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Issue: October 2008
By: Frank Bisbee

Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


In financially unpredictable times, TECHNOLOGY is a very good place. Globally, we continue to see the proliferation of convergence in almost all technical areas. As systems begin to communicate, we see areas of real financial improvement.

Energy Control means reduced costs without sacrificing the productivity of the building occupants. Improving Security means reduced losses from internal and external sources. Data Communications distributed means the competitive edge for many companies today. Life Safety Systems means protecting our most valuable assets – OUR PEOPLE. Voice and Data communications means improved business through customer service and increased performance.


These are the components of the intelligent building. These elements combined actually build the environment for increased PRODUCTIVITY. The dollars that come from increased productivity dwarf all other areas of decreased costs or improved efficiency. For a building owner, increased PRODUCTIVITY is the competitive edge for profitability.

You may listen to the politicians and get depressed over the news broadcasts, but don’t forget you are on the ground floor of the most radical period of change (and improvement) in the modern history of man. The Internet has opened many doors for NEW AGE.  Do your homework. Change can be very painful if you “wing it”. Education in any form is essential to maximize your value.

We remind you that the trade association and industry publications are one of the least expensive and most current sources of the educational material about the rapidly evolving INFORMATION AGE.

National Associations - Major end-users and trade organizations

                                    1.         NAIOP  (National Association of Industrial and Office Properties)

                                    2.         BOMA  (Building Owner / Manager Association)

                                    3.         BICSI  (Advancing Information Transport Systems)

4.         ACUTA (Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education)

5.         HIMSS (The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society)

6.         AIA (American Institute of Architects)

7.                   NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association)

8.                   FOA   (The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.)

9.                   NAED (National Assoc of Electrical Distributors)

10.               AFCOM (Data Center Management Professionals)

11.               CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Assn.)

12.               NFPA (National Fire Protection Assn.)


                                    1.         NASTD (Natl. Assn. of State Telecom. Dir.)

                                    2.         NASIRE (Natl. Assn. State Info. Resource   Executives

Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Cabling Networking Systems


Network & Cable Magazine

Building Operating Management

TED – The Electrical Distributor Magazine

NEC Digest

Communications News Magazine

Wire International

The Electrical Contractor Magazine

Network Magazine

ACUTA Journal

REXEL PowerOutlet Magazine

ACUTA Newsletter

Buildings Magazine

Think back fifteen years ago, we just did not have anywhere near the resources that we have today. The rate of change is still increasing and it’s up to you to stay on top of your skills set.

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

Draka chooses Megladon's HLC ScratchGuard® Technology

September 22, 2008 Claremont, NC: Draka Communications, a leader in fiber and fiber cable solutions, announces a major advancement in connectorized cables through the combination of Draka's BendBright-XST bend-insensitive fiber cable and MegladonR's Hardened Lens Connector (HLC) ScratchGuardR connector technology.

Available immediately in patch cord products, Draka and Megladon have combined two best-in-class technologies to deliver a high performance, highly scratch resistant, bend-insensitive fiber optic cable assembly to the market. The product offering is diverse and includes riser, plenum, and low-smoke zero halogen (LSZH) cables available with ultra or angle polish hardened lens connectors.

Introduced in 2006 as Draka's second generation of bend-insensitive fiber, BendBright-XS has become a product of choice for customers desiring a solid-glass G.657 A&&B compliant fiber. With over 150,000 miles of BendBright-XS already in service, Draka is leading the efforts to bring bend-insensitive fiber to the global market.

Megladon's HLC process was developed to meet the growing need for a scratch resistant, highly durable fiber optic mating surface. The ScratchGuard connector technology is a critical step forward in quality and durability. With the fiber optic connector being a critical component, damage to the connector due to handling and repeated use has been a concern and point of failure for network operators. Megladon's HLC ScratchGuard technology has virtually eliminated this problem.

"This is truly a win for the customer. Combining a fiber cable that can tolerate 7.5 mm of bend radius with a nearly scratch resistant connector, the reliability and durability of connectorized cables has just taken a giant step forward," states Paul Baird, Business Development Manager with Draka.

About DrakaR Communications
Draka, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is a $4 billion, publicly listed (Euronext) company with 9,145 employees worldwide. Draka is divided into three groups: Energy && Infrastructure, Industry && Specialty and Communications. Communications is responsible for the production and sale of optical fiber, cable and communication infrastructure solutions globally. Draka Communications - Americas' roots in North America run a century deep in names like Alcatel, ITT, Ericsson, Chromatic Technologies, and Phelps Dodge. Our clients are served from Draka's unique site in Claremont, North Carolina which is home to the 125-acre corporate campus && Americas headquarters, over 1 million square feet of manufacturing space and the only integrated optical fiber and cable facility in North America. For more information please visit

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

Draka Communications - Americas Media Contact:
Kim Hudson, Marketing Communications Manager
Phone: 828.459.8443
Fax: 828.459.8444

Scott H. Fairbairn

Click here to view a demonstration video
With lower signal loss and Scratch Guard® protection, HLCR Patch Cables:

* Reduce costly delays due to damaged cables
* Increase Network Reliability
* Maximize Customer Satisfaction


Top Finalists Announced in Interactive Intelligence “Outrageous Interactions” Contest

“People’s choice” voting now open online; voters eligible to win GPS

A panel of expert judges have selected the finalists in the Interactive Intelligence (Nasdaq: ININ) “Outrageous Interactions” contest, and “people’s choice” voting is now open to the public to pick a winner.

Voters are eligible to win a Garmin eTrex GPS. To vote for your favorite entry, visit Public voting closes Monday, Sept. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern daylight time.

With more than a decade of experience developing software to help call centers better serve customers, Interactive Intelligence knows first-hand the issues call center agents face every day. It was in this spirit that in May the company launched its “Outrageous Interactions” contest. Since then, the contest has attracted submissions from agents worldwide recounting the most bizarre, wacky and funny customer interaction stories you’ve likely ever heard.

Excerpts from several of the finalists include the following:

“I had to deliver some unwelcome news to my caller. He had missed a deadline for his health insurance…and wanted to convince me to make an exception by trying to make me feel sorry for him. Our conversation went something like this:

-Caller: You might like to know that I am a veteran. I was in a war. In fact, there was a suicide bomber that came right at me. He didn’t get me though.
-Me: Yes, I can tell
-Caller (laughing): You don’t know, maybe I’m calling you from heaven.
- Me: I don’t believe you have to use the toll-free number from there, sir.

He hung up much happier than when he called in, so that was good!”

“Years ago while working as a customer service representative with a major senior citizen's mail-order pharmacy service I was diligently placing a lengthy order for an elderly gentleman. After placing an order for another over-the-counter item, the customer asked if the item came in other flavors. When the item displayed, I was shocked. The item ordered was for 24 suppositories. The caller said, “The last ones went down well but tasted terrible.”

Interactive Intelligence will award the winner of the “Outrageous Interactions” contest with a trip for two to Hawaii.

The winner by popular vote will be announced Sept. 17, 2008 from the stage of TMC’s Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO, held in Los Angeles.

About Interactive Intelligence
Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of unified business communications solutions for contact center automation, enterprise IP telephony, and enterprise messaging. The company was founded in 1994 and has more than 3,000 customers worldwide. Interactive Intelligence is among Software Magazine’s top 500 global software and services suppliers, is ranked among NetworkWorld’s top 200 North American networking vendors, is a BusinessWeek “hot growth 50” company, and is among FORTUNE Small Business Magazine’s top 100 fastest growing companies. Interactive Intelligence employs approximately 600 people and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has six global corporate offices with additional sales offices throughout North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Interactive Intelligence can be reached at +1 317.872.3000 or


AFL Telecommunications Acquires The Light Brigade Acquisition Expands AFL’s Fiber Optic Training Program

AFL  Telecommunications announces that it has acquired a majority ownership position in The Light Brigade, a leading fiber optic training company and supplier of media and products, located in Tukwila, Washington. This acquisition expands AFL’s technical training capacity, allowing for increased service to current and potential customers.

“With the increased demand for qualified technicians, The Light Brigade’s 20+ years of experience, along with the strength and outreach of its instructor base, provides additional capacity, allowing us to serve even more customers,” said Patrick Dobbins, Director of AFL’s Fiber Optic Training Division. “And our combined training capabilities bridge a gap so that we can promote advanced integrated solutions for our customers.”

AFL Telecommunications currently provides both product and application training, building fundamental capabilities and supporting the most advanced technical requirements. Courses are offered at AFL’s corporate headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina and worldwide at various customer locations.

AFL’s current technical training courses have been reviewed and certified by the Fiber Optics Association (FOA) and select courses are eligible for BICSI® education credits.

With the addition of The Light Brigade’s current curriculum of training programs, AFL expands its training to include the Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA®) certification, enabling technicians’ certification in areas of electronic equipment service and support.

“With the acquisition, AFL will be able to provide resources to allow The Light Brigade to expand existing courses and develop new courses, curriculum and training materials,” said Larry Johnson, President of The Light Brigade. “Not only is this a win for AFL and The Light Brigade, but also for our clients who want to develop their knowledge and skills.” 


Wilderness Field Training Improves Safety for Utility Technicians Working in Remote Locations

Utilities like Alltel Wireless are finding that real-world wilderness field training, like that delivered by Northwest School of Survival, provides a better measure of safety for its technicians working in severe weather, harsh environments and remote locations.

by Jim McMahon

Let us say you are a field engineer en route to perform maintenance on a microwave station in a remote area of the central Sierra Nevada mountains.  It is late-December, there is a light dusting of snow on the one-lane, hardly-paved Kaiser Pass Road, as you and your support tech slowly ascend your way up the mountain.  Starting at the 7,000 foot elevation at Huntington Lake, your 4X4 is hugging the granite cliffs as you snake your way around boulders, conifers and ditches, up the ten-percent grade toward the 9,200-foot elevation White Bark cutoff at the top of Kaiser Pass.  The first heavy snows have not yet hit the region, but the mountain road in the Sierra National Forest was officially closed for the onset of winter four weeks earlier.  After traveling seven miles up the road you reach the crest of Kaiser Pass, and take the White Bark Forest Service dirt road to you destination two miles further in, where the microwave equipment is stationed. 

The temperature at the top is a brisk 24 degrees F with a 32 mph wind, overcast skies and snow flurries.  But as is typical in the high Sierras, weather can change quickly and unexpectedly.  After a couple of hours the winds pick up to 60 mph, storm clouds thicken, snow squalls prevail, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a full-scale white-out, blizzard conditions that show no signs of letting up.  Your one road out is now inaccessible to your 4X4, extremely dangerous even with chains, and visibility is almost down to zero with snow accumulating an inch per hour.  You face the fact that unless a snowcat can be brought up there to get you out, you may be spending the night.  But are you prepared to weather these extreme cold conditions?  Have you been properly field-trained in wilderness survival adequately to make it through the night without frostbite or hypothermia setting in?

Field technicians working for power, telecommunications, water and transportation providers are challenged by similar extreme weather conditions throughout many areas of the country.  Danger does not limit itself to cold weather climates.  Extremes in heat, such as in our southwest deserts or the southern states across the country, can be equally life threatening.  Regardless of which extremes you face, the remoteness of the location only magnifies the danger level.  

Classroom “Wilderness” Training

An increased guarantee of survival in such harsh conditions can be achieved through training.  But to many companies, the extent of their safety training consists merely of a two- to four-hour indoor seminar every two to three years, and sometimes includes a little parking lot training.  Students get a lot of theory, and might even learn how to operate an ATV or snowcat on flat terrain – limited to how to stop, brake and turn, and maybe receive verbal instruction on how not to flip the machine.  But, that is about it as far as the hands-on training goes.  Then the techs get their “certification” cards and go on their way, with little increased ability to really survive their next blizzard, operate their equipment in extreme weather or terrain conditions, or properly cope with a bout of altitude sickness, desert dehydration or Grizzly confrontation.

Unfortunately, some companies see this as a way to fulfill a legal or insurance requirement rather than participating in a program that will truly improve the safety of their employees. Classroom-dominated “survival” training, where 80% of the training is conducted in-class, presents a low-budget and time-friendly format for certification, to be sure.  But let us be clear here, survival training in the absence of real-world wilderness experience lacks the hands-on, do-it-yourself factor that the student needs.  Like our microwave techs on Kaiser Pass, a life-threatening blizzard is not the time to figure out how to survive.  That should have been learned before heading into the mountains, so that responses are automatic to whatever conditions are encountered.  In a survival situation there is always some confusion present, but knowing how to handle wilderness survival tools should not be part of it.

Wilderness Field Training

Hands-on, real-world training in environments that closely approximate actual severe conditions in the wilderness is the best guarantee of surviving in a remote location.

For example, a really comprehensive and effective winter survival program that would give students a high degree of survival potential might include: cold weather survival tactics; land navigation including use of GPS, maps and compass; first aid; shelter finding and building; fire skills; hypothermia, frostbite and altitude issues (prevention, recognition and treatment); avalanche training; snowcat, snowmobile, ATV and 4X4 training; and training with handling chainsaws and winches.  Packed into, say a five-day program, with 20 percent classroom and 80 percent real-world field training, this type of program would produce graduates that could very competently take care of themselves in a remote winter environment.

“There is no substitute for on-site survival training in mountainous and remote locations,” says Austin Toole, Emergency Medical Technician operating in the County of Los Angeles, and Sierra Nevada high-altitude wilderness expert.  “Weather conditions can change fast in the mountains posing serious challenges that didn’t exist an hour before.  Downed trees, washed-out roads and trails can present difficult hazards when trying to get around them with ATVs and 4X4s.” 

“Even the most seasoned mountain hikers get themselves into life threatening situations,” Toole explains.  “Hypothermia, altitude sickness, snake bites, plant poisoning and broken legs are some of the more common maladies that plague those entering mountain areas.  Even a badly sprained ankle can put you into a dangerous situation in the mountains.”

“The remoteness of the environment is the real issue,” continues Toole.  “What does it take to get emergency medical care when you are 30 miles away from the nearest paved road?  It takes a team of people to find you and pull you out, and frequently with a helicopter.  That can be embarrassing and expensive.  The solution is simple, if you are going to spend any amount of time in remote wilderness areas - mountains or deserts - get field-trained ahead of time to survive it when conditions go bad.”

Alltel Wireless Field Technicians

Train for Harsh Environmental Conditions

Alltel Wireless is one utility that has embraced the concept of hands-on wilderness field training for its site technicians in Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, who frequently need to perform maintenance on their equipment in remote and mountainous regions.

Alltel Wireless owns and operates the nation's largest wireless network, serving more than 12 million customers across the country and generating $8 billion in annual revenues.

“Winter survival becomes a significant issue for us,” says Doug Fouch, with Alltel.  “It is not unusual for us to have to send in a team of techs on snowmobiles, 20 miles into Yellowstone National Park, in the dead of winter to service our cell towers.  Mountaintop towers provide our most extreme site issues.  This is a harsh environment, to say the least.  The snow pack can be 20 feet deep, with temperatures sub-zero.  Cold-weather survival skills, snowmobile handling, navigational training with GPS, and avalanche training become an absolute necessity.  This is not an environment where you want to come ill-equipped.”

“We have tried a number of wilderness training programs, but settled with Northwest School of Survival ( for our wilderness training,” Fouch continues.  “We have trained with them for years, and have found their program to be the most comprehensive and flexible for our specific needs.”

Northwest School of Survival provides a unique customized program for its utility and corporate clients, integrating varying elements of skill-sets to ensure multiple facets of training are covered. Training can be completely custom tailored to meet each company’s specific requirements. Its programs are heavy on real-world field training to maximize the learning experience, and extensively span harsh-environment scenarios.

Northwest’s program not only includes extensive training, but also assists its clients to evaluate their wilderness safety risks, and develop safety protocol and standards.  Such actions help establish rescue preplanning and procedures, survival kits, first aid kits, clothing, footwear, and equipment evaluations and recommendations.

“Even bear safety is an issue for us,” explains Fouch.  “How many other telecommunications field technicians in the United States have to deal with Grizzly bears?  Not many.  But we frequently come upon Grizzly’s in their habitat, and it is a good skill to know how to deal with them correctly, seeing as how we have to co-habitat with them while we are servicing our equipment.  This is part of our survival training too.”

Northwest’s customized training approach also ensures that new Alltel team members, who require specific training, get it when and where needed, rather than waiting for an “open-enrollment” course to be offered.  Northwest also can bring the training on-site to Alltel’s desired locations whenever and wherever needed.

“Our instructors are the most experienced in the industry,” says Brian Wheeler,

President of Northwest School of Survival.  “We are not afraid to put our clients into remote, environmental situations that will be similar to what they will actually face on a daily basis.  If it is 50 below zero and white-out conditions, we still train.  It is extreme, and it can make training a challenge, but this is our client’s real-world scenario.  Whether it is the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado or any other location that faces extremes in terrain and weather, our instructors know exactly what they are doing.  It is not theory, they are pros in their respective fields when it comes to real-world applications, with many years of experience.  They know how to impart the critical knowledge and skills that field techs need to deal with any environmental situation.”

“Companies train because their employees are at risk,” Wheeler explains.  “If a company’s employees work in remote wilderness conditions, they could be at risk 80 percent of the time.  Even if a company has never had a remote location incident, it is better for them to maintain a pro-active stance towards training that actually mimics their specific work applications, rather than fall prey to a reactive position after someone has sustained injuries or died on the job. Our challenge is to reduce that risk for them as much as possible.”

About Northwest School of Survival – For the past 23 years, NWSOS has provided basic to advanced training in varied specialties for some of the largest companies in the world, as well as the United States military (Including its various branches, special forces, elite units, SERE instructors, and other active/reserve teams), law enforcement personnel, state and federal government agencies, search and rescue teams, and the general public.

NWSOS provides the highest level of real-world wilderness survival training available anywhere, offering its programs year-round in varying climates and terrain conditions. 

Operating from its base at Mt. Hood, Oregon, it delivers customized training programs for its clients on location anywhere in the United States and internationally, for just about any survival or safety application.  Its curriculum is the most hands-on and reality-based program available, and its trainers are among the most experienced in the world, possessing the understanding and skills needed to successfully train its students for the most life-threatening wilderness survival conditions.

For more information on Northwest School of Survival, contact Brian Wheeler, President/Founder; 2870 NE Hogan Rd., E-461, Gresham, OR 97030 (mailing address); Phone 503-668-8264; email;



UN Roundtable Discussion Reinforces Technology’s Role in Advancing Economic Sustainability in Developing Regions

Technology’s role in combating the global food crisis was the key theme during a United Nations (UN) Private Sector roundtable discussion moderated today by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The roundtable discussion was part of a broader UN Private Sector Forum that featured global business leaders and key UN officials discussing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Food Sustainability.

“Technological innovations can help solve the global food crisis and as industry leaders, we must collaborate with governments and the United Nations to promote the use of new technologies for food security and sustainability,” said Shapiro. “Advancements in technology not only contribute to the efforts to fight hunger on a global scale, but they also aid in building economic sustainability in developing regions. Every citizen of the world must have access to technology to be connected .”

Universal access to technology for all citizens will serve as major theme throughout the upcoming 2009 International CES®, the world’s largest technology tradeshow, scheduled January 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The second annual Technology and Emerging Countries Program (TEC) at CES will focus on technology’s impact on economic advancement and sustainability in developing regions. The program will feature keynote addresses from Intel Chairman Craig Barrett and Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers. The 2009 CES show floor will feature a Technology and Emerging Countries TechZone, showcasing the pioneering technologies that contribute to the social and cultural development of emerging economies.

The UN Private Sector Forum consisted of several roundtable discussions focused on the global food crisis and food sustainability and featured global business leaders including executives from Intel, Coca Cola and Ericsson. Conference speakers included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; former U.S. President Bill Clinton and World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick.

The 2009 International CES will feature more than 2,700 exhibitors introducing the latest consumer technology products throughout 30 product categories including digital entertainment, high performance audio, digital imaging, electronic gaming and more. For more information and to register to attend the 2009 International CES visit, the interactive source for CES information.

Note to Journalists:

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

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

Follow the 2009 International CES on Twitter at and visit the International CES Page on Facebook.


CEA Industry Forum

October 19-22, 2008,  Las Vegas, NV

Digital Hollywood

October 27-30, 2008,  Hollywood, CA

EHX Fall 2008

November 4-7, 2008,  Long Beach, CA

CES New York Press Preview featuring CES Unveiled @ NY

November 11, 2008,  New York, NY

Future of Television East

November 18-19, 2008,  New York, NY

CES Unveiled: The Official Press Event of the International CES

January 6, 2009, Las Vegas, NV

2009 International CES

January 8-11, 2009, Las Vegas, NV

Digital Music Forum East

February 25-26, 2009,  New York, NY

CEA Washington Forum

April 22-23, 2009,  Washington, DC

Digital Patriots Dinner

April 22, 2009, Washington, DC

If you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please visit 


Draka Communications Selected to Provide Fiber Optic Cable for the First FTTH Deployment of Its Kind in Canada

Telephone Drummond is the first CLEC & Service provider to build a true fiber to the home network in Canada

Draka Communications - Americas has been selected by Telephone Guevremont, a Quebec based ILEC, and Telephone Drummond and Maskatel, CLEC affiliates of Telephone Guevremont, to provide all the fiber optic cable requirements for their FTTH deployment in the Drummondville, Quebec area.

The Telephone Drummond FTTH project is the first of its kind in Canada, the first CLEC & Service provider to build a true fiber to the home network.  This success story is the result of the vision of Mr. Augustin Guevremont. The Guevremont family has been involved as an ILEC in the Ste-Rosalie, Quebec area for over 75 years.  Over a decade ago Mr. Guevremont partnered with Mr. Donald Dupuis to form Maskatel and soon thereafter Mr. Claude Beauregard joined them to start Telephone Drummond.  Their headend was built in 2006 and they started serving their first customer in August of 2007. 

Draka Communications is proud to be part of this success story by providing a broad range of fiber optic cable products, including its 864 count ezRibbon™ high count loose tube cables, ezPrep™ Loose Tube cables and ezDrop™ FTTH drop cables.  Draka's family of outdoor, indoor and specialty fiber cables allow network operators and installers to simply and cost-effectively deploy fiber infrastructure.

“Having served Telephone Guevremont and Maskatel in the past, we were very confident in Draka’s ability to provide proven products that exceed industry standards,” commented Maskatel President Donald Dupius.  “Draka was also proactive in assisting us by providing introductions to a variety of FTTH experts in the United States.  We felt this exemplified the spirit of partnership we were looking for in a vendor.”

For more information on how Draka Communications can help with your fiber deployment, please contact a customer service representative at 1-800-879-9862 or visit the Web site at

About Draka Communications
Draka, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is a $4 billion, publicly listed (Euronext) company with 9,145 employees worldwide.  Draka is divided into three groups: Energy & Infrastructure, Industry & Specialty and Communications.  Communications is responsible for the production and sale of optical fiber, cable and communication infrastructure solutions globally. Draka Communications – Americas’ roots in North America run a century deep in names like Alcatel, ITT, Ericsson, Chromatic Technologies, and Phelps Dodge. Our clients are served from Draka's unique site in Claremont, North Carolina which is home to the 125-acre corporate campus & Americas headquarters, over 1 million square feet of manufacturing space and the only integrated optical fiber and cable facility in North America.  For more information please visit

About Maskatel, Téléphone Drummond, and Téléphone Guèvremont
Based in Quebec Canada, Maskatel is registered as a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) in Canada. Maskatel has been serving the St-Hyacinthe area east of Montreal since 1996. Since then, it has steadily expanded to serve other localities in Quebec and currently serves about 25,000 customers. Téléphone Drummond is registered as a CLEC and will start its operations in 2007 to serve the Drummondville area. Téléphone Guèvremont is registered as a Small ILEC and offers service covering the Ste-Rosalie area (now part of St-Hyacinthe) in Quebec.


ERICO® Highlights Its Newest CADDY® Products at BICSI Fall

If you want to see the newest developments in the information transport systems (ITS) industry, then the 2008 BICSI Fall Conference is the place to be. And for a glimpse of the newest, most innovative products from ERICO®, visit Booth 600/602.

 CADDY® CAT LINKS is the newest J-Hook support solution from ERICO, the company that brought you the original CADDY® CABLECAT patented J-Hook. CADDY CAT LINKS offers the largest family of J-Hook sizes on the market. The full range provides a bending radius that meets TIA standards for Cat 6a and easily accommodates Cat 7, large-diameter optical fiber, innerduct and coax cable. Available in 1, 2, 3 and 4 inch diameter sizes.

 The CADDY® SPEED LINK Integral Y-Toggles, Quad Toggles and Integral Y-Hooks eliminate the need to use multiple parts, such as threaded rod, strut, bolts, nuts and washers, during your installation. With one, all-inclusive package, you have everything needed to quickly and easily hang basket tray, wireless access points, ligh.t fixtures, speakers or other equipment.

The CADDY SPEED LINK Integral Y-Toggle features 12" legs and is available with lengths of 6 - 30 ft.* CADDY SPEED LINK Integral Y-Hooks have 20" legs and are available with lengths of 6', 10', 20'.*

*Approximate Lengths.

For more information on these and other CADDY products,

stop by Booth 600/602 or visit 


JITC Certifies Interactive Intelligence All-in-One Communications Software Suite for the Department of Defense

Certification speeds sales cycles and reduces implementation time for all federal agencies through advance telecom and network security testing

The Joint Interoperability Test Command has certified the Interactive Intelligence (Nasdaq: ININ) all-in-one communications software suite for use by the Department of Defense.

JITC certification ensures that Department of Defense telecom and network security configuration, information assurance and interoperability requirements have been met.

“With its JITC certification, the Interactive Intelligence software offers the Department of Defense and federal agencies worldwide the benefits of a faster sales cycles and shorter deployment time with no additional testing or exceptions needed,” said Joe Brookman, CEO of Brookman LLC, a Rockville, Maryland firm specializing in government technology services.

The Interactive Intelligence software was also JITC-certified for compatibility with Department of Defense computer access cards – a federal government security requirement as of 2009.

“Interactive Intelligence is the only CPE vendor to-date whose software is certified for use with DoD electronic ID cards, thus further simplifying sales cycles and deployments,” Brookman said.

The JITC-certified Interactive Intelligence software, Customer Interaction Center® (CIC), offers open, single-platform architecture with inherent multi-channel processing to deliver comprehensive applications -- skills-based routing, interactive voice response, call recording, unified messaging, and more -- minus the cost and complexity introduced by multi-point products.

“With more than 1,700 security specifications, JITC-certification often takes up to 18 months, but we were able to complete CIC testing in only six months because of its unique standards-based, single-platform architecture,” Brookman said. “This architecture, particularly its deep integration to Microsoft components such as Active Directory and Office Communications Server, not only facilitated testing, but means reduced integration requirements and management complexity for federal government customers.”

CIC also includes support of the secure real-time transport protocol and transport layer security standards, providing end-to-end call encryption.

Interactive Intelligence first released its software in 1997 and has more than 3,000 customers worldwide, including dozens of federal government customers such as the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Energy.

“For years we’ve brought unique value to government customers by offering them a single-platform, all-in-one communications software suite designed to eliminate the cost and complexity associated with integrating and managing multi-point products,” said Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO, Dr. Donald E. Brown. “With our JITC certification, we’ve added to this value by making it even easier for government departments to buy and deploy our software.”

About Brookman, LLC
ROOKMAN is a technology and services company providing certification services to government technology providers, communications solutions for contact center automation and enterprise IP Telephony, and IT automation solutions to the Federal Government. BROOKMAN can be reached at +1 301 515 0450 or; on the Net:

About Interactive Intelligence
Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of unified business communications solutions for contact center automation, enterprise IP telephony, and enterprise messaging. The company was founded in 1994 and has more than 3,000 customers worldwide. Interactive Intelligence is among Software Magazine’s top 500 global software and services suppliers, is ranked among NetworkWorld’s top 200 North American networking vendors, is a BusinessWeek “hot growth 50” company, and is among FORTUNE Small Business Magazine’s top 100 fastest growing companies. Interactive Intelligence employs approximately 600 people and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has six global corporate offices with additional sales offices throughout North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Interactive Intelligence can be reached at +1 317.872.3000 or; on the Net:



Mohawk, a leading manufacturer of fiber optic and copper cable products, would like to announce the launch of their newly revised certification program. The Mohawk Accredited Contractor (MAC) certification has been re-launched to include some new features, including a 25-year warranty program for all Category and Fiber Optic cables. In addition to offering a 25-year Open Architecture warranty, MAC contractors also now have the opportunity to earn various incentives and rebates. Certified by BICSI for 7 CECs, the MAC training program has recently been modified with the latest TIA standards and practices, including Augmented Category 6 performance and installation requirements. By using one of Mohawk’s MAC-certified contractors, our customers can be ensured that the work is performed to current industry standards and accepted practices.

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



Mohawk, a leading manufacturer of fiber optic and copper cable products, announces the release of their MarineGUARD™ shipboard cables. Available in Category 5e, 5E and 6, these LSZH cables deliver network signals to a range of vessels including cruise lines, oil carriers, bulk carriers, private yachts, and container and cargo carriers. MarineGUARD products offer quality audio and video functions for private and commercial vessels including structures such as drilling and research platforms. The communication applications include computer networks, audio-video applications, POE (Power Over Ethernet) and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). MarineGUARD cables are approved by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for use in demanding and harsh marine applications. ABS approval offers excellence and safety standards for marine vessel products.

The MarineGUARD series also offers a full line of ABS-approved fiber optic cables, including all-dielectric, seamless corrugated aluminum armor and loose tube fiber optic cables.

Mohawk’s VersaLAN cables have also been approved by the ABS. Available in 4 pair Category 6 and 5E, as well as 25 pair Category 5e, VersaLAN is designed to perform in wet indoor and outdoor locations where other cables fail. These cables are well suited for dockside applications where water exposure is a concern.

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


Ortronics/Legrand Introduces New Bonding and Grounding Solutions

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, is pleased to announce the introduction of Ortronics new Bonding and Grounding product line.

Proper bonding and grounding is crucial to the performance and safety of sensitive network equipment and for maximizing personal protection. Metallic components included in the infrastructure (i.e. equipment racks, enclosures, cable runway, etc.) must be bonded to the grounding system. Ortronics Bonding and Grounding solutions provide a comprehensive line of products for a uniform telecommunications bonding and grounding infrastructure. They are UL listed and meet ANSI-J-STD-607-A standards.

This new addition to the Ortronics portfolio rounds out an already comprehensive offering of network infrastructure solutions that encompass copper, fiber optic, and wireless connectivity as well as physical support solutions, including cable management racks and cabinets, Cablofil® wire mesh cable tray and Wiremold® pathways.


Brian Ensign Joins Ortronics/Legrand as Director of Training and Technology

Ortronics/ Legrand, a leader in copper, fiber optic and wireless structured cabling solutions, is pleased to announce that Brian Ensign has joined the business as Director of Training and Technology.  Brian will be located at corporate headquarters in New London, CT.

Ensign’s work experience includes positions of increasing responsibility with Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc, including his most recent position as Director of National Accounts.  His previous positions with Leviton include Senior Project Scientist and Technical Marketing Manager for Leviton Network Solutions, as well as various positions with Intertek Testing Services (ETL) in Cortland, NY.

Ensign holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from SUNY – Utica/Rome along with his RCDD/NTS/OSP designations from BICSI.  He is the current BICSI Northeast Regional Director, is serving on the BICSI Board of Directors, and is an active participant in the TIA and IEEE standards committees.

"We are excited to have Brian onboard," said Mark Panico, President of Ortronics/Legrand. "His extensive experience and active involvement in the standards bodies will be extremely valuable to us as we continue our efforts to provide industry-leading training programs and provide innovative solutions for our customers."


Bluesocket and Ortronics/Legrand Announce Development and Joint Marketing Agreement

Pairs Best-in-Class Wireless Management with Innovative Access Points for Secure, Flexible Wi-Fi Solution

Burlington, Mass. and New London, CT – September 16, 2008- Bluesocket, Inc., the leader in trusted wireless access and enterprise mobility, and Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance copper, fiber and wireless structured cabling solutions, today announced the formation of a development and joint marketing agreement to address market demand for greater security and flexibility in wireless solutions. 

Highly secure wireless environments, ease of deployment and low total cost of ownership continue to drive demand for innovative solutions designed to meet the rapidly expanding use of wireless applications.  Further, as the adoption of wireless networks continues to grow, ease of integration with existing network and facility infrastructure becomes an increasingly important element of network performance, worker productivity and physical security.

Through this agreement, Bluesocket’s access point software will be integrated with the Ortronics Wi-Jack Duo® access point - the world’s smallest dual-band, dual-radio wireless access point (AP) - and will be fully supported by Bluesocket’s family of BlueSecure Controllers. The solution provides the only dual-band, dual-radio access point that seamlessly integrates with structured cabling, providing for centrally managed, high performance wireless deployments that are theft and vandalism resistant.  Once installed, the Wi-Jack Duo AP is automatically configured and controlled by the Bluesocket wireless controller, where administrators can take advantage of the full range of network and AP management, and security functions.

“As customers look to implement wireless in their organizations, they need a solution that is secure, easy to install, and easy to manage and maintain," said Mark Panico, president of Ortronics/Legrand. “The enhanced offering as a result of the agreement we’re announcing today will provide just that, as well as reliable performance, flexibility, and scalability to meet a broad range of customer needs.

The Wi-Jack Duo® AP’s small form and wall mount design, coupled with the BlueSecure Controller’s zero touch plug-and-play, creates a simple and convenient deployment process for customers.  The Wi-Jack Duo sets the standard for compact, unobtrusive access point design.  Packaged discreetly behind a single gang faceplate, the Duo supports 802.11a/b/g for simultaneous 2.4 and 5 GHz operation at speeds up to 54 Mbps and integrates easily into the structured cabling wherever wireless access is desired.  The Duo terminates directly to Category 5e or 6 cabling and is available with an optional embedded 10/100 Ethernet port for network devices such as printers, security cameras and laptop computers.

Bluesocket’s long-standing expertise in wireless security and its flexible edge-to-edge architecture deliver greater access speeds, better performance and higher reliability with superior role-based control and policy enforcement. Bluesocket’s universal WLAN authentication, strong data encryption, integrated intrusion protection and clientless scanning creates trusted endpoint security for wireless infrastructures.  Additionally, Bluesocket Controllers supports the widest range of 3rd party access points, easing the transition to 802.11n and other next-generation wireless technologies as they emerge.

“Bluesocket’s open architecture and software modularity makes it easy to port our software onto a variety of hardware platforms, providing our partners and customers with significant cost and time to market advantages, said Mads Lillelund, CEO of Bluesocket. “The extended offering from Bluesocket and Ortronics strengthens our commitment to providing our customers with enterprise mobility solutions that offer the greatest level of security, scalability and ease of use,”

Pricing and Availability

Availability of the new Wi-Jack® access point is slated for the fourth quarter of 2008. Detailed pricing and product information will be made available through Ortronics and Bluesocket at that time.

About Bluesocket
Founded in 1999, Bluesocket is a leader in open, standards based enterprise mobility solutions. Its industry-leading wireless LAN products deliver secure mobility to thousands of customers across the education, enterprise, government, healthcare and hospitality markets. Bluesocket’s complete wireless network solution portfolio brings trust and simplicity to increasingly complex wireless networks maximizing customer ROI and increasing their competitive edge. For more information, please visit

About Ortronics/Legrand
Ortronics/Legrand, headquartered in New London, Connecticut USA, is a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, offering 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. Other programs and services include: engineering and technical support, systems planning, training programs and a 25-year warranty program.

Ortronics/Legrand is a subsidiary of Legrand, the global specialist in products and systems for electrical installations and information networks where people live and work. Its comprehensive offering of solutions for use in commercial, industrial and residential markets makes it a benchmark for suppliers worldwide. Innovation for a steady flow of new products with high added value is a prime vector for growth. Backed by sound business and financial structures, Legrand is actively expanding its presence in fast-growing geographical zones and market segments that include lighting controls, energy savings and home automation, through a sustained stream of targeted, self-financed acquisitions and other initiatives. In 2007 Legrand employed 35,000 people around the globe and reported sales of €4.1billion, including 25% in emerging markets. The company is listed on Euronext Paris and is a component stock of indexes including the SBF120, FTSE4Good and MSCI World (ISIN code FR0010307819).

Bluesocket, the Bluesocket logo and BlueSecure are trademarks or registered trademarks of Bluesocket, Inc. Pingtel, SIPxchange, etc. are trademarks of Pingtel – a Bluesocket Company. All other trademarks, trade names and company names referenced herein are used for identification only and are the property of their respective companies.

Ortronics, the Ortronics logo, Wi-Jack, and Wi-Jack Duo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Ortronics Inc.  All other trademarks, trade names and company names referenced herein are used for identification only and are the property of their respective companies.


RHINO Professional Labeling Tools Realigns National Sales Force with Market Needs

Industry convergences and the increased need for education lead to a realignment in DYMO’s RHINO sales team

Professional Labeling Tools, a brand of DYMO and part of Newell Rubbermaid’s Technology business unit, announced today the change in roles of several of its sales team members as well as the addition of a national sales manager. These organizational changes are designed to best meet the needs of our consumers and customers, especially in areas such as datacom and electrical, security and pro audio/video.

