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Issue: May 2008
By: Frank Bisbee

Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


Everybody’s turning GREEN

Everybody’s turning GREEN. Turning GREEN seems to be on the agenda for almost all industry sectors. Over the past few months we have witnessed an amazing shift from business as usual to “look at our new environmentally friendly whatchamacallit.” Are all these business and manufacturers really going green or have they just turned the green tinted light on the same old products. The answer is YES & NO.

Some companies are making a genuine effort to bring better safer and more environmentally friendly products to the market, while some companies are doing the smoke and mirrors act on existing products. Determining which is which is a challenge. One thing is certain: we must also deal with the consequences of many years of “ignoring toxic products and hazardous materials”. For more than 40 years, the cable manufacturers have used halogenated products that pose a substantial risk to public safety and public health. Fluoropolymers, PVC compounds containing harmful phthalates in the plasticizers and heavy metals like LEAD in the stabilizers are contained in almost all of the 9 million miles of cable in the American workplace. Many of today’s current buildings are like big fishbowls with Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) reaching or approaching unhealthy levels for the occupants.

The code developing bodies ( have virtually ignored the toxicity issues as they set up the Fire Protection Codes for the USA. The result is we now have our buildings filled with communications cables that may be the “asbestos of the future”. Who will pay to clean up the mess? Also, who will be held responsible for the resultant damages to the health of the building occupants? While those answers elude us, you may rest assured the European Council had no problems identifying the hazards and banning them from acceptance. Low Smoke Zero Halogen cables provide a substantially better set of communication products for public safety and public health than the plenum approved products approved, sold and installed in the USA (under a system that seems to have been manipulated by “the deep pockets of commercial interests that put profit before safety”).

Looking for the REAL GREEN? Don’t get sucked in by the “Associations” that are nothing more than spin doctors and shills for companies that want to perpetuate their reign of profits at any prices. Get on the Internet and check out the bonafide associations, like U S Green Building Council  and The Environmental Working Group  There is still plenty of gold in the REAL GREEN.

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

2008 Anixter Seminar Series: The IP Connected Enterprise(SM)

Create an environment of control. Anixter, Inc., a world's leading provider of communications products used to connect voice, video, data and security systems, will host its ninth annual Seminar Series: The IP Connected Enterprise. The seminars will explore the emerging trends, technologies and concepts behind the worldwide movement toward network convergence. Redefine the way that people and their environment interact by learning how seamlessly integrated building and user systems provide real-time control and monitoring of any device, signal or multifunction legacy system. By directly bridging all of a building's principal systems onto a single network, The IP Connected Enterprise provides two-way communication sharing between devices, controllers and systems regardless of location.

Spanning 20 cities in U.S. and Canada, the events will run April 24 through November, and will educate attendees on the concept of developing a utility-grade building infrastructure using standards-based UTP and fiber cabling design. The seminars will provide a path to integrate any computer process-based and building system including video surveillance, access control, data and voice communications and HVAC. Some of Anixter's top experts will address the challenges and solutions associated with the increasing stress placed on today's network infrastructures as well as the underlying concepts and best practices for implementation and layout of The IP Connected Enterprise.

    In addition to the presentation, guests will have the opportunity to:

    o  Visit one-on-one with some of Anixter's top manufacturer partners in a trade show setting

    o  Qualify to receive BICSI and National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association continuing education credits

    o  Enter a raffle drawing for a chance to win one of several free prizes.

These seminars are open to anyone interested in learning how the latest products, technologies and standards can merge building and user systems into a single IP network. Benefiting Chief Information Officers, Chief Security Officers, IS and telecommunications managers, LAN administrators, security integrators and directors, network technicians or anyone involved in the design, specification, acquisition or administration of LAN cabling infrastructures, these seminars will directly address the challenges facing today's networks.

Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., and the event includes a complimentary lunch buffet. There is no cost associated with the seminar; however, space is limited. Each seminar will conclude with a free raffle drawing at 4 p.m.

    Daily Agenda

    11:30 a.m.  1:00 p.m.                     Registration

                                              Exhibits Open

                                              Buffet Lunch

    1:00 p.m.   2:00 p.m.                     Presentation: Exploring Issues

                                              Associated with Migration to

                                              Intelligent Information Networks

    2:00 p.m.   2:15 p.m.                     Break

                                              Exhibits Open

    2:15 p.m.   3:15 p.m.                     Presentation: Infrastructure

                                              Solutions for the IP

                                              Connected Enterprise

    3:15 p.m.   4:00 p.m.                     Exhibits Open

                                              Raffle Drawing

    The IP Connected Enterprise is currently scheduled for the following


    April 24         Cleveland, Ohio

    May 1            Fremont, California

    May 15           Adelphi, Maryland

    May 29           Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

    June 3           Toronto, Ontario

    June 5           Vancouver, British Columbia

    June 19          Raleigh, North Carolina

    June 26          Saint Louis, Missouri

    July 10          Minneapolis, Minnesota

    July 24          Louisville, Kentucky

    July 31          Chicago, Illinois

    August 14        Portland (Tigard), Oregon

    August 21        Salt Lake City, Utah

    September 4      Dallas, Texas

    September 11     Boston (Needham), Massachusetts

    September 25     Denver, Colorado

    October 2        New York, New York

    October 23       Houston (Woodlands), Texas

    November 6       Tampa, Florida

    November 13      Anaheim, California

To view the schedule, register for a seminar, or to simply get more information and updates, visit Anixter's Web site at or contact Mary Cathlin Sullivan at 224-521-4181.

About Anixter

Anixter International is a leading global distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable and a leading distributor of fasteners and other small parts ("C" Class inventory components) to Original Equipment Manufacturers. The company adds value to the distribution process by providing its customers access to 1) innovative inventory management programs, 2) more than 400,000 products and over $1 billion in inventory, 3) 218 warehouses with more than 6 million square feet of space, and 4) locations in 249 cities in 49 countries. Founded in 1957 and headquartered near Chicago, Anixter trades on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AXE.


Belden extends CEO Stroup's employment agreement

Belden Inc. and President and CEO John Stroup entered into an employment agreement that extends Stroup's contract to October 2011 and increases his annual base salary to $700,000 from $600,000, according to a regulatory filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The amended agreement also calls for annual extensions after October 2011 and grants him a retention stock option award of approximately $3 million.

Stroup will continue to be entitled to participate in the company's annual cash incentive plan at an annual target cash incentive of at least 130 percent of his base salary and in the company's long-term incentive plan.


Berk-Tek Demonstrates First Simultaneous 10G and 1G Channels In the Same Pathway

Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, an innovative leader in copper and fiber optic cable technology, is demonstrating at Data Center World in Booth #326 (April 1-2), a continuous live 10GBASE-T network transmission over a 100-meter NetClear GTX channel consisting of Berk-Tek’s LANmark-10G2 Augmented Category 6 cable.  At the same time, a demonstration of 1 Gigabit transmission over a NetClear GT2 channel is being shown utilizing the Berk-Tek LANmark-1000 Category 6, which is interwoven on the same reel.

 “This is the first real-time demonstration of Category 6 and Category 6a UTP cables intermingled in the same pathway successfully transmitting simultaneous Gigabit and 10Gigabit Ethernet signals,” states Todd Harpel, Director of Marketing for Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company. The live three-minute exhibit visually contrasts a 10GBASE-T network operating on a NetClear GTX Category 6A channel sending the equivalent of 200 CDs worth of data with a parallel 1000BASE-T 1 Gigabit Ethernet system operating over a NetClear GT3, Category 6+ UTP channel, that sends the equivalent of 28 CDs in the same amount of time.

This demonstration is the culmination of previous research conducted by the Nexans Data Communications Competence Center, located in the Berk-Tek headquarters in New Holland, PA. Tests performed at the Nexans Data Communications Competence Center, in New Holland, PA, had bundled Berk-Tek’s LANmark-10G2 Augmented Category 6 UTP cable in the same raceway as LANmark-1000 Category 6 UTP cable. Swept frequency measurements showed that both cables were unaffected with the LANmark-10G2 cable still met all the requirements of the TIA 568B.2-10 Augmented Category 6 specifications.  The test itself included the worst case configuration where a NetClear GTX (10-Gigabit UTP solution) was inserted into the center of the bundle that included seven NetClear GT2 (Category 6 UTP) channels around the outside.  Even 4-connector NetClear GTX channels tested in this configuration passed the Augmented Category 6 channel specifications for both internal parameters, as well as all Alien Crosstalk parameters.

The Competence Center has been studying the difference between various manufacturers’ Augmented Category 6 channel performance, as well as the different 10G Network Interface cards available the market. This becomes important as future bandwidth-hungry applications emerge, such as graphical medical imaging and streaming video. “By striving to ensure that our LANmark-10G2 cables offer true 10G performance and can co-exist in a real world environment alongside other cables, we can provide the most demanding customers with the peace of mind that they can take advantage of the state-of-the-art performance by simply installing a higher grade of cable and connectivity to their existing cable plant,” Harpel added. -


“CCTV Convergence” Seminar Series

Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company (manufacturer of copper and fiber cable products), Ortronics/Legrand (manufacturer of structured cabling connectivity and physical support products), NVT (manufacturer of CCTV video and camera power transmission equipment (PVD) for convergence to UTP), JVC (manufacturer of analog and IP cameras and Network Video Recorders (NVRs)  and S2 Security (hardware and software manufacturer for access control and integrated security systems) combined their expertise in the security market to host a seminar, “CCTV Convergence,” held in February at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel, New York City, for over 100 security and I.T. integrators and end users.  This seminar and trade show focused on the physical cabling and component requirements for network integration as CCTV progresses from legacy analog, through a hybrid scenario to total IP.  Because of its success, two more seminars have been planned for Anaheim on May 20 and Chicago on June 24.

In addition to the educational presentations by all the aforementioned participating companies, there was a hands-on demo that included separate analog and IP-based camera system.  Each camera ran through a real 100-meter UTP NetClear structured cabling channel – Category 5e for the analog cameras and Category 6 for IP.  The analog demo utilized the NVT video and camera power transmission equipment (PVD) to convert the analog camera’s coax media to UTP.  The IP demo included IP cameras, connected with RJ-45 jacks and the S2 NetBox access control, all powered by PoE (Power over Ethernet) midspan injector through the UTP cable. The two demos were connected with one fiber optic cable, which allowed them to share the same monitor and reside on the same network, through the JVC hybrid DVR.

“As CCTV is quickly moving from analog to an IP-based network, we realize there is a lack of education being provided on the how’s, when’s and why’s of these emerging trends,” states Geoffrey Anderson, National Marketing Manager for JVC. “By bringing together experts on cabling, active equipment, components and even access control, we provided insight on preparing today’s network for tomorrow’s applications,” he adds. 

“Through IP convergence, previously separate networking functions, including data, video and power, are now being connected together over one standardized structured cabling network to allow the sharing of resources, which provides a higher level of network efficiency, while increasing the network’s return on investment,” states Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, Marketing Analyst for Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company. Together Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, have expanded their NetClear structured cabling solutions for enterprises to include security and surveillance applications through the new NetClear ESS program.  “As part of NetClear ESS, Berk-Tek and Ortronics are teaming up with associated vendors in the CCTV realm, such as camera manufacturers, such as JVC, and active component manufacturers, such as NVT and S2, to offer proven integrated solution sets for both I.T. managers and security integrators,” notes Chris Adams, Marketing Manager for Ortronics/Legrand.

NVT is in the business of transmitting CCTV video and supplying camera power over unshielded twisted pair wire via structured cabling networks. “NVT provides products, solutions and support to Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand to educate the market on the transition as analog CCTV moves from a coax-based infrastructure to UTP-based,” states George Wojtan, Datacom Market Manager, NVT. “Together our products will allow installers and end-users to benefit from the performance, cost savings, simplicity, and future proofing of structured cabling,” he adds. 

“Selecting the right camera for the right installation and environment can be overwhelming,” states Adrian Parvulescu, Product Manager for Security Cameras for JVC.  “Integrators should be aware of the differences in camera qualities that can drastically affect performance and signal integrity – for both analog and IP,” he adds.  In addition, JVC offers a line of Network Video Recorders and storage devices for analog, IP and hybrid (combination of both).

S2 Security develops a unique line of open architecture, scalable, IP network-ready products that integrate access control, alarm monitoring, video surveillance and temperature monitoring.  “Going beyond CCTV means that eventually all building automation systems can reside on an IP-based network,” states John Moss, CEO and Founder of S2.  “The simplest form of integration is a 100% Web-based user interface, which is the core of all S2 security systems.”

Attendees of future shows may register at

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

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

Berk-Tek Contact:          Carol Everett Oliver

            Direct Tel: 717-682-7336


About Ortronics/Legrand
Ortronics/Legrand is a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, services, and support. Ortronics offers a complete range of Category 5e, 6 and 10 Gig copper, fiber optic, wireless and residential/MDU connectivity solutions. In addition, Ortronics offers Cablofil® wire mesh cable tray and Wiremold® pathways. For more information, visit


Coleman Technologies, Inc. Renews ATP - Outdoor Wireless Mesh from Cisco Systems

Coleman Technologies, Inc (CTI) is pleased to announce that it has renewed the Outdoor Wireless Mesh specialization from Cisco Systems.  The Cisco Outdoor Wireless Mesh Specialization recognizes a select group of partners for their knowledge and expertise in selling, designing, installing, and supporting advanced Wireless solutions.  According to Cisco’s official website, “Outdoor Mesh is a new technology solution that addresses an emerging market, specifically municipal WiFi. Chosen ATP Outdoor Mesh Partners must have proven history of successful outdoor RF/Radio deployments. These deployments could be point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, or mesh. The brand of installed equipment is not as important as the knowledge and experience of providing outdoor RF installations. Also the partner must have the ability to provide outdoor wireless operation and support services.”

 “Coleman Technologies, Inc. has once again followed through in their drive to be the world’s best systems engineering and integration company.  Cisco’s advanced specializations have rigorous requirements only the most-qualified partners in terms of technical excellence and customer satisfaction can achieve, and CTI has exceeded these expectations time and again,” says Randy Olsson, Director of Network Engineering at Coleman Technologies.  “This is an outstanding accomplishment for Coleman Technologies.  Coleman Technologies continues to excel by following a rigid methodology founded on its aerospace heritage and employing the most talented team of network engineers, project management, sales and support personnel in the industry.  By continuing to adopt and develop new technologies in this innovative business, CTI will continue its tremendous level of success.”


Coleman Technologies is among the most highly certified Cisco partners in the world and has achieved virtually all advanced technology specializations from Cisco.  CTI is also one of the only partners worldwide to attain both Unified Communications and Security Master Specializations from Cisco Systems.  These and other specializations will continue to be recognized on the Partner Locator section of Cisco’s website. 


CommScope Enterprise Solutions’ SYSTIMAX® InstaPATCH® Cu Solution gives high-performance networks a fast, reliable answer

CommScope Enterprise Solutions, a division of CommScope, Inc. (NYSE:CTV), announces the release of its SYSTIMAX® InstaPATCH Cu cabling solution for data center environments in the North America (NAR) and Caribbean and Latin American (CALA) regions. The SYSTIMAX InstaPATCH Cu Solution is designed to provide a hassle-free installation in a fraction of the time required by traditional implementation methods. To better meet the goal of this design as well as customers’ unique specifications, CommScope conducts pre-terminating, pre-testing and customizing of the copper cabling solution.

For networks utilizing Category 6 and 6A cabling, the SYSTIMAX InstaPATCH Cu Solution includes pre-measured cable, pre-terminated connecting hardware, pre-placed source-destination labels, prepared port configuration and pre-bundled cables – which support quality installations at a rapid speed.  These measures help CommScope’s BusinessPartners provide customers with the intelligent network infrastructure solutions they need in the shortest time possible.                                     

 “At CommScope we understand that network infrastructures are unique, so our representatives work closely with IT managers to understand their data center and network needs,” said Mark Peterson, senior vice president, global marketing, of the CommScope Enterprise division. “Once an evaluation is complete, together with our BusinessPartners, we prepare the pre-terminated solution and test every harness and port to ensure that each component meets our highest standards. From there, our BusinessPartners are able to perform fast installations.”

The SYSTIMAX InstaPATCH Cu Solution is supported by CommScope’s 20-year commitment to performance, providing its customers with intelligent reliable solutions backed by a CommScope guarantee – a warranty unique to the industry. Additionally, CommScope will provide customers factory test reports for each harness assembly verifying the built-in performance levels of the system.  

The solution is applicable in the horizontal, backbone, switch applications and throughout the data center. Source-destination labeling, pre-termination and plug-to-plug capability dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to implement a solution. This flexible harness system allows customers to select assemblies from 1 to 24 ports on each end.  A special device called a SwitchPack combines multiple plug ends (4, 6, 8, 12 or 16) into a single unit which can easily be plugged into a high density switch or server at one time optimizing connection speed.    

“We want to offer customers a simple, high-security installation—and we believe that the SYSTIMAX InstaPATCH Cu Solution is another CommScope innovation that provides peace-of-mind,” said Peterson. “Companies can rest assured that they’re receiving cutting-edge technology before the installation team even arrives. And when the installation team does arrive, it won’t be long before the high-performance network is fully functional and ready to go.”

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


Corning Holds Grand Opening Ceremony for LCD Glass Plant in China

Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW - News) today hosted a grand opening ceremony for the company’s new liquid crystal display (LCD) glass substrate manufacturing facility in the People’s Republic of China.

The plant, located in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area, is the company’s first TFT-LCD glass production facility on the China mainland. The opening continues Corning’s trend of entering an LCD-producing region as local market demand expands. Corning currently has LCD glass facilities in the U.S., Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

“Today marks the latest chapter in Corning’s history of investment in China, where our businesses have responded to the varied needs of the region’s many high-technology industries,” said Wendell P. Weeks, chairman and chief executive officer, Corning Incorporated. “This plant reflects our commitment to grow with our customers and to support one of China’s most important industries.”

John P. Bayne, president, Corning Display Technologies China, hosted the grand opening celebration, together with Weeks and James P. Clappin, president, Corning Display Technologies.

“As an industry leader in TFT-LCD glass and other advanced display products, Corning is committed to providing customers with reliable supply across our global network,” said Bayne. “This facility demonstrates our commitment to China and the growing TFT industry. We have added and will continue to add many people to our organization, including highly skilled technicians and engineers, as we continue to ramp operations over the coming months.”

Previously, Corning stated that it expects global demand for liquid crystal display glass to grow 25% to 30% in 2008, representing an increase of more than 450 million square feet of glass to about 2.2 billion square feet by year-end. While much of that growth is driven by the demand for LCD televisions, smaller applications like LCD monitors, notebooks, and portable devices are also strong factors in overall glass demand. (


Corning Receives Verizon’s 2007 Supplier Excellence Award

Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) today announced that Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of its Telecommunications segment, has been selected as a recipient of Verizon’s 2007 Supplier Excellence Award in the “Supplier Diversity-Tier 1” category.

The Verizon Supplier Excellence Awards Program acknowledges companies that support Verizon’s commitment to continuous improvement of quality and service to its customers through a passion for excellence. Criteria for winning includes quality of service, year-over- year growth, a commitment to supplier diversity, meeting and exceeding performance metrics, providing cost management solutions and excellent customer service.

“Verizon is focused on delivering the best customer experience, so we expect the highest quality service from our vendors, which keeps us focused on the business of serving our customers,” said George Dowell, vice president of Supply Chain Services, Verizon Services Operations. Corning Cable Systems is among 10 vendors that have received a 2007 Verizon Supplier Excellence Award for delivering advanced products and services and for consistently demonstrating a commitment to excellence.

“Receiving a Supplier Excellence Award from Verizon is a great honor for Corning Cable Systems,” said Mike Genovese, senior vice president and general manager, commercial operations for Corning Cable Systems. “We look forward to continuing to provide a superior level of quality and service to Verizon and its customers.”

Corning’s outstanding customer support is an integral part of Corning Cable Systems Evolant™ Solutions for Evolving Networks. Evolant Solutions delivers network migration, design-through-installation expertise and tip-to-tip product and service offerings for access, data center, intelligent transportation system (ITS), metropolitan, long-haul and wireless applications.

For additional information on Corning Cable Systems products and services, contact a

customer service representative at 1-800-743-2675, toll free in the United States, or (+1) 828-901-5000, international, or visit the Web site at


ELECTEC Building Wiring Systems welcomes manufacturer’s representatives

ELECTEC Ltd. (, a Canadian innovator of Manufactured Wiring Systems proudly welcomes new manufacturer’s representatives to the fold. 

Innotech Solutions Inc. ( and WestRep Marketing Inc. ( represent Electec’s Next Generation in Wiring Systems, introducing EZ-Cabling to networking professionals and engineering consultants in two of Canada’s largest territories.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome this select group of industry professionals to our family.”  VP Business Development, Chris Pezoulas continues, “Our relationships are very important to us and together with our growing network of knowledgeable and professional sales representatives we endeavor to provide consistently high levels of innovation, service and value.”

EZ-Cabling is a pre-terminated copper cabling solution that offers an unprecedented level of safety, reliability and re-usability through its non-combustible cable construction, verified performance guarantee and unique modular design concept. 

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


New JackRapid Termination Tool Terminates Jacks 8 Times Faster, Making Single-Purpose Tools Obsolete

Fluke Networks, provider of innovative Network SuperVision Solutions™ for the testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, today announced the newly redesigned JackRapid™ termination tool. This groundbreaking tool lets technicians install jacks up to 8 times faster than with traditional punchdown tools.  Users can terminate and trim all eight wires in a jack at once with one easy squeeze, reducing the time spent on the job and saving labor costs. 

JackRapid's new ergonomically designed handle requires less effort when performing the punchdown process, reducing hand fatigue and allowing more jacks to be punched down faster.  The new handle also includes a built-in wire jacket stripper.  With JackRapid's jacket stripper and the ability to precisely trim all 8 wires without separate snips, installers need fewer tools at the job site.  The built-in stripper and consistent punchdown action also combine to improve the overall quality level of the job while time to completion goes down.

In an installation of 1000 jacks, a standard single-wire punchdown tool may require 29 labor hours at an average project cost of approximately $1,445 USD.  The same installation job utilizing JackRapid requires 10 hours at an average project cost of approximately $500 USD.  Compared to the traditional single-wire punchdown tools, JackRapid can cut installation time and cost by 2/3. 

JackRapid’s patented design features an interchangeable termination head that holds the jack in place.  Different style heads accommodate jack styles from most popular manufacturers.  The termination head uses a wall-friendly design to that makes close-to-wall installations far easier than with other types of tools.
JackRapid increases accuracy and reliability.  Fewer reworks are needed, which increases client confidence and further time savings for the installer. JackRapid is also safer, reducing the risk that technicians will punch into the palms of their hands or through drywall when terminating jacks. 


HCM Introduces Category 6 ECOTM Line of Cables<

HCM is pleased to announce the launch of its new smaller diameter Category 6 cable, Category 6 ECOTM.  Category 6 ECOTM is manufactured without a center filler and has an outside diameter that is similar to that of Category 5e cable.  The smaller outside diameter can help reduce installation costs by permitting the owner to install more Category 6 cables per conduit or tray than could be installed if using typical Category 6 cables. 

This new construction, which is UL verified for performance and exceeds the requirements for Category 6, is a result of knowledge gained during the development of HCM’s Category 6A cable, Supra 10TM, said Steven Kenney, Marketing Manager for HCM.  “We are very excited about this new product,” he adds.  “Not only does it offer the Category 6 performance that our customers require, but it does so using substantially less material. This also translates into a smaller impact on the environment when the product reaches the end of its life cycle.  To reduce the environmental impact even further, we designed packaging that was made with 100% post consumer cardboard.  We believe this is the most environmentally friendly Category 6 cable on the market.”

The Category 6 ECOTM is manufactured at HCM’s Manchester, NH facility.  It is available for purchase through authorized distributors.

About HCM

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

To learn more about HCM products, please contact HCM toll free at 800-772-0116 or visit the HCM website at 


General Cable Announces Long-Haul Submarine Fiber Optic Award

General Cable Corporation (NYSE: BGC - News) reported today that its subsidiary, Norddeutsche Seekablewerke GmbH (NSW), has been awarded its first submarine long-haul repeatered fiber optic communications link project.

The communications link will stretch through the Mediterranean Sea from Marseilles, France to Port Said, Egypt, with additional connections in Italy, Turkey and Cyprus. The project will have a length of more than 2,600 miles and will be installed at depths of up to 11,000 feet. NSW’s portion of this project is valued at approximately $40 million with cable delivery and installation beginning later this year. “NSW has been investing heavily to support the expansion of our product offering to include long-haul submarine fiber optic communications cables. We believe that this global market, which is coming off nearly a decade of decline, is positioned to rebound throughout the world as nations increase their need for reliable communications links,” said Valentin Jug, Chairman of NSW.

General Cable acquired NSW in April 2007 and began an investment program to expand the capability of the facility to include submarine power cables and repeatered submarine communications cable. NSW is located on a tributary of the North Sea, with its own deep-sea pier. The Company believes that once the expansion of NSW is completed, it will be well positioned to address all aspects of submarine cable needs for the expanding communications, offshore wind farm and energy exploration markets.

NSW, headquartered in Nordenham, Germany, is a leading manufacturer of submarine fiber optic communications and offshore power cables serving customers all over the world. For more information about NSW, please visit our website at

General Cable is a global leader in the development, design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable products for the energy, industrial, and communications markets. Visit our website at


Graybar’s Kathleen Mazzarella Joins Industry Leaders on NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Board

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, announced today that Kathleen M. Mazzarella, senior vice president – sales and marketing, comm/data, was elected to the board of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) Institute for Distribution Excellence

During her four-year commitment, Mazzarella will work with other board members to enhance the wholesale distribution industry and drive efficiencies in the distribution channel. The board’s projects include producing a report on future trends in wholesale distribution entitled “Facing the Forces of Change” and research on other strategic issues. The NAW Institute board is a hybrid organization including 15 additional representatives from companies in the wholesale distribution industry and associations that serve wholesale distributors.

“Graybar has been active with NAW for a number of years, and we are pleased about Kathy’s involvement in the NAW Institute,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Graybar.  “At Graybar, we pride ourselves on constantly looking for ways to improve the distribution industry.  Kathy’s commitment to the NAW Institute board enables Graybar to further collaborate with industry leaders to develop best practices that bring greater value to our customers.”

NAW Institute board members work to produce industry research and education to support excellence in distribution. They focus on providing the information wholesalers and distributors need to continuously improve their profitability and business processes, including supply chain management and distribution trends. 


Graybar Vice President Named to Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Board

Michael C. Dumas Joins Technology Leaders to Enhance Industry’s Business Environment

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, announced today that Michael C. Dumas, vice president comm/data business, recently joined the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Board of Directors.

