Fiber ignites ComNet 97 program

Fiber ignites ComNet `97 program

BEN HARRISON

More than 48,000 people and 500 exhibitors jammed the Washington, DC, Convention Center recently to attend ComNet `97. Developments in fiber optics were evident throughout the program and in the show`s exhibits.

Keynote speaker Steve Forbes, president and chief executive of Forbes Inc. and chief editor of Forbes magazine, said that the United States is in an era in which global opportunities can be either seized or missed--and he highlighted fiber-optics communications three times.

Sharing his views on potential roadblocks to explosive growth in the communications industry, he said there is too much regulation in the communications industry. "While the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a stab at deregulation, the fcc [Federal Communications Commission] and the Congress have been much too timid in their approach.

"We need more bandwidth; we should scrap the regulations and have a free-for-all. Regulation distorts things like a pretzel. Moreover, current fcc complaints about the lack of competition in the telecommunications industry are akin to telling a patient with pneumonia that he can`t get antibiotics until he starts doing better," Forbes said.

In ComNet news developments, at&t presented two network programs that run over the company`s fiber-optic transport system. Managed Network Solutions provides corporate customers with end-to-end managed network capabilities supported by 1000 networking professionals and backed by more than $80 million in networking platforms and tools.

The second program, called Switched Virtual Circuits (svc), also runs over fiber on the company`s Asynchronous Transfer Mode (atm) service. svc enables at&t wide area network customers to establish real-time connections to network destinations. According to Bard Haerland, vice president of worldwide telecommunications at Unisys Corp., in Blue Bell, PA, availability of svc has helped make a business case for atm.

at&t`s global customer networks are operated by seven interlinked atm net work management hubs in Raleigh/ Durham, NC; New York City; Redditch, UK; Amsterdam; Singapore; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai.

ixc Communications Inc., Austin, TX, a fiber-network builder, announced at ComNet that it is constructing a 7000-mile national fiber-optic network from Cleveland to Los Angeles (see related article, page 1). The company has plans for additional fiber connections, according to David C. Spencer, director of product marketing. These include fiber routes from Cincinnati to Atlanta, Kansas City to San Francisco, and San Francisco to Seattle. Information was not available on how many additional fiber route-miles may be involved. However, some industry experts think this 7000-mile figure could double by the end of 1998.

"ixc`s broadband capabilities are an overlay on the backbone network," Spencer explained. He described the company`s broadband data services, which use advanced fiber optics and transmission technologies incorporating both frame relay and atm. Spencer said that ixc has installed Newbridge Networks atm platform switches in 10 cities.

Also at ComNet, SunGard Recovery Services Inc., Wayne, PA, discussed its SunGard National Network (snn), a nationwide managed network for disaster recovery. snn uses a Synchronous Optical Network-based DS-3 telecommunications backbone and DS-1/DS-3 digital access and crossconnect systems. SunGard has selected Sprint Corp., Kansas City, MO, and Teleport Communications Group Inc., New York City, to be its primary nationwide DS-3 carriers. SunGard deploys a Sonet digital crossconnect system, called titan, as the foundation for snn`s recovery network services. titan is manufactured by Tellabs, Lisle, IL.

Fiber sessions

ComNet `97 also included numerous technical sessions on fiber optics. In one session, "Fiber Optics for Current and Future Networks," Jim Hayes, president of Fotec Inc., Medford, MA, explained that telecommunications, cable TV, and high-speed local area networks are benefiting from new fiber-optic technologies that allow higher data rates, lower costs, and innovative services.

"One of the new innovations, plastic optical fiber, has always been lurking in the background of fiber-optic technology. There is now increased interest in plastic fiber because research and development have given it higher performance to go along with ease of installation and cost. The public also perceives plastic fiber as being more advantageous than glass fiber and copper," he said. q

Ben Harrison was formerly senior editor at Lightwave.

ComNet Fiber Demonstrations

ComNet `97 included numerous fiber-optic product demonstrations. Siecor Corp., Hickory, NC, displayed its lanscape fiber-optic products and services for premises network cabling. lanscape products include fiber-optic cables, termination and splice equipment, hardware products, cable assemblies, tool kits, test equipment, and plug-and-play factory-terminated fiber cable and hardware systems.

Ortronics Corp., Pawcatuck, CT, exhibited a media converter called TransOptix, which converts electrical signals to optical signals for transmission over fiber-optic cable. The media converter handles ieee 802.3 10Base-T to fiber-optic conversion. According to Joseph Coffey, senior application engineer, there are 70 million 10Base-T installations. He says this fiber-to-the-desk optical-conversion device is the first to be installed within a PC.

Noyes Fiber Systems, Laconia, NH, showed the TurboTest 500 series of fiber-optic test sets. Designed for high-fiber-count systems, the test set measures both bidirectional end-to-end and optical return loss simultaneously, thereby reducing test time. Results are stored and later downloaded to a PC or printer for complete documentation in 1310- and 1550-nm testing. The test set also includes a full-time dedicated voice port for 40 dB of full-duplex communications on separate fiber.

Alcoa Fujikura Ltd. Telecommunications Div., Spartanburg, SC, demonstrated an optical interconnect ribbon cable for parallel data processing and local area network and premises deployment. Other applications include data processing, high-density interconnect systems, and mass connectorization capabilities. The cable is available in singlemode and multimode, as a 2- to 12-fiber single-strand unit, and in a dual zipcord configuration to 36 fibers.

Pan Dacom, Hamburg, Germany, exhibited a fiber-optic multiplexer and a fiber back-up system that essentially is a mode converter and booster. The fme-h multiplexer is suited for synchronous transmission to 6 x E1/T1 channels at 2.048 Mbits/sec. It operates to 3 km with multimode fiber and to approximately 29 km with singlemode fiber.

Transition Networks, Minneapolis, introduced a high-speed singlemode-to-multimode media converter that extends network distance past the 2-km multimode limitation to distances of 15 km. This converter operates at full- or half-duplex without any switching or modification. Both connectors operate at 1300 nm and allow for protocol-independent transmission at speeds from 10 to 125 Mbits/sec.

rad Data Communications, Mahwah, NJ, demonstrated the Megaplex-2100 modular, time-division multiplexer with a fiber interface designed to help companies maximize the value of their T1 links by providing them with more toll-quality voice channels with data and lan traffic. The multiplexer supports 144 voice channels over a single T1 link.

nordx/cdt Inc., Montreal, QC, Canada, displayed the Optimax fiber-optic field-installable SC connector, which requires only a few simple tools--fiber cleaver and fiber stripper--for installation. The SC connector has been standardized by the American National Standards Institute, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the Electronic Industries Association as the connector for structured cabling installations.

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