“We are seeing many changes in the marketplace today,” said Robert Rosenquist, director of sales and channel marketing for DYMO “Installers who typically specialize in pro audio/video are now adding security to their portfolios. The same is true of electricians who are now entering the datacom arena. Convergence of this nature is a major trend and growth strategy in today’s marketplace, and we want to be sure that our RHINO solutions and organization are best serving the needs of our consumers and customers.”

To help achieve this goal, a new national sales manager role has been created and filled by Jeff Howes. Jeff will be responsible for all industrial account management, national account managers and area sales managers. Jeff previously worked in Newell Rubbermaid’s Tools & Hardware business unit, where he spent the last three years at IRWIN as a regional manager for the Industrial Construction business. Prior to joining IRWIN, Jeff held several roles of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and product development over 12 years at the Porter Cable Tool Company.

Realignment in the roles of existing RHINO team members include:
• Al Feaster, RCDD, formerly RHINO’s datacom channel manager, will take on the role of national account manager, in which he will be responsible for TIA/Bicsi training and customer education across the country. He will also work to build relationships with other manufacturers and specification engineers, with the goal of assisting the work of system designers and installers.
• Craig Robinson, RCDD, formerly RHINO’s southeast regional sales manager, will now be RHINO’s national account manager in the datacom and electrical channels.
• Keith Smith, RCDD, formerly RHINO’s national field sales manager, will take on the title of national acccount manager, security/pro A/V.
• Alex Mortensen will assume sole responsibility for the MRO/construction segment of business as senior key account manager.
• Kilby McCurley, formerly RHINO’s key account manager for MRO, has moved into the position of area sales manager for southeast United States, previously held by Craig Robinson.

Rosenquist continued, “The recent changes we have made in our sales force will strengthen our relationship with customers in specific channel markets, will create new partnerships with industry-related manufacturers and will allow us to offer enhanced training and education to those who find themselves affected by these industry convergences. These are exciting changes for the RHINO business and we look forward to the ensuing results.”


Times Microwave Systems Introduces LMR-400-UltraFlex-FR low loss coaxial cable

Adding to its extensive LMR® product line offering, Times Microwave Systems has recently introduced LMR-400-UltraFlex-FR (stock code 54270), a more flexible low loss, fire retardant version of LMR-400 50 Ohm coaxial cable. The new cable has a stranded center conductor for enhanced flexibility and a fire retardant polyethylene jacket. LMR-400-UltraFlex-FR is also UL listed CMR (PCC-FT4) making it suitable for riser-rated installations.

Compatible with all standard LMR® solder-pin type connectors, installation tools and accessories, the new cable has a list price of $1.95 per foot. With only slightly more loss than standard LMR-400 cable, LMR-400-UltraFlex-FR is the ideal solution for applications requiring both added flexibility and fire retardancy.

About Times Microwave Systems
Times Microwave Systems has over 60 years experience in designing innovative, high-reliability, coaxial cables, connectors and assemblies for demanding interconnection problems. An engineering oriented organization, the company specializes in the design and manufacture of high performance flexible and semi-rigid coaxial cable, connectors, and cable assemblies for RF transmission from HF through microwave frequencies.


Draka BendBrightXS™ Sales Exceed 250,000 km Mark

Industry leading bend-insensitive fiber sales volume driven by FTTH deployments by major telecommunications providers

Draka Communications,  a global leader in the optical fiber industry, today announced that it has surpassed the 250,000 km (150,000 miles) mark for sales of BendBrightXS, its industry-leading bend-insensitive optical fiber, since its introduction in 2006.  For perspective, 250,000 km is enough optical fiber to encircle the earth 6 times over!

The demand for BendBrightXS has been driven mainly by large scale deployments of FTTH access networks both in the US and Europe by the major telecommunications providers in those regions.  With these access networks extending all the way to single family homes and more recently multi-dwelling units (MDUs), the need has surfaced for a robust, easy to install optical fiber that can endure the rigors of traditional copper cable installations.  BendBrightXS answers these rapidly emerging market demands with its patented design, yet does not have the technical complications, such as splicing and connectorization, of other bend-insensitive fibers recently introduced into the market.

“We’re delighted by the recognition that our world-class fiber is receiving since we introduced BendBrightXS in 2006”, said Jan-Willem Leclercq, Vice President of Marketing, Draka Communications. “BendBrightXS is reshaping the deployment processes of the broadband industry for next generation network access, while stimulating miniaturization trends in connectivity hardware”.

Meeting stringent industry standards

BendBrightXS, Draka’s flagship bend-insensitive fiber, first introduced in 2006 and commercially available for over two years, uses a “trench-assisted” index profile to achieve the highest level of bend performance on the market, meeting the most stringent industry standard for bend-insensitive fiber, ITU-T G.657.B.  With approximately 100X microbending and 100x macro bending performance improvement over standard single mode fiber, BendBrightXS is ideal for access networks where cables and fibers are subjected to tight bends and the rigors of harsh installation techniques such as the stapling of cables. BendBrightXS is also unique because it is the first and only commercially available all-glass fiber on the market that meets and exceeds the stringent ITU-T G.657.B bending requirements, yet maintains full backwards compatibility with existing single mode fibers, meeting ITU-T G.652.D.

Draka Communications introduced the first generation bend-insensitive fiber, BendBright, in 2002.  Updated in 2005 to conform to low water peak standards, G.652.D, BendBright is a G.657.A fiber, with approximately 10x bending improvement over standard single mode fiber.  The success of BendBright fiber is highlighted by the AT&T award “2005 Supplier Innovator of the Year”, given to Draka for FTTH drop cable based on BendBright fiber. The second generation bend-insensitive fiber BendBrightXS, a G.657.B fiber with approximately 100x bending improvement over standard single mode fiber, was introduced in 2006.

About Draka
Draka, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is a €2.8 billion, publicly listed (Euronext) company with 9,550 employees worldwide. As from 2008, Draka’s activities are divided into three Groups: Energy & Infrastructure, Industry & Specialty and Communications.

Draka Communications is a world leader in the development, production and sale of optical fiber, cable and cable systems. Draka has 68 operating companies in 30 countries throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia.

For more information please visit


Megladon® Manufacturing Group Hires Gil Perez as Business Development Manager

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information regarding Megladon’s fiber optic solutions contact our support staff at 800-232-4810 or by email at


Draka Communications - Americas Announces Extended Warranty and Contractor Rebate Program

Draka Communications - Americas, a leader in fiber and fiber cable solutions, announces an Extended Warranty Program and Contractor Rebate Program for Private Networks.

Draka’s Extended Warranty Program provides up to 25 years of warranty protection for installers and end users who meet program requirements. To bring flexibility to the contractor, distributor, and end user, Draka includes the passive connectivity products of 16 various manufacturers in the warranty program.

Draka also announces the 2009 Contractor Rebate program for Private Networks. This easy-to-use cash rebate program represents a significant cash reward to contractors purchasing both outside plant and indoor fiber cables used in private networks during 2009.

“Our Extended Warranty and Contractor Rebate Programs are simple and effective for the contractor, distributor, and end-user. These 2 programs are a great compliment to our private network fiber solution. As the world’s largest manufacturer of multimode fiber, we are excited about bringing simplicity and flexibility to the private network contractor, operator, and distributor” states Greg Williams, Director of Marketing for Draka Communications in North America.

For complete program details, contact Draka Customer Care at 1-800-879-9862 or visit our website at

About Draka Communications
Draka, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is a $4 billion, publicly listed (Euronext) company with 9,145 employees worldwide. Draka is divided into three groups: Energy & Infrastructure, Industry & Specialty and Communications. Communications is responsible for the production and sale of optical fiber, cable and communication infrastructure solutions globally. Draka Communications – Americas’ roots in North America run a century deep in names like Alcatel, ITT, Ericsson, Chromatic Technologies, and Phelps Dodge. Our clients are served from Draka's unique site in Claremont, North Carolina which is home to the 125-acre corporate campus & Americas headquarters, over 1 million square feet of manufacturing space and the only integrated optical fiber and cable facility in North America. For more information please visit

Association News



The Board of Directors for BICSI, the professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment, has announced the appointment of John D. Clark Jr., CAE, as the Executive Director/CEO effective September 22.

After a thorough search of many qualified candidates and months of careful deliberation, BICSI’s Executive Director Search Committee elected to appoint the hybrid professional based on his broad knowledge and unique credentials.

Clark joins BICSI as a highly experienced Certified Association Executive (CAE) and telecommunications industry executive, most recently serving as President/CEO for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE).

“I’ve been well aware for several years of the great work being done by BICSI,” stated Clark. “Career-wise I have two loves—telecommunications and association management. The BICSI Executive Director/CEO opportunity allows me to blend these two on a global stage.”

The Board’s decision directly correlates with BICSI’s new strategic direction to advance the knowledge and success of BICSI’s membership, their customers and the ITS industry.

“Mr. Clark will lead BICSI into the future providing leadership, experience and clear vision to implement the BICSI Strategic Plan, BICSI NxtGEN Business Plan, Association Outreach Mission, as well our goal to increase membership value, and provide exceptional customer service to the ITS communities around the globe,” said BICSI President, Edward J. Donelan, RCDD, NTS, TLT.

The extensive and thorough search by the committee was led by Brian Hansen, RCDD, NTS, BICSI President-Elect and Committee Chair; Ronda VanGundy, Human Resources Manager; Russ Oliver, RCDD, NTS, BICSI Past President; Jerry Bowman, RCDD, NTS, BICSI U.S. North-Central Region Director; and Ed Donelan.

Clark is a former marketing executive with more than 28 years of experience in the cable and telecommunications industries and holds an MBA from The University of Maryland. He brings a wealth of resources and contacts to the position that will be invaluable in driving the focus of BICSI in both the national and international forums.

BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry. ITS covers the spectrum of voice, data and video technologies. It encompasses the design, integration and installation of pathways, spaces, fiber- and copper-based distribution systems, wireless-based systems and infrastructure that supports the transportation of information and associated signaling between and among communications and information gathering devices.

BICSI provides information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies in the ITS industry. We serve more than 25,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA, BICSI membership spans nearly 140 countries. For more information, visit


BOMA Is Now Accepting Presentation Submissions

Connecting Great Ideas with Great People To Create Great Buildings

Come connect your ideas and practices with the industry by leading an Education Session at BOMA’s Annual Conference. By presenting, you can reach more than 4,000 commercial real estate executives and help advance solutions for the industry’s biggest challenges, create and share best practices, and shape the course of the industry.

We’re Looking for Sessions With These Great Ideas:

How to Green Buildings—From Minor Operations Changes to Major Retrofits

Generating Significant OpEx Savings Through Innovative Operations

Boosting NOI With New Sources of Building Income

Leveraging Technologies—Software and Hardware—to Manage Buildings More Effectively

Finding, Getting, Keeping Tenants

Advanced Strategies for Energy Savings—Beyond Lighting Retrofits

It's Easy to Submit Your Proposal

All proposals must be submitted online

Go to  and click on "Call for Presentations." All proposals must be submitted online.

Then, click on “Submit Proposal” in the left-hand menu. Create a Username and log in to the submission form.

Once you are logged in, simply click on “Submit Proposal” at left.

Complete the online proposal form, by adding in details about your submission and speakers until the form is complete.

Submissions must be received by October 24, 2008


The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. Newsletter

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

In This Issue
FOA Offers New Premises Certification
Fiber Optic Lighting - A New FOA Tech Topic Tutorial
Looking For Dark Fiber? There's a service to help you.
Products: Corning promotions and more on connector cleaners
Worth Reading: Lennie On OTDRs. Do People Really Want FTTH? How Fast Can Fiber Go?  See "Worth Reading" below
FTTH: FiOS goes to 175 Mb/s, is offered in DC
Jobs: Looking for work? Openings for manufacturing engineering, instructors, installers, marketing and manufacturing personnel, plus a request for contractors to be on-call for restoration work.

Don't miss the new FOA Tech Bulletin on Installing Fiber Optic Networks!

Go To The FOA July 2008 Newsletter

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

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

As a bonus, if you renew before your membership expires, you get an extra month's membershp free!  Here are the full directions on how to do it.

Worth Seeing: An New OTDR "Virtual Hands-On" Tutorial with free OTDR simulator to download

Quick Links...

FOA Website:

FOA Online Newsletter

Tech Bulletins


Twenty-Five Distributors Become NAED-Approved Members

Companies Join International Network of 460 Companies, 4426 Locations

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is pleased to announce that 25 companies have been approved in 2008 for distributor membership in the association. Several distributors have joined NAED during its centennial year. Many of these new members have utilized NAED’s Centennial Membership offer in which new members can join for only $100 through December 31, 2008.

NAED’s new distributor members are:

·         A-G Electrical Supply Co., Inc. — Founded in 1957, A-G Electrical Supply Co., Inc. is located in Bellmore, N.Y. President Peter Ray led the company to join NAED in March 2008 to gain access to educational and networking opportunities for their employees.

·         Atlanta Light Bulbs, Inc. — Atlanta Light Bulbs, Inc. was officially incorporated by President and CFO Gary Root in 1981. The company started selling lamps and ballasts to commercial and industrial accounts in the Atlanta metro area. As the area grew, Atlanta Light Bulbs, Inc. saw the demand for lamps, ballasts and specialty bulbs grow as well. Atlanta Light Bulbs, Inc. joined NAED in February of 2008 under the referral of TED Magazine to gain access to educational resources and networking opportunities for their employees. (

·         BLI Lighting Specialists (Budget Lighting, Inc.) — BLI Lighting Specialists is a wholesale distributor of lighting for the commercial and industrial markets, as well as the general public. The company has been in business since 1985 and operates a mainhouse in Minnetonka, Minn. and a branch in Burlington, Iowa. Led by President Jim Coykendall, BLI Lighting Specialists joined NAED for education, networking, industry updates and trends. (

·         C. Andersen Electrical Supply Co., Inc. — Founded in 1982, Andersen Electrical Supply Co., Inc. is located in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Tom Bodie, general manager, leads the company’s 15 employees. The company had formerly been an NAED member, leaving in 2003, but has seen the value in rejoining the association for the NLC and revamped networking opportunities. Andersen Electrical Supply Co., Inc. is also a member of the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA). (, LLC — Founded in February 2002 and headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a purveyor of cable and wire management-related products for use by individuals, hospitals, government offices and corporations. Through both its U.S. Web site and its subsidiary which is operated out of Rennes, France, the company offers consumers access to a comprehensive selection of high-quality products and information resources 24 hours a day., LLC joined NAED in March 2008. (

·         Capital Electric Wire & Cable Co., Inc. — Capital Electric Wire & Cable Co., Inc. was founded in 1978 by Richard G. Harpster. Initially, Capital sold exclusively to the industrial and utility markets providing power cable, tray cable, cordage and various lead wires. As customer needs evolved, so did the company’s products and services. In 1985 Capital Electric Wire & Cable Co., Inc. became involved with the communications market. President Mike Harpster leads the company today. (

·         Cayce Mill Supply Co., Inc. — Cayce Mill Supply Co., Inc. was founded in 1919 by Clinton H. Cayce, a Christian County farmer. Based in Hopkinsville, Ky., the company supplies commercial, industrial, and residential markets with electrical, plumbing and HVAC. In addition to the mainhouse, the company also operates three branches in Hopkinsville, Russellville, and Owensboro. The current President, Breck Cayce, joined the company after graduation from Murray State University. (

·         Colorado Wire & Cable Co., Inc. — In business since 1977, Colorado Wire & Cable Co. Inc. serves the needs of commercial, industrial, utility and electrical contractors with the wholesale distribution of wire and cable products. Based in Denver, Colo., Colorado Wire & Cable Co., Inc. joined NAED for benchmarking statistics and networking opportunities. Les Anderson, president, leads the company. (

·         Edison Equipment Company — Located in Columbus, Ohio, Edison Equipment Company is a full-service wholesale distributor of electrical equipment and supplies. Primary markets include construction, industrial, utility, and original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Edison Equipment Company was founded in 2001. (

·         Electric Motor Shop & Supply Co. — Based in Fresno, Calif., Electric Motor Shop & Supply Co. has been in business since 1913. Led by President Dick Caglia, the company joined NAED to take advantage of education resources and to build relations with IDEA. (

·         First Source Electrical, LLC — First Source Electrical is a brand new electrical wholesaler serving the Greater Houston area. First Source’s business focuses on the commercial, residential, institutional and MRO markets. First Source Electrical, LLC is led by President and CEO Mark Jenson. (

·         General Wholesale Electric Supply — General Wholesale Electric Supply, a California Corporation, was founded in Sonora, Calif. GWES consists of three electrical supply branches located in Livermore, Auburn, and Sonora. GWES is a full service electrical supply company that carries a complete line of electrical equipment for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. (

·         Goodman Electric Supply, Inc. — Based in North Chicago, Ill., Goodman Electric Supply, Inc. was founded in 1948. Goodman Electric Supply is led by President Stephen Bohrnell. The company joined NAED for access to members-only benchmarking tools (e.g., PAR) and industry resources. (

·         ILighting Solutions, Inc. — Intelligent Lighting Solutions specializes in energy conservation products/services and application specific lighting retrofits for residents and businesses in California. Its target market includes residential, commercial, and industrial. The company was founded in 2005 and operates branches in Los Angeles and Gardena. ILighting Solutions, Inc. joined NAED under the leadership of Owner Jeff Chung to take advantage of educational offerings, networking, and informational resources. (

·         Leveck Lighting Products, Inc. — Leveck Lighting Products, Inc. has been in business since 1978. Leveck primarily serves the residential and industrial markets. Led by Vice President Robert Leveck, the company joined NAED to take advantage of educational opportunities. (

·         Mustang Electric Supply — Mustang Electric Supply, is a full line electrical distributor founded to furnish electrical products to the growing residential and commercial contractor markets of Lewisville and the surrounding Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. Founded in 1998, Mustang Electric Supply joined NAED for education resources and networking opportunities for their staff. (

·         Newco Inc. — Newco Inc. was established by John Richard, his brother George Richard, and their brother in-law Joe Daviet. Newco serves the commercial, industrial, residential, OEM and utility markets with four locations, three in Colorado and one in Wyoming. Newco Inc. is led by Clayton Richard. (

·         Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, Inc. — Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, Inc., established in 1990 and located in San Francisco, Calif., is a wholesale electrical distributor. The company distributes electrical materials in the Bay Area and throughout California. Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, Inc., has also expanded into switchgears, telecommunications and fiber optic cable equipment. Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, Inc. joined NAED for educational resources for its employees. (

·         RECO – Richard Equipment Company — Established in 1926, Richard Equipment Company provides technical engineering support, services and repairs for heavy, light industrial and OEM end users. The company has office locations in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville and Ft. Wayne. RECO was referred by Charlie Jeffrey, channel manager of Siemens. Under the guidance of Bruce Blum, RECO joined NAED for education, networking, and benchmarking opportunities. (

·         Swan Supply, Inc. — Based in Denver, Colo. Swan Supply, Inc. carries lighting supplies for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. Founded in 1995, Swan Supply, Inc. joined NAED for the networking and education opportunities. (

·         The Lighting Company — Since it’s inception in 1994, The Lighting Company has provided lighting solutions and components to commercial and industrial lighting users. The Lighting Company was referred by NAILD – National Association of Independent Lighting Distributors. (

·         United Electrical Distributors, Inc. — Since 1985, United Electrical Distributors, Inc. has been a provider of premier electrical products. Operating out of Greenville, S.C., the company joined NAED to enhance their training program and take advantage of the networking and industry opportunities that NAED membership presents. (

Wattsaver Lighting Products — Based in East Hartford, Conn., Wattsaver Lighting Products is a lighting and electrical distributor. The company provides maintenance repair and operational products as well as new construction and remodel fixture packages. Its customers are primarily property management firms that maintain all types of commercial and residential properties. Wattsaver was referred by Steven Espinosa of The Lighting Company and joined NAED for education and networking opportunities. (

·         Williams Wholesale Supply of Nashville, Inc. — Williams Wholesale Supply of Nashville, Inc. has been in business since 2005. The company was referred by Bruce Johnson of Harris Electric Supply. Led by Richard Tanner, Williams Wholesale Supply of Nashville, Inc. joined NAED for education/training, networking, and industry research. (

·         Yale Electric Supply Company, Inc. — Founded in 1940, Yale Electric Supply Company, Inc. has seven branch locations throughout Pennsylvania. Yale Electric Supply Company, Inc. joined NAED to take advantage of education and various online training resources as well as industry benchmarking. (

All qualifying electrical distributors are invited to apply for NAED membership. Besides receiving the latest in industry-specific training and education, NAED members also benefit from increased networking opportunities, group business discounts, financial benchmarking tools, and leadership development. For additional information, go to the “Join NAED” section of or contact a NAED regional manager at (888) 791-2512. All current members and affiliates are accessible through a searchable directory on the NAED Web site.

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 more than 4,400 locations internationally.


Conference Registration is Open for 2008

NAED Eastern Region Conference, Marco Island, Florida, November 12-15

FOX Business News Anchor Stuart Varney to Give Keynote Presentation

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces that registration is open for the 2008 Eastern Region Conference. The conference will take place November 12-15, at the Marco Island Marriott Resort Golf Club and Spa in Marco Island, Fla. The theme for this conference is “Expanding Our Horizons.”

This year’s conference features keynote presenter FOX Business News Anchor, Economist, and Correspondent Stuart Varney. Trained at the London School of Economics, Varney offers his wide-ranging expertise, evaluating political administrations and their effects on the economy. During the keynote, he will discuss his belief that the era of wealth creation has ended, and that wealth re-distribution is the coming trend. Varney will explain what this shift in American financial culture means for your organization, and how it can be used to benefit business and individual wealth. Plus, just one week after the presidential election, Varney will comment on the impact our new president may have on the nation.

NAED’s education sessions will include:

·         New Market Opportunities in Energy Efficiency by Jerry Yudelson – Principle, Yudelson Associates

·         Non-traditional Markets for Renewable Energy Sources by Fred Paris – Independent Contractor

·         How to Limit Your Value-Added Service Liability Exposure by Bernd Heinze – President and CEO, Sequent Insurance Group

·         The Evolving Sales Force by Michael Marks – Partner, Indian River Consulting Group

·         Panel: Reaping the Rewards of NAED’s Supply Chain Scorecard Moderated by Bethany Sullivan – President, Profitability Analytics Unlimited

·         How to Improve Your Trading Partner Relationships Through IDEA by Bob Gaylord –
President, IDEA

To ensure that NAED members are getting the value they should out of their membership, there will be a special session entitled Maximize Your NAED Benefits with Proven Implementation Strategies by John Kiso, educational program manager, NAED. The conference also will include a Women in Industry luncheon on Converting Change to Dollars, and numerous opportunities to build your professional network.

Visit to register. The early bird registration deadline is September 24. For more information, contact the NAED Conference Department at (888) 791-2512.

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


NAED Announces 2008-2009 Research in Action Webinar Series Schedule

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is offering ongoing Research in Action Webinars to help NAED member companies remain competitive and profitable in multiple market sectors. These online seminars offer live participation dates and the option of launching archives of the presentations through the NAED Learning Center (NLC). These Webinars share key findings from the most recent research studies funded by the NAED Education & Research Foundation's Channel Advantage Partnership (CAP) endowment.

The Webinars are offered at no additional charge to NAED member businesses. This year's Webinar schedule includes two series based on current CAP projects and an ongoing series of TED Magazine articles covering topics on green building and energy markets.

The Research in Action series schedule is:

Service Liability in Electrical Distribution: Risks and Protections

This Webinar series provides background information to raise awareness as well as heighten the intellectual capital of NAED members about liability exposures from the value-added services they provide. Specifically, it makes recommendations about adequate protections electrical distributors can put into place to manage and mitigate service liability exposures.

1. Service Liabilities: the New Frontier of Legal Exposure (October 1, 2008, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Providing specialty services to customers is part of the core business of NAED member companies. This Webinar offers an overview of the CAP study, entitled Service Liability in Electrical Distribution: Risks and Protections. It examines risk and legal exposures from statutes, court cases, and contractual liabilities, and helps distributors ensure they have adequate protections in place to manage risks and exposures.

2. The Added Services Distributors Provide and the Liability Exposures those Services Create (November 5, 2008, 2:00 p.m. EST) – In today's increasingly competitive business world, providing specialty services gives distributors validity in the marketplace. However, in today's increasingly litigious environment, distributors could lose more than just their competitive edge if they are not adequately protected from the liability exposures that come with providing a service package. This Webinar reviews the various services NAED members offer in the channel and identifies the risks associated with each. It ends with specific recommended measures to prevent liability on: training; energy audits; kitting; engineering services and support; staging products; consigned inventory; lamp recycling; and panel building.

3. Hybrid Services: Where the Sale of Products and Services Merge (January 14, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Distributors assume an expanding scope of liability as they become a hybrid of both product seller and service provider. Their exposure to both liability and financial risk is altered in this emerging model. In addition to the product liability they always assumed, there is a new service liability exposure with the administration of value-added services. This Webinar discusses the nature of hybrid services generally, identifies the liabilities associated with the provision of hybrid services, and recommends protections to implement when providing hybrid services.

4. Exposures of Providing Training Services to Customers (March 4, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – The training services we provide will give you many benefits! Believe it or not, this type of claim can increase a distributor's liability exposure. This Webinar explains how by differentiating the liabilities between providing training on products a distributor sells and those it does not sell, reviewing the issue of using employees versus third-parties to provide training, and explaining the duty of requisite and due care. In addition, the Webinar discusses how distributors can use experts to develop consistent and uniform templates and training modules, and makes recommendations for addressing training liability exposures.

5. Risk Management Tools to Mitigate Service Liability Exposures (April 8, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – For a business, exposure to risk could lead to disaster. Unfortunately, too many electrical distributors are not well informed about the liability exposures coming from providing value-added services, even as this becomes an increasing part of their core business. Luckily, distributors can safeguard their business and increase its success rate by having an effective risk management policy in place. This Webinar helps distributors identify risks before they occur by examining best practices to use when managing service liability exposures. It discusses how to design a risk management model to evaluate the risks of providing a service before determining whether or not to afford the service, and reviews insurance protections available to distributors in their own insurance portfolio or that of an out-sourced service provider.

Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from the Green Building Revolution

This Webinar series examines the state of energy markets and how distributors can profit from them. It helps NAED members understand the energy efficiency retrofit market and the technologies that will be most in demand in coming years. Specifically, it outlines the business opportunities NAED members should seize; shows how to make the business case for investments in energy efficiency products and services; identifies technologies used in green building renovation projects and commercial energy conservation retrofits; and makes recommendations on how electrical distributors need to position themselves to take advantage of identified business opportunities.

1. Today's Energy Efficiency Market: An Overview (October 22, 2008, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Energy efficiency may be the farthest-reaching, least-polluting, and fastest-growing U.S. energy success story of the past few decades. However, it's also the most invisible, the least understood, and in serious danger of missing out on needed future investments. To help NAED members seize the energy market's growth opportunities, this Webinar presents an overview of major findings from the Channel Advantage Partnership's recent study entitled, Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from the Green Building Revolution. The Webinar focuses on the energy market's driving and inhibiting forces, its projected growth, and also looks at new construction vs. renovation/remodels.

2. Trends in Energy Efficient Investments Through 2012 (October 29, 2008, 2:00 p.m. EST) – The electrical distribution industry is facing tougher competition, which increases the demand to implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures. However, distributors and manufacturers are not undertaking obvious cost-efficient measures at the rate one would expect. This Webinar explains why by looking more closely at barriers to energy efficiency, like building codes and split incentives. In addition, it discusses the energy market's driving forces—legislative mandates, tax and rebate incentives—and outlines the scope of potential benefits future investments might yield.

3. Energy Market Entry Strategies (December 10, 2008, 2:00 p.m. EST) – With accelerated market transformation and rapid growth in efficiency investments, total investments in more energy efficiency technologies could increase the energy market by hundreds of billions of dollars annually in the next two decades. This Webinar presents tactical strategies NAED companies can implement to take advantage of the growth opportunities. Specifically, it discusses how to properly educate and incentivize your salespeople, identifies buildings and facilities managers should go after, and looks at electrical distributors' potential competitors.

4. Making the Business Case for Efficiency Upgrades (February 11, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – With growing demand from customers and increasing legislative mandates for energy efficient buildings, making investment decisions regarding energy efficiency improvements has become a matter of vital importance. This Webinar reviews analysis methods companies should employ when making energy efficiency investment decisions. It discusses energy cost trends, life-cycle cost analysis, financial and tax incentives, utility incentives, legislative mandates, and other driving forces.

Hot Energy Trends

In partnership with TED Magazine, CAP began sponsoring in July 2008 a 12-month Green Column on business opportunities in green building and energy efficiency markets, with a focus on commercial and institutional construction. This Webinar series features key topics identified by the articles as hot energy market opportunities for electrical distributors.

1. Greening Data Centers (January 7, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Data centers and server farms are placing an ever increasing demand on our limited energy supplies. In fact, the average data center is 40 times more energy intensive than an office building. This Webinar highlights energy efficiency and renewable power generation innovations in this growing industry. Specifically, it looks at a company reaping the benefits of saving approximately $3,000 a month in utility bills by building a highly efficient data center.

2. The Solar Power Revolution (March 18, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Is solar power really the next big thing in the energy world or will it remain just a niche player? This Webinar examines the market and capital trends around solar power. It discusses the growth in solar power and the driving forces behind it, as well as the technology developments and economics of solar power. In addition, it reviews who in the industry are specifying systems, the role of system integrators in large commercial projects, and opportunities for electrical sales (panels, inverters, meters, etc.).

3. Corporate Sustainability – Walking the Talk (May 13, 2009, 2:00 p.m. EST) – Today's business world doesn't look like it did 20 years ago. Corporations are operating in the "Information Age," encountering greener resource technologies in an increasingly globalized marketplace. They face the challenge of adapting to these changes and that of public opinion. This Webinar discusses these timely issues by exploring the pros and cons of "going green." Specifically, it offers examples of good corporate sustainability programs for small and medium-sized enterprises, walks you through how to become a sustainable company from baby steps to giant leaps, suggests ways to publicize your efforts both internally and externally, and presents the business case for sustainability planning.

For more information on the Research in Action Webinars, go to or contact the NAED Customer Service at (888) 791-2512 or

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


NAED Co-Sponsors University of Industrial Distribution (UID) December 2-5, 2008 in Indianapolis

Premier “Sell-Out” Training Event Offers 25 Courses Tailored to Industrial Distribution

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is joining with over 30 other distribution trade associations to sponsor the 2008 University of Industrial Distribution (UID), December 2-5 in Indianapolis. This is the second offering of this popular four-day workshop this year. The UID programs have sold out weeks prior to the early bird registration deadline the past four years.

UID is a concentrated educational program focused on the unique needs of the industrial wholesale distribution industry. The 2008 UID offers a catalog of 25 courses taught by 17 faculty members who are recognized leaders in their fields. Topics covered include sales, marketing, management, inventory, branch operations, and much more.

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

Some of the 2008 UID courses being offered at the December program are:

·         Differentiating Your Distribution Company – A Winning Strategy by William R. McCleave, Jr., Ph.D.

·         Leadership and Delegation for Distribution Managers by Peter A. Land

·         Creating Competitive Advantage Through Total Cost Savings by Tim Underhill

·         How to Make Technology Pay Off in the Sales Arena with Steve Epner

Three instructors familiar to NAED members return for the December program:

·         Al D. Bates, Ph.D., president of the Profit Planning Group and administrator of NAED’s Performance Analysis Report (PAR). His UID sessions include: Profit Myths In Wholesale Distribution and Improving the Distributor’s Bottom Line.

·         J. Michael Marks, principal with the Indian River Consulting Group, and author of the NAED Education & Research Foundation study on the residential construction market. His UID sessions include: Marketing Strategies, Pricing Strategies, Creating Channel Alignment, and New Product Development and Product Introduction Strategies.

·         Kathryne A. Newton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Industrial Technology at Purdue University. Newton helped author NAED’s “Maximize Your Profit Power” course and is frequently published in academic and trade journals. Her UID session is: Personnel Productivity Improvement.

-Since 1993, the UID has trained more than 5,000 distributor and manufacturing professionals. The program is ideal for a wide range of employees, from branch managers to purchasing, inventory, sales, and operations personnel.

To learn more about the December UID go to Click here to register online. The past five UID programs have sold out weeks prior to the early bird registration deadline. NAED members are encouraged to register as soon as possible to assure a reservation. The deadline for the Early Registration Discount fee is November 1, if space is still available. The December session can accommodate 250 attendees.

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

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


TED Launches New Online Products and Services Guide

Dear NAED associate members and suppliers:

Through TED Magazine, NAED has recently partnered with MultiView, Inc., an Irving, Texas-based publisher of digital buyer's guides and search engines specifically for associations, to launch the Products & Services Guide.

The guide is targeted to the more than 25,000 electrical distributor readers of TED Magazine, representing more than 1,000 electrical distribution companies in North America who collectively sell more than $70 Billion of electrical products annually.

This new business tool is available from the home pages of the entire family of NAED websites—,,, and from within the NAED Learning Center. It's a unique online resource that enables users to search for industry-specific products they need from suppliers like you. Which is why, at an NAED member and/or TED advertiser, your basic information is already included in the directory.

All industry suppliers can participate in the guide and can also purchase an enhanced listing that will be online year-round. An enhanced listing features:

  • Your company's logo
  • Contact information
  • Company description
  • A direct link to your company Web site
  • And a specified e-mail address generator

Your listing can be grouped into categories of your choice to enable efficient browsing and searching by TedMag readers.

With traditional online search engine results, you're one in a million. But searching through the TedMag Products & Services Guide presents relevant search results for pre-qualified, committed buyers. It has been created specifically for the purchasers of your product or service. So if you're not represented prominently, you're missing out on an excellent revenue-generating opportunity.

Here is a direct link to the directory search page:

Starting this week, representatives from MultiView will begin calling NAED industry partners to confirm your company's listing information and discuss listing opportunities in the directory.

If you have any questions regarding the directory, please contact the customer service staff at MultiView, 972-402-7070. And, as always, if you have any questions about a TED Magazine product, please call me directly at 314-991-9000.

As always, we appreciate your support,

Michael Martin
Associate Publisher
TED Magazine


TED Magazine Names 2008 “Best of the Best” Marketing Awards

Dakota Supply Group & Federal Signal Industrial Systems Achieve Highest Distinction as Overall Winners

TED Magazine, the official publication of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), announces the 2008 winners of its Best of the Best Marketing Awards Competition.

Each year, TED Magazine recognizes the industry’s top marketing initiatives with the Best of the Best Award competition. TED presents these honors to distributors and manufacturers in 12 categories including direct promotion, print advertising, and Web site development. Companies compete with those of similar sales volume in each category. This year’s awards represent the finest marketing efforts in the electrical industry for campaigns occurring in 2007.

The 2008 competition acknowledged the achievements of the electrical industry with 45 awards and 14 honorable mentions selected from a record 448 total entries submitted. The awards were presented on August 12, 2008 at the Wyndham Hotel, Chicago, Ill., during NAED’s 2008 AdVenture Sales & Marketing Conference.

Of the awards presented, one distributor and one supplier were selected to represent the overall best marketing practices of the electrical industry.

Best of the Best Overall Winners:

·         Distributor: Dakota Supply Group, Fargo, N.D. The company earned a Best of the Best individual award in Brand Awareness for its DSG Kids Club – a club designed to educate kids about trade professions. Dakota Supply Group also received an honorable mention in the Integrated Marketing Promotion category.

Supplier: Federal Signal Industrial Systems, University Park, Ill. The company received individual Best of the Best awards in the Integrated Marketing Campaign and Product Launch categories. Federal Signal’s contest entries focused on its new LED Hazardous Location product line and marketing through its “Bright” campaign.

