Monday, April 17, 2017

Lime is the new Aqua. Welcome Multimode OM5!

Wavelength Division Multiplexing for the Enterprise

If you're not familiar with OM5 Multimode, now is the time to start paying attention.

Last year, Commscope introduced their LazrSPEED Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF), and the ISO/IEC decided the nomenclature for WBMMF is OM5 in October 2016. Last month, the TIA started TIA-598-D-2 to determine lime as the jacket color for cabled WBMMF (TIA-492AAAE, OM5). Now that we have a name and a color, what is so great about this new fiber?

First let's take a look at how this technology has evolved. OM3 and OM4 Multimode was designed with laser optimization to allow greater bandwidth transmissions at a wavelength of 850nm using Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VSCEL). VSCELs were an improvement over Light Emitting Diode (LED) transmitters used with OM1 and OM2 Multimode fiber. LED transmitters and legacy Multimode still have their applications based on the reduced cost of these systems compared to VSCELs, so we may never see its obsolescence.

VSCELs for the enterprise offered a low-cost, high-power solution compared to lasers used in telecom networks for singlemode fiber long-haul transmission. As bandwidth demands increased in data centers and enterprise markets, it was not economical to use singlemode optics due to the high cost per port.

The evidence abounds today of the proliferation of connected devices, and bandwidth demands are ever increasing. Estimates claim that there will be 30 billion connected devices next year. OM5 WBMMF allows for 4 times the bandwidth than legacy OM4. That means the same amount of bandwidth dedicated to 8 fibers on OM4 can now transmit on just 2 strands.

So the debate over 12 fiber and 24 fiber trunk cables has another challenger with OM5. But how does this new fiber achieve the higher bandwidths? The key to OM5 is that it is optimized to operate on 4 wavelengths. Utilizing Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM), you can transmit over 850nm, 880nm, 910nm and 940nm simultaneously.

So even if you only plan to use 850nm today, selecting OM5 WBMMF will give you the flexibility in the future to easily add bandwidth without adding more fiber. It is fully backwards compatible to OM3/4.

If you would like to learn more about Wideband Multimode Fiber, Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing and implementation, contact us today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What's In Your Splice Trailer?

With the growth in fiber optic connectivity demand, coupled with the evolution of the job of the fiber splicer, having the right tools and equipment on a network construction site are a necessity.

No longer is it as simple as reusing a converted old motor home or ill-equipped trailer. Network installation professionals must have the necessary vehicle and equipment to complete jobs on-time and on-budget.

With Comstar Supply’s “What’s In Your Splice Trailer” online tool, the company offers a no-strings attached checklist and quoting tool. This easy step-by-step guide takes customers through picking out a trailer, a fusion splicer, accessories and must-have test equipment.

To ensure you are ready for your next network construction project, please visit

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Finding Help Is Easy at Comstar City

Comstar Supply has built numerous online resources for telecom and network construction professionals available from its website. From “Comstar City” to “What’s in Your Splice Trailer” to “Comstar’s Magic Mile”, the goal of these interactive tools is to provide users a checklist of products and equipment necessary to complete network infrastructure buildouts.

Focusing on Comstar City (, this interactive online application features products from more than 40 manufacturers. It takes users through a virtual tour of a network that is wired top-to-bottom in fiber-optic cable. From a wireless DAS network to small cell, from aerial versus underground construction, as well as Fiber to the X, Enterprise, Distribution Hubs, and more – there are more than 23 network construction examples available to learn about.

Comstar City is beneficial in many ways, but we believe the top three include:

1. A Virtual Organization Tool

Sometimes all you need is a picture to remember what you’re forgetting — so Comstar City acts as a visual resource integrating nearly every level of telecommunications into a single interactive space.
Users can see everything they need to complete a build on-time, from safety equipment to splicing tools and the various applications of each.

2. A Continuing Education Class for Network Construction

One of the biggest challenges in the telecommunications industry is educating all levels, from carriers to contractors, on the latest technology and innovations in the industry. Comstar City is updated regularly to ensure that we’re always showcasing the latest products in outside plant materials.

Nearly every product shown in the app are available through Comstar Supply, but to cover all of our bases and give customers the most tailored solution for their projects, we display our competitor’s products too. It’s our way of maintaining transparency with our partners and potential customers.

