVAC systems are a major part of the infrastructure of large buildings, and since they use a great deal of power, they have a large impact on a building’s energy usage. The way to optimize the energy efficiency of the HVAC system is to be able to smoothly control it, so it should have variable control and the ability to communicate with other building systems.

Variable control is achieved by operating the blowers with variable-frequency motor drives (VFDs). They can then be used in a variable-air volume (VAV) setup to optimize their speed. Controllable blowers are perfect for cooling racks of computers in data centers.

“With constant volume fans on the servers, you can only be right at one condition of server loading. The solution is to employ variable-speed server fans.” said Mark Hydeman, P.E., principal, Taylor Engineering LLC, Alameda, Calif. The cooling air supply can be controlled for constant pressure under the floor or desired temperatures at rack inlets.

But HVAC systems should be controlled intelligently. Although components had been controllable before BACnet, they often were run with proprietary software, so a user buying one brand of VFD was forced to buy all the other components of the system from the same manufacturer. Responding to the increasing desire for integration of building systems, a group of industry professionals from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) started meeting in 1987 to address the issues. They designed BACnet, an open, nonproprietary, data communication protocol as the solution. It was adopted as ASHRAE/ANSI Standard 135 in 1995 and, in 2003, became an ISO international standard.

BACnet can be used in two ways-—the first being to control HVAC systems. Second, it can be integrated with other vital systems in a building, such as power distribution, lighting and life safety. Since BACnet-controlled devices can interface with a building’s communications network, a facilities manager can monitor and control these building systems from any PC connected to the network.

I received a verbal guided tour of BACnet from Bill Swan, Building Standards Initiatives Leader for Alerton and Honeywell and chairman of the BACnet committee for ASHRAE. He emphasized that this protocol is open for use by any manufacturer and is constantly monitored, updated and expanded.

Much of the update effort has been to extend BACnet to security and life safety systems, Swan said. In 1996, the committee started work on methods to integrate fire alarm systems. As a result, HVAC can respond to a fire alarm by going into smoke-control mode and adjusting air pressure to limit the dispersion of smoke throughout a building. It also can turn on all lights in the event of a fire. Access control and elevator monitoring also are being discussed.

Since BACnet is usable for lighting control, lighting can be scheduled according to time of day or turned off in unoccupied areas to save energy.

An extension was added in 2007 to enable utilities, with BACnet’s Web Services feature, to measure energy usage and cause a programmed load reduction to avoid a brownout. Large electricity users can sign up with a utility to allow them to interface in this way in exchange for being charged lower rates.

Case study

A November 2007 article in ASHRAE Journal by H. Michael Newman describes installing BACnet for campus-wide facilities management.

The fundamental problem that had to be addressed was addresses. Every building on campus and every system had to be identified by a unique address.

“The method we use for naming our BACnet objects is based on the concept of facility/system/point. The facility is typically a building and may be followed by a subfacility, such as the system’s physical location in the building. The system describes the type of equipment and may be followed by a subsystem. The point is the specific input, output or value that is being described.

“An example of this might be Duffield Hall/AHU-1.CW.STEMP, where the facility is Duffield Hall; the system is AHU-1 (air handler unit 1); the subsystem is CW (chilled water); and the point is STEMP (the supply temperature).”

Being able to control the climate within a building is a major tool for the all-important project of improving energy efficiency, which equals maximizing performance while minimizing the power consumed. BACnet is a medium to enable us to control and monitor the HVAC system while simultaneously making it possible to share information and control, to harmonize its operation in coordination with all other systems in a building.  

BROWN is an electrical engineer, technical writer and editor. He serves as managing editor for Security + Life Safety Systems magazine. For many years, he designed high-power electronics systems for industry, research laboratories and government. Reach him at

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Fringe Benefits

By edward brown

One thing I love about being editor is that I’m forced to read through the magazine with a great deal of care, so I learn a lot. The importance of low-voltage systems in the healthcare market caught my attention. They’re not just nice peripheral features. They play an increasingly vital role in the function of institutions. The point is made well in the opening of Russ Munyan’s profile of the brand new Ohio hospital, Dublin Methodist: “This is not just a few extra products to reduce paperwork but a full digital infrastructure.” All of the articles in this issue illustrate instances of that comment.