Dumas and his fellow board members provide direction and guidance to the association over a three-year term. Board members attend triannual meetings, contribute to various committees, such as legislation and technology, and maintain communications with TIA leadership. The 34-member board includes CEOs, presidents and other senior executives from industry-leading technology companies. 

 “We are proud of our long affiliation with TIA, and Mike’s role on the board reflects our strong commitment to the telecommunications industry,” said Kathy Mazzarella, senior vice president, sales and marketing, comm/data at Graybar. “Mike’s leadership and service will enable Graybar to make an even greater contribution to the future of the industry.”

TIA members work to enhance the business environment for thousands of companies focused on broadband development and deployment, information technology, Internet Protocol (IP) solutions, and the convergence of voice, data and video applications. Graybar has been a member of TIA since its inception. 

Prior to becoming vice president of Graybar’s communications and data business in 2005, Dumas held a variety of management positions at the company in corporate accounts, electrical sales and finance.  He holds a B.S. degree in General Business Administration from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. 


Graybar Surpasses $5.25 Billion in 2007 Sales

Graybar, one of the nation’s leading distributors of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has announced that it exceeded $5.25 billion in net sales during 2007, an increase of nearly $250 million, or 5 percent, over 2006. The company also posted net income of more than $83 million, up $26 million, or 45 percent, from the previous year.

Income from operations totaled more than $161 million, nearly $40 million, or 33 percent, more than in 2006. The company also reported significantly lower debt levels, which led to reduced interest expense, and finished the year in a strong cash position.

 “We had a banner year in 2007 with record sales and profitability,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Graybar.  “Our investments in technology and commitment to organic growth enabled us to improve our bottom-line results.”

Graybar’s Enterprise Resource Planning system continues to help the company boost productivity and rapidly respond to changing market conditions. The information technology platform provides Graybar’s nationwide locations with valuable business data in real-time to enable quick and efficient asset and supply chain management.

“Our strong year-end results reflect the exceptional customer service our employees and employee-owners provide.  We continue to raise the bar on performance and value for our customers,” added Reynolds.

The company looks forward to building on the year’s momentum with continued sales growth and profitability in 2008.  


Leviton is First in Industry to Meet TIA Component Requirements for CAT 6A Connector

Independent testing completed and announced as TIA standard is ratified

Leviton Network Solutions announces the industry's first Augmented Category 6 (CAT 6A) connector independently tested by Intertek/ETL to exceed component performance as defined in the recently finalized ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-10 standard. This new standard defines performance and testing requirements up to 500 MHz for Augmented Category 6 (Cat 6A) cabling systems to support the operation of IEEE 802.3an 10GBASE-T applications up to 100 meters. The TIA standard was approved for publication at the TIA TR42 engineering committee on February 8, 2008 and is expected to be available to the public from IHS, Inc. (, TIA's exclusive document distributor this month.

“Achieving component CAT 6A performance is extremely significant because it translates directly into greater performance margins in field testing of permanent links and channels”, explains Keith Kosanovich, RCDD, Leviton's Sr. Product Manager for Copper Systems. “With greater margins above the CAT 6A limits, Leviton customers can be confident they are installing the highest performing CAT 6A structured cabling system available.” Category 6A components are fully backward compatible with all previous categories, including Category 6 and Category 5e, providing a smooth migration path to future high-speed applications such as 10GBASE-T.

In order to achieve this performance, Leviton developed proprietary internal technologies that minimize Alien Crosstalk in the connector and in the channel. In addition, the Leviton CAT6A Connector utilizes a patented Cone of Silence ® which effectively eliminates Alien Crosstalk between connectors in patching and work area applications.

Leviton's connector is an integral component of their complete CAT 6A cable and connectivity solution. This advanced solution provides guaranteed channel margins over the TIA standard in both short distances, typically found in data center applications, and longer distances common in traditional enterprise applications to the work area.


The Light Brigade’s June 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.

June 2-5

Spokane, WA

June 16-19

Seattle, WA


Jacksonville, FL


Savannah, GA



Baltimore, MD



June 9-12

St. Louis, MO

June 23-26

Long Beach, CA

Nashville, TN

Buffalo, NY

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)

June 9-13

Anaheim, CA

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.

June 9-12

Atlanta, GA

June 23-26

Seattle, WA 


Autodesk Subcontractor Partners With McCormick Systems

McCormick Systems and Autodesk® Subcontractor have successfully integrated their systems – thanks in large part to the recent separate introductions of McCormick’s V9.0 software and Autodesk® Subcontractor 2009.

What that means: Contractors using McCormick to estimate electrical and/or ABS jobs and Subcontractor 2009 to optimize, standardize and automate their business processes will now save time, avoid error, and seamlessly transfer data from the estimating to the project management side.

“We chose McCormick Systems as our partner in this effort because we feel they go about construction estimating the right way," said Jeff Burmeister, product manager for Autodesk® Subcontractor.

“Autodesk is the leading software developer in the construction industry,” said Todd McCormick, president of McCormick Systems. “We’ve created a solid foundation. We think we can build on this start, together, for the benefit of our mutual clients.” 


Megladon Solves Bend Loss Issues With First-In-Class Bend Insensitive HLC™ Fiber Optic Patch Cords

Megladon Manufacturing Group, LTD. announces the deployment of its highly regarded Bend Insensitive HLC™ Fiber Optic Patch Cords for use by network installers. The integration of HLC connectors and Bend Insensitive Glass have combined to produce one of the most reliable, long lasting, efficient patch cords that greatly reduces intermittent failures, which are a nemesis for network managers.

“Ruggedized” Fiber Optic Patch Cords are a must.

Scott Fairbairn, President of American Communication Solutions ( said these “super tough patch cords hold up better than anything else on the market”

Bend loss issues from sub-standard patch cords that cause network outages have always been a monkey on the back of network managers.” stated John M. Culbert, President of Megladon. “This is why we created the first in class Bend Insensitive HLC™ Fiber Optic Patch Cord.” He continued, “By decreasing network installation time, patch cord maintenance, and troubleshooting, network installers are now able to deliver a product that results in value and savings for their clients. We knew this was a mission critical problem that needed a solution and that is what we have provided. We pride ourselves on providing tomorrow’s fiber optic technologies today.”

Megladon’s Bend Insensitive HLC™ low maintenance solution is dust and scratch resistant which provides an extended life span and lessens the frequency of scheduled replacements saving network managers time and money. The product also emphasizes its compatibility with existing connectors, thus making it the only choice for replacement and newly engineered environments. Megladon’s breakthrough product is soon to become the ultimate solution for network installers and network applications worldwide.


PDI Releases the Wavestar™ 500 KVA Mission Critical PDU at AFCOM Las Vegas

Power Distribution Inc. (PDI), a leading manufacturer of mission critical distribution equipment for the data center market, today announced the addition of the Wavestar™ Mission Critical 500 KVA Power Distribution Unit (PDU) to its PowerPak line. This new design continues to build upon PDI's 30-year tradition of innovation and represents an industry first with the ability, through the Wavestar™ monitoring system, to locally display both PDU critical functions and PDI's patented Branch Circuit Monitoring System (BCMS) in a single device. The Wavestar™ monitoring system can provide these points to the building management system remotely via Modbus or SNMP.

"The Wavestar™ 500 KVA PDU addresses the market need for efficient, intelligent power solutions to serve the increasing rack power density from blade servers," stated Keith Schmid, President and CEO of PDI. "In addition, we have integrated market requested features such as a high-efficiency low inrush transformer, front access design to allow for easy infrared scans, compression lugs, plug in style breakers, hinged panels with two point locks, and bus connections for the transformer and circuit breakers into this industry leading product."

Dave Mulholland, VP of Marketing and Service for PDI, adds "PDI's introduction of the 500 KVA PDU coupled with the industry leading Wavestar™ monitoring system raises the bar again. Building upon the successful release of the Wavestar™ static transfer switch, the Wavestar™ 500 KVA PDU is the next step in expanding the lineup of intelligent monitoring systems for PDI. We expect to continue to expand with more Wavestar™ products in the near future."

About Power Distribution Inc.

Founded in 1978, PDI is a leading provider of power distribution equipment and services. Principle products include Static Switches, Power Distribution Units, Remote Power Panels, Redundant Power Systems, Harmonic Cancellation technology, and Branch Circuit Monitoring Systems. The BCMS product is an option available with the other distribution products, or it can be provided for retrofit in equipment already owned by the customer.

For more information about Power Distribution Incorporated and their complete line of power distribution and power conditioning equipment, please visit the PDI website at


Health Forum Web Seminar Alert

     Brought to you by H&HN, Most Wired Magazine, and Health Facilities Management

Join Health Forum for a LIVE Web Seminar:
The Emerging, On-Demand IT Network Infrastructure for ROI and Patient Safety-Driven Hospitals and Health Care Facilities

Wednesday May 14, 2008
2:00pm EST

Sponsored by Sumitomo Electric

Air-blown Fiber network infrastructure technology has been adopted by the Pentagon, Fortune 500 companies, the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic, Sharp Healthcare, and Penn State Hershey Health System, among others, but the technology is still largely unfamiliar to health care IT professionals.

Join these industry leaders as they relate their actual experience with Sumitomo's Air-blown Fiber Infrastructure technology:

- Bill Spooner, CIO of Sharp Healthcare (9-time recipient of Hospitals & Health Networks' Most Wired Hospitals Award)
- Dan Lewis, Sharp Healthcare's Director, Technical Services
- Sherry Mettley, IT Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Penn State Hershey Health System

Learn how this technology impacts patient safety, provides unprecedented speed and delivery, reduces network costs and delivers a continuous and dependable ROI.

To register for the live event and to learn more, visit the registration page below.


The Watermill Group Acquires C&M Technologies Group

The Watermill Group announced today that it has acquired C&M Technologies Group, Inc. d.b.a. C&M Corporation (“C&M”), a leading manufacturer of custom cable, coil cords and cable assemblies.  With manufacturing capabilities in the United States and Mexico, C&M is well positioned as a top supplier of specialized cabling solutions to Fortune 500 companies in the industrial, medical, defense, multimedia, datacom and data collection industries. 

Headquartered in Wauregan, Connecticut, C&M has transformed from a wire salvage business in its formative years into a premier manufacturer of high performance cable products.  William Mueller, Chief Executive Officer of C&M, will continue to lead the management team.

 “This transaction marks an important milestone in the development of the firm,” said Mueller. “Founded in 1964 by my father, Warren Mueller, C&M has experienced significant growth under our stewardship and is well positioned in the current marketplace.  We are confident that the partnership with Watermill Group will be a great asset in supporting our management team and further increasing the level of service and value provided to our customers.”

Timothy Eburne, Partner at The Watermill Group, added “C&M has been manufacturing customized cabling solutions for leading OEM technology companies for four decades.  We look forward to partnering with management and the employees to further improve operating performance at C&M and implement a successful growth strategy for the future.”

Steven Karol, Founder and Managing Partner of The Watermill Group, said “We are excited about the addition of C&M to our investment portfolio.  The company’s strength of engineering and component design in the manufacturing of custom cable and cable assemblies provide a strong value proposition to its customers.”

About The Watermill Group

For nearly three decades, The Watermill Group has been partnering with management teams to transform and build great companies. By combining customized transaction structures with the resources and expertise executives need to drive strategic and operating change, Watermill helps its portfolio management teams thrive, to generate extraordinary returns for all stakeholders.  Watermill partners have over 165 years of combined experience with extensive expertise in a wide variety of industries.  We focus on investing in companies where there is the opportunity to enhance performance through strategic change, operating improvements, or balance sheet realignments.

C&M Corporation

C&M Corporation is a vertically integrated manufacturer of custom cable, coil cords and cable assemblies.  As a worldwide, RoHS compliant cable and cable assembly manufacturer of advanced power and signal transmission cable solutions, C&M employs the most current processes for lean manufacturing and cycle time reduction to deliver superior cost-competitive cables and cable assemblies faster than anyone else in the industry.


Tripp Lite Announces New Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems Configurable up to 160kVA and 97% Efficiency

Tripp Lite, a world-leading manufacturer of power protection equipment, has introduced a new line of SmartOnline Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems for 120/208V applications. Three models are available (SU40K, SU60K and SU80K) with individual capacities ranging from 40kVA to 80kVA, system capacities up to 160KVA and operational efficiencies up to 97%.

“Tripp Lite’s new Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems offer reliable installation and economical operation and maintenance,” said Paul Wampach, Tripp Lite’s 3-Phase UPS System Product Manager. “They maximize availability for mission-critical systems, lower installation and operational costs, while facilitating efficient and timely service performance. The modular architecture and 1+1 parallel capability will fit well in countless organizations, even those pursuing tier 4 system availability.”

Tripp Lite’s new Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems feature self-contained, hot-swappable 20kVA power modules. SU40K, SU60K and SU80K models feature multiple modules to provide N+1 redundancy for critical loads.  In the unlikely event that a module fails, the remaining modules seamlessly compensate to support the load. The new models also feature 1+1 parallel capability, enabling two units connected in parallel to either provide 2N system redundancy or increased power capacity. In a parallel redundant configuration, each UPS supports 50% of the load. If one UPS is subsequently removed or taken off line for maintenance, the second UPS will support the full load automatically. Parallel connection can also be employed to double overall capacity. Therefore, two 80kVA units can be connected in parallel to support a load of 160kVA.

The new SmartOnline Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems also help facility managers to control installation and operating costs. Producing less than 3% input Total Harmonic Distortion (THDi), they enable a 1:1 sizing of the UPS system to a generator set. Low THDi helps generators to run cooler, lengthening generator service life, and eliminating the need to oversize generators, cables and breakers. Advanced IGBT inverter technology assures high-efficiency UPS operation, reducing cooling costs and lengthening UPS service life. An LCD display provides a real-time event log and stores up to 500 events to help managers react more quickly to changing conditions.

“The new Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems deliver a superior combination of features, performance and value,” said Wampach. “Contributing to 100% infrastructure uptime is essential today, and these systems deliver without straining budgets or the environment. That’s a formula for success.”  

For more information on Tripp Lite’s new SmartOnline 120/208V Modular 3-Phase UPS Systems and to view the entire 3-Phase UPS line, go to:

Association News


ACUTA’s Annual Conference Addresses Challenges of Emerging Technologies on Today’s Campuses

With speakers representing 26 different colleges and universities, this year’s Annual Conference of ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, will once again be an extravaganza of expertise sharing.

The 2008 conference, July 13-17 in Las Vegas, is the 37th for ACUTA, the only international association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education information communications technology professionals. Representing nearly 2,000 individuals at some 780 institutions, ACUTA’s core mission is the sharing of technology and management information, and its Annual Conference is its largest event of the year.

In addition to the dozens of campus professionals sharing their knowledge, successes, and challenges in educational sessions, the conference will feature a strong lineup of industry expert speakers. Topics range from emergency communications to unified messaging to Voice over IP and financial issues.

Keynote speaker for the event is creative visionary and motivational futurist Warren Arbogast, who will focus on the future of the IT service organization and explore how colleges and universities can get the most out of their information communications technology investments.

 “This year’s Annual Conference sessions are tailored to the needs of our members in addressing the emerging technologies on campus and the effects these technologies have on students, faculty, and the administration,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “But beyond the sessions, there is no better opportunity for our members to network with their peers. By sharing the best strategies and techniques, they benefit themselves and their schools.”

ACUTA’s Annual Conference is in conjunction with its 12th annual Forum for Strategic Leadership in Communications Technology, a two-day assembly of senior attendees, with intensive sessions taught by higher education leaders and expert consultants. The forum’s focus this year is how to plan for, and fund, the technologies required to fill the increasing service demands that colleges and universities of all sizes are seeing, from students, faculty, administration, and other stakeholders.

The Annual Conference will also feature an exhibit hall with companies showcasing the latest technology products and services. During the event, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, winners of leadership and institutional excellence awards will be announced. More information about the Annual Conference and the Strategic Leadership Forum can be found at

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


BICSI seeks presenters for Fall Conference in Las Vegas

Do you have an informative presentation for the information transport systems (ITS) industry? The BICSI Fall Conference will be held September 29-October 2, 2008. Hotel reservations at the special BICSI group rate for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas can be booked from now until August 26. For more information or to apply via BICSI’s new online submission process, visit



CABA Introduces New Daily Newsletter

This is the last issue of the CABA eBulletin in its current form. We’re excited to offer you a new, daily newsletter starting Monday, May 12.

CABA SmartBrief is a FREE e-mail news service that summarizes the day’s most important news as it relates to integrated systems for the automated homes and buildings industry. Each day, CABA SmartBrief will deliver:

Video clips and summaries of research and articles relevant to you, handpicked by our editorial staff.

  • Wireless functionality for mobile readers.
  • The latest information from CABA and its diverse membership.
  • Opportunities for industry feedback.

In other words, CABA SmartBrief editors spend hours finding research and news vital to our industry so you don’t have use your valuable time. This will be an opt-in service.

Please look out for CABA SmartBrief in your inbox on Monday, May 12.

CABA's Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings Study

CABA's objective through this study is to provide strategic recommendations that will can demonstrate the positive environmental impact of today's intelligent, integrated building systems and building technology solutions.

Linux versus Vista smart homes

An examination of two very different takes on the ‘smart home’ concept produce widely differing results.

A Ripe Time for Open Innovation

According to BusinessWeek magazine, economic recessions present a good opportunity to collaborate with others on finding, developing, and marketing new ideas. One such collaboration model identified is CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council.



Adoption for 802.15.4 and ZigBee chipsets is accelerating in several industries, according to ON World. Last year, seven million 802.15.4 and ZigBee chips were sold worldwide, an increase of 1,400 per cent from 2004.

Emerging trends include:

Over one hundred 15.4 and ZigBee based products are shipping today

New entrants are providing development tools using programming

languages such as Python and Java

Companies are targeting specific markets versus the generalized

approach of the last few years

Chipset bill of materials will drop to $3 in 2011, down from $12 in




CABA has contracted Frost & Sullivan to conduct relevant research and produce a report that addresses the operation and energy savings and long term benefits i.e., ROI for commercial facilities from implementing intelligent and green building technologies above and beyond LEED certification. If your company is interested in participating, please contact Fred Bryson at 888.798.CABA (2222) x226 or

Bell Canada and Cisco Systems to Deliver Enhanced Managed Services to Canadian Business; Create a Network of Knowledge Centres

Bell Canada and Cisco Systems Canada Co. announced they are partnering to accelerate a number of strategic initiatives designed to develop and deliver a range of IP-based managed services to Canadian businesses, including unified communications, voice, wireless, IP contact centre and security.

Bosch Acquires Extreme CCTV

Bosch has acquired the Canadian company Extreme CCTV Inc. Extreme CCTV is a technologically leading manufacturer and supplier of active infrared illuminators, integrated day/night cameras with active illumination, and hardened imaging products for use in extreme environments. Furthermore, its product range includes systems for license-plate capture and recognition.

Roy Kolasa of Honeywell Appointed Chairman of CABA’s Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) announced today that Roy Kolasa, Open System Solutions Manager at Honeywell Building Solutions and CABA Board member, has been appointed Chairman of CABA’s Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council.

CABA Endorsed Successful Green Intelligent Buildings Conference

The Continental Automated Buildings Association was a proud co-host and participant at the recent Green Intelligent Buildings Conference.

CEA Applauds New ENERGY STAR Specification For Digital Televisions

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of an updated ENERGY STAR specification for digital televisions (DTVs), a move CEA says will lead to further reductions in the amount of energy consumed by digital televisions.

Echelon and Leading Controls Companies Showcase Energy Saving Applications at Light + Building

Echelon Corporation, a leading provider of networking technology that is used to manage and reduce energy consumption, and over 20 of its customers are showcased LonWorks-based energy saving and control applications at the 2008 Light + Building event in Frankfurt, Germany, the world's largest tradeshow dedicated to the lighting and building industries.

HAI Announces New Access Control Product Line

HAI's new access control product line will consist of a 125 KHz high security, digitally encrypted, 26-Bit Wiegand proximity card reader that connects to a serial port on an HAI Home Control System.

Hudson Valley Community College Selected for Collaborative Program with Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls, Inc., a global, multi-industrial leader in creating smart environments, has selected Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in New York to participate in a national collaborative program dedicated to training the next generation of heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians.

LonMark International Co-Hosted A Very Successful Green Intelligent Buildings Conference with CABA

LonMark International (LMI), a non-profit trade association recognized as the industry authority for certification, education, and promotion of interoperability standards for the benefit of manufacturers, integrators, and end users enjoyed co-hosting, with CABA, the hugely successful Green Intelligent Buildings Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on April 2-3.

Motorola Launches 802.11n-enabled Switch and Access Point

Motorola Enterprise Mobility has released a new wireless switch and access point that conform to the 802.11n standard, but they also take a different approach to networking infrastructure.

NAHB Introduces Certified Green Professional Designation

A new professional designation program from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will soon provide home buyers with additional assurance that the builder or remodeler they’ve chosen is authentically “green.”

Scientific Atlanta Renamed by Cisco Systems

Over the past two years, Cisco Systems and Scientific Atlanta have been transitioning into one brand. Scientific Atlanta has now become the Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group (SPVTG).

Siemens Building Technologies Teams with Quality Attributes Software to Expand Sustainability Offering

Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. has expanded its sustainability product offering to include the industry leading educational touchscreen kiosk software, GreenTouchscreen, developed by Quality Attributes Software, Inc. (QAS).

SpeakerCraft Invents iPhone/iPod Touch Compatible Multi-room Control Interface

SpeakerCraft, a manufacturer of in-wall speakers is pleased to announce the release of a new interface for its award winning MODE multi-room A/V control system. It allows the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch to be used as a wireless remote with control of all sources and routing accessed on the touch screen through an intuitive GUI.

Spinwave Systems and Abintra Partner to Make Workplaces More Efficient, Flexible, and Collaborative

Spinwave Systems has partnered to implement an innovative surveying method that promises to make tomorrow’s office a better-designed, more energy-efficient, and more flexible place to work.

Whirlpool Launches EcoCentral Living System

In the interest of making it easier for homeowners to find HVAC products that are environmentally friendly, Whirlpool Corporation is launching EcoCentral Living System. The goal is for the EcoCentral Living System name and logo to become ingrained in homeowners minds as a symbol of environmental friendliness, much like the well-known ENERGY STAR logo.

Zensys Receives Strategic Investment from Panasonic's Venture Group

Zensys, developer of the award-winning Z-Wave wireless home control standard, recently received an investment from Panasonic. The company will use the funding to further its push into the global home automation and control marketplace.



CABA Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum at InfoComm08

InfoComm and NXTcomm Co-Locate in 2008

June 17, 2008 - Las Vegas

Intelligent Buildings provide owners with improved comfort and productivity while reducing energy and operating expenses, and they provide system designers, contractors, and suppliers with a set of promising new products and services to offer. Furthermore, Intelligent Buildings offer the potential for greater sustainability. The Intelligent Building Leadership Forum is an educational seminar that will explain the fundamentals of this emerging opportunity.

This full day event will provide a chance for attendees to learn from industry leaders and experts, and it is structured around a theme that aims to provide an overview of Intelligent Buildings, and illustrate how Intelligent Buildings deliver on sustainability. The theme, Transitions: From the Conference Room to the Boiler Room, And Beyond, is intended to take you on a journey through the Intelligent Building. Starting with conferencing, sessions will branch out to explore key intelligent building systems and technologies, including building automation and energy management, open and integrated systems, lighting control, and structured cabling and networking, all the while drawing a strong connection between Intelligent Buildings and sustainability. Finally, an industry programs update will provide you with the latest on critical work being conducted by CABA's Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council.

As a supplier, contractor, builder/developer, or design professional, you will find this to be a valuable day where you may discover exciting and profitable opportunities to expand your business into new areas related to sustainability and integration, and how you can benefit from the movement toward Intelligent Buildings and sustainability.

Your admission fee for this event includes a Forum Resource book, meals, reception, and access to the InfoComm08 show floor which includes over 700 exhibitors. This event is brought to you by CABA in cooperation with Building Intelligence Group and InfoComm International. For more information, please visit

For sponsorship or speaking opportunities contact: Fred Bryson CABA's Business Development Manager at:; 1.888.798.2222 x226; 613.686.1814 x226.



According to McGraw-Hill Construction's recently released The Green Homeowner SmartMarket Report:

The market for true green homes is expected to rise for $2 billion to up to 420 billion over the next five years.

Standard homes are becoming increasing green, with homeowners using green products for 40 per cent of their remodeling work.

Most Americans find out about green homes through word-of-mouth, followed by television and the Internet.

According to IMS Research, the market for electronic physical access control equipment will reach $925.1 million in 2011 in the Americas, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of 8.3 per cent. One of the key trends driving this growth is the replacement of 125 kHz proximity readers with 13.56MHz smart card readers.

  For a detailed listing of industry conferences and events go to:


EEMAC Lunch & Learn

April 17, 2008

Toronto, ON

(Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO is the keynote speaker)



April 22-24, 2008

Zhuhai, China 


Electronics Lifestyles Forum

April 30, 2008

Dallas, TX


Tridium's Niagara Summit

May 4-6, 2008

Tampa Bay, FL 


The Cable Show

May 18-20, 2008

New Orleans, LA



May 20-22, 2008

Santa Clara, CA



May 20-22, 2008

Santa Clara, CA


Realcomm San Diego

June 9-11, 2008

Tampa Bay, FL


NXTcomm 08

June 17-19, 2008

Las Vegas, NV

(See the CABA exhibit at booth #SU5702)


InfoComm 08

June 18-20, 2008

Las Vegas, NV

(Visit the CABA exhibit) 


Intelligent Buildings Leadership Forum

June 17, 2008

Las Vegas, NV 



June 17-18, 2008

New York, NY


Digital Home Ecosystem Forum

June 19, 2008

Cupertino, CA 



June 24-26, 2008

Santa Clara, CA 



September 3-7, 2008

Denver, CO


WiMAX World Americas

September 30-October 2, 2008

Chicago, IL 



October 30-November 1, 2008

Moscow, Russia 


Integrated Systems Russia

October 30-November 1, 2008

Moscow, Russia 


Net-atHome 2008

November 4-5, 2008

Nice, France 


  Members are the lifeblood of the Continental Automated Buildings Association. Listed below are CABA members that have renewed or joined the organization since March 15, 2008:

AirAdvice, Inc.

Belimo Aircontrols (USA) Inc.

C-Tech Associates, Inc.

Canada Green Building Council

Canadian Standards Association (CSA) International


Domosys Corporation

DYMO Corporation

ECHONET Consortium

Electro-Federation Canada Inc.

elma kurtalj ltd

Enbridge Gas Distribution, Inc.

