Daikin halts FEP shipments from Japan

May 1, 2011
Daikin (www.daikin.com), one of two suppliers of the fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) used in plenum-rated cable ...

Daikin (www.daikin.com), one of two suppliers of the fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) used in plenum-rated cable, was forced to shut down one of its two FEP-manufacturing facilities because of the natural disaster in Japan earlier this year. It had to put current and future orders of FEP from its Japanese manufacturing operations on hold. Daikin has two facilities in Japan; one is in Kashima, outside of Tokyo and the other is in Yodogawa, outside of Osaka. The Kashima plant did not sustain structural damage during the earthquake and tsunami, but the plant had to be shut down because it lacks power, water and gas supply.

Daikin also has an FEP-manufacturing plant in Decatur, Alabama.

On March 16 vice president of sales and marketing Rich Straff issued a letter to customers about its Japan facilities in which he stated, “The current situation is severe.”

The Yodogawa plant had no physical impact during the disaster, but raw materials supplied from the Kashima plant have affected its production as well. In that March 16 letter, Straff explained that the Kashima plant’s inoperable state “in conjunction with nationwide logistical complications, will lead to the reduction or stoppage of the overall output of our Yodogawa plant.” FEP is one of six Daikin products affected. The others are PTFE, PFA, ETFE, Unidyne and DAIEL-FKM.

On March 24 the general manager of Daikin’s chemical division, Hiroo Sakai, issued a follow-up letter to customers. In it he said electricity had been restored to the Kashima plant, but it had only 70 percent of the steam it needed for operation. “We are also conducting inspections to determine if any structural or other damage was incurred at the plant or at any of the associated buildings or warehouses,” the letter said. “Based on the progress made so far, we are currently estimating to resume the operation on April 1 but in a phased manner.”

Hiroo Sakai asked customers for patience, explaining that Daikin will need more time before it can respond to requests concerning material availability and shipments. Information he did provide in the letter follows.

  • All orders already received are on hold
  • Daikin has to temporarily put all future orders on hold until the company fully understands its global inventory situation
  • The company will make decisions concerning if and when to ship orders based on inventory and the future production of the affected products.

The letter said that Daikin customers’ local sales representatives will continue to provide information updates.

Tester toubleshoots copper and fiber Gig networks

The LanXplorer Pro from Ideal Industries (www.idealindustries.com) is an inline Gigabit network tester that can troubleshoot passive and active connections over both copper and fiber. It also features a network discovery/verify function that identifies all active network devices and compares them against previous device lists.

“Network faults or slow performance can have a direct impact on the profitability of any business, whether a small enterprise or a large corporation,” said Dan Payerle, business unit manager for Ideal’s datacom test
equipment. “Our new LanXplorer Pro has been designed to resolve issues quickly to reduce downtime and costs. It is the most comprehensive network tester on the market today with extensive test capabilities, from locating simple cable faults to identifying causes of network slowdowns.”

Ideal says the tester is an appropriate tool for installers, IT administrators, network technicians and system integrators. It can wirelessly connect to networks via 802.11 b, g or n WiFi, meaning the user does not have to make physical contact with the network in order to carry out tests.

The tester’s network discovery/verify function identifies devices such as printers that are added to a network without an administrator’s knowledge. The function also is able to compare a previously stored network-device list against the current device list, making any changes to the network easy to identify. The inline test capability can also monitor performance of devices like PCs; and it can identify devices that are consuming bandwidth and contributing to poor network performance. Users can select peak, instant, 30-second, or continuous bandwidth monitoring. VoIP testing features also help identify causes of poor call quality or dropouts by measuring jitter, packet loss and maximum bandwidth. It can also identify a network’s top 10 talkers.

The LanXplorer Pro also conducts Power over Ethernet testing with load simulation to examine PoE power-supply equipment; it can also be used inline to measure power consumption of PoE and PoE Plus devices.

Ideal emphasizes the tester’s ease-of-use. “Most tests can be completed in just three steps,” the company says, “thanks to a virtual keypad for faster data input, a 3.5-inch color touchscreen interface, and an icon-driven menu navigation system. Even a novice can learn to operate the product in minutes.”