3. Easy Ordering

Contractors, carriers, utilities companies, and transportation and government entities are using more fiber than ever before and investing heavily in infrastructure to support growing consumer demand. So, while users can make sure they have everything they need, they can also purchase from Comstar Supply fight from the tool.

These online resources from Comstar make it easy for customers to purchase and educate themselves on network construction applications. Please visit Comstar City at for more information.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Comstar Supply Announces Appointment of Ross Smith to Sales Team

For more information, contact:
(610) 831-5020

COLLEGEVILLE, PA – March 7, 2017Comstar Supply, Inc., a national distributor of telecommunications network products and services, today announced Ross Smith has joined the company as National Account Manager. In this position, Smith will deliver on his proven sales success and ability to drive revenue by leading the company’s large and strategic account outreach.
“Adding Ross’ proven leadership and enviable sales track record to the Comstar Supply family means we are ideally positioned to grow our business and meet the demands of our customers,” said Chad Punchard, President and CEO of Comstar Supply. “His first-hand dealings with the largest accounts in our industry, and deep knowledge of fiber and network construction, make this a home run for us and will propel us to new heights in 2017 and beyond.”
Prior to joining Comstar Supply, Smith served more than nine years as the Eastern Region Manager for Sumitomo. There he had sales responsibility for Sumitomo’s Carrier Network Group for 26 states. Subsequently, he spent nearly 17 years in similar positions with NEPTCO Incorporated, where he earned numerous sales honors and industry accreditations.
Smith served five years United States Air Force, and attended both Fitchburg State College and the Community College of the Air Force.

About Comstar Supply
Comstar Supply, Inc., was founded in 1994 with the goal of providing the communications industry with the necessary materials and tools to successfully complete projects in a timely and cost-effective manner. Through its Collegeville, PA, and Raleigh, NC, facilities, the company serves a diverse customer base that includes telephone and electric utilities, CATV companies, CLEC local/long haul fiber-optic companies providing combined internet, telephone, and CATV services. Further information about the company can be found at

Monday, February 20, 2017

Handhole Frequently Asked Questions

As with most products in the telecom industry, product designs evolve at a rapid pace. Often times specifications are written based on outdated information. Old specifications make sourcing material difficult, especially when updated products meet or exceed the written spec.

In the case of handholes, the sales team at Comstar Supply faces an added level of difficulty. In addition to potentially outdated specifications, there are often assumptions made to the product's capability. Our sales team is trained to help you understand the applications for handholes and their ratings. On several occasions, we refused to provide a quote based on the unrealistic expectations for the design of the product. Ultimately those projects went back to the drawing board for an alternative solution.

Here are a few of the frequently asked questions and requests we receive for handhole opportunities.

Can I order a handhole with an AASHTO H-20 load rating?

No. The AASHTO "H" standards govern materials designed for "deliberate" traffic, such that would be used in the middle of a bridge. Those recognized materials are precast concrete and cast iron, among others. Precast concrete and cast iron are used for manholes, but handholes are composites.

Typically made of a polymer concrete composite, handholes fall outside the framework of AASHTO. Handholes are designed for "non-deliberate" traffic, and they fall under ANSI/SCTE 77 for performance standards.

Why are handholes often confused for AASHTO H-20?

The published test loads of composite handholes may exceed test loads of H-20 materials. Remember that handholes are made of composite material, not precast concrete. Some manufacturer's may claim that their product exceeds H-20, but they will be quick to tell you that the materials are not AASHTO recognized. As Hubbell Power Systems states, "A tremendous misunderstanding has been that if a product tested in excess of the design load, it was thought to be an acceptable product for the intended application. This is a gross oversight. There could be very minimal safety factors, and what does a 1, 10, or 1000 cycle test indicate? A false sense of security could lead to personal injury and/or equipment damage." In other words, buyer beware!

Can I put a steel or cast iron lid on a handhole in order to meet H-20?

We are aware of end users specifying handholes this way. Yes, you can install a steel lid, but it still will not be H-20. Handholes are designed and tested as a complete system under ANSI including the lid and base. So even if you put a steel lid onto a composite box, it is still a system including a composite box that is not governed under AASHTO. The inherent flexibility of steel as a lid may allow for additional cycles (i.e. more vehicular traffic) to the lid itself. However, either the added weight of the lid, or the lateral forces on the handhole in deliberate traffic, may cause it to fail.