ETA International

Fatman OY

Gatesoft Technology Corporation

Harmonics Limited

Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (HRAI) - Canada

Herman Miller Inc.

HPAC Engineering


Instituto Mexicano del Edificio Inteligente (IMEI)

International Centre for Facilities, Inc.


Linear LLC

Middle East Digital Communications

Network & Automation Systems Inc.

NextGen Home Experience

Panasonic Corporation of North America


The Siemon Company



Burt Schraga Named Incoming Chair-Elect of NAED Board of Directors

Burt Schraga, a 34-year veteran of the industry, is the new chair-elect of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) Board of Directors. In this position, Schraga, CEO of the Santa Clara, Calif. based Bell Electrical Supply, will prepare to lead the NAED board during 2009-2010.

“I am so glad to be able to give back to this industry that has been so good to me and my company,” said Schraga. “I know that we can accomplish great things as an industry because of the great people we have on board. In this industry and in my company, it is all about the people. With the right team, you can’t help but win. I am so proud of our Bell Electrical team, and especially our leadership team. Because of them, I am able to take on the chairman’s role for NAED.”

Schraga started in the industry by turning a college job into a lifetime career. He has dedicated the last three-plus decades to the same company, which has provided a wide range of electrical products to manufacturers, end users, and contractors for over half a century. This month, Bell Electrical is merging with Industrial Control Components to further expand its offerings.

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.

His strong commitment to electrical distribution has also extended to other organizations within the channel. 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. Under Schraga’s leadership, Bell Electrical was presented with the A-D 2007-2008 Affiliate of the Year Award.

NAED is currently directed by Tammy Miller, CEO of Border States Electric Supply. At the association’s first National Electrical Leadership Summit, May 17-21, Richard (Dick) Waterman, senior advisor of International Electric Supply Corp. (IESCO), will become NAED board chair for the 2008-2009 year.

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 4,200 locations internationally.


National Electrical Safety Month - May 2008

Home electrical fires are a major problem in the United States. In many homes, dangerous electrical situations develop and continue to grow as the home ages. For this year’s National Electrical Safety Month, ESFI is partnering with organizations and companies across the United States to help you identify and fix electrical hazards that are commonly found in many of our homes.

Each week during the month of May ESFI will be highlighting technology that can protect your family from injury and your home from fire.

Week 1 – Official National Electrical Safety Month Launch

ESFI will be hosting a media event with the National Fire Protection Association to officially launch May as National Electrical Safety Month.

Week 2 – Electrical Fire Prevention with AFCIs

For the second week of May, ESFI will focus on Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs). AFCIs are a new type of circuit breaker that recognize potential fire hazards and immediately shut off power to the wiring before a problem can occur.

Week 3 – Child Safety with Tamper-Resistant Outlets

This week ESFI will concentrate on educating parents on Tamper-Resistant Outlets (TROs). TROs are new outlets designed to protect small children from inserting foreign objects into them.

Week 4 - Eliminating Electrocutions and Burns with GFCIs

For the last week of the May, ESFI will re-introduce you to Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). These special outlets have saved thousands of people from shocks and burns over the last three decades, but they must be tested regularly to make sure they are working properly.



Green construction is everywhere, and the National Electrical Contractors Assn. is making sure that its member contractors are ready to serve the growing market of owners and users looking for energy-efficient, innovative alternatives to traditional building methods.

To support this initiative, NECA’s national office recently became a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC is a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. Together, NECA and the USGBC are currently finalizing details for a workshop on how electrical contractors can become LEED Accredited Professionals in the “New Construction” category. The workshop will be held at NECA’s annual convention in Chicago, Oct. 4-7.  

“Our vision is that NECA will be a resource to help our member contractors and their customers ‘go green’ at whatever level they want,” said Rob Colgan, NECA executive director for marketing. “Sustainable construction can be a part of any building project, and our goal is to help owners, developers and general contractors find the right balance in their electrical and communication systems.

“Energy efficient systems are an important aspect of LEED ratings, but their real attractiveness to building owners lies in the money they can save over the life of a building,” Colgan said. “NECA contractors are in a great position to help those owners achieve their green building goals by creating innovative and fully integrated energy-efficient systems.”

Colgan also pointed out that consumers are becoming more educated about alternatives to convention power generation, like solar, wind, and biomass. “Effectively using these alternative methods of power generation, however, takes specific skills and experience with a wide array of new products, and NECA contractors have a distinct advantage in this area,” he said. “Our training programs are the acknowledged leader in photovoltaic installation, and our annual trade show features the most significant gathering of alternative energy technologies specifically for electrical contractors.”

ABOUT NECA: The National Electrical Contractors Assn. has provided over a century of service to the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the United States. NECA’s national office and 120 local chapters advance the industry through advocacy, education, research, and standards development. For more information, visit


Michael Johnston Joins NECA as Executive Director, Standards and Safety

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is pleased to announce that Michael Johnston assumed leadership of NECA’s standards and safety program on Feb. 4. Johnston succeeds Brooke Stauffer as Executive Director, Standards and Safety. Stauffer, a well-known electrical codes and standards expert, died in a small plane crash on August 24, 2007, near Mackinaw Island, Mich.

Johnston comes to NECA from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) where he served as Director of Education, Codes and Standards since 1998. A certified master electrical inspector, Johnston completed his electrician’s apprenticeship and earned both journeyman and master electrician licenses in Connecticut. He worked as an electrician, foreman, estimator and project manager on several electrical construction projects in Connecticut before moving to Phoenix.

In Phoenix, Johnston became a field electrical inspector for the City of Phoenix, where he rose through the ranks to become the field supervisor for all of the city’s electrical inspectors. He holds numerous certifications in electrical inspection with both IAEI and International Code Council. He also became a popular technical instructor, teaching numerous courses on the National Electrical Code (NEC). 

Johnston was recruited by IAEI in 1998 and moved to Plano, Tex. At IAEI, he managed the association’s seminar and certification programs, oversaw the development of IAEI training materials, and served as a technical editor for numerous publications and the IAEI News Magazine. He continued to teach NEC courses and other industry-related training programs, and he is an active participant on the National Fire Protection Association’s NEC code-making panels, electrical section, and education section.

Johnston’s code-enforcing and making experience will benefit NECA’s growing National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) program. NEIS are the industry’s first performance and workmanship standards for electrical construction. As an enforceable part of the contract documents, NEIS significantly reduce confusion among engineers, electrical contractors, owners, and facility managers. NECA began publishing NEIS in 1999 and currently has more than 35 standards that range from installing high-voltage switchgear to fiber optic lighting.

“NEIS have become an indispensable construction document for many electrical projects, and I’m excited about the experience that Mike will bring to the program,” said Dan Walter, NECA Vice President and COO. “Mike will also uphold NECA’s role as a champion of safe practices in the development process for the National Electrical Code.”

“I’m looking forward to joining the NECA staff and continuing to be an active contributor to electrical codes and safety,” Johnston said. “This opportunity brings together many aspects of my professional training and experience to a level where I believe I can truly make a difference for the best.”

Johnston has numerous professional affiliations, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Code Council, and the UL Electrical Council. He is available to answer media and technical queries regarding electrical installation, safety, codes and standards by contacting NECA’s public relations director at 301-215-4526.


NECA Announces 2008 Events

The 2008 calendar for the National Electrical Contractors Association includes the electrical construction industry’s premier event, the NECA Convention and Trade Show in Chicago, Oct. 4-7, as well as some fresh additions.

NECA will host its inaugural Legislative Issues Conference, April 28-May 1, in Washington, D.C. “This conference is an opportunity for NECA contractors to put a constituent’s face on issues like the unfair 3% withholding tax for their members of Congress,” said Lake Coulson, NECA executive director for government affairs. In addition to meetings on Capitol Hill, NECA contractors will discuss policy with administration officials and hear political prognostications from Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report.

Information about the NECA Legislative Issues Conference and regional NECA events is available at

2008 NECA Calendar of Events

* The following events are open to members of the association and invited industry colleagues. For questions about event press credentials, contact Beth Margulies,, 301-215-4526.

Labor Relations Conference

Mar. 26-28

Royal Sonesta Hotel, New Orleans

Leaders from management and labor in the electrical construction industry come together to discuss successful strategies for workforce development, worksite safety, and future market developments. Contact

NECA Legislative Issues Conference

April 28-May 1

Hyatt Regency, Washington, D.C.

NECA’s first national legislative conference gives member contractors the opportunity to put constituents’ faces on the issues affecting their businesses and communities for members of Congress and other legislative leaders. Contact

NECA Annual Convention and Trade Show

Oct. 4-7

McCormick Convention Center, Chicago

NECA 2008 Chicago is the premier event for the electrical construction industry, bringing together the education, products, services, and networking opportunities that electrical contractors need to make their companies successful. Information at


Senate Passes Tax Incentives for Energy Efficiency

Today, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive piece of housing legislation that included several critical tax incentives that encourage use of energy-efficient technologies and renewables. The bill, S. 3221, aimed to assist ailing homeowners included several provisions that are set to expire. The tax incentives included in this bill are one-year extensions that will allow homeowners and businesses to better plan for the future and should have a stimulative effect in the economy.  Due to these tax incentives, such as the energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction, more energy-efficient products manufactured by NEMA companies will be used in the marketplace.

This Senate-passed legislation includes:

An extension of the energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction,

Extension of the renewable energy production tax credit,

Extension of the solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit, and

Extension of residential energy efficient property tax credit.

The current commercial building tax deduction will expire on December 31, 2008.  The deduction and incentives assist homeowners and businesses to purchase and install energy-efficient technologies, which provides economic benefits in lowering energy bills, contributing to construction and manufacturing jobs, and benefiting the environment.  “While negotiations continue on a long-term extension of these tax incentives, NEMA calls upon the U.S. House of Representatives to act swiftly to pass this legislation so it can be signed into law,” urged NEMA President and CEO Evan Gaddis. 

“NEMA has been vigorously lobbying Congress for a long-term extension of the commercial building tax deduction and other energy efficiency and renewable incentives, and while this is only a one-year extension, NEMA praises the U.S. Senate for its action on ensuring this vital incentive is continued,” commented Gaddis.



SCTE Bestows Chapter Awards For 2007

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) today is proud to announce the recipients of the SCTE Chapter Awards for 2007, which were presented at the recent 2008 SCTE Chapter Leadership Conference (CLC) in Atlanta.

The Cascade Range Chapter (northwestern Oregon) achieved the distinction of SCTE Chapter of the Year, and Amanda Walton of the Cascade Range Chapter was honored as SCTE Chapter Member of the Year.

SCTE, which has 68 chapters and meeting groups, also presented awards for second through seventh place in the SCTE Chapter of the Year category. Those honorees were the New England Chapter (2nd), the Cactus Chapter (Arizona) (3rd), the Great Lakes Chapter (southeastern Michigan) (4th), the Lighthouse Chapter (Maine) (5th), the Gateway Chapter (eastern Missouri) (6th), and the Mount Rainier Chapter (northwestern Washington state) (7th).

Walton, the SCTE Chapter Member of the Year honoree, is the Cascade Range Chapter’s secretary and has been an SCTE member since 2002. She is a regional fleet coordinator with Comcast Cable Communications in Vancouver, Wash.

The SCTE Compliance Award recipient was the Cactus Chapter. The Most Improved Chapter (Compliance) was the Llano Estacado Chapter (western Texas).

The SCTE Recruitment Award recipient was the New England Chapter. The Most Improved Chapter (Recruitment) was the Desert Chapter (southern California).

The SCTE Striving for Excellence Award recipient was the Cactus Chapter. The Most Improved Chapter (Striving for Excellence) was the Llano Estacado Chapter.

The SCTE Professional Development Award recipient was the Cascade Range Chapter. The Most Improved Chapter (Professional Development) was the Red Rock Chapter (Nevada).

SCTE presented its Most Improved Chapter of the Year Award as well. The Gateway Chapter garnered that distinction.

The Compliance, Striving for Excellence, Professional Development, and Recruitment awards are each earned based on an objective points system for each award. Combining the points earned for those four award categories determines the Chapter of the Year Award recipients. The Chapter Member of the Year award is determined by a traditional nomination process.

More information about SCTE Chapters, including their geographical locations, is available at


SCTE Announces Board Election 2008 Results

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) today announces the results of SCTE Board of Directors Election 2008. The newly elected directors are:

Region 3 (representing AK, ID, MT, OR, WA)
Randy Love, Comcast Cable Communications

Region 4 (representing OK, TX)
Bob Macioch, Time Warner Cable

Region 5 (representing IA, IL, KS, MO, NE)
Rick Sullivan, Times Fiber Amphenol

Region 7 (representing IN, MI, OH)
Marc Broadnax, Comcast Cable Communications

Region 8 (representing AL, AR, LA, MS, TN)
Harold Kinnel, Ritter Communications

Region 10 (representing DC, KY, NC, VA, WV)
Bob Legg, Suddenlink Communications

Region 12 (representing CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT)
Bob Foote, ARRIS

Director-At-Large Canada (representing SCTE’s Canadian members)
Dermot O’Carroll, Rogers Cable Communications

Director-At-Large (representing all SCTE members)
Dick Amell, Time Warner Cable

Director-At-Large (representing all SCTE members)
Nomi Bergman, Advance/Newhouse Communications

The newly elected directors will begin their two-year terms at the SCTE Board of Directors meeting set for Tuesday, June 24 at the 25th Anniversary SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® 2008. Expo 2008 will take place Tuesday through Friday, June 24–27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.



Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Announces Updated Accessibility Standards

TEITAC Final Report Released to U.S. Access Board

After over a year and a half spent tackling the complicated process of updating accessibility standards, the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) presented its final report to the U.S. Access Board on April 3, 2008.  The report addresses how federal agencies and private industry are expected to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

TEITAC members include industry, disability groups, standards-setting bodies in the U.S. and abroad, and government agencies.  The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) was represented by Mary Brooner, Motorola, who worked diligently with TIA member companies to convey industry point of view.  TIA member companies sell telecom products to federal agencies and to consumers.

“The issues tackled by this report are very complicated but extremely important not only to TIA member companies, but to the many Americans living with disabilities,” said TIA President Grant Seiffert, “TIA commends the hard work of the Committee and is committed to continuing an open dialogue between industry and the disability community.”

TEITAC was formed on July 6, 2006 by the Access Board and was tasked with providing recommendations for updates of accessibility standards issued under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.  The Committee was divided into sub-committees, such as Web and Software, Telecommunications, Audio Video, etc.  Products and services covered by these committees include everything from Web sites to multimedia to office products, such as fax machines and telephones.

The recommendations issued in the report are advisory, and the Access Board will initiate a formal rulemaking process before adopting regulations.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates privately manufactured telecommunications, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and customer premises equipment, likewise has no obligation to implement the TEITAC report.  The FCC will take under advisement the recommended regulations of the Access Board when it reviews its own Section 508 regulations. 

For a full copy of the report

TIA represents the information and communications technology industry, and its members represent the entire telecommunications supply chain, from infrastructure provider to device maker. TIA members include many of the manufacturers of the equipment needed to offer video services and upgrade broadband networks.


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and BICSI Renew Collaboration Agreement

Building, Architectural Industries to Benefit

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industries, has renewed its collaboration agreement with BICSI, the professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry.

Leaders from the two groups met at TIA’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., March 31, 2008 to discuss strategic direction and joint initiatives. TIA and BICSI have been engaged in similar activities for a number of years, addressing their mutual interests in information communications technologies and trends, including standards, certifications, knowledge transfer and global technology advancement.  

"BICSI and TIA are at similar stages in terms of addressing the needs of their respective membership communities,” said Grant E. Seiffert, President of TIA. “Our long-time collaboration has proven to be a solid foundation on which to build new joint initiatives.”

Among other goals, the two associations are involved in establishing resources and information tools that enable the building and architectural communities to make better buying decisions and use qualified and competent service and product providers in the ICT and ITS industries.

“TIA is the cornerstone of the BICSI Outreach Program—a program specifically designed to collaborate with industry alliances in concert with the BICSI Strategic plan and the BICSI NxtGEN business plan,” stated Edward J. Donelan, RCDD/NTS Specialist, President of BICSI. “The newly crafted twenty-seven points of mutual reciprocity between TIA and BICSI enhances BICSI and TIA members’ ability to deliver the best products to their customers through education, training and knowledge assessment.”

The groups have agreed to cross-promote one another’s services, including certification and market intelligence programs, standards, case studies and white papers. Marketing activities will include presence at one another’s tradeshows and outreach through their websites at and and online mail. They will also continue to jointly promote the efforts of several sub-communities, including the Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS).


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Revises
Commercial Building
Cabling Standard

Update Supports Category 6A, Next Generation Cable Applications 

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industries, has published TIA Standard 568-B.2-10: Transmission Performance Specifications for 4-Pair 100 Ohm Augmented Category 6 Cabling.  Category 6A cabling supports the next-generation of Internet applications, including the transfer of larger amounts of data at higher speeds, up to 10 Gigabit data rates.

Since network cabling is part of a building’s infrastructure, the installation of new cabling is expected to serve the needs of the occupants for a minimum of 10 years. Networking demands, technology advances and economics dictate that 10GBASE-T Ethernet standard will be widely deployed by 2013. This means that the cabling installed today will need to support at least two generations of Ethernet. Category 6A cabling is specifically designed to support the network demands of the next generation 10GBASE-T Ethernet standard, providing superior network performance.

Category 6A cabling also supports "bundled cable" implementations for channels up to 100 meters, as well as for short reach mode (low power) implementations for distances up to 30 meters.

The standard addresses the newer cable designs that are about 0.30 inches in diameter, compared with 0.25 inches for high end Category 6 and 0.2 inches for Category 5e. The cable itself is designed with larger conductors (23 AWG minimum), tighter twists and more airspace in the core. This provides a cable with much lower losses at high frequencies and significantly better alien crosstalk isolation between cables.

Another benefit of the larger conductors and the lower packing density is better heat dissipation. This is a benefit for the next generation Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) standard, which is intended to deliver between 30 Watts to 60 Watts of power over two pairs or four pairs respectively.

TIA-568-B.2-10 was formulated under the cognizance of the TIA TR42.7: Telecommunications Copper Cabling Systems Engineering Committee’s TR-42.7. To obtain copies of the document, contact Information Handling Services at (800) 854-7179 or visit

For technical information regarding participating in the TR-42 committee please contact Marianna  Kramarikova  at  For media inquiries, please contact Taly Walsh at 


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Appoints Patrick Sullivan Director, Technical and Government Affairs

 Brings Extensive Spectrum, Public Safety and Technical Regulatory Experience

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, announced today that Patrick Sullivan has joined the association as Director of Technical and Government Affairs, where he will oversee spectrum, public safety and technical regulatory issues.  Sullivan brings over 12 years of legal and legislative experience with the federal government to his role at TIA, including litigation involving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and drafting regulatory filings before the FCC and state telecommunications agencies.

"Patrick is a valuable addition to our Government Affairs team,” said Danielle Coffey, TIA Vice President, Government Affairs. “His depth of experience and knowledge of spectrum and public safety issues will serve our membership well.”

Sullivan previously served as counsel for Kajeet, Inc., a wireless provider, overseeing legal affairs and managing litigation matters, directing compliance with privacy and product liability laws, and conducting contract review. Prior to that position, Sullivan practiced law as a litigation associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, where he represented clients in federal litigation matters involving complex securities class action claims, antitrust, malpractice liability, corporate compliance with federal law and regulations, telecommunications, and bankruptcy. He has also drafted regulatory filings before the FCC and state telecommunications agencies on wireless issues. Sullivan began his legal career as a senior legislative assistant and legislative director for several members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sullivan received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French Studies from Syracuse University and a Juris Doctor from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America. He is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bar associations. 



A Changing Job Climate: Green Jobs Grow in D.C.

"What don't you like about them?" Rachel Gutter, the U.S. Green Building Council's Schools Sector manager, asks a group of students at Alexandria's new T.C. Williams High School about one of the school's eco-friendly, water-saving features.

She's referring to the waterless urinals in the men's bathrooms, and the kids insist they're stinky. "I'll talk to the architects - they aren't supposed to smell," Gutter says.

Bathrooms are a big part of Gutter's job. She also just checked in with the kindergartners at Germantown's Great Seneca Creek Elementary to see how they like their dual-flush toilets. (They love them, especially the labels that explain, in detail, which button to push based on what's in the bowl.) She's collecting their thoughts to help the USGBC, the nonprofit that created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, build a model of a green school that will tour the country.

Across town, Marty Kearns and his five co-workers at Green Media Toolshed are helping eco-friendly companies interact with journalists, providing consulting services and training for young organizations. These two companies couldn't be more different, but they have something in common. That fashionable, ubiquitous, let's-hope-it's-more-than-a-buzzword, green. Suddenly, having a green job doesn't have to mean donning hip waders and sampling stream beds for pesticides, though it can.

"Green jobs," the umbrella term encompassing solar-panel installers, environmental engineers, lobbyists and horticulturists, seem to be everywhere. Nonprofits and research groups estimate millions of jobs will be created by 2020. The industry was worth $265 billion in 2005 and is growing, says Kevin Doyle of eco-consulting firm Green Economy.

It's funny how these things start, how these seeds, if you will, get planted. A newspaper article about polar bears sparks outrage, or maybe pollution hits closer to home in the form of the Chesapeake. Or maybe the perfect job happens to combine two passions. Gutter, 26, has been with USGBC for almost a year. She started her career as a teacher, then worked for a year at a green architecture firm.

In 2006, she attended USGBC's Greenbuild conference and learned the organization would soon create a separate LEED certification for schools. (Previously, schools could be certified under the council's "New Construction" standards.) "I remember calling my mom, saying, 'I figured out what I want to do,'" says Gutter. She learned she'd need experience working in a school that was already LEED-approved, "so, I called the Montgomery County school district and said, 'How would you like a free intern?' [They said], 'You can start in three days.'"

In green industries, much of the territory is still largely uncharted. While there's lots of work in traditional fields (like fundraising for the World Wildlife Fund or stuffing envelopes for the Arbor Day Foundation), someone with a yen for, say, wind-turbine manufacturing or eco-friendly dry cleaning may experience challenges.

Take Phil Ugel, 37, a fashion designer and owner of British Columbia's Blue Sky Design Company. He works with firms that produce his casual women's clothing line, which he sells wholesale. But "most manufacturers look at you like you've asked them to manufacture something on Mars" if you ask about organic fabric or non-toxic dyes, he says. He admits attitudes are changing, though, and he's in talks with organic cotton makers.

Other carbon-cutting industries that are gaining critical mass: green roofing, or planting living vegetation on rooftops to cool buildings and slow water runoff; sustainability coordination, a relatively new industry gaining traction in schools and universities; and solar panel installation. Vanessa Deutschmann of Chesapeake Solar says solar companies traditionally educated workers on the job. Only recently have programs sprouted to train potential solar workers. Still, "the market is always changing," she says, "There's job security and opportunity for growth, but somebody who just wants to come in, do A, B, C, D and leave at 5 p.m." would probably not thrive in a green career.

Green roofer/horticulturist Sarah Murphy, 24, agrees that market forces are shifting. Three years ago, when she worked at Baltimore green roofing company Emory Knoll Farms, "the owner was growing more plants than he could sell. ... We basically were overstocked most of the time."

Now Murphy owns a green roofing firm, Canopy, and works at D.C. Greenworks, a nonprofit that trains at-risk youth in horticulture. "It's growing tremendously," she says of her industry. "Developers are not thinking twice about getting green roofs."

Critics of the green jobs movement point out that the growth of these new industries may speed slowdowns in older areas; arguing that, for example, creating positions in wind energy will lead to pink slips for coal plant employees. But a 2004 University of California Berkeley study found that, even allowing for a loss of 150,000 jobs in coal, oil and natural gas, the economy will gain more than a million jobs in renewable energy industries by 2020. And Deutschmann says skilled workers in a dirty industry can often transfer into cleaner careers. "These are folks that are smart, that have really good skills," she says.

And if you don't have the skills to pay the bills, hit the books. Annaliesa Guilford, graduate enrollment specialist for environmental science at George Mason, says many students in the environmental program are engineers, but schoolteachers, political scientists and others lacking a degree in environmental science are signing up in droves, too. Or, for an even faster ticket to green, certificates in environmental science, public policy and even sustainable landscape design are available at local universities.

Back at T.C., Gutter is explaining that average green schools save 40,000 gallons of water per year through low-flow faucets and, yes, waterless urinals. Because T.C. is much bigger than the average school, its water conservation is closer to 500,000 gallons yearly. But when she asks, "What about the flush; do you miss it?" the students respond with a unanimous "yes."

Even in the brave new green world, some things never change.

U.S. Green Building Council – by:           Rachel Kaufman

Source -            Express from The Washington Post


Newly Released Studies Confirm Energy Savings Significant in LEED, ENERGY STAR Buildings

Two recently released studies, one by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and one by CoStar Group, have validated what the green building community has known all along: third party certified buildings outperform their conventional counterparts across a wide variety of metrics, including energy savings, occupancy rates, sale price and rental rates.

In the NBI study, the results indicate that new buildings certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED certification system are, on average, performing 25-30% better than non-LEED certified buildings in terms of energy use.  The study also demonstrates that there is a correlation between increasing levels of LEED certification and increased energy savings.  Gold and Platinum LEED certified buildings have average energy savings approaching 50%. 

"The NBI Study confirms that newly constructed LEED certified buildings use significantly less energy than their conventional counterparts, and that they perform better overall," said Brendan Owens, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, U.S. Green Building Council.

"The report also underscores that monitoring a building's ongoing operations and maintenance, as required in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance and ENERGY STAR, is equally important," continued Owens.  "Buildings are complicated systems and achieving and maintaining high performance is a process that requires the ongoing discipline and commitment to green practices.   LEED and ENERGY STAR provide building owners and operators with valuable structure to maintain high performance and deliver savings over time."

Energy savings under EPA's ENERGY STAR program are equally impressive: buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR label use an average of almost 40 percent less energy than average buildings, and emit 35 percent less carbon.

But beyond the obvious implications of reduced energy use and reduced carbon emissions, the results from both studies strengthen the "business case" for green buildings as financially sound investments.
According to the CoStar study, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 per square foot over their non-LEED peers and have 3.8 percent higher occupancy. Rental rates in ENERGY STAR buildings represent a $2.38 per square foot premium over comparable non- ENERGY STAR buildings and have 3.6 percent higher occupancy.

And, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors, ENERGY STAR buildings are selling for an average of $61 per square foot more than their peers, while LEED buildings command a remarkable $171 more per square foot.