For example, at Dublin Methodist, “Tracking boards in the Emergency Department advise caregivers of patient status, leading to greater efficiency and shorter wait times. A computerized physician order entry system supports doctors as they make decisions, place patient orders and write e-prescriptions. Caregivers digitally chart patient care at the bedside, and nurses accurately administer medications using bar-code scanning.”

Another theme that struck me as having applications in many markets, but which is particularly important in healthcare facilities, is paging and call systems—see, for example, Allan Colombo’s Connectivity column about nurse-call systems. Colombo’s Tech Notes article gives us an overview of how wired and wireless call systems and RFID are increasingly being used in novel ways for security functions in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

In healthcare settings, security is a matter of huge importance, especially in facilities that serve either mental patients or older patients who might be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. See, for example, Claire Swedberg’s focus article on security in assisted living facilities and Darlene Bremer’s profile of the new BJC health center in O’Fallon, Mo., which describes using RFID to prevent infants from being abducted.

Don’t forget to also read Wayne Moore’s article on healthcare security, which discusses a proposed revision to NFPA 99, Standard for Health Care Facilities, to include requirements specifically relating to those responsible for security in healthcare facilities.

One more very important item I want to mention is Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas’ Management column about the special privacy requirements that govern working in a healthcare facility.

These are just some of the highlights. I think reading through the entire magazine, as I did, will give you a lot to think about if you work in, or are considering working in, the healthcare market.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Planning for Safety - New requirements for healthcare security

by wayne d. moore

Any contractor who has worked in healthcare environments knows the systems installation—whether electrical, fire alarm or security—poses many unique challenges. As an electrical contractor, you deal with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) on a fairly regular basis.

You may have learned of the recently adopted NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security and NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems. But do you know about NFPA 99, Standard for Healthcare Facilities?

A proposed revision to this document will include requirements specifically relating to those responsible for security in healthcare facilities. Such individuals may use the criteria outlined in the new chapter to develop a security management program.

While the electrical contractor has no direct responsibility for developing the security management program, such a plan may well direct that a contractor install additional systems. The security management plan will need to include processes and procedures for controlling access to the healthcare facility.

Fortunately, the foundations found in NFPA 730 provide a basis for security management in healthcare facilities. The security plan must begin with a security vulnerability assessment (SVA). This assessment will clearly identify all potential issues that might negatively impact the security of the facility. In response to the SVA, the security management program will need to define and implement mitigating procedures to address issues, such as a security incident, hostage situation, bomb threat, criminal threat, labor action, disorderly conduct, workplace violence, restraining order enforcement, prevention and response to infant or pediatric abduction, control of situations involving VIPs or the media, and ensuring unimpaired access to and unimpaired egress from emergency areas. Each of these issues will require assistance from a professional electrical contractor to install systems used to implement the procedures.

The security management program will determine the extent of the electronic systems needed to ensure the maintenance of an appropriate level of security throughout the facility.

Protecting the facility assets, including property and equipment, will integrate with other important security systems. For example, the security management program must protect communications, data infrastructure and medical records storage areas from the unauthorized release of confidential information or the admittance of unauthorized personnel to critical areas. Physical access control and surveillance equipment (such as CCTV) or other security measures can accomplish this protection.

Video surveillance will provide an important component of both perimeter and interior security systems. Access control systems will help manage access in and out of security--sensitive areas. In addition to general building access control and parking control systems, many healthcare facilities will need specialty systems for the protection of pediatric and infant care areas. These special systems will control and limit access by the general public and monitor and track the location of pediatric and infant patients. In addition, to prevent infant abduction, the security management plan will call for the use of electronic monitoring, tracking and access control equipment. These systems also will provide an automated and standardized facility-wide alerting system to announce pediatric or infant abduction as well as provide for remote exit locking or alarming.

