The BICSI 2002 Spring Conference, May 6-9 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, drew about 2,500 attendees and focused on higher speed networks, the complexities of cable testing and the specialized requirements of data centers.

A big topic of discussion was the increasingly practical Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). A few years ago, VoIP technology could not compete with the features of traditional phone systems. But today, with the wide acceptance of the Ethernet standard, IP PBXs offer as much or even a little more than standard dial-up, switched circuit technology.

During the technical sessions, Christopher DiMinico, director of network systems technology, CDT Corp, Leominster, Mass., described how a voice-over-IP hand set or a laptop computer (both Ethernet devices) can be powered over UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) cabling. The Spring Conference offered three separate, full-day technical seminars. The subjects were: LAN design, aerial fiber-optic networks, testing of enhanced unshielded twisted-pair cable (UTP), firestopping, a review of the 568-B standards, and UTP vs. shielded twisted-pair cable (ScTP).

John E. George, fiber development manager, OFS, Norcross, Ga., covered the recent changes in 10 Gigabit multimode fiber (MMF), and reviewed the developments in the related 802.3ae standard, which should be ratified by mid-year. His analysis focused on the benefit of the new 50-micron MMF products. He said within the office 10G will be primarily a backbone technology, but that other key applications are storage-area networks and network-attached storage. Highlights of the other sessions were as follows: Dan Kennefick, copper products business manager, Berk-Tek, New Holland, Pa., discussed the new limited combustible type cable (CMP-50) insulation materials, which are designed to increase fire safety. Mel Lesperance, standards coordinator, and Jay P. Myers, training specialist, Ortronics, Tampa, Fla., covered proper labeling and recordkeeping procedures for terminations.

Jonathan Jew, president, J&M Consultants Inc., San Francisco, discussed the developing standard relating to data centers that will require equipment plugs to be locking NEMA L5-20P type devices. Ed Coffin, technical/product advisor/telecommunications, Accubid Systems Ltd., Toronto, Canada, offered estimating tips for voice/data contractors.

Ron Wessels, vice president of engineering/network division, CommScope Inc., Claremont, N.C., discussed the various proposals for high bandwidth telecom/Internet cabling entering the home of the future. The last (or first) mile into the home is considered to be the bottleneck, and a variety of cabling solutions are available. Two single-mode fiber and a single copper wire proposal look to be the most promising solutions, Wessels said.