Archive for September 2016

Do you really need different cable testing devices?

OTDRIt’s easy to be streaming a demo video in the middle of a teleconference with an important customer and NOT think about how this is actually happening. But if you are at all involved in structured cabling or network management, or share responsibility for these things from a facilities perspective, then you DO think about it. You know, for instance, that in recent years Ethernet speeds and bandwidth have increased by yet another order of magnitude. You also know higher speeds are the result of technological refinements that increase various interactions in the physical and data layers of a cable link over shorter periods of time in the same amount of space.

This complex interweave of materials, signal and math is the primary reason devices for testing LAN links have become so sophisticated. The sophistication comes in many forms—type and number of tests, speed, ergonomics, full color touch screen, document-based reporting—and causes devices to fall into a few basic categories. This is important because the cost associated with testing devices varies considerably with their purpose and their capabilities. This in turn suggests an overall strategy for cabling contractors to deploy multiple devices and helps both contractors and facilities managers avoid over- or under-spending in this area. More on that in a moment.

Cable and Network Testing

Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of testing and devices. One of the simplest cable tests, called wire mapping, sends a signal down the link to see if anything is wrong, broken or missing.

A method called time domain reflectometry measures the speed of the signal and maps the channel topology, precisely locating any of a number of possible faults. Sometimes called OTDR or verifiers, these simple wire mapping devices are the equivalent of a pocket knife and should be hanging from every technician’s belt.

A somewhat more useful foundational cable testing device will be able to detect Power over Ethernet (PoE) and capture any networked phones, cameras or other low-voltage devices in the wire map.

The next step up in verifiers enables the technician to troubleshoot the network by identifying specific faults in both the physical and link layers in a channel. What does this mean? Simply that, in addition to broken or split wires, bad connections or other issues associated with the signal itself, the tester will perform a network discovery that tests the data protocols at each link to make sure all devices on the network are properly identifying one another.

Whether you are installing a new run or troubleshooting a faulty one, someone is going to need to test both the physical and link layers and prove that the network is operating to specifications. That takes us to a considerably higher level of testing, typically called qualification or transmission testing. But before we go there, let’s skip to the top for a moment.
Cable Systems and Network Certification

New builds and component manufacturer warranties typically require cabled systems to be certified. Certification means a pass/fail judgment of network performance based on a battery of tests performed, recorded and reported within a very specific procedural framework set forth by applicable TIA and ISO/IEC standards. This goes beyond the ability to determine whether your network does what you and your customer want it to do. You are proving, guaranteeing, certifying to the rest of the world that your network meets the same standards applied to every other network of that type or class. Moreover, it is not you that is doing the certifying, but rather your sophisticated, impartial, and, yes, expensive testing device. And there it is: the certifying tester itself is a product of global telecommunications standards. To be useful, it must be able to measure specifications well beyond those standards in order to render results within comfortable margins and provide headroom for the future. That’s why, for example, the WireXpert certifier from Softing was designed years ago with a frequency range up to 2,500 MHz—far in excess of the Category 8 cabling standard, which has only just now been approved.
Network Link Qualification

As a practical matter, certification only happens after everything has already been installed, fixed and tested. That leaves a lot of situations short of certification where the testing and reporting capabilities of a certifier could come in handy. That is the space occupied by qualifiers.

Softing’s qualifier, called NetXpert, leans toward the same lab-grade testing technology in a battery-powered handheld device that engineers developed for the WireXpert. Basically, the NetXpert qualifier does all the troubleshooting of cable/network testers with one very important addition: It can verify Gigabit Ethernet operation compliant with the IEEE 802.3ab standard. It does this through bit error rate test (BERT), a form of data transmission testing that sends 10 million bits in 10 seconds (1 Gbit/sec), counts the errors, then issues a PASS/FAIL. While distinct from certification, a BERT pass essentially proves the speed of a cable channel is up to standard.

In this way, LAN links are qualified as part of the installation, troubleshooting and repair procedure. You could think of a qualification pass as a sort of precertification that means whatever you are testing is working up to standards and you can move on. At less than a third of the cost of certifiers, it makes sense for every cabling crew to pack a network qualifier. On the other hand, at about twice the cost of a cable verifier it’s overkill to have everyone using them for routine wire mapping and troubleshooting.
Deploying Testing Devices

One way to understand the hierarchy among testing devices is to consider their deployment. Every cabling contractor location should have at least one certifier under a service contract plus one backup. Every crew needs to have a qualifier available to test the fix. Every technician should be carrying a cable verifier, whether they are part of a cabling contractor crew or a facilities management team.

Typically, cabling contractors will install, repair LANs for organizations even where there is an extensive facilities maintenance presence. But considering the high-performance nature of 10G+ Ethernet, it makes sense for in-house staff to be equipped to perform at least some of the initial wire mapping and troubleshooting activities. Where appropriate, cabling contractors should consider putting foundational tools like cable and network verifiers in their customers’ hands as part of a job or service agreement. It’s a good way to help customers retain control, save money and experience less network problem time. It also makes the contractor’s time and resources on service calls more efficient while giving their customers one less reason to do business with a competitor.

