The need for information

You would think that an industry as large and varied, as technologically advanced and as rapidly changing as the cabling industry would be well served when it comes to information. In fact, there is a great deal of information out there, but is it the kind of information that is accessible to cabling installers? Frequently not, I would contend.

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.,

Senior Associate Editor

You would think that an industry as large and varied, as technologically advanced and as rapidly changing as the cabling industry would be well served when it comes to information. In fact, there is a great deal of information out there, but is it the kind of information that is accessible to cabling installers? Frequently not, I would contend.

Here is my wish list for this vital area:

-Objective, third-party product evaluations--We are flooded with product information, but most of it is in the form of company brochures, manufacturer catalogs, press releases from public-relations firms and white papers from marketing managers. The major computer and networking magazines provide in-depth reviews and product comparisons for their readerships. I would like to see such reviews and comparisons covering the cabling industry as well.

-Generic educational and training information--Again, there is much information available, but too much of it comes from the position papers, technical appendices and journal articles of manufacturers` representatives. Evenhanded, generic educational information is harder to find. I would welcome more training materials on copper media, safety, low-voltage electrical procedures and generally accepted contracting practices.

-Reasonably priced, understandable standards--Too often, telecommunications standards are written by--and for--engineers. Original standards documents should be both intelligible to laymen and inexpensive to acquire if the industry truly wants wider understanding of and participation in the standards process.

-Comprehensive and current news on industry issues--The recent materials shortages affecting the cabling industry have dramatically highlighted the need for accurate and timely news. Most trade journals have such long production cycles that it is difficult for them to be truly timely, and the big computer and networking weeklies seem strangely uninterested in the physical layer.

If these kinds of information were available to cabling contractors and installers, the industry would have a better-informed and -trained workforce. We at Cabling Installation & Maintenance have looked at all these problems, and--with Installer Tips Videos and Cabling News--have acted recently on two of them. We`d like to hear from you about how we`re doing and if you`d like to add any issues to the agenda.

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