Additional protection for medication storage rooms and work areas often requires specialized video surveillance and motion detection.

The program also provides access control into and out of dementia or behavioral health units. Control of the movement of people through appropriate protection systems, such as physical access control and video surveillance for these areas, will provide protection for the patients and staff members.

NFPA 99 requires that the installation of electronic premises security systems meet the requirements of NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems, and all security controls, systems and procedures also must comply with life safety requirements for egress. For example, NFPA 101 requires integration of the security systems with the security locking systems to ensure release during a fire. Integrating the security and fire alarm systems generally provides an accepted method of accomplishing this requirement.

NFPA 101 permits access-controlled egress doors provided the remote control of the locks allows for the rapid removal of occupants. It also permits an automatic release device to hold open any door in an exit passageway, stairway enclosure, horizontal exit, smoke barrier or hazardous area enclosure (except boiler rooms, heater rooms and mechanical equipment rooms). Generally these releasing devices connect directly to the fire alarm system. But they also may become a component of a security system that integrates with the fire alarm system. The automatic sprinkler system, fire alarm system and security system must initiate the closing action of all such doors throughout the smoke compartment or throughout the facility.

Doors in the means of egress may have an approved entrance and egress access control system, provided that such a system meets all the following criteria:

1. A sensor, called a request-to-exit device (RTE), must be provided on the egress side, arranged to detect an occupant approaching doors that are designed to unlock in the direction of egress upon detection of an approaching occupant or loss of power to the sensor.

2. Loss of power to the part of the access control system that locks the doors must automatically unlock the doors in the direction of egress.

3. The doors must be arranged to unlock in the direction of egress from a manual release device located 40 to 48 inches vertically above the floor and within 60 inches (1,525 mm) of the secured doors.

4. Any manual release device must be readily accessible and clearly identified by a sign that reads, “Push to Exit.”

5. When operated, the manual release device must result in direct interruption of  remain unlocked for not less than 30 seconds.

6. Activation of the building fire alarm system, if provided, must automatically unlock the doors in the direction of egress, and the doors must remain unlocked until the fire alarm system has been manually reset.

7. The activation of manual fire alarm boxes that activate the building fire alarm system is not required to unlock the doors.

8. Activation of the building automatic sprinkler or fire detection system, if provided, must automatically unlock the doors in the direction of egress, and the doors must remain unlocked until the fire alarm system has been manually reset.

In addition to the increased security required by NFPA 99, each facility now must have clear and instant communications throughout the facility. New mass notification systems or expanded fire voice/alarm communications systems will need to integrate with the security systems, and they will have to be an integral part of the overall security plan.

All of these systems need to operate reliably and can become a part of the electrical contract if the professional contractor has learned the installation requirements for these systems. The professional contractor realizes that developing specialty areas with trained technicians will set him or her apart from the competition, as well as help to mitigate the impact of slow construction periods.

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 power quality

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Prescribed Solutions - When pq is measured in heartbeats

By richard p. bingham

Continual improvements in life expectancy and reduced infant mortality are a result of dedicated healthcare workers and, in part, the array of sophisticated electronic equipment used. But such improvements do not come without a price:

®“Electronic medical systems now account for approximately 70 percent of total capital expense in a hospital,” said Farah Saeed, program manager for backup power solutions at Frost & Sullivan, Palo Alto, Calif. “Hospitals invest millions of dollars in highly sensitive medical-imaging equipment.”

®“These [medical imaging] systems are very sensitive to electrical noise, power shortages and glitches, and brownouts,” said Mike Habibi, technical support manager, MGE UPS Systems, Costa Mesa, Calif.

®“The loss of revenue for freestanding imaging centers might be $2,000 per hour or more due to loss of productivity,” said Bob Thomas, general manager,  Rx Monitoring Services, Bedford, N.H.

