BICSI Fall Conference Focuses on Higher Network Speeds

Aug. 30, 2002
The BICSI 2002 Fall Conference, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Aug. 19-22, drew nearly 1,200 attendees who learned about

The BICSI 2002 Fall Conference, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Aug. 19-22, drew nearly 1,200 attendees who learned about the latest developments in copper cabling and optical fiber.

The big news in copper cabling is the addendum recently published by the Telecommunications Industries Association (TIA) to its TIA 568-B.2-1 standard for Category 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 accurate measurements for near-end and far-end crosstalk (unwanted interference that degrades the digital signals being carried).

On the optical fiber side at the BICSI Fall Conference, manufacturers and specifiers discussed the economics of using 50-micron multimode fiber for carrying data at Gigabit (and beyond) Ethernet speeds.

The three, full-day seminars for BICSI members covered LAN design and performance for Category 5e and Category 6 cable systems; fiber-optic cabling systems; outside plant construction based on the new ANSI 758 standard; and a review of important installation practices based on the 568-B and 606-A standards, along with the ANSI/NECA/BICSI 568-2001 Standard.

In his seminar, Jerry Bowman, president, Superior Systems Technologies, Columbus, Ohio, outlined the importance of security in today's communications systems, and how to prepare for emergencies and protect against hackers and cyber-terrorists. Frank LaPlante, vice president marketing, Anixter, Inc., Skokie, Ill., also spoke on the security market and the rapidly evolving application of CCTV-type services. These imaging systems, which can be carried on twisted-pair cabling more economically than coaxial cable, can be included in a building's UTP copper-based structured wiring system.

Fiber-optic cabling and other communications media were popular topics at the Fall BICSI Conference. Consultant Les Baxter, Avaya, Inc., Little Silver, N.J., spoke about the IEEE 1394b standard, which is rapidly becoming the preferred network for transmitting digital video and audio at distances up to 100 meters. Providing a very flexible interconnection procedure, these networks can serve as subsystems for the delivery of multimedia information at speeds of up to 100 Mb/sec within a structured cabling system.

Robert Jensen, optical fiber programs manager, Fluke Networks, Austin, Texas, discussed 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 talked about a new Telecommunication System Bulletin (TSB) under development by TR-42.8 that describes the testing of fiber length, optical loss and polarity.

John George, fiber development manager, OFS, Norcross, Ga., provided an update on fiber standards and the growing use of 50-micron multimode optical fiber, rather than the older 62.5-micron fiber. He also 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 specialist, Dominion Lasercom Inc., Bryan, Texas, discussed the use of a fiber-coupled, free-space laser communications system. This system, operating at up to 100 Mb/s full duplex Ethernet, can cover distances of up to 1000m. Applications include extending LAN and campus data/voice networks and backing up fiber and microwave networks.