The group analyzed more than 1,300 LEED Certified and ENERGY STAR buildings representing about 351 million square feet in CoStar's commercial property database of roughly 44 billion square feet, and assessed those buildings against non-green properties with similar size, location, class, tenancy and year-built characteristics to generate the results.

"ENERGY STAR is a prerequisite in LEED for Existing Buildings, signaling our strong commitment to the energy savings component of green buildings," said Owens.  "Add to that the additional performance enhancements in LEED around intelligent site selection, water conversation, improved indoor air quality, waste reduction and smarter materials selections, and it's easy to understand why owners and tenants are placing a premium on green buildings."

The NBI study was funded by USGBC with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and can be accessed at:  

View more information on the CoStar Group study:



The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Since UGSBC's founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 14,500 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry's popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (, and a network of 72 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups.  For more information, visit

About LEED®

The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating SystemT is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria.  The six major environmental categories of review include:  Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation and Design.  Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category.  LEED can be applied to all building types including new construction, commercial interiors, core & shell developments, existing buildings, homes, neighborhood developments, schools and retail facilities.  LEED for Healthcare is currently under development and is expected to be released in early 2008.

Incentives for LEED are available at the state and local level and LEED has also been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies.  For more information, visit    

Article Contributions


The Difference

President’s Message

As a business owner and father of four, I often mentor and coach my kids and employees. Sometimes I like to think my attempts make the difference.

The moment of change that leads to success in business or in sports is often defined by a sudden change of desire, willingness or ability to win against a competitor. Have you ever noticed a moment that made the difference?

I have experienced both sides of the win/lose game. I am always willing to search for new ways to make “the difference” toward achieving my desired outcomes. What makes the difference for you? Can you recall a specific moment in your career or personal life that changed everything?

It is much easier to measure the difference in sports, especially when you consider absolute desired outcome—winning the game. You may remember that second effort play or the psychological state change or maybe even the moment the game changed by the intensity of the fans. Who will ever forget the intensity, absolute desire and sheer will to win during this year’s Super Bowl game? Did the New York Giants make the difference during the Manning to Tyree pass in the fourth quarter?

All of us at BICSI, from the staff to the Board of Directors, are your biggest fans. As a member of the BICSI family, you must know we are here to enable you to make the difference for your desired outcome in your job and career. You probably know there are a number of people in the information transport systems (ITS) industry who are not members of BICSI. These individuals do not enjoy the benefits and advantages of the training, education and networking that come with BICSI membership. This leaves you—BICSI design and installation professionals—ahead of the rest.

Even with your obvious advantages in the marketplace, the Board and staff of BICSI have plans for the future called BICSI NxtGEN. This plan offers you greater access and a wider variety of knowledge-based products that will enable you to make the difference every day you are in the ITS industry game. By achieving a desired outcome for education and training through BICSI’s credentialing programs, you make all the difference for your company, as well as yourself in your career. As a manufacturer, distributor, representative firm, consultant, design/build company, contractor or end user, you can continue to make the difference by staying current with the technological demands and the many opportunities swirling around our industry.

In the meantime, we encourage you to attend as many educational events and exchange ideas by networking with fellow members as often as possible. Of course, you can really make the difference for other people by inspiring others to join BICSI and by passing on the knowledge you have gained over the years. Having established a high degree of competence allows you to move forward with confidence, which very often gives you the edge in business and in your personal lives. If you mentor, coach and champion others, I guarantee you will have made “The Ultimate Difference” to succeed.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News – 


It Is Never Too Late to Realize What Is Important

Executive Director Message

As I was struggling to come up with a topic for this month’s BICSI News, three unrelated events came together in my mind. The first event was while I was watching Premonition, a movie starring Sandra Bullock. The story line is not important here, but Sandra’s priest told her, “It’s never too late to realize what’s important in your life.” I knew it was an important line but didn’t really know what to do with it.

The second event occurred while I was watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on TV. It was about a Marine who had returned from his second tour in the Middle East after his vehicle was hit by a road side bomb. Because he lost his foot in the explosion, his left leg was amputated from the knee down. During his helicopter transport to the hospital, he died twice. In the midst of his rehabilitation, his wife divorced him. Once he returned home, he was unable to navigate his wheelchair around his Kansas home. The home was in such need of repair that he worried if his four children would survive the winter.

The third event was closely related to the second, as I recalled the brother of a friend in high school. Ken was a good-looking all American kind of guy who went to Vietnam in the 1960s. During one mission, Ken stepped on a mine and lost both legs. As the medics were carrying him to safety, they too stepped on a mine, and Ken lost the use of his right arm and endured countless surgeries to remove shrapnel in his back. When he returned home, his wife divorced him. A few years later, Ken married Lana, a wonderful woman who had been disfigured in a serious automobile accident. They made the perfect couple, and I hope they are still married today.

Through everything that these two men endured, both of them maintained an extraordinarily positive outlook on life and had reevaluated what was most important to them. For the Marine, it was his four children who gave him the will to survive. For Ken, it was the fact that he was alive. He celebrated his “Alive” day every year on the anniversary of his injury. These men are not highly paid motivational speakers. They are just everyday people setting the highest examples of perseverance in the presence of adversity for the rest of us.

The moral of this story is obvious. Is that project you are working on life threatening or just a difficult assignment? Is your boss really that bad? Do your daily struggles really mean that much, or are they just excuses to be unhappy? Take the time to look at your life and be thankful for all that you have. Decide what is really important in your life and don’t ever be distracted from it.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News – 


Effective Firestopping and Good Cabling Practices Can Peacefully Coexist

By Larry Anderson, PE, RCDD, CDT

The days of scrounging around for leftover pieces of electrical metallic tubing (EMT) conduit to make sleeves for cable penetrations is becoming a thing of the past, thanks to innovative products specifically designed to optimize cable penetrations through fire-rated walls. At times, these products seem to emphasize fire protection over performance, and while reliability and safety are certainly important considerations, the fact is that first and foremost, these products must be effective raceways.

As data transmission technology advances, moves, adds and changes have become an every day challenge in modernizing the landscape. The need for new cabling systems to meet growing technological demand has been a driving force in product innovation over the past five years. While traditional methods using EMT, putty, bushings and related hardware are still reliable and effective firestopping methods, these often lack the versatility and ease of installation required in today’s challenging cabling environment. With so many new products to choose from, it is important to select the best solution for each application. Here are some angles to consider when choosing an appropriate protected sleeve.

Pulling the Cables

A successful installation begins with pulling the cables. How easily cables pull through the sleeve is just one part of the equation; avoiding damage is critical. Here is a checklist for averting potential problems:

·            Avoid sharp edges. An obvious point, but worth mentioning. Put a bushing on EMT to prevent scraping or cutting the cable jacket.

·            Watch out for notches. Nooks and crannies are great for muffins, but they become automatic cable strippers on pathways.

·            Be mindful of bend radius. Maintain a minimum bend radius when needed and avoid flexing heavy bundles over blunt sleeve edges.

·            Look for a sleeve with smooth interior pathways. A well-designed sleeve will facilitate cable installation with a smooth, low-friction interior surface.

·            Look for durable construction. Look for products specifically designed to withstand the potential weight and stress of the cable pulling process.

·            Consider retrofit capabilities. If cables are already in place, use a sleeve that can be split and reassembled around the cable bundle.

Matching the Sleeve to the Construction

Purpose-built penetration sleeves make for an easier and quicker installation, but a lot depends on how well the sleeve can adapt to various conditions and locations.

Walls or Floors

Some products do not easily accommodate both walls and floors. For example, sleeves that require plates or escutcheons to be mounted at both sides of the barrier may work fine for walls. When it comes to floors, access to the underside might be difficult, if not impossible, or a fluted steel deck might provide an uneven mounting surface. The best solution is a product that is either designed for floor use or that can be accessorized to make it suitable for the application.

Barrier Thickness

Most sleeves are designed for standard drywall or masonry walls up to 203 mm (8 in) thick. However, not all walls will adhere to the standard. Today’s longer-length sleeves and innovative modular products that can be lengthened with extensions can fit a variety of barriers and allow you to be prepared for the unexpected.

Cable Density

Overcrowding hollow drywall with numerous round sleeve penetrations in a confined area can weaken the wall and reduce its fire performance. In this situation, square sleeves offer the best performance because they can be ganged to accommodate more cables in a smaller area


Admittedly, firestopping should be a higher priority during cable installation. A fire is a hypothetical risk; few installers consider the reality of a fire actually taking place. Traditional putty/sleeve configurations require a fair amount of maintenance. Each time cables are added or removed, both end seals must be partially or completely removed and then reinstalled. If too many cables are installed in one area, it may impact firestopping performance.

It is important to avoid sacrificing safety for the sake of progress. Fortunately, a variety of sleeve designs not only make firestopping a great deal easier but also use improved sealing methods to boost firestopping.

Foam Plug/Sleeve

In this system, a soft foam plug replaces the putty, and the sleeve may also incorporate liner materials that intumesce, or expand, when exposed to fire. These products still require the removal and replacement of materials as cable changes are made but offer ample firestopping performance.

Automatically Adjusting Pad Sleeves

These sleeves utilize soft and resilient intumescent pads that conform to the cables. The material easily displaces as cables are added or removed to automatically maintain gentle contact with the bundle. No materials are added or removed during cable changes.

Mechanical Gate or Constrictive Sleeves

These sleeves use either manually adjusted steel gates or a mechanically twisted inner liner to affect a seal around cables. Both types rely on mechanical force to either squeeze or constrict the cable bundle and can provide a crushing seal. Underwriters Laboratories Inc.® (UL®) firestop systems require these products to be tightly closed in order to achieve low leakage ratings. Network designers frequently tell cable installers to loosen the cable ties. The user must determine whether compressive or constrictive methods are suitable for their cabling systems.

Considering the Situation

A number of situational factors are worth considering when choosing an appropriate sleeve product.

Cable Bundle Size

While new products are a great choice for applications that require engineered features, some may be overkill in certain situations. When choosing a system, consider the number of cables in a bundle and the frequency of cable changes. If the bundle is small, perhaps half a dozen cables or so, it would be wise to use a flexible system that allows for changes. But when these changes won’t be numerous or frequent, a traditional putty sleeve kit may be a good and economical choice.

Cable Capacity

Too often design engineers or specifiers make the mistake of designing a system to handle only the initial cable load. It is important to allow for not only the present needs but also possible future expansion. It is far easier to install additional spare sleeves or upgrade to a larger size initially than to retrofit down the road.

Sleeve Accessibility

In situations where accessibility will be limited or difficult, it may be wise to choose a sleeve that does not require opening or removal/reinstallation of sealing materials to make changes. With an automatically adjusting pad sleeve, cables can be pulled remotely, without requiring access to the sleeve itself. This eliminates the need to reseal the penetration at both sides of a wall during cable changes.


Specifiers often make the mistake of including these rated sleeves in the firestop portion of their specification (MasterFormat™, Division 7–Thermal and Moisture Protection). When placed in this section, the requirement is often missed by electricians or cabling installers. The reality is that cable sleeves are a raceway product, not a firestop product. Always specify penetration sleeves in the raceway section, with a reference note in the firestop section.


Always physically inspect any product before specifying or using it. Envision using the product, pulling cables through it, and ask yourself these questions:

·            How is the quality? Is it rugged enough for the application?

·            Is it versatile enough to work throughout this application?

·            Will it be easy to use, both in a new installation and when cables have to be added in the future?

·            Does the interior surface of the sleeve ease the installation of cables?

·            Is there anything that could snag or damage the cables?

·            Does the sleeve mechanism adequately support or protect the cables?

·            Will it easily assure continued compliance of the firestop system?

·            Do the maintenance requirements suit the capabilities of the staff who will maintain it?

There is always a critical need for a reliable firestop system wherever cables penetrate rated barriers. However, it is possible to take advantage of today’s technologies that marry firestop protection with raceway performance. With so much at stake in delivering efficiency and reliability in critical network systems, today’s new options can help these necessities coexist.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News – 


Implementing Best Practices is More Than Just Words

By Gregory A. Bramham

The term “best practice” has been used throughout our industry for several years to describe methods and processes that are better at delivering quality information transport systems (ITS). BICSI recommends global best practices in training courses and details them throughout educational manuals. While following BICSI best practices is a must for every ITS installer, the term has unfortunately become an overused cliché that many use to describe their services but that only the best know how to truly implement.

Some consider best practices to be those methods that their competition deploys and should therefore be automatically duplicated. Others attempt to deploy certain best practices without ensuring that their crews understand the reasons behind them or that they are consistent and shared among all crews. An ITS provider that truly understands what it means to implement best practices is the one who recognizes that knowledge comes from all levels of an organization and that actual use, evaluation and benchmarking in the field are critical before adopting any new tool or technique. As the Chinese Philosopher Confucius said more than 2,000 years ago, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Deployment Strategies

Truly defining and implementing best practices starts with three key strategies: training, consistency and benchmarking. ITS providers would be wise to follow these three strategies before implementing or mandating any practice among crews.


Technicians in the ITS industry should attend BICSI training and become a BICSI certified ITS Installer 1 or Installer 2. This will help ensure that best practices are being deployed in the field by everyone that represents your company. It is also beneficial for technicians to attend manufacturer training for specific tools and products. When only one or two technicians receive training and attempt to reiterate what they learned to others in your company, critical steps and information can be inadvertently omitted.


Many ITS providers have multiple crews spread out in different regional or national locations, which can make implementing consistency from crew to crew a challenging endeavor. However, consistency is imperative to your industry reputation, installed performance and bottom line. When an ITS provider has 10 different crews using 10 different techniques, installed performance can vary significantly from job to job, and it ultimately appears as though the installations were completed by 10 different companies. ITS providers should therefore bring their crews to one training location or employ a training provider that travels to each location, allowing all crews to learn the same best practices.

Sometimes ITS technicians who are new to a crew may want to stick with techniques they have been using for years, which can further impede implementing a new best practice and maintaining consistency. While change can be difficult for a technician that has come from a different background, it is important to ensure that all new technicians receive training and work with peers so they can learn and adopt your company’s specific best practices. At the same time, it is important to remember that new technicians may have knowledge of tools or techniques that could be beneficial to your company as a whole. To take full advantage of that knowledge, ITS providers must give technicians simple means to share information on a companywide level so that all crews benefit from the knowledge set.


Whether it’s a new tool or a new technique, ITS providers should consider every possible innovation that may help them ensure best practices. This is best done through a comprehensive benchmarking process that uses a structured evaluation approach. Benchmarking starts with researching new tools and techniques. Attendance at industry conferences, standards participation and conversations with other ITS professionals can help you stay on top of the latest and greatest tools and techniques that can potentially enhance best practices among your crews.

When a specific tool or technique is deemed viable, lead foremen in the field should implement the tool or technique and evaluate its impact through careful analysis and comparison with existing tools and techniques. Those conducting field evaluations also should be given the means to easily disseminate information to their peers and to management for further evaluation. Any ITS provider that is able to calculate the benefits of deploying a certain best practice, whether in terms of labor hours saved or installed performance achieved, will realize that the practice is worth investing in and implementing.

For benchmarking to be successful, training and consistency still play a critical role. Anything can be marketed and sound great, but actual hands-on training with a new tool or technique is critical. If you give a new tool to five different crews, you may get five different results—unless they are properly trained on the techniques and actual benefits involved in using that tool.

Bottom Line Impacted

From punch-down tools to bend radius control, there are many tools and techniques in our industry that ITS providers can identify, evaluate and implement to help save labor, increase accuracy and improve installed performance—all of which ultimately impact the bottom line. One example of a tool or technique that impacts the bottom line is a cabling installation system, which is designed to systemize and control the various tasks associated with the actual installation of the cable. These tools conserve time and materials, maintain minimum bend radius, reduce errors, and ensure consistent installation practices from crew to crew.

ITS installers need to remain aware and diligent at all times when pulling cable, and a cabling installation system can help them do that. For example, a constant setup technique typically has to be maintained when pulling cable, and a cabling installation system manages that setup almost as if it were another technician working with the crew. A cabling installation system also provides the means for technicians to easily maintain proper tensile pressure, control bend radius, and keep a natural separation of cables as they are being pulled into the pathway, which are all critical to achieving installed performance. A cabling installation system can save labor hours by speeding up the labeling and sorting tasks of any ITS installation, allowing a technician to apply legible, color-coded labels and sort cables for termination in a fraction of the time required by conventional processes.

Through repetitive training, many ITS crews have learned to reduce cabling waste, but they need to constantly pay attention to lengths and write down footage markings. Unfortunately, this task is often omitted or flawed due to human error. Because a cabling installation system easily tracks and displays cable lengths, there is now no excuse for crews not to track and manage lengths to reduce cabling waste.

As an example of benchmarking, data collected from ITS providers using a cabling installation system shows a dramatic improvement in the number of cables pulled per hour and the linear feet of cable wasted as shown in Figures 1 and 2. The data was collected from several lead foremen using a cabling installation system with comparisons based on the number of cables pulled and amount of cable wasted during previous installations without a cabling installation system. Conservative estimates show that approximately 55 percent more cables can be pulled in an 8-hour day using a cabling installation system, which can result in significant labor savings. The use of a cabling installation system also has shown that the amount of cable wasted on a job can be reduced by more than half. For example, the 150K feet of cable typically wasted when pulling 800K feet, is reduced to approximately 70K feet. At an average network cable cost of $0.30 per foot, that’s roughly a $2,400 savings.

A Broader Effect

For some ITS providers, it is not just about implementing best practices during installation and finding the right tool or technique for the job. It also has a lot to do with your overall corporate culture and how implementing best practices can have a broader impact that benefits an entire organization.

For example, a cabling installation system can affect accounting and cash flow because jobs are completed and invoiced faster. Estimators can be more aggressive and flexible on pricing because a cabling installation system can reduce labor costs. Marketing can now target the fast-growing “green” market segment because the improved process provided by a cabling installation system can help divert significant cabling waste from landfills. Accordingly, when a new innovation is adopted in the field, training does not stop with the technicians in the field but requires every department to learn about how best practices impact their jobs and mission. 

While successful ITS providers know what it means to truly implement best practices and not just say they do, they also know that every job is different and must be properly assessed to determine the best practice for the environment. Because there’s always a right tool or technique for a job, ITS providers must remain tuned in to all the tools and techniques available in our industry. While not every tool and technique warrants being adopted as a best practice, successful ITS providers understand that there’s always going to be something that comes along that will improve how they do their job. With that attitude, and the willingness to continually research and evaluate new tools and techniques, ITS providers can continually enhance and improve their best practices. When the right tool or technique is discovered, ITS providers can promote its implementation to customers and use it as an edge against the competition.

Reprinted with full permission of BICSI News – 



Environmental Building News Calls for Incorporating “Passive Survivability" into Building Codes

In an age of heightened risk of natural disasters, terrorism, and future energy shortages, we are more likely to experience heat waves, blackouts, and fuel supply interruptions. Our houses and apartment buildings should be designed to maintain livable conditions in the face of these events. 

Environmental Building News (EBN) unveiled this design strategy, called  "passive survivability," in 2005, and the idea has generated growing interest throughout the country since. Now, in the most recent issue of EBN, Executive Editor Alex Wilson proposes that passive survivability is more than just a good idea; it should be incorporated into building codes like other life-safety issues (see

"We require that houses resist collapse and the spread of fire," 

says Wilson.  "Why not also require houses that protect us from the elements when power or heating fuel is lost?" The same argument applies to schools, and other municipal buildings or government buildings that could serve as emergency shelters.

Passive survivability can be achieved with such features as a highly insulated building envelope, passive-solar design, cooling-load avoidance, natural ventilation, and daylighting _design strategies that are key components of energy-efficient, green building design today.

Housing built to achieve passive survivability will almost never drop below 55°F, a temperature adequate for livability. Occupants may have to bundle up, but they won _t risk dying of hypothermia. And such housing equipped with a small heat source, such as a woodstove or kerosene heater, could be kept comfortable during a power outage or heating fuel interruption because of the insulation and other passive survivability features.

Similarly, in the summer months, a passively survivable house or apartment won't get so hot that residents are at risk of heat stroke or hyperthermia - blamed for over 700 deaths in Chicago in 1995 and 35,000 deaths in Europe in the summer of 2003. Overhangs will block the hottest sunlight, and windows will provide natural ventilation _ as our warm-climate vernacular designs did before the advent of air conditioning.

"We have tremendous vulnerability in our cities," notes Wilson.  

"An extended summertime heat spell coupled with an accident or terrorist action that interrupts power delivery, or a drought that causes water levels to drop so low that nuclear and coal-fired power plants have to shut down due to lack of cooling water, could spell disaster for hundreds of cities around the U.S." During the winter months, a shortage of natural gas or heating oil could prove equally tragic especially if schools and municipal centers identified as emergency shelters were relying on the same heating fuel.  "With worldwide demand for oil now exceeding available supply, these concerns are not unrealistic," argues Wilson.

"The good news is that we know how to design and build housing that won't get too hot during the summer or too cold in the winter," says Wilson. Part of the answer is found by combining today's best practices of energy-efficient, passive-solar, green building practices, and part is found by looking back at regionally appropriate, vernacular buildings that existed before air conditioning came along.  "Houses on the Gulf Coast in the late 1800s," according to Wilson,  "had deep roof overhangs and wrap- around porches that kept the summer sun out, and they were designed to benefit from summertime breezes."

An obvious side benefit of passively survivable housing is the very small ecological footprint. Under normal operating conditions, such housing would use little energy for heating and cooling, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  "Even while passively survivable housing will shelter us in the event of power outages or loss of heat," argues Wilson,  "it can help prevent catastrophic climate change."

Wilson is beginning to examine how passive survivability could be incorporated into building codes and he's reaching out to some logical partners in such an effort, such as the insurance industry. 

One priority is to determine what constitutes  "livable conditions" and how that varies regionally. Another priority is to identify building performance metrics, such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scale, to define passive survivability. Code authorities and government leaders also need to be convinced that interruptions in electricity and heating fuel supply present a significant enough life- safety risk that we should incorporate passive survivability into all new housing.

Wilson has been a strong proponent of voluntary green building programs, especially the LEED Rating System, but he is not convinced that these programs can be adopted quickly enough to protect the public. He believes that global climate change and energy shortages on the horizon are making us more vulnerable.  "We have a responsibility to ensure that houses and apartments keep their occupants safe and protected from the elements - just as we have a responsibility to ensure that they won't collapse from snow loads."

Wilson suggests that we take that responsibility seriously and mandate, through building codes, that our housing will keep us safe, even without power or supplemental heat.  "Let _s not wait for the tragedy of a major summertime heat wave or wintertime cold spell that coincides with an extended power outage or fuel shortage before we act."

BuildingGreen, LLC has been providing the building industry with quality information on sustainable design and construction since its founding in 1985. Publications include Environmental Building News, the GreenSpec Directory of green building products, and the BuildingGreen Suite of online resources. For information, visit or call 802-257-7300. To contribute to an ongoing discussion about passive survivability, e-mail

Reprinted with full permission of Building Green



The Financial Collapse and the Myth of Today’s Cheap Labor

Published on 4/9/2008 by  where you always read REAL perspectives

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

CHICAGO – The lack of jobs for American citizens is reflected with this latest, multibillion-dollar financial collapse that reaffirms my economic observations. Many financial experts and economists have yet to connect the dots while analyzing financial indicators and determining why things are happening in the economy.

The economy is interrelated. That couldn’t have been better expressed in the recent Congressional hearings where Federal Reserve Chairman Bob Bernanke emphasized the grave consequences if Bear Stearns wasn’t bailed out. Though he didn’t explain all the details, he stated that the Fed had to step in and prop up Bear Stearns so there wasn’t a domino effect on other financial firms.

Having said that, why can’t the experts figure out that allowing too many cheap foreign workers upsets the equilibrium of that same economy? How much empirical evidence do they need?

The Myth of Cheap Labor

In a recent column under the American dream hierarchy, I noted:

With companies bringing in cheaper labor, they are upsetting the complex churning of the economy from several perspectives.

They are getting cheaper labor. While this is perceived as good for them, many of those cost savings haven’t been passed onto the consumers. Instead, they have been used to create mega bonuses for executives, fund failing initiatives and in some cases more value for the shareholders.

The drawback is that the cheap labor they bring in isn’t cheap and the costs have become a burden to the consumers. They have put a strain on schools, hospitals and other institutions that require more funding to handle the increased demands.

If we upset the balance of alpha, beta and gamma consumers, we damage the economy. The erosion of alpha consumers has been happening for at least the last eight years. To me, this clearly fuels the acceleration of credit indebtedness.

The strain on institutions like hospitals could not be better exemplified by the recent closure of the 410-bed St. Francis Hospital that had to close its doors due to too many patients not paying their bills. This is from a Chicago Tribune article on April 2:

Saddled with tens of millions of dollars in losses from uninsured patients who could not pay their medical bills, St. Francis would be abandoning its core mission of caring “for the people of its communities regardless of their ability to pay”.

The vortex of declining economic contributors keeps pulling down economic viability both locally and regionally. The hospital closure impacts the health care situation for the Blue Island area.

More important, scratch another 1,400 good jobs that contribute to the tax revenues of not only that city but also Cook County. Those jobs are not replaced by opening up a corner Starbucks.

A remarkable note is that no health care association would even consider picking up the hospital (even for free!). Out of 28 potential buyers, all said no. That speaks volumes that a concentration of people with no health care are a real drag on regional viability and a clear negative economic indicator that red flags any health care-related economic development.

So much for the false premise of cheap labor. Cheap labor costs everyone else millions of dollars, and in this particular instance, no health care association wants to pick up the pieces. It’s bad for their bottom line.

Those who say we must compete in a global economy are missing the point if they think eroding the standard of living to a third-world status is progress.

Closing a hospital with an economic viability that’s so bad it can’t even be given away to any of 28 potential buyers is a clear proof of concept that putting the burden of providing health care benefits onto the Alpha consumers for Beta and Gamma consumers just doesn’t work. More Alpha consumers need to be made. They have good jobs that include health care benefits.

After Student Loan Tsunami, Are Cars Next?

Reader Gene Nelson sent in a Bloomberg article by Steven Church and Jody Shenn. Here is an excerpt:

The Education Resources Institute (the U.S. lender that says it’s the largest non-profit, private guarantor of student loans) blamed its bankruptcy filing on bond-market turmoil.

The company filed … for bankruptcy protection in Boston while it reorganizes [and listed] debt of as much as $1 billion and assets of more than $1 billion in its Ch. 11 petition. The company helps students fill the funding gap left when government-backed loans aren’t enough to cover the costs of college.

Reading between the lines, Nelson observes:

The real reason why the student loan holders defaulted is that there are very few jobs for recent American college graduates as a consequence of employer preference for specialty work visa holders since they are cheaper and are essentially indentured.