The tester can be directly plugged into a wall socket, can run off a rechargeable battery pack, or off standard AA batteries.

Berk-Tek assemblies pass rigorous 40G/100G tests

Berk-Tek (www.berktek.com), a Nexans company, recently announced that its OM3 and OM4 preterminated fiber-optic assemblies successfully underwent rigorous testing at the Nexans Data Communications Competence Center (DCCC), proving that these cable assemblies far exceed the performance required by the IEEE’s 40- and 100-Gbit Ethernet specifications. Specifically, the GIGAlite-10 OM3, GIGAlite10-FB OM4 and GIGAlite10-XB “OM4+” cables were scrutinized at the DCCC under a number of different test configurations and platforms.

During 40-Gbit/sec testing using Avago 40G QSFP+ transceivers, the OM3 fiber assembly successfully supported 202-meter transmission, which Berk-Tek points out is double the reach specified in the 40GBase-SR4 standard. In a 10-connector channel, Berk-Tek’s OM4 assemblies successfully transmitted longer than 800 meters, which is more than five times the standard-specified distance. During separate 100-Gbit/sec testing, the OM3 fiber met a 10-12 frame error rate over 252 meters with three connections; the OM4 fiber reached 352 meters with four connections.

Eric Lawrence is vice president of emerging technologies and technical director for Nexans (www.nexans.com); he directs the operations of the DCCC. Lawrence explains that the testing conducted in the DCCC is far different from the testing sometimes undertaken in an attempt to document a system’s capabilities. Tests at the DCCC replicate real-life use conditions as opposed to the near-perfect-condition setups of some test environments. One example of this is the fact that the DCCC conducts frame-error-rate testing, rather than bit-error-rate testing, which is most often cited when test results are announced.

Lawrence elaborates, “We continually push performance boundaries. The fact that we perform frame error rate testing, which is far more stringent than bit error rate testing, means that our tests run hundreds of times longer than the industry requires ... Using multiple connection points is also important because in real-world applications, our customers need to know that our cable can perform reliably and dependably in a variety of configurations.” During frame error rate testing a single bit error will cause the entire frame to be discarded, Nexans explains. This approach more accurately reveals the impact of errors on the applications than bit error rate testing does, and is therefore a more meaningful metric, Nexans asserts. This testing arrangement means that systems successfully exceeded the desired 10-12 frame error rate for 40G over five hours rather than the 32-second minimum duration of bit error rate testing. Likewise, the 100G channels were tested successfully for more than two hours instead of the 13-second minimum bit error rate testing duration.

Nexans says other DCCC test characteristics that make the environment more like real-world use sites include the use of multiple test platforms and transceivers. Nexans notes its strong relationship with many component manufacturers has solidified the center’s position in the field.

Of the tests on Berk-Tek’s OM3 and OM4 products, Berk-Tek’s preterminated optical fiber product manager Alfred Flores said, “Obviously we are very pleased with the results. Successfully going 800 meters across 10 connection pairs using OM4 fiber clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when you combine our outstanding-quality optical cable and connectors in support of next-generation communications technologies.”

Berk-Tek fiber-optic products business manager Mike Connaughton said, “These types of studies are part of the value that Berk-Tek brings to the customer beyond simply the components themselves. The fact that the Competence Center successfully transmitted both 40G and 100G Ethernet to distances beyond those defined by the standard with our OM3 preterm products was very positive. But more important than that, the stellar results of our OM4 grade fiber, when combined with Avago transceivers, create a new benchmark in the industry.”

Network cabinet invisible to WiFi signals

The Home and Office Network Cabinet from Oberon Inc. (www.oberonwireless.com) is a wall-mounted cabinet that orgnanizes network components. It provides a means of stowing and interconnecting broadband modems, wireless routers, small network switches, power strips, network storage, external hard drives and other network components.