As hospitals expand to address growing medical needs, the electrical infrastructure does not always keep pace with the quality of supply and the energy demands for the equipment and facility. Imaging equipment impacts power quality significantly within medical centers and also is a significant victim of power quality disturbances. Imaging equipment draws large inrush currents and can cause significant ground currents, voltage sags and harmonics throughout the facility, affecting equipment in ICUs and for data processing. In addition, the voltage “stiffness” of the older hospitals may not even be adequate to keep the supply voltage within the tolerances the imaging equipment requires.

It isn’t just the cost of downtime that affects revenue significantly. Habibi said, with poor power quality, the equipment can be damaged and the readouts affected. Additionally, power fluctuations can produce possible imaging errors.

“Electrical noise and transients on the line can cause ‘artifacts’ in the digital image, which may result in misdiagnoses,” said Kevin Harris, marketing manager, TEAL Electronics Corp., San Diego. “Patient disruption due to power problems should be avoided … . Rescheduling is financially costly. Loss of patient confidence is immeasurable.”

Some facilities and equipment have remote monitoring capability, where the manufacturer, utility engineer and facilities manager can all look at the same data simultaneously to determine what happened and why. Knowing why the process was interrupted or compromised, and getting it back in service as soon as possible, keeps the revenue stream flowing and allows for proper and timely patient treatment.

For constant documentation of medical conditions, data centers and local area networks connecting remote PCs and terminals are integral to the healthcare process. These systems must be adequately protected against any power quality disturbance that would disrupt the process and/or corrupt the data. Backup power systems must operate 100 percent reliably and for long term, which means generators must be tested periodically. Monitoring the generators’ performance during tests, especially real or full load tests, is critical to finding problems. For example, consider cases where equipment thought to be running off critical power backup systems was not available when a real power interruption occurred. Likewise, there have been noncritical loads that shouldn’t have been connected to the backup power systems but were. This can jeopardize the patients on life support and critical care monitoring systems as well as shorten the backup systems’ run time by draining power capacity.

Stringent rules, such as those in NFPA 99 and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 60601-1, govern hospitals, imaging centers and anywhere interaction between electricity and the patient occurs. For example, leakage current is required to be 10 times lower with equipment in such facilities than standard commercial-grade equipment, and insulation resistance must be maintained at specified levels. Periodic verification is very important to prevent what are often called “stray voltage” conditions in the utility world. Proper documentation and continual monitoring can alert the facilities’ personnel to problems before they degrade to the point of compromising life safety.

Cost containment is important, especially as rising healthcare costs continue to far outpace inflation. Knowing where the energy is being used, how it can be used more efficiently and what equipment can be replaced with more efficient units is as important in healthcare as in other industries. Most medical centers are 24/7 facilities, which means the payback for employing energy-efficient measures can happen even faster than in a normal 8-to-5-type business.

By heeding this prescription for improved reliability, decreased costs, and a proactive preventative electrical equipment and infrastructure maintenance program, keeping heartbeats going while lowering healthcare costs can become a reality.

BINGHAM, a contributing editor for power quality, can be reached at 732.287.3680.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Protecting Patients - Tackling the low-voltage side of healthcare

By Allan b. Colombo

Healthcare for the aging is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, especially in the area of nursing homes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently 19 million beds in 18,000 nursing facilities in the United States, so there’s no lack of work for electrical contractors who have the low-voltage know-how and foresight to pursue this niche business.

Patient room call systems

The patient room call system is one of the most important systems found in nursing homes. There are two basic types: emergency call and nurse call.

An emergency call system allows patients to signal for help using audio tone and lamp indicators in master directories located at nurse stations. When activated, a corridor lamp illuminates outside the patient’s room, and nursing personnel can readily find the room quickly.

Nurse call systems provide tone and lamp activation and two-way voice. This gives attending nurses and aides the ability to communicate directly with a patient before they visit their room.

Two types of call units are used in patient rooms: bedside and bathroom. Bedside stations consist of a momentary pushbutton switch on a handheld unit, which is attached to a cord usually terminated in a ¼-inch phono plug. A clip on the cord is used to secure the button where the patient can readily find it.