Total admissions over all of the work visa programs shows that more than 1 million visas are granted annually. See the 1.757 million admissions in 2005 in the table “American citizens can’t apply for these jobs” in the author’s Jan. 2008 article.

Looks like those who counted on repaying student loans are left in a quandary. Are we relegating college graduate job seekers into a Beta consumer class before they even get into their careers? This reaffirms my earlier economic insights:

Why do we still have a skyrocketing rate for foreclosures, huge underemployment of highly skilled workers and billion-dollar deficits in local and state government budgets?

As more people get pushed out of good-paying jobs and those jobs get filled by cheap labor, the economy slides down another notch. Beta consumers can’t buy into the full American dream hierarchy.

Car loan defaults are also rising dramatically. This is another perspective on car loans crashing:

Auto payment defaults doubled [in 2007] and are expected to get worse. [It’s] a situation similar to the crisis in the home mortgage industry. A CBS 5 … investigation found actions made by consumers, dealerships and lenders are contributing to the auto loan crisis.

According to Power Information Network, 1.85 [million] of the 9.6 million customers in 2006 who leased or financed a new car were sub-prime borrowers or consumers with weak credit.

The economic experts who said the sub-prime crisis would be contained to only the sub-prime mortgages forgot about the 2 million car loans on which those same people got approval. The economy is interrelated.

Carlinism: Cheap labor is not cheap. Their benefits have to be picked up by others.

See James Carlini interviewed by the Strassman Report out of California.
The 30-minute video discusses the need for planning gigabit network
infrastructure today in order to be globally competitive tomorrow.

Check out Carlini’s blog at

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at or 773-370-1888.
Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini


Building Intelligence: What’s the IQ of Chicago’s UBS Tower?

Published on 4/2/2008 at where you always read REAL perspectives

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

CHICAGO – Within the commercial real estate markets, those commercial buildings that lack IQ will lose tenants and overall value over the next five years.

Did the Houston-based Hines real estate firm do proper due diligence when it purchased the UBS Tower in Chicago? If they did, they would have looked at the building’s IQ. They would have asked: “How smart is the building we’re buying? How good is the network infrastructure of the building?” Did they even evaluate the network infrastructure of the building? I don’t know.

What’s the IQ of UBS Tower?

According to Crain’s: “A fund managed by Hines Interests closed on the $540 million purchase of UBS Tower in what could be the largest sale of a downtown office building in 2008.” With this big a purchase, if Hines didn’t look at the technology and network infrastructure that supported the building they may have overspent for a building that scores a low IQ. That would translate into buying a potential maintenance nightmare.

If we’re sinking into a commercial real estate slump as an aftershock from the financial missteps in the residential markets, the need for intelligent amenities to prop up leases and core building values becomes more important than it has been in the last 20 years. There have been some discussions on what attracts and maintains first-class tenants within commercial space and one of those intelligent amenities is bandwidth connectivity.

I’m not talking about DSL or T-1 lines. I’m talking about multi-gigabit capabilities that aren’t readily available everywhere. Network infrastructure is a critical need today. I stated this in my recently published white paper “Intelligent Business Campuses: Keys to Future Economic Development,” which is featured in the newly released International Engineering Consortium’s 60th annual review of communications.

As the white paper states: “Economic development equals broadband connectivity and broadband connectivity equal jobs.” Broadband connectivity – with network speeds of 1 gigabit or more – should be viewed as another layer of critical infrastructure that’s required in planning and developing commercial real estate and regional economic centers. This applies to existing buildings already leased up as well.

While it wasn’t even on the list 10 years ago, broadband connectivity is considered to be one of the top three site selection criteria today. Those buildings that don’t provide this capability will simply be passed over by corporate site selection committees that already use broadband connectivity as a criteria that’s expected in order to locate new corporate facilities.

The same applies to residential developments. If you have a new development that doesn’t have broadband capabilities built in from the get go, you have just created an obsolete development. That sounds harsh, but in today’s residential market, projects that were on the books to be initiated have already been halted. Until the dust clears in the residential markets, these projects have been put on hold or in some cases totally abandoned.

If those projects didn’t include high-speed connectivity as a featured amenity, those developers taking up the planning again will have a rare second chance to get it right. If they don’t plan for broadband connectivity, they will be stuck with houses that will be considered lacking in a wanted feature.

How Do You Calculate Building IQ?

How do you compare commercial buildings to find out which is a better fit for your company? You compare the systems and capabilities of one building to another within a geographic area. The need for available intelligent amenities like broadband connectivity is becoming more common as tenant companies get more selective on commercial space.

This concept isn’t new. It has been around for more than two decades and was pioneered in Chicago as a way to help a property management firms market office space in Seattle.

The pioneering yardstick to measure differences in commercial building amenities has been the “Carlini building intelligence test,” which originated more than 22 years ago as a way to compare downtown office buildings. The focus was that simple yardsticks must be used as they tend to take out the mysticism of technology, network design and infrastructure implementation for people looking at leasing space.

There should be easy rules of thumb and simple formulas to take out the mysticism of planning, design and development of building and campus network infrastructure. This has always been a coveted secret of the telecoms like Col. Sanders’ 11 secret ingredients.

When purchasing a commercial building, the need to understand what’s actually supporting the tenants from a technology perspective is imperative. In another case with a developer buying an older headquarters building in Kansas City years ago, by doing an assessment of the network infrastructure of the building we uncovered many problems and hidden damages to the infrastructure.

So How Far Has the Market Really Come?

Those real estate “traditionalists” in both commercial and residential who still think having broadband connectivity isn’t an intelligent amenity to worry about are those whose strategies consist of lowering the price until a building sells or leases up in the markets they think they control. Their approach to due diligence is also flawed.

To those, I pose this question: “Would you sell a building or commercial space without air conditioning?” While eventually someone might buy or lease, you definitely won’t be targeting the majority of the market let alone the premium-paying candidates of the market.

I stated the following in several building IQ articles in 1985 and 1986 including one in the fall edition of Real Estate Review: “As more of the real estate industry becomes more comfortable with the idea, sophisticated marketing approaches will be created and refined. The question of ‘how smart a building do you need?’ will become as common as ‘how much space do you want to lease?’”

Evidently many in the real estate industry have to catch up to what has been evolving for more than two decades.

Measuring a building’s IQ and then marketing the building’s IQ in competitive markets is critical. I hope the purchase of the UBS Tower in Chicago included a full due diligence of reviewing the technology and network infrastructure within the building, but knowing how most firms buy commercial buildings today, that part of the due diligence might not have been done.

Editor’s note: The text proverb-like “Carlinism” that would normally follow and end this column
has now been transformed into a video segment from Carlini, which you can watch below.


See James Carlini interviewed by the Strassman Report out of California.
The 30-minute video discusses the need for planning gigabit network
infrastructure today in order to be globally competitive tomorrow.

Check out Carlini’s blog at

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at or 773-370-1888.
Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini


Cabling Installation & Maintenance

Updated bonding standard on shaky ground

As the TR-42.3.1 Working Group embarks on a rewrite of the 607 bonding and grounding standard, controversy and differences of opinion surround a number of key issues.

BETSY ZIOBRON is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Cabling Installation & Maintenance. She can be reached at:

For years, telecommunications bonding and grounding has been a controversial topic, with differences in expert opinion and a variety of methods from vendors causing plenty of confusion among those who design and install bonding and grounding infrastructures. Driven by today’s high-performance copper cabling systems, there is now an outpouring from the industry asking for guidance and unambiguous clarification.

That, combined with TIA’s ( five-year revision cycle, has prompted the revision of the ANSI/EIA/TIA 607 Commercial Building Grounding and Bonding Requirements standard (J-STD-607-A), and the TIA 42.3.1 Working Group has the arduous task ahead of reaching consensus on a number of key bonding issues.

Originally written in 1994, ANSI/EIA/TIA 607 was the first United States standard to address bonding and grounding for the telecommunications industry. Revised and republished as a joint standard in October 2002, the current version of J-STD-607-A was recently approved for another revision, and now TIA’s TR-42.3.1 Premises Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding Working Group has begun the process of accepting contributions and updating the standard for what will ultimately be TIA 607-B.

Details to add

“The biggest driver for the rewrite of 607 is the need to provide more detail and direction on how to bond from the equipment in the rack or cabinet to the TMG [telecommunications grounding busbar] and TMGB [telecommunications main grounding busbar],” says Mark Harger, chair of the TR-42.3.1 Working Group and president and owner of Harger Lightning and Grounding (

“There are many opinions on bonding equipment and racks,” Harger continues. “Some will use a vertical rack busbar that runs the length of the rack. Others will use a horizontal busbar across the top and run longer bonding conductors from the equipment. From a cable-management standpoint, the vertical busbar enables the use of shorter conductors, but it also depends on the rack and equipment manufacturer, and the size and amount of the equipment.”

The current 607 standard states that equipment and racks need to be bonded, but does not specify how. Nonetheless, much of the confusion comes more from equipment vendors.

“Depending on which manufacturer you talk to, there can be completely different bonding and grounding schemes specified,” says Rich Jones, director of global standards with Chatsworth Products Inc. (CPI; “We are encouraging equipment manufacturers to participate in the rewrite of the 607 standard so we can understand how bonding and grounding impacts the performance of their equipment and why they’ve specified some of the methods they have.”

Some in the industry are also calling for additional information on specific applications, such as towers and antennas, data centers, wireless systems, industrial applications, and residential installations. “It’s too early to tell if specific applications will be addressed in the standard or as addenda, but there are some specific bonding and grounding methods that you might do in a data center or other application that are above and beyond what’s required for a generic commercial system,” says Harger.

The TR-42.3.1 group, Harger says, has also discussed the possibility of addressing surge protection--something that is not in the current 607 standard.

“The issue of surge protection was not originally included because it was not part of the primary intent to establish a grounding and bonding infrastructure for telecommunications,” he explains. “Installers know they need to meet the NEC [National Electrical Code] for surge protection, and it remains to be seen if that topic will make its way into the rewrite of 607.”

Up for debate

The issue of bonding to the building steel is one of the controversial topics up for debate. The current 607 standard states that each TGB and the TMGB should include a supplemental bonding connection to the metal frame of a building in addition to the telecommunications bonding backbone (TBB) that bonds all TGBs with the TMGB as part of the telecommunications pathways and spaces (independent of cable).

“Many international and military standards allow the use of the building steel in lieu of the TBB, not in addition to it,” says Harger. “Many in the industry don’t believe that the building steel can be easily verified for continuity, but there are methods available for testing that. It’s definitely one of the more controversial topics that we’ll be dealing with, and we will look to the experts as well as other standards for reference.”

One of the biggest bonding and grounding arguments among experts is whether a single- or multi-point system is better. With single-point grounding, all electrical and telecommunications systems are grounded at a single point, which has long been recommended in industrial applications for its ability to reduce noise generation. In multi-point grounding, systems are grounded at multiple points.

“As technology advances, more and more equipment manufacturers are specifying a combination of performance and safety bonding and grounding,” says Jones. “The current 607 standard allows for both single-point or multi-point, and some equipment vendors recommend one and some recommend the other. That’s just another reason why we need these vendors to participate in our effort to rewrite 607.”

Jones continues, “There is confusion surrounding the difference between safety and performance grounds. 607 is primarily about performance of high-bandwidth applications, while the NEC is concerned with safety. One is not a substitute for the other. You can’t assume that a good telecommunications performance grounding system is all you need for safety, and you can’t assume that a good electrical safety ground is all you need for today’s IT performance. Both are needed, and they must be installed properly to work in harmony with one another.”

Clarifying shielded

With screened and shielded cabling systems receiving more attention as a viable option for avoiding alien crosstalk in 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper applications, many in the industry are asking for clarification on the proper method for bonding shielded cabling systems. Much of the confusion surrounding bonding of shielded cabling systems has been caused by much misunderstanding as well as myths that have permeated the industry.

“It’s a disappointment that so many installers have believed the myth that screened and shielded systems are difficult to bond and ground,” says Valerie Maguire, global sales engineer with Siemon ( “These systems require just one additional step: A 6-AWG bonding conductor from the shielded patch panel to the TMG in the same way that other equipment is bonded. The screen of the cable is bonded to the patch panel during termination, and the 6-AWG bonding conductor from the patch panel to the TMG simply maintains the continuity of that screen to ground. This is not required for UTP because there is no screen connection.”

A frequently-asked question is whether a shielded system needs to be bonded at both ends—at the workstation and at the telecommunications room—or at one end. For a channel, the ground at the workstation is achieved through whatever piece of equipment is installed there; however, many still believe that bonding shielded systems only at the telecommunications room will create an antenna effect.

“For proper performance, you only need one ground connection,” Maguire explains. “Most screened and shielded cabling systems have three: one through the computer at the workstation, one at the patch panel, and one through the network equipment. There is absolutely no reason to provide a fourth ground connection at the workstation outlet. Even if someone uses a UTP cord at the workstation or removes the ground by using a battery-powered laptop, there is no degradation in performance because you still have a connection to ground in the closet.”

Maguire adds, “The idea that the screen of shielded cable can create an antenna is absurd. It’s ridiculous to think that a long length of aluminum foil is more likely to pick up a signal than a low-impedance, 24-AWG copper conductor. We’ve tested both UTP and shielded for the antenna effect, and the degree to which they can pick up noise in the commercial environment is so minuscule that you really can’t call either one an antenna. In fact, a shielded system is 100 to 1,000 times less likely pick up noise in the environment. The antenna myth has been completely dispelled every which way you look at it. “

Maguire also points out that shielded systems provide the ability to measure for ground loops, which don’t necessarily affect data transmission but could affect equipment performance: “With UTP, there’s no way to see if there’s a difference in ground potential between the telecommunications and electrical systems, because there’s no shield to access the ground connection on the cable. Shielded offers the advantage of being able to easily make that verification.”

While TR-42.3.1 is discussing just what the 607-B standard will include when it comes to shielded systems, Maguire says it’s as simple as stating that in addition to all the requirements that apply--regardless of media--for a shielded system, you shall also provide a low-impedance ground from the patch panel to the TMG.

“I don’t think the standards need to address the myths of bonding at both ends and the antenna effect, but it would make a great informative bulletin,” Maguire says. “Siemon, among others, has gone through great efforts to make this information available through white papers and other means, and users have been very appreciative of the information. I’m sure they would value the same information coming from the TIA.”

Collaboration is key

With so many different opinions and uncertainties even among the experts, the TR-42.3.1 Working Group has the daunting task of coming to an agreement on many bonding and grounding issues, and as chair of the committee, Harger doesn’t think that the standard will be ratified this year. “We have no idea when it will be completed,” he says, “but contributions will be coming in over the next few months followed by monthly conference calls to discuss and vote on issues.”

There is, however, some agreement when it comes to emphasizing bonding or grounding. The name of the standard will change from “grounding and bonding” to “bonding and grounding” because the TIA recognizes that the telecommunications system is technically bonded to the electrical ground, and installers are not really grounding at all. “We all agree that we need to put more emphasis on bonding,” says CPI’s Jones. “We also all agree that the industry is clamoring for guidance, and there is room for improvement.”

Jones concludes, “Through the TIA update process, we can bring together the best minds in a collaborative consensus environment to work through these issues, reach agreement, and move the industry forward. We are looking forward to providing clarity to many of the bonding issues facing designers and installers today.”

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Real work is more than pushing papers around

The article that begins on page 17 relays one man’s/one firm’s philosophy of how to manage certain types of projects that can be particularly complex and challenging—nationwide rollouts. To oversimplify it some, that’s when an end-user organization with multiple, geographically dispersed sites is installing or upgrading technology across many or all of those sites.

The impetus for the article literally has been years in the making, and I hope the words in this month’s issue are the beginning, not the end, of discussion on the topic.

It began a few years ago when I received a call from a C-level executive at a well-known home-improvement-warehouse type organization. He called me because he figured that being the editor of a nationwide cabling magazine, I’d be familiar with the business landscape and might be a resource to him (which only proves how much he had to learn, if you ask me). Specifically, he wanted to know where he could find a cabling-contracting company that was truly nationwide. He was responsible for the information technology in retail stores across the country, and was confounded at the amount of time and energy it took him to find cabling labor to work in the individual stores. The only suggestions I had for him were organizations that he already knew about—those with operations in many large cities and other parts of the country. But, we both agreed, no contracting firm was truly nationwide.

More recently, I received a call from a rather unhappy cabling contractor who was on the other end of a similar scenario, yet was no less confounded. He had been hired to conduct work for the local office of a non-profit organization that had sites in several parts of the United States. The organization did not directly hire him; rather, the organization hired a project-management firm, which in turn hired him to do the work at this particular site. When he began the job, he had no idea that he’d end up like the end-user in one precarious way: It turned out this was a non-profit undertaking for him. That wasn’t the intention, of course; but when the project-management firm collected payment from the end user then failed to pay the installer who did the work, the installer was out of luck and out several thousand dollars.

Not surprisingly, the contractor was bitter about the experience. He referred to the now-defunct, out-of-state, impossible-to-reach project-management firm as a “paper pusher” because they didn’t do any actual field work. My assessment is that the company was pushing something other than paper.

The fact that there are no true nationwide cabling-installation companies has given rise to frustrations such as these. Firms of all stripes, from the nameless one discussed on this page to the one detailed beginning on page 17, have emerged in light of this clear business need.

While business dynamics in the information-technology industry change briskly, one characteristic that has not changed is the necessity of knowing the company with which you are entering a business relationship. The better you know the company, the better your chances of making it through the relationship profitably.


Chief Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Experience and structure keys to multiple-site rollout

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

In the information age of today, it is quite common for an end-user organization to comprise multiple sites that may be geographically dispersed yet have to be able to communicate flawlessly with each other. In the case of Fortune 500-type organizations, the multiple-site setup is a virtual certainty.

Sprawling organizations such as these face complex challenges if they try to manage their technology—including of course networking and cabling—from a single point, such as corporate headquarters. Consequently, these companies typically hire solution providers to manage the installation and maintenance of their technology needs across many sites. In turn, those solution providers typically hire subcontractors to handle different aspects of the deployments. Often those subcontractors sub out some aspects of their work; and so it goes to the point where in a great many cases, the actual technicians on a jobsite are several degrees removed from the end-user organization on whose premises those technicians are working.

One term commonly used to describe the servicing of end-user organizations’ geographically dispersed needs is the technology field rollout. “By definition, a technology field rollout is a minimum of two individual sites requiring technology services implemented by on-site field technicians,” says Dennis Mazaris, president of Concert Technologies (, which specializes in technology field rollouts. In the rollout field since 1995, Mazaris approaches his profession and his projects with a sense of organization that indicates managing these projects is a science rather than an art.

A structured approach

For example, he uses the terms “technology,” “solution,” and “system” to define and explain the dynamics of end-user needs and how they get met. Technology may be described as users’ capability needs and may include voice, video, data, and security applications. As such, technology drives the need for a solution, which in simple terms is the response to the users’ requirements. The system is the means by which that solution is delivered, including processes and methodologies. The system—the actual delivery of solutions—is at the heart of the field rollout.

Furthermore, rollouts can be classified or categorized based on their complexity and duration. While all rollouts are similar in that they involve multiple sites, they vary in other characteristics. A Category 1 rollout takes one day or less and the work is typically confined to a specific area at the given site. A Category 2 rollout, meanwhile, takes between two and six days, and may involve work on an entire floor of a building. A Category 3 rollout, the most complex, is seven or more days in duration and often includes work performed throughout a building.

Despite this organized approach to managing rollouts, Mazaris cautions there are no universal answers to general questions about these projects. “The classification of the rollout—Category 1, 2, or 3—will affect how you tend to and manage them,” he says. “It also is an indication of what to expect from them. For example, if the end user has a remote site, will the project at this site be a one-day job, or will a crew be there for weeks or months? Also, what happens if a crew doesn’t make it to the remote site? Are we talking about a one-day job that was missed, or is it a new install of 400 cabling runs that just got put off schedule?”

Complexities aplenty

As such, the elevator pitch that includes the terms “single point of contact,” “installation contractors everywhere,” and “software applications” often falls far short of addressing the complexities of a nationwide rollout.

“That pitch doesn’t fly when you’re managing hundreds of sites per week,” Mazaris says. Some of Concert’s customers have credited the firm with having people in many geographic areas, he says, but the real value comes from three elements: the process management structure, internal resources, and relationships.

Concert’s process structure is described as centralized single-tier, in which a customer—typically, a solution provider—enlists a technology field rollout company. That rollout company uses local field technicians at the rollout sites. Contrast that with the centralized multi-tier structure, in which there are several tiers of subcontractors between the rollout company and the local field technicians.

Other structures include tech-for-hire, in which a project manager within the solution-provider company hires what is essentially temporary labor in the form of field technicians at local sites. In the internal employee process structure, the customer’s internal project manager oversees internal local technicians at some sites and hires a technology field rollout company for other sites. Additional, hybrid structures exist that may involve internal project managers as well as tech-for-hires, and multi-tier structures that deploy different rollout companies in different geographical areas.

Mazaris has authored a whitepaper entitled Lower project costs and time: A guide to selecting the right field option for your rollout, which details these structures and their practical implementations in the field.

Being responsible for projects carried out across the country, Concert Technologies is constantly dealing with regulations and codes at municipal, state, and federal levels. The issues go beyond appropriate contractor licensing to include wage-determination scales and bonding issues. But in this election year, a quote from former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is prescient: All politics is local. In this case, all technology field rollouts are local also. That is where the element of relationships can make a tremendous difference as to whether a technology field rollout company succeeds or fails.

“You have to have relationships with local contractors and profiles on them to make sure they meet your standards,” Mazaris says. He credits his previous work with the ETL Independent Verification Program (see sidebar), in part, with establishing working relationships with contractors in locales nationwide. At times, those relationships enable Concert to send one local contractor, with which it has a relationship, on site to ensure a project is progressing as expected.

Overall there are few, if any, blanket answers or responses in the realm of nationwide technology rollouts. As Concert Technologies’ approach over the past 13 years indicates, the constancy of a solid process structure combined with internal management and relationships across the nation are enablers of success in this complex field.

The elevator pitch that includes the terms ‘single point of contact,’ ‘installation contractors everywhere,’ and ‘software applications’ often falls far short of addressing the complexities of a nationwide rollout.

Concert puts decades of experience to work

Long-time readers of Cabling Installation & Maintenance may recognize the name Dennis Mazaris, president of Concert Technologies. His name has appeared on the pages of this publication and on our web site over the course of several years.

Mazaris owned a structured-cabling company for approximately 10 years, after working for an interconnect and then a cabling contractor that had worked for the interconnect. In 1995, after a decade of cabling-company ownership, he saw an opportunity in the business of extending telecommunications services for end-user organizations, primarily in the form of demarcation extensions on a nationwide basis. Concert Technologies was born. The next year, The Telecommunications Act of 1996 paved the way for growth in his business, and in addition to extending demarcations, Concert began installing customer-premises equipment.

Despite the fact that technology rollouts encompass more than structured cabling, Mazaris credits his cabling background with enabling today’s success. “Owning a structured cabling company for 10 years was a good foundation,” he says. “Anyone who does it knows it’s the best foundation you can have for installing technology.”

He likens the function of a technology-rollout company to a delivery service such as FedEx or UPS, and then some. “Like a FedEx, we deliver what the customer needs—we bring it there,” he says. “But we also set it up once we get it there.”—P.M.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


More ‘boom’ ahead for security markets

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Market researchers scattered across the globe appear to agree that various segments making up the overall security marketplace are in bull mode—and those market segments are predicted to continue steady growth in coming years, with several providing opportunities for communications-cabling deployment.

Late last year, U.K.-based RNCOS ( released a report entitled “Global Electronic Surveillance Market Outlook” that covers a range of surveillance technologies from closed-circuit television (CCTV) to biometrics and radio-frequency identification (RFID). The report tracks mostly historical data on these technologies, from the year 2005 to current, and also estimates the year these markets will have in 2008.

Another late-2007 release from RNCOS, entitled “Global CCTV Market Analysis,” focuses specifically on IP-based and analog closed-circuit television systems from 2007 through 2011. The report predicts 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the review period for the combined technologies, saying the total worldwide market in 2011 will be a staggering $17.2 trillion.


“As the world is seeing the retail revolution, this sector has emerged as the chief area that offers huge prospects for the global CCTV market,” the research firm said in a December statement announcing the study’s availability. “Retailers would get the advantage of examining the loss of cash or inventory, general pilfering, and prevention of crime. Other opportunity areas lie in industries like health care and transportation.”

Much of the future demand will come from the Asia-Pacific market, the study predicts, specifically mentioning India, China, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. The report also comments on challenges the CCTV market faces, including insufficient coverage, privacy concerns, and restricted capability in terms of storage and retention.

Examining a subset of the CCTV marketplace, IMS Research (, with offices in the U.K., U.S., and China, recently issued a report on the megapixel security-camera market. The researcher predicts greater than 100% CAGR over the next three years for these products, stating that more than 500,000 units will be shipped by next year.

“The market has overcome a number of hurdles to get to this position,” the company says. “Perhaps the biggest issue that megapixel cameras have faced to date is how to cope with the volume of data produced, which demands more bandwidth and storage volume; however, improved compression algorithms, more widespread Gigabit Ethernet deployments, and reductions in storage prices mean that these issues are being addressed.”

IMS analyst Alastair Hayfield says, “This market has been held back while a range of technical problems has been overcome. The market is now poised for a period of rapid growth.”

Other technical problems have included low-light performance, which is being addressed by sensor manufacturers. Business hurdles have included the high cost of megapixel cameras compared to standard cameras. IMS notes that megapixel cameras are overcoming this objection because often, a one megapixel camera provides the coverage of multiple standard cameras. Additionally—and no less importantly—the prices of megapixel cameras are falling. Finally, IMS sees more manufacturers offering megapixel cameras in the near future, further boosting its market potential.

Small but growing niche

Another recent IMS study examines an entirely different security application--fire detection. In this case, the firm looks at the emerging market of video smoke detection (VSD). Described by IMS as a market niche, VSD should grow at 38.8% CAGR to $36 million by 2011.

Unlike traditional point-based detectors, VSD does not rely on the smoke’s proximity to the detector, which enables the device to detect a fire earlier than its conventional counterparts. VSD incorporates standard video surveillance cameras with sophisticated image recognition and processing software to identify the distinctive characteristics of smoke and flame patterns, differentiating among smoke, dust and haze, IMS explains.

Until recently, most VSD technology has been server-based, but the software is increasingly being embedded into video surveillance devices, such as network cameras. This convergence is expected to bring the cost of the solution down, making it more affordable. Newer systems are combining flame detection and remote monitoring capability, enabling 24/7 response.

