Compiled by Patrick McLaughlin
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently honored two professionals with the IEC 1906 Award for the work they have done to create and put forth cabling standards. The IEC presents the award annually to select individuals to honor their work developing IEC international standards. The IEC began giving the award in 2004 and it is named for the year in which the IEC was founded.
One recipient of the award was Dave Hess (pictured), technical manager for LAN standardization with Berk-Tek’s parent company Nexans Inc. Hess received the award from Professor Lauri Halme, who chairs IEC Technical Committee (TC) 46. According to the IEC, TC 46’s scope is “to establish and maintain standards for the terminology, design, characteristics, related test methods and requirements for quality assessment of metallic conductors, wires, waveguide, RF connectors, RF and microwave passive components and accessories for analog and digital transmission systems and equipment for communications networks and cabling.” Hess was honored for his work developing the subcommittee SC46C, which is explicitly focused on defining balanced twisted-pair cable transmission properties, such as crosstalk and impedance, as well as physical material properties specific to these copper cables.
A support group within the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) nominated Hess for the award. He chairs the U.S. National Committee for the IEC standard, corresponding to TIA-568 standards, which is incorporated into the ISO 11801 standard specifying general-purpose telecommunications cable systems.
Nexans’ vice president of emerging technologies and technical director, Eric J. Lawrence, noted, “Standards have one main goal—to become the de facto of the industry. Through Dave’s work on standards bodies both nationally, such as TIA, and internationally, including ISO/IEC and IWCS [International Wire and Cable Symposium], he has significantly contributed to defining present and future Ethernet applications utilizing twisted-pair copper cabling. This award is well-deserved as his tireless efforts have benefitted the entire cabling industry, and also have a direct effect on cable design development at Berk-Tek and Nexans.”
Also recently honored with the IEC 1906 Award was CommScope fellow Paul Kolesar, for his contributions to IEC’s work and to the electrotechnical industry as a whole. Kolesar has been a significant contributor to the development of standards covering Om3 and Om4 multimode fiber. Kolesar has been an active member of SC86A/WG1 (optical fibers) for a number of years. He has also been active in SC86B/WG4 (connectors) and SC86C/WG1 (systems).
This is the second significant professional accomplishment for Kolesar in 2011. Earlier in the year, he was promoted to the position of fellow within CommScope. According to the company, being named a fellow is “the highest level of professional achievement for CommScope’s engineering and technical employees.”
Of receiving the IEC 1906 Award, Kolesar said, “I’m honored by this acknowledgement of my efforts for advancing the industry. This award highlights not only my efforts, but also CommScope’s vision for living infrastructure that has enabled our customers to deploy solutions that become standards in the future.”
CommScope’s senior vice president for enterprise product line management, George Brooks, praised Kolesar’s work in helping to establish the company’s LazrSpeed and InstaPatch product lines, saying that Paul’s contributions “have paved the way for market leadership of highly flexible solutions, extending the useful life of multimode fiber over the past decade and into the next. He has played a key role in the tremendous growth and the rapid proliferation of fiber-optic solutions in the past several years,” Brooks said.
Anixter distributing Redwood’s low-voltage LED lighting
Redwood Systems, a supplier of building-performance lighting solutions, and Anixter, a distributor of communications and security products and electrical and electronic wire and cable products, announced an agreement to distribute Redwood Systems’ line of lighting control products across North America.
Redwood Systems’ lighting platform replaces traditional copper wire with a low-voltage infrastructure that uses direct current (DC) power, as opposed to alternating current (AC) power. This approach allows structured cabling providers to enter the multi-billion dollar lighting market, contends the company.
“With Anixter’s global reach and proven track record delivering technology that makes buildings smarter, they provide a unique channel perfectly built for Redwood Systems’ platform,” comments Dave Leonard, Redwood Systems’ chief executive officer. “Our approach brings lighting into the realm of structured cabling, which no other lighting control system is capable of doing. As a result, we are adding significant value to professionals looking to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive and fast-growing market.”