In addition to the WireXpert CAT-8 certifier and the NetXpert qualifier, Softing now offers the CableMaster line of cable and network verifiers to the North American market. (The CableMaster 800 is pictured above.) Don’t overspend and under deploy. Make sure you’re using the right testing device for the right job and that everyone on your team—including your customers—has what they need, when they need it.

What’s the cable design criteria ?

When you design the cable, you should know the following criteria.

1. Pulling strength

Some cable is simply laid into cable trays or ditches, so pull strength is not too important. But other cable may be pulled thorough 2 km or more of conduit. Even with lots of cable lubricant, pulling tension can be high. Most cables get their strength from an aramid fiber (Kevlar is the duPont trade name), a unique polymer fiber that is very strong but does not stretch – so pulling on it will not stress the other components in the cable. The simplest simplex cable has a pull strength of 100-200 pounds, while outside plant cable may have a specification of over 800 pounds.

2.Water protection

Outdoors, every cable must be protected from water or moisture. It starts with a moisture resistant jacket, usually PE (polyethylene), and a filling of water-blocking material. The usual way is to flood the cable with a water-blocking gel. It’s effective but messy – requiring a gel remover (use the commercial stuff – it’s best- -but bottled lemon juice works in a pinch!). A newer alternative is dry water blocking using a miracle powder – the stuff developed to absorb moisture in disposable diapers. Check with your cable supplier to see if they offer it.

3. Fire code ratings

Every cable installed indoors must meet fire codes. That means the jacket must be rated for fire resistance, with ratings for general use, riser (a vertical cable feeds flames more than horizontal) and plenum (for installation in air-handling areas. Most indoor cables us PVC (polyvinyl chloride) jacketing for fire retardance. In the United States, all premises cables must carry identification and flammability ratings per the NEC (National Electrical Code) paragraph 770. These ratings are:

NEC Rating Description
OFN Optical fiber Non-conductive
OFC Optical fiber Conductive
OFNG or OFCG General purpose
OFNR or OFCR Riser rated cable for vertical runs
OFNP or OFCP Plenum rated cables for use in air-handling plenums
OFN-LS Low smoke density

Cables without markings should never be installed as they will not pass inspections! Outdoor cables are not fire-rated and can only be used up to 50 feet indoors. If you need to bring an outdoor cable indoors, consider a double-jacketed cable with PE jacket over a PVC UL-rated indoor jacket. Simply remove the outdoor jacket when you come indoors and you will not have to terminate at the entry point. You can use an Indoor/Outdoor rated product with a Low Smoke Zero Halogen jacket.

Hyperscale data center market to reach $71.2 billion globally by 2022

According to a new market research report, the world hyperscale data center market is expected to reach a revenue of $71.2 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 20.7% from 2016 to 2022.

Global Hyperscale Data Center MarketGlobal Hyperscale Data Center Market, by Component, 2015 (% COMPARIOSN)

According to a new market research report, the world hyperscale data center market is expected to reach a revenue of $71.2 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 20.7% from 2016 to 2022.

As stated by the analyst, “Hyperscale data centers are most widely adopted by cloud service providers to house cloud-based resources and cloud services, accounting for a market share of around 63% in 2015. North America is the largest revenue-generating region for hyperscale data centers, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific in 2015.”

Key findings of the study include the following:

— The cloud provider segment was the highest revenue-generating segment, constituting over 63% of the total market revenue in 2015. The segment is expected to remain dominant throughout the analysis period.

— The enterprises segment is expected to generate a notable revenue of $7,095.2 million by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 27.7% during the forecast period.

— The rising demand for higher energy efficiency and increasing big data content are expected to drive the developments and advancements in the hyperscale data center market.

— Banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) is likely to be the highest revenue-generating segment by 2019.

— Increased adoption of hyperscale data centers is anticipated to be witnessed across key sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, and government utilities from 2016 to 2022.

— In 2015, North America was the highest revenue-generating region, constituting nearly 37% of the total market revenue.

Leading companies profiled in the report include Intel Corporation, Nlyte Software, Sandisk Corporation, Avago Technologies, Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson, Cavium Inc., IBM, and Mellanox Technologies, Inc.

OC Vendor Revenues Hit New Highs in Q2 2016.

Revenues of the leading optical component vendors broke the $1.4 billion mark for the first time in the second quarter of 2016, and grew 27% compared to Q2 2015. Nine of the fourteen vendors tracked by LightCounting reported new record high revenues. Component demand was driven by a broad cross-section of market segments, including metro 100G in China, ROADM-based flexgrid builds in North America, and unrelenting hyper scale datacenter capacity expansion.