IMS cites a general lack of awareness of VSD as the primary hindrance to the technology’s growth; the researcher says suppliers will gain further legislative approval along with market experience, and spur the technology’s growth. VSD is currently being deployed regularly in the power-generation sector, while other prime sectors include tunnels, rail depots, shopping malls, aircraft hangars, and other large non-residential structures.

Last year, researcher Frost & Sullivan ( bestowed one of its best-practices awards upon VSD equipment provider axonX ( In summarizing the merits of axonX’s offerings, Frost & Sullivan analyst G.G. Hariharan discussed VSD’s enabling technologies: “The manufacturers of fire and smoke detectors and video surveillance systems are moving toward the use of information technology standards to facilitate convergence and interoperability among separate subsystems. The concept of interoperability is fundamentally based on the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively bring together information technology and physical security. Building engineers and vendor technicians are able to use information-technology infrastructure to monitor performance and receive other diagnostic information on the facility. The interest level among end-users for remote monitoring and control is already high and is still likely to continue to grow with advancing technological capabilities.”

Hariharan adds, “From the video-detection standpoint, convergence is aimed at replacing existing standard cameras with highly equipped IP cameras for better detection capabilities.”

Proplan and BSRIA

In a similar vein, Proplan recently completed a study on intelligent building controls that puts significant emphasis on fire detection and alarm systems (IBCf). The 712-page report is not international, covering the “EU7” nations of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But that seven-country market is the world’s largest, Proplan says, having surpassed the U.S. market for fire detection and safety systems five years ago.

Because of the geographical area covered, figures are reported in euros. The overall market for these seven countries was €2.744 billion last year. An example of the report’s bullish nature is that while penetration in some of the countries studies represents the highest levels anywhere in the world, Proplan says each of the seven countries exhibits good potential for further growth. The study says new IBCf deployments have been growing at 5% in recent years—far surpassing the overall pace of new construction in general—and the growth rate increases when maintenance revenues are considered.

Often, market research and analyst firms predict or evaluate mergers and acquisitions in the industries they cover. Last month, the research industry had an acquisition of its own when BSRIA ( acquired Proplan. In addition to the report on IBCf, five other recent BSRIA/Proplan studies are available.

Of the acquisition, BSRIA’s chief executive Andrew Eastwell commented, “This business complements BSRIA’s own activities well, and supports our ambitions to grow our market share in worldwide construction market research. Proplan has an excellent image in the very important sector of controls.”

(Editor’s note: Cabling Installation & Maintenance is currently in conversation with BSRIA about a new report on the United States security market and expects to have detailed information in future issues.)

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Cabling Networking Systems

A bold move by BICSI

By Paul Barker

Shortly before John Bakowski began his two-year term as president of BICSI in January 2006 I sat down with him to discuss his various plans and aspirations.

At one point he was asked about the cost benefit side of the equation and whether he was satisfied with what the organization provided.

"No, not entirely," he replied. Bakowski went on to say that internally, "we are doing a good job of developing training modules, but I'm not sure that the people outside this particular business recognize the type of expertise we bring to the table. We need to reach out to other professions. We have not reached out enough. We have to do more and we need to do more quickly. The success of BICSI will depend on the quality of programs we provide to the industry."

The internal soul searching began in earnest about a year ago when Bakowski, president-elect Ed Donelan and the rest of the board members launched what would end up being an intensive review of an association that has been in operation since 1977 following the formation and incorporation of the Building Industry Consulting Service International, Inc.

As Jerry Bowman, U. S. North-Central Region Director, aptly stated at the recent 2008 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando, "we began asking questions that we had never asked before."

As he notes on p. 6 of this issue, both the industry and stakeholders have changed. For example, he and other board members found that some employers were no longer willing to spend the two or three years on the investment it takes to put a person through the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) program.

Sentiments such as those and others lead to the formation of the Inverted Funnel Project or IFP, following the review, which was conducted by a group of BICSI staff and volunteers. It has since morphed into an initiative called NxtGEN.

"There is no denying that many changes have occurred in the ITS industry since the inception of the RCDD program," said Bakowski in a release issued in mid-November to announce its launch. "Shifts in the needs of BICSI members, customers and other stakeholders have left gaps in the publications, training and credentialing that we offer."

According to Bowman in some cases, the RCDD has become a barrier to those people who wanted the knowledge and credentials that BICSI offers in a specialty program. In the November/December issue of BICSI News, Bakowski wrote that now is the time to get focused on the "future of the industry and the future of BICSI. The IFP is an important first step in doing something.

"Some have observed that we should do more to reach out to other industry organizations and other credentialing organizations to begin opening doors of the new generation of BICSI credential holders, including those in the IT, AV, security and other lines of business."

As for Donelan, his goal is to see the technicians become RCDDs and the installers step in the technician's role.

"We are now in the implementation phase," he told delegates at the annual general meeting of BICSI in January. "This is where we take the rocks that we looked under and put the new foundation together to help this organization grow on a worldwide basis."

One area the organization should certainly look into is getting more women involved in the ITS sector. That this is still very much a male-dominated industry was evident when the all-male BICSI board of directors was introduced at the AGM in which Bakowski passed the baton over to his successor.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


BICSI transformation begins

Major changes to include launch of a 10-step program designed to 'enhance' education and credentialing efforts.

By Paul Barker

A major organizational change now underway at BICSI was inevitable given the changing conditions of the information transportation systems (ITS) market, says Jerry Bowman, one of the driving forces behind an initiative called the NxtGEN Program.

Speaking here at the 2008 BICSI Winter Conference in January, Bowman, U. S. North-Central Region Director and a member of the board, outlined what prompted the reorganization and why it was necessary.

Two years ago, the board asked a group of members and volunteers to conduct a review of the RCDD program and come back with a series of recommendations. Their efforts resulted in the launch last June of the NxtGEN.

Outgoing president John Bakowski wrote in a recent issue of BICSI News that there is no denying that many changes have occurred in the ITS industry since the inception of the RCDD program. Shifts in the needs of members, customers and other stakeholders, he added, have left gaps in the publications, training and credentialing that the organization offers.

A recent BICSI press release noted that currently, BICSI credentialing has a linear path where a person can enter the organization as an installer or technician and then must become a RCDD prior to being able to obtain one of three specialty programs -- Network Transport Systems, Wireless Design and Outside Plant.

"The NxtGen program will drive (our) strategic plan in building our credentialing and outreach programs," said Bakowski, whose term as president ended in January.

Bowman, meanwhile, said three fundamental drivers forced the move including the fact that in some cases, the RCDD was becoming a barrier to those people who wanted the knowledge and credentials that "we offer in a specialty program: We found that employers had changed. Some were no longer willing to spend the two or three years in the investment to put a person through the program. We will address that issue this year.

"The second driver was that the experience and structure of the credentialing program within BICSI sometimes excluded people we wanted to include. It excluded in some cases, the technicians and installers who work very hard to develop their knowledge and skills. It excluded external stakeholders such as professional engineers, network professionals and sales and management professionals.

"The third was that our industry and stakeholders have changed. We cannot deny this. How we work, where we work, what is expected of us, the design industry itself, has changed considerably. In addition, the way we learn, the way we study, the way we work and the influence of the convergent space environment, the IP driven systems, all our changing what we do and how we work."

On Dec. 8, the founding NxtGEN committee presented a business plan to the board that contained a series of recommendations designed to address any issues identified in their review.

They included:

• BICSI offering specialty exams sometime this year that will not require a RCDD designation.

• Plans being put in place to market credentialing program to employers and consumers in order to drive demand.

• The RCDD designation becoming more inclusive. "We feel there are a lot of professionals and emerging industries that need what we have," Bowman said. "These include security, industrial and building automation systems."

• Bringing more educational and sales management professionals into the BICSI fold.

• Reaching out to high schools, trade schools, high schools and colleges and universities. "We believe the next generation of BICSI members and credential holders will come from these places," Bowman said. "Look for us to do a better job in the future."

• Ensuring that BICSI publications, training and curriculum are up to date and in synch with what's happening today in the marketplace.

"This is exciting and scary at the same time," said Bowman. "As part of the strategic plan, we have determined that we need to create an elevated credential that might be more inclusive of global standards and build upon what we have in the RCDD technician specialty programs.

"Look for us in the next three to five years to introduce an elevated credential above the RCDD. It will provide evidence that you have enhanced capabilities above even what is required from the gold standard right now. It's in early stages. In fact, I am not even sure what it will be called at this point."


A Conversation With: John Siemon

Siemon's Executive VP of Engineering buoyed by the fact enterprises are 'outgrowing their cabling plants, their data centres and their IT infrastructure in general.'

CNS: Let's start with the economy. How bad is it out there and do you see any silver linings for Siemon and the structured cabling industry as a whole over the next 12-18 months?

Siemon: Obviously, there is quite a bit of uncertainty in the global economy as a whole and it would be a bit foolish to think that the cabling industry is completely immune. That said, we see growth projections for the enterprise cabling industry that outpace overall economic growth. There is good upside potential for 2008.

The concerns of the larger economy are tempered by the fact that enterprises are outgrowing their cabling plants, their data centres and their IT infrastructure in general. Many of the build-outs that were completed in anticipation of Y2K are overdue for replacement or a major overhaul. From our perspective, the demand for cabling is still strong and growing.

CNS: You attended the recent BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando. What impressions did you come away with?

Siemon: Although there were no show-stopping product announcements, the sessions showed that technological advances and the innovation drive have not slowed. The presentations I saw point to evolving needs in the industry and networking in general. For example, there was an interesting parallel drawn between IT networking and centralization of the power grid in the early 1900s. If that analogy holds, the importance of IT infrastructure will only increase. While requirements for increased storage and transmission capacity will continue, the opportunity for innovation will more likely come from other challenges.

Manufacturers can tell you what's coming from a product standpoint, but you can better judge the mood of the industry by talking to the attendees. If I were going to play Alan Greenspan, I would define the BICSI mood as "cautious optimism" with a good deal more optimism than caution.

More specifically, I noted a continuation of a trend towards the acceptance of screened and shielded systems. If you went to the 2004 BICSI and predicted this level of interest in screened and shielded cabling in North America you would have received some skepticism.

Siemon did just that and, yes, there were skeptics. But with each year, acceptance has grown. This year, I would characterize the acceptance of screened and shielded cabling as the best 10GBASE-T option as all but universal.

There is too much evidence on the potential benefits of F/UTP and S/FTP cabling for people to ignore it anymore. I would credit the few screened and shielded "pioneer" companies for that shift.

CNS: Our cover story this issue focuses on the data centre. How important are standards and what impact would you say TIA-942 has had in this space since it was first introduced in 2005?

Siemon: Standards provide minimum requirements for an infrastructure that can accommodate diverse needs and ongoing changes to the networking environment.

One of the most significant aspects of TIA-942 is the direction to use a structured cabling system and build on the '568 series of standards.

In the past, directly connected equipment has lead to a significant increase in abandoned cable, which is an issue in a majority of older data centres today. There are still examples of equipment rooms and data centres that are lacking in even the most fundamental principles of infrastructure management. While these images help to liven up a presentation or article, the IT facilities they depict are real. If those types of issues are not addressed, the risks associated with erosion of data centre infrastructure to both up-time and operating costs increase exponentially.

The data centre standard assists IT professionals in the design and installation of cabling that will support multiple generations of equipment without the need to re-cable. Realistically, it is far less disruptive to support network upgrades that are minimally invasive to the data center environment and do not require new cabling or cabinets.

Work is also progressing on ISO/IEC 24764, the draft international standard entitled "Generic cabling systems for Data Centres." It uses ISO/IEC 11801 as the foundation for specifying a modified structure and configuration for generic cabling within data centres used to support existing and emerging applications. The implementation options cover connection schemes that reflect a wide range of operating environments. The votes on the second and hopefully final committee draft ballot are due in April.

CNS: Siemon recently introduced a 10G 6A F/UTP version of its MapIT intelligent infrastructure management system. Is it safe to say that 10G's time has arrived?

Siemon: Absolutely. My answer would have been the same in 1999, but I would have been referring to a different phase in the 10Gb/s lifecycle. Back then, the time had come to start developing a 10Gb/s standard.

When pre-standard Category 6A solutions hit the market, the commercial availability of 10Gb/s product signified that the time had come. More recently, ratification of the 10GBASET standard had the same kind of effect.

With approval of Category 6A/Class EA standards, the installed base will continue to grow, which will lead to future generations of 10Gb/s electronics that are more readily available and affordable.

The current phase of the 10Gb/s life cycle is significant in that the "early adopter" phase is behind us. In our experience, the vast majority of mid to large enterprise projects include 10Gb/s capability in their initial specifications, and the number installing these systems is growing rapidly.

I believe that this trend is aided by the variety of 10Gb/s options and the resulting ability to choose a best-fit solution. North America in particular is beyond the limited de facto options of UTP and fiber. The market acceptance and manufacturer support of screened and shielded systems has changed the landscape considerably.

CNS: At the CNS 10th anniversary panel held in November you suggested that standards for the cabling infrastructure should get out in front of the applications and user needs. How easy or difficult is it going to be to get to that point?

Siemon: I do not believe it will ever be easy to gain consensus within standards groups made up primarily of competitors.

Having served on these bodies for so long, I can tell you that most participants truly want what is best for the users and the industry as a whole. Agreeing on what is best is a different story.

But, we know it can be done. Category 7/class F standards were published by ISO/IEC in 2002, four years before the ratification of the IEEE 802.3an 10Gb/s application standard. It was used to prove technical feasibility before formation of the task force and was the first and only standard-based cabling to support full 100m implementations of 10GBASE-T until 2008.

More recently, an amendment to ISO/IEC 11801 created the pending class FA, which is targeted to support the next generation of data applications beyond 10GBASE-T.

An interface standard has already published in support of class FA in the form of the second edition IEC 61076-3-104 standard. We know we can get out ahead of the applications.

On the other hand, we did not have approved TIA or ISO standard for Category 6A/Class EA channels until February 2008 -- two months after IEEE moved ahead with projects to develop standards for 40Mb/a and 100Mb/s transmission.

I believe we can attribute this timing to the challenges faced pushing 10Gb/s through UTP cable and the RJ45-style interface rather than an inherent deficiency in the cabling standards process. Regardless of the underlying cause, the fact remains that this delay has put mainstream twisted-pair cabling behind the applications. What's more troubling is the uncertainty surrounding what will come after Category 6A. Fiber on the other hand is already well positioned to support 100Gb/s transmission.

CNS: You also talked of a technological shift that could soon see the "killer apps" being replaced by "app killers." What is an app killer in your mind?

Siemon: By app killer, I mean the type of change that forces us to rethink fundamental aspects of network performance.

It is clear to me that trends in network utilization, operating cost and environmental considerations will take us in new directions that bring latency and power to the front of the line as the primary drivers for future networking technologies.

The ratified 10GBASE-T standard enables availability of transceivers that are commercially viable and will work with "generic" cabling, but it came with tradeoffs to cost, power and latency.

Unless those limitations are effectively resolved by 2nd and 3rd generation transceivers, commercial acceptance will never reach the levels of 1000BASE-T. Until then, other media options like fiber and other networking protocols like Infiniband will be called upon when power or latency are considered to be critical.

The good news is that technical feasibility of copper-based solutions for 40G and 100G data rates has been proven although it remains to be seen what form those solutions will take.

I am confident that there will be at least one standards-based copper cabling solution that will support transmission rates in excess of 10G with less power, lower latency than today's 10GBASE-T. To do so, other tradeoffs may be necessary regarding interface type, cabling implementations and the ability to auto-negotiate to lower transmission rates.

CNS: What is the best way for an organization to maximize its cabling investment?

Siemon: Plan ahead and future proof. Provided that you intend to be in the facility for longer than five years, install the highest performing cabling available to maximize it's lifecycle. The longer the cabling plant can support the network, the lower the total cost of ownership.

As an example, the initial installed cost of a Category 5e system is about a third the cost of a Category 7A installation. But, the Category 5e system can only expected to last 5 years. Category 7A, with performance beyond 10Gb/s can be conservatively predicted to last 15 years.

If you annualize the Category 5e and Category 7A (class FA) installation costs by their respective 5 and 15-year lifecycles, they are roughly equivalent. Add in costs associated with migration to Gigabit and 10Gb/s speeds, such as testing, remediation, removal and associated downtime, and the costs are reversed.

Category 7A annualized net costs are projected to be about one third the cost of a Category 5e solution without even factoring the cost of the new cabling to replace it.

CNS: Siemon certainly has an international presence. How important are your non-U. S. markets?

Siemon: Our ability to participate as a global market provider is absolutely critical. Siemon has invested heavily in regionalizing our global operations and support infrastructure.

We maintain major regional operations and support headquarters in North America, EMEA, APAC and CASA as well as regional Siemon sales offices in about 30 countries, and of course, provinces.

CNS: What are your plans for Canada moving forward?

Siemon: Although Canada was our first international market and we have been doing business here for nearly 50 years, our approach is consistent with the rest of the world. We continue to build an infrastructure and business relationships that deliver excellent service and the same high quality and performance of our installed cabling systems anywhere in the world.

Like any major global region, we view Canada as a unique market with specific needs and conditions. We want to continually learn and address those needs with in-country resources and infrastructure.

It is about establishing a market presence that is supported by strong channel relationships with distributors, installers, consultants and system integrators that are experts and positioned to provide service, innovation and value to our customers in Canada.

CNS: Finally, the IEEE 802.3 High Speed Study Group has been in operation since July 2006, ostensibly to bring 100 Gb/s Ethernet into the mainstream. When can we expect that to occur and what will drive the need?

Siemon: The project was approved by IEEE last December with a plan calls for standard approval by mid 2010. Beyond that, I hesitate to make predictions on when we will see 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s products hit the market.

I believe that 100Gb/s will be driven initially by the need for faster data center links to support continued increases in network traffic, particularly as it becomes more content-rich and bandwidth-hungry.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


Learning the CAT 6A ROPES

By Chris Pawelko

As we witness increasing interest in 10 gigabit (10 GBASE-T)-speed networks, all eyes are upon Category 6 and Augmented Category 6 (known as 6A) as the cabling systems of choice.

The emergence of 10 gigabit is the latest challenge facing cabling and networking developers when it comes to installation and testing procedures. It only stands to reason that these higher speeds come with additional specification requirements.

The main purpose of Category 6A cabling is to support the IEEE 802.3an specifications for 10 gigabit per second transmission over twisted pair copper to channel lengths up to 100 metres.

As a totally new cabling, Category 6A comes with specific design and performance criteria, and does have significant differences from Category 6 cabling in certain areas.

However, the challenge for installers is that this new set of specifications have yet to be clearly defined.

The IEEE 802.3an was completed and approved by the IEEE standards board in June 2006, making 10GBASE-T a completed and released standard.

In addition, Telecommunications Industry Association specifications for Category 6A have been approved.

Signal coupling

Those who have worked extensively with Category 6 and have become familiar with its properties already have a practical working knowledge of testing and installation requirements. When working with 6A, however, experience has shown that there are some essential points to consider.

Talking the crosstalk: Every cabling technician has had to deal with the issue of controlling signal coupling between cabling links. It is something that must be considered in everything from cable and connecting hardware selection, to design and installation practices.

The proper choices, will in turn, ensure that the transmission quality of the installed cabling system will meet certification requirements during testing.

A new requirement for 10 GBASE-T installations is testing for Alien Crosstalk, a phenomenon unique to these types of installations.

This refers to the signal coupling between cables within a bundle of twisted-pair cabling links that can result in a noise disturbance.

Crosstalk in its most common forms -- Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) and Far End Crosstalk (FEXT) -- is not an unfamiliar issue for experienced cabling technicians. Digital signaling processors used in 10 GBASE-T installations are designed to assist the Network Interface Card (NIC) in mitigating problems such as crosstalk.

However, this process can lead to extra latency as the NIC performs the job of "cleaning up" the signal from the transmitter on the other end of the cable.

An additional point to consider is that the10 GBASE-T interface card has no way of mitigating Alien Crosstalk. Alien Crosstalk is an additional concern that can further attenuate an intended signal and put extra work on the NIC when cleaning up the signal. Therefore, technicians must rely on testing the cable itself in order to understand how different transmission activities will have an impact on the NIC's performance.

Compared to other types of cabling technologies, Category 6A requires a bandwidth of 500 MHz to support 10 GBASE-T. With a bandwidth frequency this high, signals are emitted both within the cable as well as to adjacent cables; hence the need for additional testing requirements.

In addition, while crosstalk can normally be mitigated by twisting wire pairs at different twist ratios this is not the case with Category 6A cabling. In most scenarios, the cabling bundles are installed from the same box and could contain pairs with the same twist ratios.

As with all cabling, in channel testing will help to first determine if transmission impairments (e. g. NEXT) meet Category 6A standards. However, Alien Crosstalk testing demands more.

Testing for Alien Crosstalk: The challenge for technicians is that current standards do not outline any fixed rules on Alien Crosstalk testing. However, the IEEE and TIA do recognize that Alien Crosstalk is an impair-ment that will affect transmission, and as such, describe field-testing procedures under Annex E Field measurements procedures.

In addition to the standards debate, there is also considerable discussion over testing procedures. In particular, when it comes to 10 GBASET, does one need to test an entire installation?

While the answer is not clearly defined, there are some well-established and proven guidelines one can follow. At this point in time, it is best to adopt the guidelines published in the IEC 61935-1 standard document. This advises that Alien Crosstalk performance be tested in the field for a limited sample of cabling links.

In sampling, technicians select the longest cables or the cables with the most insertion loss. The premise is that if the worst performing cables pass Alien Crosstalk testing, it can be assumed that the others will.

The guidelines suggest sampling a sampling rate of 1% or 5 links, whichever is greater. Therefore if a system has 500 links, then 5 can be selected as the disturbed or victim links. All links in the same bundle as the victim link should be included in the testing. In addition, all adjacent links to the victim link terminating in the patch panel should also be included in the test.

Installation considerations for 10 G BASE-T: As with testing, guidelines on proper installation procedures for 10 G BASET are in short supply. Adjustments must be made to address the specific properties of the cabling and its performance.

In some cases, following standard procedures used for other cabling can potentially have a negative impact on network performance. Even something as basic as organization and bundling must be reconsidered. Any kind of poor workmanship will have more impact on 10 Gig cabling than on cable designed for slower transmission rates.

Working with high frequencies and signaling systems means that installers must pay more attention to their cable handling and layout practices.

Whereas they may have typically bundled cables as tightly as possible to optimize space, this works against cabling for 10 GBASE-T installations since it increases the risk of Alien Crosstalk. More space is needed between cables, both in terms of panel density and the size and routing of the bundles.

In cases where installers are using existing patch panels, they must run fewer links in a bundle to allow for added space. New Category 6A patch panels have been designed to offer the appropriate separation between jacks.

Another option to reduce potential problems is to switch from a cross-connect wiring scheme (i. e. using two separate patch panels for incoming and outgoing connections) to an interconnect scheme. This eliminates one connection and reduces crowding in wiring racks.

Cables should also be well organized, documented and loosely bundled to allow for free space between them. Otherwise the installation will not meet testing requirements. Suggestions include tying bundles every 61 centimetres (versus every few millimetres) or laying them in trays without ties. Avoid using wraps, staples, tacks or fasteners where possible.

Some 6A cabling for 10 G BASE-T installations can be heavier and have a larger outside diameter than standard cabling.

This means taking care that there are sufficient routing pathways and ladders. In addition, cable lengths should be kept to a 60-metre maximum length; and should not be run in parallel with nor adjacent to electrical cabling. Installers should also avoid using J-hooks or other like devices for hanging cabling because of its added weight.

Learning the ropes: Even the most experienced installers will find that working with Category 6A will present some challenges at the outset. While basic practices will remain, there are a number of considerations from additional testing requirements to handling and installation that must be addressed in order to ensure optimum results.

As transmission speeds increase, there is far less margin for error. Any shoddy workmanship or oversights can have significant repercussions on network performance.

Increased bandwidth, throughput and capacity demands have fuelled global interest in migration to 10 GBASE-T.

The publication of new standards is expected to accelerate this migration even more in the months to come. Installers would be well advised to take the time to get up to speed on guidelines and best practices for 6A testing and installation today.

Chris Pawelko is Canadian Channel Product Manager with Fluke Networks Canada. He has 18 years industry experience in data communications, networks and cabling.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


View From The Board - You need to think green

By Keith Fortune

There is no getting away from it and there is now way to ignore it, environmental sustainability is a top concern to the public.

The scientific community has reached a consensus that there could be a catastrophic change in our climate within the next century as a result of human contributions to greenhouse gas emissions if we do not significantly reduce these emissions in the near future.

To meet the challenges that lie ahead it is paramount that we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the building industry.

In order to achieve this, we must implement the technical advancements available to us today including integrated systems and building automation to create a more sustainable industry.

To date, most buildings have been designed in a fragmented nature, which has allowed them to fall well behind in meeting the achievable goals for improved energy and environmental performance.

It has been estimated that if we were to apply the existing energy saving principles available to us today to all existing buildings from an integrated system perspective and efficiency performance, we would be able to sustain the expected growth in new building construction over the next 50 years.

This would allow us to bridge the gap, until alternative low carbon fuel source technology has been developed, thus reducing the requirement for new power generation until then.

As there has been little emphasis put on energy performance by building owners during the design and construction phases of a project (in the past), we have yet to see the required dedication to the integrated design and energy performance criteria required to meet greenhouse gas emission for today's buildings.

Lack of accountability

As energy costs historically have been viewed as a relatively small factor in the overall economics of a building, there is a lack of accountability for integrating energy performance on the day-to-day operations of today's buildings.

The building owner is the one person who has the control to impact the design and construction of a building and must accept the responsibility if we are to meet greenhouse gas emission targets required for a sustainable future.

It is up to him or her to influence the design and construction team to ensure the building follows an intelligent building roadmap such as outlined by the Continental Automated Building Association. The CABA Standards Committees monitor and interact with protocol standards groups that are involved with the home and building automation industry and the development and understanding of integrated systems automation.

If we accept that the building owner has the ability to do this, we need to make sure that the design and constructions teams (architects, consultants and contractors) are knowledgeable enough and up to the challenge.

Integrated automated systems have been around for some time and the technology is proven to integrate legacy automations systems and open HVAC and electrical protocols on a Web-based control system.

This allows anytime/anywhere access to the network while providing secure access via the WAN from a standard Web browser.

It is also possible to have a highly secure network to manage mission critical data centres, which should address any security concerns. The benefits include energy and operational savings as a result of anytime/anywhere access and real time alarming, resulting in fewer resources to manage the system.

