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Opportunity for network advances.


The Association of Data Communications Users Inc. just concluded a survey of its members to find out what types of data communications networks were in operation and some of the characteristics of those networks.

Some surprising results were revealed. Surveys were requested from 200 companies. Fifty companies responded. If a 25% response seems low, please remember that filling out a survey has the same allure for most of us as a trip to the dentist.

The survey asked if the respondent (company) had installed at least one of the following systems or facilities: a LAN (local area network), a MAN or WAN (metropolitan area network or wide area network), a T1 (1.544 Mb/s), a T3 (28 T1sor 45Mb/s), and fractional T1(a portion of the T1 bandwidth in 64 kb/s sections).

The results appear in the chart below.

The respondents are primarily Fortune 1000 companies. Consequently, the results are surprising because of the low use of T3 circuits. The conclusion can be drawn from these statistics that telecommunications managers have significant opportunities remaining to utilize the additional capacity and cost savings afforded by T3 as well as the flexibility available with fractional T1.

It's often convenient to overrate network sophistication but these answers indicate a lot of opportunity lies ahead.


A companion question was, "What was the principal justification for installing these facilities?"

Many respondents declined to answer this question. The ones who answered specified cost savings in 14 instances, alternate routing in five, speed in one and productivity in one.

This confirms what I have long suspected: if cost savings aren't number one in any network change, no network change is made without at least favorable cost savings.

The survey also asked what types of wiring were employed in existing LANs.

Respondents answered that 20 LANs were using optical fiber, 34 coax, 33 shielded twisted-pair, and 30 unshielded twisted-pair.

Most respondents indicated two or three types of wiring were in use due to multiple LANs.

This confirms another fact we have always believed--that is that n. st companies will not be ale to standardize on one type of wiring for many years and perhaps not all.

The survey requested answers on LAN speeds. The choices were under 10 Mb/s, 16 MB/s and over 16 Mb/s. The replies, respectively, were 41,15 and six.

That reveals that most LANs are still lowe speed networks and, despite the rhetoric about higher speeds, lower speeds will probably dominate for many years.

The use of proprietary or leased microwave and satellite systems was also surveyed. Fifteen of the respondents are using microwave and 11 satellite.

This relatively low usage indicates ample room for employing alternative facilities. Also not surprising is that nearly all companies who indicated they were using microwave were also using satellite.

Innovators, once they have tested the water, go the limit it appears.

Bypass Systems

The question was also asked, "Do you have a bypass system in operation?" Only 11 out of 50 respondents answered "Yes."

Again, this low figure is not surprising for several reasons.

First of all, even in this enlightened telecommunications age, the word bypass cannot be used without upsetting someone. It's one of those trigger words in our society which has assumed meaning far in excess of anything Webster ever envisioned.

We should have asked about "alternative services," a more socially acceptable phrase!

Most important, however, is the definition of either term. We should have been more specific and will be in future surveys, as I suspect far more than 11 companies are employing alternative services or systems.

The remainder, and the bulk of the survey, was more vendor and hardware specific and the results distributed just to ADCU members.

These results will also be discussed in more detail at the ADCU national conference June 10-13 at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center in EASt Brunswick, N.J.

The above trends, nevertheless, should prove interesting to a wide variety of participants in the data communications and data networks field.

These trends should pose some questions that warrant study.

Augie Blegen is a telecommunications consultant and executive director of the Association of Data Communications Users Inc., P.O. Box 20163, Bloomington, MN 55420, (612-881-6803).
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Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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