Leviton brings wallplate manufacturing back to U.S.

April 1, 2013
Leviton is transferring the manufacturing process of its QuickPort data-communication wallplates product line from China to the United States.

From the April, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Compiled by Matt Vincent

Leviton is transferring the manufacturing process of its QuickPort data-communication wallplates product line from China to the United States.

Through early 2013, production will transition from Leviton's manufacturing plant in China to the company's Network Solutions plant in Bothell, Washington. The company said the move is "part of [an] effort to reduce waste from shipping, boost efficiency and bring manufacturing closer to government and commercial projects in the United States, all while improving product availability."

The wallplates will be made using new high-efficiency molding machinery for dramatically lower energy consumption relative to traditional processes. The company notes that for 25 years its Bothell facility has manufactured copper and fiber-optic network connectivity, as well as power-distribution units for enterprise, data center and other commercial markets.

Tim Lockard, director of operations for Leviton Network Solutions, said, "This move further demonstrates Leviton's commitment to supporting the resurgence of manufacturing production in the United States."

Active antenna system supports DAS, macro and small cells

Ubidyne has introduced what it calls "the first fully digital distributed antenna system (DAS) for extending mobile broadband coverage (LTE, UMTS) to indoor or outdoor data hot spots."

Based on a proprietary digital architecture, the company's new active antenna system supports high-capacity, multiband, multi-standard and multi-operator installations for environments such as university campuses, airports, shopping malls, stadiums and offices, as well as other dense indoor and outdoor environments. Via the system, up to 16 independent single-band to quad-band remote antennas can be strategically located and connected using any grade of fiber to a central hub (uBhub), based up to 10 km away.

Multiple hubs can be cascaded for coverage in large buildings such as football stadiums or convention centers. With full digital control of each transceiver/radiator, a single Ubidyne DAS platform can also be used by different wireless carriers in the same location to meet specific coverage and capacity needs, says the company.

Ubidyne's digital architecture also supports the combination of different radio solutions. For example, for indoor/campus locations, the DAS can be connected with a high capacity small cell, also based on Ubidyne's platform architecture. Finally, the digital architecture enables future-proofed cooperative antenna configurations with distributed MIMO for high capacity hot-spots.

"Eighty percent of all wireless traffic happens indoors, but existing DAS solutions reach their capacity limitations and face operational challenges because of analog distribution of the RF signal," comments Michael Fränkle, CEO at Ubidyne. "With the Ubidyne digital DAS platform, system and antenna vendors can now upgrade their solutions to meet growing capacity demands."

Extricom launches 'very large-scale' enterprise WLAN platform

Enterprise wireless LAN (WLAN) systems provider Extricom has launched its LS-3000 Large Scale wireless solution, designed especially for very large-scale WLAN environments, such as large logistics hubs, regional medical centers, and large hotels where seamless wireless roaming performance is required. According to the company, the LS-3000 platform supports a maximum wireless coverage area of more than 100,000 square meters, equivalent to approximately 20 soccer fields.

The company's proprietary Channel Blanket technology provides up to four "blankets" of wireless coverage in challenging radio frequency (RF) environments, each of which can be set up to support a different business requirement. This means that it's possible to provide one wireless blanket--specifically for business-critical data, for example--that won't be affected by heavy data usage of Internet browsers, which can impact bandwidth. Internet users can then be provided with a separate blanket, as can staff using their own mobile devices in the work environment, to minimize the wireless security risks associated with bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

Amit Shvartz, Extricom's vice president of marketing, comments, "We received increasing numbers of requests from leading businesses and institutions that need a fast and highly reliable wireless solution for their large-scale facilities. The LS-3000 was developed to address this gap in the market by providing a seamless, highly resilient wireless solution for very large installations."

Report sees telecom sector growth outpacing GDP growth

In a late-2012 study analyzing fundamental telecom and datacom market drivers, Infonetics Research says that mobile service revenue is globally the main growth engine in the overall telecom/datacom market, up 4.3 percent year-over-year since the first half of 2012.