A typical bathroom station consists of a single-gang wall plate with a call switch in the middle. In most cases, a pull string is secured to the call switch lever,  allowing patients to pull it when help is needed. This is used in shower rooms and public bathrooms throughout the facility.

In most systems, the attending nurse or aide must cancel the call from the patient’s bedside or bathroom station instead of at the directory.

Traditional systems require multiple-conductor cable usage between nurse call directories, corridor lamps and patient room stations. The type of cable will depend on the system’s make and model.

Most emergency-call systems on the market use four-conductor cable. One conductor serves as a common, negative return. One supplies a steady, positive voltage for bedside activation. A third supplies a pulsing, positive for bathroom station activation. The fourth conductor carries either a steady or pulsing voltage to the directory and corridor lamps.

In most cases, constant and steady lamp power signifies bed activation, and a flashing display signifies bathroom activity. In older systems, two lamps may be used to differentiate between the two—one white and the other red.

Electronic access control

There are two additional ways to enhance patient safety and security in a nursing home. One involves the use of a patient wandering system, and the other involves the use of access control. Both systems are used to ensure the safety and security of special-needs patients.

Whereas most commercial access-control applications involve the regulation of outside ingress, in a typical nursing home, it’s used to control egress.

Although there are stringent fire codes related to egress, it often is necessary in a nursing facility to restrict egress where it concerns patients with special needs, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In special wards, access control often is used to provide egress only for authorized personnel and members of the general public. The authority having jurisdiction must approve special egress arrangements with regard to compliance with local building and fire codes.

Patient wandering systems

According to the National Institute on Aging, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health: “Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer’s disease, which initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.”

Patient wandering systems are used at perimeter exits in many nursing homes that care for patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Locking arrangements ensure patient safety by not allowing egress to patients identified as having special needs.

Perimeter exits are typically left unlocked to allow ready egress. When a special-needs patient approaches an exit, however, the doors lock and an alarm sounds. For that to happen, a small transponder in a wristband or ankle bracelet is placed on the patient or wheelchair, and a radio receiver at the door “listens” for a radio signal emitted by the transponder.

There are other low-voltage systems that ECs can readily sell and service in nursing homes, such as closed-circuit television, cable television and door intercoms.       

Colombo is a 32-year veteran in the security and life safety markets. He currently is director with and a nationally recognized trade journalist located in East Canton, Ohio.

codes + standards

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Write This Down - Complete the paperwork, complete the job

By wayne d. moore

Some of us have grown up in the trades hearing this statement over and over. Some of us never get it. Others finally realize that, indeed, without the properly completed paperwork, the project never gets completed, and the payments are delayed. But paperwork takes on a whole new meaning when dealing with fire alarm systems and the National Fire Alarm Code, NFPA 72, requirements for documentation. The requirements begin in Chapter 4 where Section states in part, “Complete information regarding the system or system alterations, including specifications, type of system or service, shop drawings, input/output matrix, battery calculations, and notification appliance circuit voltage drop calculations shall be submitted for approval (by the authority having jurisdiction).”

According to the annex material provided for Section 4.5.11, fire alarm system shop drawings are intended to be provided by the equipment supplier, combined with the design drawings and “are intended to provide basic information consistent with the objective of installing a fully operational, code-compliant fire alarm system and to provide the basis for the record (as-built) drawings.”

“Shop drawings should include, to an extent commensurate with the extent of the work being performed, floor plan drawings, riser diagrams (except for systems in single-story buildings), control unit wiring diagrams, point-to-point wiring diagrams, and typical wiring diagrams as described herein. All shop drawings should be drawn on sheets of uniform size and should include the following information:

1. Name of owner and occupant

2. Location, including street address

3. Device legend

4. Date

5. Input/output programming matrix”

Floor plans should be complete and accurate. Control unit wiring diagrams should be provided for all control equipment, power supplies, battery chargers, and annunciators showing all field wiring and interface connections.

