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Coming out of the valley

The buzz in the halls and in the exhibit area at the recent 2005 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando was palpable. The number of new products released proof that a prolonged industry slump that has dec...


January 1, 2005  


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The buzz in the halls and in the exhibit area at the recent 2005 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando was palpable. The number of new products released proof that a prolonged industry slump that has decimated so many has come to an end.

Following the conclusion of the annual event, John Bakowski, BICSI’s president-elect described the overall mood as positive. “We all came out of there feeling that the business is back on track,” he said. “I am excited about my takeover prospects. We are coming out of the valley and at a quicker pace than we had anticipated.”

Storage area networks, as this issue’s cover story details, are a hot commodity as is 10 Gigabit Ethernet, technology designed to accommodate the need for speed and the pending convergence of voice, data and video networks.

That marketing budgets are on the rise was evident by the number of vendors who organized lunches to feed the record number of attendees and showcase their new offerings.

Among them was the DuPont Corp., which took a slightly different approach with a panel discussion that examined the myths and truths of limited combustible cable technology.

This is a critical period in the company’s history. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S., which has submitted a draft risk assessment on the human health effects associated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has asked an independent panel of scientific experts to conduct a peer review of the findings..

PFOA is an essential processing aid used in DuPont’s fire-resistant material Teflon FEP, short for fluoropolymers, which can be found in everything from automotive fuel systems and communications cabling to computer chip processing equipment and frying pans.

In January, DuPont issued a statement saying that it will continue ongoing research of PFOA in cooperation with regulators, industry and the academic community to expand the understanding of the compound.

Pat Lindner, global business manager of the company’s communications cabling division, maintains that the controversy is a non-issue for this industry.

Donald Bliss, director of the NI2 Center for Infrastructure Expertise, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the management and protection of buildings in the U.S., concurs.

The difference now is that we are getting better at our assessments and not just lumping all these products into one category and saying they are all bad,” said Bliss, a member of the panel who served as the New Hampshire State Fire Marshall from 1992 until late 2003.

“The bottom line is that it is possible to simultaneously meet high standards for fire safety and for the environment. We certainly don’t want to put products into buildings that have the unintended consequence of creating a greater environmental problem down the road.”

While the ongoing PFOA controversy now rests with the 16 scientists who will review the EPA’s findings, it could be at least several months or longer before they release their recommendations because of the complexity of the issue.

“Some reports in the media have already put us on the finish line, but we are still on the starting line,” said Enesta Jones, a spokesperson for the agency.