Libraries and their parent organizations (colleges, schools, corporations, municipalities) are increasingly using fiber optic cabling for the network backbone. Despite its substantial capacity, the rapidly growing demand for bandwidth may require that the network be upgraded by adding more fiber bundles. An expensive alternative has been to pull more fiber bundles than are needed initially. British Telecomm has developed an interesting solution. A tube with two to 19 cells is installed, and as many fiber bundles as currently needed are blown-in using compressed air or nitrogen. The standard blowing distance is 3,300 feet for up to six fiber bundles; 1,650 feet for up to 18 fiber bundles. Distances can be doubled by running two sets of blowing equipment in tandem. Couplers are used to connect the tubes. When more capacity is needed, additional fiber bundles can be blown in. It is even possible to blow out fiber when capacity is determined to be substantially greater than needed.
The U.S. licensee for the product, which British Telecomm calls ABF, is Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation. Sumitomo calls the product FutureFlex. Sumitomo has distributors throughout the country. Among the institutions using the technology are the University of Utah, Getty Center Museum, General Motors Corporation, and Kaiser Permanente Hospitals.
[Contact: Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Corporation, 781 Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, telephone 919-541-8100, FAX 919-541-8265]