Annex A.4.5.11 also states that “Typical wiring diagrams should be provided for all initiating devices, notification appliances, remote alarm light emitting diodes (LEDs), remote test stations, and end-of-line and power supervisory devices.”

Right from the start, there is more documentation required for a fire alarm system than most other systems installed by a contractor. Some fire officials require the installing contractor to furnish a written document stating that the system has been installed in accordance with approved plans and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s published instructions and the appropriate NFPA requirements. The wise contractor will review the Record of Completion form provided in the code and use it to supply the fire official with the information required in the written statement of compliance.

The code requires every system to include the following documentation, which must be delivered to the owner or the owner’s representative upon final acceptance of the system:

1. An owner’s manual and manufacturer’s published instructions covering all system equipment

2. Record drawings

3. For software-based systems, a record copy of the site-specific software for addressable or addressable analog systems.

Addressable systems provide a unique address for each detector; addressable analog does the same but also can provide sensitivity readings of smoke detectors and allows the fire alarm control unit (FACU) to assign a sensitivity setting to each detector to accommodate differing environments.

It should be apparent that the authority having jurisdiction will expect more than equipment specification sheets, so the professional contractor will need to work closely with his or her equipment supplier to ensure the required documentation is in place before the final acceptance testing and system commissioning begins.

There is more code-required documentation that must be supplied upon completion of the system commissioning. Record drawings are by far the most important documents a contractor should prepare for an owner. The code defines record drawings (as-built) as “drawings that document the location of all devices, appliances, wiring sequences, wiring methods, and connections of the components of the fire alarm system as installed.” Properly executed as-built drawings will provide the contractor and the owner with the necessary tools to maintain the system in the years after the initial installation.       

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


TED Magazine

Consistent Innovation Will Prepare Us For The Future

As they say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” Being the first woman chair of our association and serving during its 100th year have been once in a lifetime experiences. My tenure has been a lot of fun and educational; I have learned a great deal about our industry and made many new friends along the way.

For 100 years, NAED has been the bridge in our channel: bringing distributors, manufacturers, software providers, marketing groups, and others together to tackle tough issues, take the friction out of the channel, and improve the profits and success of all stakeholders.

During the past 12 months, we have lived up to our theme, “Honor Tradition. Ignite Innovation.” This commemorative issue of TED magazine, along with the National Electrical Leadership Summit in May, will honor tradition and culminate the celebration of our 100-year-rich history and jump start the next century.

With great support from our NAED staff, we have worked on many initiatives during our centennial year designed to ignite innovation. Here are a few highlights:

• We made changes to ensure that IDEA moves to the next level and provides a long-term solution for industry data synchronization.

• We redesigned the annual meeting—now called the National Electrical Leadership Summit—to focus on industry trends and emerging issues.

• We launched the NAED industry recruiting website to help tackle the talent crunch.

• We embarked on an industry certification program for six key electrical distribution positions.

• We introduced the Life Upgrades project designed by the Manufacturers Council to increase awareness and demand for electrical products.

• We completed two research projects relating to mitigating product liability risks in the global economy and changes and opportunities in the residential construction market.

• We launched two new conferences—Women in Industry and Human Resources and Training.

• We moved the NAED staff into the association’s new office in St. Louis. The office square footage has increased 65%, but the rent costs have only increased 10%.

• We rolled out a new format for TED magazine in January to meet the changing needs of our members.

• We energized Regional Councils and spearheaded significant projects such as The Profitable Project, The Industry Recruiting Website, and Reverse Logistics Best Practices.

• We continued to attract new members and post strong financial results.

It has been a great privilege for me to serve during the centennial year and to work on projects that help increase profitability. Successful implementation of the tools developed from these projects will help ensure that we survive and thrive into the next century.

Even though my term has been just one year, I have formed many new friendships with distributors, manufacturers, and the NAED staff that will last a lifetime.

