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InfoComm 07 to Showcase Growing Fiber AV Opportunities

May 23, 2007 8:00 AM


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As growing numbers of American AV professionals find themselves dealing with fiber-optic installations—either working with existing fiber networks or recommending fiber to their clients—many of their traditional suppliers are evolving to meet their needs for products, services, and supporting expertise.

This June’s InfoComm International tradeshow in Anaheim, Calif., will provide a forum at which integrators, manufacturers, and users can explore all of the ramifications of delivering high-end audio and video services over fiber networks.

Jim Scrivner, product marketing manager at Extron Electronics, reports, “While we have intermittently received requests to deliver fiber-optic products in the past, the number of requests has increased recently due to the large amount of high-resolution content needing to be distributed.”

High-definition, two-way conferencing, surveillance, command and control, and other video-intensive AV applications are increasingly moving to fiber to take advantage of its huge bandwidth, resistance to outside interference, security, and ability to transport signals over long distances without loss or degradation. Some traditional AV suppliers, Extron among them, have augmented their product lines with new equipment designed specifically to transport video over fiber with minimal need for processing at either end of the wire.

InfoComm exhibits will include a significant number of companies offering fiber-related hardware and other tools. Among the companies that have announced fiber product showings at the show are Altinex, Broadata Communications, BTX Technologies, Clear-Com, Covid, PureLink, MultiDyne, Opticomm, and RapcoHorizon.

Products being displayed range from a variety of single-mode and multimode fiber cables to transceivers, termination devices, installation tools, and extenders that enable composite video content to move efficiently over fiber directly to displays and other devices.

“It is easy to see how these benefits can be transferred into any number of traditional AV installs, but they are particularly popular in education and government institutions,” Scrivner says.

Some InfoComm attendees, though, will inevitably be new to the fiber environment and relying on the show for a basic education. “There is a learning curve associated with fiber optics,” Scrivner says. Recent advances, though, have greatly simplified the once-daunting process of terminating fiber cables, and prices for all sorts of components have followed the general industry trend by tumbling downward.

Karl Rosenberg, Extron’s mid-atlantic regional application specialist, will teach an InfoComm seminar entitled “AV at the Speed of Light: Fiber Optics” on Wednesday, June 20. The two-hour session aims to give attendees an understanding of the differences and peculiarities between copper-based AV and fiber-based AV.

InfoComm attendees seeking to take their new knowledge for a spin on the show floor should bear several things in mind, Scrivner says. “Be sure to carefully evaluate the performance of any fiber optics-based product you are looking at,” he says. “Just because it is being sent over fiber does not automatically make it good. There are considerable differences between brands, even if they use the same connector and fiber type.

“Even products that claim to be fully digital from different manufacturers may be surprisingly different.

“Nevertheless, if you pay attention to what you are getting and work with a reputable brand, you can achieve some absolutely amazing signal transmission results with AV using fiber.”



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