In addition to delivering energy savings from commercial lighting, Redwood says its platform provides cost-effective facility monitoring that helps run operations more efficiently. A high-density sensor network can enable a range of smart building applications that may include temperature mapping, space utilization reporting and security alerts, all of which can seamlessly integrate with existing building systems enabled by structured cabling technologies.
“Redwood brings lighting to the network for the first time,” says Randy Mortensen, vice president marketing, enterprise cabling solutions for Anixter. “Lighting is an enormous business and with this agreement Anixter can now offer structured cabling professionals a new value proposition that enables them to participate in cutting-edge energy efficiency services.”
Five elected to BICSI’s board
BICSI recently announced the results of its 2012-2013 board of directors election, in which the association’s members elected five officers to serve two-year terms on the board. The voting took place September 1 through September 30 and the five who were elected will take their offices during BICSI’s Winter Conference in February 2012.
The new President-Elect is Michael Collins, RCDD, CCDA, NCE, an associate director with AT&T based in Houston, TX. Collins will serve in the role of President-Elect from 2012-2013, then will become BICSI President for the 2013-2014 term. He has served two terms on the association’s board as U.S. South-Central Region Director, and has also chaired the association’s Educational Advisory Council, Installation Infrastructure Methods Committee, and Exhibitor Liaison Committee.
Brian Ensign, RCDD, NTS, OSP, director of technology for Legrand Ortronics, will serve as BICSI Treasurer for the 2012-2013 term. Currently serving as BICSI’s Northeast Region Director, Ensign also is an active member of BICSI, TIA and IEEE 802.3 Technical Committees. He served as Vice Chair of TIA’s Category 6 Consortium.
Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, ESS, marketing analyst with Berk-Tek, a Nexans company, will serve as the U.S. Northeast Region Director for the 2012-2013 term. She is vice president of BICSI’s Exhibitor Liaison Committee and was the recipient of the 2010 BICSI David K. Blythe/University of Kentucky Award for Outstanding Member of the Year.
Christy Miller, RCDD, RTPM(i), president and chief executive officer of BCL Industries in West Chester, OH will serve as U.S. North-Central Region Director. Miller has been a member of BICSI’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) Subcommittee, the Emerging Professionals Task Force and the Membership and Marketing Committee. She also is a BICSI Master Instructor.
The newly elected European Region Director is the same man who previously served four years in the same capacity—Brendan “Greg” Sherry, RCDD, NTS, WD, general manager for DatacenterDynamics. Sherry has been involved in the IT industry since 1976 and has specialized in infrastructure design and installation for more than 25 years.
BICSI President Brian Hansen said, “These newly elected individuals will play essential roles in shaping the future of BICSI. Congratulations to all of them. Although serving in this capacity calls for a lot of work, it is a very rewarding experience. I can safely speak for the rest of the BICSI board of directors when I say that we look forward to working closely with our new board members in moving our organization forward.”
Researcher sees 802.11ac dominating WLANs
ABI Research’s director for mobile-networks research, Philip Solis, foresees a day in the not-too-distant future when 802.11ac takes over the dominant position in wireless LAN technology. ABI’s research focuses on the chipsets for WLAN. In summarizing the findings of its recent report entitled “WiFi Chipset Evolution: From 802.11n to 802.11ac and 802.11ad,” the company says the “ac” protocol will see small shipment volumes in 2012 but a significant jump in 2013. By 2014, “802.11ac will emerge as the dominant WiFi protocol,” the company stated. It added, “Only a niche subset of 802.11ac will be single-band 802.11ac, using solely the 5-GHz band. Most will be 802.11n/802.11ac dual-band chipsets.”
Solis said, “With the small and dwindling number of 802.11g chipsets, everything has already shifted to 802.11n, and it has happened faster than most people expected. This is a clear indication of what will happen with 802.11ac. The 1x1 version of 802.11n replaced 802.11g. A rapid transition will occur with 802.11ac, but without the messy politics that slowed down the standardization of 802.11n in the past.”
ABI says established chipset vendors will try to keep or grow their market share by transitioning as quickly as they can. Smaller vendors will try to expand their share of the market by quickly shipping chipsets with competitive protocol, band and MIMO combinations.
