Here is a rundown of some of the goings-on at the most recent BICSI Conference, held in late January, that either impressed or annoyed me, or otherwise caught my attention. In the case of annoyances, I will keep everyone anonymous to protect the guilty. They know who they are, and if you were there, you know who they are, too.
One, two, three, six. Three system vendors introduced their next-generation unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling systems. Call it 10-Gig-ready, pre-standard Augmented Category 6, whatever. There now are a total of six vendors offering these end-to-end systems. Introduced at BICSI were Belden CDT’s IBDN System 10GX, Panduit’s Synergist System, and the AMP Netconnect XG UTP System from Tyco Electronics. In December, Systimax introduced its X10D system. With ADC’s CopperTen and The Siemon Co.’s 10G6 having been available for some time, the number of vendors offering these high-performance systems has tripled rather quickly. A few years ago, a system vendor in this industry used the phrase, “Don’t blink,” in its marketing campaign. If you blinked anytime recently, you may have missed the appearance of four new systems on the market. Next month, regular contributor Betsy Ziobron will go in-depth covering the technology behind some of these systems, describing what makes them work as well as the work going on within the TIA to specify an Augmented Category 6 system.
An unreal-world scenario. One vendor demonstrated how robust its newest UTP cabling system is by setting up test beds, pitting its latest system against its rival’s. Curious to know if the vendor went through the effort and expense of the elaborate setup to prove that its system is not quite as good as its competitor’s, I stopped by the booth for a demonstration. Lo and behold, it showed that this vendor’s UTP system performed far superior to the other. What intrigued me most was that the vendor proved its case by sending video signals over each of the cabling systems. The results weren’t evident in slow e-mail or file transfer, but in the display of a movie on a monitor. It convinced me. The next time Adelphia is at my house running a cable TV line from the basement to a room on another floor, I will make sure they use the appropriate brand of UTP cable. Then I’ll ask the technician to locate the RJ-45 port on my TV, because I haven’t found it yet.
Powered up. At the risk of rehashing what I elaborated on in this space last month, Power over Ethernet products now appear to be mainstream. Many of your everyday cabling vendors were, for the first time, displaying their midspan powering devices at the January BICSI exhibition. For those of you who are end users of cabling systems, these products probably are more accessible to you now than ever before. And for you contractors who will be asked to work with these devices, the vendors for whom you are certified system installers may very well have midspan devices in their cadre of offerings. As always, you have to guard against being caught flat-footed by a customer with a question about the technology and its applications.
I scream, you scream, we all scream. At the conference, I did something that I dislike doing; I left a technical session before it was over. Having double-booked some of my time, I had to skip out early on a presentation that led up to a break. As I left with about 10 minutes remaining, I almost passed a cart at which free ice cream was available to all attendees. My Catholic guilt over leaving the session early was compounded by the fact that leaving early allowed me to get my flavor of choice. (Of course, at the time I didn’t feel enough guilt to walk past the ice cream cart.) Had I stayed through the end of the presentation like I should have, my favorite flavor probably would have been gone by the time I got to the ice cream cart. Somewhere out there is someone who attended the conference, wanted a cookie-dough ice cream bar, and had to settle for another flavor because he or she stayed through the entire session. To that person, I offer my sincere apologies.
Seriously, I hope you find this month’s issue useful, and also hope you pick us up again next month to get details on the latest in UTP connectivity. Finally, if you can set me straight on the validity of the video demonstration I described earlier-the way that several people last month took me to task on the flaws in my “ACR-isn’t-really-a-ratio” theory-please do so.