Standards-making

I must take exception to your July editorial, "Two approaches to standards-making" (July 1995, page 3). It is not fair to compare the making of a standard for optical fiber with that for copper wire.

I must take exception to your July editorial, "Two approaches to standards-making" (July 1995, page 3). It is not fair to compare the making of a standard for optical fiber with that for copper wire.

I believe that it is much more difficult to write a standard for a mature industry than it is for a young industry. In a young industry, there is a small embedded base of product and no pre-conceived notions of what is best. This allows decisions to be based on physics and logic. Mature industries do not have this luxury. Does anyone believe that the selection of the wiring pattern of the modular jack (RJ-45) with a pair split across pins 3 and 6 was based on physics and logic? Of course not: It was a compromise to the embedded base.

The physics of transmitting a high-bandwidth signal over optical fiber have been studied and documented and are less complex than the electrical properties of high-bandwidth copper-based systems. The publishing of standards for copper-based products has usually been delayed because the physical and electrical properties were unknown and had to be determined in the laboratory.

The fiber industry is just starting to feel some of the pressures from the field. Currently out for committee ballot is a draft standard that would allow fiber to have a different transition between the horizontal and backbone cables than that of the copper-based systems. While the industry urgently needs these standards, accuracy is better than speed.

David Coulombe

Homaco Inc.

Chicago, IL

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