The 2008 Best of the Best Award winners are:


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Dakota Supply Group, “DSG Kids Club”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Gexpro, “New Gexpro Brand Awareness”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Columbia Lighting, “CreateChange Initiative”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Philips Lighting, “Simplicity Is Changing a Lamp to Make a Difference in the World”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Springfield Electric Supply, “Connections” Monthly Newsletter

·         Supplier over $250 million – Southwire, “Touch & Show Marketing”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Western Extralite, “Sample Mailings”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Summit Electric Supply, “Get Revved Up”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Service Wire, “2008 Find the Logo Direct Mail Campaign”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Southwire, “Immediate & Feeder MC ‘Dinner on US’”


·         Distributor under $25 million – Laconia Electric Supply, “Octobertech 2007”

·         Distributor $25-200 million – K/E Electric Supply, “May First Order of the Day Promotion”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Alexander Lighting, (A division of North Coast Electric), “Alexander Lighting, Bellevue-Grand Opening Celebration”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Columbia Lighting, “2007 CreateChange Roadshow”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Hubbell Lighting, “Hubbell Lighting Grand Opening Press Event”


·         Distributor under $25 million – Gross Electric, “Lifestyle Center Promotional Campaign”

·         Distributor $25-200 million – United Electric Supply, “Come for the Job…Stay for YOUR Future!”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Graybar, “Graybar’s ‘Got It’ Program”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Federal Signal Industrial Systems, “Hazardous Location LED Signals w/XLT”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Advance, “Advance to Adventure”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Granite City Electric Supply, “GCE Sales Delivers More than Donuts”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Stuart C. Irby Company, “Irby Utility Services”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Wiremold/Legrand, “Open House”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Hubbell Wiring Device-Kellems, “SystemOne Selector Wheel”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Springfield Electric Supply, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Counter Makeover”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Rexel, “Merchandising Guide”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Universal Lighting Technologies, “Paint the Town Blue”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Thomas & Betts, “Innovative Floor Box”


·         Distributor over $200 million – Graybar, “Comm/Data Marketing Campaign”

·         Supplier under $250 million – EiKO, “EiKO Certified Green”

·         Supplier over $250 million – GE Consumer & Industrial, “ecomagination”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – BJ Electric Supply, “Made for the Trade”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Federal Signal Industrial Systems, “Hazardous Location LED Signals w/XLT”

·         Supplier over $250 million – OSRAM SYLVANIA, “Consumer Luminaires”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Wiedenbach-Brown, “ENLIGHTEN – The Journal for Lighting
Decision Makers”

·         Distributor over $200 million – Capital Lighting & Supply, “Capital Now”

·         Supplier over $250 million – Progress Lighting, “LIGHT!”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – Cape Electrical Supply, “Currents” In-House Coffee Shop and Meeting Facility

·         Distributor over $200 million – Summit Electric Supply, “Summit Supports National Guard Unit in Baghdad

·         Supplier over $250 million – Philips Lighting, “Simplicity Is Opening Doors to New Possibilities While Saving Energy”


·         Distributor $25-200 million – United Electric Supply, “”

·         Supplier under $250 million – Watt Stopper/Legrand, “Energy-Efficient Lighting Controls Stop Energy Waste” Web site redesign

·         Supplier over $250 million – Lutron Electronics, “Light Greener, Light Better” Energy Savings Web site

TED Magazine is providing extended coverage of the 2008 competition both online at and in a special supplement with its August print issue. Print resolution photos of award winners can be obtained by calling Editor Michael Martin at (888) 791-2512. Details on next year’s “Best of the Best” contest will be released in October. For additional contest information, contact Sheila Logan at or (888) 791-2512.

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


Photo Caption: Overall Best of the Best award winners (from left):  Arne Breikjern, Marketing Manager, Dakota Supply Group, Fargo, N.D. and Robert Patnaude, Director of Marketing, Federal Signal Industrial Systems, University Park, Ill.


NEMA Publishes SB 50-2008 Emergency Communications Audio Intelligibility Applications Guide

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published SB 50-2008 Emergency Communications Audio Intelligibility Applications Guide.  

According to Jeff Brooks, a member of the Signaling Protection and Communication Section that prepared this guide, it provides an overview of issues and general recommendations.

“This publication assists specifiers, emergency voice system designers, and authorities having jurisdiction who are not experts in acoustics with the concepts used to enhance intelligibility and it provides a better understanding of the factors affecting the intelligibility of these systems," Brooks said.

"In the past, the fire alarm industry primarily focused concern on audibility requirements, assuming that if the sound was loud enough it would be sufficiently intelligible.  Today, emergency voice communications systems are extensively used to provide building occupants information and instructions during all types of building emergencies. Consequently, intelligibility of these paging systems has become a vital concern. These messages contain essential safety information that must be clearly understood by the building occupants.”

This is a new NEMA publication that draws on Tyco’s Fire Alarm Audio Applications Guide as its primary source material.

The contents and scope of may be viewed, and a hard copy or electronic copy purchased for $66, by visiting NEMA’s Web site at, or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at

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


DOE Secretary Bodman Endorses NEMA Initiative to Make Buildings Energy Efficient Through Lighting Renovation

Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman  has invited industry leaders to become full participants in a national effort to make our buildings more energy efficient, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association announced today. American owners and operators of commercial, industrial, and institutional structures can reduce energy consumption by 30 percent by renovating lighting and other building systems.  In an open letter to industry, Secretary Bodman noted that current tax deductions “provide financial incentives up to $0.60 per square foot for reducing new and existing building lighting energy use by 25 percent to 50 percent.” He added that he was pleased to support the efforts announced by NEMA and its members to dramatically alter the energy footprint related to lighting in the 70 billion square feet of existing buildings, as well as new construction.  

Responding to Secretary Bodman’s previous challenge to NEMA to commit to a national building energy efficiency campaign, NEMA recently announced the “enLIGHTen AMERICA” initiative, a campaign which will promote the advantages of lighting system renovation. According to NEMA, building owners and operators can realize a 50 percent return on investment, reduced operating expenses, improved productivity, and increased asset value. Some building owners could save as much as $600,000 per year on electric bills.

To assist building owners and operators in establishing a lighting renovation project, NEMA has established a website with information and savings-calculation tools:  A copy of the “enLIGHTen AMERICA” brochure, Your Buildings Are Wasting Bushels of Money, and a copy of Secretary Bodman’s letter, are also available at the site. 

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


NEMA Calls on Congress to Pass Energy Tax Legislation

Today, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA) President and CEO, Evan Gaddis, sent a letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership voicing NEMA’s support for comprehensive energy tax extension legislation.  This year, Congress has been unable to agree on any energy tax legislation that can be sent to the President for his statutory signature.

On December 31, 2008, many current tax provisions, which are being used by millions of individuals and companies, will expire.  In the letter sent to Congressional leadership, Mr. Gaddis outlines the need to extend these provisions and emphasized several incentives that should be included in legislation. These provisions are the need to extend the energy efficient commercial building tax deduction, a transitional tax credit to encourage investment in energy-efficient electric motors, and a decrease in the depreciable life to 15 years of qualifying Smart Meters and Smart Grid technologies installed by a utility. 

“For Congress to pass truly comprehensive and effective legislation, these provisions need to be included.  These incentives aid NEMA’s members, which is especially critical in lagging U.S. economy.” Mr. Gaddis states. “Congress needs to come together, put partisanship aside, and pass meaningful legislation now.”

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


NEMA Publishes ANSI C18.3M, Part 1-2008 for Portable Lithium Primary Cells and Batteries—General and Specifications

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published ANSI C18.3M, Part 1-2008 for Portable Lithium Primary Cells and Batteries—General and Specifications. This standard applies to portable lithium primary cells and batteries, including lithium/carbon monofluoride, lithium/manganese dioxide, and lithium/iron disulfide.

ANSI C18.3M Part 1 contains general requirements and information, such as scope, applicable definitions, general descriptions of battery dimensions, terminal requirements, marking requirements, general design conditions, and test conditions.  Section 2 features specification sheets for various types of cells and batteries.  Safety requirements are covered in ANSI C18.3M, Part 2 for Portable Lithium Primary Cells and Batteries—Safety Standard, a separate document.

This updated version includes new standardized battery types 24LF (AAA 1.5V lithium), 5047 (CRV3 3.0V lithium), and 5048 (Prismatic 3.0V lithium) as well as a reformat of the lithium coin specification sheets.

According to Marc Boolish, a member of the American National Standards Committee C18 on Portable Cells and Batteries that processed and approved the submittal, this publication ensures the electrical and physical interchangeability of products from different manufacturers; minimizes proliferation of cell and battery types; defines a standard of performance and provides guidance for its assessment; and provides guidance to consumers, manufacturers, and designers.

“This is achieved by specifying nomenclature, dimensions, polarity, terminals, marking, test conditions, and procedures,” Boolish said. “It also recognizes the work of the International Electrotechnical Commission in establishing worldwide standard requirements for portable lithium primary batteries.

The contents and scope of ANSI C18.3M, Part 1-2007 may be viewed, or a hardcopy or electronic copy purchased for $75 by visiting NEMA’s website at , or by contacting IHS at (800) 854-7179 (within the U.S.), (303) 397-7956 (international), (303) 397-2740 (fax).

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


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NEMA Publishes Guide for Proper Use of Smoke Detectors in Duct Applications

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published Guide for Proper Use of Smoke Detectors in Duct Applications. It was produced by the Signaling Protection and Communication Section.

This edition reflects improved detector technology and associated sensor placement in ducts resulting in improved detector performance and resultant fire/smoke capabilities in buildings. Duct-mounted sensors are designed to provide a specific type of fire protection that cannot be duplicated by any other type of system. This technical guide addresses this fact as well as new methods of detecting smoke in ducts. 

The contents and forward of Guide for Proper Use of Smoke Detectors in Duct Applications may be viewed, and a hard copy or electronic copy purchased for $40, by visiting NEMA’s Web site at, or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at

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


NEMA Publishes LE 6-2008 Procedure for Determining Target Efficacy Ratings for Commercial, Industrial, and Residential Luminaires

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published  LE 6-2008 Procedure for Determining Target Efficacy Ratings for Commercial, Industrial, and Residential Luminaires, which was developed by the Luminaire Section, in close cooperation with the Lamp and Ballast Sections of the NEMA Lighting Systems Division.

According to Cheryl English, a member of the Luminaire Section, this standards publication provides a procedure for the determination of the target efficacy rating (TER) for luminaires under laboratory test conditions and describes categories or types of products used in common indoor and outdoor lighting applications. It does not apply to luminaires for specialized applications, such as products intended to be aimed, accent luminaires, rough or hazardous-use luminaires, or emergency lighting. It is recommended to be used only as a guide to help in the selection of luminaires since TER does not address application characteristics such as color, uniformity, glare, or other important considerations.

“This standard addresses the concern of balance between energy efficiency and lighting effectiveness in measurable terms,” English said. “Because the most efficient luminaire may not distribute the light in the most useful direction for the task, the new TER metric defined in NEMA LE-6 includes criteria related to the optical control.”

By establishing a rating for lumens delivered to a task (or target), TER allows planners and designers to compare solutions in terms of their overall energy and lighting effectiveness. TER is intended to be a metric, among many other considerations, to evaluate the energy effectiveness of a lighting installation. TER and LE-6 allow for the first time a method to evaluate the effectiveness of light delivered to common visual task locations.

“Using TER provides more useful information about the lumens delivered to a visual task for each watt consumed. The inclusion of optical control is a significant step forward in terms of evaluating the energy effectiveness of lighting equipment,” English said.

NEMA LE 6-2008 supersedes the NEMA LE5, LE5A and LE5B standards for Luminaire Efficacy Ratings (LER).

An electronic copy of LE6-2008 may be downloaded at no charge or a hard copy may be purchased for $53 by visiting NEMA’s Web site at , or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at

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



NEMA Publishes SB 40-2008 Communications Systems for Life Safety in Schools

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published SB 40-2008 Communications Systems for Life Safety in Schools. This new standard covers the application, installation, location, performance, and maintenance of school communications systems and their components. It establishes minimum required levels of performance, extent of redundancy, and quality of installation, but does not limit the methods by which these requirements are to be achieved.

According to Bob Boyer, a member of the 3SB Committee that prepared the publication, educational facilities from elementary schools to university campuses present unique design challenges for life-safety communications systems. 

Communications Systems for Life Safety in Schools identifies minimum levels of performance, redundancy and installation requirements designed to assist designers, specifiers, and school administrators plan and maintain life-safety communication systems,” Boyer said. “The standard applies to single-building schools, multi-building campuses, and multi-school districts.”

The contents and scope of may be viewed, and a hard copy or electronic copy purchased for $66, by visiting NEMA’s Web site at, or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 (within the U.S.), 303-397-7956 (international), 303-397-2740 (fax), or on the Web at

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


NEMA to Participate in GridWeek 2008

NEMA endorses and is a Silver Sponsor of GridWeek, a major conference highlighting advanced technologies for the electric grid. GridWeek will be held in Washington D.C. during the week of September 22-25, 2008.

NEMA staff members will participate in NIST Domain Expert Working Group Meetings on Friday, which will discuss the Institute’s implementation of its Smart Grid Interoperability Framework. NEMA staff member John Caskey will speak on Wednesday afternoon about Smart Grid standards and NEMA’s participation in Smart Grid development. NEMA will also hold a meeting of its Smart Grid Advisory Panel on Monday afternoon.

“NEMA is leading the drive to modernize the nation’s electricity infrastructure,” said NEMA President Evan Gaddis. “Carbon reduction and energy security are critical policy goals that require a robust and advanced transmission grid. Our companies have the technologies to make it happen.”

The NEMA Smart Grid Advisory Panel was established to provide technical and policy guidance for transmission and smart grid legislation, regulation, and standards activities. NEMA has played an active role in shaping energy efficiency and transmission grid legislation in both Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and continues to work with agencies and other stakeholders in the implementation of measures from both acts.

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



The SCTE Foundation, which helps members of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) achieve their professional development goals and dreams through grants and scholarships, announces today that it will conduct the inaugural SCTE Foundation Giving Campaign October 1 through December 31, 2008.

The 2008 Giving Campaign is chaired by Marwan Fawaz, chief technology officer and executive vice president of Charter Communications, and carries the theme, “Fueling Cable’s Future.” The SCTE Foundation seeks to raise $15,000 with this three-month effort.

The SCTE Foundation was established by the SCTE Board of Directors in 2005 and began issuing grants in 2006. The Foundation has helped numerous SCTE members by distributing grants totaling more than $80,000. The Foundation’s primary purpose is to provide expanded educational opportunities for SCTE members to assist them in advancing their careers.

Recipients have applied their grants toward a variety of educational purposes related to cable telecommunications technology, including online courses, master’s degrees, and attendance at industry events, such as SCTE Cable-Tec Expo®.

Further information about the 2008 Giving Campaign will be available in October on the Foundation’s website, where individuals also will be able to transact their donations electronically.



The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) announces today that the timing of the SCTE Board of Directors Election process is shifting with the 2009 election.

The annual election process traditionally has run from August through June. Accustomed to voting starting in January each year, the voters, who are SCTE members, won’t begin casting ballots until next May for the 2009 election.

The SCTE Board of Directors includes 12 Regional Directors, four Directors-At-Large, and one Director-At-Large Canada. Board members are elected to two-year terms. Each year approximately half of the board’s terms expire.

For Election 2009, the call for nominations will begin in mid-December of this year and conclude in early February of next year. The candidate slate will be posted to the SCTE website,, in early April. Voting will begin in mid-May and conclude toward the end of June. Election results will be announced no later than mid-August. The newly elected board members will take office in October at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® 2009.

This shift was necessary due to the industry-wide consolidation of trade shows that takes effect in 2009, which has moved Expo—where newly elected board members take office each year—from its traditional June timeframe to the fall as part of Cable Connection-Fall. Expo ’09 is set for Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 28–30 in Denver. Expo is SCTE’s flagship event.

The 2008–’09 SCTE Board of Directors is displayed at in the About Us section of the website.



The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) is pleased to announce today a brand-new annual professional development opportunity—the SCTE Canadian Summit. The event is set to debut Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 3–4, 2009, in Toronto.

SCTE Canadian Summit 2009 is designed to facilitate an exchange of technical information for Canadian engineering professionals to help them maximize opportunities and overcome challenges specific to the cable telecommunications industry in Canada both now and in the near future.

The first year of the Summit will feature technical exhibits and workshops, general sessions, and networking opportunities—all designed toward the effective integration of new technologies into existing cable infrastructures to streamline operations and improve customer satisfaction.

SCTE Board of Directors member Dermot J. O’Carroll, who is the SCTE Director-at-Large Canada, will serve as the chair of the 2009 Summit. O’Carroll, who, as an SCTE Board member, represents SCTE’s Canadian members, is senior vice president, network engineering and operations with Rogers Cable Communications in Toronto.



The SCTE Foundation is pleased to announce today that it recently awarded a major grant to Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) member Dana Kring of Comcast Cable Communications.

Kring, of Strasburg, Colo., is a business operations analyst II. He will apply the major grant toward earning his MBA in global enterprise management from Jones International University in Centennial, Colo. Kring has been an SCTE member since 1996.

The SCTE Foundation was established by the SCTE Board of Directors in 2005 and began issuing grants in 2006. The Foundation has helped numerous SCTE members by distributing grants totaling more than $80,000. The SCTE Foundation’s primary purpose is to provide expanded educational opportunities for SCTE members to assist them in accomplishing their professional development goals and dreams.

The SCTE Foundation Board of Directors recently approved Kring’s application for a major grant following preliminary approvals by the Foundation’s Major Grants Subcommittee and the Foundation’s Awards Committee.

Complete details about the SCTE Foundation, including the grant and scholarship application, are available at


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Urges EPA to Exempt Telephony Products From Inapplicable Rules

ENERGY STAR® Standby Usage Requirements Should Not Apply to Devices That Are Never in Standby Mode, Says TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, today urged the EPA to clarify that new ENERGY STAR® Telephony “No-Load” rules are inapplicable and irrelevant to telephony products such as cordless telephones, answering machines, and combination cordless phones and answering machines.

TIA called upon the EPA to adopt its own proposal to ensure that external power supply (EPS) units used with ENERGY STAR®-qualified telephony products would not be required to meet ENERGY STAR® energy consumption requirements of 0.3 or 0.5 watts when in standby or “No-Load” mode (No-Load requirements).  Most telephony products use EPS converting AC to DC electrical voltage with a nameplate power that is typically rated between 4 to 7 watts.  Thus, the EPS used with many telephony products will not meet the No-Load requirements.

However, TIA noted, the new EPA requirements do not take into account the fact that cordless telephones, answering systems, and combination units are never in standby/No-Load mode.  Such products continuously monitor telephone networks for incoming telephone calls and/or monitor radio links to cordless handsets.  Thus, TIA argued, the EPS No-Load requirements currently imposed are inapplicable to cordless phones, answering machines, and combination cordless phones and answering machines.  TIA stated that the EPA must and will clarify, through its proposal, that the No-Load requirements cannot be applied to cordless phones, answering machines, and combination cordless phones and answering machines.

“TIA applauds the EPA for proposing a policy that will appropriately eliminate the ENERGY STAR® No-Load requirements for cordless phones, answering machines, and combination cordless phones and answering machines,” said Danielle Coffey, TIA Vice President of Government Affairs.  “Our members, many of whom manufacture these products, should not be burdened by EPA regulations which, when applicable, are of great benefit, but are inapplicable to many of our members’ products and are therefore of no benefit.  The EPA’s proposal strikes the important balance of protecting resources and applying regulations only when appropriate from a technology standpoint,” Coffey added.

For more information, please contact Patrick Sullivan at 

About TIA
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, tradeshows, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. With roots dating back to 1924, TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members’ products and services empower voice, video and data communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment and entertainment.

TIA co-owns SUPERCOMM (formerly NXTcomm), the ICT industry tradeshow that showcases the business and technology solutions enabled by advanced broadband services and applications; is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); serves as the secretariat for the Third Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2); holds Board of Director positions on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) TELECOM and USITO Boards; and hosts the USA pavilions in ITU trade fairs worldwide.

More than 1,100 subject matter experts and other industry leaders participate in TIA’s 70+ standards committees and TIA has produced more than 3,000 standards documents. From mobile and personal communications systems to fiber optics and cabling infrastructure, from vehicular telematics and terrestrial mobile multimedia to healthcare ICT, TIA’s engineering committees work to formulate positions and prepare international standards and reports for use by industry and government.

In government affairs and international trade, hundreds of experts are at the table helping to foster and promote initiatives on behalf of the industry – projects such as advancing global broadband deployment across wireline, wireless and cable platforms; advocating advanced spectrum management; encouraging policies to enable information access for persons with disabilities; seeking allocation of additional spectrum to advance wireless services and public safety; facilitating market opportunities by promoting full, fair and open trade and competition in international markets; and ensuring that the U.S. communications sector continues to be a leader in advanced research.

On the environmental front, TIA’s EIATRACK subscription-based web service, on the Web at, enables companies to track up-to-date information on environmental regulations around the world. TIA’s service lists recycling centers for electronics in every state of the U.S. Finally, TIA standards have fostered green practices and TIA is continuing to work on ways to reduce carbon footprint and increase energy efficiency within the ICT industry.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, ILS Technology, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc., Verari Systems, Westell Technologies, Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corporation. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

TIA membership enhances the ability of companies to prepare for the future of communications.  TIA brings people and businesses together by helping the industry overcome technical and political barriers to communications. Visit for details.


Nokia Siemens Networks, ILS Technology Join Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Board

ILS Technology’s Fred Yentz and Nokia Siemens’ Susan Schramm Confirmed at August Meeting

At its August meeting, the Board of Directors for the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, unanimously confirmed two new Board members:

·         Fred Yentz, CEO of ILS Technology

·         Susan Schramm, Head of Marketing, North America, Nokia Siemens Networks

“It’s no secret that the industry we represent is hypercompetitive,” said TIA President Grant Seiffert. “TIA is an association that understands business, and operates with a business philosophy. As we focus on the challenges ahead – meeting the demands for services in expanding markets – the insight and experience of industry leaders like Fred and Susan will help TIA lead the ICT industry as it grows in new directions. We’re grateful for their service.”

At the meeting, the Board also heard two keynote addresses:

·         Andrew Fanara, Manager of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Product Specifications Development Team, discussed the EPA’s current activities relating to energy efficiency as well as future directions

·         Catherine Avgiris, Comcast Cable’s Senior Vice President and General Manager for Voice Services, spoke about ComCast’s unique competitive challenges in increasing market share for its cable, entertainment and communications products and services.

The TIA Board renewed its commitment to pursuing environmental initiatives, through EIATRACK, TIA’s global environmental regulatory compliance tracking service, and through, TIA’s free Web database of environmental recycling locations in the United States. The Board reconfirmed its support for TIA to take a leading role on environmental issues as a standards development organization.

About TIA
Currently in its 84th year, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry through standards development, advocacy, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory analysis. TIA enhances the business environment for thousands of companies and individuals whose focus is broadband development and deployment (including wireless and landline infrastructure and services), information technology (IT) for commercial or residential application, Internet Protocol (IP) hardware, software and content solutions, and the convergence of voice, video and data (“triple play”) applications and evolution.

TIA co-owns NXTcomm, the tradeshow serving the ICT industry; is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); serves as the secretariat for the Third Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2); holds Board of Director positions on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) TELECOM and USITO Boards; and hosts the USA pavilions in ITU trade fairs worldwide.

More than 1,100 subject matter experts and other industry leaders participate in TIA’s 70+ standards committees and TIA has produced more than 1,150 standards documents. From mobile and personal communications systems to fiber optics and cabling infrastructure, from vehicular telematics and terrestrial mobile multimedia to healthcare ICT, TIA’s engineering committees work to formulate positions and prepare international standards and reports for use by industry and government.

In government affairs and international trade, hundreds of experts are at the table helping to advance and advocate initiatives on behalf of the industry – projects such as advancing global broadband deployment across wireline, wireless and cable platforms; advocating advanced spectrum management; encouraging policies to enable information access for persons with disabilities; seeking allocation of additional spectrum to advance wireless services and public safety; facilitating market opportunities by promoting full, fair and open trade and competition in international markets; and ensuring that the U.S. communications sector continues to be a leader in advanced research.

On the environmental front, TIA’s EIATRACK subscription-based web service, on the Web at, enables companies to determine up-to-date information on environmental compliance of their products in various regions around the world.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, Intel Corporation, ILS Technology, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc., Verari Systems, Westell Technologies, Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corporation. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, Orca Systems and Telcordia Technologies.

TIA membership enhances the ability of companies to prepare for the future of communications.  TIA brings people and businesses together by helping the industry overcome technical and political barriers to communications. Visit for details.


U.S. Green Building Council Announces Recipients of $2 Million

Green Building Research Grants Selected Proposals Represent Diverse Academic, Non-profit and Private Entities

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today announced the recipients of its 2008 Green Building Research Fund grants.  The Green Building Research Fund was created to spur research that will advance sustainable building practices and encourage market transformation. The USGBC committed $2 million to the program, while the Research Fund is generating $1,150,825 in matching funds and leveraging additional activities and partnerships.  A quarter of the fund is dedicated to research on occupant impacts in K-12 schools.

“We’ve identified an enormous need for green building research,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of USGBC.  “The research grants are part of USGBC’s commitment to better understand what is working and what more can be done, which will inform USGBC’s programs and the entire building industry.”

Continued Fedrizzi,” The selected proposals drive knowledge, policies, tools and technologies and inspire corresponding industry and government-wide action.”

USGBC’s Research Committee, in its role as the grant selection panel, reviewed 216 pre-proposals and 38 full proposals, spanning a broad range of topics, including K-12 school facility research.  The highly competitive field was narrowed down to 13 final selections. 

“The portfolio of research projects address a range of critical environmental needs in the building industry, encompass diverse approaches and proposed outcomes, and are well distributed geographically across the U.S.,” said Gail Brager, Chair of USGBC’s Research Committee.

The selected proposals excelled due to the quality of topic, methodology and expected impact.  Research topics covered each of the five categories of environmental performance that are addressed within the LEED green building certification system.   Grants ranging from $90,000 to $250,000 were awarded to the 13 research teams.

The research projects selected for funding include:

•    A Green Roof Energy Calculator
•    An Open Source Searchable Database to Assess the Impact of Environmental Strategies on Outcomes in Healthcare Facilities
•    Design for Reuse Primer
•    Development and Implementation of a New Protocol for Testing the Ability of Building Materials to Passively Reduce Indoor Ozone and Its Reaction Products
•    HVAC Control Algorithms for Mixed-Mode Buildings
•    Improvement of Porous Pavement System for on-site Stormwater Management
•    Integrated Building Water Management (IBWM) Modeling - A Proposed Tool for LEED Assessment & Education
•    Investigating Opportunities for Improving Building Performance Through Simulation of Occupant and Operator Behavior
•    Multi-Variate Study of Stormwater BMPs
•    Quantifying the Impact of Daylight and Electric Lighting on Student Alertness, Performance, and Well-being in K-12 Schools
•    The Evaluation of Green School Building Attributes and Their Effect On the Health and Performance of Students and Teachers in NY State
•    Transportation Energy Intensity Index
•    Using a New Application of Existing Monitoring Technology to Quantify the Relationship between Classroom Ventilation and Student Performance
To see the list of grant recipients and research abstracts, download the recipient list (  Visit the GBRF Web page ( for additional information and periodic updates.

The grant program was announced in February 2008 in response to the USGBC’s Research Committee’s findings published in Green Building Research Funding: An Assessment of Current Activity in the United States ( that indicate that applied research and development fall alarmingly short of what is needed to meet the challenges of a building sector that has a profound impact on people and the environment.

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 USGBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 17,000 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building certification systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry’s popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (, and a network of 78 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups.  For more information, visit


USGB in the NEWS

Serving Architects, Consultants in Everything Green Become Mainstays

New York Times, August 27, 2008

On a recent Friday, when the rest of the staff of the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle was out of the office enjoying a beautiful August day, about 25 people sat in a windowless room learning about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.

Conducting the seminar was Lauren Yarmuth of YRG Sustainable Consultants, one of a growing cadre of consultants who specialize in helping developers, architects and sometimes tenants gain an official stamp of approval from the United States Green Building Council through its LEED certification program - the undisputed calling card of environmental bragging rights.

That some two dozen architecture professionals - including a partner in the firm - were getting daylong instruction is indicative of the growing importance of sustainable design, especially as local and state governments are increasingly requiring LEED certification of public projects. Read more.

New Yorkers Go Green To Save Green In Tough Times

amNew York, August 29, 2008

You won't need a windmill, an array of solar panels, or a roof shaped like a biodome.

In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish between a green home and a conventional one, but there's one key difference you will notice: More money in the bank.

With fuel costs rising and the city's economy in meltdown, more New Yorkers are taking simple steps to make their homes environmentally friendly.

"The idea of green is probably something you can't see from the outside," said Nate Kredich, vice president of residential market development for the Green Building Council.

Kredich says what distinguishes a green home is it's high quality, with better windows, insulation and energy efficient appliances.

Read more.

The Thinkers: PNC's Saulson Finds It's Easy Being Green

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 25, 2008

Ten years ago, Gary Saulson's life was transformed by a telephone conversation and a leap of faith.

Mr. Saulson, PNC's director of corporate real estate, had already started to watch the banking company's new Downtown operations hub, Firstside Center, rise from the ground when he got a call from Rebecca Flora of the Green Building Alliance.

The alliance's mission is to promote energy-efficient, environmentally friendly buildings, and Ms. Flora wanted Firstside to become such a structure.

Mr. Saulson was skeptical. "My vision of a green building at that point was dirt floors and straw walls and people walking around in Birkenstocks, and I don't know if they were singing Kumbaya but they might have been."

Still, he agreed to set up a meeting with Ms. Flora, and before that session was done, "I had committed to making Firstside a green building, even though it was well under construction.

"I had absolutely no idea what I'd committed to. I knew I had committed to doing the right thing, but that's as far as it went." Read more.

Toyota Dealerships Reaping Benefits of Going Green

The Dallas Morning News, August 23, 2008

Pat Lobb knows exactly what it means to be green - $8,000 a month.

That's what he says he saves monthly on his electric bill at Pat Lobb Toyota and Scion in McKinney, the first new-car dealership in the U.S. to be certified as a green building.

And while the car business might seem an odd advocate of environmentalism, North Texas has more green car dealerships - three Toyota stores - than any region in the U.S. Moreover, the number of eco-dealers is growing nationally, many of them motivated by what they see here.

"As other dealers saw what Pat had done, it just made sense for them to follow," said George Irving, retail development manager for Toyota Motor Sales.

Mr. Lobb's dealership was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council two years ago. One of the newest Toyota facilities in the area, Toyota of Rockwall, is the first dealership in the country to be certified "gold" by the building council. Mr. Lobb's was built to a slightly lower "silver" standard.

"Now that I've done the gold, got the green, I look back and say I would have beat myself senseless if I hadn't done this," said Steve Jackson, owner-general manager of the Rockwall dealership. Read more.


Registration Now Open for U.S. Green Building Council’s Annual Greenbuild Conference

This year’s show commences on Boston for the world’s largest green building conference and expo

If you are a reporter covering green building, residential construction, real estate, energy or human health, chances are you’ve encountered LEED along the way.  Itching to learn more?  Join over 25,000 attendees at the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual conference and exhibition, which will be held from November 19-21, 2008 in Boston.

Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, and is the recent recipient of Tradeshow Week’s “Fastest 50,” honoring the fifty-fastest growing shows in North America. This year, over 25,000 attendees will attend, eager to learn more about the LEED® green building certification, the nationally accepted system for green buildings, developed by the USGBC as a tool to build healthy, energy efficient, resource-friendly structures. 

This year’s show will explore "Revolutionary Green: Innovations for Global Sustainability,” with Boston serving as the ideal backdrop.  The city, home to innovations that have far-reaching impact, will be the location for a variety of educational sessions, full- and half-day LEED workshops, exciting speakers, special events and building tours. 

Each year at Greenbuild, one of the highlights is the assortment of master and keynote speakers, comprised of internationally renowned industry experts and influential leaders.  This year, world-renowned leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu takes to the stage as the opening Keynote speaker. A Nobel Peace Laureate, Bishop Tutu is led a crusade for social justice and racial conciliation in South Africa as then-General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Today, he is revered worldwide as a “moral voice” seeking to end poverty and human rights abuses. Tutu’s opening keynote address will take place Wednesday, November 19, 8:00-10:00 am.

Closing Keynote Speakers include:

•    E.O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator of Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
•    Janine Benyus, Co-founder and Principal, Biomimicry Guild

Master Speakers:

•    Paul Anastas, Director, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, Yale University
•    Stefan Behnisch, Principal, Behnisch, Behnisch & Partners
•    Carol Browner, Principal, The Albright Group, and former EPA Administrator
•    Majora Carter, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx
•    Howard Frumkin, Director, The National Center for Environmental Health, CDC
•    Van Jones, President and Founder, Green For All
•    Bill McKibben, Environmentalist and Author
•    Leith Sharp, Director, Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI)

A variety of workshops and educational sessions will be offered throughout the show related to green building, and for the first time, this year’s selection of over 100 educational sessions will also include programs that have been approved through the USGBC Education Provider Program.


LEED 2009: Implementation for Building Design and Construction
•    Designed for contractors, building owners, design team members, , and other stakeholders involved in the design and construction of commercial buildings.

Solving the Green Cleaning Puzzle
•    Geared towards cleaning industry professionals who want to learn how to design and implement a green cleaning program.

Commissioning for LEED Projects
•    For those who want to learn the building commissioning process required by LEED, including cost / benefit and the commission¬ing agent’s role in LEED design and documentation.

Understanding LEED Project Costs and Returns
•    Geared towards all audiences interested in learning more about building environmentally sound projects at a reason¬able cost, building life-cycle and construction costs, and LEED project case studies.

Educational Sessions

A Policy Perspective - Green Legislation and Its Influence in the Public, Private, and Non-Profit Sectors

Greening the Trades of Tomorrow

Measuring Green Building Performance through Research and Innovative Tools

Fostering a Community of Environmental Stewards by Using Real-Time Display of Building Performance Data

Green Schools: Two programs Create Sustainable Standards

Greening our Historic Legacy: Sustainability and Preservation Standards

LEEDing Internationally: Sustainability in the World Market

Navigating Green Labels and Certifications

Visit the Greenbuild Web site for an interactive and comprehensive listing of all on and off site educational sessions and master speakers:
This year the Greenbuild exhibit hall will be held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which will house over 1,300 booths featuring the newest and best products, technologies and services.

New to this year’s show is Green Homebuilder's Day, a day of programming and panels of industry experts dedicated to various residential green building topics. Green Homebuilder’s Day will take place on Thursday, November 20 and will feature a variety of educational tracks and speakers, including Kevin O'Connor, host of This Old House. For more information about this event, visit: 

Known as “America’s Walking City,” the Boston cityscape is dotted with vibrant neighborhoods, historical sites and LEED certified buildings.  Currently, there are 19 LEED certified and 118 registered buildings in the city. Full and half-day tours of many of Boston’s most celebrated buildings, including many LEED certified projects, will take place throughout the event, and will be complimentary to press. 

Greenbuild is presented annually by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit organization composed of more than 16,700 member organizations ranging from private companies to nonprofits, educational institutions, and government agencies, all working to transform the building industry. Since its founding in 1993, USGBC has been at the forefront of green building, introducing the nationally used LEED® green building certification system in 2000 and launching the Greenbuild Conference in 2002.  Visit the Greenbuild Web site:
Greenbuild has undergone some changes in preparation for this year’s show. In order to make the Greenbuild experience as enjoyable and seamless as possible, we’ve undergone a transformation.  Some of the changes you’ll find at this year’s show include:

•    Self-service kiosks for session and conference registration (located in the press room)
•    Ticketless entry to events – your name badge is all you need
•    More room! 50% more exhibit space (over 300,000 square feet), additional educational session space, and more registration counters

Registration for members of the press is complimentary, and includes access to all 100+ educational and break-out sessions; Keynote presentations; the master speaker series’ and green building tours. 

To learn more about press registration at Greenbuild 2007, visit

To register as a working press member, visit

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 USGBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 16,500 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building certification systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry’s popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (, and a network of 78 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups.

Article Contributions


Take Control of Your Future

Edward J. Donelan,


As an information transport systems (ITS) professional, you face difficult challenges every day. You work hard to please your clients and help them solve their business needs. This requires access to cutting-edge ideas, current information, and high-quality resources to be familiar with all of the available resources for your clients. Your BICSI membership entitles you to a wide variety of benefits and special offers that range from business services that save you time and money to publications and programs that can help advance your career.

Customer Service

Member benefits in any association are great tools to help you get ahead and save money. However, the one piece that is just as important as the actual benefits is the level of customer service you receive. Great experiences start with great customer service. No one understands that better than I do. As President of BICSI I believe your first member benefit is the outstanding level of customer service that you receive. Our customer service team goes through weekly training sessions to ensure that everyone they come in contact with, whether it’s over the telephone or face-to-face, receives the utmost attention and care, thus making your BICSI experience a great one. It doesn’t end with the customer service team—everyone at BICSI is driven by this same success formula. Great benefits plus great customer service equals a great BICSI experience.


Whether through open enrollment courses or technical reference manuals, BICSI is constantly expanding access to educational resources. Open enrollment courses, suitcase courses, BICSI CONNECT, authorized training facilities (ATFs) and authorized design training providers (ADTPs) offer members the opportunity to advance their knowledge and gain new skills. With the BICSI Book with Confidence Guarantee, members attending open enrollment courses will be covered for any added expenses if a course cancels less than 30 days from the start date.

BICSI reference manuals serve as a detailed reference and study guide for the BICSI credentialing exams. In addition, BICSI is an ANSI-approved standards-making body and, through ITS industry subject matter experts, can produce its own standards. BICSI also offers members access to sample request for proposals (RFPs).

Knowledge Sharing and Networking

Not only does BICSI produce a complete library of reference manuals, BICSI also gives its members access to industry news and association updates through several routes including the award-winning magazine, BICSI News. Community UPLINK, a monthly e-newsletter, provides members with the need-to-know information directly to

their inbox.

The Forums Community, BICSI’s newest addition to its services, facilitates knowledge sharing between BICSI members, staff and end users. Furthermore, BICSI members can rest assured that their opinions are being heard by the Board of Directors. Local representation, including Region Directors and Country Chairs help bring not only local, but also global needs to BICSI. Through this process, BICSI Best Practices are also global best practices and can be used by all members alike.


Stay updated on local BICSI news while meeting other ITS professionals and learning about the latest trends, products and solutions. BICSI conferences, region meetings, breakfast clubs and the European pub clubs offer members the opportunity to meet and network with other local professionals. With innovative and forward-looking speakers and vendors, these events are not only a member advantage, but also a benefit to the entire ITS industry.