“Aesthetics were a major consideration for this project,” explained Oberon president and chief engineer Scott D. Thompson. “The typical office has a variety of components sitting around taking up space. This vital equipment is vulnerable to dust, spills, being knocked over, and someone simply walking away with them. The Home and Office Network Cabinet protects those components behind a locking door while at the same time making them basically disappear from view.”

The cabinet’s door is made of impact-resistant ABS plastic that is designed to be virtually transparent to wireless signals. The white enclosures accept wall paint, and Oberon can produce custom enclosures in any decor-matching color for orders over 50 units. The cabinet measures 22x22 inches and 4 inches deep with a steel black-box. Adjustable shelves, hook-and-loop strips and tie-downs give the user flexibility to mount equipment in a wide variety of configurations. A power strip can be placed directly inside the enclosure, further reducing visual clutter within an office. Ethernet switches and other equipment can be mounted directly in the space where they are needed.

Mounting the unit to the wall takes just minutes, Oberon says, adding that the enclosure’s 4-inch profile makes it appropriate for mounting just about anywhere.

The Oberon Home and Office Network Cabinet has an MSRP of $180. It is available directly from Oberon and through the company’s partners.

Researcher: Active antenna market buzzing

According to ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) the total market for wireless-infrastructure antennas will approach $2 billion in five years. That total accounts for base-station, fixed and active antennas. When announcing these findings, ABI research director Lance Wilson emphasized the impact active antennas will have on the overall market growth.

He explained that active antennas combine the base station’s radio-frequency electronics in the antenna housing mounted atop the tower. Widespread installation of these types of antennas is nascent, but expected to increase sharply. Wilson said these types of antennas “offer a solution to the problem of rapidly growing wireless data traffic. Conventional designs are not as efficient. Active antennas offer much greater efficiency and versatility when handling large quantities of signals, including wireless data.”

ABI reports that aside from these active antennas, the antenna market is “stable and mature.” Wilson described market growth as gradual and steady. ABI also pointed out what it describes as the “slightly unusual” antenna-vendor ecosystem. “There are multiple tiers and many participants,” the company noted. It is made up largely of small companies, each of which claim a small percentage of the total market. The researcher foresees consolidation, although it views the active-antenna situation differently; antenna manufacturers typically partner with equipment builders.

“Some upside is present with LTE/4G, but this will be moderated by the eventual decline in the GSM family of technologies,” Wilson explained. “With the exception of still-developing regions, GSM infrastructure is largely built-out already. 4G won’t replace the millions of existing GSM base stations with similar quantities.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s study Base Station, Fixed Outdoor, and Active Antennas, which provides forecast segmentations by type and encompasses both revenue and shipments. It also includes market-share analysis for vendor, type and region.

RiT releases version 3.0 of intelligent management system

RiT Technologies (www.rittech.com) has released version 3.0 of its EPV appliance-based cabling management platform. Simple to install and use, the EPV is billed as a “plug and play” system that delivers a continuously up-to-date, real-time picture of the cabling infrastructure with no need for the deployment of additional software or servers.

According to the company, new features introduced in EPV Version 3.0 for enhanced security and efficiency include: extensive alert capabilities; expanded database backup and restore; support of multiple browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome); automatic identification of patch panels, including the panel type; and multi-user support.

“The EPV has been a real game-changer - the first cabling management solution for mainstream markets - and these new features make it even better,” commented Ben Carmi, RiT’s VP of product management and business development.

The EPV provides accurate real-time connectivity information regarding all components in the wiring cabinet or the communications room. The product is “packaged” as an appliance which is connected easily to the network’s communication racks, with no need for technicians to install software and/or servers. Operation is equally straightforward, says RiT, with a variety of capabilities provided through an intuitive Web-based interface.

Carmi added, “The need for cabling management has never been greater. Companies today must do more with less, stretching their IT budgets without sacrificing network availability. In this challenging environment, intelligent infrastructure management systems are strategic enablers; in fact, independent industry research shows that systems facilitating infrastructure management can significantly reduce operating costs through the improvement of visibility and control. We are proud to bring these exciting results to fast-growing markets throughout the world.”

