Category 3 minimum FCC-approved for all new copper-cabling installations

Effective July 8, strict telephone/telecommunications wiring requirements for new copper installations, recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission, will mean that wiring must be clearly marked

Effective July 8, strict telephone/telecommunications wiring requirements for new copper installations, recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission, will mean that wiring must be clearly marked to indicate compliance with Category 3 or greater. The FCC order, based on considerable input from BICSI (Tampa, FL), seeks to ensure consumers will have access to next-generation communications services without degradation of service.

The new requirements, recently endorsed by the Copper Develop-ment Association (CDA-New York City), are based on a 1997 petition from BICSI requesting that minimum requirements for inside copper wiring for new or retrofit installations be solid, 24-gauge twisted-pair. The Category 3 minimum requirement seeks to reduce static, crosstalk, and signal-degradation problems-especially when installed in close proximity to other wiring-typical with cable intended for standard voice services.

The copper-only standard was adopted despite FCC concerns that the proposal was "overly restrictive." Industry comment, however, supported the copper emphasis because it will "remain the norm for telecommunications wiring for some time to come" and is especially susceptible to crosstalk problems.

Pointing to the increased need for Category 5, Category 5E, and soon Category 6 cable to handle advanced communications services, William T. Black, vice president of wire and cable for CDA, says, "Installers, builders, remodelers, and consumers should take note that the new rule specifies Category 3 wiring or better-the emphasis should be on better."

Accordingly, the FCC warns that "minimum standards...do not imply that inferior materials may be used instead of copper." The commission further empowers carriers "to take necessary actions to protect the PSTN [public-switched telecommunications network], such as temporarily disconnecting or refusing to connect inside wiring or customer-provided equipment that is likely to cause harm to the PSTN." Carriers must notify the customer that the inside wiring isn't up to FCC requirements, and "the customer will then have the opportunity to seek redress from the party that installed the wire or, alternatively, to assume the risk of connecting to the PSTN."

Ronald Provost, BICSI governmental relations representative who chaired the FCC subcommittee that developed the rule, says, "We're pleased to have CDA's support for the new ruling. Now that we've succeeded in setting a new minimum requirement, we've got to get the word out."

Weighing significantly in the FCC's decision was comment in response to BICSI's original petition in 1997. Among the significant responses are the following:

  • Poor-quality, nontwisted-pair inside wiring can cause harm to the network in the form of crosstalk, "resulting in a loss of privacy, interference with digital transmission, and disruption of telephone conversations."
  • Use of poor-quality inside wiring in new installations is growing, "creating a nationwide crosstalk problem."
  • Inferior wiring may go unnoticed for years, and symptoms may not arise until additional phone lines or ser vices are added. Once a problem is discovered, "homeowners often must rewire the affected premises to rectify the problem, at a cost substantially higher" than the cost of the original installation.
  • Consumers are often "shut out" of the wire-selection process, with contractors/developers selecting lower cost over quality when purchasing wire for simple inside wiring.
  • Since the contractor or builder isn't held accountable for problems caused by "least-cost-based" decisions, market forces will not protect the consumer's interest, and a standard must be established to correct the situation.

The FCC report emphasizes, "We intend that this regulation will benefit consumers by ensuring that their interests are protected before they encounter problems caused by poor wiring inside." Adds CDA's Black, "People shouldn't hesitate to install phone jacks now wherever they think they might need them in the future-wherever they or the next family that owns their home might want to plug in a laptop or other communications device."
-Steve Smith

Moves, Adds & Changes

In a transaction valued at nearly $7.1 billion, Alcatel's (Paris and Malverne, PA) Carrier Data Div. will acquire Asynchronous Transfer Mode wide-area-network vendor Newbridge Networks Corp. to form an integrated Carrier Internetworking Div. in Kanata, ON, Canada. Alcatel plans to leverage Newbridge's leadership in the ATM/Internet protocol multiservice edge market and strong network management to provide a comprehensive solution for managed enhanced services using digital-subscriber-line access technology. Pearse Flynn will head the expanded team as division president and will be appointed CEO of Newbridge. Also, Alcatel and ADC Telecommunications Inc. (Minneapolis) have agreed in principle to an alliance that seeks to bring international multiple system operators quick and cost-effective cable-telephony solutions that can compete with traditional service providers. The collaboration will include Alcatel's 1570BB optical cable-TV distribution system and ADC's Homeworx cable-telephony system that delivers high-capacity service over hybrid fiber/coaxial-cable networks.

