Editor's Picks

Aug. 1, 2012
OFS and OFS Labs recently announced the addition of U.S. Patent No. 7,817,258, “Measuring Modal Content of Multi-Moded Fibers,”

From the August, 2012 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Compiled by Matt Vincent

OFS: Few-mode fibers could mean 10x bandwidth jump

OFS and OFS Labs recently announced the addition of U.S. Patent No. 7,817,258, “Measuring Modal Content of Multi-Moded Fibers,” to the company’s intellectual property portfolio. The patent relates to a method for analyzing the output modal content of an optical fiber containing more than one spatial mode.

The method described in the patent allows mode content to be quantified by measuring interference between co-propagating modes in the optical fiber. By spatially resolving the interference, an image of the spatial beat pattern between two modes may be constructed, thereby providing information about the modes supported by the optical fiber.

According to OFS, this capability is useful to the understanding of optical properties of few-moded fibers, a next-generation technology being explored by the company that it says has the potential “to expand fiber bandwidth ten-fold.”

Handheld optical power multi-meter tests for multi-wavelength fiber, CATV signals

GAO Fiber Optics has released its handheld optical power multi-meter, model C0260001. Designed for construction and maintenance of fiber communications and CATV systems, the fiber test tool integrates an optical source and optical power meter into one device. The device’s laser source module operates at dual wavelengths of 1310 nm ± 20 nm and 1550 nm ± 20 nm, while the optical power meter module works at a wavelength range from 800 to 1600 nm and can automatically identify frequencies including 270 Hz, 1 kHz and 2 kHz.

GAO says the C0260001 optical power multi-meter features multi-wavelength precise measurement, simple button operation, real-time clock functionality, single-ended dual wavelength output, low voltage warning, auto power off and an energy-saving design. The tool’s internal microprocessor and linearity magnification technology ensure long term calibration and test accuracy. It conducts absolute and relative power tests, as well as optical loss tests for fiber-optic cable and passive optical devices. It also performs loop tests and two-way automatic testing.

This optical power multi-meter also has a large memory capacity which can store up to 200 groups of test data. In addition, multi-adapters are available for all common connector types including FC, SC, ST, and LC.

Wi-Fi Alliance adds enterprise certification programs

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced that it will soon begin to certify products for two new programs created to provide enterprise-grade voice quality, mobility, power savings and security protections.

The first new program, Wi-Fi Certified Voice-Enterprise, is designed to support good voice call quality in large enterprise networks that require support for advanced WPA2-Enterprise security mechanisms. The program builds on the existing Wi-Fi Certified Voice-Personal program to support fast transitions between access points and provide management for voice applications.

Products selected as the test suite devices for Wi-Fi Certified Voice-Enterprise testing include the: Aruba 105 Wireless Access Point and Aruba 3200 Controller; Broadcom Wireless-N WLAN mini-card adapter reference design; Cisco Aironet 1260 Series access point and Cisco Aironet 2100 Series WLAN controller; DSP Group Expeditor TB Wi-Fi reference board; Marvell Plug Computer with 8787 Dual Band Wi-Fi; Meru 802.11abgn AP310 access point and Meru MC1500 controller; Qualcomm Atheros XSPAN reference design concurrent dual-band access point; and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Bold 9000.

The second new program, Wi-Fi Certified WMM-Admission Control, provides bandwidth management tools to optimize the delivery of voice and video traffic in Wi-Fi networks. Products selected as test suite devices for the Wi-Fi Certified WMM-Admission Control testing include the: Aruba 105 wireless access point and Aruba 3200 controller; Cisco Aironet 1260 Series access point and Cisco Aironet 2100 Series WLAN controller; DSP Group Expeditor TB Wi-Fi reference board; Marvell Plug Computer with 8787 Dual Band Wi-Fi; Meru 802.11abgn AP310 access point and Meru MC1500 controller; Ralink RT3800PDAP3 Wireless access point; Ralink MIMObility 802.11n reference design; and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Bold 9000.

Voice-Enterprise and WMM-Admission Control-certified devices can connect with older Wi-Fi Certified devices, enabling a range of devices already in use to connect with products implementing these new features. Voice-Enterprise and WMM-Admission Control-certified devices can support Wi-Fi Certified n technology, as well as other versions of Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi Alliance says both new programs will provide enterprise IT managers solutions for better voice quality and bandwidth management in their Wi-Fi networks, including the following benefits:

  • Priority for voice applications: APs give priority to voice packets over data packets, optimizing performance in mixed traffic environments where heavy data, voice and video traffic co-exist.
  • Seamless mobility: Voice connectivity is preserved as the user moves within the enterprise network, from one AP to the next.
  • Power savings: Solutions are optimized for battery-operated devices, implementing mechanisms across the system that maximize power efficiency.
  • Advanced security protection: Industry-standard WPA2 security ensures only authorized users access the network and protects the privacy of communications.

“These new certification programs reflect Wi-Fi’s continued prominence as an enterprise networking technology and bring important new tools to meet the needs of demanding enterprise applications,” said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “As enterprise connectivity continues to evolve, Wi-Fi Alliance will continue to give IT managers confidence that products will meet the needs of ever-more-complex networks.”

Cabling-installation tool used to disable IEDs in Afghanistan

CableOrganizer.com reports that it has supplied fiberglass push/pull rods, typically used for installing cabling, to the United States Army and Marines for purposes including the location, digging up and disabling of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan. The poles, manufactured by CMD Cable Management, are available in lengths up to 26 feet.