Professional Services

In addition to the array of educational services, BICSI works hard to provide its members with numerous professional services such as continuing education transcript tracking, health insurance discounts and member and credential holder search engines.

In the recent months, BICSI has also created several new relation-ships with other companies to provide its members with an Affinity Discount Program that can be accessed through BICSI Main Street., a service provided by BICSI, is your source for industry career postings. Whether searching for a new job to advance in your career, or recruiting talent to your company, is the place to explore.

BICSI also has an outstanding charitable outreach program called BICSI Cares. With the generosity of BICSI members, BICSI Cares has donated well over $1 million to children’s charities. With the help of conference attendee donations, BICSI Cares Bears and annual golf outings, BICSI members have proven their dedication to helping these noteworthy causes.

Industry Affiliations

BICSI has worked hard to create a working relationship with both InfoComm and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). As part of the InfoComm and BICSI relationship, BICSI members can now participate in InfoComm International curriculum program at member pricing. In early 2008, BICSI announced the launch of a renewed collaboration agreement with TIA in an ongoing effort to reach out and deploy new business systems that will benefit ITS industry professionals. BICSI is also an authorized General Services Administration (GSA) contract holder, and holds representation in both the National Electrical Code® (NEC ®) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Above, I have described to you some of the most important benefits your membership entitles you to. I believe that you would agree with me, that when you compare the value of the investment you have made by joining BICSI, and measure the return on investment, you have made a very good decision. When you join BICSI you gain access to a collection of professional resources that enhance your knowledge and increase your skills. Take control of your future by becoming and staying a current and active BICSI member—a decision that very well could determine your destiny! Thank you for your membership and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be of service to you.

BICSI News September/October 2008. Reprinted with permission.


The Evolution of Structured Cabling Standards

Standards remain important for meeting user needs and the changing market for structured cabling. By Herb Congdon

In the early 1990s, when the data communications market really started taking off, the lack of a unifying standard proved problematic. There were a proliferation of proprietary solutions from companies with no way to ensure performance and no guarantee of interoperability. The lack of standardization hindered the ability of this industry to both meet the needs of users and to grow as a market.

ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A, Commercial Building Telecommunications Standard was first ratified in 1991, and its publication revolutionized the industry. Its purpose was to specify a structured cabling system that would provide a minimum level of performance, support a multi-vendor environment, provide direction for the design of telecommunications equipment and cabling products, and establish performance and technical criteria for various types of cable and connecting hardware. The goal was to specify a structured cabling system with a projected usable life of at least 10 years.

The Commercial Building Telecommunications Standard is, like all standards, voluntary. However, end users and network designers like to have a standards-compliant structured cabling system; it provides a known quantity that they can count on and it helps to ensure that they have a system that is robust and reliable. That is why changes to this document and other related documents generate so much interest.

Currently TIA-TR-42 is on the verge of releasing TIA-568-C, the third generation of this standard. The evolution of this standard provides an interesting perspective into the development and implementation of solutions that network designers employ to meet the ever-increasing demands on their local area networks (LANs).

Who Develops Standards?

Most standards in the telecommunications industry are voluntary and consensus based. The two primary organizations that develop standards for this industry are the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.® (IEEE®), which focuses on the Ethernet applications, and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), which focuses on the passive network to support applications like Ethernet.

TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop voluntary industry standards for a wide variety of telecommunications products. The TIA-568 standard is developed by the User Premises Equipment Division under the auspices of the TR-42 Engineering Committee. This committee comprises representatives from manufacturers, service providers, consultants and end users, including the government. Participation in the Engineering Committee can be as a TIA member company or as an individual. Participation is open to all companies who wish to contribute to the development of industry standards.

Standards projects and technical documents at TIA are formulated according to the guidelines established by ANSI and the association’s engineering manual. Any potential project is initiated by a technical contribution to one of the engineering committees or subcommittees from an individual or company requesting the creation of a new standard or technical document in a particular area of technology.

What is the Process for Developing a Standard?

The time to develop a new standard depends on many factors and can take a few months to many years (the TR-42.9 subcommittee, for example, has been working in excess of 10 years on an industrial cabling standard). Once a project has been approved, contributions are reviewed in subcommittee, draft documents are created, then balloted to remove or resolve contentious issues. When there is consensus that the document is ready for publication, the subcommittee can release the document.

How Long are Standards Valid?

Standards are living documents, and must constantly be revised to reflect emerging market needs. ANSI mandates a maximum five-year lifespan for standards, after which they must be revised, re-affirmed or withdrawn. During that lifespan, many addenda may be added to keep the document growing with advances in technology. These addenda may then be incorporated into the new revision of the standard. For example, since

the ratification of TIA-568-B in 2001, there have been six addenda to 568-B.1, ten addenda to 568-B.2 and one addendum to 568-B.3. A standard may be withdrawn at any time by the responsible engineering committee.

How has TIA-568 Changed Since its Inception?

When TIA-568-A was ratified, copper cabling—mostly category 3 and category 5 unshielded twisted-pair (UTP)—was used almost exclusively throughout building LANs in North America. This meant that the standard was based on the characteristics of these media in hierarchical star architectures. It was at this time that specific distance limitations, such as 100 meters in the horizontal, came into being as benchmarks for media performance and structured cabling design. Since then, several new applications and grades of media have been introduced into the market and users have started to deploy them. Multimode optical fiber, for example, evolved as an accepted media through addenda and revisions to TIA-568.

o        1995: TSB-72 introduced “Centralized Fiber Optic Guidelines.”

o        2001: TIA-568-B.1 incorporated centralized           cabling into the standard.

o        2005: TIA 569-B and 568-B.1, Addendum 5 were added to support the use of telecommunications enclosures (TEs) that enable optical fiber to be used for zone cabling.

Similar addenda were added and revisions were completed as new applications (such as Gigabit Ethernet) and new grades of cabling (such as category 6 and 850 nanometer [nm] laser-optimized 50-micron fiber) became available.

Also, over the years, specialized cabling standards documents were published to address the specific needs of networks that were not office-oriented. The data center standard (TIA-942) is a good example.

What’s New in TIA-568-C?

The new Commercial Building Telecommunications Standard gives users and network designers more standards compliant solutions—new media choices are included along with their appropriate installation and testing procedures. However, in addition to the technical updates, 568-C reflects a new organizational structure that is designed to simplify and streamline future standards processes by reducing duplicated information, and establishing a common foundation for future documents.

The standard is comprised of four documents:

1.         TIA-568-C.0 Generic Telecommunications Cabling (targeted to users/designers/installers). This document houses most information common to structured cabling in one place and becomes the foundation for future standards. This is where minimum requirements for generic telecommunications cabling are specified such as cabling architecture, what applications the cabling is intended to support and over what distances, and other general requirements. The document thus serves two purposes—as a “default” standard for       structured cabling in locations that are not office-oriented or covered by another standard, and as a foundation for future standards that can now focus on exceptions and allowances for that location rather than having to reconstruct all the generic information.

Status: The 1st default ballot closed in May 2008. Comments were resolved during a June meeting. A second default ballot has been issued and may allow for publication in the August/September time frame.

2.         TIA-586-C.1 Commercial Building (targeted to users/designers/installers).This document specifies the requirements for telecommunications cabling within and between commercial (office-oriented) buildings. This document builds on 568-C.0 and focuses on the requirements and guidance for office-oriented buildings. There are some technical changes to the information in 568-B.1 that are reflected in this document. These include the addition of:

o        Category 6 balanced twisted-pair cabling.

o        Augmented category 6 twisted-pair cabling.

o        850 nm laser-optimized 50/125 µm mm optical fiber.

o        Telecommunications enclosures (TEs).

o        Centralized cabling.

o        A recommendation to select 850 nm laser-optimized 50/125 µm as the  multimode optical fiber for commercial buildings.

Some information was also removed:

o        150-ohm shielded twisted-pair (STP) cabling.

o        Category 5 cabling.

o        50-ohm and 75-ohm coaxial cabling.

o        Balanced twisted-pair cabling performance and test requirements (these will be in the ANSI/TIA-568-C.2 document).

Status: The 1st default ballot closed in May 2008. Comment resolution was completed in June. The standard is out for its 2nd default ballot, and a third default ballot in the August timeframe is possible. This may allow publication as early as September, or maybe in October.

3.         TIA-568-C.2 Copper Cabling Components (targeted to manufacturers). This standard includes component and cabling specifications for copper             cabling, including testing requirements. The document incorporates category 3, category 5e, category 6 and category 6A.

Status: The first committee ballot closed in March. A second committee (30-day) ballot was issued and plans to review comments at an interim August meeting are in place. The timeline for this document shows publication in mid-2009.

4.         TIA-568-C.3 Optical Cabling Components (targeted to manufacturers). This document addresses component and cabling specifications for optical fiber cabling. The standard now includes all three types of multimode fiber (82.5 µm, 50 µm and 850 nm laser-optimized 50 µm). The addition of array connectors is particularly noteworthy.

Status: This document has been released for publication.

That’s Not All, Folks

In addition to the changes to TIA-568, there is continued effort to refine other documents to address the installation needs of specific types of end use applications.

ANSI/TIA/EIA-942 Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers, which was released in 2005, recognizes that the needs of the data center and storage area network require different guidelines than commercial building LANs. A recent addendum on coaxial cabling was released for specific data center applications. A new project to address subjects such as temperature and humidity guidelines was started in June.

The TR-42.9 Industrial Cabling subcommittee continues to work on an Industrial Cabling Standard (to be TIA-1005). This standard, which will have been 11 years in the making, looks specifically at industrial applications and their unique challenges—very long cabling runs, excessive radio frequency interference/electromagnetic interference (RFI/EMI), and exposure to extreme temperature variations, vibrations, dirt, gases and liquids. The standard is currently out for default ballot and may be published in October 2008.

Another vertical market that is attracting interest is multi-tenant/multi-dwelling units (MTU/MDU). TR-42.2, TR-42.12 and TR-42.13 are looking at the challenges facing this emerging application with an eye toward defining the optical infrastructure for both MDU residential (apartments, townhouses and condominiums) and MTU commercial properties included mixed-use builds and extending the reach of singlemode optical fiber services. This may become a standards development project in October.

Thinking Healthy and Green

TIA has established the TR-49 Engineering Committee for Healthcare Communications Technology.  TR-42 had already been working on a project to develop

a Technical Services Bulletin (TSB) for a Healthcare Facility Cabling. The task group is creating a draft now that the new TIA-568-C.0 document is nearly complete. 

To successfully complete such a project, TR-42 is soliciting contributions from experienced experts on what makes health care facility cabling different from commercial building cabling.

TIA, recognizing the widespread and widely defined “green initiative,” has taken steps to establish a knowledge and document base to address this subject. Another new engineering committee will be established for this effort. In the meantime, engineering committees such as TR-42 are collecting ideas and submitting contributions to TIA for consideration. 

Fine Tuning the Structure of the Structured Cabling System Committees

In addition to re-issuing the major standard for commercial building structured cabling, the engineering committee that produces the work has also undergone some restructuring. In February 2008, the TIA FO-4, Committee on Fiber Optics, Engineering Committee merged into the TIA TR-42, User Premises Telecommunications Cabling Infrastructure, Engineering Committee.  While there will be little short-term impact on the responsibilities and activities of these committees and their subcommittees, there are some longer-term benefits expected.

From an administrative perspective, the TIA’s Technical Committee saw an opportunity to bolster the FO-4 Engineering Committee, which was addressing standards development in new areas such as the MDU market.

The growth of optical fiber in customer-owned networks, such as commercial buildings and data centers, and the recognized absence of optical fiber component and testing expertise meant that the TIA-TR-42 Engineering Committee was a likely partner for FO-4. In February 2007, the two engineering committees started co-locating their meetings and hosting joint leadership meetings. During the year it became apparent that there were multiple synergistic benefits to be realized from the merger, such as:

o        Balancing the component and testing expertise for balanced twisted-pair cabling in TR-42.7 with component and testing expertise for optical fiber cabling in TR-42.8.

o        Incorporating optical fiber into new and existing common and premise standards.

o        Capitalizing on new applications that are based on optical fiber.

o        Halfway through 2008, the effects of the merger of these committees are very positive. With more resources and expertise, TR-42 is well positioned making sure that the standards that the industry depends upon can keep up with emerging markets and technologies.

It Takes an Industry

Standards development works best with balanced input from all segments of the industry and the TR-42 Engineering Committee counts on contributions, comments and constructive criticism to produce effective, useful and competent documents. Working closely with members of BICSI, end-users and manufacturers has been an effective way to achieve those goals. Your participation and input are welcome and often necessary. Feel free to speak up and be part of the success.

BICSI News September/October 2008. Reprinted with permission.


Optical Fiber in the Data Center

Specification of lower loss cables and connectors and optical fiber rated for longer distances offer design flexibility. By David Mazzarese

For network managers, installers and consultants, all eyes are on the data center. In businesses, educational and health facilities, and government organizations, this critical facility is at the hub of an explosion in bandwidth demand. The drivers behind this growth include the tremendous popularity of video and other high-bandwidth content on the Internet, the growing interest in videoconferencing, greater demand for data storage and recordkeeping, and the rise in supercomputing applications.

This trend is expected to continue, in part because of government data warehousing legislation and recommendations for the medical and financial industries, along with the need for redundancy to protect against catastrophic loss. As a result, data centers and storage area networks (SANs) are expected to see further upgrades to higher networking speeds of 40 and 100 Gigabits per second (Gb/s), depending on the application.

Optical fiber is the transmission medium of choice for these networks, due to its low loss and high bandwidth, small size, and low power consumption and generation of heat. In this article, optical fiber choices available to the data center user will be reviewed and the evolution of standards that will determine which solutions are being defined by the industry as the most effective and cost-efficient will be discussed.

Network Architectures and Protocols

Today’s enterprise networks are increasingly taking advantage of 10 Gb/s-capable multimode optical fiber for backbone cabling in order to support 1 Gb/s-capable copper or optical fiber horizontal links. Traditional hierarchal star architecture is still used predominantly, but there are increased deployments of fiber-to-the-enclosure (FTTE) architecture that extend the high-performance capability of optical fiber much closer to the workstation.

In the data center, where much of the information traveling over the local area network (LAN) is processed and stored, systems are becoming predominately optical fiber in order to keep up with the amount of information that needs to be managed.

Data centers typically consist of a SAN and a bank of servers that control the information traveling over the network. Data centers are connected to the LAN through an intranet and to the World Wide Web through the Internet. With more data being processed both internally and externally, the data center needs to be able to handle ever-increasing data rates.

Switches and servers in the data center typically use Ethernet as their communications protocol. Currently, 10 Gb/s (or “10G”) is the fastest Ethernet speed that has been standardized (IEEE 802.3ae for optical fiber, published in 2002, and IEEE 802.3an for copper, published in 2006). However, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.® (IEEE®) is already working on standards for the next Ethernet speeds, 40G and 100G. These IEEE standards identify transceiver port types, and the requirements and characteristics of the physical layer.

In the SAN portion of the data center, Fibre Channel is the predominant protocol used.  Heavily focused on optical fiber, Fibre Channel uses “Base2” speeds, doubling with each new generation (2GFC, 4GFC, 8GFC, etc.). Current efforts are focusing on 16GFC for the next Base2 speed. 

Fibre Channel also uses a “Base10” protocol for inter-switch links and core connections. 10GFC was published on the heels of 10G and includes virtually the same 850-nm serial vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) solution for 10 Gb/s up to 300 meters (m [984 feet (ft)]) on 50 µm laser-optimized multimode optical fiber (also called OM3 optical fiber). Looking ahead, Fibre Channel is working on 20GFC and already has sights set on 40GFC as the next Base10 speed.

Multimode Optical Fiber Offers Better Performance, Lower Costs

Several transmission media are available for use in the data center. These include various performance grades, or “categories,” of copper cabling, and different types and performance grades of optical fiber. 

Copper cabling has long been considered the least expensive option for data center applications, but its performance is limited in terms of transmission capacity and reach. For example, looking ahead at 40G and 100G transmission speeds, it is expected that copper will only be able to handle these speeds for very short distances, on the order of 10 m (33 ft) or so. It is too early to tell what makeup or type of copper cable will be necessary for these speeds. Historically, as transmission speeds increase, copper-based systems become more complex and costly.

On the optical fiber side, users have a choice between singlemode and multimode optical fiber.  Singlemode optical fiber has very high bandwidth that can be transmitted long distances, but the optoelectronics required to do so are quite a bit more expensive than multimode (on the order of 25–30 percent higher).  Even if you only need to go a few hundred meters, as with data centers, you still need the more expensive optical fibers if you were to use singlemode.

There are two types of multi-mode optical fiber—62.5 µm and 50 µm, named because of their core sizes and various performance grades—listed here in increasing order of reach and performance capability: OM1 62.5 µm, and OM2, OM3, and soon to be OM4 50 µm.

Again using the 40 and 100G example, optical fiber is needed to transmit greater than 10 m (33 ft). Fortunately, distances of 100–200 m (328-656 ft) or more are expected to be achievable using existing, standards-based OM3 multimode optical fiber (also known as laser-optimized 50 µm) and soon-to-be-standardized OM4 multimode optical fiber (extended-length laser-optimized 50 µm).

Why is optical fiber more expensive for singlemode than multimode? Two factors come into play–the wavelength of operation and, more significantly, the size of the optical fiber cores where the light is carried. The material used for the laser to achieve long wavelength (1310 nm, 1550 nm) transmission is more expensive than that for 850 nm short wavelength lasers. But more importantly, the transceivers used with singlemode optical fibers require significantly tighter alignment tolerances in order to couple, or capture, the light into its tiny (9 micron) core. Not only is high-precision transceiver packaging required, but also tighter tolerance connectors and careful cable installation and termination practices are necessary. All this adds considerable cost as compared with multimode optical fiber for data center applications.

So for shorter reach premises applications like a data center, multimode optical fiber can easily provide the needed bandwidth (supporting up to 10 Gb/s or more serially and 40 and 100 Gb/s in parallel arrays) well into the future at much lower expense than singlemode optical fiber. 

Differential Mode Delay (DMD)-Controlled Optical Fiber Helps Ensure Performance

Today, approximately 70 percent of the multimode optical fiber installed in the data center is OM3 or OM4 optical fiber. These laser optimized optical fibers, designed for 850 nm transmission using VCSELs as a light source, all feature a differential mode delay (DMD)-controlled core that helps ensure 10 Gb/s support with low-cost 850 nm serial applications up to their rated distances. Even though these optical fibers are intended for high performance applications, they can still support 1 Gb/s operation, and

their 50-micron core size couples sufficient power from light emitting diode (LED) sources to support legacy protocols like Token Ring, fiber distributed data interface (FDDI), Ethernet and Fast Ethernet, and slower Fibre Channel speeds for virtually all in-building networks.

OM3 is the most widely deployed laser-optimized multimode optical fiber, providing 10 Gb/s trans-mission with low cost 850 nm serial applications for distances up to 300 m (984 ft). For longer distances (e.g., large building backbones, medium-length campus backbones) and more sensitive power budget applications (e.g., data center equipment inter-connects), OM4 optical fiber with specifications that are significantly tighter than the current standards for OM3 are often deployed.

OM4 optical fiber, which can support 10 Gb/s Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and OIF applications to 550 m (1804 ft) using the same low-cost 850 nm VCSELs, is expected to become standardized in the industry through work currently being conducted in several international bodies including the TIA TR42.12 and IEC SC86A WG1. The key to the performance of these optical fibers is a manufacturing process that produces an optical fiber with almost no DMD and 4700 MHz-km of effective modal bandwidth (EMB), more than double the IEEE® requirement for 10 Gb/s 300 m (984 ft) support.

Cassette-Based Solutions

To better manage the growth and increasing number of ports in a data center, pre-terminated multi-fiber trunk cables and multi-point optical (MPO) connectors are being used. For example, this will allow 12 optical fibers to be terminated with one mated pair of connectors. These pre-term assemblies provide ease of installation, space savings, and greatly simplify the connectivity portion of the network.

In one commonly used architecture, 12 optical fiber cables with MPO connectors are run between cassettes that then fan out to individual optical fiber ports. This architecture simplifies installation but could result in more connections than usual in a given optical link between the transmitter and receiver. Furthermore, multi-fiber MPO connectors typically exhibit higher connection or insertion loss than single-fiber connectors.

In these cases, multimode optical fiber again is the better choice for transmission media compared to singlemode. First, the larger core of a multimode optical fiber makes it easier to align their cores at a connection point, making them less sensitive to connection loss. Second, using a higher bandwidth optical fiber such as OM4 over a distance less than what it is rated for (typically 550 m [1804 ft] at 10G) provides additional channel insertion loss (ChIL) margin, or “headroom,” to accommodate the additional, higher loss connectors. Finally, the additional headroom can translate to more safety margin, providing additional immunity from installation challenges (e.g., cable routing, termination), link degradation from moves, adds, or changes (MACs), or from aging of electronics.

Power Consumption and Cooling Considerations

One of the greatest challenges with today’s data centers is minimizing costs associated with power consumption and cooling. The more power that is consumed, the higher the cost and more heat generated. This requires more cooling, which adds even more cost. The comparatively low power requirements of optical networks give them a big advantage over copper.

For example, a 10G BASE-T transceiver in a copper system uses about 6 watts  (W) of power. The comparable 10G BASE-SR optical transceiver uses less than 1 W to transmit the same signal. Thus, each optical connection saves about 5 W of power. Data centers vary in size, but if 10,000 connections at 5 W each were considered, that is 50 kW less power—significant savings from using less power-hungry optical technology.

Furthermore, the power used by these transmitters is dissipated as heat, which must then be removed from the room in order to keep the electronics cool. Typical air conditioning has an energy efficiency rating of around 10, meaning that it takes 10 W of power to remove one W of heat. Removing the 50 kW of power described above would require about 500 kW of energy! The energy costs of cooling are 10 times the energy of operating the transceivers themselves. That is a total of 550 extra kW of power needed to operate a 10,000 port, copper-based data center.

Looking Ahead to Higher Speeds

As mentioned previously, IEEE® is currently developing new standards for higher speed transmission, 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s, in data centers and other high performance computing (HPC) applications. The IEEE 802.3ba task force is working to develop these 40G and 100G standards simultaneously (40 Gb/s will support the server market, while100 Gb/s is needed for core switching and routing applications, network aggregation, and high performance computing).

For shorter reach data center and equipment interconnects, IEEE 802.3ba is focusing on a physical medium dependent (PMD) solution that takes advantage of parallel optical fiber technology (which is already being used in current platforms such as InfiniBand), thereby helping to keep costs as low as possible. Parallel optical fibers entails simultaneous transmission of one 10 Gb/s signal on each of 4 or 10 optical fibers (for 40G and 100G, respectively). Arrayed transceivers using 4 or 10 VCSELs and detectors, as appropriate, will aggregate each

10 Gb/s signal.

To further balance cost with performance, the task force is working to leverage proven technology, media and network management practices. In fact, they will likely relax component performance specifications in some cases in order to help reduce overall cost. An example is the VCSEL light sources for shorter reach applications using multimode optical fiber. The 802.3ba is considering a relaxation of the spectral width of these sources from 0.45 nm (the current 10GbE requirement) to 0.65 nm. This limits the distance of such a link (due to chromatic dispersion effects) to 100 m (328 ft) using OM3 optical fiber.

For some data centers and other applications that may require support beyond 100 m (328 ft), an ad hoc group within IEEE® is studying how this could be accomplished in a cost-effective manner. It might make use of better performing transceivers, or of an OM4 grade of optical fiber, or a combination of the two.

Handling “Delay Skew”

Any discussion of a parallel transmission approach will include a topic called “delay skew,” which is being addressed by the IEEE® task force. Delay skew is the difference in signal arrival time from one lane, or optical fiber, to the next. Skew can be affected by differences in the physical lengths of each optical fiber within the cable, and by any difference in speed that the light signal travels down one optical fiber compared to adjacent optical fibers.

Delay skew will not be a hindrance to parallel transmission over any cable design, as it will be compensated for effectively within the transceiver circuitry. In fact, proven techniques for skew compensation in copper cabling and other parallel optical fiber applications are already well established.

The new standard for 40 and 100 Gb/s transmission will include procedures for compensating for skew, ensuring that industry-recognized cable designs such as loose tube, tight buffer, and ribbon cable all can be accommodated, and the full performance range of current, industry-standard OM3 multimode optical fibers can be used.

Exceeding the Standards for Higher Performance

Data center designers are likely to agree that the lowest cost solution for 10 Gb/s deployment will contain a significant amount of OM3 optical fiber, and as the systems migrate to higher speeds of 40-100 Gb/s, laser optimized 50/125 multimode optical fiber can provide the lowest cost and most reliable solution as compared to copper cable or singlemode optical fiber.

Once settled on the optical fiber type for their data center network, the user must be sure that the optical fiber products they specify can provide the performance and reliability needed. This is especially critical in 10G applications at 850 nm, since loss budgets for these systems are lower than previous applications. As briefly mentioned earlier in this article, you may want your network to have extra power “headroom” to accommodate additional connections and higher loss connectors, and to improve overall reliability.

There are two ways to achieve greater power headroom (also known as power margin): first, by reducing ChIL, the end-to-end loss resulting from all connections and splices in the link, plus the attenuation of the cable itself; second, by using a higher bandwidth optical fiber to reduce intersymbol interference (ISI), which occurs when bits of data run together.

Because network downtime can be very expensive, reliability is a key consideration for high performance networks. For greater flexibility in network design and, ultimately, greater reliability, follow these strategies:

·  Specify lower loss cables and connectors, which provide more power margin.

·  Specify an optical fiber rated for a longer distance than what it will be used.

·  Do not assume that all products that meet a particular standard are equal; it is possible to find higher performing products that exceed the standards.

All of this is especially true in demanding data center applications. The most cost-effective solution is OM3 optical fibers that have been designed and manufactured specifically for laser transmission, and have performance characteristics that exceed the standards. They are available in various performance grades, and should feature a DMD-controlled core that helps ensure 10 Gb/s support with low-cost 850 nm serial applications up to their rated distances.

BICSI News September/October 2008. Reprinted with permission.


Current Stories from Environmental Building News

BuildingGreen publishes information in outlets such as Environmental Building News (EBN) and BuildingGreen Suite that cover the most pressing issues in environmentally sensitive design and construction with a clear approach to all sides of an issue, keeping our readers informed on building for sustainability. This email brings you, as a news editor or website owner interested in sustainable design, links to breaking stories currently posted in the free area of

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Free Energy Modeling in Google SketchUp Nadav Malin

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) has launched a plug-in for Google SketchUp that delivers energy and carbon footprint simulations to inform early-stage design decisions. The free plug-in provides results without any additional software requirements, although owners of IES's Virtual Environment package or its VE-Toolkits can perform additional analyses, such as daylight or airflow modeling. The plug-in provides functionality from SketchUp that IES previously offered only from Autodesk's Revit Architecture and Revit MEP, including documentation for the LEED daylighting credit.

Link to the full article:

Vapor Retarders and Air Barriers: Managing Moisture in Building Envelopes Backpage Primer from Environmental Building News

Moisture from air can get into a wall cavity through air leaks or, in smaller quantities, by diffusing through a permeable material such as drywall. Many people think in terms of vapor barriers addressing both of these problems, but there are two distinct functions: preventing air leakage, accomplished with an air barrier; and controlling moisture diffusion, which calls for a vapor retarder.

Preventing condensation inside the assembly is not always as straightforward as installing a vapor retarder on the warm side of the wall, however. Many regions see significant heating as well as cooling needs; the warm side of the wall changes in different seasons. Also, common building materials, such as plywood, function as vapor retarders, even if they were not installed for that purpose.

Link to the full article:


D.C. Requires Building Owners to Report Energy Use

Washington, D.C. was among the early cities to require privately owned buildings to meet LEED standards. Now, it is requiring the city government as well as private building owners to benchmark their buildings using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool and to submit performance data to the City, which will then publish it for the public.

Link to the full article:


Sustainable Design Leaders Explore Their Profession Nadav Malin

In late July, sustainable design directors and coordinators from 46 architecture and design firms gathered in Colorado Springs to compare notes and share best practices. Several designers from around the country spearheaded the event after they realized that: (1) they have been trying to figure out what their job entails, so there must be others with the same question; and (2) fleeting conversations in the halls at Greenbuild were not satisfying their hunger for sharing ideas.

Link to the full article:


The Challenge of Creating Living Buildings

Allyson Wendt

The Living Building Challenge was launched in 2006 by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, a chapter of both the U.S. Green Building Council and the Canada Green Building Council. A stringent certification system, the Living Building Challenge consists of 16 prerequisites -- there are no optional credits. No buildings have yet achieved certification, in part because the Challenge requires buildings to be operational for at least a year before being certified.

"We knew this was going to be much more frustrating and much more time consuming than any other options," said Skip Backus about pursuing Living Building certification for the new building at Omega. Designed by BNIM, the 6,200 square foot building should be completed by October 2008.

Link to the full article:

BuildingGreen, LLC is publisher of the nation's oldest publication on sustainable design and construction and the leading national directory of green building products. For more information on BuildingGreen and its resources on environmentally responsible design and construction, visit, email, or call 800-861-0954 (outside the U.S. and Canada, call 802-257-7300). BuildingGreen is a socially responsible company based in Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Why don’t we have aggressive network marketing like “faster network speeds or your money back” in the United States

British Telecom is the major network carrier in Great Britain. It has a service that will come out and fine tune your computer’s connection in order to squeeze out a faster speed for you.

For a fee of about $160, they will come out and set up a connection they guarantee will give you 0.5 Mbps more than what you have. If they can’t, you get your money back. They seem to be pretty confident about their services. In the U.S., we have network services, but we have no speed guarantees.

Oh, wait. We do have speed guarantees, but the tariffs for dial-up lines have never been updated. The guaranteed speeds are so slow you would never get any money back. The last time I looked, guaranteed data speed on a dial-up line was 4,800 bits per second.

That’s 4.8 Kbps, which was considered a decent speed in 1979.

Though we talk about upgrading our network infrastructure in the U.S., we don’t seem to be pushing as much as we should. Shouldn’t we have raised the bar a long time ago? Instead of “discovering the Internet” with Bill Curtis, maybe the commercials from the phone companies need to “discover speed” and how to sell it to customers.

The ShamWow! of Network Services

If you’ve ever seen the commercials from ShamWow! (the “miracle towel”), you know its hype and its claims. It also seems to attract your interest into buying some towels.

Maybe this is what some of the network carriers need to do in order to get more people attracted to their network services. Marketing new network services was never a strong suit of the phone companies. Maybe they need to get some tips from British Telecom as well as the ShamWow! guy.

To those who would argue that the phone companies really do have great marketing, how many of you bought ISDN from the late 1980s? Projections for ISDN by “all the experts” were that most Fortune 500 companies would have it in by the late 1980s and all residences would have it in by the early 1990s. That never happened.

Maybe network carriers like AT&T and Qwest need to show some definitive examples of how they can move information faster instead of trying to protect their stagecoach-era copper networks. Just like soaking up water with a “miracle towel,” the network carriers need to show what high speeds can do for people downloading large files and videos.

Fighting Utopia, Providing Less

Qwest has been cited for restricting competition and trying to keep consumers locked into slow speeds delivered by their copper-based networks.

An article followed up by many comments shows the lack of motivation for Qwest to offer something competitive. Instead, Qwest roadblocks progress with lawsuits and requests for restrictions while claiming the company is protecting the consumer.

When you look at the comparisons in the charts, Qwest comes up short and expensive.

The comparison gets even more one-sided when you compare higher-speed services.

Qwest’s president says: “Why provide a Rolls-Royce when a Chevrolet will do?”

A Rolls is about 10 times the cost of a loaded Chevrolet and provides a lot more. Using his own analogy, the price of Qwest should then be one-tenth of the competition. Based on his executive expertise and perception of the market, we should be seeing Qwest service prices drop down to this:

While the Qwest monthly cost is one-tenth the price, the Mstar upstream speed is 50 times faster than the Qwest upstream speed. That’s well beyond a Rolls-Royce comparison.

Where do they get these executives? Let’s see the Qwest president put his network services where his mouth is. Try $5.95 a month with no ups and no extras. That might be a more fair price for services that don’t compare in speed as well as symmetrical upstream speeds.

Gimmick For Customers?

Should we also have the same “money-back deals” in the U.S.? While we have different tiers of network services we can buy, do we have any real money-back guarantees if you don’t get what you’ve bought?

There are several speed tests you can use to measure what you’re getting with your connection speed. The incumbent phone companies have failed to get out of their tired strategy of “we will sell no technology before we think it’s time”.

Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists and lawsuits to impede the progress of other alternative carriers and protect their stagecoach-era copper infrastructure, they should pour more money into network upgrades and provide speeds that keep us in a competitive edge instead of a non-competitive rut.

Carlinism: There needs to be real competition to get network speeds up and costs down in the United States.

James Carlini will be speaking at the University Club of Chicago on Sept. 30, 2008. His topic will be “Beyond the Veolia Study: Intelligent Infrastructure”: All members are invited to hear Carlini’s presentation on this important study, which is a timely and important topic to Chicago in connection with the Olympics. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. and remarks begin at 8 a.m. You can reserve your spot online here.

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

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Comcast, Other Bandwidth Providers Plan to Limit Monthly Downloads

Comcast is planning to limit the amount you can download for any given month. Others are planning to do the same.

More than two years ago, I focused on the issue of making sure you got your money’s worth on network speeds. I talked about seeing a network speedometer so you could always know how much speed you were getting.

My focus was to question the accuracy of service the average was buying. Would you pay for a gallon of gas if the pump was only pumping out three quarts and registering a gallon? No way.

Some thought that idea was ridiculous while others thought it would be useful to see what exactly you were getting for what you paid. Are you getting that extra speed you’re buying? Is it constant? A lot of questions could be easily answered. From the perspective of the carriers, perhaps they would be answered too easily.

Some of the cable companies are now going in a different direction with ideas of metering usage to limit capacities of how much you can download per month. We could start to see a meter or icon appear on our screens looking like this:

This was first discussed as “consumption-based billing” at Time Warner in the early part of 2008. Others are looking at this as a way to limit downloads as well. At some companies, charges for going over capacity can range from $1.25 to $4 a gigabyte. If you’re over by 10 gigabytes, you could incur a $40 “extra charge”.

Comcast Plans to Limit Customers

Starting on Oct. 1, 2008, Comcast is putting into effect a policy that limits the amount of usage of capacity.

As pointed out above, the idea of limiting the amount you can download isn’t unique to Comcast. Other cable companies are looking at this as well. Comcast doesn’t think it’s limiting the residential consumer too much. In the company’s amendment to its acceptable use policy (AUP), Comcast defines what 250 gigabytes of monthly bandwidth can accommodate:

250 gigabytes a month is an extremely large amount of data. [It’s] much more than a typical residential customer uses on a monthly basis. The median monthly data usage by our residential customers is [currently] approximately 2 to 3 gigabytes.

To put 250 gigabytes of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following:

Send 50 million e-mails (at 0.05 kilobytes per e-mail) Download 62,500 songs (at 4 megabytes per song) Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 gigabytes per movie) Upload 25,000 high-resolution digital photos (at 10 megabytes per photo)

For the most part, that’s more than what a vast majority of people would use in a month. Comparing it with the proposed limits by other companies, it’s substantially more generous.

Some other cable companies are looking at 30 to 60 gigabytes per month as the threshold.

Will that average usage grow for the average user? In Japan, NTT has set 900 gigabytes as the threshold number for uploads before extra charges are incurred. What new applications that could be potential bandwidth hogs might be on the horizon? Does Japan know something we don’t?

Should Consumption Be a Real-Time Meter?

Will the cable companies send some type of warning so you don’t incur an overcharge? It could look like this:

How reliable are these “metering” capabilities? Has anyone set any standards of how and what this metering should look like? What about accuracy? That was one of the big problems with electrical utilities decades ago. Their metering equipment wasn’t accurate. There are still utilities that have faulty measuring devices and consumers have to question their accuracy.

In the case of Time Warner, Frontier, Comcast and all the rest; who’s going to ascertain that their “digital capacity meters” are accurate? Will it be the FCC? Even the utilities that have been around for decades (if not more than a century) still have billing problems due to inaccurate readings and billing calculations.

You might see something like this if you go over your monthly gigabyte limit:

These are questions that should be answered before policies and procedures get put in place that impact the average user and their monthly bill.

Carlinism: Improving critical infrastructure needs a bipartisan effort rather than bipartisan apathy.

James Carlini will be speaking at the University Club of Chicago on Sept. 30, 2008. His topic will be “Beyond the Veolia Study: Intelligent Infrastructure”: All members are invited to hear Carlini’s presentation on this important study, which is a timely and important topic to Chicago in connection with the Olympics. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. and remarks begin at 8 a.m. You can reserve your spot online here.

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. 


Nicholas G. Carr: Is IT a Competitive Advantage or Necessity?

Published on 9/17/2008 at where you always read REAL perspectives

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

If you don’t understand that IT has become inextricably linked into the core business of most industries, then you don’t understand IT.

I had the opportunity last week to sit in on a traveling book presentation from Nicholas G. Carr. He’s a former Harvard Business Review editor.