"As we're ending 2012, Europe's crisis remains uncontained and is now spreading to Germany," comments Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics . "The potential of shaking business confidence everywhere in the world has risen to new heights, and the IMF lowered its growth forecast and is warning of recession risks due to downward revision of global GDP, which now stands at 3.3 percent."

The report adds that user mobility driven by the "BYOD anywhere" trend is putting pressure on carriers to move to a single network for fixed and mobile access, Internet traffic, and private/premium services. The research also finds that data traffic growth is outstripping transport equipment costs, with traffic climbing 29 percent annually, while equipment costs are falling 10 percent. The study also determines that while software-defined networks (SDNs) are on service providers' minds, "it is a longer-term challenge to find implementations of hybrid SDN and non-SDN in live networks."

"Economic readings are worrisome everywhere but the U.S., but so far the impact on global telecom and enterprise remains tame, and we're forecasting capex to grow nearly 4 percent in 2012 over 2011," concludes Infonetics' Téral. "With the announcement of AT&T's and Deutsche Telekom's multi-billion dollar investment plans, [2013's] capex outlay looks brighter." However, the report cautions that the phase-out of stimulus monies and pressure on government budgets is decreasing public sector spending, and could take a bite out of overall enterprise growth.

Infonetics' December 2012 Fundamental Telecom and Datacom Market Drivers report adds that, due to unprecedented threats and the growing BYOD trend, businesses are looking to integrate security into everything from smartphones to routers and switches, and are currently evaluating data center security appliances, cloud security services, and security for virtualized environments and public and private clouds.

Forecast: Media-converter demand will remain strong

ElectroniCast Consultants recently released a market analysis of the worldwide use of media converters in private data-communications networks. "For the purposes of this study, ElectroniCast classifies the media converter as a device that connects different communication transmission media, for example, from copper to/from optical fiber, and multimode optical fiber to singlemode optical fiber," the company explained. "Media converters offer a relatively inexpensive alternative to repeaters. They do not retime the signal or add the signal propagation delays like full repeaters, so they do not increase the number of repeaters to existing networks."

The 312-page forecast report concludes "there will continue to be a strong user demand for greater bandwidth and increased interconnectivity to the desktop, throughout the buildings, campuses, from LAN-to-LAN and LAN extensions."

Stephen Montgomery, president of ElectroniCast, commented, "Driven by broadband-intensive digital video and critical data transfers, which are the type of data crossing communication devices, copper-based interconnect typically lack in serving the bandwidth requirements. For computer and storage-intensive applications such as data centers, the integration of optical interfaces is forecast to push the market demand for copper-to-fiber-optic, as well as converting different types of optical fiber media conversion."

The company stated that its research indicates "network operators and administrators are turning to media converters with increasing frequency, and this trend will continue well into the future. The demand for media converters, of course, derives from the need to use different kinds of cabling in the same application," ElectroniCast continued. "The requirements of each network will determine whether multiple cable types are necessary, and in turn, which media converters might play a role."

Published in late 2012, the analysis projected that for the year, the Americas Region would lead in relative market share with 48 percent of worldwide consumption in terms of value, although it forecasts the APAC region will capture the leadership position in relative market share later in the forecast period.

Tester checks cabling, PoE, IP connections for video surveillance

Ideal Industries Networks explains its SignalTek II test tool has the capability to assure IP-video surveillance-system reliability, whether the cabling infrastructure used to support IP video is copper- or fiber-based. "IP physical security systems require a powerful mix of infrastructure components, ranging from robust high-speed cabling and PoE/PoE+ power delivery, to IPv4 and IPv6 connections and high-capacity network equipment," the company notes. "A single flaw in any of these components will seriously compromise system availability, as well as the overall security of a facility and its occupants."

That's where its SignalTek II comes in for surveillance-system integrators, the company says. "SignalTek II begins the job by verifying that the system's copper or fiber cabling is capable of supporting bandwidth-heavy IP-based video surveillance applications over 10/100 Megabit or Gigabit Ethernet," Ideal says. "Next, SignalTek II will test IP connections, validating proper DHCP [Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol] and static IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, testing Internet and cloud connections with ping and trace route, and ensuring connection to NVRs [network video recorders], video clients, decoders and wireless nodes. It will also load test network capacity between cameras and the NVR, storage and client locations, as well as simulate any number of MJPEG or H.264 cameras with resolutions up to 5 MP."