I have enjoyed serving with John Duda, Dick Waterman, and the NAED Board of Directors. I thank them all for sharing their time and talents to enhance our industry. Working with the NAED staff has also been an amazing experience. They are an extremely talented, experienced, and dedicated group of people, and they make the role of volunteer board chair very manageable and rewarding. I will miss the regular interaction with the team in St. Louis.

We are part of a very dynamic industry and association, and we should be proud of our accomplishments and excited about our future. Let’s continue to honor tradition and ignite innovation. Through consistent innovation, we will be prepared to face the challenges of the coming decades and continue to build on our industry’s amazing legacy.

Miller is CEO of Border States Electric in Fargo, N.D. Reach her at 602-206-9502 or

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  


NAED: A century of service

The handful of men who met on Dec. 9, 1908, at the Clifton Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, recognized that if they were to succeed in the emerging electrical industry they needed two things: the drive and energy to grow their businesses, and a vehicle that would address their common needs as this new marketing channel evolved. What they created was the Electrical Supply Jobbers Association. The proof of their wisdom, courage, and foresight is seen in the fact that 100 years and two name changes later, the original success and survival formula is still working.

That formula has been put to the test early and often for the past century. For the first 50 years of its creation, the association and its members were on a roller coaster of change that often threatened the continued existence of this channel. From the impact of World War I to the turbulent 1920s to the dark days of the Depression to our country’s entrance into World War II, the Association and its members faced the challenges and stayed afloat.

Throughout the century, the leadership of the Association put in countless hours working to develop the information the membership needed to satisfy their customers and suppliers. Committees were formed to deal with product knowledge, marketing, and business data; legislative committees were in contact with government officials; and meetings were held. These meetings performed two invaluable functions: They allowed the membership to come together to address its needs and concerns and provided the vehicle that made it practical for members and the management of their suppliers to meet. As one member put it, the meetings made it possible to visit manufacturers by the aisle, not the mile.

Starting in the late- 1950s, the demand for the products and services of this marketing channel—in both the construction and industrial segments—exploded. And the most efficient and economical way to meet the demand was through electrical distribution. For the next 25 years, electrical distributors basically owned the channel. In reality, the only competition distributors faced came from other distributors. This happy set of circumstances, however, also came with its own set of challenges.

To keep up with the requirements of its customers and vendors, distributors had to rapidly add, train, and manage personnel; build larger and more efficient warehouses; add branches; and learn how to integrate the computer into their operations. NAED played a critical role in creating the tools, training, and techniques its members needed in order to take advantage of the opportunities their positions in the marketplace provided.

For the past 25 years, electrical distributors have had to face a new set of challenges. New forms of competition started showing up with names like Home Depot and Grainger. Buying groups and the Internet also came into being, posing their own challenges. Distributors had to come to terms with the fact that they had gone from being the only way to go to market to just one of the ways. In response to these changes we saw the growth of national and regional chains. NAED developed codes and standards, industry alliances, educational offerings, and other programs designed to make sure that the original success/survival formula created by the founders of the Association a century ago will lead us into the next 100 years of service.

It is comforting to know that as we stand on the edge of these unchartered waters, our industry and NAED are mature enough not to be panicked by short-term situations, aware enough to recognize the problems and challenges we may face, resourceful enough to meet those problems and challenges, flexible enough to accept and adopt rapid change, and youthful enough to look to the future with eagerness and optimism.

Farber joined NAED in 1965 and served the Association for more than 30 years, starting as editor of “TED” magazine and ending his career as president of NAED. Farber currently resides in Stamford, Conn., and can be reached at Byers is managing editor of “TED” magazine. Reach her at

The editors would like to thank the staff members of days gone by, whose previously published accounts of NAED history helped provide the wealth of information found on the following pages.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  


Into the future: NAED’s second century

Passionate readers of history tend to approach the subject with specific, unique perspectives. Some believe that history offers clues as to why people do what they do. For instance, why are some people superstitious about Friday the 13th? It, in fact, has nothing to do with witches, but rather is the day when a French king implemented his plan to destroy the Knights Templar. Others look to history for answers as to how to act today; they read about ancient war because they are sure that modern conflicts are just a repeat of what happened decades or centuries ago.