The EPV is available directly through RiT Technologies and through its partners and distributors throughout the world.

Endspan PoE: Flat and growing?

How can the market for endspan Power over Ethernet - in which PoE is supplied via the switch port rather than through a midspan device between the switch and the user - be growing and flat at the same time? That’s what happened in 2010, according to market-research firm In-Stat (www.instat.com).

The “growing-and-flat” phenomenon really means that total endspan PoE port shipments grew in 2010 versus 2009, but the percentage of PoE ports shipped compared to total ports shipped last year remained steady. “After a sluggish 2009, Cisco’s Power over Ethernet port shipments took off in 2010,” according to In-Stat industry analyst Brad Shaffer. “Industry wide, shipments of Power over Ethernet ports remained relatively flat in 2010, accounting for about 15.6 percent of total port shipments.”

In its report 4Q10 Ethernet Switch Database, In-Stat explains that Cisco saw a 45-percent gain in PoE port shipments in 2010 over 2009. Shaffer says, “While Cisco is by far the market leader in Power over Ethernet shipments, the other top vendors also experienced an increase in shipments. Netgear and HP Networking both also posted impressive gains in Power over Ethernet shipments, rising 36 percent and 33 percent, respectively.”

Cisco’s 2010 PoE port shipments totaled more than 42 million, dwarfing HP Networking’s 6.3 million and Netgear’s 1.6 million.

Structured cabling fending off AOCs, for now

In LightCounting’s (www.lightcounting.com) most recent market report on active optical cables (AOCs), the market-research company says data center managers’ “copper mindset” as well as “installation issued with structured cabling” will slow the adoption of AOCs in Ethernet-based data center networks. The report entitled Active Optical Cables - 2011: Positioning for the Next Wave of Growth says the primary market for AOCs continues to be high-performance computing or supercomputers with the InfiniBand protocol. However, last year marked the beginning of AOC adoption in data centers using the Ethernet protocol as well as adoption in telecommunications applications to interconnect long-haul dense wavelength division multiplexeers (DWDMs) and routers in central offices.

Brad Smith, senior vice president and industry analyst for data center interconnects with LightCounting, said, “The adoption in data centers is good news for AOC suppliers as it moves AOCs out of a reputation as a ‘niche market’ and into the mainstream of interconnect alternatives. Ethernet data centers will eventually be a huge opportunity for AOC suppliers as they bring many product benefits. However, adoption will be slow as Ethernet AOCs face complications related to business issues, data center managers’ copper mindset, and installation issues with structured cabling.”

The study also throws cold water on some prior hot-button discussion about AOC use in consumer markets. “The hype around AOCs using Intel’s Light Peak in the consumer market has dissipated,” the company said. “In fact Light Peak technology finally made its debut as a copper interconnect for Apple PCs called ThunderBolt. LightCounting’s position is there are simply no consumer-electronics devices that require 10 Gbits/sec today and optical solutions cannot compete on price in this market with 5-Gbit/sec USB 3.0 copper cables.”

Overall the AOC market reached approximately $40 million in 2010, according to LightCounting, with unit shipments of 150,000. By 2015 those numbers should climb to $100 million and 450,000 units, the researcher adds.

When announcing its market-report update, LightCounting described some of the dynamics of AOC sales in the high-performance computing market. The researcher said, “The 4x10G QSFP form factor dominates the business while the 12x10G CXP form factor encountered slow uptake. HPC systems are very expensive, costing upwards of $100 million and there are only a few HPC bids per year, resulting in incredibly fierce price competition with prices in some bids falling below manufacturing costs. The Chinese Tianhe-1A HPC gained the top position in the Top 500 HPC list and used several tens of thousands of AOCs to interconnect the computing clusters together. This system required 80-Gbit/sec links and two 4x10G [40-Gbit/sec] AOCs were bonded together to meet the bandwidth requirement, demonstrating that bandwidth of a single 40G AOC is not enough going forward.”