ETL verifies Leviton’s 40/100G fiber system
Leviton Network Solutions recently announced that its Opt-X Unity 40/100G Fiber System has been tested and verified by Intertek Testing Services (ETL) to exceed performance requirements of the 40GBase-SR4 and 100GBase-SR10 standards. Leviton says that the Opt-X system “provides a single, simple connectivity solution that gives data centers a clear migration path to new high-speed applications.”
Leviton explained that Intertek tested eight different fiber-channel configurations to assure compliance to the maximum insertion-loss and link-distance requirements specified in the IEEE 802.3ba standard. The channels used all of Leviton’s Om3 and Om4 system components, including preterminated MTP trunks, MTP modules, MTP array harnesses and MTP array patch cords. The channels were configured with two, three, four and five mated connector pairs in lengths of 100, 150 and 300 meters, which Leviton says reflects typical data center applications as well as maximum flexibility for 40G or 100G applications. “The five-mated-pair configuration, for example, used two MTP array patch cords, two MTP-MTP modules and 150 meters of Om4 cable,” Leviton explained. “All 24-fiber channels were set up and tested as specified in TIA-568-C.0, and tested to the maximum channel insertion loss of 1.9 dB for Om3 and 1.5 dB for Om4 as specified in the IEEE 802.3ba standard.”
Dave Mullen, senior product manager of fiber optics for Leviton, said, “Having third-party labs test and verify the performance of our products is important to Leviton as we have set a high standard that our customers expect when purchasing a Leviton solution. The ETL testing validates Leviton’s channel performance and assures customers that the Leviton Opt-X Unity solution will support their needs as they migrate to 40G or 100G.”
MPO splice-on connector
AFL has unveiled the FuseConnect MPO –a fusion-spliced, field-terminated connector designed with only six components—as the latest member of its FuseConnect series.
The FuseConnect MPO is part of the FuseConnect series of splice-on connectors, which include the SC, LC, ST, and FC. This product line requires a fusion splicer plus accessories for installation. The AFL FuseConnect MPO termination kit provides all the necessary accessories required for field termination of the FuseConnect MPO, AFL says.
The MPO connector features a factory prepolished ferrule that obviates the need for polishing, adhesives, and crimping in the field and reduces connection errors, AFL says. Designed to Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standard (FOCIS), Type MPO, FOCIS 5, TIA 604 5 C, AFL’s FuseConnect MPO performs as well as standard factory-terminated MPO/MTP assemblies, according to AFL. It is designed for use with ribbon and loose-tube cable.
The connector can be used in RF-overlay fiber-to-the-premises networks, CATV backbone networks, outside plant, and multi-dwelling unit cabling applications. It also can be used for connector restoration, data center installations and patch cord customizations.
Fibre Channel will dominate FCoE, 10GiSCSI for years
The recent report from LightCounting entitled “Network Storage: Several Years Before FCoE/10Gb iSCSI Threaten Fibre Channel,” allows its title to pretty much give away the ending. But if you follow the plotline anyway, the report promises some insightful information about 10-GbE in data centers and storage networks, including 10GBase-T. LightCounting’s vice president and senior datacom analyst Kimball Brown notes that while 10-GbE is “finally taking off” after a decade, but adds that even four years from now Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI combined will not match Fibre Channel in terms of port deployments.
LightCounting says its report also takes an in-depth look at the overall 10-Gbit Ethernet marketplace, including projections for server and switch ports. Among the 10-GbE analysis is that by 2014, it will surpass 1-GbE in total port counts and that by then, “10GBase-T will finally allow the upgrade of Cat 5/6/6A and RJ45 connections in volume.”
As for Fibre Channel, LightCounting characterizes it as “a high-value, high-cost platform with excellent support in the marketplace.” The researcher describes iSCSI as a “simmering, potential challenger for over ten years,” but says there has never been investment made in the technology to drive acceptance. FCoE, on the other hand, has OEM sponsorship that iSCSI does not. LightCounting notes that Cisco “is betting hugely on FCoE,” but reminds us that the company is “a very small player in the server market.”
