UL offers new limited-combustibility marking

Technical advancement and consumer protection are converging as more-stringent, limited-combustibility requirements are put in place.

Oct 1st, 2000

Technical advancement and consumer protection are converging as more-stringent, limited-combustibility requirements are put in place. In January, Under-writers Laboratories Inc. (UL-Northbrook, IL) responded to industry requests, mainly from authorities having jurisdiction (fire marshals and inspectors), and decided to offer an optional limited-combustibility marking for plenum cables.

The new marking of "Limited Combustible" is available for all UL-listed products that already comply with the existing UL-910 standard, and means they pass UL's potential heat, smoke-developed index, and flame-spread index tests.

The foundation for the new optional marking was built approximately 20 years ago when the UL-910 standard, consisting of the cable flame-propagation and smoke-density test, came into play as an addendum to the existing National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 90A standard. The NFPA 90A standard contains the requirements for "limited-combustible material," but UL-910 was created to provide specific requirements for plenum-cable compliance.

"The new marking is a more-stringent smoke requirement," says Randy Laymon, UL's engineering group leader of wire and cable flammability testing. He points out, however, that the marking is not currently required. "It is optional testing we [UL] can do if a manufacturer wants," Laymon explains.

In early August, communications systems provider Avaya Inc. (Basking Ridge, NJ), formerly Lucent Technologies' Enterprise Networks Group, introduced a high-performance local-area-network (LAN) cable that received the new marking.

The SYSTIMAX Power Sum 4061 cable is designed to transmit both voice and data at a performance level that exceeds Category 5E standards. To meet the UL requirements, the 4061 cable was insulated and jacketed with Dupont Teflon fluorinated ethylene propylene resin. Avaya says the 4061 cable is not subject to performance changes caused by aging or environmental conditions.

The 4061 cable has been specifically designed for areas in need of high performance, including high-occupancy public buildings, healthcare facilities, research laboratories, and structures that house sensitive, electronic mission-critical equipment.

Laymon notes that while Avaya was the first to receive the marking, additional cables are following in its footsteps. As to future use, he concludes, "whether or not this takes off will be market-driven-it will be driven by the authorities having jurisdiction."
-Michelle Abrams


Study indicates trend toward one-network systems

Traditionally, we have seen buildings wired with two networks-one for voice and another for data. Now, according to a recent report by market analysis and research firm Allied Business Intelligence Inc. (ABI-Oyster Bay, NY), what we have come to rely on as a dual-network system is likely to become all-in-one.

LAN Telephony: The IP-PBX and Telephone Sets Report, recently released by ABI, concludes there will be a steady convergence of both voice and data networks into one local-area-network (LAN) line over the next five years. Researchers looked at shipping activity of LAN-based telephony stations and found that 121,000 stations were shipped in 1999. The report predicts more than 37 million stations will be shipped in 2005, pointing to an average annual growth rate of close to 160% over the next five years.

Marc Liggio, author of the study and director of broadband research at ABI, says the transition to LAN-based telephony is already starting to occur in small installations. He notes, "It is not yet wide-scale, but eventually it will be."

The convergence of voice and data into one network means that the current private branch exchange (PBX), used for voice transmission, will be combined with data networks and run on one LAN line. Liggio sees several advantages to this setup, including ease of network expansion and simplification of the move/add/change process. As individuals switch desks or new desks are occupied, system administrators simply plug in a LAN cable to make the work area operable.

This is good news for the cabling-installation industry, because according to Liggio, "The penetration rate of LANs and the stricter requirements to enable higher-speed transmission will require ongoing cable upgrades."

A combination of the high demand for LAN installations, high-speed LANs calling for higher-quality cable, and more telephony systems requiring higher-speed cable indicates that while LAN telephony is poised for continued growth over the next five years, so is the cabling-installation industry.
-Michelle Abrams


Anicom navigates murky financial waters

In mid-July, cabling-product distributor Anicom Inc. (Rosemont, IL) took steps to clear the murky waters that have slowly flooded the company's financial statements.

Amid allegations by investors of accounting irregularities, Anicom headed off a potential investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and announced the company would perform an internal investigation into potential errors.

In addition, Anicom issued a press release to warn investors that the 1998 and 1999 financial statements should not be "relied upon," and the president/CEO and chief financial officer have been given "administrative leave with pay" pending conclusion of the investigation. This warning was also reiterated in Anicom's July 18, 2000 8-K filing with the SEC.

The 8-K is a form that a company files to declare changes/amendments/ mistakes to the financial statements. Anicom filed an 8-K declaring a self-investigation into possible accounting errors, which could result in the revision of previous financial statements. Possible non-cash revisions and charges, resulting from the investigation, could be as much as $35 million on a pre-tax basis.


Class-action suit

In response, investors have organized to file a class-action suit, alleging the company filed false financial statements. Investors had until September 18 to join the suit prior to the declaration of the lead plaintiff. The lawsuit affects investors who purchased Anicom shares between February 24, 1998 and July 18, 2000.

Known for its cabling-product distribution, Internet-infrastructure products, and multimedia technologies, Anicom is publicly traded on the

NASDAQ under ticker symbol ANIC. Trading, however, has been halted pending the results of the internal investigation.

Mark Perlman, spokesperson for Anicom, assures that the company is operating in a "business-as-usual fashion." Anicom declined to give an expected date of conclusion to the investigation.
-Michelle Abrams


Moves, Adds & Changes

Westek Electronics Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA), a manufacturer of high-speed telecommunications cords, cables, and test equipment, has completed a 50,000-sq-ft expansion at two facilities in its new Santa Cruz headquarters. The recent move from Scotts Valley to its new location has resulted in a quadrupling of production of digital subscriber line, broadband, and fiber-connection cables.

DataManagement (Bloomfield Hills, MI) has opened operations in Denver to meet the cabling and network-integration needs of medium to large-sized companies in the western United States. Richard Hall, formerly district manager of Ashland Inc., has been named general manager of the new Denver operation.

Robert Reynolds has been named president and CEO at Graybar Electric Co. (St. Louis). A 28-year veteran of Graybar, Reynolds replaces Carl Hall, who is retiring due to health reasons. Additional appointments include Ronald Segraves, elected to succeed the retiring Frank Mossa as district vice president at New York; Alan Eddings, promoted to vice president, communications/data marketing; Rob Bezjak, promoted to district vice president of the south-central communications/data district.


INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT

This column covers various industry-related topics. To submit a news item, contact
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