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SLUMP IS OVER – IT’S TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

DuPont, host of other vendors lead charge with new product launches in Orlando


January 1, 2005  


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Any doubt that the downturn in the structured cabling industry has come to an end was erased in late January at the BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando.

Not only were the number of attendees (3,200) and exhibitors (201) up from last year, but more importantly, so too were the number of new announcements from vendors ranging from DuPont Corp. and Hellerman-Tyton to Belden CDT and Corning Cable Systems.

“We all came out of there feeling that business is back on track,” said John Bakowski, BICSI’s president-elect, who will assume the position next January. “It’s a definite upward swing.”

On the product front, DuPont introduced new certified limited combustible cables, which the company says will reduce smoke up to 20 times more than conventional code compliant plenum cables if a fire erupts.

Currently available from BerkTek/Nexans, Belden CDT and The Siemon Company, the cables’ primary wires are insulated with Teflon FEP and the jacket is made with Smokeguard FP with Teflon from compound supplier AlphaGary Corp.

To qualify to be a DuPont certified cable, cables must meet a number of requirements including TIA Category 5, Category 6 or higher standards for electrical performance and meet or exceed the most stringent NFPA or UL Limited Combustible requirements for cable flame spread, fire load and smoke generation.

“Many network managers do not fully understand the safety risks associated with conventional data communications cabling regarding protecting their employees and vital systems,” said Pat Lindner, global business manager of DuPont’s communications cabling solutions division.

“The intent is to reduce the risk to their people, property and assets from the results of fire and smoke that may come from the cabling infrastructure.”

As for the current controversy surrounding perflouorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical resident that is the subject of a probe from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lindner maintained that for the cabling industry it is a non-issue.

What is more important, he said, are the fire concerns that surround this industry because of the volume of abandoned cable and combustible materials.

“Most IT managers focus on issues such as bandwidth and data transmission,” he said. “Over the last several years, there have been so many different upgrades of communication cabling infrastructure that in many cases they are not even aware how much cable has gone into their building let alone what those materials are made of and the implication of those materials either in a fire or environmental standpoint.”

Robert Carlson, vice president of global marketing for Siemon said including a limited combustible component provides the most advanced fire safety technology available for data communication cables.

The result is higher performing category 5e and 6 cabling systems with better resistance to fire and lower smoke generation, he added.

Other key announcements included: * The unveiling of a new logo and corporate image from BICSI in response to what it calls a changing telecommunications industry. Included is a new tagline, “advancing information transport systems,” which replaces a “telecommunications association” in the logo.

“For 30 years, BICSI has been called a telecommunications association, but times have changed,” said association president Russ Oliver said. “BICSI is not just telecommunications any more. We are much, much more.”

*Belden CDT Networking introducing the Belden IBDN System 10GX UTP cabling system for 10 Gigabit Ethernet service. The 10GX system’s cable is based around Belden’s SpiralFleX, which consists of two elements — a filler twisted around four cable pairs and internal cross-web design.

These features increase and randomize the distance between a cable and its neighboring cables, resulting in improved Alien crosstalk coupling and Return Loss channel characteristics, Belden said.

According to the company, the major technological challenge in designing a 10G system is to reduce Alien crosstalk to a level that is about 15dB, or 30 times lower than the ANEXT performance for 1000BASE-T at 100 meters.

*Corning Cable Systems, a division of Corning Inc., and 3Com Corp. announcing an initiative to promote fiber to the desk (FTTD) usage.

Corning will deploy its LANscape Solutions line with 3Com’s IntelliJack, a switch that contains an optical fiber uplink that leverages existing copper connections in desktop devices.

By connecting an optical cable to the back of the switch, one Ethernet connection can be turned into four manageable ports and a low-cost simple method for deploying FTTD, the companies said.

Corning’s LANscape products include optical cable connectors and hardware for a variety of environments. *ADC Corp. demonstrating its recently introduced TrueNet structured cabling system, the integrated portfolio of enterprise network products from ADC and the Krone Group, which it recently acquired.

The system includes an assortment of fiber, 10 Gigabit Ethernet over UTP copper and Category 6/5e cabling offerings. * Not to be outdone, Systimax Solutions demonstrated its own 10 Gigabit Ethernet over copper cabling system, which it says is the first to comply with the latest IEEE 802.3an taskforce guidelines for 10GBASE-T.

The guidelines contain channel specifications, which will be used in the creation of “new Class E” or “augmented” Category 6 cabling specifications.

According to Luc Adrianssens, the company’s vice president of R&D and technology, companies that use high-bandwidth applications, multi-site collaboration, streaming media and/or distributed processing technologies are likely to be early users of the technology. *HellermannTyton introducing RapidNet, a “revolutionary” pre-terminated plug-and-play system that does not require on-site termination or certification testing and allows copper and fiber to be used in the same panel.

It utilizes a bundled cable design that according to the company will reduce installation time by an estimated 75% compared to traditional cabling systems.

RapidNet Category 6 is designed for high-performance cabling requirements such as Gigabit Ethernet and proposed 10 Gigabit Ethernet, while RapidNet Fiber is designed for high bandwidth needs or extended distances.

The system comes with a 25-year warranty. See pages 25-27 for additional product announcements from the conference.