With an integrated building system you are able to program sequences between systems that optimize the building schedule and its efficiency.

It is important to utilize the improvements in technology and the integrated approach to automated systems that are available to us today.

However, it is just as important to change the way we think and look at the construction of a building and its long-term operation.

When planning for the construction of a new building we must take into account the long term cost to operate the building and the global impact that our decisions today will have in the future.

Keith Fortune, C. E. T., is an independent consultant and member of CNS Magazine's Editorial Advisory Board. He can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


Communications News

The new friend

By Ken Anderberg, Publisher/Editor, Communications News

Losing a long-time friend is difficult. You spend time together almost daily, learning strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and possibilities. You call them by a pet name, give them some friendly ribbing on occasion when their flaws are exposed.

There were all those trade shows we’d attend together, although you were always on the other side of the booth discussing benefits and features. There were all those articles we collaborated on over the years, helping readers understand what made you tick and why they should listen to you.

Of course, you could pontificate on occasion, bombastic about your capabilities. You had that gift of gab. But sometimes it was just plain blarney, the rantings of a carnival barker intent on verbally bamboozling those who did not understand your loquaciousness. Despite your occasional bombastic sermons, however, you usually came through when it mattered, delivering on your promises, saving me a dollar or two, and making our conversations enjoyable.

Now, you have been replaced. Not that you are gone, just that your place in my world has been minimized since we first met. There is someone else who now has my attention, and you are just part of the conversation. So, while I do not say goodbye, for you are still in my life, I do recognize that a friend with more possibilities has usurped your importance.

My friend of eight years–voice over IP (aka, VoIP)–is now taking a back seat to the next big thing in voice communications–unified communications. Two years ago, Cisco’s John Chambers touted the coming of unified communications as the next great enterprise communications revolution. Today, finally, unified communications (UC) has replaced voice over IP in the jargon of telephony vendors.

In fact, VoIP has become just one function within the unified communications universe, alongside other messaging options–instant messaging, video, e-mail, voice mail, short message services and presence. And judging by the recent VoiceCon show in Orlando, UC is about to take off, as Chambers predicted, in enterprise networks.

But do not despair just yet, VoIP, because research shows that most enterprises have yet to embrace you fully but intend to do so over the next few years. You still have friends out there, and those who would like to get to know you better. That UC trend might be real, but there are miles to go before even your presence is fully intertwined in enterprise voice networks.

Surely, you will have to share the attention with UC with many of your future friends, but I understand UC works well with others, so the partnership should not be too much of a strain. It’s just that the conversations may start referring to you as one of their other acquantainces.

From my standpoint, though, you will always hold a place dear to my heart–and to my ears.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Go green: the new IT mandate

Green Tech “Going Green” seems to be the new mantra of technology manufacturers, with organizations like The Green Grid becoming popular as companies try to position themselves to customers as being environmentally friendly. The problems, however, are global and huge.

A new report from Greenpeace says much e-waste is being disposed of with mixed waste in landfills and incinerators, or exported–often illegally–for dumping in Africa or for rudimentary recycling in Asia, where it has a high toll on health, safety and the environment. Even in regions such as the European Union that are subject to tighter regulation, there is no precise information on what happens to as much as 75 percent of e-waste generated. In the United States, this figure is higher.

In newly industrialized countries, estimating the amount of e-waste escaping any form of treatment or management is nearly impossible, although in India, an estimated 99 percent of domestic and imported e-waste, 143,000 tons per year, ends up in the informal recycling sector or is simply dumped.

“It is the scrap yard workers in Asia who are bearing the toxic burden of e-waste. They are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals when the products are broken apart, polluting the water, air and soil of not only the scrap yards but the surrounding neighborhood,” says Martin Hojsik, Greenpeace International. “The mountain of obsolete electronic products is expanding at a huge rate as our consumption of electronic devices continues to grow rapidly.”

Figures provided by four PC manufacturers who have already developed take-back and recycling activities suggest that only around 10 percent of own-branded end-of-life products are recycled. The figures for mobile phones are even lower, with only 2 percent to 3 percent being recycled. This means that, even for those companies reporting their own brands, the hidden flow of e-waste branded products currently amounts to an average of 91 percent of past sales.

“The reality is that we cannot say with any certainty what happens to e-waste once it has escaped responsible recycling,” says Hojsik. “This is why manufacturers of electronic goods need to increase their efforts to collect and responsibly treat e-waste, introduce voluntary take-back schemes and remove hazardous substances from their products so they can be more safely and easily recycled.

In another report, OnRelay, a United Kingdom telecommunications software company, calls for businesses to reconsider their investment in redundant IP telephony hardware like desk phones. Calculating the real cost and waste implications of IP telephony, Marie Wold, president and CFO of OnRelay (a company that sells alternatives to IP phones), notes that the e-waste organizations, globally, will ultimately be held accountable for from 2008 IP telephony investments is: 103 million pounds of solid waste (the weight of a WWII battleship) and 3.3 million pounds of cabling, enough to stretch to the moon and back.

This month, Communications News debuts a monthly column, written by Associate Editor Denise DiRamio that will delve into the issues revolving around the green IT movement. Found on the last page of the magazine, she will provide insight into what technology companies are doing from a pro-environment perspective, as well as what they are not doing.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


10 GbE and the data center

Higher-speed standards are on the way for both data centers and computing applications.

John D’Ambrosia focuses on components technology at Force10 Networks, San Jose, Calif. He has been a participant in the development of Ethernet-related technologies since 1999, and is the chairman of the IEEE 802.3 higher-speed study group, which is driving the standards development process for 100-Gigabit Ethernet. He has also served as a director and secretary for the Ethernet Alliance.

For more information:

by John D’Ambrosia

Prior to its inception as a task force, the IEEE 802.3 higher-speed study group received input that service provider networks, Internet exchange networks, consumer broadband access networks, content provider networks, enterprise networks, data center networks, research and development networks, and high-performance computing networks all needed 100-Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE)–and many expressed the need for thinking even beyond 100 GbE.  At the same time, these organizations were calling for 40-Gigabit Ethernet development for computing applications.

The study group transitioned into the IEEE P802.3ba task force and began development of the next generation of Ethernet, targeting two rates of operation: 40 gigabits per second (Gps) for computing and server applications and 100 Gbps for network-aggregation applications. The physical-layer specifications selected for each rate target the distance requirements for the intended applications.

For computing and server applications at 40 Gbps, there are three distance objectives: at least one meter over a backplane, at least 10 meters over a copper cable assembly and at least 100 meters on optical multimode 3 (OM3) multimode fiber (MMF). For core networking and aggregation applications at 100 Gbps, there are four distance objectives: at least 10 meters over a copper cable assembly, at least 100 meters on OM3 MMF, at least 10 kilometers on single-mode fiber (SMF) and at least 40 kilometers on SMF.

The array of rates and physical-layer specifications will offer network architects the solutions needed for upgrading existing legacy networks or creating new green field networks to meet their future bandwidth requirements.  Ultimately, the bandwidth capacity of these network cores impacts the ability of the network to scale and, therefore, the number of end stations that may be connected in a given network.

Presentations and discussions within the study group illustrated that data centers are finding 10-gigabit access difficult to acquire, as the increasing customer demand for 10-gigabit access service is challenging the scalability of service provider networks to support such requests. Network architects for data centers are being challenged with the same basic problem by their own internal networks.

Network consolidation and convergence on Ethernet, combined with the deployment of horizontal server architectures, based on commodity Gigabit Ethernet (GE) servers, is driving the need for 100-Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) for data center fabrics. With these architectures, data centers also contend with other issues, such as cable management, rack space, and power and cooling. Server virtualization, which drives up the utilization rate of servers, is being introduced in order to permit data centers to do the same job with fewer resources. 

The introduction of 10-GbE and 40-GbE servers would help provide relief, but this would only further drive up the bandwidth requirements of the data center infrastructures. Therefore, the study group evaluated if the infrastructure of data centers is already being challenged to support the bandwidth requirements of architectures based on GE servers, and how these same architectures would be able to support the wide-scale deployment of servers based on 10 GbE and 40 GbE?

While 40 GbE is still in the development stage, the wide-scale deployment of 10-GbE servers would be the driving force behind 10 GbE meeting the expectations of those in the industry, who are judging the success of 10 GbE on the number of ports shipped. Others, however, argue that the success of 10 GbE needs to be judged on the value that it has brought to the networking industry and not just in terms of ports shipped. Therefore, while 10 GbE has not yet met the expectations of many in terms of ports shipped, it did evidently bring value to the industry via its influence on deployment of Gigabit Ethernet. 

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Green IT is in style

By Denise DiRamio, associate editor, Communications News

The recent focus on global warming seems to have sparked a renewed interest in the environment, and, in the process, has focused a great deal of attention to the IT industry. Instead of saving trees by producing the long-sought-after paperless office, the production, use and disposal of technology is damaging the environment.

In order to manage today’s increasing volumes of data, servers are growing larger, denser, hotter and using massive amounts of power. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s August 2007 report to Congress, the amount of electricity consumed by U.S. data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006, and is expected to double again by 2011. The EPA reports that data centers consumed 61 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006, an estimated 1.5 percent of the nation’s energy, which cost $4.5 billion, and is expected to grow to $7.4 billion by 2011.

According the the EPA, Americans generated approximately 2.6 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) in 2005. Research firm Gartner estimates that more than 800 million PCs will be swapped out between now and 2012, with nearly 500 million tossed into landfills. Recycling efforts are increasing, but there is growing concern that some e-waste recycling is nothing more that exporting discarded electronics to developing countries, where e-waste is improperly treated, leading to health and environmental issues.

Many components in today’s electronics are toxic and non-biodegradable, producing pollutants–lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous waste–in the manufacturing process and leaching hazardous waste after disposal.

The IT industry, however, seems to be responding. Data from Forrester Research shows a rapid growth in the interest in green IT. As of October 2007, 38 percent of IT professionals said their companies use environmental criteria in their evaluation and selection of IT equipment. Just six months ago, however, it was only 25 percent. In the fall of 2006, 78 percent indicated that green IT was not even in their evaluation and selection criteria for IT systems and devices.

Technology manufacturers and vendors are beginning to see green. Many are accepting–even embracing–environmental protection as a corporate social responsibility. Many companies are forming green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, promising to eliminate the use of hazardous materials in production, developing eco-friendly and energy-saving products, and establishing reuse and recycling programs.

High-tech heavy hitters like Apple, Dell, Sony, Motorola, NEC and HP have initiated environmentally friendly take back and recycling programs to reduce e-waste. Dell reports that it recycled more than 78 million pounds of computer equipment last year, and plans to recover 275 million pounds of computer equipment by 2009 through its asset recovery program. Globally, HP recycles more than 6.5 million pounds of e-waste each month. HP met its goal of recycling 1 billion cumulative pounds of hardware and printer supplies last year and now plans to recycle an additional billion pounds by the end of 2010.

Companies such as APC, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and VMware have united in a vendor-led consortium, The Green Grid, which seeks to improve data center and business computing energy efficiency and promote the adoption of energy-efficient standards, processes, measurements and technologies. The Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which brings together big names like Intel, Google, Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo and Microsoft, promotes the use of energy-efficient computers and power-management tools to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Technologies that reduce energy consumption and waste hold great promise for organizations that are seeking to improve their green reputation and, ultimately, their competitive advantage. In a Tandberg/Ipsos MORI survey of 16,823 people in 15 countries, 53 percent of the respondents said they would prefer to purchase products and services from a company with a good environmental reputation. “We hope this will mobilize more organizations to seek solutions to become more environmentally responsible,” says Fredrik Halvorsen, CEO of Tandberg.

Being green can highlight a company’s corporate social responsibility, but, ultimately, also benefit its bottom line. “As much as it is an environmental issue, or policy or government issue, it is also a business issue,” says Alan Cohen, vice president of enterprise solutions at Cisco Systems. “People want to do business with companies that are green.”

This, of course, is good news for the environment and companies who understand the value of green.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Electrical Contractor Magazine

The Rules of the Road - Ten steps to keeping your drivers safe

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published some startling statistics. Every 12 minutes, someone dies in a motor vehicle crash. An injury occurs every 10 seconds, and every five seconds, a crash occurs.

Certainly, not all crashes are work related, but many of them occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work. All crashes have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on a company’s employees and their families. An employer can help reduce the risk factors to their employees by implementing a driver-safety program in the workplace.

The benefits of an on-the-job, driver-safety course are many. The course can be viewed as a cost-saving measure: Fewer accidents cost a company less money in health expenses, worker’s compensation and fleet insurance. These types of programs also are seen as a good employee- relations tool, showing that the employer cares about its employees.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has created a 10-step program for building a new driver-safety program or improving an existing one. It includes everything needed to get a driver-safety program up and running.

Step 1: Commitment and involvement

The safety of a company’s employees must be the first priority. The management must be behind the program 100 percent, or the program will fail. Management must provide leadership, set policies and allocate resources (both staff and monetary). Employees also should be active in the planning phase of the program.

Step 2: Policies and procedures

As the nuts and bolts of the program, the written statement must emphasize the employer’s commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries. It should include a clear, comprehensible and, most importantly, enforceable set of traffic safety policies. These policies need to be communicated to all employees and posted throughout the workplace as a constant reminder of the safety program.

Step 3: Driver agreements

A contract should be drawn with all employees who drive as part of their job, whether they drive company or private vehicles. The employee, by signing the agreement, acknowledges awareness and understanding of the program and the expectations regarding the employee’s responsibilities to safe driving.

Step 4: MVR crashes

The driving records of employees who drive on the job must be checked. Drivers with poor driving records must be screened out. The Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) also should be reviewed regularly to ensure drivers maintain good driving records. The number of violations an employee driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work must be clearly stated in the program.

Step 5: Crash details

All crashes, regardless of severity, must be reported to the employee’s supervisor as soon as possible after the incident. There should be a clear process for reporting and investigating such an incident. All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and whether they were preventable. Understanding the cause of an accident, regardless of fault, will form the basis for eliminating accidnets from happening again.

Step 6: Vehicles

An important part of preventing crashes and related costs is selecting, maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles. The purchase of vehicles that have a strong safety rating can help minimize vehicle damage and employee injury.

Step 7: Disciplinary action system

A strategy must be in place to determine the course of action after a moving violation or preventable crash. Most programs in use are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. If a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated traffic violations or preventable crashes, the program should include progressive discipline for the driver. The consequences for the accumulation of driving incidents should be clearly defined.

Step 8: Reward/incentive program

Along with a system of punishment, there also should be rewards or incentives built into the driver-safety program. The rewards or incentives can involve company recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges, etc.

Step 9: Driver training/communication

Once the program is in place, continued training and communication must be provided. Even experienced drivers can benefit from further training and reminders of safe driving skills.

Step 10: Regulatory compliance

When putting the driver-safety program together, it is important to be aware of and include any highway safety regulation that applies to your specific company or industry. Many industries have regulations specific to their equipment, chemicals being transported or vehicle size, and they must be included in the program.

These steps are quite similar to those that would be used to establish and implement any safety program. They are designed to be familiar to those in the various fields of construction, so they will be more easily adapted and used by companies to begin or improve their driver-safety programs.

KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or This article was edited by Joe O’Connor.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine


New Initiative Focuses on Management Development

I devote many of these columns to praising the National Electrical Contractors -Association because, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, NECA has much to be immodest about. This magazine reaches more than 85,000 readers every month, not all of them NECA-member contractors, so I talk most often about how NECA advances the entire industry through advocacy, education, research and standards development.

So it is with this month’s column. I was inspired by the reporting in the NECA Notes section on page 167 on some recent activities pursued by our association’s research affiliate, ELECTRI International—The Foundation for Electrical Construction Inc. (EI).

One article lists the projects selected for active research in 2008. Obviously, much of the foundation’s work has broad, industry-wide appeal. This certainly applies to the upcoming studies on “Effectively Recruiting and Retaining the Supervisory Workforce of Electrical Contractors,” “Achieving Performance Improvement Through an Effective Project Management Strategy” and “The Role of Electrical Contractors on LEED Projects with Focus on Commissioning and Innovation and Design Credits.”

And another article—on the launch of the Talent Initiative—should interest all electrical contracting industry participants. Greg Thomas, executive vice president and general counsel for Houston-based Fisk Electric, which has been involved with EI for more than a decade, explained why during an interview for the foundation’s newsletter.

“I believe there are three major issues for the future: talent, talent and talent,” he said. “Changes in technology have really changed our work force. As things get even more complex technologically, we need to have top talent. For the past 20 years, management thinking has been to work as lean as possible. That does not allow us the luxury of having a lot of young people working for us at the same time while managers see who rises to the top as most talented and best qualified. If we don’t have them in-house to start, then they have to be very ready to be productive from the day we hire them.”

Fostering long-term interest in our industry among young people and cultivating their management and supervisory skills so they’ll be productive from day one of their future employment in electrical contracting is what the Talent Initiative is all about.

The Emerson Hamilton Scholarship Fund is an important element of the initiative. As I noted in a previous column, the late Emerson Hamilton worked tirelessly throughout his long and active career in electrical construction to promote academic excellence, leadership and innovation within our industry.

NECA and ELECTRI International have found that effective ways to attract capable young people to the management side of electrical contracting include encouraging and facilitating development of construction management degree programs and establishing NECA student chapters at colleges and universities. Thus, the Emerson Hamilton Scholarship will provide funds to promising young people pursuing university construction management programs affiliated with a NECA Student Chapter and academic stipends to select electrical construction management faculty.

Along with offering internships that introduce students to the real-life, day-by-day issues involved in managing a successful EC firm, “offering meaningful scholarship dollars and involving the academic community in the selection of award recipients sends a strong message about the serious intent of this industry to attract quality talent,” according to that article in NECA Notes. And, indeed, attracting future management talent is a serious consideration for all of us—one in which we all can play a seriously important role.   Milner Irvin, President, Neca

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine


How TO INTEGRATE systems

For those electrical contractors incorporating systems integration into their skill sets, many questions and strategies for doing so may appear. Consider this as a general guide to the basic elements of integrating a system. It is intended to help people who are unfamiliar with systems integration to ask the right questions. Hopefully, it will remind those who are actively engaged in it of some of the general principles.

First question: What is a system? According to Merriam-Webster, it is, among other things, “a group of devices or artificial objects … forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose.” This definition sits well with my preconceived ideas about a system.

Second question: What is Merriam-Webster’s definition of “integrate”? It is “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole… .”

Therefore, I think a useful working definition for integrating a system is coordinating the function of a group of devices that form a network, especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose.

Since it is safe to assume we are talking about integrating building systems in this magazine, we must explore how that would work in some of the most basic forms of systems: 


Climate control (heating and cooling)

Safety (fire, security, etc.)

Communication (telephone, audio, video, computer, etc.)

In order to integrate systems, for example lighting and HVAC, the following steps are necessary:

1   You first decide upon the device(s) that are the basic units of the system. For example, for lighting, one could choose a floodlight. For HVAC, one could choose a blower.

2   These devices need to be remotely controllable. For example, in a lighting system, one could use a solid-state switch, or for HVAC, one could use a variable frequency motor drive.

3   There needs to be a controller with at least one input and one output. The controller must have an input that accepts a command calling for a desired state of the system. For example, one could use the command “Turn on all lights” or “Heat the room to 70°F.” The output sends a signal to adjust the controlled device according to the command. For example, the output could be a 10-volt signal to energize the solid-state light switch or a 4- to 20-mA analog signal to control the blower speed in the heating system.

4   Performance can be greatly improved by adding a feedback input, which informs the controller of the actual state of the system. For example, “The lights are on,” or “The room temperature at this moment is 67°F.”

5   Integration can be carried to an even higher level by means of a building management system (BMS), which communicates with all of the different system controllers, in order to coordinate them. For example, with lighting and HVAC, you might want to bring an office up to a comfortable temperature an hour before the first worker is due to arrive and turn up the lighting to normal as soon as the first worker walks through the door.


What are the devices used for lighting? Sounds like a simple question, but it may not be so simple. One of my favorite sources for definitions of electrical building devices is the National Electrical Code (NEC), Article 100: “Luminaire. A complete lighting unit consisting of a light source such as a lamp or lamps, together with the parts designed to position the light source and connect it to the power supply. It may also include parts to protect the light source or the ballast or to distribute the light. A lampholder itself is not a luminaire.” I think that “luminaire” should be considered the basic unit of a lighting system.

The simplest device for controlling a luminaire is an on/off switch. Therefore, as I see it, the simplest lighting system consists of a switch controlling a luminaire. To remotely control a switch, you can use a relay, either electromechanical or solid-state, or a dimmer, which varies the light intensity.

A lighting controller can be a touchscreen, where the input is someone’s finger selecting a “scene,” which energizes a predetermined combination of luminaires to different light levels. The controller also can be a computerized device capable of being programmed to accept a variety of inputs, such as time of day, ambient light level or whether an area is occupied. The controller then can be programmed to use the input information to produce a lighting scheme that fits the needs of a particular occupancy.

Most manufacturers of solid state light switches and dimmers also make master lighting control panels and switch units.

Climate control

The basic units of a climate control system can be ceiling fans, air conditioners, electric baseboard heaters, hot water-based boiler systems, or blower-driven hot and cold air circulation systems. For example, these can be controlled by simple on/off switches, electrically activated valves, air blowers or electrically actuated dampers.

The type of controller depends on the kind of devices being controlled and the size and type of building. Homes use thermostats, which sense room temperature and generally send on/off signals to the heating or cooling devices. A thermostat can be a simple device whose input might be a slide-switch to select a desired temperature. The input also can have a variety of programmable “scenes” that call for a range of temperatures based on time of day, day of the week, etc.

Large commercial and industrial buildings and institutional structures, such as schools and hospitals, typically use blower-driven air systems. Modern HVAC systems use a technique called variable air volume (VAV), which involves a double control loop. The temperature in each room is controlled by changing the rate of flow of heated or cooled air by means of electrically actuated dampers. Changing of the damper position has the effect of changing the load on the blowers that move the air. The second loop, therefore, uses a pressure sensor in the air ducts to control the blower speed. Variable frequency drives (VFDs), which are similar to lighting dimmers but are more complicated, can electronically control motor speed over a wide range in response to the input from the duct-pressure sensor.

Safety and security

The basic controlled devices for fire alarm systems are audible and visual alarms, for example horns and strobes. The simplest fire alarm is an individual smoke detector with a built-in alarm; however, in the fire protection industry, these are not considered part of a fire alarm system. In a system, the alarm is activated by a fire alarm control panel (FACP) in response to an input. The inputs might be smoke detectors, flame detectors, heat detectors, manual call points or manual pull stations. The outputs not only activate warning devices but also might notify a monitoring service and/or the local fire department.

The basic controlled devices for automatic sprinkler systems are water sprinkler heads. The sprinkler is activated by a heat-sensitive release mechanism, which is built into the sprinkler head. When a high enough temperature is reached, the sprinkler head opens and allows water from the building’s water supply system to spray out. Flow and pressure switches with electrical outputs can be input to the FACP to activate the alarm system.

Physical security systems include access control, intrusion detection and video monitoring.

In access control for physical systems, the basic units are locks. In order to enable the integration of locks, they must be electronically controllable. There are a variety of locks operated by magnetic card readers or keypads. The information from these individual devices is connected to an access control panel, which authenticates the input and, if correct, sends an output that releases the lock.

Intrusion detection is based on a variety of devices that can sense the opening of a window or door or whether a room is occupied (e.g., a photoelectric beam; or ultrasonic, infrared or microwave-based sensors). The signals from these sensors are transmitted to a control unit, which will output an alarm to a warning device, such as a siren, strobe light or remote monitoring center.

The basic device in video monitoring is a camera, which can either continually monitor sensitive areas or be directed by an alarm panel to focus on a location where the system has detected an intrusion. The output of the camera is sent to a monitor for real-time viewing, or it can be recorded for future analysis.


Integration of systems can be fairly rudimentary. For example, some panels combine fire alarm and intrusion alarm controls. The trend, however, is for the controllers in the various building systems to have the ability to transmit inputs and outputs over common wired lines or use wireless transmission. This often is called building automation or a building management system (BMS). The controllers for the various systems generally have communication ports, which can transmit inputs and outputs. These are generally compatible with each other, so a single set of wires or fiber optic cables can carry information among all the controllers.

The ability to enable all these systems to interact with each other has come as the result of the development over the past several decades of standards for transmitting data using digital codes. The standards governing these codes fall into two general categories:

Rules defining the details of how the data is transmitted. An example is the voltage level of the coded digital bits called the physical layer.

Rules concerning how information is coded and how transmitters and receivers are identified, called the protocol.

Building systems connected to each other by copper wires or fiber optic cables are said to be part of a local area network (LAN). Systems also can communicate using radio frequency transmission through the air, called Wi-Fi.

The various specifications and protocols have been focused on improving the ability for systems to pass information from one to the other. Earlier systems tended to use proprietary standards designed by the various manufacturers for their own equipment. More recently, various industry sectors have developed open standards that many manufacturers would agree to in order to provide interoperability. For example, BACnet was originally developed primarily for HVAC, but some also use it for lighting controls. Another approach manufacturers are taking is providing gateways modules, which allow two different LAN systems to communicate with each other. Another development is the use of Ethernet as the standard for the physical layer and for assigning unique addresses to each device. This standard is used for transmitting information between various end systems and computers. Therefore, computers equipped with the proper software can program and monitor the controllers for each of the building systems.

The future

The ability to integrate and interconnect these systems will open up many possibilities for the future. It’s exciting to try to envision the possibilities. One could control lighting levels to adjust for using sunlight and to coordinate with HVAC cooling to minimize heating from the lights during hot weather. One could have special lighting patterns to coordinate with fire or other emergencies or fire alarms to trigger emergency control for elevators. Intrusion detection could trigger voice alarms.

Building systems are rapidly evolving from a series of niche specialties to a widely interconnected and coordinated group of functions. It will continue to become increasingly less possible for technicians and contractors to specialize in one particular area.           

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 


Choose Wisely - Network design for fiber optics, part 2

By jim hayes

Before you can begin to design a fiber optic cable plant, you need to establish with the end-user or network owner where the network will be built and which communications signals it will carry. Most contractors are more familiar with premises networks, where computer networks, local area networks (LANs) and security systems use structured cabling systems built around well-defined industry standards. Once the cabling exits a building, even for short links—for example, in a campus or metropolitan network—requirements for fiber and cable types change. Long-distance links for telecommunications, CATV or utility networks have other, more stringent requirements, necessary to support longer high-speed links, which must be considered.

