Simply press to test

Oct 1st, 1995

Simply press to test

George Kotelly

Senior Editor/Features

Because fiber-optic broadband networks are operationally complicated with analog and digital voice, video and data signals, network planners and users have demanded test instruments that can perform a suite of optical signal measurements quickly, easily and accurately. In addition, they have insisted on versatile, proficient and precision testers that save labor, time and skill costs. Moreover, these testers must perform all existing optical fiber tests, yet have the capabilities to accommodate process changes, custom procedures and future upgrades. If abundant test capabilities are incorporated into the equipment, then, ideally, the test operator would only have to press a single button.

Indeed, optical test equipment manufacturers have met these measurement challenges. They have kept pace with industry demands by evolving their next-generation test tools into intelligent instruments with many performance capabilities similar to those found in personal computers. With integrated hardware and software, smart test instruments are able to independently and automatically perform all the needed optical tests without operator participation.

For example, whether handheld, bench-top or rack-mounted, the latest testers implement microprocessors for control, accuracy and speed; software algorithms for increased measurement change, analysis and accuracy; and internal memory and floppy-disk drives for test data access, storage and display.

To demonstrate how small, rugged and lightweight transportable test sets can analyze the complex operation of synchronous optical networks, Charles Alexander, product line manager at the Hewlett-Packard Cerjac Telecom Operation, Westford, MA, details the active and automatic interpretation of Sonet overhead and payload conditions with the push of a single button (see page 40). These computer-powerful testers can verify network setup, prioritize and display error results and perform stimulus/response tests, and each test is activated with one keystroke.

In addition to research and development laboratories, manufacturing, production and engineering test environments need more powerful benchtop and rack-mounted test systems. According to members of the laboratory product support group at EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering in Canada, these locations need flexibility, programmability, interface capabilities and automated measurement control (see page 45). Such high-end test capabilities have been incorporated into a mainframe chassis that accepts and directs a range of plug-in modular measurement units. The mainframe chassis is basically a test-based computer that also works with database, spreadsheet and word-processing software. Each plug-in unit provides one or more optical test functions, such as a power meter, light source, attenuator or switch, thereby enabling an array of test applications.

On the downside, though, the trend to intelligent test instruments, but at lower cost, has blunted test equipment sales. User preferences for inexpensive handheld instruments over bench-top and rack-mounted units have moderated the overall test equipment market. This market is expected to uptick slightly to $145 million in 1995 and should mope along at an average growth rate of 4% to $175 million in the year 2000 (see page 62). These numbers differ radically from the double-digit growth experienced through the 1980s and early 1990s.

An acceptable threshold

To the Editor:

Regarding George Lawton`s article on SCTE Cable-Tec Expo `95 (see Lightwave, August 1995, page 9), I`d like to emphasize some additional information that was included in my presentation on quality and reliability. The Cablelabs study I cited reported an outage threshold (two outages in three months) above which cable subscribers quickly become dissatisfied. Service outages kept at or below that threshold [are] acceptable to subscribers in an entertainment environment. According to work by David Large, presented in a paper at this year`s NCTA, the Cablelabs outage threshold corresponds to approximately 99.7% perceived availability.

While this may be acceptable in today`s multichannel video entertainment environment, the cable industry recognizes that this threshold is not suitable for telecommunications and other non-entertainment services. The industry is redefining an acceptable availability figure for cable-TV based telecommunications, with the target being 99.99%.

Quality and reliability may not be high-tech buzzwords, but they are critical to the cable industry`s very future.

Ron Hranac

Sr. Vice President

Coaxial International

ITU group

elects chairman

Andre LeBel, president and chief executive of Teleglobe Canada Inc., has been elected chairman of the World Telecommunications Advisory Council, Geneva, Switzerland. Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Technology Missions, was elected first vice chairman. The council provides strategic advice to the International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General.

Tim Phillips has been appointed assistant vice president for a new switching sales group at Alcatel Network Systems, Richardson, TX, which complements the company`s synchronous optical network transmission group. The switching sales group is responsible for products that provide carriers with advanced end-to-end services.

Lee Dayton, Fujitsu Network Transmission Systems Inc. Richardson, TX, has been named vice president of product planning and management, following a restructuring of Fujitsu`s research and planning department. As a result of the restructuring, Mark Barratt now oversees transport planning, and Bill Erickson is responsible for access planning. As director of product planning support, Joe Blanchard is now in charge of product support, technical publications and proposal development.

Bill Tabola and Bryan Polich have been named Eastern regional sales manager and North Central sales manager, respectively, at General Scanning Inc., Watertown, MA. Before joining the company, Tabola spent six years at Intec Inc., where he was director of international sales for the Asia/Pacific region. Previously, Polich was Midwest sales manager at DTM Corp., which manufactures rapid prototyping equipment.

Tim McGarry has been appointed national sales manager at Melles Griot, Auburn, MA. With more than 10 years` experience in the sales and marketing of lasers and electro-optics, he held sales and marketing positions at Micracor, Lambda Physik and Spectra Physics before joining Melles Griot.

Fred E. Scott has been named vice president for broadcast and professional video product/sales at Fiber Options Inc., Bohemia, NY. Previously, he was product manager for the division. Rod Cormier has been appointed manager of the company`s test department.

Susan Hoyler has been appointed manager, technical/regulatory affairs, at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), in Arlington, VA. She is responsible for monitoring TIA`s standards-developing process, answering technical inquiries and coordinating the activities of the Consultative Committee on Telecommunications (CCT). Hoyler will also assume more of the U.S. Secretariat duties for the CCT and act as Secretariat for the working groups at CCT meetings. Hoyler joined the TIA in 1993 as assistant to the director of technical and regulatory affairs.

James Faust, executive vice president and president of Antec International, Rolling Meadows, IL, has been elected to Antec Corp.`s board of directors. Antec International is a subsidiary of Antec Corp., also based in Rolling Meadows. Before joining the company, he was senior vice president and general manager at Satellite Systems and vice president international at General Instrument Corp.

Frank Chambers has been appointed director of product development at Laser Precision, in Utica, NY, a division of GN Nettest. He has experience in opto-electronic design and development and holds several patents, including four in the field of optical multichip module manufacturing technology. Before joining Laser Precision, Chambers was president of Technology Plus, a consulting company that specializes in high-speed optical data links.

Susan Metzger has been named sales and marketing services specialist at Cleveland-based Reliance Comm/Tec Corp. She is responsible for supporting and streamlining corporate sales and marketing communications activities. Before joining Reliance/ Comm Tec, she was an account manager and pricing analyst for an electronic print/data service bureau.

Thomas R. Tomkins has been named senior vice president of San Diego-based Linkatel Communications Inc., where he is responsible for the management and development of telecommunications. Linkatel, a competitive access provider, offers high-speed voice, data and video services for businesses and other major users in southern California.

Karen Gentis and Russell Schomber have joined AI/FOCS Inc., in Franklin, MA. Gentis is sales and marketing manager for fiber-optic products. Before joining the company, she held sales and marketing positions at M/A COM LCS Inc., GTE and Ericsson Components. Schomber has been named manufacturing engineer for the fiber-optics division and was previously associated with Porta Systems Corp.

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