APC-Schneider acquires Lee Technologies

Schneider Electric (www.schneider-electric.com) announced that it has acquired Lee Technologies (www.leetechnologies.com), a service provider for data centers in the North American market, as a counterpart to its APC (www.apc.com) brand for data center power management.

Headquartered in Fairfax, VA, Lee Technologies has over 300 employees and generated sales of about USD 140 million in 2010. The company specializes in the mission-critical data center services, including remote monitoring command centers and on-site critical facility operations. It caters to several customer segments including federal government, financial services, telecommunications, information technology and healthcare.

Lee Technologies brings to Schneider Electric capabilities ranging from consulting, site assessment, design, equipment specification and selection to integration, commissioning, facility operations staffing, maintenance and proactive 24x7 remote monitoring. This full repertory of services will reinforce Schneider Electric’s IT business skills in data center management and its ability to provide data centers, one of the world’s fastest growing end-users of energy, with the best standards in energy conservation and reliability.

Laurent Vernerey, executive vice president, Schneider Electric IT business, commented, “Lee Technologies possesses a deep and intimate knowledge of both its customers’ needs and data center operations. This unique combination of business and technical expertise and total lifecycle service will broaden our client base, extend our advanced service capabilities and enable us to provide our customers a totally ‘managed’ contract to meet their energy conservation and reliability needs.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to join Schneider Electric as we have always held the company in high esteem. We are confident that our broad and comprehensive offering for data centers will be well positioned to benefit from solid growth opportunities in the future,” said John C. Lee IV, Lee Technologies, CEO and chairman.

This acquisition is expected to be accretive on earnings per share from the first year and to meet Schneider Electric’s return on capital employed criteria.

AFL donates to Japan recovery efforts

AFL (www.afltele.com) and its associates have donated more than $47,000 to the International Red Cross to assist relief efforts in disaster-devastated Japan. Employees donated more than $23,000, and AFL matched each donation dollar-for-dollar, raising the total above the $47k mark. Donations were made from the date of the disaster through the end of March.

Contributors included associates from AFL’s Spartanburg, SC facility and AFL locations around the world, including in Europe and Mexico. Contributions also came from sister companies such as AFL’s automotive division.

AFL’s parent company, Fujikura Ltd., is headquartered in Tokyo. All associates and their families are accounted for, although a number of extended-family members and friends were affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“Sometimes we feel so helpless being on the other side of the world, but one way we could give back was through monetary donations sent to the Red Cross and specifically designated for the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami relief efforts,” said Corie Culp, community relations manager for AFL. “It seems so small but we know it’ll make a difference combined with the efforts of everyone around the world.”

MEF launches certification program

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF; www.metroethernetforum.org) has launched the third part of its MEF Professional Certification program, designed for individuals whose Carrier Ethernet technology, services, and application expertise meet MEF criteria. The MEF’s Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP) test validates knowledge of Carrier Ethernet technology, standards, and applications.

“This professional certification could not be timelier,” comments Michael Howard, principal analyst, Infonetics Research. “We anticipate healthy growth in the market as organizations increasingly look to Ethernet for the lowest cost-per-bit--with Ethernet services revenues forecast to hit $40 billion by 2014. There will be a growing demand for professionals with MEF certified Carrier Ethernet expertise.”

In addition to receiving the MEF certificate, successful candidates will be automatically listed on the online Directory of MEF Certified Professionals posted on the EthernetAcademy.net website. Typical candidates for this initial certification will be: technical marketing or product managers, pre-sales engineers, product planners, network consultants, technical sales, network operations engineers, and application consultants.

To qualify for the MEF-CECP certificate, individuals must pass a two-hour, multiple-choice exam covering topics that include: MEF definitions, access technologies, MEF certification, target applications, circuit emulation over Ethernet, SOAM, and comparisons with other network services.

The exam can be taken online from the home or office--regulated by Web-based proctoring technology to ensure the security and integrity of the examination, at an approved test center or at an MEF Accredited Training Provider’s facilities following the completion of the training course. The first five of these accredited, third-party training providers were announced at NetEvents: Accedian Networks, EANTC, Perpetual Solutions, Tech 2000, and Telefocal Asia. The first group of MEF Certified Professionals (MEF-CECPs) will be announced in the first half of this year.