Carr wrote the book “Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage”. His latest book is called “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World From Edison to Google”.

Can IT Be a Utility?

I listened to Carr talk about the concept of IT moving toward a more “utility approach” for service (like electricity). While his argument is weak since electricity is a commodity, an organization’s IT has a lot of embedded intellectual property in it that is unique and critical.

That can’t be commoditized or entrusted to a third-party service offering. Though there certainly are some non-essential applications that could be outsourced from a corporation, the point that Carr makes is that IT is not part of the core business. I disagree.  

Has Carr ever been involved in large-scale systems and application integration within a competitive environment let alone mission-critical systems where the life and death of the whole organization and/or its customers is balanced on real-time capabilities? 

Carr cited the explosion of more companies utilizing computers over the last 30 years and tried to make the case that IT would eventually parallel the evolution of electricity. The market would pursue giving up the IT department to turn to an outside, utility-provided IT service.

What he didn’t observe is that IT is no longer a competitive advantage. Instead, it’s a competitive necessity if you want to compete today. That’s why there has been such an explosion of implementing computers.

Everyone is trying to contend with others with sophisticated warehousing programs, computer-aided manufacturing and other specialized applications and customer service databases. Computers and all the related software applications are what you need to be a player in just about any industry.  

No Universal Solution

We were very fortunate to have some discourse in the question-and-answer period after his presentation. I pointed out that all these “universal solutions” to organizational issues never turn out to be universally accepted let alone universally implemented.  

Whatever your core business, the fact is it’s intertwined with your information technology networks. It can’t easily be outsourced without a loss of security as well as management control. Can’t think of an example? Let me give you the one I gave Carr.  

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has a proprietary electronic trading platform that it built in order to compete with other exchanges. The CME didn’t outsource this strategic application. The CME also wouldn’t entrust a third party to run systems that have hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of transactions running on them.  

This capability has made the CME the leader in that industry and has given them a competitive advantage over other exchanges from the intellectual property they developed. The electronic trading platform is part of their core business.  

If you have driven your systems to a point where you have some type of competitive advantage over the rest of the market (like the CME), would you entrust a third party to maintain that advantage for you? I would never advise my clients to do that.  

Carr’s response was that it will take 10 to 25 years for organizations to accept the “utility” concept. He made the reference that people didn’t trust banks at first and then entrusted them with their money.  

I pointed out that banks are not infallible. Just look at the $200 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I didn’t mention the spinout of others like Citibank, Washington Mutual and IndyMac Bank. In light of the financial implosion on Wall Street, it was a poor analogy for him to use.  

IT is a Strategic Direction

If you’re not using IT strategically, then maybe you should step down as a CEO because you’re still living in a 1950s framework of corporate strategy.  

If your CIO or CTO isn’t focused on harnessing new capabilities to expand and create new markets using IT networks and if instead they’re just trying to reduce IT budgets to get a yearly bonus, it’s time to replace them.  

Universal cost cutting is not an executive skill. It also shouldn’t be “incented” in executive pay packages. Executives should be focused on expanding markets. They shouldn’t focus on low-level cost cutting that at best is a clerk- or analyst-level job. 

Hire someone who understands how to apply technology to the core business.

Not everything is focused on cost cutting. You have to spend money to make money. Some CEOs, CIOs and CTOs think they can outsource their company’s applications without sacrificing control and ownership. Are there executives like that still out there? Yes.  

Successful corporations have had second thoughts about outsourcing critical applications. You don’t give away intellectual property or entrust a third party with that intellectual property if you think it’s vital to your business.  

Do you think a casino that manages a very complex database of gamblers (including what they spend when they come to Las Vegas) would entrust that database to a third party that could potentially be hacked into?  

What about all the databases of supposedly secure companies that have been hacked into for people’s credit card numbers? Do you think a third party would do a better job? That is Carr’s premise.  

What if they don’t? What should the damages be? Would the third party be indemnified to not being liable for economic damages? If that were the case, why would anyone in the world give away the strategic intelligence of their business to a third party that wouldn’t be held economically responsible if that information was corrupted or stolen? 

Not Everyone Drank the Kool-Aid

While I commend Carr for writing the book to stimulate discourse on this topic, I don’t agree with his premise.

You can’t commoditize intellectual property that is unique, strategic and critical to one organization and put it out to a “utility” that may or may not be able to protect or enhance it. If a CEO thinks this is the way to go, then he or she should go the way of the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and without any severance package).  

Is there a market for a “utility” type of capability for certain applications? Of course, but it’s far from being a universal solution. Any organization that has built a sophisticated platform of mission-critical applications should understand what they have and should be very cautious to even consider handing that off to any third-party service provider.  

As I was walking out of the seminar, a president of a local software company rode down the elevator with me. He said: “It’s nice to see that not everyone drank the Kool-Aid.”  

Carlinism: The further away someone is from working on actual implementations, the more easy it is for them to suggest solutions that don’t work.

James Carlini will be speaking at the University Club of Chicago on Sept. 30, 2008. His topic will be “Beyond the Veolia Study: Intelligent Infrastructure”: All members are invited to hear Carlini’s presentation on this important study, which is a timely and important topic to Chicago in connection with the Olympics. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. and remarks begin at 8 a.m. You can reserve your spot online here.

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.

Electrical Contracting Magazine

Showing NECA’s True Colors: Shades of Green

While NECA 2008 Chicago will address some basic and familiar issues, the focus is on groundbreaking new technologies and trends. So at our trade show and other educational offerings in October, you can count on the attending electrical industry experts to show electrical contractors how to succeed in green construction.

The event also will show a larger public, which includes influential decision-makers and potential customers, just what the National Electrical Contractors Association is doing to promote electrical contractors’ success in this growing market—and why.

The fact that participation in sustainable, energy-efficient construction promises bottom-line benefits is already apparent. The economists at McGraw-Hill Construction say the market for environmentally friendly buildings will account for between $12 billion and $20 billion this year alone. That’s up to 10 percent of the total construction market, and the figure is expected to double within five years.

As the 2008 “Profile of the Electrical Contractor” revealed in the July issue of Electrical Contractor, last year almost half of all electrical contractors (46 percent) worked on projects that included green/sustainable building elements, and this type of work provided, on average, 9 percent of total revenue. There’s no doubt the percentages will be higher in the next profile.

Additional research found that NECA-member contractors are currently addressing the green marketplace challenge in three ways:

1. Working on projects that use alternate forms of energy and the technologies necessary for safe installation and harvesting renewable power (solar, wind, etc.)

2. Working on projects that retrofit and improve existing systems to boost efficiency (performing energy audits, installing efficient automation controls, etc.)

3. Working on projects that use new building techniques to improve efficiency in new construction, such as design/build and building information modeling, and contribute to the achievement of Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design certification

The performance of this type of work is not only made -possible but also necessary because, as NECA president-elect Rex Ferry said at our association’s Energy Solutions Summit, “We’re at a crossroads where the rising costs of energy and the emerging technologies to actually do something about those costs have met.” Read a recap in NECA Notes, starting on page 263.

Ferry also said, “It takes less money to save one kilowatt--hour than it does to produce one kilowatt-hour.” That’s an important consideration because electricity runs our homes and businesses and is crucial to America’s economy and security. Unfortunately, several trends are converging that threaten to break down our access to affordable, reliable electric power.

More than 30 years after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, fears of such a breakdown were reawakened by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and they exist today due to war in the Middle East, concerns over the expansion of greenhouse gases and environmental damage, worries about the adequacy of America’s power infrastructure, and escalating costs. In fact, worldwide increases in consumption, coupled with unregulated market speculation on energy futures, and limits on generation capacity—a consequence of deteriorating infrastructure—have created an economic and political situation that necessitates systematic action.

That’s why NECA supports a national policy premised on energy independence. Our efforts include working with legislative and regulatory bodies and other relevant entities to help improve electric reliability and infrastructure investment, maintain the diversity of all available fuel resources (including nuclear), enhance energy efficiency, and increase use of renewable energy sources (including but not limited to solar, wind and biomass). However, NECA recognizes the move toward domestic energy independence must be driven by electrical contractors who construct and maintain the infrastructure to generate, transmit and distribute the electrical power our nation relies upon.

Expanding our services within the green construction field makes us shrewd business owners. Contributing to the nation’s economic stability and security makes us heroes.

President’s Desk by milner irvin

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Contractors Moving Data

Data center cabling management

The data center market continues to grow, and there are ample opportunities for electrical work within a data center. One of the obvious and ongoing concerns within a data center is heat, which greatly affects a data center’s operations and energy costs.

“The amount of heat generated by data center equipment and the corresponding energy load expended on cooling the active equipment is a growing concern for IT and facilities managers,” said Bradford Eaton, product marketing manager, Wiremold/Legrand. That concern is further fueled by budget constraints and mounting energy costs.

“As port densities increase and the consolidation of blade servers becomes more prevalent, the heat generated in equipment racks will simultaneously increase. Managing this heat effectively with proper airflow is a cornerstone of energy-efficient design,” Eaton said.

Today’s data center has faster servers, more equipment and a focus on virtualization. These trends also are increasing needs for better cable management. Many contractors have worked in that area. Those with experience are well aware that data centers can easily turn into cabling nightmares based on infrastructure alone, and they are a hotbed of various kinds of wiring and cabling.

Designing right is key

Data centers depend on proper design for infrastructure and operational needs.

“The right connectivity infrastructure is essential,” Eaton said. “It’s the thread that holds together the fabrics of the data center, turning islands of hardware into a seamless tool strategic to business success. It needs to support high data rates to 10 gigabits per second, provide easy management, and be capable of remaining flexible enough to allow easy configuration and provisioning for optimal delivery of applications and services.”

There are data center specific systems, offered by companies such as  Cooper B-Line, Hubbell Premise Wiring, Legrand North America (Cablofil/Legrand, Ortronics/Legrand, Wiremold/Legrand), Leviton Network Solutions, Panduit and Snake Tray. These systems contribute to sustainable data centers by providing cable management solutions and advanced racking solutions to help facilitate cooling efficiency and reduce network down time, as power and cooling issues remain big issues within such power-intensive environments.

Specific solutions include a wire mesh cable tray that allows for overhead or under floor cable routing and enables better airflow than solid conduit. This particular option is relevant since aiding and enhancing airflow is crucial to cooling concerns. Some companies that make this type of product include, but are not limited to, Cablofil, Panduit and Snake Tray.

Another solution is overhead cable pathway racks, which, according to Eaton, “provide cable management and an innovative mounting method for … rack-mount copper and fiber panels and cabinets, freeing up valuable rack space and facilitating better airflow.”

The type of enclosure also can assist with the management of cabling. For example, Wiremold/Legrand offers integrated zone cabling enclosures that save space and increase flexibility by providing connectivity within raised floor applications.

Leviton Network Solutions offers adaptable, easy-to-install cable management products that include Versi-Duct slotted duct, Spectro-Link fiber raceway, and frame and rack solutions.

Another solution is to put the cabling under the floor. Under-floor systems, such as Snake Tray’s Snake Canyon line, assist with existing access floors. This modular cable tray system instantly integrates with the existing structural elements of the access floor, regardless of which raised floor model was installed.

Contractors’ knowledge is important

Since data centers are high-density installations that usually require a variety of interdependent products to support the cabling infrastructure, contractors should look for a supplier that offers a full range of cable management solutions. This, in turn, helps contractors in providing the most relevant solution for each individual project.

“Racks of servers and storage, handling petabytes of data, fulfill mission-critical needs by providing instantaneous access to information,” Eaton said. “The complexities of modern data centers and storage networks create challenges in topology, throughput, data integrity, enhanced security, redundancy and environmental controls.”

There seems to be no end in sight in terms of data centers and their growing popularity. As more businesses across virtually all markets find their data and communication needs rising, they are turning to data centers to help funnel and support such activity.

“The future will see skyrocketing data transfers, a seemingly unquenchable thirst for bandwidth, and the need to support new services,” Eaton said. “Creating a resilient, agile data center requires robust, reliable user-to-server, server-to-server, and server-to-storage connections.”

Many manufacturers are addressing cable management solutions. Be sure
to do your research before taking a
data center job.

systems BY jennifer leah stong-michas

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


A Perfect Storm Is Building

A perfect storm is heading for the building industry. Energy prices continue to rise due to worldwide demand that increases both the cost of construction and building operation for owners and developers. The public is becoming increasingly concerned about the environment and global warming and demanding that both the private and public sectors act to reduce greenhouse gases. In addition, the United States produces only a fraction of the energy it uses on a daily basis, obtaining much of its needed energy from foreign suppliers. This energy deficit is raising concerns about national security and adversely impacting the U.S. economy.

Each of these issues has been around for decades, but only recently have all three converged and been seen as interrelated. For the first time, business leaders, environmental activists, government officials and the general public are aligned and focused on finding an integrated solution to energy, environmental and economic issues. This perfect storm will provide a great deal of opportunity for electrical contractors prepared to aid in recovery efforts.

Building energy use

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA), commercial and residential buildings consume about 40 percent of the energy used in the United States, and annual energy usage is expected to increase in coming decades despite efforts to conserve.

In comparison, the U.S. industrial and transportation sectors each only accounted for about 30 percent of the U.S. annual energy usage. Similarly, according to the EIA, commercial and residential buildings also account for about 40 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which also is greater than either the industrial or transportation sectors. Therefore, there is a lot to be gained by reducing building energy use in the country or by supplanting traditional fossil-fueled electricity production with greener technologies, such as photovoltaic (PV) and wind generation.

The need to rein in building energy use is driving many federal, state and local governments to adopt increasingly stringent energy codes. Building owners more often are challenging their design and construction teams to produce high-performance buildings that exceed the minimum energy requirements.

A number of professional, industry and trade organizations in the building industry are promoting sustainable design and construction practices including the reduction of fossil fuels used to construct and operate buildings with the goal of achieving “carbon neutral” buildings in the coming decades. Since electrical energy use in buildings often can range from 65 to 100 percent of a building’s total energy supply, depending on geographic location and space heating, the electrical contractor will be in the eye of this perfect storm as it develops.

Zero-energy buildings

Many in the construction industry envision the future to be zero-energy buildings (ZEBs). A ZEB is a building that is completely energy self-sufficient, producing all the energy it needs internally. It does not need to be connected to the local utility’s distribution system. Currently, PV is seen as the most promising distributed generation technology for ZEBs because PV uses sunlight to produce electricity, conversion efficiencies are increasing, manufacturing costs are decreasing and utility energy prices are increasing. These trends are making PV both green and economical. Unfortunately, PV only produces energy when the sun is shining, and a ZEB must be able to store electric energy for use at night and on cloudy days when the PV array is not producing. Reliable low-cost energy storage is an obstacle that will need to be overcome before ZEBs become a viable alternative in locations where electric utility service is readily available. However, some recent strides have been made.

Net zero-energy buildings (net ZEBs) will probably be implemented first in states where a net metering provision allows building owners to provide energy to the utility when their PV array is producing more than needed and pull energy from the utility when the building load exceeds the capability of the PV array. The utility only bills the owner for the difference between the amount of electricity used by the building and what was produced and delivered by the PV array to the utility distribution system. With net ZEBs, the amount of energy produced annually by the PV array meets or exceeds the annual building energy need, even though there is an exchange based on when the electric energy is produced by the PV array and needed by the building. The utility distribution system in effect serves as the energy storage device for a net ZEB.

Building system integration

The kind of building performance breakthroughs needed to substantially reduce building energy use and associated greenhouse gases in the near term, and ultimately achieve ZEBs in the long term, requires building system integration. The traditional view of a building as a collection of loosely related systems that are individually optimized during the design and construction process typically results in a building that performs less optimally as a whole. In contrast, high-performance buildings require that individual building systems, such as the building envelope, power generation and distribution, artificial and natural lighting, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other building functions be treated as subsystems and that the building be the system to be optimized.

Integration and interoperability are popular terms in today’s  building industry. These reflect the reality that, in a modern building, the operation of each system affects all other systems.

For instance, about 30 percent of the energy used by commercial buildings is used for artificial lighting. Increasing the amount of glass on the building’s exterior will increase the amount of natural light entering perimeter spaces and should reduce the need for artificial lighting. However, increasing the amount of glass and the amount of light entering the space will impact the HVAC system load, which needs to be taken into account.

Similarly, in order to ensure adequate light levels and quality, a lighting control system needs to be installed that will adjust the artificial light levels based on the natural light entering the space. Furthermore, occupancy sensors placed in a space to reduce energy use by turning off lights when spaces are unoccupied also can be used to reduce HVAC energy by turning down variable-air-volume boxes if the air distribution system has been zoned to do so.

The goal of building system integration is to optimize the building’s overall operation in order to provide a healthier and more productive environment for occupants as well as to increase the efficiency of building operations. The realization of this goal requires the integration of key building systems, using a building control system.

The electrical contractor can be involved in the installation of individual control system components, such as the raceway system, layout and installation of proprietary control systems, or the design and installation of open-architecture control systems. Electrical contractors often install control systems that deal with a particular building function, such as lighting, data and communications, fire alarm, or security. These individual systems usually are integrated together with the HVAC system controls and other building systems by the building management system. However, with open architectural control systems, the EC can become the system integrator if it has the ability to design, install and program the control system. Building system integration represents an important future market for electrical contractors.

CSI Division 25/Integrated Automation

The growing importance of building system integration is illustrated by the inclusion of Division 25 in the 2004 edition of the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) Master-Format. CSI MasterFormat serves as the basis for most specifications in the United States, and Division 25 specifies the integrated automation (IA) system that ties together all of the subsystems represented by MasterFormat Facilities Subgroup along with Division 11/Equipment and Division 14/Conveying Systems. The Facilities Subgroup includes Division 21/Fire Suppression, Division 22/Plumbing, Division 23/HVAC, Division 26/Electrical, Division 27/Communications, and Division 28/Electronic Safety & Security. Division 11 covers equipment that serve a unique function in a building, such as food service, laboratory or athletic equipment. Conveying systems, such as elevators and escalators, are covered in Division 14.

The figure at left illustrates the relationship between CSI Division 25 and all of these other divisions. From the figure, it can be seen that the function of the IA system is to bring all of these individual building systems together in order to optimize building performance. All the hardware and software needed to implement an IA system are specified in CSI Division 25. This includes conductors and raceways; network equipment, such as servers and hubs; instrumentation and terminal devices, which interface directly with building equipment or through system-specific devices specified elsewhere; gateways, which establish a communications link between the IA system and other stand-alone building systems; and control sequences that describe how the IA system is to operate.

The EC’s role

High-performance buildings require that buildings be designed, constructed and operated as a single integrated system rather than a collection of loosely related, independent systems that are individually optimized as done in the past. The design and installation of building control systems is the key to reduced energy consumption and operating costs over the life of the building. Building owners need help designing, installing and maintaining these building control systems. The electrical contractor should be aware of this converging storm and begin to prepare to move in and tackle the challenges.          

This article is the result of a research project investigating the emerging integrated building systems market that was sponsored by ELECTRI International Inc. The author would like to thank EI for its support.

by dr. thomas e. glavinich

GLAVINICH is an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. He can be reached at 785.864.3435 or

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Just Passin’ Through

Sponsored claims and the Severin Doctrine

When a subcontractor is not paid, the first questions asked are, “Who is a friend? Who is an enemy?” Do you sue everyone, or do you join forces? The subcontractor’s decision can have long-range consequences. For the purposes of this article, the payment issue involves unresolved changes, extras and other claims, and it does not involve the collection of undisputed contract earnings.

The problem of suing the owner

There is an ancient concept in the law known as “privity.” Even the word is archaic. There is horizontal privity, privity of blood, privity of estate and vertiale privity. Then, there is privity of contract.

Privity of contract means there is an agreement connecting two people or companies. The project owner signs an agreement with the general contractor, and by doing so, there is a privity of contract created between those two entities. Similarly, the subcontractor is in privity with the general but not with the owner.

Maintaining this old concept in a modern world has proven difficult for the courts. There was a time when you could not sue someone for purely financial losses unless there was privity with the party who harmed you. Personal injury and property damage claims were treated separately as torts.

Major changes have eroded this concept. But generally, a subcontractor on a construction project cannot sue the owner directly for unpaid costs. Strictly speaking, even mechanic’s liens are not claims against the owner, they are against the property. This rule applies even where the owner ordered a change or caused a job disruption and knew the financial impact it would have on the subcontractor.

The avenue of relief is for the subcontractor to sue the general, and then the general brings in the owner. This procedure is clumsy and may cause the general to raise its own defenses to your claims. After all, the general does not want to be liable for owner-caused problems.

The pass-through claim

The general contractor may be willing to help the subcontractor pass its claims through to the owner in the general’s name. The claim then becomes the general contractor’s, and the privity problem is solved. However, there is a long line of authority that the general cannot pursue the subcontractor’s claims unless and until the general acknowledges liability for them.

A number of techniques have been used to get around this dilemma. The idea is to make the general contractor liable to the subcontractor and yet not liable at the same time. One of the early concoctions was the “Mary Carter” agreement, named after the Mary Carter paint company (Booth v. Mary Carter Paint Co., Fla. App. 1967). There are variations, but the common theme is to have the general contractor pay a part of the subcontractor’s claim, and then pursue the owner for the full value.

The first amount recovered would be kept by the general contractor to reimburse it for the “advance” and, beyond that, recovery would be shared on some percentage basis. This formula has particular value where the general contractor has its own claims against the owner and does not want the sub claiming it was the general’s fault. The general contractor would rather present a united front against the owner.

Mary Carter agreements are not acceptable in all jurisdictions, according to John E. Benedict’s “It’s A Mistake to Tolerate the Mary Carter Agreement,” 87 Columbia L. Rev. 368 (1987).

The Severin Doctrine

Named after the case Severin v. United States, 99 Ct. Cl. 435 (1943), this “doctrine” is applied fairly regularly in federal government contracts. The Severin Doctrine is actually a limitation on pass-through claims: the general may only “sponsor” the sub’s claims if the general itself is not the culpable party. In broader terms, the government will not be liable on the sub’s pass-through claims if the general would have defense to the claims.

This limitation was recently applied to defeat a sub’s delay claim, as the government showed the general contractor had a “no damages for delay” clause in its agreement with the subcontractor. The general could not be liable for the costs of delay to the sub and, therefore, could not act as a sponsor of those barred claims to the government.

In like manner, the general cannot sponsor a subcontractor’s claim for breach of contract by the general. To use Severin, the claim must be couched as one for an “equitable adjustment,” a term of art in government contract law.

The liquidating agreement

Whether called a liquidating, liquidation or consolidation agreement, the concept is the sub releases the general from liability, and in exchange, the general agrees to pursue the claims on the sub’s behalf. The terms of such an agreement must be carefully drafted.

It is not uncommon to have a liquidating agreement built into the terms of the subcontract. For example, there are clauses that provide that any claims arising from owner fault may be pursued only through the general contractor, and recovery is limited to whatever the general obtains. Where this type of clause appears, there often is a second part stating that claims against the general not caused by the owner will go to court or arbitration.

The concept of a split disputes clause was discussed here some years ago (Electrical- Contractor, December 2002). Suffice it to say that the subcontractor is faced with a choice and a dilemma: it must decide early in the disputes process whether it wants to go after the general, join with it against the owner, or do both.

A note of caution with liquidating agreements: The subcontractor should make certain that it has some authority or influence over the owner/general’s settlement of claims. Without this authority, the general is relatively free in entering into a settlement that might disappoint the sub.

A second note of caution is to make certain that the agreement addresses the potential for back charges and counterclaims by the owner.

Subcontractor claims against a state

There is no general rule. State governments will raise the defense of sovereign immunity for claims by any party not in privity with it. Each state’s law must be consulted to determine the viability of sponsored or pass-through claims.


The idea of a passing through claims can be very attractive. There is the benefit of joining forces and, by doing so, resolving potential cross claims among some of the parties. There also can be a reduction of costs by avoiding duplication of efforts.

The subcontractor will need to know all of the pertinent terms of the owner/general contractor agreement that could limit or eliminate certain claims. Legal advice should be sought before you bind yourself to Severin.

legal BY gerard w. ittig

ITTIG, of Ittig & Ittig, P.C., in Washington, D.C., specializes in construction law. He can be contacted at 202.387.5508, or

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Cloak-and-Dagger Cabling

Fiber in security applications

Security is on the minds of many corporate network administrators. They worry about hackers and botnets taking over their computers to send out spam, denial of service attacks on their Web servers, wireless interlopers accessing their corporate networks, and whatever other cyberthreats have been discovered in the last week or so that are likely to cause problems in systems.

But consider the plight of the network or facility manager of a utility with extensive communications and control systems on its power plants or power grid, a petroleum refinery or chemical plant, an airport filled with automated baggage control and surveillance systems, or any large government or military facility.

Some of these facilities may have systems that allow monitoring and control from remote locations. In addition, most need their networks to run nonstop to fulfill their mission. As a result, the network users and many others can be considered targets of various nefarious types who intend to inflict physical damage and to hack networks. Because of this, facilities require maximum network security.

Firewalls and special wireless routers provide some protection to the network, as do encryption and constant password changes. Of course, simply not allowing direct Internet access to critical networks negates most online threats, so the Internet-connected corporate network must not be linked to critical control networks. A recent Government Accounting Office survey of the largest public power company, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), found the TVA’s Internet-linked corporate network was attached to systems used for controlling power production and distribution. The network had security weaknesses that could be used by attackers to manipulate or destroy control systems.

Even the corporate network may contain information that could compromise the security of control systems, such as system schematics, parts lists or operation manuals. Therefore, access must be controlled, perhaps even segmented with various levels of access. Besides log-ins and passwords, more systems are now using biometric systems  (face recognition, fingerprints or iris scans) for access.

Any facility’s network administrator needs to consider the security of the physical cable plant supporting the networks and systems and to defend them against online attacks. Damage to almost any part of the cable plant or failure of its power sources can cause outages. Determined crooks can possibly access the network and attach taps, even on fiber networks. So to fully protect a network, one must be concerned with protecting the physical network, as well.

The applications of fiber optics for security systems has been discussed previously in ELECTRICAL- CONTRACTOR (September 2007) in the context of how fiber optics can be used with surveillance cameras, security alarms and even as intrusion sensors. But if one is using fiber in a security-oriented system, the protection of the fiber optic cabling is important to the overall security of the network. How does one secure the fiber optic cabling and network itself?

There are several scenarios to consider. First, how does one prevent damage to the fiber optic cabling system or create the quickest recovery scenario? Can one prevent tapping fiber or detect it if someone tries to tap it? And are there ways to secure transmissions in case it is tapped? Sound like cloak-and-dagger stuff? It is, since these are issues considered for creating a truly secure military or government network. But many of these issues also are important for corporate networks where the networks are expected to run 24/7 and be secure against hacker attacks.

Design for security

To create a secure system, it is necessary to start thinking about where the cable plant and networking equipment are exposed and vulnerable. Right off, one should avoid aerial cables, which can be damaged by high winds, falling trees, vehicle accidents, fires and other accidental damage as well as “target practice,” one of the leading causes of damage to aerial cables in remote areas. Cable should ideally be underground outside buildings and placed in metallic conduit indoors. Splice closures should be secured in locked facilities or permanently buried in secure enclosures.

The telco in one country requires all outside plant underground cables be placed in metallic conduit imbedded in about 1 foot of concrete to prevent the cable being dug up by thieves who would steal copper cables to sell as scrap. Unfortunately, the thieves were not able to distinguish fiber from copper, so they destroyed fiber cables thinking they had salvage value. With the price of copper approaching $4 per pound, the same problem now exists in the United States. Thieves are not generally smart enough to know which cables are copper or fiber or even which are power or communications.

Any cable entrances into buildings need to be secured. Again, run the cable in metallic conduit if possible, not in open cable trays or under floors, and use heavy-duty locked boxes whenever the cable is run outside secure rooms. The cable should not be in the open until it reaches a secured facility where it will be connected to the communications equipment. This is a common requirement in most airports and government facilities, and it provides protection from accidental damage as well as security breaches.

If your basic concern is just to prevent damage by workers on other projects around your fiber optic cables, the biggest deterrent is making it obvious this is fiber optic cable. Colored jackets, yellow for single-mode, orange for 62.5/125 multimode or aqua for 50/125 multimode, will draw attention to the fact that this is fiber cable, as will placing “FIBER OPTIC” tags like those used by- telcos- on the cable at regular spaces, as is done in outside plant cables. An even better solution that can speed up installation is to install fiber optic innerduct—a corrugated innerduct available with a pull tape—along the route of the cable. The fiber cable can then be installed extra fast and will be identified and protected better than any other solution other than metallic conduit. A third option is to specify indoor armored cable, which has corrugated armor under a National Electrical Code-rated jacket.

The next step is to plan for redundancy. Install a backup cabling link, secured as described above, but run in a different path. If something happens to one cable, the second cable will likely not be damaged if it is physically separated. I knew someone who investigated a near-catastrophe at a nuclear power plant some years back. The controls were triple-redundant, but all cables ran through the same conduit. So when fire got into the conduit, all system communications and control was lost, and disaster was narrowly averted.

Telcos and the Internet use a mesh network in which there are multiple communications paths from point to point, minimizing the likelihood of a loss of communications. This can be done both outside and inside the buildings. In extreme cases, the continuity of metallic conduit can be monitored to detect any attempts at intrusion.

Needless to say, high-reliability systems require high-reliability electronics and power. Battery backup and perhaps an emergency generator system are needed for each facility, and, of course, those systems need to be secured like all the other equipment. Colocation with the transmission electronics is advised for backup power systems, or the connecting wiring also should be secured in metallic conduit. Once fuel cells become cost-effective, they will be a top choice for backup power and can be colocated with the equipment.

Outdoor facilities, such as transformer substations or refineries, need extensive monitoring, using closed-circuit television cameras and intrusion alarms, usually connected on fiber, which should be secured as described above. One can even get fiber optic intrusion systems, which weave fiber through fences or bury it in gravel, which will detect and even locate problems, although the costs are too high for all but the most critical applications.

Is tapping fiber a threat?

It is certainly easier to access today’s high-speed networks electronically than physically. The days of using a pickup coil near a phone line to listen in are long gone. The government recognized this fact as soon as digital communications became commonplace, and the result was the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), adopted in 1994. CALEA originally applied to standard phone lines but required digital circuits to have ports where (under court order, of course) law enforcement agencies could access a particular phone line and record any activity. CALEA has been amended numerous times to include broadband data, wireless and voice over Internet protocol services.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) covered similar surveillance by the National Security Agency on calls to and from overseas destinations. But last year, it became public knowledge that some government agencies had, perhaps outside these two laws, gained access to carriers’ long distance networks and had placed taps directly on the fibers themselves, bypassing the electronic ports (and perhaps the court orders) required by CALEA and FISA.

How easy is it to tap fiber like this and pull off surveillance data? It’s not hard to put a bend in the fiber and attach a detector to pick up light, which is routinely done to locate particular fibers by test instruments called fiber identifiers. But when data is being transmitted at billions of bits per second, carrying thousands of phone conversations or millions of data packets, finding what you want is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. If you really worry about tapping, encrypting data is a good deterrent, as is transmitting random data (such as the contents of an encyclopedia) interspersed with real data.

Protecting communications equipment and networks involves both securing unauthorized access from online connections over the Internet or wireless devices and providing physical security to the communications equipment and cable plant. This may require cooperation of diverse groups within an organization as well as significant expenditures for construction. Only by surveying the entire network and determining the vulnerability of each part can you develop a reasonable plan and budget. 

by jim hayes

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


Somewhere over the Internet ...

Using IP for IBS

Internet Protocol (IP) is growing in popularity as a method for integrating building systems. First of all, it is a way of interconnecting every building system. According to Rawlson King of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA), “The idea behind IP-based systems is that all devices should be able to be accessible regardless of function. CCTV, access control, intrusion detection, fire alarms, fire suppression, lighting controls and HVAC can all be integrated in IP-based systems.” In a CABA presentation originally given at the Intelligent Building Summit in 2006 in Toronto, there was a comprehensive listing of building systems that can be monitored and/or controlled through an IP-based system.

What does IP offer that is unique? First, once these building systems become nodes on a building’s IP network, they can all be programmed to interact in a variety of ways. The IP building network essentially is a network of networks. Each subsystem can be managed by its own controller or network of controllers, while the IP network can take care of conversations between them.

“IP is such a common networking protocol that almost every business in the Western world has an IP network,” said Denis Du Bois, editor of the online magazine Energy Priorities. “A trend in computing is a service-oriented architecture, or SOA. The basic concept is to connect intelligent devices to a network and enable those devices to serve their data to any other device that requests it. … Once a device is enabled for Web services, its functions and data are exposed and available on demand. Other systems can poll the data as needed for analysis and send commands back to the devices over the IP network. An HVAC controller might check with a motion detection subsystem to determine which rooms are occupied, then program changes on the thermostats in the empty rooms.”

These building systems can then be monitored, controlled or configured from any Internet-connected computer.

In theory, at least, this should be an ideal way to integrate building systems, but as with any theory, implementing it is the hard part.

An obvious application, for example, would be CCTV. If the surveillance cameras are linked through the Internet, you can view your office, factory or home from anywhere in the world. Premises monitoring using digital CCTV and DVRs is one of the applications of IP-based systems. It provides an ideal means to see what’s happening on your premises from a local or a remote location. A number of companies are producing IP-compatible cameras and DVRs. Since the Internet is already designed for large and rapid data flows, it is a natural for security video.

But there are advantages to having all of the other building systems running on an IP network, too. The interactions between the various subsystems can be programmed from a central computer that can access every one of them. Because each IP device, including subsystem controllers, has a unique address, any device can be called up through any computer with an Internet connection.

There are at least two levels of expertise required to set up such a system of systems. The integration level runs on the building’s internal IT network, usually Ethernet. This requires expertise in IT systems. However, IT technicians will most likely not be certified in setting up the HVAC or fire alarm systems, so different specialists will have to work together. Common to all of these systems and sub-systems is the electrical contractor, who must provide the power and wiring for it all. In fact, the soon-to-be-expanded capabilities of power over Ethernet (PoE) will enhance the ability to use Ethernet cables to distribute usable power for various devices, such as cameras and door access controls. Running these cables, which combine power distribution and IT data, will require the knowledge of both electricians and IT technicians.

There are two different approaches to installing IP control systems. For new installations, the simplest approach is to build all of the systems with IP--compatible devices. For already existing “legacy” systems, there needs to be a way of connecting the various control loops to the facility’s intranet. Johnson Controls, for example, makes available a central controller for tying together the devices and subsystems with its Metasys Network Engine, which is “capable of communicating directly to multiple field bus open protocols, including BACnet, LonTalk and N2Open,” said Terry Hoffman, director BAS marketing, Johnson Controls.

A major advantage of IP-based integration is that, once subsystems are accessible, their interactions can be modified as conditions change, as information on the various systems is gathered, as technology evolves, and as new integration software becomes available. The various building systems become, in effect, a living entity. There is no need to run new wiring or physically alter existing system components to tune their interactions. To my mind, this is the most important quality of IP integration. It will grow because it enables existing building systems to grow.         

BY edward brown

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 


Spaghetti Factory; Keep cables from becoming a tangled mess

Anyone who has spent time in the world of telecommunications cabling has seen the “spaghetti mess.” Competent cabling contractors build high-quality and well-installed networks consistent with industry management standards. But then entropy attacks, and disorganization conquers, transforming well-constructed telecommunications rooms into disheveled and disorganized messes.

Intentional and effective management of information technology (IT) racks is, ultimately, the only solution. But seeing both a need and a commercial opportunity, some manufacturers have designed solutions that can help prevent or even roll back such messes.


Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. Messy IT rooms or not, wouldn’t it be great if contractors or IT staff members never had to pull and tug their way along patchcords to find the other ends?

That is the intent of the PatchSee patchcords, which have two plastic optical fibers (POFs) running throughout the length of each cord. The POFs are bent back 180 degrees inside the two RJ45 connector boots, so they face the user when a cord is installed in a patch panel. The system is completed by a handheld blinking light source (like a small flashlight) that fits over the boot of a PatchSee cord without detaching it from the patch panel. When the user turns on the light source, the POFs become two small, blinking luminous dots, which reveal the other end of the patchcord.

“With no further high-tech adjustments other than changing to PatchSee patchcords, [IT managers] get handling-labor savings, reduced patchcord inventory requirements, shorter network down times, and no need for identifying labels,” said Ken Eben, marketing/sales manager for Mitsubishi International, the North American supplier of the PatchSee system.

Intelligent patch systems

Intelligent patching solutions have a significantly higher level of functionality, but they come with a correspondingly higher cost. Similar to the PatchSee solution, an intelligent patching system provides visual assistance to on-site technicians, but it is more than just blinking lights on patch panels.

“It is a utility to provide system traceability from point-to-point and end-to-end,” said Michael Pula, MNS technical marketing manager at Panduit.

These systems provide extensive system-mapping capabilities, from user outlets and the equipment installed there, all the way back to switches and servers. They also automatically recognize and record moves, adds and changes any time someone plugs in or unplugs a patchcord, end-user device (e.g., computer, voice over Internet protocol phone) or other IP addressable network device.

