Fiber-to-the-desks slow pace

While fiber-optic cabling has dominated the backbones of commercial buildings, it is safe to say that running fiber cable from the backbone to the desk has proceeded at a snail`s pace. Fiber has the largest bandwidth of any medium available, can transmit signals over long distances, is immune to electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference, and is not easily tapped. However, fiber`s cost and its pricey supporting components have been a major hindrance to bringing fiber cable to the desk.

Ron Karjian

While fiber-optic cabling has dominated the backbones of commercial buildings, it is safe to say that running fiber cable from the backbone to the desk has proceeded at a snail`s pace. Fiber has the largest bandwidth of any medium available, can transmit signals over long distances, is immune to electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference, and is not easily tapped. However, fiber`s cost and its pricey supporting components have been a major hindrance to bringing fiber cable to the desk.

Small-form-factor fiber-optic connectors represent some manufacturers` attempts to bring down hardware and labor costs while supporting faster, simpler, and higher-density installations. These cost and time benefits are designed to counteract the drawbacks of the duplex SC connector in bringing fiber to the desk--a goal that installers and systems integrators support. For instance, responding to a Fiber Optics Association (foa--Chicago, IL) questionnaire, foa members cite the "large size" of the current duplex SC as one of the connector`s major hindrances to fiber-to-the-desk`s acceptance. And they believe that some of the most important characteristics of a standardized connector--easy installation, quick termination, and low cost--are lacking in the SC connector.

Fiber-to-the-desk suffered another significant setback when the tia was unable to agree on including a standard small-footprint connector in the revision of tia/eia-568a. Five connectors were presented to the tia`s TR-41.8.1 working group last November, and many in the industry thought that most, if not all, of the connectors would win approval. In a recent bicsi survey, in fact, a two-thirds majority believed that one or more small-footprint fiber-optic connectors should be added to the revised commercial building cabling standard. But none of the five connectors received enough votes.

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