Lightning never strikes twice, the old saying goes. But lightning can strike anytime, anyplace, and with devastating consequences for today’s technology. Lightning heads for the tallest target, and for broadcasters and telecommunications companies, that means antennas and towers. There’s no way to prevent strikes, but there is a way to control where the lightning goes. Working to help telecommunications companies minimize the impact of lightning strikes on their equipment is Minden-based PolyPhaser, which distributes products all over the world. PolyPhaser works in the area of lightning/ electromagnetic pulse and grounding solutions for the communications industry, including cellular, paging, broadcast, wireless, mobile communications, military, personal communications systems and even 911 sites and power companies. PolyPhaser’s products offer lightning protection and grounding solutions, including coax entry panels, cellular and PCS protectors, in-line power mains, global positioning system coaxial protectors, shunt-type power mains, rack panel components and power supply protectors.
What all this means, says Zack Spencer of PolyPhaser, is rather than having lightning strike a communications antenna and travel down into the equipment room where it can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, the lighting is controlled, coming down into the protection device and disbursing into an earth ground. ..It gives lightning a different path,” explains Spencer.
Since communications systems need to broadcast a signal, the equipment PolyPhaser produces has to be capable of letting that signal up and out to the people needing to receive it, at the same time it traps the lightning and sends it to an earth ground. “You have to give lightning a path,” says Spencer. “You can’t prevent lightning, but you can control it.”
Learning to control such a powerful natural force requires a great deal of experimentation. PolyPhaser plays with lightning. The company employs both lightning simulators (the largest is named Big Bertha) consisting of a bank of high-density capacitors that produce energy in amounts that simulate lightning strikes, and the use of rocket-triggered lightning for tests, ·often carried out in Arizona mountains where lightning storms frequently occur.
In June of 1997, PolyPhaser was acquired by Smiths, a British industrial group, which includes Times Microwave Systems, a company that designs and manufactures coaxial cables and assemblies for wireless telecoms as well as for civil and military aircraft. For more information on PolyPhaser, check out the company’s Web site at polyphaser.com.
There’s a theory that we only use 14 percent of our minds while the other 86 percent is doing something else altogether, and we just don’t know bow to access it. Similarly, there’s a lot more space in the ordinary copper wire used by today’s telephone companies, but no one knows how to access it.
Enter digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. It’s been around for a while, though not with any widespread application. But the last year and a half bas seen an explosion of growth in the use of the Internet, and users need the ability to move large volumes of data over infrastructures in the U.S., which were not built for such heavy traffic. With more people accessing the Internet, and e-mail systems serving more subscribers and bigger files, the choices are to build more infrastructures, which is expensive and time consuming, or make better technological use of those already existing.
As usual, demand generates product, and DSL is growing in use. DSL is made up of both hardware and software and has the ability to increase speed of Internet access and data transfer 25 times beyond what is presently the norm. That’s light speed, compared to what we are used to, says David Clark, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Las Vegas-based MGC Communications. The company started looking at DSL as a transport device within networks but turned to looking at it as a way to extend speed to customers’ premises. MGC will be able to offer customers local, long-distance and custom calling services, as well as Internet access in one package and transport all of them over one copper wire loop – and at a competitive price. Generally, says Clark, DSL is sold only as a data solution; MGC will be able to offer both voice and data.
MGC co-locates with Sprint, installing equipment at the co-location site and an integrated access device at the customer’s premises to offer the service. Currently in the process of deploying the technology in Las Vegas, MGC co-locates in 18 central offices; by the end of September, MGC had deployed its technology in 10 of these central offices, with a package of services ready for consumers in October. MGC is offering these services to small businesses and residences, Clark says, because these are areas that have yet to any benefit from the deregulation of the telephone industry.