Small-footprint connectors step out

Strong ripples are still spreading throughout the cabling industry while component manufacturers position themselves for the future in the wake of the recent attempt by the Telecommunications Industry Association (tia--Arlington, VA) to standardize a small-form-factor fiber-optic connector (see "Standards battle waged in Alamo country," Cabling Product News, March 1998, page 16, and "The incredible shrinking fiber-optic connectors," May 1998, page 51). Because the tia did not agree upon a single

Jul 1st, 1998

Patrick McLaughlin

Strong ripples are still spreading throughout the cabling industry while component manufacturers position themselves for the future in the wake of the recent attempt by the Telecommunications Industry Association (tia--Arlington, VA) to standardize a small-form-factor fiber-optic connector (see "Standards battle waged in Alamo country," Cabling Product News, March 1998, page 16, and "The incredible shrinking fiber-optic connectors," May 1998, page 51). Because the tia did not agree upon a single connector, it is unclear at this point if any one of the new models will dominate the market. What is clear is that the tia and fiber-optic cabling installers have had enough of the SC connector, and whichever of the new small-form-factor models gains market acceptance will be warmly welcomed by installers.

In the tia/eia-568a Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard, the tia recommended the SC connector for use in new fiber-optic installations as well as for plant upgrades. The SC was never widely accepted, however, and at least part of the thinking behind the most recent standardization attempt was that users are more likely to embrace an easy-to-use, small-footprint connector. So when the dust eventually settles and installers, designers, and contractors also settle on the connector they want, fiber-optic cable`s currently lethargic migration to the desktop should pick up significant speed.

Attaching the label "breakthrough" to a technology that is still in its infancy and includes products that may quickly fade from the market may seem unusual. But consider the five competing connectors as well as other small-form-factor connectors currently available as the "coup d`état" that ousted the SC from its shaky throne. Now that`s a breakthrough.

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