Exhibitors show new products, Bicsi debuts new training at first Cabling Expo

When visitors walk through the doors of the Charlotte (NC) Convention Center this month, they will be taking part in history in the making -- not once, but twice. First, they will get to try out an array of the newest voice, data and video products at the first annual "hands-on" trade show to serve the cabling industry -- Cabling Installation Expo `96. At the time of this writing, more than 120 companies -- manufacturers, distributors, contractors and service providers -- have signed up to exhib

Gail Leach Carvelli

When visitors walk through the doors of the Charlotte (NC) Convention Center this month, they will be taking part in history in the making -- not once, but twice. First, they will get to try out an array of the newest voice, data and video products at the first annual "hands-on" trade show to serve the cabling industry -- Cabling Installation Expo `96. At the time of this writing, more than 120 companies -- manufacturers, distributors, contractors and service providers -- have signed up to exhibit at the Expo, which runs from October 7 to 11. And second, they will have a chance to preview the new Installation Training and Registration Program being offered by Bicsi (Tampa, FL), as well as attend a variety of talks, workshops and training sessions covering the core technologies, standards and issues of the cabling industry.

Cosponsored by Bicsi and Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine (Nashua, NH), Expo will also offer a Product Forum for product demonstrations, an Installer Tips Contest to bring out the best cabling installation tips for publication in Cabling Installation & Maintenance, and a golf tournament and other social activities for participants and their families. Let`s take a quick look at what exhibitors are going to be featuring on the show floor, what training you can sign up for, and what other events and activities will be held in conjunction with the inaugural Cabling Installation Expo.

New products highlighted

As noted, the ranks of exhibitors will include -- to name just a few categories -- cable manufacturers, test-equipment providers, makers of connectivity products, telecommunications distributors, fiber optics specialists and software suppliers (for a listing of exhibitors, see "Cabling Installation Expo `96 attracts a broad range of exhibitors," page 52). Several of these companies plan to introduce new products and services, while others will showcase products released earlier this year.

Dan Silver, market development manager at 3M Telecom Systems Division (Austin, TX), says his company will display several new products, including the FibrMax 2700 fiber management system. "This product is a departure from traditional patch panels," says Silver. "What we`ve done is take one of our tried-and-true fiber-optic splices and incorporated it into the distribution panels, which allows customers to make changes easily."

He says the system simplifies the organization of high-fiber-density installations in premises-wiring, cable-TV and telco applications by using a cabinet layout that can hold up to 360 fibers -- or five times the connections found in conventional fiber-optic housings. The system also accommodates singlemode and multimode fibers in the same unit, eliminating the need for splice trays or factory-loaded modules. Optical splitters, couplers, attenuators or wavelength-division multiplexers can be added on one connector card.

Expo visitors will also see the Dataclear EF Gold high-performance local area network (LAN) cable from Champlain Cable Corp. (Colchester, VT). "What makes this cable so special is that it boasts the highest usable bandwidth in the industry," says Brian Induni, marketing communications manager at Champlain.

Tested to 350 MHz, the cable has a guaranteed attenuation-to-crosstalk ratio (ACR) of 21 dB at 100 MHz, says Induni, adding that the cable has received the British Standards Institution kite mark, a first for a U.S. wire and cable manufacturer. "This cable gives you great assurance that tomorrow`s systems will run on the cables being installed today," he concludes.

Erico (Solon, OH), will exhibit Caddy CableCat fasteners, which, says Business Manager Ed Lynch, can speed up Category 5 and other high-performance cable installations. "The special nature of Category 5 cable has placed a significant added burden on the specifier, contractor and installer," he says. "Traditional fastening methods for installing lower-performance cable such as bridle rings and ties do not work well with Category 5 cable."

Lynch explains that typical narrow-base fasteners create stress points that damage twisted pairs at the bottom of cable bundles. "Our product eliminates these stress points without using cable tray or costly trapeze systems to ensure the cable is installed properly," he says. "It is the first of a series of time- and labor-saving fasteners for long-term, optimum, high-speed data transmission in Category 5 cable installation."