Likewise, intelligent patching systems can predict and preauthorize rack changes. For example, when an IT manager authorizes changes to the physical network, he or she will pre-enter those changes into the intelligent patching system’s software. When the on-site technician enters the IT space and logs into the network there, the system guides him or her through those changes, using ordered blinking lights on the patch panels that correspond with the preprinted directions. To know what to do next, all the technician needs to do is look for the next blinking indicator light. Then, on completion, the system software can generate a report, documenting each move, regardless of whether or not it was preauthorized. In addition, an IT manager can remotely implement changes to the network from across a room or across a continent.

Worth the cost?

While the cost of an intelligent patch panel is significantly higher than that of a similar-count passive panel (by thousands of dollars), the increased control that such systems provide is, in the right situations, worth the cost. They have proven invaluable for many large enterprise systems, mission-critical systems, and systems spread over multiple locations.

“In modern networks, it’s all about risk management,” Pula said. “Intelligent patching systems anticipate and reduce potential risk to a network.”

These systems are becoming more compact, as well, thus requiring less rack space to implement. The best example may be the new Panduit PanView iQ system.

“This system is unique in that it consolidates all active management hardware into intelligent patch panels, which require no additional rack space,” Pula said.

Telecommunications contractors can expect intelligent patching systems to find more marketplace adoption. And while clients may perform the IT functions on those devices, contractors should be generally familiar with functionalities to effectively serve those clients. They also should be prepared for manufacturers requiring contractors to acquire specialized certifications to prevent the spaghetti bowls of the future.

BY russ munyan

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 


GPS Equipment Management Systems

Using a satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) to track motor vehicles is nothing new. Trucking companies have been doing it for years. Many organizations, including electrical contractors, routinely use GPS technology to monitor planned travel routes, travel speeds, hours of use, stop reports, idle time and maintenance alerts.

Not so widely known is that a GPS also can be used to manage other assets, including con-struc-tion equipment, such as mobile lifts, loader-backhoes, trenchers, excavators and skid-steer loaders.

“Benefits of GPS are not limited to over- the-road vehicles,” said Cliff Henley, chief executive officer of Fleet Management Solutions
Inc. (FMS).

For example, a machine can be equipped with sensors to monitor its primary power source and separate onboard engines and motors; fluid levels; oil and hydraulic fluid pressures; operating temperatures, including high-temperature alerts; and other functions. For equipment that remains on a job site over the course of a project, the system can immediately notify the owner if it leaves prescribed boundaries, a valuable theft-recovery tool.

For those who have not investigated the capabilities and costs of GPS units recently, there have been significant changes in technology over past the few years. Today, owners of construction equipment have several options to consider.

Daniel Lee, vice president, sales, for FleetBoss Global Positioning Solutions, cites four basic categories of systems:

• Live/active systems that are Internet- or software-based

• Passive systems without monitoring fees that can download to a supervisor’s laptop

• Hybrid systems that combine active and passive data into one database

• Self-powered GPS devices with 20- to 30-day battery lives that are capable of tracking indoors using both cellular general packet radio service (GPRS) and GPS technology.

Lee said FleetBoss offers a portfolio of products, including each of these GPS fleet management categories.

“Active systems use a cellular component transmitting on a GPRS and [global system for mobile communications] network,” Lee said. “The cellular components are self contained in the hardware. There is no cell phone.”

Henley said a typical FMS satellite-based system includes a GPS receiver, satellite modem, antenna and access to FMS FleetCentral.

“Our systems,” Henley said, “offer multiple analog and digital inputs/outputs for added features, such as in-cab, two-way text and e-mail messaging, display terminals or remote vehicle diagnostics. Data is transferred from the vehicle, machine or other asset through Orbcomm or Iridium satellites to an FMS Network Operation Center and from there to FMS FleetCentral where it is immediately available to clients who log on through a secure Internet connection to manage their fleets.

Properly used, Henley said, equipment operation and diagnostic information will make routine maintenance more efficient, and breakdown alerts will enable faster repairs—benefits that can boost overall profitability. The GPS helps identify under- and overused equipment, so it can be redeployed for improved efficiency and productivity. Records of precise hours of operation translate into more accurate billing.

Qualcomm Enterprise Services (QES) offers GPS equipment and subscription services for both vehicles and construction equipment.

“In general construction, the use of satellite monitoring is increasing greatly for several reasons,” said Bert Gillespie, QES director of sales. “OEMs of GPS products and services are stepping up their efforts to make the technology available at the time of purchase of a new machine as well as implementing value-added programs through their dealerships to make it an easier implementation process. Contractors are beginning to see the value for their businesses in the areas of asset protection, utilization and location.”

Gillespie said acceptance of the use of mobile asset management technology has not been as rapid as in other markets.

“However,” he said, “we believe that adoption in the electrical market will increase significantly in the coming years as businesses better understand the value of implementing mobile information systems in terms of increased productivity, reduced costs and improved customer service.”

Lee said construction organizations use GPS devices in a number of ways, including monitoring asset location, security and maintenance.

Although tracking machine locations are not comparable to tracking over-the-road vehicles, Lee said an organization can own hundreds of equipment pieces that may be scattered over numerous job sites.

“Often,” Lee said, “there is the need to locate a specific piece of equipment, either from an office or in the field, and that is a standard GPS benefit. Satellite mapping can pinpoint asset location within 100 meters. New to the industry is GPS hardware capable of tracking an asset inside a building or warehouse.”

Assets can be secured using the standard GPS “geofence” feature.

“An invisible border can be drawn around a job site, known as a geofence,” Lee said. “When the asset containing the traffic device leaves the geofence border, the asset can alert organization management via e-mail or cellular text message.”

GPS units can track and report important engine equipment operating functions and report them back to the office to monitor maintenance schedule requirements.

“Select GPS hardware devices are equipped with inputs and outputs capable of measuring ignition on/off, fluid flow rates, doors open/close, etc.,” he said. “Remote shutdown of any powered equipment can also occur using any computer with Internet access.”

Gillespie said Qualcomm’s services employ a mobile terminal with GPS hardware that mounts on vehicles or equipment. Usage and location information is retrieved from equipment and converted into actionable information. Data is accessed through an easy-to-use, Web-based application from any computer anytime or integrated into existing back-end business software systems. For trucks and vehicles, there is a dashboard display.

Qualcomm offers two systems for equipment. One is for large machines. The other is for smaller, less expensive equipment in a mixed fleet.

“Maintenance profiles allow customers to specify the intervals at which equipment is due for specified types of maintenance,” Gillespie said. “Multiple maintenance profiles allow customers to specify a service interval, and add different types of service to be performed at different multiples of that interval.”

So, what does it cost to initiate and operate a GPS?

Costs, said Lee, vary with the type of system and vehicle hardware, installation and number of inputs/outputs, and whether installation is hired or done with organization personnel, power source used, memory capacity of equipment and monitoring requirements.

“For a professional, Internet-based system, costs range from $400 to over $1,000 per asset for hardware,” Lee said. “The range in price is attributed to device type (self-contained battery versus power by vehicle) and features (data collection, data transfer, data interpretation). The only other startup cost could include an optional environmental container to host the hardware.”

Lee provided two examples of operational costs:

• Monitoring inputs and alerts that report every two minutes from devices powered by the asset would cost $1,700
per month.

• For 50 pieces of equipment with devices also powered from the unit to report location and monitor secured geofences with outdoor-indoor monitoring would cost $60 per month per asset or $3,000 per month.

The bottom line

Lee asked, “Would you pay $35 to $60 per month to secure an asset worth $25,000? Or $60,000? Or much more?”

Qualcomm has a solution and price point for any size fleet, Gillespie said.

Henley advised those who previously ruled out fleet management because of startup costs to evaluate today’s systems, which employ new technology.

“Satellite hardware pricing has dropped by as much as 50 percent over the past two years, as have monthly subscription, communication, hosting and satellite air time costs. Those reduced costs have improved what was already a very attractive return on investment for customers,” Henley said.

Manufacturers and marketers of GPS asset management systems emphasize that their products apply to small- and medium-sized companies as well as large corporations and government agencies that own and operate equipment. Henley said FMS has clients ranging in size from a few to thousands of assets.

No matter how big or small a fleet size, before construction equipment owners can evaluate costs and benefits of a fleet management program, they must consider important factors such as whether to monitor their entire fleet inventory or just a portion of it. In addition, they must decide what categories of equipment will be monitored. Some GPS users restrict monitoring to construction equipment with replacement values higher than a defined dollar amount.

 With several brands of GPS with various options available, careful evaluation is necessary to determine which one best fits an organization’s needs.

Qualcomm’s Gillespie suggested considerations that should be addressed before making a decision include how the system will benefit an organization’s operation and productivity, how simple the system is to operate and how much training will be required, what mapping software is used by the system, capabilities for downloading reports, warranty coverage, and service options.

A good approach is to narrow choices down to those that appear to best fit an organization’s need and budget. Then request a demonstration and proposal from each.   

by jeff griffin

GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at 405.748.5256 or

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine 

Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Latest Technologies Mean Rethinking Cable Management

High-capacity cables are transmitting more data than ever, but selecting an optimized cable-management system is key to making these cables work for your business.

As the information technology (IT) age moves well into the new millennium, the amount of data that companies handle is continuously increasing, making it challenging for IT departments to keep cable networks up-to-date, running smoothly, and sufficient for their companies’ needs. Many businesses using Category 5e cables are finding their systems overloaded and experiencing major delays.

Since the advent of higher-capacity cables designed to better handle increased data transmission, Category 5e is no longer the most commonly requested for new cabling installations. Many of the 19-inch racks currently found in telecommunications rooms, however, were designed with Category 5e in mind, making it challenging for IT professionals to integrate the latest, larger-diameter and higher-capacity cables.

Now is the time for IT professionals to rethink cable management—taking present and future cabling into consideration. Analyzing why cabling standards are evolving and how storage area networks (SANs) have changed data communications is the first step, followed by looking at existing and emerging cable-management solutions to determine the one best designed to meet your business’s needs.

Keeping pace with change

The 568 series of cabling standards from the Telecommunications Industry Association/Electronics Industries Alliance (TIA/EIA) date back nearly 20 years and include the original 568 as well as the 568-A and 568-B standards—as well as the 568-C standard currently in development. The original TIA/EIA-568 brought the industry interoperability, standard cable minimum performance, standardized terminations, and standardized topologies. This development took the industry from using a series of proprietary cabling systems to universally open networks for simpler integration and increased usability.

Now, the technology behind these standards is quickly evolving. The emergence of 10- or even 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet has reshaped data transmission. With IT convergence—including voice, video, data, access control, and security requirements—the industry is now demanding faster operating speeds while processing more information. To accommodate these increasing data-transmission requirements, higher-capacity cables, such as Category 6 and 6A, were developed to deliver robust, efficient, data communications.

As cable-transmission performance has changed, so have other physical components that TIA/EIA does not always directly address, including size, construction, and termination means. Higher-performance cable size and installation requirements, along with increased equipment densities, have strained current cable pathways and hindered cable management in open frame racks and cabinets.

Fewer racks but more jacks

High-capacity cables are larger in size to accommodate greater amounts of data, making them challenging to successfully install into existing cable-management systems. They require more data rack space, but many companies are trying to fit these new varieties into their existing racks—housed within increasingly dense network spaces.

Until recently, a single network server had a sole application and ran for only the amount of time needed to perform that application—sometimes less than an hour a day. The introduction of SANs and server virtualization driven by high-density network switches has altered this arrangement and now includes all servers in the handling of all networks. SANs and server virtualization improve network efficiency by allowing for shared servers, with a network switch controlling data traffic and communicating necessary information to each connected server and storage unit. The result is fewer servers and increased network performance—saving businesses significant time, space and cost.

As the number of individual servers is reduced, however, switches are becoming larger and heavier, with a greater number of ports and much higher cable densities than previous-generation technologies. Plus, while fewer servers are required, their more-compact design has increased the number of units installed per rack. Additional electronic equipment has followed suit, with routers, hubs, and network appliances all consuming a smaller footprint by being installed closer together.

The result is fewer data racks but more terminations and jacks within that given area, considering cabling must be provided in front of, behind, and between all rack-mounted equipment.

Given these changes, cable installation has become a more sensitive procedure, as companies are striving to reduce installation costs while increasing the effectiveness of their cable networks.  IT professionals are running wider, higher-capacity cables to a significantly larger number of ports within a more restricted space. This increased cable density makes installation increasingly difficult and can hinder cable performance, since the space restriction can prohibit IT professionals from maintaining the correct cable bend radius.

In addition, as departments continue to grow and equipment is updated, moves, adds and changes (MACs) occur more frequently. The crowded state of data racks has made even small alterations time-consuming and labor-intensive projects, costing businesses much of the resources otherwise saved by SANs and increasingly efficient technology.

Weighing solutions

To keep up with industry’s frequent equipment and cabling changes, cable management can currently be configured using one of several arrangements. One is a cable pathway, which is available in several designs (such as ladder rack or basket) and allows cables to be run horizontally. Open frame racks (2- and 4-post styles) are also available, as are several types of floor-standing or wall-mount data communications cabinets that are designed to make the most efficient use of limited network space.

While many of today’s cable-management systems can accommodate high-capacity cables, the extra space consumed results in lower fill capacities, generating the need for additional cable managers and, therefore, additional space—already at a premium in most data closets. Furthermore, a new cable size dictates a new bend radius; if existing data racks do not support the correct bend radius, cables can be damaged and their performance compromised. With these data racks, the time and labor required to update a cable network can easily add up to more than companies are willing to pay.

Cable-management systems must become far more sophisticated and versatile, and vertical and horizontal cable managers need several key changes to keep up with industry trends. For example, every new rack must be optimized to effectively replace multiple racks within a network area, meaning that capacity must be significantly increased. In addition, as cables increase in size and more electronic components are installed, a greater number of cables will be needed. Racks must be durable enough to physically support these increases while maintaining the correct bend radius so network performance is not hindered.

Additionally, cable-management systems need deep “fingers” for optimal rack-space use and to deliver the bend radius required for Category 5e and higher-capacity cables. These supportive fingers provide larger tie-down areas and sturdy end posts to keep heavy cable bundles in place and prevent cable damage while optimizing performance. Plus, a system with rounded finger edges will further minimize cable twisting, nicking, and over-stretching during installation.

Because electronic components can be installed in many ways and wired from numerous directions, the ideal solution is a cable management system that features bi-directional hinging and can transition between horizontal and vertical arrangements. Also, to optimize time and space despite the increasing amount of cabling, the cable management system should be lightweight and flexible to facilitate quick cable insertion and feature easily opened doors with positive engagement to expedite and simplify MACs.

Additional features, such as pass-through holes for increased wiring flexibility, a cable tie-down bar for rear bundle-support, and a simplified system-mounting configuration—with tool-less, snap-in installation—will further enhance cable network organization and reduce labor expenses.

Maximizing space, minimizing cost

To best reap the benefits provided by high-capacity cables and accommodate new technology and increased data transmission—all within tight IT department budgets and space constraints—cable management must be cost-effective, time-efficient, adaptable to support upcoming cable trends as well as existing networks, and comply with TIA/EIA standards. This can be accomplished by selecting a data rack and cable managers that establish the correct cable bend radius, have high fill-capacities and deep “fingers” to hold wider cables, and offer sufficient accessibility to cabling—even when the rack is fully populated

When paired with sturdy yet flexible construction, these data racks will allow IT departments to maximize space while minimizing labor and costs.

BRIAN MORDICK is senior product manager for datacom with Hoffman (

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling INstallation & Maintenance 


The Right Tools For Accurate Fiber-Optic Testing

Despite its reputation as a high-powered, highly accurate measurement device, the OTDR has never been required via standard to test fiber links in the premises.

It’s common for the customer of a fiber-optic cable installation to require documentation of test results before accepting the job and paying for the work. This obviously leads to certain but often conflicting requirements for the contractor. Testing takes time, so completing all of them in the minimum time means more profit. Testing, however, needs to be done carefully to ensure the measurements are accurate (see author’s note at the end of the article)--and that can take time. Accurate testing will ensure that no good cables are rejected and no bad ones missed, so the contractor will not have to repair what are really good cables and get callbacks on bad ones.

Lots of time, and cost, can be saved if the contractor and installers know the proper measurements that need to be made, understand how to make those measurements correctly, have the proper tools, keep them in good condition, have them calibrated regularly, and know how to use them efficiently. The contractor must also convey to the customer that what is being done is in line with industry convention and standards. Learning the background and the issues concerned with making accurate measurements can save lots of problems—and lots of money.

Industry committees spend massive amounts of time and energy developing standards that ensure accurate testing. But those standards are generally written for manufacturers, not users. So, the task of translating “standardese” – the language they are written in – into understandable English is left to the manufacturers, and to technical educators writing articles like this one.

This tutorial will give you insight into what tests are required, what problems are inherent in testing multimode fiber, how measurement techniques differ, and how to interpret the results of testing and document them.

How to test premises cables

In premises cabling systems designed for use with LAN backbones, fiber-to-the-desk, closed-circuit television, industrial control signals, etc., there are three tests that may be done: connection verification, insertion loss, and optical time-domain reflection. All cables should be tested for continuity with a visual fault locator or fiber tracer, and the connections verified.

In my experience, many fiber-optic cabling problems are caused by poor documentation or confirmation of connections. Since each link consists of two fibers, one fiber must connect a transmitter to a receiver and the other the complementary pair. Documentation and markings should allow these connections to be made simply. This is easily confirmed with a visual light source coupled into the fiber.

The measurement needed for confirming the quality of the installation is the optical loss or insertion loss of each of the fibers in the cable. Loss measurements are made end-to-end on the permanently installed cable plant--the equivalent of the unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) permanent link. Industry standards call for making that measurement with a test source and optical power meter, sometimes called an optical loss test set (OLTS) and reference test cables.

Proposals have been made to also allow testing installed cable with just an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR), but no accepted standard today requires this. TIA-568 (both the B version and the soon-to-be-published C version) follows the industry convention, requiring insertion loss testing (called Tier 1 testing in TIA-568) and permits OTDR testing also (Tier 2) to provide additional information, but does not allow OTDR-only testing in lieu of insertion-loss testing.

OTDR testing of premises cable plants instead of insertion-loss testing causes much confusion among contractors and customers. Hardly a week goes by that I do not get a call regarding this issue. Misinterpretations of these requirements have led to some unhappy instances in my experience, including misreading OTDRs causing the removal and discarding of $100,000 worth of good cable and the retesting of 1,100 cables of 12 fibers each, as well as several instances of customers returning OTDRs to the  distributors who sold them the units.

There are five industry-standard ways to test premises fiber optic cable–three for insertion loss and two for OTDRs–depending on how you use reference test cables for your setup. Insertion-loss testing can use one, two, or three reference cables to set the “zero dB loss” reference for testing, and each way gives a different loss. Generally, standards prefer the one-reference-cable loss method, but it requires that the test equipment use the same fiber-optic connector types as the cables under test. If the cable has different connectors than the test equipment (e.g., LCs on the cable and SCs on the tester), it may be necessary to use a two or three cable reference, which will give a lower loss since connector loss is included in the reference and will be subtracted from the total loss measurement.

Any of the three methods are acceptable, as long as the method is documented. Be careful, however, since most network link losses assume a one cable reference, which can affect the acceptance of the cable.

OTDRs always require a launch cable for the instrument to settle down after reflections from the high-powered test pulse overloads the instrument. OTDRs have traditionally been used with long-distance networks where only a launch cable is used, but this method does not measure the loss of the connector on the far end. Adding a cable at the far end allows measuring the loss of the entire cable, but negates the big advantage of the OTDR—that it makes measurements from only one end of the cable. 

Multimode fiber measurements

All these test methods have serious issues with accurately testing multimode cable. In the 25 or so years I have been involved with fiber-optic standards, making accurate loss measurements on multimode fiber has been a constant and confusing subject of discussion within the standards committees. We tried to understand how light travels in multimode cable plants and how components like connectors affect the way that light travels. Then we tried to understand how the losses of fiber, connectors, and splices were affected by the methods used for testing.

I’m going to explain (hopefully, in understandable terms) how this works, how it affects your measurements, and how you can try to control test conditions to enhance your test accuracy. It’s going to take some careful reading on your part, but when we’re finished, you are going to be more knowledgeable, faster, and richer. I promise!

How light travels in multimode fiber

The most important component affecting loss in a multimode cable plant is the source coupling light into the fiber. Light sources may be light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or lasers. Lasers may be VCSELs (vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers) or Fabry-Perot lasers (telecom style). Each of these emits light in a different pattern, with LEDs having the broadest beam, F-P lasers a very narrow beam, and VCSELs in between. The light coupled from the source is transmitted in a multimode fiber in many rays or “modes;” hence, the name multimode.

A laser couples light only into modes that travel near the center of the fiber while a LED couples light into practically all the modes. Look closely and you can see the modes near the center of the fiber core (lower-order modes) travel shorter paths than the modes near the edges of the core (higher-order modes.) The shorter path of the lower-order modes means that they travel through less glass and suffer less loss than the ones traveling in the outside of the core. That means a laser suffers less attenuation (loss per unit length, in dB/km) in the same multimode fiber than a LED.

Furthermore, as light travels down the fiber, the attenuation changes. The light in the outside modes is attenuated, leaving mostly light in the modes near the center. At a kilometer from a LED source, the light in the outer modes is mostly attenuated and the light carried in the fiber looks more like the light launched from a laser. This means the attenuation at that point is less than at the beginning because it’s only in lower-order modes.

So, what is the loss of the fiber? The manufacturer’s spec for fiber is around 3 dB/km at 850 nm and 1 dB/km at 1300 nm, for a test using a calibrated source that is much closer to the launch of a laser source than a LED. The difference in the attenuation coefficient of a fiber tested with a laser or LED can be 1 to 2 dB/km. With a LED source, the first hundred meters of fiber – representative of a premises network – may have an attenuation of over 4 dB/km.

The same factors hold for connector and spice loss. Most of the loss in connectors is due to misalignment of the two fibers, and the higher-order modes are much more likely to be lost at a connector than lower-order modes. A connector coupled to a LED source with a short cable could have a loss of 0.5 dB while if it were coupled to a laser source, or were 1 km away, could have a loss of 0.3 dB.

By now, I suspect your head is swimming. If you still have your wits about you, you may want to know how any standards body can solve this issue. The answer is how everything is solved: Compromise. Create a standard launch condition that is more than a laser but less than a LED, which today is appropriate, since it’s more like the VCSELs used in today’s Gigabit and faster multimode links.

Manufacturers use special lensed sources in their labs that can precisely control the launch conditions. The way to approximate this launch for field testing is to use a LED source and a mode modifier—usually a few turns of the reference launch cable around a cylindrical mandrel that filters out the higher-order modes. The mandrel size must be chosen according to the fiber and cable type being used. These devices are available from many test equipment manufacturers.

It’s highly recommended that you use this standard source method, as it will produce more consistent test results and provide better reproducibility if you ever have to retest. And the losses measured are going to be lower, so you are less likely to fail good cables.

Even so, the uncertainty of the measurement is likely to be several tenths of a dB. The uncertainty comes from the coupling of your reference cables to the fiber under test, which includes the quality of the terminations on the reference cables, how clean they are, and how many times they have been used, since they degrade with use.

So, why aren’t OTDRs used?

Some people think everybody uses OTDRs for fiber-optic testing, but that’s only for outside plant (OSP) applications. Most OSP installations involve splicing singlemode fiber to get longer runs, and the OTDR allows verifying the quality of the splice. But when that link is finished, it must still be tested for insertion loss with a light source, power meter, and reference cables--just like premises cables.

Insertion loss and OTDR testing use different methods. Insertion loss tests just the fiber that will be used, with a source on one end and a detector on the other. So, tested insertion loss should be close to what the communications link actually will see. OTDRs, however, make an indirect measurement, based on fiber scattering--the major source of loss of a fiber. It sends a very powerful pulse down the fiber, and some of the scattering comes back toward the instrument where it is measured and stored. As the test pulse moves down the fiber, it takes a “snapshot” of the fiber illuminated by the test pulse from which information about the fiber may be implied.

Everything the OTDR learns about the fiber depends on the amount of light scattered back toward it and how the instrument is set up for the test. This “backscatter” is a function of the materials in the fiber and the diameter of the core. Joints between two dissimilar fibers that have different backscatter coefficients will not allow one-way measurements--one way the loss is too high, the other way too low (perhaps even a “gainer” where the change in backscatter is more than the loss of the connection).

The second problem with OTDRs on multimode fiber is the laser source. As mentioned above, lasers couple light narrowly into multimode fiber and will measure lower attenuation and connector- or splice-loss than recommended by standards on the outward-bound test pulse. But scattered light probably overfills the fiber, even more than a LED on the return. To date, we are unaware of anyone who has modeled this and can provide guidance on the expected test results from an OTDR.

In addition, there are problems in premises applications with OTDR distance resolution. Light travels about 1 meter in 5 nanoseconds. The width of the test pulse is usually 10 to 30 ns and the minimum resolution of the OTDR is about three times that, or 2 to 6 meters. Highly reflective events, like multimode connectors in premises cabling, cause instrument overload and lengthen the instrument’s minimum resolution. Only a few specialized OTDRs have the resolution needed for premises cabling.

OTDRs are complicated instruments. Before the OTDR is used to make a measurement, you have to set all these parameters correctly: range, wavelength, pulse width, number of averages, index of refraction of the fiber, and the measurement method (usually two types for each measurement.) OTDR manufacturers should teach you how to set up the OTDR properly and how to interpret the rather complicated display. But few customers are willing to invest the day or two necessary to learn how to use the instrument properly. So, manufacturers create an “autotest” function, like a Cat 6 certifier that tests the fiber and gives you a pass/fail result. Every debacle I have seen in OTDR testing resulted from inadequately trained personnel using autotest.

Unfortunately, because of their indirect measurement technique, OTDRs do not easily correlate with insertion loss tests, and that’s why they are not allowed by industry standards to be used alone. Some users claim to have been able to control modal power in multimode fiber and get correlation between OTDRs and insertion-loss tests. But results are hard to duplicate. The FOA did a comprehensive comparison test using special mode conditioners and were unable to get correlation. In fact, some of our tests gave divergent results between two different OTDRs.

If a user considers the OTDR test to be a “qualitative” rather than “quantitative” test, and knows how to interpret the OTDR trace properly, he or she can determine if connectors and splices are properly installed and if any damage has been done to the cable during installation. But if the user does not have the experience and knowledge to do a proper analysis, the device only causes problems.

Testing efficiently and accurately

The contractor and the user should agree on what documentation and testing are required before the project is started. Documentation should include the layout of the cabling, types and numbers of fiber in each cable, connection diagrams, and insertion-loss test results. That agreement should be part of the bid and the contract. If the customer wants OTDR data, they should be quizzed on why they want it and be made to understand that OTDR testing is time-consuming and expensive (like the instrument itself).

Before beginning the installation, the contractor should calculate a loss budget for each link based on the length of the link and the number of connections. This confirms the equipment will operate over that link. Then, the expected loss will be known to allow a pass/fail decision by the person doing the testing. The contractor should have the proper test equipment, and installers using the equipment should be familiar with its use.

When terminating cables, each cable should be tested with a source and power meter using high-quality reference cables. The accuracy of the measurements depends on having properly operating test equipment, high-quality reference cables with a mandrel wrap, cleaning all connections before every measurement, and using a consistent measurement technique.

Reference cables should be tested with the same test equipment each day and cleaned carefully before each measurement. This also provides good practice for the installers using the equipment. All installers using the test equipment should be familiar with using the mandrel wrap on the launch cables.

Because the light source and power meter insertion loss test requires an instrument at each end of the cable, two installers working together will speed up the process. A visual tracer can be used to identify the next fiber to test, making communication easier and cheaper than using cell phones.

Data should be recorded in a spreadsheet alongside the loss-budget calculation used for pass/fail criteria so the contractor and customer can verify the installation. Troubleshoot high-loss links that fail testing by testing “single ended” with only a launch cable. Bad connections will show up as high loss when connected to the launch cable but not when connected directly to a power meter. So, reversing the cable test direction will usually find bad connectors.

(Author’s note: You know what I mean when I say “accurate” – that the measurement made gives a value close to the “real” value. Standards people prefer we refer to the “uncertainty” of the measurement because it’s practically impossible to know what the real value is, but it is possible to determine how much error is likely in any given measurement. With apologies to those people, I’m going to use the term “accurate” because we use it more commonly.)

JIM HAYES is president of The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. (, the professional society of fiber optics. Originally educated as a physicist/astronomer, he co-founded fiber-optic test equipment company Fotec in 1981, which was sold to Fluke Networks in 2001. Jim has been training fiber optic technicians for more than 25 years, and is the author of three fiber-optic textbooks and numerous technical articles. Additional information on installing and testing fiber optic networks is available on the FOA “Tech Topics” website:

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance 


Online Resources Outside The Mainstream

Every once in awhile, I’ll be at a trade-show booth or in a training class of some kind, and I’ll actually try to use one of the tools that are very familiar to you. Sometimes, it’s a punchdown tool; other times, it’s one of those fiber-termination tools that is so easy to use anyone can do it in under a minute. Well, anyone but me.

OK, I don’t want this to turn into some confession about my total lack of skill using hand tools. What I’d like to focus on are some of the tools that, in all likelihood, you and I both use with some level of proficiency. Specifically, some Web sites have found their way to the top of my list of favorites. Our industry has its obvious Web resources, including the sites for this and other magazines serving your information needs, trade associations, interest groups like The Green Grid and the like. I’m sure you use some of these sites on a pretty regular basis. But there are some others that might not be so obvious. In case you’re not familiar with them, please allow me this opportunity to introduce you to them with a brief description of each. Disclaimer of sorts: Please know that Cabling Installation & Maintenance has no business affiliation, formal or informal, with the producers of these sites: – A bountiful resource on hazardous-substance-reduction initiatives, such as RoHS (Restriction on Hazardous Substances), WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment), and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals). – The page of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory site that is most closely related to energy efficiency in data centers. It summarizes the LBNL’s research into IT energy consumption. – They do a much better job of summarizing who they are than I could, so this is directly from their site: “Nyquist Capital provides actionable and quantitative insight into the networking and communication component, equipment, and carrier marketplace.” I first learned of the site through Cabling Installation & Maintenance’s sister product, Lightwave, which picked up on Nyquist’s report last fall that Google had decided it was dissatisfied enough with the 10-Gbit Ethernet networking gear available on the market that it would build its own. That story got my attention and I have been a regular visitor ever since.

So, now let’s hear it. What do you think of the sites on this brief list? Which of your favorite useful sites did I fail to list here?

Some time ago, I used this space to tell the story of a colleague who asked, “When I get onto the Internet, where am I going?” Hopefully he has figured it out by now. As for me, well, not only do I know where I’m going. Now you know, too.

Patrick McLaughlin

Chief Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling INstallation & Maintenance 


IP surveillance evolving toward standardization

While analytics have not yet lived up to their promise, strides are being made to standardize communication among devices and in situation management.

For the past few years in the network-video arena, the technology of analytics has held promise as the next evolutionary step. The Web site defines the technology by saying it “consists of algorithms that detect movement or changes in live or recorded video to see whether the movement or changes mean a possible threat is about to occur or occurring. These algorithms work by examining each pixel of the video and putting together all the pixel changes. If many pixels are changing in one area and that area is moving in a direction, the software considers this to be motion. Depending on the policies and alerts you have set up, you will be notified of this motion or other actions can be automatically taken by the software such as motion tracking, which follows the motion until it is no longer detected.”

The technological development and ultimate deployment of analytics, however, has fallen far short of the promise and hype applied to it over the past couple of years. In a recent report, the Australian Customs Service ( noted several benefits of analytics, including cost-efficiency for hardware as well as the cost of monitoring staff. That same report also considered analytics’ limitations, stating, “Video analytics is still very much a pioneering field and there could be a few decades of research and development before intelligent cameras can perform human-like analysis. Recognition of subtle suspicious movements by a person in a crowd or discrimination between terrorists and other people from a kilometre away, are some common current misconceptions regarding video analytics abilities. Also, facial recognition is an ongoing research field and is difficult to carry out with confidence, especially when it is easy to fool with disguises. A very good unobstructed view of a person's face is needed for facial recognition.”

The report adds, “While motion detection is the most common application of video analytics, few of the intelligent video products achieve low false alarm rates (a maximum of 20 false alarms per night).  A false alarm rate beyond this can lead to security staff ignoring the alarm or having video analytics switched off all together.  It is also possible to defeat motion detection by very slow movement through the detection zone.”

The report concluded, in part, “Security consultants, clients, and end users should understand that the technical functionalities are highly dependent on environmental variables and that the analytical algorithms do not contain artificial-intelligence program structures. Therefore, there should be no expectation that a CCTV system incorporating video analytics will replicate human perception or learn from previous detection events to reduce false alarm rates.  The technology, at this stage of its development, should be seen as a motion detector, based on searches for video image changes, which can be adapted to suit specific applications.”

Technology forges ahead

While analytics still has some strides to make before it provides the practical functionality many had anticipated or hoped for, the overall capabilities of Internet Protocol (IP)-based video cameras and surveillance systems have continued to evolve and develop. Furthermore, the marketplace in which these systems are designed, built, and deployed is a dynamic one, marked by collaborations and partnerships among vendors.

Two months ago, IMS Research ( downgraded its forecast for the U.S. network-video surveillance market this year. In an overall positive-toned release, the researcher stated that network-video surveillance is one of the fastest growing markets in the security industry, with the overall market for cameras, video servers, and network-video recorders having grown by 45% last year. After a slow start this year, though, it is unlikely the market will repeat that growth rate, IMS stated.

“In spite of the stagnant economy, the U.S. market for network-video surveillance products is still growing strongly, albeit at a reduced rate from 2007,” says IMS senior research director Simon Harris. “We anticipate that the market will grow well above 30% in 2008 and may even top 40%, particularly if the economy picks up in the second half of the year.”

Ray Mauritsson, president of IP-camera market leader Axis Communications (, commented, “We have seen signals from the market, e.g. from the retail trade in Europe but particularly in the U.S., where major retail chains have chosen not to expand as planned. As approximately 25% of all video installations are performed within that segment, we have drawn the conclusion that the pace of the technology shift from analog to digital network video has slowed down.”

A growth rate of 30% is a boon by just about any standards, and activity in the IP-security industry is steady. Axis’ Mauritsson reference to the “shift from analog to digital network video,” is particularly relevant, as many users who deploy this burgeoning-while-fledgling technology find themselves without a true plug-and-play end-to-end system. As a result, several partnerships and collaborations have developed in the industry, while merger-and-acquisition activity has emerged as well.

Partnerships aplenty

For example, Vicon Industries ( and Verint Systems ( just weeks ago announced a partnership under which Vicon’s camera dome will incorporate Verint’s encoding technology in the Nextiva S2800e IP pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera.

“We have witnessed the preference for SurveyorVFT domes in demanding, high-profile installations for many years, both in cases where our own ViconNet software is used, as well as in situations where other manufacturers’ software is controlling the system,” states Bret McGown, Vicon’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Our new partnership with Verint will make our domes available to the growing sector of the marketplace that is requiring direct IP connectivity from their cameras and, as in this case, working in an open platform environment.”

The partnership between the two companies is hardly unique. This past spring, ioimage ( and Orsus ( announced a partnership to jointly bring analytics and situation-management solutions to the market. Through the partnership, Orsus’ Situator product supports intelligent video encoders and IP cameras from ioimage. (See sidebar for detail on situation management systems.)

“The physical security information management systems market has been experiencing significant growth and, as a result, we recognize the importance of providing open solutions to systems integrators and end users,” says Dvir Doron, vice president of marketing with ioimage. “In working with Orsus, we leveraged our open architecture and rapid integration approach to offer the market an integrated video analytics platform designed for simplicity in installation and use.”

Earlier this year, Pelco ( partnered with DSX Access Systems ( to provide integration of Pelco’s digital video recording systems and IP video management software with DSX access-control systems. The technology collaboration yields a system that records, stores, and retrieves video-based intrusion and access-control events.

In other activity, Bosch Security Systems ( has partnered with NetApp ( in a co-branding campaign that pairs Bosch’s CCTV portfolio of products with NetApp’s storage devices.

“The market is continuing to mature in its understanding of IP video system architectures, resulting in a substantial uptick in the adoption of Bosch’s approach for recording video—streaming video direct to a RAID array or storage area network and eliminating network video recorders,” explains Johan Jubbega, vice president of global video systems and products with Bosch. “The partnership with NetApp will increase the options we offer our customers by adding proven technology.”

Earlier in the year, Bosch acquired Canadian company Extreme CCTV Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of active infrared illuminators, integrated day/night cameras with active illumination, and hardened imaging products for use in extreme environments. Extreme CCTV also had a hand in analytics, developing license-plate capture and recognition technology.

Open architecture and interoperability

These collaborations hint at what is an ever-present reality for network-video professionals today: the lack of interoperability among devices. A few efforts are underway to address this issue, including Panasonic’s ( launching of the Panasonic Solution Developer Network (PSDN). PSDN allows program members to obtain open-interface protocols, software and development tools, and technical information to allow them to efficiently integrate Panasonic surveillance cameras, video recorders, and system components—digital and analog. Panasonic recently added more than 20 participants to the program in a six-month period, including Verint, Vicon, and Honeywell.

