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News Briefs (March 01, 2003)

'Decision-makers' flock to Orlando for BICSI winter conference '03Alan Eddings, vice-president of comm/data products at Graybar summed up the way many delegates were likely feeling following the annua...

March 1, 2003  

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‘Decision-makers’ flock to Orlando for BICSI winter conference ’03

Alan Eddings, vice-president of comm/data products at Graybar summed up the way many delegates were likely feeling following the annual BICSI winter conference in Orlando in January.

“There was a level of guarded optimism,” he said. “We’re hearing a lot of good things about various applications and projects.

“What impressed us was the calibre of the people in attendance. The contractors, installers and end-users that I met with struck me as the decision-makers. We came away just ecstatic.”

Not only was the exhibit hall jammed each evening, but there were also a number of announcements made during the course of the annual event.

They included a new quality assurance initiative from Graybar, which the distributor called a “vital step” for customers who purchase and deploy multi-mode fiber networks.

Its VIP Fiber program was created to test components for their performance and interoperability in advance of installation and deployment. The company is teaming up with ETL Semko Testing Laboratories of Boxborough, Mass. to deliver the program.

The fiber market, said Alpa Shah, research director at Frost & Sullivan, is being driven by a variety of factors. They include future bandwidth demand for more video-type applications, more standards supporting fiber architectures and lower price-differential between fiber and copper-based systems.

“What VIP stands for is verification that the connectivity and the cable will work in conjunction with one another and meet and in our case, exceed industry standards,” said Eddings.

Meanwhile, Anixter Inc. launched what it calls the first video surveillance system that runs video, power and control signals over a single, Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable.

The offering, called Closed Circuit Twisted Pair (CCTP), addresses the escalating movement by large organizations to converge physical security into the IT domain.

“There has been a significant industry shift in the handling and prioritization of security initiatives,” said Steve Leatherwood, senior vice-president of sound and security at Anixter. “With CCTP, chief security officers and IT managers no longer need to be constrained by the fragmented, compartmentalized approach to security.”

The company developed CCTP in conjunction with a consortium of companies in the security and IT data networking fields that included Philips CSI, Belden and Middle Atlantic.

The system features the ability to accommodate future MACs, an open system architecture that fosters PC integration and compatibility with existing IT infrastructures to enhance both security systems and digital networks.

It can also accommodate technical upgrades such as digital integration and IP-based networks, allowing end-users to run an application anywhere, anytime.

Anixter says traditional closed circuit television MACs can cost up to six times more when compared to CCTP. Unnecessary electrical work and labour-instensive cable pulls are eliminated, it says, as cameras are powered through its one cable design.

In other news from BICSI, Draka Comteq USA Inc. was selected as the new name of the organization that will consolidate the copper and fiber optic cable products of Helix/HiTemp Cables and Chromatic Technologies.

A 165,000 square-foot facility in Franklin, Mass. will house copper and fiber optic engineering, research and manufacturing. The two former business units of Draka USA provide product lines for data, voice, video, control, communications and specialty applications.

“This is a case where less is more,” said Bill Dungan, corporate vice-president and GM for Draka USA. “The consolidation has had a dual benefit of reducing fixed costs, while actually increasing cable throughout.” The move, he added, allows the company to become more “efficient, flexible and versatile.”

Multimode and singlemode fiber optic products range from outdoor and indoor backbone to fiber-to-the-workstation and include cables for demanding applications such as marine/shipboard, industrial and transportation.

The copper product line includes shielded and unshielded multiconductor, twisted pair and composite as well as coaxial and triaxial cables.

Jeff Mahall, director of marketing for Draka Comteq USA, said the company will use the union of the two companies to increase its focus on specialty markets, including robotics, military and defense, medical facilities and power plants.

Three key reasons for the move, he said, at a press conference, are shared engineering and manufacturing expertise, fixed cost reductions and greater capacity and throughput.

On the product front, Chatsworth Products Inc., a manufacturer of cabinet, rack and cable management systems, introduced the Intelligent Catalog, an online service that allows authorized distributors, consultants, designers and installers to electronically design, configure, specify and bid network infrastructure products.

The ability of all four to work on the same spec list and drawing simultaneously saves time and reduces error rates, the company says. The technology behind the service is provided by eXalt Solutions Inc., a developer of sales chain automation software.

The catalog is equipped with a “goof-proof configurator,” which prevents designers or installers from specifying or buying incompatible components.

Alan Ehrlich, marketing manager with the Chatsworth, Calif. firm, said the company searched for two years and investigated many different software options.

The majority, he said, could not handle the structured cabling business because of its complexity and the “rules-based nature of so many parts that have to interact with so many other parts.”

“Everything fits together,” he said. “You get the quantities you need and nothing gets left out. The biggest problem in construction right now is that if you order something and if one piece is missing, it throws the whole schedule off.”


China Netcom, one of China’s major telecommunication operators, has awarded Nortel Networks, a contract to deploy its national optical transmission backbone.

The contract includes delivery and installation of two new long haul networks. Under the contract, China Netcom will be the first customer to deploy Nortel Networks OPTera Connect HDX Optical Switch in China.

These two optical networks will span the most prosperous cities in East China, positioning China Netcom to offer new optical broadband services while dramatically lowering its cost of network ownership.

Under the terms of the contract, OPTera Connect HDX switches will be deployed in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan, allowing China Netcom to consolidate its existing network in these large centers and scale the network in cost-effective increments.

China Netcom will also deploy Nortel Networks OPTera Long Haul 1600 Optical Line System and OPTera Connect DX optical switch to support an increase in network capacity, service provisioning and reliability.


Michael Sabia, BCE Inc.’s chief executive officer, has presented the company’s position on foreign ownership rules governing communications companies to the standing committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

“Allowing for greater flow of capital is always a positive move,” he said. “Indeed we believe the complete removal of ownership restrictions is likely inevitable given the globalization of the world’s economies.

“The focus on facilities-based competition has been key in enabling Canada to be one of the few countries in the world, which is successfully managing the transition from a monopoly environment to a competitive one,” he said.

Telcos compete not just with other telcos, but with cable companies, who in turn, compete with satellite companies, he said.

Sabia said the issues before the committee are extremely complex and suggested that policy changes in this area “be predictable with discretion kept to a minimum to avoid uncertainty.”


With a sharp decline in capital expenditures by customers of Voice over Packet (VOP) equipment, VoP chipsets stumbled hard in 2002 with a drop in expected port shipments.

However, according to high-tech market research firm In-Stat/MDR, the market will recover from last year’s downturn and experience steady and respectable growth, rising to roughly US$271 million in revenues by 2006.

“Overall, we remain bullish on the market, ” says In-Stat/MDR analyst Sam Lucero. “Though recent economic and market conditions have caused a downturn in the short-term, it will experience significant growth as circuit-switched equipment is eventually replaced in favour of packet-based equipment.

A new report examines the market from the perspective of four key segments: infrastructure gateways, business gateways, IP Phones and residential gateways. Forecasts for shipments and revenues are given for each of these segments.

Further information on the report is available at

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