Top 9 Cabling Stories of 2011

CalendarJust sitting here reminiscing about this past year, 2011. We have had thousands of comments posted on our blog and a hundred thousand viewers. Thank you very much for visiting our blog and our website throughout the year! We really appreciate your traffic and your comments!

With that said, the past year had numerous of bizarre headlines in the news about cabling. Here is a list of nine of the biggest cabling stories on the web and the news in 2011. The list includes a little bit of everything: crime, courtroom drama, standards in-fighting and natural disasters.

Please comment if you have heard some other interesting stories that are not on this list.

9. Standards

After multiple years of development and consideration, several new standards were finalized and published in 2011.

New standards include:

TIA-607-B Generic Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding (Earthing) for Customer Premises

NECA/BICSI 607-2011 Standard for Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding Planning and Installation Methods for Commercial Buildings

TIA 942-A, the first revision of TIA’s standard for data center telecommunications infrastructure

8. Cabling for Healthcare Systems

Cabling in the Emergency Room

In the United States, healthcare is a formerly sleeping giant that is just beginning to snap into consciousness. Over the next several years, healthcare promises to have a major impact on our society- socially, technologically and economically.

We are all well aware of the situation. Our aging population will see their collective health decline slowly over a longer lifespan than that of previous generations. Technology provides opportunities in the field to increase the efficiency of providing care to the population. The concept of cabling for healthcare (including hospitals, medical offices, and telehealth) is gaining attention rapidly.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 reinforced and expanded security provisions of HIPAA. This means that healthcare facilities now require even more robust technology infrastructures and storage capabilities to manage electronic medical records. In addition to security and compliance concerns, other factors are also driving the need for high-bandwidth networks. Long-distance and multiple location collaboration, frequently involving the transmittal of audio and video, is on the rise. The growing popularity of digital data in the healthcare industry is also creating increased demands on network infrastructures.

7. Steep Price of Cable Theft

Cable Theft

With today’s economy, everyone is trying to save money anyway they can. Unfortunately, the new trend is stealing copper cables because of the money that scrap copper can fetch. There is nothing good that comes to those who attempt this stunt. One story in 2011 involved a row of houses that exploded after a cable theft left its earthing system unstable.

Here is a blog that talks about the criminals, the damage and the punishments in more detail.

6. Personal Devices Bombard Wireless LANS

Have you ever had trouble connecting or completing a mobile phone call? Despite the billions of dollars invested in cellular infrastructure, there are still apparent voids in coverage. In some cases, what appears to be a void in signal coverage is actually a void in capacity.

Smartphones

As more mobile devices attempt to connect to a given cellular base station, the collective interference raises the noise floor in which that base station is operating. This has the same effect of “reducing coverage.” So a location that may seem to have good service during off-peak periods may not have good service during peak periods (such as Starbucks or a library). At the extreme, if enough mobile devices are trying to connect to the base station, the radio access network cannot accept additional requests for service so the call is blocked entirely. And of course, with the increasing demand of smartphones, this problem will only get worse. (Scott D. Thompson, Oberon Inc)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) predicts a critical shortage in useable spectrum for cellular systems, particularly in urban areas, by mid-2012. Currently the combination of cellular and PCS spectrum provides only 170 MHz of widely available public spectrum, although the FCC is working on freeing up an additional 377 MHz of spectrum, for a total of 547 MHz of public spectrum. This will take years, if not decades, for the carriers to deploy.

5. More than 10G on Twisted Pair?

Twisted Pair

Finally, four years after the IEEE’s (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) specs were finalized, 10GBase-T deployments are available. Now some attention is being paid to the possibility of going beyond 10-Gbit/sec transmission over twisted-pair copper.

Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-42.7 Copper Cabling Subcommittee recently submitted plans for 40G over twisted pair to come out in 2014.

We found that even among those who support the general concept of high-speed transmission, there is some disagreement over the cable-construction type (e.g. S/STP, F/UTP) that is ideally suited to perform the job.

4. Counterfeits Run Wild

Look out! Counterfeits appear to be around every

Counterfeit Nike Shoes

corner. You may even own some counterfeits without having an knowledge that they are actually counterfeits. China and other developing countries have found counterfeiting to be extremely profitable for everything from perfume to phones and any other tangible item. The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) has been on a campaign to raise awareness of counterfeit products. Meanwhile, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) continue to inform the public when it discovers communication cables that use its marking without authorization.

Existence of counterfeit products is not anything new to the cabling trade. In November 2011, dozens of suspected counterfeit products were revealed to have been installed on U.S. defense equipment from Raytheon, L-3 Communications, and Boeing — including in aircraft deployed to Afghanistan. According to The Washington Post, The Senate Armed Services Committee said it discovered counterfeit parts, usually originating from China, in at least seven aircrafts, including the Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130J transport plane, Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and L-3 27J Spartan transport, as well as in helicopter night vision systems and aircraft video display units.

 Unshielded twisted-pair cables are the most commonly counterfeited product in the cabling industry. We recommend that you use cable that have protected markings, such as the holographic labels that are now required by UL. These precautions will minimize the significant risks that are borne by those who choose to cut corners and install non-compliant cable.
3. Bend-Insensitive Multi-Mode Fiber
Bend-insensitive multimode fiber (BIMMF) has an innovative core design that enables it to significantly reduce macrobend loss even in the most challenging bend scenarios. BIMMF is fully compliant with the OM2, OM3 and OM4 standards for laser-optimized fibers and is also backward compatible with the installed base of 50-μm multimode fibers.

Currently, there are two sides to the product reputation. Some say BIMMF is proven and reliable while others have concerns about performance characteristics.

This debate is crucial to companies that manufacture multimode fiber and to those that incorporate it into their cables.

Why should you care?

It matters to you because the multimode fiber-optic cable that you buy and use in data networks and enterprise networking either does or does not have BIMMF within it. It is extremely important that you get straight answers from your cable supplier about the fiber within the cable and what performance guarantees they offer.

2. Lawsuits!

Legal matters are important to watch closely because they can directly affect the manner in which you purchase cabling and cabling-related products.

Extremely exciting lawsuit in 2011 was the ongoing litigation between cabling-systems distributor Anixter and the cable manufacturer Commodity Cables. In June, Anixter sued Commodity for selling millions of feet of substandard and/or counterfeit communications cable to at least one unsuspecting United States company. Shortly after June, Commodity filed a counterclaim against Anixter. Commodity Cables issued a letter to its customers steadfastly denying the accusations made against them.

Another intriguing lawsuit in 2011 was AFL vs two companies that sell its fusion splicing products online. AFL had an early win in one case and a draw in the second.

1. Money

Money is always on everyone’s mind. The pricing of the materials used in cable manufacturing hit wallets pretty hard in 2011. Cable thefts derived from the price of copper, but at the moment, is at a two-year low in price.

Another major happening this past year was the temporary closure of Daikin’s FEP production facility in Japan after the country was hit by the Tsunami in March. This drove the prices of manufacturing up since supply was down.

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1 comment for “Top 9 Cabling Stories of 2011

  1. January 31, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Decent write, I will be browsing back more often to look for refreshes.

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