Through all these dynamics, the researcher says, Fibre Channel will remain a force throughout the decade, with a 16-Gbit version this year and a 32-Gbit version to come.
Compact OTDR weighs less than 2 pounds
Fiber optic test equipment provider Advanced Fiber Solutions has launched its compact, portable DR-500 series optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR).
Weighing less than 1.6 pounds, the DR-500 is ideal for handheld use and pocket transportation. AFS says the new OTDR series will aid technicians and cabling contractors in troubleshooting fiber-optic cabling systems; it is designed to offer high resolution with numerous wavelength and range options.
According to AFS, the DR-500 series OTDR offers four different performance classes with a dynamic range of 23 dB through 43 dB. The unit supports both a manual mode for the expert user, which enables parameter setup, and an automatic mode for the less-experienced user. It enables one-touch auto-run testing. The unit uses active sync for seamless USB connectivity with desktop software for advanced data analysis and storage capabilities.
“The OTDR will provide both the experienced and inexperienced technician with an easy-to-use installation tool for both maintenance and troubleshooting,” says Garreth Conachy, Advanced Fiber Solutions’ president and chief executive officer. “We have manufactured the product to be extremely rugged, in addition to ensuring it has a long battery life to enable technicians to continue testing up to eight hours.”
Text book addresses fiber-optic installation goals
A new text book from Pearson Technologies entitled “Professional Fiber Optic Installation, The Essentials For Success Version 8.0” provides the information needed to achieve the four goals of installation: 1) low power loss, 2) low installation time, 3) low installation cost, and 4) high reliability. “This text contains the knowledge, methods and procedures necessary to successfully install, test and inspect fiber-optic cables, connectors and splices,” Pearson says.
The 352-page book includes 527 figures, 57 tables and 407 review questions. It is broken into the following four parts.
1. Essentials: Contains nine chapters with the information the professional installer needs about the products with which he or she works. This information includes the language, products, performance, numbers and installation concerns.
2. Principles of Installation: Contains four chapters. With knowledge of the principles described in these chapters, the installer understands the reasons for each installation step. With this understanding, the installer follows these steps for maximum reliability, lower power loss, and low installation cost.
3. Principles and Methods of Testing and Inspection: Contains seven chapters with the principles and methods of insertion loss, OTDR, ORL, reflectance, and dispersion testing, as well as microscopic inspection of connectors. With these methods, the installer can verify proper installation and operation, as well as troubleshoot problem links.
4. Procedures: Contains six chapters with cookbook-like procedures for cable-end preparation for pulling and termination, four methods of connector installation, and midspan splicing via fusion and mechanical methods.
Pearson Technologies points out that this text book and three of its appendices enable personnel to gain certification from The Fiber Optic Association.
Mini-LC Om3 fiber jumpers
Tripp Lite has introduced two sets of Om3 fiber-optic jumpers. The N836 series facilitates mini-LC-to-LC connection, and the N838 series facilitates mini-LC-to-mini-LC connection.
Tripp Lite says the cables are suitable for use with high-speed applications using mini-SFP transceivers, such as the Brocade FC8-64 High-Density 64-port Fibre Channel blade. The jumpers are available in five lengths, ranging from 1 to 10 meters.
David Posner, product manager with Tripp Lite, said, “Many networking hardware manufacturers will be deploying mini-LC connections in their equipment, allowing higher port counts in less rack space. Tripp Lite mini-LC fiber cables are available in a variety of stock lengths, as well as custom configurations, to allow our customers to maximize this new technology.”
Clean, inspect test kit for MPO-connected fiber
Kingfisher International offers the MPO/MTP-specific FiberTester for fiber-optic cabling systems with MPO connectivity. The kit is available with three levels of functionality: a simple clean-and-inspect kit; a clean/inspect/test kit for multimode fiber; a clean/inspect/test kit for multimode and singlemode fiber.
Each kit incorporates Kingfisher’s KI6610 fiber inspection microscope, which the company says provides improved image quality, eye safety, and productivity. The test kits also include multimode test sources featuring the encircled-flux launch condition for improved loss-testing accuracy. The testers also incorporate Multi-Fiber ID, a function that “gives improved continuity/polarity test capability across 12 fibers,” Kingfisher says.