But while the contractor generally considers the cabling requirements first, the real design starts with the communications system requirements established by the end-user. Start by looking at the types of equipment required for the communications systems, the speed of the network and the distances to be covered before considering anything related to the cable plant. The communications equipment will determine if fiber is necessary or preferable and which type of fiber is required.

Premises cable systems are designed to carry computer networks based on Ethernet, which currently may operate at speeds from 10 megabits per second to 10 gigabits per second. Other systems may carry security systems with digital or analog video, perimeter alarms or entry systems, which are usually low speeds, at least as far as fiber is concerned. Telephone systems can be carried on traditional twisted-pair cables or, as is becoming more common, use LAN cabling with voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) networks. Premises networks usually are short, often less than the 100 meters (about 330 feet) used as the limit for standardized structured cabling systems that allow twisted-pair copper or fiber optic cabling.

Premises networks generally operate over multimode fiber. Multimode systems are less expensive than single-mode systems, not because the fiber is cheaper (it isn’t) or because cable is cheaper (the same), but because the large core of multimode fiber allows the use of cheaper LED or VCSEL sources in transmitters, making the electronics much cheaper. Astute designers and end-users often include both multimode and single-mode fibers in their backbone cables (called hybrid cables), since single-mode fibers are very inexpensive, and they provide a virtually unlimited ability to expand the systems.

Telephone networks are mainly outside plant (OSP) systems, connecting buildings over distances as short as a few hundred meters to hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Data rates for telecom are typically 2.5 to 10 gigabits per second, using very high power lasers that operate exclusively over single-mode fibers. The big push for telecom is now taking fiber directly to a commercial building or the home, since the signals have become too fast for traditional twisted-copper pairs.

CATV also uses single-mode fibers with systems that are either hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) or digital where the backbone is fiber and the connection to the home is on coax. Coax still works for CATV since it has very high bandwidth. Some CATV providers have discussed or even tried some fiber to the home, but have not seen the economics become attractive yet.

Besides telecom and CATV, there are many other OSP applications of fiber. Intelligent highways are dotted with security cameras and signs and/or signals connected on fiber. Security monitoring systems in large buildings, such as airports, government and commercial buildings, casinos, etc., generally are connected on fiber due to the long distances involved. Like other networks, premises applications usually are multimode, while OSP is single-mode to support longer links.

Metropolitan networks owned and operated by cities can carry a variety of traffic, including telephone, LAN, security, traffic monitoring and control and sometimes even traffic for commercial interests using leased bandwidth or fibers. However, since most are designed to support longer links than premises or campus applications, single-mode is the fiber of choice.

For all except premises applications, fiber is the communications medium of choice, since its greater distance and bandwidth capabilities make it either the only choice or considerably less expensive than copper or wireless. Only inside buildings is there a choice to be made, and that choice is affected by economics, network architecture and the tradition of using copper inside buildings. Next time, we’ll look at the fiber/copper/wireless choices in more detail.  

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Understanding Design/Build - Existing research helps contractors prioritize

Within the next year or so, design/build in electrical construction is expected to reach a tipping point where more than 50 percent of all projects (by revenue) will be completed using the design/build delivery method. Given this, it is important for electrical contractors to ensure they are developing strategic plans for their companies around enhancing their design/build capabilities. With this increasing use of the concept, electrical contractors must learn about the opportunities and risks the design/build method creates. 

Engineering News-Record reported that, domestically, design/build revenue increased 22.8 percent in 2006. Much of this dramatic increase also is attributed to the blossoming of building information modeling (BIM) use.

What the research shows

According to “Design Build Methods for the Electrical Contracting Industry,” a research project conducted for Electri International—The Foundation for Electrical Construction Inc., on behalf of the electrical contracting industry, the vast majority of electrical contractors (more than 75 percent) increased profitability when working with design/build. Design/build allowed the electrical contractor to move away from price being the main criteria for selection.

It is clear that the marketing and sales efforts of the electrical contractor shift when moving from bidding work in a traditional mode to design/build. Developing the sales and marketing expertise that target owners and governmental agencies with a focus on selling design/build services is a necessary ingredient for a successful move into these markets. Likely to be required are additional resources and a deep competency in BIM (perhaps as an owner expectation). The electrical contractor may have to help both the owner and general contractor understand the benefits and cost savings resulting from incorporating BIM into their preconstruction and construction efforts.

As another area of focus, contractors should ensure they have adequate professional liability insurance coverage. Additionally, contractors report that when using design/build, greater project management skills are required of their staff—primarily based on the increased decision-making responsibilities.

Other surveys say

Renaissance Research & Consulting Inc.-, on behalf of -Electrical Contractor, found 83 percent of respondents had performed design/build work (results are from 2003), with design/build representing 46 percent of the revenue generated by these firms. An additional 13 percent of revenue was reported on projects where the electrical contractors made substantive changes to the design documents, in effect offering up substitutions that would mimic (at least to a degree) what would be expected from a design/build contractor.

Within the survey, the types of completed design/build work varied widely. Among the most common were the following:

All aspects of traditional power

Many aspects of power quality and automation/controls

Communications/data systems

A number of different types of -leading-edge work

 Maintenance, modernization and new construction

Another area that provided great opportunity to the electrical contractor was substitutions.

Contractors successfully made brand substitutions more than 50 percent of the time when the specification was for a “single or proprietary” brand.

 Contractors successfully made brand substitutions more than 75 percent of the time when the specification was for “multiple,” “equal” or was “performance” based.

This is a strong indicator that owners need to let the electrical contractor identify best value products, and one could suppose these products allow employees to have greater familiarity and, therefore, will lend to a higher productivity during the construction process.

Experiences with design/build

Penn State University conducted an additional study for EI with the goal of summarizing what electrical contractors have experienced with design/build. Of those responding to the Penn State survey, 75 percent said using design/build provided better opportunities for success than the traditional design/bid/build system. Some benefits of using design/build identified in the survey follow:

 Contractors could specify locally available materials.

Contractors could create a more -consistent product.

 By using the whole team’s knowledge, the best value could be obtained for the client.

A significant amount of information is available for electrical contractors looking for information that would allow them to more fully develop their design/build capabilities. Simply focusing in on the design efforts ignores the impacts on other parts of their organization. The contractor must focus on its project-management skills and risk-management policies. It also must ensure sales and marketing efforts match the needs of its design/build clients.

Federle is the McShane chair of construction engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Treat Me in St. Louis Kaiser Electric wires new healthcare center

by darlene bremer

BJC Healthcare awarded Kaiser Electric responsibility for all power distribution and backup power systems, lighting, security, voice/data, infant abduction, nurse call, patient monitoring and fire alarm systems for its new St. Louis healthcare center. Kaiser Electric was involved in the design/assist phase of the project for six months before any work started.

A new hospital, built from the ground up, made its debut in February 2007 in O’Fallon, Mo. It has been almost two decades since a new hospital has been built in the St. Louis metropolitan area and the first such healthcare facility since Barnes-Jewish and Christian hospitals merged to become BJC HealthCare in the early 1990s. The $76 million, 180,000-square-foot, 72-bed acute care facility and medical office building complex named BJC Progress West HealthCare Center has five levels, sits on 48 acres and was created to serve the growing population in the southern part of the county. The facility includes parking for 365 vehicles; an emergency department; labs; a pharmacy; diagnostic and treatment rooms; private inpatient rooms; imaging units; labor, delivery and surgery departments; and support services. Designed to accommodate future expansion, the goal was to create a facility that generates improved workflow and cost efficiencies in an optimal healing environment.

Paric Corp. of O’Fallon, and Barton Malow Co., Southfield, Mich., created a joint venture for the project. The owner chose the two companies as the general contractors. Together, they issued a competitive design/assist request for proposal in late 2004 to seven prequalified electrical contractors. On the list of bidders was Kaiser Electric Inc., headquartered in Fenton, Mo.

“We were on the short list because of our extensive healthcare and design/assist experience, along with our previous working relationship with Paric Corp.,” said George Azzanni, president, Kaiser Electric Inc. The two companies have partnered for close to 15 years on at least 25 projects in the commercial market.

“We’d never worked with Paric on a healthcare project, but they knew of our long-standing involvement in that market,” Azzanni said.

As part of the contract award process, Kaiser Electric had to provide an extensive demonstration of its capabilities, knowledge of the scope of work, value engineering, an understanding of the requirements of constructing a new hospital and the ability to complete the drawings and engineer the required systems.

“The contract was awarded to Kaiser in early 2005 based on its competitive and complete proposal, its design/assist experience and because the company had the healthcare market expertise the owner required,” said Carl Eisenhauer, senior project manager for Paric Corp. The design/assist phase of the project began soon after the contract award.

Together, Kaiser Electric and KJWW Engineering Consultants, Rock Island, Ill., determined which changes could be made to the original drawings to improve the project’s construction parameters.

“Within the first week of being awarded the contract, we were working closely with KJWW’s representative, Rich Larson, to review the entire project, from utility service to lighting fixtures,” said Mike Compton, manager of preconstruction.

In addition, Kaiser Electric determined which suppliers from the preapproved list had the products that would best fit the owner’s requirements and provide the necessary levels of quality and service. KJWW incorporated Kaiser Electric’s suggestions and the team spent the next six months completing the entire set of documents and finalizing most of the design, although some of the systems required further refinement during construction.

Turnkey system

Work began in April 2005 on the $6.9 million electrical and low-voltage installation and was finished on time by January 2007.

The utility’s overhead lines brought power into exterior, 15,000-volt switchgear that Kaiser Electric installed. From the pad-mounted transformer and unit substation, power was routed through distribution transformers to 80 subpanels within the hospital and central plant and then to outlets, receptacles, lighting fixtures and to the mechanical and medical equipment. Backup power consists of one 850-kW emergency, diesel-powered generator and associated transfer switches and equipment.

“The system is designed to handle Code-required life safety and emergency systems within the hospital to ensure power in case of an outage,” said Dennis Thompson, general foreman for the electrical installation.

Lighting for the project required close to 100 different types and styles of energy-efficient fixtures, ranging from recessed, indirect and fluorescent to decorative pendants and wall sconces. The architect, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum Inc. (HOK), St. Louis; Kaiser Electric; and KJWW worked together to determine the most efficient lighting fixtures and lamp sources for the project to reduce energy consumption and cost.

Security and life safety systems were an integral part of the hospital project. For BJC, Kaiser installed about a dozen card access readers for entry doors and for secured, nonpublic areas, as well as 20 closed-circuit television surveillance cameras for building entrances, lobbies and hallways.

“The devices were wired with standard copper cabling and terminated at the main security control room,” said Bruce Bellinger, the project’s low-voltage general foreman. Also, part of the security system is the hospital’s radio frequency identification infant abduction system, which consists of a series of antennas mounted on the ceiling of the maternity ward that pick up the RF signal emitted from the infant’s identification band.

“Any signal picked up by an antenna within several feet of the door sets off alarms and locks the doors,” Bellinger said.

The fire alarm system installed by Kaiser Electric is fully addressable and consists of a number of devices, which were terminated at the main fire alarm control panel, including pull stations, smoke and duct detectors, loudspeakers and strobes. The system was complicated by the need to comply with the 2003 edition of the International Building Code, which had been adopted by the local inspection authorities and requires multiple fire and smoke dampers to be integrated within the fire alarm system.

“It required extensive engineering to ensure that the dampers were programmed to operate as required by the local fire marshal,” said Steve Giacin, project manager.

In addition, Kaiser Electric was responsible for installing the voice/data system.

“In partnership with KJWW, Category 6 data cabling was used to wire more than 400 outlets for telephone service and the integrated computer network,” Bellinger said.

From the main distribution frame, fiber optic backbone cabling was run to four intermediate distribution frames and horizontal copper cabling to the individual outlets.

Scheduling matters

Because the project was design/assist and entailed new construction on a fast-track schedule, the specification was constantly being refined to ensure the hospital would have the best possible product.

“To ensure the design and subsequent construction were proceeding on schedule, weekly design meetings were held by the entire team, including the architect, engineer and owner’s representatives, and operational meetings with field staff and supervisors ensured all changes were incorporated efficiently and correctly,” said Roger Messmer, project director.

Staying on schedule is particularly important on a hospital project as large and complex as this one. BJC was hiring staff for the facility up to four months ahead of the scheduled opening, so it had to meet construction deadlines to coincide with staff training. However, with responsibility for all of the systems, Kaiser Electric was in an excellent position to control the design, installation, testing and integration to ensure the completion before important deadlines.

“Kaiser was constantly examining construction issues or concerns and looking for resolutions. The company was dedicated to meeting scheduled commitments and ensuring a successful completion for the owner,” Eisenhauer said.     

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR and Security + Life Safety Systems. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or by e-mail at

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 power to the lock—independent of the access control system electronics—and the doors must 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.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine


Get It Together

By Andrea Klee

It’s a great time to be an electrical contractor. You may look at that statement skeptically because of worries about the  economy, but hear me out. Several things have happened in the industry that either are having or soon will have a huge effect on your electrical construction businesses, bringing you further influence and success. However, there’s a catch: You must be willing to take the necessary steps. 

The first thing that has occurred, which this magazine addresses at length, is design/build, which is just about at its tipping point. In the next year or so, design/build is expected to push past traditional design/bid/build, giving your businesses more influence and interaction with the owner. After a short absence, the design/build column is back this month, which you can find on page 50.

A second influence is the perfect confluence of manufacturing, government and some organizations, making building systems easier to integrate and more necessary to meet new energy regulations or desired energy standards, such as LEED. Communications and control systems, such as lighting, HVAC, fire alarms, networks, etc., all depend on clean and uninterruptible electric power and will increasingly need to be tied together due to the aforementioned energy codes and standards. This month, we’re focusing on these topics. Edward Brown’s story, “Step by Step,” is a how-to of sorts, looking at different types of integrated systems and how they can be set up and controlled. John Paul Quinn talked to several industry experts and contractors to determine the exact power demands for integrated systems in his story, “Meeting IBS Power Demands,” page 72. For a more specific focus on security and life safety in the healthcare field, please check out this month’s S+LSS, which starts on page 85.

Third, we have building information modeling (BIM), which is expected to revolutionize construction, and for some of you, it already may be doing so. Darlene Bremer takes on the topic in the first of a two-part series, this one with a focus on how BIM can help contractors working in integrated building systems (“Building Information Modeling,” page 78).

Lastly, you may wonder how to capitalize on all these industry changes to make your business as successful as possible. One way is influencing people to promote your business. For help, read Jeff Gavin’s “Creating Ambassadors for Your Business,” page 58.

While this may not overcome your objections to my earlier statement, I’ve done what I can to make my case. It’s up to you to make it the truth.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine


Fringe Benefits

By Ed 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 


Network & Cabling Magazine

Simplifying OTDRs spells profitability for business

By David Green, P.Eng.

Communications networks never get any slower or simpler, or stay the same. The same is true of certification testing for fiber optic (FO) cabling.

Not long ago, the state-of-the-art for FO cabling was the IEEE 100Base-FX standard, which supported a bit rate of 100 Mbps over a channel with an attenuation of 11dB. Today, the transmission channel must attenuate the light by no more than 2.6dB to support a transmission rate 100 times higher for IEEE 10GBase-S. This tightening of requirements for the physical media represents a challenge for all the components used to build and test a transmission path.

In the past, some FO testers were difficult to use because they were designed for legacy telecom networks, but the latest generation of testers is designed to help you easily certify fiber to the latest standards.

FO installers are probably familiar with Optical Loss Test Sets (OLTSs); performing a loss length test with an OLTS is an essential part of fiber installations, since every link needs to be tested to ensure it’s within the loss limits. But an OLTS will only show when a link has passed or failed. When it fails, the OLTS does not show you why or where.

That’s when an OTDR, or optical time domain reflectometer, comes into play. Many installers react badly when they hear the term “OTDR”, but rather than think of it as complicated and expensive, try to see it as being similar to your copper tester.

With today’s OTDRs, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy their benefits. An OTDR will offer you expert diagnostics that make doing this kind of work similar to working with your familiar copper certification tool, giving you the opportunity to bid on more jobs, expand your business and increase profits.

Becoming fiber-proficient

Recently updated standards that focus on test methods for installed fiber links (such as ISO 14763-3 and TIA TSB-140) recommend the complementary use of an OTDR to verify that the link has passed and ensure the quality of each installed component on the link. These updated standards include two levels of testing: Basic (Tier 1) involves an OLTS whereas Extended (Tier 2) involves the use of an OTDR in addition to the OLTS.

The strength of an OTDR lies in its ability to identify bottlenecks. It does this by sending a pulse of light into the fiber and measuring the light reflected back at each component as the light lost at that component. An OTDR can produce accurate, highly detailed measurements when properly configured. (Recent versions of standards like ISO 14763-3 make an attempt to specify all the necessary elements for a correct measurement with an OTDR, which can help eliminate common sources of measurement error.)

Many installers/contractors view these setup requirements as overly complex, which might explain why they believe an OTDR is a tool only for experts. As a result, they may choose not to bid on projects requiring an OTDR, or simply subcontract this work to a company specializing in fiber.

The actual use of an OTDR is not as challenging as it may appear. Granted, ensuring that test leads and Launch/Receive fibers are clean and correctly connected will always be the user’s responsibility, but the OTDR takes care of the rest after that. Newer OTDRs will draw a picture of the proper setup configuration, and the user simply makes the connections; in essence, the instrument is able to “learn” the Launch and Receive fibers.

After this, the tester is ready to certify links and all included components for compliance. (A project-specific standard from the manufacturer’s data sheet or a reference implementation is often used to set these limits.) When there’s a Pass on the summary screen, you know the tester has evaluated all elements of a link, showing the total overall loss. The results are then stored for later reporting. When properly configured, the tests are as simple as a common copper certification test, which means anyone can become fiber proficient.

David Green, P.Eng., is director of marketing for Fluke Networks Canada, and has been involved in technical support, sales and marketing of various technologies for communications, automation, testing and troubleshooting of industrial and commercial systems for over 30 years. A member of Network & Cabling’s editorial advisory board, he is also the education program manager for Fluke, working with educational institutions globally to develop industry-education partnerships.

Reprinted with full permission of Network & Cabling


The Plug-n-play paradigm... just how easy is it?

By David Wietecki

This is the phrase data centre managers mutter as they work to cope with the constant change inherent in their environment. Add to this the ever-present requirements for reliability and uptime, and you have a data centre that places extremely high demands on connectivity infrastructure. While the fundamentals of basic fiber cable management have never been more important, significant changes in fiber connectivity have altered the data centre landscape, allowing for quicker reconfiguration. The ‘plug-n-play’ architecture has appeared on the scene, and is here to stay.

While there is no set definition for plug-n-play, it can generally be considered a design in data centre environments that focuses on the use of multi-fiber connectors for connectivity rather than individual connectors (or even a fiber splice). Multi-fiber connectors can be used on the end of multi-fiber patch cords as well as IFC/trunk cables. These connectors are generally referred to as MPO connectors and accommodate 12, 24 or even 72 fibers—with even higher fiber counts in the future.

Several forces are driving the proliferation of this connector type in the field. The first, and likely most important, is the interfaces found on active equipment in the data centre. The number of cables running through a typical data centre has exploded from a few hundred to a few thousand, and the number of fibers that serve individual pieces of active equipment has grown as well. Standard connectors—even small form factor connectors—just aren’t dense enough to adequately serve the equipment.

The second driver is cost. The savings on installation cost are pretty straightforward; it is more economical and quicker to install one 6-fiber MPO than it is to install six individual connectors. Likewise, routing a single multi-fiber patch cord is simpler than routing several individual cords.

Huge benefits in operational costs can also be achieved in the form of more efficient reconfiguration, scalability and airflow/temperature control. Specifically, operational cost savings result from having fewer individual fiber cables in the system (thereby simplifying fiber management), increasing airflow an allowing for quicker turn-up or turn-down of signal pathways.

The Four Principles of fiber management

These savings—as well as uptime—all hinge on a tight adherence to the ‘Four Principles’ of fiber management, which are worth revisiting in light of new plug-n-play architecture:

1) Bend radius protection

2) Defined routing pathways

3) Connector and fiber access

4) Fiber protection

Bend radius protection

Any cost savings achieved by installing an MPO connector can be quickly negated by violating a fiber’s bend radius, and a very likely place for this to occur is near the multi-fiber connector itself. When using line cards, for example, there is often a total absence of radius protection to guide fibers as they connect to the card. This can put stress on the cable at the MPO boot, jeopardizing not just one fiber but many in each multi-fiber patch cord.

Also, because of the amount of reconfiguration occurring at this point, it is important to relieve stress in existing traffic-carrying cables. By introducing bend radius protection, you define exactly how much stress a technician can put on fiber as he manipulates cables during reconfiguration.

Defined routing pathways

The actual routing of multi-fiber assemblies is essential for reducing operational costs in plug-n-play environments. By following a clear and planned method that employs cable management features in racks/panels (either built-in or add-on modules) adjacent to active equipment and in fiber raceway allows one to capture the efficiencies of multi-fiber deployments. Plug-n-play multi-fiber cables save a lot of space; a 6-fiber patch cord, for example, with a 3-mm diameter is available now. This provides more space for airflow and fiber access during reconfiguration, as well as room for additional fibers. Increased airflow will provide a constant payback over the life of a data centre.

Not only should data centre managers keep multi-fibers routed cleanly in the rack, it is important to try to move these fibers up, out of the floor and above the equipment for routing between zones to allow for improved airflow in a raised-floor environment. Moving an entire rack using plug-n-play architecture (and with a well-defined fiber pathway) can accelerate uptime by allowing for turn-up at a single MPO point (‘parking lot’). Again, this involves clear routing to the parking lot in the rack in addition to a deliberate routing plan between zones in the fiber raceway.

Connector and fiber access

The essence of plug-n-play is the ability to quickly turn-up new paths while monitoring/modifying existing ones. It stands to reason that you need access to connector points and fiber, but how do you access an individual fiber in a multi-fiber plug-n-play environment? After all, data centre managers need to plan for breakout points that allow for individual fiber access, which is critical to monitoring and troubleshooting.

Breakouts can occur in the equipment, zone or horizontal distribution areas of a data centre, and should be compact so as not to lose the advantages inherent in a multi-fiber plug-n-play environment. This breakout, therefore, must have the highest degree of built-in fiber and connector management to ensure the integrity of adjacent live fibers as technicians troubleshoot problem connections. A standard, high-density bulkhead panel simply will not do.

Fiber protection

In truth, this is the culmination of the cable management principles discussed above. By protecting bend radius (not only in the rack, but near the active equipment) and providing neat and organized routing, as well as non-disruptive individual fiber access, we’re essentially protecting fiber and the data we transmit through this medium.

Plug-n-play demands management

Plug-n-play architecture is a great technology that provides for cost savings at both the installation and operational lines on a manager’s expense sheet. However, it highlights the need for exceptional fiber management. Using multi-fiber connectors and cords raises the stakes by increasing the number of fibers affected when something goes wrong. The great news is that, with a little planning and investment upfront in cable management, you can expect dividends for the life of the data centre.

David Wietecki is product manager, fiber panels with ADC. He got his BA from the University of Iowa and MBA from the University of St. Thomas.

Reprinted with full permission of Network & Cabling


BICSI’s true movers and shakers: the committee volunteers

By Richard S. Smith, RCDD/NTS/OSP Specialist

Among its largest volunteer-driven efforts are BICSI’s committee meetings, conducted by subject-matter experts from the information transport systems (ITS) industry. While the sessions vary in focus, they all work to help BICSI do more for its members. And they’re inclusive, meaning you can join any of these meetings and proactively help shape BICSI’s future.

One of these committees—the aptly named Membership and Marketing (M&M) Committee—focuses on membership and marketing activities within BICSI and, within the past year, was given increased responsibilities by BICSI’s Board of Directors. Here are some of the important things they’re working on:

Stakeholders Ranking Tool

Originally the purview of the Stakeholders Working Group of the BICSI NxtGEN Project, BICSI’s board approved the transfer of the Stakeholders Ranking Tool’s ownership to the M&M Committee, which will continually update the tool with special regard toward targeted lines of business. So why is this important, and what is the Stakeholders Ranking Tool? First, a little background...

Due to changes in the ITS marketplace, BICSI is modernizing its credentialing processes with the launch of the BICSI NxtGEN Program (formerly known as the ‘Inverted Funnel Project’), which will elevate the importance and recognition of existing Registered Communications Distribution Designers (RCDDs); make the RCDD and Specialty programs more available to IT, engineering and other professionals; and make BICSI’s credentialing programs more consistent with the way in which professionals are credentialed today.

BICSI credentialing currently has a linear path: a person first enters the organization as an Installer or Technician then must work to become an RCDD prior to being able to enter one of the three Specialty credential programs (Network Transport Systems [NTS], Wireless Design (WD] and Outside Plant [OSP]). BICSI NxtGEN evaluates the path of becoming an RCDD then reconfigures it to match the needs of today’s ITS professionals.

The Stakeholders Working Group of the NxtGEN Program Committee was charged with identifying current and future BICSI stakeholders. The tool it developed (the aforementioned Stakeholders Ranking Tool) helps identify, quantify and validate those stakeholders by providing a quantitative analysis of each line of business.

The end result is that the NxtGEN Business Plan identified six major industry categories—construction, design, supply chain, ITS consumers, education/training providers and industry associations—from which BICSI could attract new professional members/customers. Now, armed and empowered with the Stakeholders Ranking Tool, the M&M Committee will lead the charge in promoting the NxtGEN project to both current—and future—BICSI members.

Marketing and member benefits

Another major development is a draft of recommendations from the M&M Committee that will be used to help staff provide more benefits to BICSI’s ITS professionals. From over 170 recommendations, 48 were identified as major priorities, such as: integrating credentialing programs and BICSI manuals into college degree programs; recognition of BICSI Continuing Education Credits (CECs) by large colleges and universities; and regularly updating BICSI’s website with current news and technology tips.

Although the M&M Committee has existed for a long time in an advisory capacity, it now has new and increased responsibilities, and a renewed and rejuvenated focus to provide BICSI members and credential holders a return on investment. Hats off to the M&M Committee’s chair, Edward Boychuk, and vice-chair, Cathy Dunn, for their efforts!

There are many other important committees that are always looking for fresh ideas—your ideas—in addition to the M&M Committee, such as the Exhibitor or Education advisory committees. Take advantage of the opportunity to actively participate in BICSI; your own return on investment will increase while benefiting the entire BICSI membership.

To find out more about BICSI committees and how to join, visit and click on Committees on the left-hand navigation menu.

Richard S. Smith—the manager of Bell Aliant Cabling Solutions—is the Canadian Region Director for BICSI, a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry, including designers, installers and technicians, with information and education. Visit BICSI online at

Reprinted with full permission of Network & Cabling


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