“For the individual, this new aspect of MEF certification helps career advancement by providing industry recognition of their knowledge and expertise. For the employer, it simplifies the choice of candidates and helps to define standard training requirements. For the industry, it will enable growth via better trained sales, marketing, product management and technical professionals,” said Nan Chen, MEF president, at April’s NetEvents 2011 APAC Press Summit in Malaysia.

Guide walks through data center testing

A brief guide produced by Fluke Networks (www.flukenetworks.com) and available from Graybar (www.graybar.com) walks users through the many testing requirements of a data center environment. As the guide states, “Data center professionals are responsible for the storage, management and dissemination of data and information - a huge task in our data-reliant society. Many people count on them to deliver the information they need, whenever they need it. The professionals working in this critical business need to be able to rely on their tools.”

The guide includes a diagram of a data center, which can be used for illustrative purposes. The indicators on the diagram (blue circles, red squares, orange stars, and others) indicate the areas of the data center where certain test tools can or should be used. The tools span a wide range of applications and capabilities, from copper and fiber cable testers to digital multimeters, infrared thermometers, clamp meters and other test gear.

The guide categorizes the issues faced, and test equipment needed into three groups: IT/MIS management (facilities director), IT/MIS staff (engineer), and HVAC/IAQ technician.

The guide is available on Graybar’s web site; anyone can immediately download the guide by registering.

Fiber assemblies pass encircled-flux testing

Siemon (www.siemon.com) recently announced that a number of its fiber-optic assembly products have passed performance testing, conducted by an independent testing laboratory, in accordance with the encircled-flux launch conditions recently adopted by the TIA.

TIA-526-14-B Optical Power Loss Measurements of Installed Multimode Fiber Cable Plant was “back-adopted” from part of an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard. That specification is titled IEC 61280-4 edition 2, Fibre-Optic Communications Subsystems Test Procedure Part 4:1: Installed Cable Plant - Multimode Attenuation Measurement. The IEC spec is where encircled flux was initially defined and referenced for multimode fiber testing.

Siemon explained that its MTP-based OM3 and OM4 plug-and-play assemblies passed the standards’ insertion-loss and endface-geometry requirements with margins up to 60 percent. The tests were conducted by Experior Laboratories. The testing was performed across several channel configurations, Siemon says, including MTP-to-MTP cable assemblies in OM4 and OM3 fiber grades, MTP-to-LC plug-and-play modules, MTP-to-LC fiber jumpers; LC fiber jumpers and MTP-to-MTP adapter plates.

Charlie Maynard, Siemon’s fiber-optic product manager, said the high performance margins achieved, up to 60 percent, are important in high-bandwidth, multi-fiber array systems. “Contamination introduced in the field as well as testing inconsistencies due to varied test equipment and reference-cord quality can make it difficult to ensure that the consistent performance levels of factory-terminated fiber assemblies are maintained when installed in the field.”

Water-resistant LCs

CONEC (www.conec.com) recently added IP-67-rated LC connectors to its line of water-resistant connector products. The company says these connectors allow designers to incorporate LC data ports into harsh environments. Being IP-67-rated, they provide protection from contamination and moisture in addition to mechanical stability, temperature resistance and vibration immunity.

The connectors feature a 1/6-th turn bayonet coupling for mate/unmate cycles. They are available with either black plastic or nickel-plated zinc-die-cast housing materials. All the LC connectors in the line are duplex. They are available in singlemode, multimode and APC styles. The complete product line includes panel-mounted receptacles, mating plugs and protective caps. Preterminated jumper cables including cables suitable for outdoor use and direct burial, in lengths from 1 to 300 meters, are also part of the line.

Peter Persoci, technical support specialist with CONEC, points out designers have had few options for outdoor fiber-optic connectors that accommodate the higher end of Ethernet data speeds.