Independent Technologies Inc. (Omaha, NE) makes a product that it says saves time when testing the continuity of 25-pair cables. "The Test-All 25 lets you test new cables as they are placed," says company spokesperson Dick Spear, "looking for power and ground faults, and complete metallic continuity."

Spear says that, unlike Category 5 testers, his product examines all 50 conductors of the 25-pair cable. "All of the Category 5 testers on the market see only four pairs at a time," he adds. "If there are crosses, transpositions or splits between pairs in two different 4-pair groups, traditional testers will only display an open conductor. Our automated tester lets you see, by conductor, across all the groups. Plus, it clearly identifies all continuity problems, and it does it within 20 seconds."

Running concurrently with the exhibit will be a week of talks, workshops and training activities. Opening the program will be former Chicago Bears running back and 1965 NFL Rookie of the Year Gayle Sayers, who will deliver the keynote address. Sayers, an author and humanitarian, is president of Sayers Computer Source, a telecommunications installation company. In addition, he has authored I Am Third, which reflects his philosophy of putting life and religion first, his family and friends second and himself third.

Installation training and registration

Following the keynote address, Bicsi`s education manager, Joe Jones, will present an overview of Bicsi`s new Installation Training and Registration Program, which is debuting at the Expo (see "Installer training and registration program launched," page 48). Jones will give highlights of this comprehensive training program, which will lead to the registration of telecommunications cabling installers at three levels--apprentice, installer and technician.

Later in the first morning of the Expo, Cabling Installation & Maintenance Executive Editor Arlyn Powell will discuss trends in the cabling industry that currently affect or will affect installers and contractors in the future. While covering the industry for the magazine and for PennWell`s related newsletter, Cabling News, Powell has witnessed many dramatic changes in cabling technologies, issues and standards. In his talk, he will share his insight on what is happening in this dynamic area, as well as present his predictions for the future.

On Thursday, Ray Steele, founding director of the Center for Information and Communications Sciences at Ball State University, will suggest ways to correct an inadequate installation in his presentation, "What Happens When the Installation Is Done Wrong?" A recipient of awards from Bicsi and the International Communications Association (ICA), Steele points out that the best design, project management and materials cannot make up for an installation crew that is untrained or improperly trained.

Rounding out the Expo program will be Rocky Bleier, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in late 1968. But before he could prove himself as a rookie in the National Football League, he found himself drafted again -- to combat duty in Vietnam. A few months later he suffered a crippling wound that left him barely able to walk. In his talk, "Be the Best You Can Be," Bleier will discuss how he did the seemingly impossible, coming back from his injury to play professional football.

In addition to these presentations, Bicsi will offer a slate of courses that will include beginning-level codes and rules, tool handling and safety; intermediate-level record keeping, testing and inside design; and advanced construction specifications, testing and fiber optics.

A number of other workshops and training courses are also being offered at Expo. On October 7, Bicsi will kick off its workshop program with a pre-workshop technical seminar on "Category 5 Installation Procedures, or `How Do I Really Wire This Stuff?` " This seminar will present the guidelines and rules contained in various standards, with a focus on cabling media, termination procedures, and "must-comply" rules for selection, installation and documentation.

The Expo show will offer a number of innovative events and activities that will be of special interest to cabling installers and cabling-plant managers. Among them is the Product Forum, which will give exhibitors a place in addition to their booths to demonstrate their products and services. Visitors can find out how the latest technologies work, see cutting-edge products in action and learn about the technical services offered by high-technology manufacturers and distributors at the Product Forum demonstrations, which will take place at regularly scheduled intervals at one or more demonstration areas on the show floor during exhibit hours.

Industry professionals can also offer their advice on installation shortcuts and cost-saving solutions to common problems by participating in the Installer Tips Contest. A 3-1/2-horsepower mini stock car customized with the winner`s company logo or personal name will be awarded for the best tip. Additional prizes include three remote-controlled cars. Tips suitable for publication will be included in issues of Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine.

Judges will look for simple and innovative ideas for problems related to cabling installation and maintenance. To enter, Expo attendees need only fill out the entry form they receive in their registration packets and return it at the Expo. (If you are not attending the show but still want to enter the contest, send your entry to the magazine`s editorial office, to arrive not later than October 4.) Prizes will be awarded on the last day the exhibits are open.

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