100G products of all types experienced strong demand growth in the second quarter, with CFP-ACO, CFP-DCO, QSFP28 (CWDM and LR4), CFP2, and CFP4 each cited by one or another vendor as driving their revenue to new heights. Surprisingly, demand for technically mature 10G transceivers (in XFP and SFP+ packages) also showed very strong growth. 40 and 80 km reach 10G device shipments saw an especially large uptick, and one driver of those particular products demand is believed to be the expansion of aggregation and metro edge networks in China.

Despite the stellar growth at the component level, telecom networking equipment sales increased 14%, while datacenter storage and switching gear sales continued to trend downward, falling 5% compared to 2Q 2015. The disparity in growth rates between system and component vendors reflects the growing influence of white box system makers (not included in our reported datacom equipment figures), and the increasingly common sale of components directly to end-customers.

A key question for CEOs and their business planners is how long this surge in demand will continue. A number of vendors reported that popular product lines were capacity constrained in Q2, despite recent capital investments. In the past the component industry has fallen victim to ‘pipeline effects’, with demand multiplying as it moves down the supply chain, resulting in inventory corrections following large increases in demand. Today’s tighter coupling between component suppliers and end-customers should lower the likelihood of this happening again or reduce its impact, but it remains a risk.

Detailed shipments of 100GbE optics in the first half of 2016 are presented in LightCounting’s Quarterly sales database, released along with the Market Update Report. The database includes historical data on quarterly shipments and pricing of more than 100 products in 2014-2015. More than 20 leading optical transceiver suppliers contributed data to this report.

The report also presents an analysis of revenue and spending trends of top-tier telecom and Internet service providers, and the financial results of telecom and datacom equipment vendors, including the market shares of the leading suppliers of 100G DWDM transport equipment.

The cable types you should know.

The cable include the following types, it’s important for you to choose suitable one.

Simplex and zip cord

Simplex cable is one fiber, tight-buffered (coated with a 900 micron buffer over the primary buffer coating) with Kevlar (aramid yarn) strength members and jacketed for indoor use. The jacket is usually 3mm (1/8 in.) diameter. Zipcord is simply two of these joined with a thin web. It’s used mostly for patch cord and backplane applications, but zipcord can also be used for desktop connections.

Distribution cable

This contains several tight-buffered fibers bundled under the same jacket with Kevlar strength members and sometimes fiberglass rod reinforcement to stiffen the cable and prevent kinking. The cable is small in size, and used for short, dry conduit runs, riser and plenum applications. The fibers are double buffered and can be directly terminated, but because their fibers are not individually reinforced, these cables need to be broken out with a “breakout box” or terminated inside a patch panel or junction box.
Breakout cable

This cable is made of several simplex cables bundled together. This is a strong, rugged design, but is larger and more expensive than the distribution cables. It is suitable for conduit runs, riser and plenum applications. Because each fiber is individually reinforced, this design allows for quick termination to connectors and does not require patch panels or boxes. Breakout cable can be more economic where fiber count isn’t too large and distances too long, because is requires so much less labour to terminate.
Loose tube cable

This cable is composed of several fibers together inside a small polymeric buffer tube or tubes, which are in turn wound around a central strength member and jacketed, providing a small, high fiber count cable. This type of cable is ideal for outside plant trunking applications, as it can be made with the loose tubes filled with gel or water absorbent powder to prevent harm to the fibers from water. It can be used in conduits, strung overhead or buried directly into the ground. Since the fibers have only a thin buffer coating, they must be carefully handled and protected to prevent damage.
Ribbon cable

This cable offers the highest packing density, since all the fibers are laid out in rows, typically of 12 fibers, and laid on top of each other. This way 144 fibers only has a cross section of about 1/4 inch or 6 mm! Some cable designs use a “slotted core” with up to 6 of these 144 fiber ribbon assemblies for 864 fibers in one cable! Since it’s outside plant cable, it’s gel-filled for water blocking.
Armoured cable

Cable installed by direct burial in areas where rodents are a problem usually has metal armouring between two jackets to prevent rodent penetration. This means the cable is conductive, so it must be grounded properly.

Aerial cable

Aerial cable is for outside installation on poles. It can be lashed to a messenger or another cable (common in CATV) or have metal or aramid strength members to make it self-supporting.


SYOPTEK’S OTDR-110-SM OTDR is ideal for FTTx/access and CATV testing. It can test the length, fiber loss, connector loss and other physical characteristics of fiber. With up to 128000 sampling points, it can locate events on fiber cables precisely. It is really the tool of choce for the FTTx/access and CATV appliction installation and maintenance as well as for fiber R&D and SM network testing.

-Outdoor-enhanced 4.3 inch touchscreen
-Rugged design built for outside plant: durable, shock-proof, moisture-proof
-One-key operation: Full Auto,Expert and real Time OTDR modes
-Dynamic range of 34/32 dB
-Large storge capacity, maximum store up to 4000 OTDR traces
-Built-in Li-ion rechargeable batteries,provide >8 hours of continuous operation
-Support USB and RJ-45 network interface, convenient for test results transfer and file manage
-Visual Fault Locator integrated: visibly trace fibers or locate fiber bends or breaks
-One-year warranty

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