White-space WiFi trial underway in Houston

Researchers at Rice University have set up the first WiFi hotspot using “white space,” the wireless spectrum that is allocated for television but not used. Rice University is teaming with the Houston nonprofit group Technology for All (TFA) to make the white-space WiFi available. Houston resident Leticia Aguirre is the first user, and the group says they plan to add more links in Aguirre’s neighborhood in the months ahead.

The researchers at Rice are calling the technology “Super WiFi” because of claims that the signals easily penetrate barriers such as walls that hinder traditional WiFi signals. However, some scoff at that nomenclature .

Rice professor Edward Knightly explains that the research is taking place with federal support from the National Science Foundation. “Ultimately we want to develop this technology in such a way that it benefits the most people by accessing the right spectrum for the right users,” he said. “Having Mrs. Aguirre as our first user really shows the potential benefits for people who’ve been underserved with traditional broadband.”

According to information provided by Rice University, Aguirre signed up for a free community broadband WiFi network, also established by Rice and TFA, in 2004. That network now serves a three-square-mile area, but Aguirre lives at the network’s edge and has never received a good signal at her home.

TFA’s president and chief executive officer Will Reed boasts of the white-space WiFi technology as “a quantum leap” in terms of user experience. He also says it is significant that this trial is taking place in a community-broadband setting, because “this technology has a real potential to break down barriers and bring broadband to underserved urban and rural communities.”

Aguirre said, “I’ve wanted to have the Internet for a long time, but it’s very expensive. I need the Internet to see that my paychecks have been deposited and to do other things. When they called me to see if I wanted to try this, it was an answer to my prayers.” She said she plans to use email and Skype to stay in touch with friends and family.

Rice University posted a video showing the installation at Aguirre’s residence. Visit YouTube and search “Leticia Aguirre.”

IP video patrols massive container terminal

The container terminal at the Port of Malaga, Spain deploys, among other security measures, an Internet Protocol (IP) video surveillance system. The security system includes cameras and other equipment from IndigoVision (www.indigovision.com).

IndigoVision says its open-architecture format allows the terminal to implement a system that flexes and scales to meet its changing or growing needs.

Such flexibility pays benefits now, IndigoVision says, and also was an asset during the terminal’s construction. “All components, including cameras, video recorders and video-management workstations can be located at any point on the network,” IndigoVision explains, “allowing them to be easily repositioned as necessary through the various construction phases.”

The container’s entire security system is IP-based, including not only video surveillance but also the public-address and access-control systems. According to IndigoVision, the facility covers 500,000 square yards.

Ralco Networks provided the IndigoVision equipment as well as design support for the project. Enyca, a port-security specialist, installed the system.

Technical director and port facility security officer Jorge Martin praises the surveillance system. “In addition to providing all around security, the surveillance system has transformed our operations. It enables us to better organize our employee shift patterns, investigate health and safety breaches, resolve labor disputes and most importantly monitor and track container shipments, providing video evidence in the event of any customer claims. All of these have helped us to reduce costs.”

The system can transmit high-fidelity synchronized audio alongside the video, IndigoVision explains. Enyca used this feature to deploy IP-based communications at the access points in the terminal. When an arriving truck driver presses a button, which is connected to a digital input in the transmitter module, an audio link is established with the operations center. Operators can then relay instructions to the driver for the safe dropoff or collection of the containers. Operators also use the public-address features in IndigoVision’s Control Center management software to broadcast prerecorded messages and other dialogue to camera-mounted speakers on the poles and cranes. This ability facilitates operations management and allows warnings to be issued in the event of an incident.

Workstations equipped with Control Center are located around the facility, allowing operators to monitor live and recorded video from the 40 pan/tilt/zoom and fixed cameras. The cameras are mounted around the perimeter, at the access points to the facility and on poles and cranes to monitor container movements.

“Mounting the cameras at a number of fixed locations and on the mobile cranes allows us to monitor and record container movements from a number of different angles,” Martin says. “This ensures we have ample evidence in the event of a customer dispute. High-quality video clips can easily be exported from the system for external analysis and investigation.”

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