“As the security industry increasingly demands interoperability, we’ve been able to establish relationships with an expanding number of partners to deliver the integrated solutions that today’s customers are demanding,” says Mike Maddox, system sales engineer and program manager for PSDN. “The ‘Open Infrastructure’ initiative is an integral component of our business plan to provide comprehensive systems solutions employing core Panasonic video-surveillance technologies and products.”

In May, Axis, Bosch, and Sony ( announced they will cooperate to create an open forum aimed at developing a standard for the interface of network video products. A joint release issued by the three companies stated, “Currently, there is no global standard defining how network video products such as cameras, video encoders, and video management systems should communicate with each other. The new standard is expected to comprise interfaces for specifications such as video streaming, device discovery, and intelligence metadata. The framework of the standard, incorporating the key elements of network video product interoperability, will be released in October 2008 at the Security show in Essen, Germany.”

Executives from each company were quoted at the time of the announcement. Said Axis’ Mauritsson, “An open standard will make it even easier for integrators and end users to benefit from the many possibilities offered by IP-based video surveillance technology.”

Bosch executive vice president Gert van Iperen stated, “This cooperation represents a great leap forward in establishing an international open forum focusing on network video surveillance. For manufacturers of network video hardware and software, the forum and its standard will be an efficient way to ensure product interoperability.”

Yoshinori Onoue, senior vice president for Sony, commented, “We entered this discussion based on our common belief that an open standard will provide great benefits for users and everyone involved in the security industry.”

Analytics and situation management

When ioimage and Orsus teamed up earlier this year, they combined analytics and situation-management capabilities. But what exactly is situation management? Rafi Bhonker, vice president of marketing with Orsus, explains:

“Situation management glues together functions, logic, and the application layer that these functions provide. To use an analogy, a situation-management system joins these functions the way that cabling connects devices together.”

In a typical example of situation management, someone forces open a door, which creates an alert. Says Bhonker, “If you have one system, which notifies you of a forced-door alert, someone can investigate. Personnel sitting remotely will see an alarm, which could be false; however, if you are able to connect this access-control alert to a volume detector, or perhaps some other video-motion detector or analytics system that knows a door was forced, you can apply some logic. If it was simply a door force, which happens 10 or 20 times a day many places, but nothing else was alerted, it can be logged. If two or three alerts go together, you have a completely different situation that requires a higher-level response.”

A situation management system, then, is an overlay to the existing security systems in place, including those with analytics. SMS software packages may provide their highest degree of value when users program certain responses to certain triggers. Bhonker explains such a setup can provide “not just an awareness of what happened, but also what needs to be done. Users can program the system so in the case of a certain event, the system takes any number of actions—messages, notifications, camera popups, providing a checklist of things the operator needs to do in the control room, automatically sending a checklist to the first responder’s handheld. Most users are not thinking in these terms today. They are thinking about cameras, and analytics perhaps, but not necessarily about automating them.” —PM

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling INstallation & Maintenance 

Cabling Networking Systems Magazine

Another way to pay

With so many options available, what's the compelling reason to pay via one's mobile phone?

By Trevor Marshall

By the time you read this, MasterCard Canada and Bell Mobility should be in the midst of a four-month test that could eventually give Canadians the ability to pay for purchases with their mobile phone. The question I have to ask is do we really need it?

The mobile industry and those who watch it have been excited about this type of device-enabled commerce since Industry Canada awarded digital PCS (Personal Communications Services) licences in the mid-1990s.

Coincidentally, that is about the same time that the debit card was gaining real traction as a payment option in this country.

The debit card (or bank card) gave Canadians an important choice for secure payments: We could use a credit card to buy something with money we did not yet have OR use a debit card to buy something with money that we already did.

Either option offers advantages over using cash or cheques such as authentication, security, creating a paper trail of the purchase and so on.

More recently, contactless payment systems have rolled into the market. MasterCardís PayPass is one of these. So are the various systems found at gas stations: Esso's Speedpass and Shell's easyPAY.

These systems use near-field communications and RFIDenabled cards or key fobs. In a nutshell, it is "tap-and-go" payment: Touch your key fob or wallet to a sensor and you are done. Paying this way speeds up the process in most instances by eliminating the need to find the card and then type in a code or sign a receipt.

So what is new?

Now, the payment folks and the mobile squad want to move contactless payment to our mobiles. Beyond the geek factor, I am at a loss to understand the advantages of this.

I suppose someone who does not need to carry keys or cards will welcome the ability to add m-payments to their phone, but how many of us can get through daily life without keys and cards?

Yes, there is some added security in that the PayPass application can be password protected so that a lost or stolen phone cannot be used to purchase goods.

However, debit cards already have pass codes, so they already offer a comparable level of security. What is more, password protection would eliminate the convenience of tap-and-go commerce. So what is new? More to explore.

And that is really too bad, because Canadians actually could enjoy many benefits from a payment system that uses the phone to authenticate transactions in which the card is NOT present. These types of transactions happen all the time on the Internet.

Canadians love shopping on the Internet. Today, I can buy goods by typing in my card number, expiry and in some cases a three or four digit security code that is found on the card itself. That is a process any thief with card in hand can follow, too. But what if MasterCard has linked my wireless number to my account? MasterCard could automatically generate a message sent to my mobile, asking for a PIN to authenticate the transaction. Someone stealing my card and my phone would still not be able to use the card to buy stuff online.

And if someone attempted to use information from a legitimate transaction to commit fraud (a process known as skimming) the request for a PIN would alert me to the fact that something was not right.

Perhaps this is the direction in which card issuers and wireless networks would like to evolve the current payment system, and the current test of contactless payments using mobile phones is a first step.

If so, then it is a great idea but there is more to explore. Keep going, and I will be the first in line to sign up for the authentication service when it hits the market.

But if what were about to see is simply another way to pay -- a substitution of the physical device used -- then it is time to return to the idea lab. Canadians already enjoy the convenience of debit and credit cards, contactless key fobs, cash and cheques.

Unlike a phone, these will not die if we forget to plug them in and they will never ring in the middle of a transaction.

In the meantime, the best payment-related use for our mobile phones may be to store the emergency numbers of our various card issuers in case our wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

Trevor Marshall is a Toronto-based reporter, writer and observer of the Canadian wireless industry. He can be reached (on his mobile) at 416-878-7730 or

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


Why BICSI makes sense

The challenge for many in the ITS industry is to find sources of information which are useful, reliable, current and affordable.

By Richard Smith

As BICSI's Canadian region director (an elected, volunteer position), I strive to improve all BICSI members' careers as well as the entire information transport systems (ITS) infrastructure industry.

With the aid of the staff at BICSI headquarters in Tampa, Fla., I am able to provide information to those who choose careers in designing, installing and maintaining ITS infrastructure in many different ways -- BICSI conferences, region meetings and breakfast clubs; on BICSI's Web site,; and through numerous magazine articles such as this one.

BICSI was formed in 1974 to help the blossoming ITS industry develop manufacturer-independent and vendor-neutral documents that provided guidance related to codes, standards and best practices.

Today, with the rapid pace of technological change, BICSI is looked to by professionals around the world who are seeking up-to-date information that helps them provide safe, reliable ITS installations.

Because of the number of resources needed to identify and update internal technical documents, even large service providers look to BICSI for current technical information.

There are numerous reference manuals that focus on LAN, Wireless and Security, including the 1,900-page Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual.

These manuals are updated extensively on a two-to-three-year cycle to reflect the newest information in the industry. Besides being recognized as world-class technical documents, they are the basis for BICSI's professional accreditations such as the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD).

Recently, BICSI has broadened its focus beyond only producing reference documents and has started writing standards that focus on various ITS subjects and entire institutions. With this, BICSI has again taken initiative to aid its members with technical information that improves productivity and profitability.

BICSI's technical staff, along with a myriad of subject matter experts (SMEs), are currently working on these standards:

ANSI/BICSI -001 K -12 ANSI/BICSI -002 Data Centre

ANSI/NECA/BICSI -607 Bonding Grounding (Earthing)

ANSI/BICSI -003 International Cabling Standard ANSI/BICSI -004 Post Secondary

ANSI/BICSI -005 Home Technology Reference Manual ANSI/BICSI -006 Healthcare ANSI/BICSI -007 Industrial

The challenge for many in the ITS industry is to find sources of information which are useful, reliable, current and affordable.

Unfortunately, technical information quickly becomes outdated. Rather than having an in-house administrative assistant and part-time librarian keeping technical documents up-to-date, a better option is to become a BICSI member.

For US$150 a year, BICSI provides you with access to information specific to your ITS infrastructure market information needs. When purchasing BICSI and many non- BICSI standards, BICSI members get discounts which far exceed the cost of membership.

Essentially, professionals working in the ITS industry want to provide customers with the best possible service at a mutually beneficial cost. To this point consider:

It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money--that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it cannot be done.

If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better. -- Author, poet and artist John Ruskin (1819 -1900)

Whether you are purchasing or providing ITS labour and material, based on my 33 years in the ITS industry, I firmly believe that BICSI offers you and your business true value and unbiased technical information that is second to none.

I encourage you to give headquarters a call at (813) 979- 1991 or visit BICSI's Web site,, and register as a member. It just might be the best business decision related to training you will ever make.

Richard Smith is the Canadian Region Director of BICSI and the manager of Aliant Cabling Solutions in Moncton, N. B. He can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems



A critical tool in the certification process, it is the only instrument that allows technicians to perform Tier 2 certification -- a must in today's testing continuum.

By David Green

As the use of fiber in premise networks continues to grow, so do the requirements for fiber testing and certification. With the increased usage of fiber networks, there is more demand on technicians and installers to offer certification services.

In today's competitive environment, it is important that contractors develop a test strategy based upon the requirements set by the consultant, system designer or network owner and their own resources, equipment and tolerance for risk. This demands tools that are easy to use and capable of delivering test results and reports in an easy-to-understand format.

A critical tool in the certification process is the Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR). It is the only instrument that allows technicians to perform Tier 2 certification -- a must in today's testing continuum.

Tier 1 certification, which is performed using an Optical Loss Test Set (OLTS) is a mainstay for testing fiber optic cabling. An OLTS tests for loss budgets on the fiber link. (An Optical Loss Test Set 1 certification is described in standards such as Telecommunications Industry Association's TSB140 bulletin entitled "Additional Guidelines for Field- Testing Length, Loss and Polarity of Optical Fiber Cabling Systems.")

Tier 2 certification is necessary for proving the cabling and connections were done correctly. This goes beyond overall loss budgets to look more specifically at loss budgets for individual splices and connectors. Because OLTS products cannot test at this level, standards organizations are recommending "Extended" or "Tier 2" fiber certification.

OTDRs certify the performance of new fiber links and detect problems with existing fiber links. An OTDR measures optical fiber characteristics; presents a graphical plot of reflected optical power along a fiber; and provides a table listing optical event characteristics discovered in a fiber.

Measurements include total loss, segment, length, as well as characterization of events in the fiber including breaks, connections, splices and tight bends. An OTDR can also measure overall fiber optical return loss and the reflectance of connectors.

An important advantage of an OTDR is its ability to perform single-ended testing and troubleshooting. This means it is needed at only one end of the fiber to run the test. An OTDR can also identify and characterize loss and reflectivity of events not detected by other types of fiber test equipment.

This ability to pinpoint the distance to a fault means you can quickly find their location and make rapid repairs. Some OTDRs include other useful troubleshooting capabilities, such as end-face inspection or a power meter.

An OTDR works by using special pulsed laser diodes to transmit high- power light pulses into a fiber. As the pulses travel down the fiber, most of the light travels in that direction. High-gain light detectors measure any light that is reflected from each pulse.

The OTDR uses these measurements to detect events in the fiber that reduce or reflect the power in the source pulse.

For example, a small fraction of the pulse light is scattered in a different direction due to the normal structure of fiber and small defects in the glass. This phenomenon of light scattered by impurities in the fiber is called Rayleigh backscattering. A certain amount of backscatter is expected based on a fiber's attenuation coefficient specification.

When a pulse of light meets connections, breaks, cracks, splices, sharp bends or the end of the fiber, it reflects due to the change in the refractive index.

These reflections are called Fresnel (pronounced frA-NEL) reflections. The amount of light reflected (not including the backscatter) relative to the source pulse is the called reflectance.

It is expressed in units of dB and is usually expressed as a negative value for passive optics, with values closer to 0 representing larger reflectance, poorer connections and greater losses.

OTDRs display trace results by plotting reflected and backscattered light versus distance along the fiber as shown in figure 1 on p. 22. The Y axis represents power level and the X axis shows distance. When you read the plot from left to right, the backscatter values decrease because the loss increases as the distance increases.

OTDR traces have several common characteristics. Most traces begin with an initial input pulse that is a result of a Fresnel reflection occurring at the connection to the OTDR. Following this pulse, the OTDR trace is a curve sloping downward and interrupted by gradual shifts. The gradual decline results from backscattering as light travels along the fiber. This decline may be interrupted by sharp shifts that represent a deviation of the trace in the upward or downward direction.

Loss events appear as a step down on the plot. These shifts or point defects are usually caused by connectors, splices or breaks. The end of the fiber can be identified by a large spike after which the trace drops dramatically down the Y axis. Finally, the output pulse at the end of the OTDR trace results from reflection occurring at the output of the fiber-end face.

An OTDR trace is valuable because it makes it possible to certify that the workmanship and quality of the installation meets the design and warranty specifications for current and future applications. For example, common requirements are that the loss associated with a splice should be no larger than 0.3 dB and that associated with a connector should be no more than 0.75 dB.

While these event losses are completely invisible to an OLTS, the performance of each splice and connector can be measured with an OTDR. If they do not meet specification, they can be corrected during the installation process before the network is live. Many contractors perform Tier 2 certification as preventative maintenance and to document their workmanship on a completed installation.

Another recent development in fiber optic testing is the availability of OTDR modules for copper cable analyzers. OTDR modules greatly simplify the task of performing Tier 2 testing of fiber links.

Anyone familiar with copper certification can now easily perform Tier 2 fiber certification because they see a familiar user interface, commands, and diagnostics. This shortens the learning curve and extends the value of the existing copper tester.

Choosing the right OTDR for the job is critical. A variety of OTDRs are available, each claiming high performance, fast testing, and ease of use. However, OTDR specifications, interpretation, and measurement methods can be inconsistent. Informed buyers must not only understand OTDR specifications, but also what is important for their intended application.

Following are some guidelines on selecting an OTDR:

Understand the primary use -- Contractors performing extended certification will want a simple, easy-to-use OTDR that has the same user interface as their other fiber and copper certification testers. Features such as test limits, report generation, and efficiency are very important. Network owners performing maintenance and troubleshooting on the other hand will want an OTDR that has multiple functions for keeping the network running and performing moves, adds, changes. In particular, since the fiber lengths in premises' fiber networks and data centers are short (and they include patch cords), it is essential to choose an OTDR with short "dead zones."

Understand your user -- If only the most experienced technicians or installer will use the OTDR, a complex unit is appropriate. If a wider range of people will be using it, choose one that is easier to learn and operate.

Factor in productivity needs -- The time that it takes to operate an OTDR varies from instrument to instrument. An OTDR may meet performance specifications and be less expensive, but not deliver the expected return on investment once it is put into use. The tester should not waste a technician's time on complicated set-up and operation. During critical troubleshooting, you do not want to have users waste time trying to remember how to make the OTDR work or to set it up correctly.

Consider the design and ease-of-use -- Ensure that the device has specifications for shock, vibration and drop testing. Handle it to see if it is easy to handle and carry. Also confirm the modularity to ensure that you can upgrade the unit as technology evolves. Take the unit for a "test drive" to make sure the buttons and menus are easy to navigate; as well as to determined which processes are automated vs. manual (e. g. event analysis, test parameter selection, etc.).

As fiber network speeds increase, more extensive cable testing is required. Specifications for new installations demand extended fiber certification in addition to insertion loss testing order to ensure the quality of the cabling infrastructure. And many technicians need a quick, accurate way to troubleshoot problems and get a complete picture of the network that they maintain.

Choosing the right OTDR for your needs is important. Some OTDRs are optimized for contractors performing certification testing.

Others are great for network engineers and technicians maintaining fiber cabling on corporate campuses and in enterprise datacenters. And many OTDRs are designed only for testing long-distance optical fibers, which makes them a poor match for testing and troubleshooting premises fiber networks.

Therefore it is important to perform the research into available options so you can make an informed decision on the OTDR that's right for your needs.

David Green is Director of Marketing for Fluke's AmPac Region, including Canada, Australia and Latin America, 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.

Editor's note: This article is the first in a two-part series on OTDR tools and practices. The next will provide an overview of advanced OTDR analysis.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


Cat6A's time has Arrived

It might have taken five years to come up with the standards, but for copper proponents the wait was worth it. The technology behind it ensures that copper-based structured cabling is good for at least 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and likely beyond.

By Perry Greenbaum

At first glance, one would say that augmented Category 6 (Cat6A) cabling might have a lot of strikes against it. For one, the TIA TR 42 engineering committee had a huge technical problem to overcome in developing and ratifying a standard for a 10-Gigabit copper solution.

The technical problem centers on what electrical engineers call alien crosstalk, a coupling interference or noise that comes from adjacent cables that ultimately affects a system's performance. Resolving such problems might greatly explains why it took five years to write the standard, now known as TIA 568 B. 2-10.

The standard for Category 6A, which the engineering committee ratified on February 8, represents the most advanced set of network cabling requirements specified up to 500 MHz. Category 6A is fully backward compatible with all the previous categories, including Category 6, Category 5e and Category 5.

"It is the most demanding stringent spec in the industry," says Paul Kish, director of systems and standards at Belden in St Laurent, Que. and also one of the engineers who sat on TIA TR 42 committee. "It's not just another generation of cabling. There is a lot of technology behind it."

The specification itself is a massive 136 pages in length, replete with 32 diagrams of test configurations, 57 tables of test specs and 35 drawings of special test fixtures required to make proper measurements and conduct required tests. In addition, Cat 6A requires new test equipment, defined as a Level IIIe tester, priced between $6,500 and 8,000 plus several test adapters each at around $400.

That being the case, one would hope that there is a solid business case for companies to upgrade to Cat 6A cabling.

Much of it rests with the anticipated need for speed and reliability that the old cable categories just cannot handle. The basic drive behind Cat 6A is the desire to support 10 Gbps (informally called 10G or 10 Gig in the trade) to the desk over the standard 100 metres. Although the current Cat 6 standard will support it up to 55 metres, this is not suitable for most organizations.

One of the key questions is whether companies ought to go about installing Cat 6A cables now, or wait until prices drop, as they invariably do when supply is greater than demand. The problem being that if companies wait too long, competitors might get the edge with faster, more efficient operations.

"That's always the dilemma, since cabling is strategic to your business needs," says Richard Smith, Canadian region director of BICSI and manager at Bell Aliant Cabling Solutions in Moncton, N. B. "The decision ultimately comes down to the type of business that you are operating in, and where your business is headed in the short-to mid-term. Do not spend the money if you are not going to see the return on investment."

Many analysts predict that structured cabling is ready to enter a substantial period of growth within the next five years. For example, Frank Murawski of FTM Consulting in Hummelstown, Pa., says that the worldwide market for structured cabling will grow from US $15.3 billion in 2008 at an annual compound rate of 13.7% to US $29.1 billion by 2013.

Much of the growth is expected to take place with fiber, where Murawski predicts that in 2013, fiber will account for 60.1% of the total structured cabling systems market.

If applications are the chief driving force behind Cat 6A, the main users of such high-speed copper cable are data centres and Internet server farms, most of them operating for financial-services firms.

These centres, which are often tucked away in secret secure locations, process transactions like debit, credit card and online transactions for banks, credit card companies and brokerage and insurance firms.

Given the continuing and increasing use of consumer debit and credit cards, one can easily see how a data centre can likely process billions of transactions per year.

To speed things up and shorten the time for each transaction requires both an efficient network and reliable communications between servers, while consuming less energy, which is a growing concern.

Such industry requirement easily explains the growing trend to 10 Gig in the data centre and the increased reliance on server virtualization as a means to speed up processes. "You need very quick communications between servers," says Kish, who points out many studies show that "doing it that way increases the efficiency of the network by 80%."

Others agree on the power of virtualization. "Virtualization for data centres is one of the driving forces for 10-Gigabit Ethernet," says George Zimmerman, chief technology officer for Solareflare Communications in Irvine, Calif., a silicon vendor of Ethernet products that enable the adoption of 10 Gigabit for data centres and enterprise networks. "Virtualization and storage are driving 10G. The virtualization application makes companies run at 70% or 80% capacity in data centres. It allows a virtual data centres to operate more efficiently. And since many of these data centres have been using copper solutions, they will likely stick with copper." For one, copper allows ad-hoc upgrades, when needed, something that cannot easily be done with a fiber solution.

Thus, with Cat 6A, Storage over Ethernet links can now replace fiber channel over Ethernet.

Future of Cat 7 & Cat7A

The Cat 7 standard had been created to allow 10- Gigabit Ethernet over 100 metres of copper. The cable contains four twisted copper wire pairs, just like the earlier standards.

Cat 7 can be terminated in RJ-45 compatible GG45 electrical connectors, which incorporate the RJ-45 standard, and a new type of connection to enable a smoother migration to the new standard.

When combined with GG-45 connectors, Cat 7 is rated for transmission frequencies of up to 600 MHz, which is greater than Cat 6A.

While there might not be any significant current uses for such bandwidth in the typical office, it will likely become more important if trends toward the use of high-speed and highbandwidth video take place.

In short, convergence will (finally) be a reality. Two video applications, in particular, come to mind as very real possibilities: video-phones and video on demand at the desktop. Such high-speed and high-bandwidth applications might drive the need for a Cat 7 or Cat 7A solution for businesses.

One anticipated area of growth is employee training, where trainers would deliver lectures and training material via video straight to the desktop (see sidebar, Beyond Cat 6A).

To be sure, things are moving forward for a 100-Gig copper solution. A test at Penn State University last year showed that it was possible to transport 100 Gigabits per second over 70 metres of Cat 7 cable (ISO/IEC11801: 2002 category 7/class F). They are looking to extend the range to 100 metres using a cable manufactured by Nexans. "We have examined the possibility of sending digital data at a rate of 100 Gigabits per second over 100 meters of Category-7 copper cable," said Mohsen Kavehrad, the W. L. Weiss endowed chair professor of electrical engineering. "These are the current, new generation of Ethernet cables." This technology may be available in early 2013.

Yet, not everyone agrees that there is a need for a 10-Gig copper solution, let alone a 40-or 100-Gig copper pipe. "There is no real business case for Cat 6A," says Jim Hayes, founder of the Structured Cabling Association in Fallbrook, Calif.

"LAN backbones have already become a fiber-optic stronghold and upgrades to 10G Ethernet can be done by just swapping out the electronics at most companies. New cabling systems are using laser-optimized OM3 fiber, the perfect media for 10G Ethernet and perhaps even 40G and 100G when they become available."

That reasoning, Hayes says, essentially leaves server connections as the only available market for Cat 6A, and even then, that could well be served 10Gbase-CX4, which although limited to 15 m, is adequate for most server connections.

Other concerns relate to the cable's size. The diameter of a Cat 6A is 0.31-inches versus 0.22 inches for Cat 6, a 40% increase. That is a significant difference in bulk, particularly when you are running hundreds or even thousands of feet of cable for an installation.

As well, optical makers such as Corning Cable Systems point out the following: A typical plenum Cat 6A UTP cable weighs 46 lbs per 1,000 ft of cable. The accumulated weight of Cat 6A cabling alone to serve a 108-circuit, 200-ft length, 10G installation will be about 1,000 lbs, compared to 40 lbs for the same length of a 216-fiberoptical cable.

The 25-times greater weight of Cat 6A cables, the company argues, "will require additional hardware costs to support the load, and may contribute to cable strain relief issues in hardware, as well as compression issues in trays and conduits." Corning does not mention, however, the greater cost of optical fiber over copper -- up to four times more in some cases. As well, fiber is still trickier to handle and install than copper.

Even so, Hayes focuses less on large data centres and server farms and more on everyday business users, typically those who operate small to medium sized businesses. For Hayes and other like-minded individuals, it is all about mobility and convenience and wireless fits that need exceptionally well.

"The network of the future is certainly not recabling every couple of years with another UTP upgrade. If 10G needs to be delivered to the desk, it's probably going to be on fiber," Hayes predicts, "not just for the bandwidth, but also for the lower power consumption. But I'm betting on more mobile applications, with a backbone of fiber connecting wireless access points."

Zimmerman of Solareflare could not disagree more. "I see wired and wireless networks co-existing," he says. "In terms of reliability and security, the wired network is the main infrastructure and the wireless network is more of a convenience network." That being said, it might well be that there is room for both copper and fiber in today's business environment. Kish of Belden makes his strongest point on the staying power of structured copper cables like Cat 6A.

For the newer applications that will require higher bandwidth and greater speeds, whether that is VoIP, video on demand or video-phones, companies will have to seriously consider the merits of Cat 6A cabling solutions as they either expand or upgrade their networks and look at the whole issue of convergence.

"If you consider some of the technology that's built in, "it's quite impressive," Belden's Kish says. "It's the most reliable cabling system that you can put in."

Fair enough. Copper has many advantages, says Steven Foster, marketing manager at The Siemon Company, a maker of network cabling in Watertown, Conn: "Copper cabling is straightforward, reliable and almost universal," he says. "It's flexible and can be laid rapidly, effective for nearly all applications. It comes in several varieties, designated by their performance category rating. The sheer functionality and cost-effectiveness of copper cabling mean it will be the system of choice for a long time to come."

That being the case, it looks as if Cat 6A will be a winner, leading the way to future improvements in structured cabling, when, one day in the future, 100G installations become the industry norm.

Simply put, one should be cautious about predicting copper's demise. Copper is here to stay.

Perry Greenbaum is a Montreal-based freelance writer. He can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems


Editor's Desk

Time for ICT to step up to the plate

By Paul Barker

In March, corporate heavyweights Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Research in Motion and Bell Canada Enterprises each announced support of a plan by Quebec-based PROMPT Inc. to develop a carbon-neutral Internet.

In June, HP Labs announced that it will focus its sustainability research on three major projects -- reducing the carbon footprint of data centres by 75%, replacing copper wires with laser light beams and developing a series of software and services tools to measure and manage environmental impacts such as carbon emissions and total energy usage.

That same month, IBM Corp. signed an agreement with gigaCENTER Services Corp. that will see the two build a $75 million 46,000 square metre green data centre in Kelowna, B. C. IBM also released details of a new service called the IT Carbon Strategy Study, which it said will allow companies starting out on their "green transformation" to identify the most rapid areas of reduction in IT carbon emissions. The company estimates that a significant reduction in carbon footprint can be achieved in "often overlooked areas such as desktop systems, networking components, server rooms and printers."

All of this activity is good news to Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer of Canarie Inc. Responsible for the coordination and implementation of Canada's next generation optical Internet initiative called CA*net4, he spoke about the need for the ICT industry to initiate change (see story p. 6) at the recent 2008 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

In presentations, St. Arnaud points out that the ICT industry and research community have a collective responsibility to help address the problem of global warming. He adds that "this is a community that is used to rapid changes and has many of the most innovative people in both academia and business."

To that end, "research and education networks and CIOs could play a critical leadership role in deploying new network and cyber infrastructures that eliminate their carbon footprints."

A study released on June 20 entitled Smart 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, concludes that transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15% by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over US$800 billion.

Written by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the independent findings reveals that while ICT's own sector footprint of 2% of global emissions will almost double by 2020, its "unique ability to monitor and maximize energy efficiency both within and outside of its owner sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount.

This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GTCO2E), which the report says is greater than the current annual emissions of either the U. S. or China. Organizations supporting the report include GeSI member companies Bell Canada, British Telecommunications plc (BT), Cisco Systems, Nokia Siemens Networks, HP, Intel and Microsoft.

"PCs, mobile phones and the Web have transformed the way we all live and do business," said Steve Howard, CEO of the Climate Group. "Global warning and soaring energy prices mean that rethinking how every home and business uses technology to cut unnecessary costs and carbon is critical to our environment and economy.

"Supported by innovative government policy, ICT can unlock the clean green industrial revolution we need to tackle climate change and usher in a new era of low carbon prosperity."

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Networking Systems

Communications News Magazine

Not Very Social

Fifteen years ago, they were called bulletin boards. Judged by today’s technologies, they were pretty clunky. You typed questions or information in a few fields and waited (and hoped) for a response. They were the Internet’s first “social networks.”

Today, of course, when the topic of social networks comes up, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn come to mind. Social networks, however, can take on different shapes than these more consumer-oriented sites–as intranets, for example.

Intranets are fairly simple to set up and maintain. In fact, some leading free blogging programs offer most of the bells and whistles to set up highly interactive information-sharing applications that can improve employee productivity and idea implementation.

Forrester Research estimates that social networking will be a huge priority for organizations, part of a $4.6 billion Web 2.0 industry by 2013, with social networks making up nearly $2 billion of that amount. How much of that, however, will involve consumer social networking sites versus intranet social networking?

Forrester predicts there will be a lot of intra-company networking tools (e.g., corporate directories or internal forums), as well as more interactive varieties of technical support. (At Communications News, we are currently setting up such an intranet.) The biggest adopters of social networking are expected to be large companies; smaller businesses, meanwhile, are more skeptical.

While intranets seem to be a logical adaptation of social networking, allowing employees unfettered access to consumer social networking sites does not seem to be as big a concern among enterprises as one would think, given the security and productivity issues involved. According to an evaluation of businesses using Barracuda Networks’ Web Filters product, only 50 percent of organizations are blocking MySpace or Facebook.

Of those organizations that do block these sites, 70 percent do so for virus or spyware prevention; 52 percent restrict Web surfing due to employee productivity drain. This year, however, 65 percent of businesses surveyed by Barracuda say they will restrict Web surfing, up 23 percent. Companies also cite bandwidth concerns (36 percent) and liability issues (28 percent) as additional reasons to cut into employee Web surfing.

“If someone’s spending too much time online or addicted to playing Scrabble with somebody on Facebook, then he might not be doing his job,” says Paul Wood, senior security analyst at MessageLabs.

Many companies have started using consumer social networking sites to reach customers and market their products. There seems to be far too many, however, who are waiting for bad things to happen before they implement Web surfing controls. Much the same way they did regarding network security and customer data protection. And much the same way they did before blocking porn. After all, these aren’t bulletin boards we’re talking about.

by Ken Anderberg


Communications News

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


The Biggest Threat: End-Users

Education, processes and technology can help alleviate insider security issues.

Savvy administrators recognize that because end-users are privy to an organization’s sensitive data, they represent a significant risk factor. Security pros, however, continue to struggle with mitigating this threat. While no single solution exists, there are steps organizations can take to ensure that corporate policies are effectively enforced and insider threats are neutralized.

Organizations can protect themselves against malicious and accidental employee actions through the combination of people, processes and technology. They should clearly define and publicize policies, automate policy enforcement, and provide detailed auditing and reporting. Here are some fundamental steps that organizations can take:

First, accept that employees are not security experts and will always engage in risky behavior. They will open unsolicited attachments, browse a wide assortment of Web sites, click on links in e-mails and instant messages, utilize outdated and unpatched versions of software, and plug in personal devices or removable media without understanding (or caring) about the potential impact of these decisions. Consequently, relying on end-users to rapidly install the latest patches is leaving a lot to chance.

In a perfect world, written corporate policy would be enough to dictate employees’ interactions with technology. While a policy is an important step, the reality is that even the most stringent policies need a solution to support and enforce them. Trying to force policies where the employees are responsible has proven ineffective.

The second step is to provide a way to develop and enforce policy that enables users to focus on their task at hand, but also reduces the risk of their day-to-day decisions when they interact with technology. This includes understanding which employees need access to specific applications, devices and data. Also, enforce policies that give users access only to what is required in order to successfully complete their job function, and ensure that the applications in use are up to date with the latest patches.

By enforcing application and device control, organizations can flexibly control execution of specific files or removable devices to the user level. This takes the decisions away from the users and enables them to be focused on the job at hand.

Also, by enforcing mandatory baselines for critical patches and configurations, organizations can automate the remediation process throughout the enterprise and not have to rely on their users. This ensures proper security configurations are maintained. Employing technology that automates the enforcement of acceptable resource use–while preventing and reporting unacceptable use that could put the enterprise at risk–is a flexible, yet secure approach.

A third step is to ensure that policies are publicized throughout the organization and enforced as transparently as possible so as not to impede end-user productivity. Without proper explanation, end-user understanding and buy-in of these policies, they will be viewed as a hindrance to productivity and users will find a way to get around them.

Engaging in security training and publicizing corporate policies are key steps to finding a balance between security and user productivity. Communication is important in educating users and preventing disruption in employee productivity. Explaining why a policy exists is a key success factor. Once end-users know the what and why, they are usually more than willing to help.

The final step requires the CIO and others within the IT department to have access to a continuous report of the organization’s environment, what policies are working and which ones are not, and adjust policies accordingly. Automated auditing and reporting functions give security personnel the flexibility to conditionally allow certain devices, applications or configurations, while still maintaining visibility into user activity. For example, if an organization allows only accounting personnel access to specific finance-focused applications, it needs to know if a developer was attempting to gain access to these applications. Either there is malicious intent, or there is a legitimate need.

From a best-practices perspective, policy compliance should be reviewed on a regular basis, as organizational needs may change and user activities might highlight a policy loophole. This includes continuous surveillance of the enterprise environment and user activities, and using the gathered information to update policy as necessary.

by Mike Wittig

Mike Wittig is president and chief technology officer of Lumension Security, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Fiber Plays Video Security Role

Media conversion connects surveillance networks utilizing copper-based cabling.

Whether the cabling is coax for traditional analog cameras or unshielded twisted pair (UTP) for newer IP-based cameras, copper cabling poses several issues that could limit the design or physical reach of a video security network. Integrating fiber-optic cabling into these networks can address many of these issues.

Whether organizations are monitoring employees, identifying corporate visitors, tracking hazardous work areas or guarding against intruders, theft and vandalism, most organizations see the benefits of an effective video security system. As these networks grow, transmission distance issues can arise, causing the need for additional equipment.

Analog-based systems transmitting video signals over coax cabling have provided good performance and acceptable images at distances up to 750 feet. Beyond that distance, equipment such as signal conditioning and/or signal amplification and surge protection devices are needed to prevent the loss of high-frequency information.

As security professionals have migrated to the newer IP-based technology, they have had to face more challenges. Even though IP-based systems are growing in popularity, their transmissions are limited to distances even shorter than their analog equivalents. IP-based security networks work within the standards of an Ethernet network, meaning the maximum transmission distance on UTP cable is limited to 100 meters or 328 feet. At that point, the signal must be regenerated and retimed with a network device such as an Ethernet switch. Requirements for these additional devices in either an analog or an IP-based network may increase the cost of the system considerably.

In addition to the limited transmission distance, both coaxial and UTP cables are susceptible to noise or electrical interference caused by high voltages and ground loop faults, both of which can lead again to quality degradation of the video signal. Also, the security of the video network as a whole can be jeopardized by the ease of tapping into the copper cable and stealing or copying the video stream. These issues have led security professionals to look for alternative cabling methods.

Easier installation with fiber

Security and surveillance networks are in a position to take advantage of the benefits offered by fiber-optic cabling. These include extended transmission distances, protection from noise and interference, higher bandwidth capacity, and improved reliability and transmission performance.

Fiber is also smaller in size and offers stronger tensile strength, allowing for easier installation. Transmission distances of an IP video network on optical fiber cable can be up to 6,562 feet on multimode fiber and even farther on singlemode fiber, while distances are only slightly shorter for an analog video system. Using a fiber infrastructure in either an analog or IP-based video system will offer greater transmission distances than what can be achieved on coax and UTP.

Many corporate LAN environments will already have fiber in place in the backbone cabling between buildings in a campus area network or in the vertical risers of a multistory office building. To access this fiber, security professionals will face new equipment challenges. Since most analog cameras support coax cable with a BNC interface and IP cameras support UTP cable with an RJ-45 interface, how are users expected to connect fiber-optic cabling to these cameras? The answer is in the use of media converters.

Media converters are commonly used in today’s LANs to transparently connect one type of media, or cabling, to another. Since data travels differently on copper than it does on fiber, a media converter changes the electrical signal coming into the device on UTP cable to an optical signal that can be transmitted out of the device over fiber cable.

Media converters are also available to support a variety of other communication environments, including analog video. Most analog video copper-to-fiber converters are small and can attach directly to a camera. They do require a source of power, however, and typically accept the same power as the cameras (usually 24 VDC), so there is no requirement for an additional external power supply.

Specific analog converters are available for the one-way video communication of a fixed camera, while other converters support the two-way communication of a pan/tilt/zoom camera. Two-way communication is needed so the camera can transmit the video signals and receive serial data from the pan-tilt-zoom controller.

Generally, media converters are used in pairs so another analog converter would be installed on the other end of the fiber, providing connectivity at the central monitoring location. This element is an essential piece in any security or surveillance system.