Personally, I read history books because I like to know how people of the past responded to change. Repetition isn’t the common denominator of history—change is. That’s why I find comfort in understanding NAED’s past. NAED wouldn’t have made it 100 years if the distributors before us threw in the towel every time they faced change. Rather, they adapted and persevered.

Think about what distributors stored in their warehouses 50 years ago: radios, lamps, fans, and household appliances that our members don’t carry today. On the other hand, some of today’s distributorships have home theater showrooms and sell sound systems and flat-screen TVs. I am not going to predict that our members will be selling appliances again in 10 years, but I will predict that distribution, as we know it, will be very different. I also predict that if we, as an industry, remain open to change and are adaptable to it, we will be around 100 years from now.

Think about what your company is beginning to sell or may sell in the near future: home generators, solar cells, outlets for electric cars, fuel cell components, etc. How will you conduct business? Probably not with a cash register, but rather via EDI and the Internet using tools provided by NAED and IDEA. Plus, with constant shortages of employees and changes in technology, customers will come to distributors as much for knowledge and skills as for products.

As you reflect on this issue covering the past 100 years of NAED, think about all those involved in distribution. The one constant that you share with them may not be technology or the name of a company, but rather the changes you have faced—because, as Darwin said, “It is not the strongest that will survive or the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

Naber is president of NAED and publisher of “TED” magazine. Reach him at 314-812-5312 or

Members are our future

NAED would like to extend a warm welcome to all distributor members and associates who have joined us in our centennial year (May 2007-present). During this time, a membership drive resulted in 34 new distributor mem­bers, 27 of which joined via our Centennial Program, under which companies can join NAED for just $100 through the end of 2008. To learn more, contact NAED Customer Service at 888-791-2512 or


A & S Electric Supply, Erlanger, Ky.

A-G Electrical Supply, Bellmore, N.Y.

Atlanta Light Bulbs, Tucker, Ga.

Beacon Light & Supply, Hartford, Conn., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Central Supply, Indianapolis

Chancellor Electrical Supply, Laurel, Miss.

conneXion, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Cumberland Electric Supply, Somerset, Ky.

Desco, Salisbury, N.C.

Desco Supply, New Castle, Pa.

Drogen Electric Supply, Oneonta, N.Y.

Edison Equipment, Columbus, Ohio

First Electric Supply, Indianapolis

General Wholesale Electric Supply, Sonora, Calif.

Goodman Electric Supply, North Chicago

Hein Electric Supply, Butler, Wis.

Holt Electrical Supplies, St. Louis

iLighting Solutions, Los Angeles

Illuminating Technologies, Greensboro, N.C.

Kovalsky-Carr Electric Supply, Rochester, N.Y.

Muller Electric Supply, Opelousas, La.

Mustang Electric Supply, Lewisville, Texas

Notoco Industries, Baton Rouge, La.

Richard Equipment Company (RECO), Cincinnati

Santee Electric Supply, Florence, S.C.

Sesco Electric Supply., Lawton, Okla.

Swan Supply, Denver

Tecno-Lite of Puerto Rico, Carolina, Puerto Rico

The Lighting Company, Irvine, Calif.

United Electrical Distributors, Greenville, S.C.

Wattsaver Lighting Products, East Hartford, Conn.

West Virginia Electric Supply, Huntington, W.Va.

Yale Electric Supply, Lebanon, Pa.


Alan Wire Company • Comac Corporation • EiKO Empire Level Manufacturing • Halex Company

ITW Ramset • Petersen Brands (Wobble Light)

Steel Electric Products • TayMac Corporation

Tyco Electronics—Energy Division

Service organization


Technology organizations

Datalliance • Supplier-Info

University alliance

Gateway Community & Technical College

Electrical Technology

Valued-added reseller

Candela Corporation

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  


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