Fall conference looks at the challenges of working with higher network speeds.

Nearly 1,200 members of the voice/data/video industry traveled to the BICSI 2002 Fall Conference at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, August 19-22 to learn about the latest developments in copper and the optical fiber world.

The big news in copper cabling is TIA’s June publication of Addendum 1 to the 568-B.2-1 standard for Cat. 6 balanced, twisted-pair copper cabling. This document covers end-to-end cabling specifications, component/connector hardware specs, field tester requirements, and measurement procedures. It puts special emphasis on patch cord test and performance needs and on accurate measurements for near-end and far-end crosstalk—unwanted interference that degrades the digital signals carried on the cable.

On the optical fiber side, manufacturers and specifiers continue to discuss the economics of using 50-micron multimode fiber for carrying data at Gigabit (and beyond) Ethernet speeds.

On Monday, the three, full-day seminars for members only covered:

  • LAN Design and Performance.

    This session helped designers become familiar with the performance specifications and design rules associated with Cat. 5e, Cat. 6 and fiber-optic cabling systems. In addition, attendees left the session with an understanding of the benefits of current field test methods to certify cabling installation and the relationship between cabling installation and active network performance.

  • Outside Plant Construction.

    This session focused on the legalities of the new ANSI/TIA/EIA 758 Standard on outside plant construction. Future changes to the standard were also highlighted throughout the seminar.

  • Cabling Installation.

    A comprehensive review of important installation practices, based on ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B, ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A, and the ANSI/NECA/BICSI 568-2001 standards, were presented during this session. The workshop also addressed topics such as proper cable separation from power conductors, conduit fill, bend radii, cable removal, and the all-important 50-ft rule for OSP cable. A panel discussion on modular furniture and surface-mount raceway followed.

Technical session highlights

Jerry Bowman, president, Superior Systems Technologies, Columbus, Ohio, outlined the importance of security in today’s communications systems. He focused on how to prepare for emergencies and how to protect against hackers and cyber terrorists.

Frank LaPlante, vice president marketing, Anixter, Inc., Skokie, Ill., spoke about the rapidly evolving application of CCTV-type services. These imaging systems, which can be carried on twisted-pair cabling more economically than on coaxial cable, can be included in a building’s UTP copper-based structured wiring system. CCT lacks standards, and it’s difficult to measure headroom, so two separate cabling plants aren’t necessary.

Edward Kientz, president, Benner-Nawman, Inc., Wickenberg, Ariz., reviewed the work of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). As the group’s current president, he was able to describe how a standard is developed and published. He also offered portions of the association’s Telecommunications Market Review and Forecast report for 2002. Some of the report’s key findings reveal that private branch exchange (PBX) spending will reach $4 billion, key telephone systems (KTS) will top $1.6 billion, and voice-processing equipment for Internet protocol (IP) application will be at $5.9 billion. Spending on voice system gear will reach $15 billion in the next few years, with PBX, KTS, and voice-processing equipment growing at 5.1%, 6%, and 6.2%, respectively.

Todd Fries, HellermannTyton, Milwaukee, detailed the labeling and record keeping procedures required by the revised ANSI/TIA/EIA 606-A standard. By properly identifying system elements and maintaining accurate records, all moves, adds, and changes, troubleshooting, and repairs can be handled faster and more efficiently. The standard gives four classes of administration that accommodate the varying degrees of complexity found in today’s buildings or campus environments.

John E. George, fiber development manager, OFS, Norcross, Ga., provided an update on the latest fiber standards and discussed the growing use of 50-micron multimode optical fiber and the decline of the older 62.5-micron fiber. He reviewed the developments in the 802.3ae standard, such as the coming 10 Gigabit Ethernet specs and the advisability of using the new 850 laser optimized 50/125-micron fiber, which offers 200 MHz-km of bandwidth.

Jeff Hinton, sales specialists, Dominion Lasercom, Inc., Bryan, Texas, discussed the use of a fiber-coupled, free-space laser communications system. Operating at up to 100 Mb/s full duplex Ethernet, the system can cover distances as far as 1,000 meters. Applications include extending LAN and campus data/voice networks and backing up fiber and microwave networks.

Les Baxter, Consultant, Avaya, Inc., Little Silver, N.J., offered an overview of the IEEE 1394b standard, which is rapidly becoming the preferred network for transmitting digital video and audio at distances as far as 100 meters. Providing a very flexible interconnection procedure, a 1394 network can serve as a subsystem for delivery of multimedia information at speeds as high as 100 Mb/sec within a structured cabling system. As many as 63 devices may be connected.

Robert Jensen, optical fiber programs manager, Fluke Networks, Austin, Texas, spotlighted a recent BICSI survey showing that, while fiber application is steadily growing, users need the latest information about field test methods and optical loss budgets. The IEEE 802.3 standard has only a 2.38dB optical power loss for Gigabit Ethernet over 62.5-micron fiber. Jensen discussed a new Telecommunication System Bulletin (TSB) under development by TIA TR-42.8 that describes the testing of fiber length, optical loss and polarity, and that also invokes a two-tier test procedure.

Timothy Kraft, RCDD/LAN specialist, Gt Gith Communication Services, Albany, N.Y., evaluated the IEEE 802.3af Power Over Ethernet standard. Two different power insertion techniques to deliverer 48V DC power to equipment on a network’s UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) copper cabling are under study. A standard covering power supply equipment, connecting hardware, and a protocol that recognizes when a device is inserted into the network are needed. Applications include voice over IP, wireless access points, PDAs, building automation system sensors, security access gear, lighting control, and home automation/entertainment equipment. This technology greatly increases the AC power requirements in a telecommunications closet.