Fiber Optics: Future-Fit and Ready for Convergence

New innovation targets installation ease

Another innovation introduced by ComNet is the first interchangeable product line. In the past, fiber optic companies offered different models of the same product, depending on the application. This was done to accommodate how the product was to be deployed.Fiber optic products can be standalone mounted or rack mounted. In a standalone product installation, the unit was typically mounted on a wall or shelf and powered by an individual power supply. The source of signal to be transmitted (video, data, etc.) was generally close by. On the receiving end, the fiber optic signal was converted back to the same type of signal as the original by the use of a standalone receiver or a receiver that could be mounted in a standard electronics rack. Until now, a separate model had to be ordered to designate a standalone versus a rack-mounted product. This fact was the source of much confusion and led to challenges that ultimately cost the dealer and end-user time and money.

It’s hard to calculate, but consider the cost to send out an installer to a remote location who ultimately discovers he has rack-mounted products and the application instead requires standalone equipment. There’s nothing more frustrating and costly than to be forced to send out a technician twice to accomplish a task that could have been handled in one trip. He now has to go back to the office, have purchasing contact the manufacturer, arrange an RMA and pay shipment back to the manufacturer. The manufacturer now has to re-ship the correct model at the installer’s expense. After a delay, the dealer/installer has to accept the cost to send out an installer to finish the job.

Starting with a clean slate, and knowing the challenges having separate model numbers for standalone equipment and rack-mounted equipment posed, ComNet introduced the first line of interchangeable standalone and rack-mounted equipment. It is a simple concept; one model number accomplishes either application of the product. Called ComFit, this feature virtually eliminates model number confusion and has the potential to save the dealer/installer and ultimately the end-user large sums of money in terms of lost productivity and unnecessary costs. Every product comes with an external power supply and can be fixed or mounted to a flat surface. If that product requires it to be installed in a ComNet card cage in an electronics rack, the installer simply removes the external power connector and slides the entire unit into the channels in the card cage. The uniquely designed power connector slips into the receiver on the card cage and the individual units are now powered by the central power supply. Multiple ComNet products can be installed in the ComNet card cage, making for an organized installation. This interchangeable product package also provides a higher level of resistance to interference. When transmitting video, there is always a chance that some picture quality degradation can occur due to the video being susceptible to EFI/RFI interference within the equipment cabinet. The same enclosure that enables the ComNet unit to be used as a standalone or rack-mount model also acts as an additional shield and improves the quality of the video being transmitted.

This exclusive feature also is a major benefit to those who purchase fiber optic products through distribution. For the one who orders, any chance of getting the right product for the wrong application is eliminated. Having one variation per model also benefits distribution, as one model fits multiple applications. This translates to fewer SKUs, less space to warehouse, less shipping and fewer dollars tied up in inventory.

Fiber optic transmission products are more advanced than ever. Newer designs offer numerous advantages in specification, performance, longevity and value. A big part of the story today is in the value-add of the product. Little extras allow security dealers and integrators to be more competitive and more efficient, while giving the end-user more for their money as well. Standardization in installation application specifications allow them to save on inventory, factor in less time and labor during the installation and have the right product at the right time. That can make all the difference between winning and losing projects—and with the current economy—every bit counts.

Frank (Skip) Haight is vice president of Marketing for Communication Networks (ComNet), based in Danbury, Conn., visit