Finally, Ideal Industries Networks says, the tester generates documentation verifying network connectivity and job completion. Reports provide a pass/fail summary and individual test result details, the company says.

CEDIA publishes residential cabling guidelines

CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, has released a document titled "Recommended Wiring Guidelines" outlining the types of cabling infrastructure necessary to support the technology typically required for the modern home, the association says.

"This new publication provides a useful and practical step-by-step guide," CEDIA says. "It identifies the key requirements for an installation and defines three grades of recommended cabling infrastructure. These guidelines also create a business opportunity for CEDIA EST 2-certified members who can qualify as a CEDIA Structured Cabling Assessor and provide independent verification and testing for developers and consumers that a cabling infrastructure has been correctly designed and installed."

CEDIA describes the capabilities of the three grades of cabling infrastructure as follows.

Grade 1 will ensure the effective and reliable delivery of Internet services, home networking, TV, satellite, radio, telephone, conferencing and other entertainment services to most rooms in the house.

A Grade 2 installation will additionally provide the capability for whole-home distribution of audio-visual content using discrete in-ceiling speakers and in-wall control points.

With a Grade 3 infrastructure, functionality is further extended to embrace lighting control, motorized curtains and blinds, access-control systems, CCTV networks, environmental and heating control, as well as systems that allow these technologies to be controlled and integrated by a single control system using in-wall controls and handheld remote devices.

The set of guidelines includes explanatory diagrams and illustrates a staged process for installation. It outlines the incoming services as well as the planning, cabling and testing essentials that should be followed for each grade.

Matt Dodd, CEDIA education chair, commented, "This document provides the essential guidance that's needed on wiring to support today's digital and connected lifestyles. These guidelines provide best-practice advice for all involved in the residential custom installation sector, and will also help specifiers and developers make the right choices at an early design stage.

"The most expensive cable that can be installed is the one that did not get fitted in the first place," he added. "Mistakes can be costly, so it is vital to get the cabling infrastructure correct the first time around."

Audio-to-fiber box enables bi-directional communications

S.I. Tech has introduced its new full duplex (bi-directional) Audio to Fiber Bit-Driver, Model 2239. The box is designed to enable bi-directional audio communications with a dedicated fiber link over short or long distances. The device provides two-way stereo audio over fiber, and can be used with either multimode or singlemode fiber for short or long distances, respectively.

The Model 2239 has one-eighth-inch (3.5 mm) microphone input and stereo line level phono and speaker phono jack inputs. The box digitizes audio input into 16-bit samples at a 48-kHz rate. Digitized high quality audio is transmitted across fiber to a remote end and converted back to analog format. The Model 2239 also supports line input volume adjustment to maximize the use of the digitized channel, as well as speaker/headphone volume adjustment with mute capability.

Typical applications include paging systems, music distribution and control with audio tones.

Corning develops optical USB 3.0, Thunderbolt cables

At the Consumer Electronics Show early this year, Corning introduced two fiber-optic consumer-electronics cables--one compatible with Thunderbolt and the other with USB 3.0 computer/peripheral connectivity interfaces.

"USB 3.Optical and Thunderbolt Optical Cables by Corning significantly extend the data transmission range past the length limits of copper-based cables," Corning said when announcing the cables' development. "Optical Cables by Corning are significantly longer, 50 percent smaller, 80 percent lighter, and still stronger than comparable copper cables."

USB 3.Optical Cables can reach lengths up to 30 meters and provide a 5-Gbit/sec data transfer rate and are compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices. Corning points out that the cable has been designed to be compatible with devices using USB 3.0 and 2.0 interfaces, but the USB-IF has not yet developed a specification for optical-fiber transmission.

The Optical Thunderbolt Cables can reach lengths up to 100 meters, providing a dual-channel, bidirectional 10-Gbit/sec data rate with data and video on a single cable, Corning says. "The ultra-slim 'zero-bend' radius cable has an electrically isolated noise-reducing design," the company says, "can daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt devices at the same time, and is hot-swappable, meaning it can be attached and removed without interruption to the system."