Standard Ethernet media converters can be used to integrate fiber into an IP-based video network. Combined with the emergence of power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology, media converters can provide new methods for powering IP cameras, even cameras located at the far end of a fiber run.

the role of poe devices

Common PoE devices include PoE injectors, PoE splitters and PoE Ethernet switches. PoE injectors are copper-to-copper devices with a data-in port and a data-out port, which inserts the power on the UTP cable. A PoE switch acts like a traditional Ethernet switch, but it will sense if a port is connected to a PoE-enabled device and insert power on as as-needed based.

While PoE is only supported on UTP cable, devices like PoE media converters can not only extend the reach of a network by providing an interface between copper devices and fiber cable, but they can also act like a PoE injector. Locating a PoE converter at the far end of a fiber run gives a network extended reach, and this remotely located PoE converter can also inject power onto the UTP cable.

While the PoE converter itself needs to be located near a power source, the IP camera connected to the PoE media converter can be located and powered up to 100 meters away from the converter. A company could locate the PoE converter and its power source inside a building, while the IP camera may need to be located outside the building, far from a power source. Eliminating the need for an external power source simplifies the installation of IP cameras and can be performed by a low-voltage installer or technician, saving the cost of hiring an electrician to install a new wall outlet in potentially unique locations.

For those with external devices like a security camera mounted on top of a pole in a parking lot, there may be power at the base of the pole but not at the top. The PoE media converter could be located at the base of the pole; the power source could provide power to the PoE converter while the converter could send power up the pole to the camera. In this application, only the UTP cable would be routed up the pole. Without PoE, both a network cable and a power cable would have to be routed up the pole.

These outdoor applications would also benefit from industrialized or hardened media converters. Office-grade media converters in outdoor installations may have issues dealing with the wider swing in operating temperatures experienced in these applications.

by Curt Carlson

Curt Carlson is product manager at Transition Networks, Minnetonka, Minn.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine


Utility bills key to greener IT

Increasing cost of electricity puts pressure on IT departments to conserve.

Due to the steady increase in the cost of electricity over the last few years, many organizations have begun to focus on reducing energy use. When looking for ways to lower the utility bill, the spotlight often shines on the company energy hog: the IT department. The prevalence of computing equipment in most enterprises makes the IT department a major source of power consumption.

Every organization that wants to cut costs looks at reducing power consumption. The energy costs tied to computers, servers, cooling systems, switches and storage systems consume a large percentage of the IT budget. For every dollar spent on computer hardware, a company typically spends 50 cents on energy-related costs each year, according to research firm IDC. By 2010, 71 cents of every IT dollar will be devoted to powering and cooling IT equipment.

IT executives say they are concerned about energy efficiency, however, many are not aware of how much energy their IT operations use–even though this information is fundamental in energy-reduction efforts. CDW’s Energy Efficient Information Technology (E2IT) Report, based on a survey of 778 information technology professionals, indicates that almost half of IT organizations in business, government and education do not know exactly how much energy they use.

Typically, those who manage technology have little, if any, interaction with those who pay the utility bills. “The first step in reducing energy consumption is to know what you are spending, yet more than 40 percent of technology professionals say they don’t see their organization’s energy bill,” says Mark Gambill, vice president of CDW.

 IT executives with information about their energy consumption are more likely to implement energy-reduction measures, Gambill says. When someone in the IT department receives reports, authorizes payments, or otherwise has responsibility for the amount and cost of energy used in the organization’s IT operations, they are more likely to develop strategies to manage power demand and energy consumption.

When IT organizations have access to information about their energy use and take steps to manage their energy consumption, substantial savings are possible. CDW’s E2IT report found that 39 percent of IT professionals whose organizations implemented energy-management initiatives have reduced their total IT energy costs by as much as 40 percent annually.

“As energy costs continue to escalate, IT organizations are faced with choices regarding how to increase the energy efficiency of their data centers and network infrastructures. These choices range from slow, steady improvements to quick, bold strokes,” says Mark Panico president of Ortronics/Legrand.

Organizations have successfully reduced IT energy costs by employing measures such as:

                  buying equipment with low-power/low-wattage processors;

                  deploying ENERGY STAR 4.0 qualifying devices;

                  training employees or using software to shut down equipment when it is not in use;

                  implementing server consolidation, optimization and virtualization;

                  improving airflow; and

                  making full use of power management tools.

“There is no silver bullet,” says Gambill. “Organizations that are successful at reducing IT energy costs take ownership of their energy bill and advocate efficiency improvements throughout IT operations.”

Every organization can benefit from energy efficiency. Analyst Greg Schulz, founder of The StorageIO Group, says solving power issues makes sense from both economic and environmental standpoints. “It’s fairly simple,” says Schulz.  “You use power more wisely, and you save money.” 

by Denise DiRamio,

Associate Editor

Communications News

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine 

Security + Life Safety Systems

By Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

Identify Yourself : Overcoming the Fear of Biometrics

Visitors to Walt Disney World, whether veterans or first-timers, have their fingerprints scanned as a security precaution upon entry. Some worried visitor’s faces indicate how fearful so many of us have become about our personal and private information.

This fear is not unsubstantiated, as we are bombarded with edicts and procedures to protect our identities. We have been conditioned to believe that the taking of our fingerprints is a violation of privacy, usually reserved for criminals.

Due to the availability of advanced biometrics and their decreasing cost, this solution is becoming much more viable and is making its way into some unexpected places. Fingerprinting is being used in some schools, where students have their fingerprints scanned to pay for lunch. In some businesses, employees clock in and out of work using the fingerprint in lieu of punching a time card or keying in a PIN, and the government uses multiple forms of biometrics to track employees.

From a management perspective—either as the user or provider—this type of technology needs to be explained in the most comprehensive and understandable manner possible. Don’t keep information close to your vest. The hurdle is not the technology itself—it is advanced, reliable and easy to use—rather it is fear and misconception.

While some security initiatives are best kept confidential, in order to work, biometrics should be explained to the average user to help alleviate fears associated with it. When you ask for and gather a relative stranger’s personal information, things need to be approached and handled very carefully.

Some people do not fully understand the purpose of fingerprinting at, for example, a school or theme park. Remember that the data points housed within the system cannot be translated into a true fingerprint. They are not that detailed. Law enforcement and FBI fingerprinting uses extremely intricate systems. Commercial versions are not the same.

These do not grab a full fingerprint. Instead, they take advanced digital photos of the fingerprint and tag a mathematical template to that image so every time the same finger is scanned, it compares the two for similarities. In fact, they do not grab enough information to be used as a concrete identifier. They act more as an excluder, looking at a few data points on a person’s finger and matching those to the base records to ensure the person is who they say they are.

Most venues where the technology has been incorporated have done so to make their operations safer and more secure. Most fingerprint-scanning solutions consist only of scanners and software that act as the keeper of the telemetry information. The information is not shared much beyond that. How is scanning your fingerprint to enter Disney World any different from entering your Social Security number online to apply for a credit card or using a thumbprint reader to access your laptop? When you subtract emotional reactions, the two really aren’t that different. They are both bits of personal data being housed in a computing environment.

Explaining the technology and how the information is only stored locally, not shared, can be a first step in helping alleviate fear and doubt. Being aware of the real fear that exists is key to helping make things better for everyone.

So, the next time you need to be fingerprinted, remember not all fingerprinting is alike. In terms of access and ID control, these sample scans will not identify even the most sought-after fugitive. It’s just not so advanced and integrated yet. In fact, Allan Goulbourne, applications engineer with Texas Instruments, said the same fears plague the RFID market.

“I wish we could do what people think we can do,” he said.

It seems all forms of tracking and identification technology instill some fear in the general public. Those of us using, promoting, installing and touting such systems need to take the role of educator. That is the only way people will start to realize just what these systems can and, more importantly, cannot do.      

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Security + Life Safety Systems Magazine –


An Untapped Opportunity Museum Security System Installations

There are an estimated 17,500 museums in the United States. Approximately 21 percent are small museums with operating budgets of $150,000 or less, and 9 percent are large museums with operating budgets of $9 million or more. Our country’s most well-known museum complex, the Smithsonian Institution, had a fiscal 2006 appropriation of $516.57 million.

The American Association of Museums (AAM) reports that approximately 25 percent of general museums, natural history/anthropology museums, science/technology center museums and more than half of history museums have no security at all.

Obviously, the professional contractor has an opportunity to enter this market niche and provide quality security system installations.

But for the contractor to make an impact, he must be aware of the codes and standards that make up the “standards of care” for the industry.

The proposed Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties—Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship, NFPA 909-2009 edition, will be available soon and provides valuable information and requirements that should be used when marketing to museums. Chapter 8 of the code discusses the security protection plan and requires that a vulnerability assessment be conducted, examines the cultural resource property’s vulnerability to foreseeable crimes; losses through the deliberate actions of third parties, staff members or visitors; breaches in security caused by natural disasters; or from other conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss.

The code also requires that the vulnerability assessment include an evaluation of the threat of terrorist activity that has the potential to directly or indirectly affect the cultural resource property.

And where the vulnerability assessment indicates the need for an electronic premises security system, NFPA 909 requires that the system be designed by a qualified person. NFPA also publishes the Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems, NFPA 731-2006, which NFPA 909 requires to be followed for all installations in museums, libraries and places of worship.

NFPA 731-2006 is an installation standard that establishes the “minimum requirements for application, installation, performance, testing and maintenance of physical security systems and components.” The standard is similar in structure to NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code. NFPA 731 also requires that “installation of all wiring, cable, and equipment be in accordance with NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code.”

Another security document available from NFPA is the Guide for Premises Security (730-2006). It addresses the application of security principles based on occupancies, but because it is a guide, it is “a document that is advisory or informative in nature and contains only non-mandatory provisions.”

NFPA 730 uses the application of security principles based on occupancy type to reduce security vulnerabilities to life and property. It is the new national standard of care for premises security for public access facilities, such as museums.

It is important for the contractor to understand that not all public access facilities have identical security vulnerabilities, so there is no set of one-size-fits-all security countermeasures.

Groups of such facilities do, however, experience many common security issues. Many of these issues, as well as examples of effective mitigation/countermeasure techniques, are provided in NFPA 730 through a “tool-box” approach and provide valuable assistance and guidance to contractors and facility security planners when combined with a proven performance-based risk assessment methodology: the security vulnerability assessment (SVA). Accordingly, the professional contractor should encourage all facilities to conduct an SVA to determine the security countermeasures appropriate for their particular organization and potential threats.

NFPA 730 is based on three principles:

  • Developing a security plan to ensure that security measures and personnel respond in an integrated and effective way to mitigate the effects of an adversarial event in a manner that is appropriate for that particular organization or facility
  • Implementing effective countermeasures specific to public access facility, “soft target,” occupancy types to measurably reduce security vulnerabilities
  • Conducting an SVA, the core of any security plan

An SVA is a powerful technique for assessing the current status of an organization’s threat exposures, security measures and preparedness. The SVA described in Chapter 5 of NFPA 730-2006 uses a systematic and methodical process to examine an organization’s vulnerabilities, ways an adversary might exploit those vulnerabilities, and aids in the development and implementation of effective countermeasures.

The guide discusses other considerations essential for protection of occupants, recognizing that adequate security is more than a matter of installing electronic security equipment. NFPA 730, since it is the national standard of care for premises security, is a significant step toward the implementation of meaningful practices for necessary security features in public access buildings nationwide.

Private sector security should be based on a comprehensive asset protection program that includes the protection of an organization’s people, property and information through development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan and the cooperation and support of top management.

A security plan should be developed to ensure that security measures and personnel respond in an integrated and effective way to mitigate the effects of an adversarial event in a manner that is appropriate for that particular organization or facility (Chapter 10).

The SVA is a systematic risk assessment technique for:

  • Assessing the current status of an organization’s threat exposures, security features and preparedness
  • Examining ways an adversary might exploit an organization’s security vulnerabilities
  • Developing countermeasures to mitigate adversarial events

Strengthening security and life safety layers of protection

The seven-step SVA process consists of the following:

1. Formation of a multidisciplined team

2. Organization/facility characterization

3. Threat assessment

4. Threat vulnerability analysis

5. Countermeasure development

6. Assess risk reduction

7. Document findings/track implementation

Most museum directors are unaware of any of these documents. Knowing this, a professional contractor could purchase copies of NFPA-909, NFPA 730 and NFPA 731 and present them to local museum officials as part of a sales effort to penetrate this market. At the same time, the contractor can assist with the SVA to determine which electronic systems will enhance the security of the institution. Since so many museums have no security at all, a premises security system will provide the least expensive option to improve that situation.

Of course, the challenge for any contractor is to study the codes, standards and the guide so that he will be conversant in the tools available and will know the protection requirements that a museum should follow.

Another challenge is to take advantage of the training provided by the various manufacturers of electronic premises security systems and attend trade shows to view the current state-of-the-art technology.

There are a number of organizations that have training materials or offer seminars. The educational offerings of the American Society of Industrial Security, ASIS International, can be found on its Web site, And a source directly related to museum educational and other material of interest is the AAM,

Professional contractors have an opportunity to enter into an untapped market. With a little homework and extra effort, you can become the museum security system specialist in your market area.        

by wayne d. moore

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 Security + Life Safety Systems Magazine –


Making the Switch ;Branching out Brings new revenue

A paradigm shift into Information technology  (IT) and IT-based systems has bred a new area of systems work for contractors. While most ECs still count straight electrical work as their primary source of business, other systems work has crept up in volume and is becoming a vital revenue stream.

Today’s world is heavily centered on various forms of voice and data communications. Though all IT reverts back to, and most definitely requires, electrical power to operate, IT has taken center stage as one of the primary catalysts for new business and opportunities in contracting.

This speaks to the importance of integrated systems within the built environment. The voice network is no longer simply a line brought in and maintained by the phone company. Voice systems are complex entities unto themselves and are integrated into other systems, such as fire, alarm, access control and even data-based systems. All these systems—though individually important and critical—are, to some extent, dependent on one another.

Because of this continuing shift in the marketplace, this column will focus more on systems that once were considered fringe systems for typical contractors. But as most of us know, contractors have done a good job of incorporating these other systems into their daily repertoire of standard work. The future focus of this column will be to explore and examine some areas where contractors may not feel they are a natural fit, even though they truly are.

This includes technologies and solutions, such as IP-based storage, data centers, automation, virtualization, servers, etc. In fact, even technologically driven, newer versions of older systems such as voice over Internet protocol, security, access control and networking could be considered part of this category, since they generally are becoming integrated systems.

Overall, these technologies that go beyond the basics of electrical power are becoming essential parts of a contractor’s business. The best thing about this trend is, regardless of which other system is being discussed, they all have one thing in common: They need power as the backbone for operations.

Perhaps this is all coming full circle. Contractors found their way when electricity was the primary system contained within any given building. From there, the contracting industry changed and adapted to include voice communications. From there, data communications was born. Once again, contractors evolved, and now most provide electrical, voice and data systems work on a routine basis. Now it is time to move to the next level, which is where contractors learn to take all their base knowledge and use it to move outside their core competency zone and start delving more into other systems work.

In the same manner contractors found their way into specialized areas such as fire alarm and access control on a sporadic basis, these other technologies are starting to move into daily business life. The key, moving forward, is recognizing all the potential available opportunities. It also is important to understand that even some of the most obscure technologies still need—you guessed it—some form of power, voice and/or data connectivity for intended operations. As simple as it may sound, that is the key contractors have to unlocking the doors to all of these additional opportunities.

The best defense against difficult economic times is to continue to have a good offense. Contractors must stay on top of as many potential opportunities as possible, even those that may seem out of character for a traditional EC. Just remember that not too long ago, voice communications came with the same “it’s a new technology” stigma, and now, it is just an everyday part of an EC’s world.

by Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Security + Life Safety Systems Magazine –


Cresting the Wave; The proliferation of surveillance

As security technology proliferates to meet the growing demand in public places, those in the security industry have a choice to make: Face the opportunity to keep up with the explosion of technology coming into the market, or fall out of the business entirely.

Mark Visbal, director of research and technology for the Security Industry Association sees the industry as cresting a giant wave.

“We’d better be ready to start paddling,” he said, or the IT industry will step in and take over.

Digital cameras are proliferating in public places, but their users suffer from bandwidth shortages, making it difficult to upload what they record. That is about to change with more bandwidth generated from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The overall increase in bandwidth and development of more bandwidth-efficient technology are expected to cause a rush for Internet protocol-based cameras. In the meantime, vendors are finding ways for cameras to accomplish storage without overburdening the bandwidth.

Access control has been in a holding pattern for several years as the market watched IP updates. This year, however, the industry may be moving forward, as the mandated Internet protocol 6 took effect on June 30. The shift to protocol 6 begins in the government sector, with the commercial world following behind. This means government agencies and commercial users must buy hardware that is protocol 6-compliant or have a migration plan to move the system to the new protocol.

“The next three to five years are going to be very interesting,” Visbal said. “Either the security industry will drive these changes and survive, or the IT industry will absorb it. We’re at the beginning of a crossroads, and either we will come out strong, or we won’t be here anymore.”

New technologies are offering options business owners have been seeking for years: the ability to automatically locate and identify risks in a large public place, for example.

Automated patrolling

The vast quantity of surveillance cameras and the images they record are beginning to overwhelm security operators. With dozens or even hundreds of cameras operating in a public space or dispersed throughout a community, operators are simply unprepared to keep up with the volume. That is where technology must provide some solutions.

SYColeman Praetorian Surveillance Solutions, Chantilly, Va., provides one such technology. Praetorian sells surveillance technology that integrates multiple sensors into a single 3-D display. The company’s Common Operating Picture offers three capabilities: Video Flashlight, Hawk and VisionAlert.

With the integrated system, operators can look at one display and see a 3-D view of the area, provided by Video Flashlight, while alarms flash automatically, letting operators respond before an incident has already passed. Video Flashlight combines multiple video surveillance data feeds into a single-screen display. This enables operators to virtually patrol security areas using their mouse pads to travel throughout the 3-D environment. End-users can navigate indoors to outdoors and even review recorded video from different perspectives in a matter of seconds, said Mark Redlinger, Praetorian chief operating officer.

The Hawk feature enables a central control workstation to receive surveillance information from remote sites, and VisionAlert provides alarm configurations and detection of motion, breach, loiter and left-behind objects.

“The advances in technology are permitting us to go from a soda straw view to a view with full spatial awareness,” Redlinger said. In his scenario, security personnel can easily pull up records of an incident that happened in a specific place, then follow the perpetrator throughout a large public area. They also can communicate with the security guard, attempting to apprehend that individual, through a PDA device the guard carries. With Praetorian, the image of the person can be viewed on the guard’s PDA screen, so he knows who he is looking for.

The system also has become easier for installers. Praetorian makes it possible for the contractor to bring up a virtual image of what a camera would see from any specific location before the camera is installed. In this way, he can demonstrate to the customer just where cameras are needed and collaborate with them on the best location for each, potentially saving the customer money on redundant cameras and saving time in adjusting cameras after they are installed.

The most important element of this technology, Redlinger said, is its open architecture.

“If a customer buys the product today, and someone comes along with a new camera later, we can bring it into the system,” he said.

He calls this future-proofing the technology, since new hardware will be able to integrate with an investment the end-user has already made.

Virtual pat down

For a very different application, Orlando, Fla.-based imaging company Brijot’s BIS-WDS Gen 2 system uses millimeter waves for object detection. It can be deployed in public places, such as airports or high-security transportation hubs, to locate weapons long before they enter a crowded area. The system can search for and locate potential threats on an individual quickly and discretely from a distance. Security screeners can be automatically alerted and then pinpoint concealed objects without physical searches.

The system is composed of a real-time radiometric scanner that images electromagnetic millimeter wave energy, an integrated full-motion video system, on-board computer and video-detection engine. The passive radiometric scanner can detect concealed objects by distinguishing between the millimeter wave energy naturally emitted by the human body and the energy of the concealed objects, even when they’re hidden beneath clothing. Concealed items, such as explosives, weapons, contraband or stolen items, are shown as a black area in front of the blue human form. The system works best in places where a security screening system is already in place, such as airports, said Nancy Noriega, Brijot senior director of marketing and public relations.

“It’s what we call the most polite way to pat someone down,” Noriega said. It can be set to capture an item hidden against a person’s body by detecting where the person’s body energy is blocked. There are 150 systems deployed and others being piloted, she said, in locations such as airports and retail establishments to capture theft or weapons.

Access control and sprinkler systems

For access control, The SDC Entry Check, from SDC Security, Westlake Village, Calif., includes a variety of stand-alone digital keypad readers, proximity card readers and PC- based network card access control systems, from the most basic to the most sophisticated computer-management applications. This access system can be installed indoors or outdoors to be used with digital keypads or proximity card readers, either as a stand-alone system or PC-based. Computer-based access control enables the end-user to set access parameters; provide photo ID; and monitor, audit and control individual and group accessibility in real-time throughout a facility.

Then there are sprinkler systems. Members of Congress are being asked to sign a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would accelerate depreciation for installing fire sprinkling systems from 39 years to five years. If passed, the bill could spur an increase in fire sprinkler installations, which security installers and contractors often monitor for tampering and water flow.


Escape-route signage has evolved in the past decades from a basic light to sophisticated visual and audible alarm systems. Some fire alarm systems have a sounder built into the detector base. Such sounders usually are located on the ceiling of the protected area. The specifications of other fire alarm systems require the use of wall-mounted sounders. Such sounders are stand-alone units and do not incorporate detectors. Most sounders are powered directly off the communication lines and, as a result, the power available is small.

Directional sounders, on the other hand, offer an improvement over visual-based emergency way-finding aids, such as emergency lighting and photoluminescent guidance strips, which can be difficult to see in smoke-filled environments. Directional sound devices, such as ExitPoint by System Sensor, St. Charles. Ill., leads people to exits using sound.

All these technologies are offering automation where physical security needs support. That automation can be expected to revolutionize security in public places in the next few years and can add retrofit construction dollars in the pockets of electrical contractors.

by claire swedberg

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at

Reprinted with full permission of Security + Life Safety Systems Magazine –


Wireless Communication

Long-range radio reporting Wire has been the de facto standard in signaling since the early 1800s when it was first used in telegraphy to carry information on enemy troop movements in Europe.

“Bavarian minister Montgelas called in local scientists to develop an optical telegraph, envisioning an apparatus like the semaphore system. But they fashioned something entirely different: a system to telegraph enemy positions using electricity flowing through wires,” writes William Greer, author of “A History of Alarm Security,” published by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.

War often becomes the mother of invention. In this case, it meant the difference between life and death.

Since then, the technology that drives communications has advanced as society’s needs have changed. For example, since the central station concept was first developed in the 1800s (see sidebar), mobile forms of communication have made alarm monitoring easier and faster to deploy. Given our fascination with wireless gadgets, it’s likely soon that radio will become the predominant method of signal transport from alarm system to central monitoring station.

Whether the application involves backup or primary reporting, radio-based systems are a viable means of communications, and their use is growing each day.

Abandoning traditional POTS

The alarm industry has a long and successful relationship with the telephone wire, and it’s still the most used signaling method, although wireless reporting is growing quickly.

“The most common form of communications for burglar [and fire] alarm systems is a telephone line. Most modern alarm panels have a built-in digital communicator for this type of communication,” write Charles Aulner and Bryan McLane, authors of “Low Voltage Systems Design & Installation,” published by National Training Center (NTC) of Las Vegas.

The digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACT) contained in modern alarm panels are specifically designed for plain old telephone service (POTS), which is part of the public telephone switched network (PTSN). A DACT is the portion of a control panel that handles communications with the central monitoring station and transmits and receives data.

Other means of signal transmission usage, such as cellular and the Internet, have affected the alarm business. For example, an increasing number of home and business owners are turning to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). This often is accomplished using a broadband connection, such as digital subscriber line (DSL) and data over cable.

Because traditional alarm panels are designed for POTS-based communication, problems have arisen when clients switch from conventional POTS/PTSN to DSL or data over cable. In this case, the DACT is unable to consistently connect with the central station receiver. The result is less than reliable operation.

Redundancy by radio

The disappearing telephone wire can be replaced by using long-range radio technology. Not only will radio address these issues, but it can be used to redundantly back up POTS/PTSN.

The fact is, where there is a hard-line telephone wire, metallic or fiber, there’s the propensity for communication disruption. Common failures include unintended mechanical failure and deliberate sabotage.

In the life safety arena, alarm technicians often make use of radio technology as a backup signal path to a hardwire cable. This is done to satisfy Section of the National Fire Alarm Code, NFPA 72, 2007 edition.

NFPA 72 calls for two or more paths for alarm and trouble signals. One way for that is to use a single telephone circuit with a backup radio system. Possible selections for the backup include cellular and traditional private or public long-range radio. The code also mentions others. For a list of the criteria for acceptable backup signaling methods, refer to NFPA 72, Section 8.6.4.

Often, the same radio technology some installers use for backup communications also can be used in lieu of a cable. Fire and burglar alarm systems often are monitored this way.

Public or private?

There are two basic types of long-range radio systems available today: public and private.

“Public radio networks provide all receiving and control hardware for the network and charge network users a fee to use the service,” write Aulner and McLane. “Service is usually offered in multiple geographic areas and allows alarm signals to be retransmitted to anywhere in the country. Private radio networks are typically local networks owned and operated by local companies to provide local wireless monitoring to their local customers.”

AlarmNet by Honeywell, IntelliNet by AES, Keltron’s Life Safety Alarm Monitoring, AlarmLink and Bosch’s Safecom all are examples of private networks. Uplink by Numerex, DSC’s GSM transceivers, Telguard Digital by Telular Corp. and DMP’s Digital Alarm Radio all are examples of public radio networks.

A typical private long-range radio system consists of a single--point transceiver mounted on a tower. When the area of coverage exceeds the capability of a tower, repeaters are positioned throughout the intended areas of coverage.

The central tower typically receives radio telemetry signals from single- and bidirectional ancillary radio reporting units connected to burglar and fire alarm systems. Repeaters extend the reach of the main antenna. The frequencies used are allocated to a local entity that, in turn, includes the lease for the radio service as part of a monthly monitoring and service fee to individual alarm owners.

Public radio-based long-range radio systems differ. These networks usually are quite extensive, and they support more than just alarm telemetry data. The commonly used cellular network is a good example because some stretch across the entire United States. In other cases, the owner of the cellular network may just cover regions or entire states.

Benefits of mesh technology

Traditional long-range radio has worked fine for many decades, but mesh networks extend the reach of the central station in an affordable manner.

Traditional long-range radio requires the use of expensive repeaters. Instead of spending a ton of money on repeaters, alarm companies can build their own network over time by installing an interactive network that centers on subscriber transceiver units that, themselves, act like repeaters.

“Mesh technology is a multinodal technology where, from an AES standpoint, the brains are in the transceivers that make up each of the nodes that make up the network,” said John Milliron, national sales manager for AES Corp. of Peabody, Mass. “Each transceiver in a network has the ability to optimize itself to most efficiently bring back the information they’re responsible for transporting to the receiver.”

Each subscriber transceiver in a mesh-type network is capable of routing information in multiple directions using multiple subscriber units. Because each subscriber unit also acts as a repeater, the central receiver can get data through any number of subscriber units. In a private or cell-based system, when the one cell/repeater tower goes down, the data from the subscriber unit that depends on it for communication will not reach the central station.

Keltron Corp. of Waltham, Mass., also offers a long-range radio system that uses mesh technology.

“The mesh network that is created is constantly monitored for optimal performance and reliability,” said Keltron CEO David Wilbourn. “Distributed intelligence and dynamically evaluated transmission paths ensure that the system always uses the most reliable path to the central receiver.”

Keltron’s mesh technology is widely used in the institutional marketplace, such as colleges, universities and government.

“Large multibuilding facilities choose the Keltron active network radio system because it leverages their existing investment in fire alarm control panels, enables them to choose nearly any brand of equipment, eliminates expensive telephone or direct wiring, and is highly scalable for future expansion,” said Steve Sargent, Keltron director of sales.

Keltron can decipher alarm signals from anyone’s fire alarm panel. These signals are then forwarded to the central station for action, using a common communications format.

Both Keltron and AES systems operate on the distributed intelligence concept where every subscriber unit has the capacity to route signals from other interactive subscriber units to a main radio receiver at a centralized location. Not only does this eliminate the need for expensive towers every 20 to 50 miles (near line of site), but it also eliminates the need for maintenance and other ongoing costs typical of a multiple-repeater system.

NFPA 72, Section, lists the requirements for two-way radio frequency (RF) multiplex systems. Since both of these mesh-type networks qualify for Type 4 classification under Section, alarm companies that use them do need POTS. Type 4 systems must be situated so they are in constant and ready contact with at least two RF receiving sites. The system also must contain two transmitters that have the ability to either supervise all RF transmitters on-site or dispersed throughout the site among all the other RF transmitters. Failure of any RF unit must be reported to the supervising station.

Each subscriber unit knows exactly where it resides within the network by listening to all radio traffic on the network. Each node is able to determine its relative position in the network, routing signals in the best way possible, for clarity and redundancy. Wireless long-range radio just may be the way to go.       

by allan b. colombo

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

Reprinted with full permission of Security + Life Safety Systems Magazine –

TED Magazine

Editor's Desk

Time for ICT to step up to the plate

By Paul Barker

In March, corporate heavyweights Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Research in Motion and Bell Canada Enterprises each announced support of a plan by Quebec-based PROMPT Inc. to develop a carbon-neutral Internet.

In June, HP Labs announced that it will focus its sustainability research on three major projects -- reducing the carbon footprint of data centres by 75%, replacing copper wires with laser light beams and developing a series of software and services tools to measure and manage environmental impacts such as carbon emissions and total energy usage.

That same month, IBM Corp. signed an agreement with gigaCENTER Services Corp. that will see the two build a $75 million 46,000 square metre green data centre in Kelowna, B. C. IBM also released details of a new service called the IT Carbon Strategy Study, which it said will allow companies starting out on their "green transformation" to identify the most rapid areas of reduction in IT carbon emissions. The company estimates that a significant reduction in carbon footprint can be achieved in "often overlooked areas such as desktop systems, networking components, server rooms and printers."

All of this activity is good news to Bill St. Arnaud, chief research officer of Canarie Inc. Responsible for the coordination and implementation of Canada's next generation optical Internet initiative called CA*net4, he spoke about the need for the ICT industry to initiate change (see story p. 6) at the recent 2008 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

In presentations, St. Arnaud points out that the ICT industry and research community have a collective responsibility to help address the problem of global warming. He adds that "this is a community that is used to rapid changes and has many of the most innovative people in both academia and business."

To that end, "research and education networks and CIOs could play a critical leadership role in deploying new network and cyber infrastructures that eliminate their carbon footprints."

A study released on June 20 entitled Smart 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, concludes that transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15% by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over US$800 billion.

Written by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the independent findings reveals that while ICT's own sector footprint of 2% of global emissions will almost double by 2020, its "unique ability to monitor and maximize energy efficiency both within and outside of its owner sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount.

This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GTCO2E), which the report says is greater than the current annual emissions of either the U. S. or China. Organizations supporting the report include GeSI member companies Bell Canada, British Telecommunications plc (BT), Cisco Systems, Nokia Siemens Networks, HP, Intel and Microsoft.

"PCs, mobile phones and the Web have transformed the way we all live and do business," said Steve Howard, CEO of the Climate Group. "Global warning and soaring energy prices mean that rethinking how every home and business uses technology to cut unnecessary costs and carbon is critical to our environment and economy.

"Supported by innovative government policy, ICT can unlock the clean green industrial revolution we need to tackle climate change and usher in a new era of low carbon prosperity."

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  


Focus on the future

By Tom Naber

Have you spent much time thinking about what your company will be doing in 10 years? If not, you’re probably like a lot of people today—you can only seem to find time to think about today; the future is just too far off to worry about. However, in doing so, there’s a good chance that you’re putting yourself at a permanent disadvantage for the next five or 10 years.

Take the American auto industry, for instance. In 1994, in an article entitled “Competing for the Future” published in the Harvard Business Review, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad explained why American automakers are having problems today. (Remember, at that time, American automakers were struggling to compete with relatively new Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda that were beginning to dominate the American auto market.)

According to Hamel and Prahalad, “Detroit automakers are catching up with Japanese rivals on quality and cost. Supplier networks have been reconstituted, product-development processes redesigned, and manufacturing processes reengineered.” The article went on to note the basic flaw in Detroit’s thinking: “Catching up is not enough. In a survey taken at the end of the 1980s, nearly 80% of U.S. managers polled believed that quality would be a fundamental source of competitive advantage in the year 2000, but barely half of the Japanese agreed. Their primary goal was to create new products and businesses.”

The Japanese understood that competitive advantages would be different in the future. Detroit was playing catch-up, trying to copy what the Japanese automakers had already mastered and, in the process, forgot to think about innovating and developing new and desirable products for the future. Read today’s newspaper and you’ll find that while their products may be made better, the companies are barely surviving. People aren’t excited to buy their cars.

Preparing for the future should be an ongoing commitment for any company. One thing that NAED’s Eastern Regional Council is doing to help prepare for the future is putting together a report on what the electrical distributor of the future will look like—so as to ensure that distributor companies are changing and innovating with the times. The Council recognizes that the business climate of today will probably be completely different tomorrow. With energy price increases, employee shortages, global competition, and incredible technology changes, any company that is not thinking about and adapting to those changes probably won’t be in business tomorrow.

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

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  


This is your team

By Tom Naber

This is your team,” Coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) admonishes the student body in the movie Hoosiers. “These six individuals have made the choice to sacrifice, put themselves on the line 23 nights in the next four months to represent you. This is your team.” This scene from the movie is particularly relevant when considering the current group of political candidates running for state and national office this year. No matter what party they support, in listening to people talk about their political preferences, it seems that while they definitely don’t like the other party’s candidate, some don’t even like their own party’s candidate either. Still, just like Coach Dale’s high school basketball players, the group of candidates named on the ballot on election day are the ones that showed up to play.

This may seem like an odd way to start a reflection on getting more involved in the upcoming election, but think about it: The next five to 10 years are going to be critical for the country and for this industry. The people getting sent to state legislatures and to Washington, D.C. are going to be working on key issues impacting the energy, electricity, utility infrastructure, recycling, and other issues that will, in turn, impact the electrical industry. And while the channel can play a very important role in helping make the United States more successful and energy efficient, political leaders are going to be hearing from lots of different groups with lots of different opinions that don’t make much sense from your perspective. These people don’t live and breathe electricity, energy, and distribution—but we do. Therefore, it is critical not only to know how your candidates stand on issues, but also to make sure they know your stand on them, too. Educating candidates is as much a part of the election process as voting.

Fortunately, the electrical industry has access to NEMA’s political team in Washington, D.C. Kyle Pitzer, vice president of government relations for NEMA, and his staff are constantly working to educate both national and state legislators on electrical and energy issues. Check out the NEMA PAC—it’s a good first step in getting involved. Educate yourself on candidates and elected officials and then educate them on issues important to this industry. Unlike the movie Hoosiers, in politics, a star player won’t be showing up halfway through the season to pull the team together and win the championship. We are stuck with the people on the ballot, so it’s essential we work with what we have.

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

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine   


Use the news to get noticed

Word on industry change can help sales

By Ken Wax

Want to stand out in the eyes of your customers? Want to be seen as an expert—a resource to be treasured? There’s a way—and it’s not only easy, but also (almost) free: Change happens in this business, often by government decree, and by knowing just a little more about those changes, a business can be very helpful to its customers. Consider this example direct from today’s news:

Popular reflector lamps have been outlawed. In the June issue, TED magazine ran a concise explanation of what’s covered and substitutions available (see page 11 of the issue). With that knowledge alone, distributor salespeople have a great, free sales tool to differentiate their companies and help customers. Here’s how to use it:

Want to reconnect with old customers, or ones who haven’t had time lately? Changes give salespeople a solid reason to reach out: “Hi, I’m just calling because of changes in the law, outlawing some products that may affect you. If you’d like, I can give you a short update on what it affects and what substitutions make sense.”

Do you think a customer who cares about this topic will ignore this, even if it’s left as a voice mail? Of course not. He or she will want to benefit from your knowledge. Plus, the initiative and knowledge about such things will be appreciated. You’ve found a way to be a big help. Score.

But watch—it does even more. Even to customers who may not care much about this area, the company will still get credit for being on top of the business and eager to be of help. So it helps even in situations when this topic isn’t a priority. Double score.

Change is also a good way to crack a new account. It’s a simple, compelling offer: The salesperson comes in with an overview of some change that’s likely to matter to the potential customer. It’s an offer that’s hard to refuse and a good reason to justify a meeting with a salesperson. It also says that the company knows the business. As an added bonus, it may raise the question in that person’s mind: “Why hasn’t my current distributor treated me like this?”

But that’s not all. Change can be used another way: Stand out at the counter. Want to impress every customer day in and day out? It will cost about $1. Put up a sign that reads: “The government has outlawed popular reflector lamps—ask us about which ones and substitutions that make sense.”

This will really be appreciated by those customers who care about reflector lamps—but it will also convey a strong message to every customer: These people know the business and are on top of things.

The message here is not just for reflector lamps—one can probably find a significant industry change every month—it’s about changes a distributor knows about, but its customers don’t (yet).

So, each month, ask someone to identify the news that most affects customers. Then arm the sales staff with those articles. Insist they read them—quiz them if need be. Then assign them to use the news when calling on customers. Ask for feedback, and see what happens.

Wax helps sales organizations across the country. Reach him at 

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine


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