Communications Supply Corp. (CSC-Chicago) has purchased structured cabling distributor Premium Technologies Corp. (Seattle and Norfolk, VA). The acquisition is seen as enhancing CSC's opportunities within the federal government enterprise-a primary market for Premium. The Premium management team of Steve Ewart, Joe Vigeant, and Brent Zefkeles will continue with CSC.

Cablesoft (Tempe, AZ) has added six executives to its senior management team who, according to CEO Pete Pela, will help the company through "the transition from a product-focused vendor to a solution and services-oriented company." Vice president of marketing Tracy McDargh and solution evangelist Bill Vesio join from Microtest Inc.; Ron Monroig, manager of the network division of Control Engineering, is now systems integrator development director; AT&T sales manager Debbie Fitzgerald moves to the role of western regional sales director; Jim Potter, former global business manager at W.L. Gore and Associates, is original equipment manufacturer development director; former Pinacor executive Mike Lima has been appointed COO.

Graybar Electric Co. (St. Louis) has opened a new location in Joliet, IL, to serve the region's industrial, commercial, power utility, interconnect, electrical, and data contractor customers. The new facility is Graybar's ninth in Illinois. The company has also appointed Jon N. Reed as vice president and treasurer, succeeding the retiring John W. Wolf.

Holocomm Systems Inc. (Carlsbad, CA), a company that provides fiber-to-the-desk solutions, has changed its name to Holocom Networks. The change, according to CEO Renny Senn, reflects "a sharper company focus on office network environments." The company's new URL address is www.holocomnetworks.com.

FICOM Corp., provider of voice and data cable management solutions, has moved into a larger facility at 2280 Micro Place, Escondido, CA. The company tripled the number of its employees in less than a year, growing to more than 80. Also at FICOM, Jason Plasse has been named field service manager, responsible for developing and maintaining the company's cable infrastructure design and installation services.

Portable test equipment vendor Sunrise Telecom Inc. (San Jose, CA) has appointed Raymond Chong as vice president strategic marketing; Robert King as vice president North American sales; and Dennis Koo as vice president of quality group.

Communications systems equipment and services supplier Andrew Corp. (Orland Park, IL) has named Guy Campbell president and a director. He has most recently served as group president for Andrew's Wireless and In-Building Products Group. and previously was with Ericsson for 26 years.

Joan E. Ryan, a former vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) at Ameritech Small Business Services and Alliant Foodservice Inc., has been named CFO for telecommunications equipment manufacturer Tellabs (Lisle, IL), succeeding Peter Guglielmi, who has served as CFO and executive vice president since 1988. Guglielmi will remain on Tellabs' board of directors.

Everest Broadband Networks (Fort Lee, NJ), a new broadband services provider specializing in commercial/residential buildings and hotels, has named its team of managers: Alan J. Scrime, executive vice president of network and communications services (most recently of Bell Atlantic's Data Solutions Group); Rashmi Doshi, chief technology officer (former executive director of Bell Atlantic); James Szeliga, marketing (former vice president/general manager at Orckit Communications); Hamid Modarressi, vice president of network operations (previously vice president and CIO of Bell Atlantic Global Networks); and Joseph Varello, vice president of corporate development (a former director at Bell Atlantic Internetworks).

Bryan D. Forman has been named COO of Pierce International's (Iuka, MS) new fiber-optic and wireless communications division, North American InfoTech. Pierce is upgrading its Mississippi facility to accommodate increased communications bandwidth capabilities through fiber optics and wireless technology.

Christian Koch has been appointed vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Rittal Corp. (Springfield, OH), a telecommunications and data-communications enclosure manufacturer. Also new to the Rittal team is James B. Hirt II, who has been named vice president of operations.

Fred Yentz, vice president and general manager of RadiSys Corp.'s Enterprise Systems Div., has been appointed chairman of the MultiMedia Telecommunications Association's board of governors. He succeeds Stanley Blau, who will retain an officer's role as immediate past chairman of the executive committee.

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