In the last two issues of this magazine, our monthly columnist, Donna Ballast, addressed what she has coined the “wet link phenomena.” In October, she introduced us all to the issue, which develops when water-based cable-pulling lubricants are used to ease the path of (usually longer-run) unshielded twisted-pair cables through conduit. The water in the lubricant takes some time to evaporate and, until it does, its existence can adversely affect cabling-system performance parameters, including attenuation and return loss.
If this situation can be compared to a legal proceeding, it is still very much in the discovery stage. The problem only recently reared its head among users in the industry, and as Donna reported last month, everybody involved is assuming a predictably defensive posture. Those most directly affected by the problem are learning a little bit at a time right now, as are those of us in the industry’s media who are trying to educate as many as possible about the situation.
Currently, I am in correspondence with representatives from one of the major suppliers of pulling lubricants, and I hope to turn that correspondence into a factual, scientific-research-based analysis of the situation. Such an article could be published as early as next month, if research is completed in time.
It’s my understanding that this lubricant supplier intends to present test findings at the meeting of the TIA’s TR-42.7 Telecommunications Copper Cabling Systems Committee. At the time I’m writing this column, that meeting hasn’t taken place yet; by the time you read it, the December 6-8 meeting already may have passed.
As is the case with all TR-42 Subcommittee actions, this activity will be reported to the larger, umbrella TR-42 Engineering Committee, and appropriately so. As Donna also noted in her column last month, the TR-42.7 Committee obviously has an interest in the matter, as does the TR-42.3 Commercial Building Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces Committee. This hot potato could be tossed around several groups within TR-42.
With that in mind, I want to emphasize the opportunity that exists for anyone who reads this column and has had an experience, good or bad, with the larger new-generation UTP cables and cable-pulling lubricants. That opportunity is to have your experiences heard within TR-42 because, believe me, they are paying close attention.
Moreover, I believe the importance of speaking up in this instance is paramount. How many of us have looked skeptically at TR-42 as an insiders’ organization of industry vendors who get together a few times a year and figure out more ways to sell their products?
Despite that popular opinion, TR-42 (like TR-41.8, its forerunner) has always actively sought the opinions and experiences of cabling-system designers, installers, and users. The inability to become a paying member of TIA and a voting member of one of its standards-making committees, or to attend a standards meeting, does not prohibit one from participating in the standards-making process. Correspondence to the group commenting on any issue they’re examining, or bringing new issues to light, is appropriate, encouraged, and valuable.
And while some members of TR-42 do in fact come from the design/installation field and bring that perspective with them to each meeting, even more of that perspective would be a better thing. I’ll go out on a limb and say the chair of TR-42, Herb Congdon, would not disagree with that statement.
Speaking of Herb, he’s the guy to contact with any correspondence about the UTP/conduit/lubricant issue. Everybody’s efforts wit in TIA are voluntary; Herb is not a TIA staff member, so, you can reac him at his employer-issued address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Certainly, if you have had any experience with the “wet link phenomena,” or if you have used all the equipment involved and have had no problems, share your input. But don’t let that be the only time the TIA hears from you. As I stated last month, I believe TIA standards are the very foundation of much of what goes on in this industry. Make sure your voice is heard as that foundation for the future is laid.