“MPO/MTP ribbon fiber connectors are rapidly gaining popularity in many areas of fiber optics, from LAN to telco and others,” the company said in a statement announcing the test kits’ availability. “They provide a practical method of reducing the cost and complexity of handling cabling and connectivity in high-fiber-count environments, which are becoming much more common.” The company adds that to date, MPO/MTP-connected fiber systems “have been poorly supported by appropriate test kits.”
Controller tracks data center security, energy info
The Smart Rack Controller (EMX) from Raritan provides information on data center operations collected from several types of sensors, including temperature, humidity, airflow, air pressure, smoke, water and contact closure. The information the tool tracks comes from cameras as well as from Raritan’s own electronic asset-tracking system.
The company explains, “At a glance, operators can see if their data center is working at optimal temperature, monitor humidity and airflow in racks, locate a server’s exact location, and see live views of the data center.” The controller is an IP-based appliance. Raritan’s own dcTrack (for asset, change and capacity management) and Power IQ (for energy management and data center monitoring) enable this enhanced level of visibility into data center operations. The system is also interoperable with other third-party data center management tools.
Herman Chan, director of Raritan’s energy management business, stated, “We believe that smart racks are the best way to get accurate, real-time information on infrastructure performance. With the introduction of the EMX smart rack solution, we are providing the brain for pulling together the intelligence gathered by remote sensors for a more accurate and clearer picture on what is happening in and around IT equipment and racks.”Fiber-based perimeter protection
The FD322 Fiber-Optic Perimeter Detection System from Fiber SenSys incorporates the manufacturer’s proprietary technology that has been deployed in its Fiber Defender system for years. The FD322 is described as an “easy-to-use value-priced sensor.” It features two zones capable of handling up to 500 meters of sensing cable per zone.
Fiber SenSys says that until now, the price of fiber-optic sensor-based perimeter protection has been prohibitive for many applications. This new technology addresses industrial, commercial and retail applications with a cost-competitive solution, the company adds.
It detects intruders attempting to get over, under or through a perimeter fence. Fiber SenSys explains, “Sophisticated algorithms distinguish between intruders and nuisance alarms that might be caused by wind or small animals. Unlike metallic (coaxial) sensors, the FD322 uses advanced fiber-optic sensing that is unaffected by harsh environments, including UV radiation, moisture, salt or even lightning strikes.”
Guidelines for field-testing fiber cabling
A document published by CommScope provides step-by-step guidelines for testing multimode and singlemode fiber-optic cabling systems in the field. It includes test procedures for systems with MPO connectivity as well as an appendix addressing the encircled flux launch condition, which CommScope points out is optional for field testing.
The document states, “IEC 61280-4-1 defines encircled flux to support testing of 50-micron multimode fiber solutions at 850 nm that are likely to operate at data rates at 1 G/s or higher. Although the standard was developed to support testing at the manufacturer, some test equipment providers are offering field encircled flux units. The unit could be incorporated within the test device, or as part of the test cord. At this time, CommScope does not require encircled flux testing in the field if mandrel wrapping is used.”
Despite the “optional” status of encircled-flux testing, CommScope’s manager for training and technology Eric Leichter recently stated in a blog post, “For multimode optical fiber cabling, encircled flux is the latest improvement to be made for evaluating the loss performance of cable and assemblies in the factory.”
The document from CommScope, entitled “Structured Connectivity Solutions Field Testing Guidelines for Fiber-Optic Cabling Systems,” is 25 pages in length and was published in August 2011 as an update to similar guidelines published in 2005. The document’s introduction explains, “Systimax Solutions only requires testing of link attenuation for enterprise networks. While other fiber-optic cabling system parameters such as bandwidth are equally important, they are not normally affected by the quality of the installation and therefore, do not require field testing. This document describes how and where attenuation testing should be performed for enterprise systems.” It also includes a section titled “Cable Plant Defect Detection and Resolution,” which addresses causes and resolutions of optical-connection contamination.
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