The company was targeting late Q1 2013 for the cables' availability through select consumer-electronic retail chains.

Mike Bell, senior vice president and general manager of Corning's Optical Connectivity Solutions, said, "Users can create, move and manage their data in a much more flexible, efficient and durable manner with this new technology. Video can be live-edited from across a football field; a music library can be downloaded 40 percent faster; and devices can be quickly accessed and connected with this much smaller and lighter cable when the capabilities of WiFi and Bluetooth just aren't enough."

IEEE approves 802.11ad wireless LAN standard

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently announced that its Standards Association Standards Board approved the IEEE 802.11ad-2012 amendment. The 802.11ad spec enables "data rates up to 7 Gbits/sec, more than 10 times the maximum speed previously enabled within the IEEE 802.11 standard," the organization said. "With the improvements introduced in IEEE 802.11ad, this amendment is a perfect complement to the existing IEEE 802.11 standard, acting as the foundation for tri-band networking, wireless docking, wired equivalent data transfer rates and uncompressed streaming video," it added.

The 802.11ad spec includes what is called "fast session transfer" feature, which enables compliant devices to transition between the 60-GHz frequency band and the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands. IEEE said, "The ability to imperceptively move between the bands ensures that computing devices are always 'best connected,' enabling them to operate with optimal performance and range criteria." It further explained: "Many users in a dense deployment can all maintain top-speed performance, without interfering with each other or having to share bandwidth as with legacy frequency bands."

Bruce Kraemer, chair of the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN Working Group, commented, "IEEE 802.11 is undergoing a continuous process of refinement and innovation to address the evolving needs of the marketplace, and there is no better proof of that fact than IEEE 802.11ad. By migrating to the next ISM band [60 GHz], we break ground on new spectrum for IEEE 802.11, enable an order of magnitude improvement in performance and enable usages that have never before been possible with existing IEEE 802.11--namely wireless docking and streaming video."

Handheld industrial labeler is optimized for cabling contractors in the field

At the 2013 BICSI Winter show in Tampa, FL, Brother Mobile Solutions (BMS) introduced the PT-E100 labeling system, a compact, handheld device designed specifically for http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/print/volume-21/issue-1/features/why-rtpms-improve-success-of-cabling-infrastructure-deployments.html">cabling contractors in the field. As the newest member of the company's P-touch Edge family of industrial handheld labeling systems, the PT-E100 was engineered for extreme simplicity and priced to outfit an entire cabling crew, says Brother.

Highlighting the system's ease of use, application keys help contractors label cables by simply selecting the diameter of a cable or the precise width of a faceplate to create legible, long-lasting labels in just a few key strokes. By integrating smart layout features with intuitive navigation and simple display messaging, the PT-E100 allows contractors to create professional labels in the field without having to resort to a manual for detailed instructions.

The PT-E100 employs Brother's HGe and TZe tapes that come in an easy-to-load, drop-in cartridge that contains all the necessary components to print a thermal-transfer laminated label. Using a thermal transfer laminating process with smart sensing technology, the PT-E100 creates automatic imaging settings to print near-perfect laminated labels, claims the company. The unit is guaranteed to produce UL-recognized labels that withstand fading, abrasion, extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals and moisture, and is backed by a two-year, limited exchange warranty.

Brother also states that additional features of the PT-E100 include: the ability to print more characters per label than similar products; alpha and numeric serializing with up to nine labels automatically incremented; a large LCD screen; faster printing speed than similar products; a multi-lingual user interface including menus that can be configured in 20 different languages; the ability to print laminated labels, thereby encapsulating the print between two protective layers; and an all-in-one, drop-in carriage design that offers high print quality and simplifies media replacement when that is necessary.

"We strongly believe that labels are the thumbprint of professionalism and a critical element of properly documenting the job," comments Ravi Panjwani, vice president of marketing and product management for Brother Mobile Solutions. "By developing an affordable, yet technologically advanced labeling system, we have armed the contractor with an easy-to-use tool for use by the entire crew that can label nearly anything on a job." ::

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