According to the report, troops in Afghanistan use tape to attach a steel hook, made locally in Afghanistan, to the end of the pole. The hook has a sharp blade. The modified tool is then used to detect IEDs, access them and cut their wires. Cableorganizer.com said it has sold more than 100 such poles to the armed forces at GSA pricing for direct shipment to Afghanistan.

Paul Holstein, chief operating officer of Cableorganizer.com, said, “We’re most thankful for the opportunity to assist U.S. troops in their front-line efforts in Afghanistan by making this telescoping tool affordable and readily accessible to them in the field. We appreciate how well we’ve worked [with CMD] to get this product in the hands of these innovative soldiers, who we wholeheartedly applaud.”

comCables announces national distribution

comCables, a structured cabling and low voltage connectivity systems supplier based in Denver, Colorado, announced that it has opened its doors for national distribution. Prior to this, the company had been primarily selling directly to contractors.

“Our contractors have been instrumental in working with us to develop a high-performance, reliable and easy-to-install product line,” comments Greg Greenwood, CEO and president of comCables. “These same contractors are now asking for more availability of the product through new distribution channels.”

Launched early this year, the company reports that its distribution unit has already signed on with six national stocking distributors, expanding into Texas, Ohio, and the Mississippi River Valley. The company says it will continue to bring on additional distributors.

“We are gaining momentum quickly through demonstrating our value to these new channels,” says Derek Davis, regional sales manager for comCables. “We roll up our sleeves to deliver the ‘distributor onboarding’ experience over a week’s time to ensure their team can demonstrate comCables’ value proposition to their customers.”

Fluke, Cisco team on Wi-Fi planning for SMBs

Fluke Networks has teamed with Cisco to jointly offer its customers the AirMagnet Planner for Cisco Small Business platform. The Wi-Fi planning platform is designed to help Cisco small business resellers meet challenges associated with deploying and planning an 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless network.

AirMagnet Planner offers predictive modeling to determine the ideal quantity, placement and configuration of Cisco Access Points for optimal security, performance and compliance. The platform can take into account the wireless properties of more than 10 Cisco Small Business access points and wireless routers, including the newly released WAP121 and WAP321, to accurately design the wireless network for maximized coverage and performance.

The platform is also designed to help organizations better address emerging performance challenges associated with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon.

“Fluke Networks AirMagnet Planner is the de facto solution for wireless network planning and we’re excited to join forces with another market leader to offer our solution to SMB customers,” commented Chia-Chee Kuan, vice president of the Fluke Networks WLAN business unit. “Wireless is a critical business application not only for the enterprise, but also for SMBs. Ensuring these networks perform at the highest levels possible requires accurate planning and deployment.”

Optical network spending falls 23% in Q1 on European market dive

Infonetics Research reveals in a recent Optical Network Hardware vendor market share report that the first quarter of 2012 saw optical network systems revenues plummet 23% worldwide, to $2.8 billion. The market research firm says the shrinkage was particularly acute in Europe, which reportedly suffered its worst optical communications capex quarter in five years.

The overall picture perhaps looks worse than it really is, in light of the optical network hardware market’s previous strength, notes Infonetics. Still, the firm contends market’s situation in Europe is shading toward grim. “While optical hardware revenue trends in all world regions were not positive in the first quarter of 2012, the most alarming development is that year-over-year in EMEA, particularly Europe, spending on WDM optical equipment decreased faster than spending on legacy SDH equipment,” explains Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst for optical at Infonetics Research.

Unlike other areas of the world, Europe doesn’t show much near-term upside, either, according to the research. Schmitt adds, “This is not the behavior of a region experiencing only a minor quarterly pullback. By contrast, the trend in North America was the opposite, with carriers cutting spending year-over-year but allocating towards forward-looking technology investments like WDM equipment and ROADMs.” In fact, ROADM optical equipment spending was flat in 1Q12, which Infonetics considers “an achievement” considering this niche posted a record quarter in 4Q11.

Some companies are weathering the storm better than others, finds the firm. For example, Fujitsu and Ciena outperformed competitors in North America, while in Asia NEC and Fujitsu enjoyed 28% gains in 1Q12 from the year-ago quarter. Aside from NEC and Fujitsu, the relative winners in outperforming the market were smaller companies such as Infinera, ADVA, and Transmode, as stated by the firm.

“EMEA and North America are both now trending downward on a rolling fourth-quarter basis, and Asia Pacific is flat,” continues Schmitt. “Still, conversations with vendors and carriers lead us to believe that spending in North America will resume moderate growth and we are forecasting solid gains in optical spending in China this year in large part due to our recent visits with Chinese carriers. But Europe is a tough call, with macroeconomic trends there not providing much hope and evidence that some service providers there are battening down the hatches.”

AV distribution amplifiers get greener, compensate for improper cable terminations

FSR has introduced enhanced versions of its high-resolution 1x2 computer distribution amplifiers that significantly reduce the products’ power consumption. The company says the new CDA-2EQG and CDA-2EQGA, with stereo audio, satisfy applications where a local monitor is needed along with a remote display device requiring a long cable run. Typical examples include conference and board rooms, classrooms, courtrooms, staging and rental areas, and houses of worship.

According to FSR, the new enhanced models maintain the performance features of their predecessors while adding an automatic power-down feature that the company says reduces standby power consumption to less than 50 mW. That is a reduction of more than 95 percent. The enhanced products also include an advanced sync output circuit that helps to provide reliable display operation even when cables are terminated improperly.

When the CDA-2EQG local monitor output is deployed, “Signals arrive at the far end of the cable, up to 175 feet of standard mini hi-res coax, with an almost immeasurable amount of loss,” FSR notes. Meanwhile, the CDA-2EQGA facilitates an active audio balancing circuit. ::

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