What is the difference between design load and test load of a handhole?

The ANSI application tier number relates to a nominal design load multiplied by 1,000 pounds. For example, Tier 8 is 8 x 1000 pounds, or 8000 lbs. All ANSI tier loadings have a corresponding test load, which is 50% greater than the design load. The maximum deflection at the indicated design load shall be one half-inch for vertical tests, and a quarter-inch per foot of length for lateral tests.

Can I order locking lids or hardware for handholes?

Yes. We can offer "tamper-resistant" penta head bolts, anti-vibration systems and keyed locking mechanisms. The most popular locking mechanism on the market today is the Lockout Device.

Can I order a gasket and a closed bottom for my handhole?

Yes, but you would be better off with an above ground pedestal if you want the contents of your handhole to stay dry. Think about how many homeowners struggle with wet basements. Water will find a way.

Gaskets are only effective if they provide a positive seal around the entire inside of the ring. As soon as dirt and rocks compress the gasket, you will have water ingress. Odds are your handhole will encounter a lot of rocks and dirt during installation. If your handhole also has a closed bottom, this will significantly slow the draining process if water does get in. That's a double-whammy.

I hope this helps you to further understand handholes, but please call us if you have any further questions. Handholes are becoming more sought after for their reduced weight and cost for buried enclosures. As manufacturers try to drive value, handholes are becoming lighter and easier to use at the same test ratings. If you set your specifications to the ANSI Tier ratings, you should never worry about outdated handhole spec.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 5 Forgotten Items In Network Builds

A Brice Box Blog

How often do you travel and feel like you left your toothbrush, socks, or some other necessity at home? My wife bought me a checklist to use when I pack so I won't omit an essential item from my luggage. Of course I use those items every day, but without that checklist, the odds are high that I'll forget something.

Similarly, if you don't specify fiber splice sleeves on the bill of material, there is a good chance you or your contractor will not order sleeves for that job. Fortunately, Comstar Supply stocks plenty of splice sleeves. Unfortunately, we're not in every major town like a Home Depot.

I polled our inside sales staff on the items they are normally asked to ship out next day air to help complete projects on time. Here are the results:

1. Duct Couplers. When pulling out a 6000 foot reel of 1-1/4" HDPE innerduct, you might not expect to use many couplers on the job. In reality the lengths of bore are much shorter, going for 1000' typically at a time. Accounting for "as-builts" can be one of the more challenging aspects of outside plant construction, and ordering 10-20% more couplers is usually less expensive than having a few shipped next-day air delivery. Not to mention, ordering couplers in advance will save valuable downtime on the job.

If you're not sure what type of couplers you should use for your application, check out our video series comparing the different types of couplers for HDPE.

2. Duct Pulling Eyes. I once joked with a co-worker about how some suppliers like to tout "custom engineered products." In reality, that custom engineering often results in an additional part in the box to suit the needs of the build, much like adding lettuce and tomato to your burger. That's not engineering; that's just customer service! Based on this marketing "genius," we proposed offering a duct reel with a pulling eye already installed in the end.

To this day we laugh about our "engineered solution" for what we call "Finnerduct." Maybe there is a need after all for this solution based on the amount of pulling eyes we ship out last minute. Compare that to custom fiber assemblies sold over 50 feet that come equipped with a pulling eye for convenience. Why not have the same feature for duct?

3. Duct Plugs. I'm starting to see a theme here. Whether you need to plug an unoccupied conduit after it's installed, or seal the voids around cables, we see a lot of last minute plug orders. We stock a wide array of blank plugs, as well as simplex and innerduct organizer plugs. Often times the job isn't complete until plugs are installed, but we rarely see them specified on the original bill of materials.

4. Fiber Optic Cleaning Supplies. As awareness grows for proper fiber optic hygiene, I would say the tides are turning for this product group. Many customers are incorporating fiber cleaning into their operating procedures and ordering plans. Whether you need supplies for splice preparation or connector inspection cleaning, Comstar offers a full line of wet and dry fiber cleaning products.

Deltec™ System
5. Tie Wraps. In our industry, cable management is paramount. Often the technical requirements for tie wraps exceed what you find on store shelves. Comstar Supply supports a full line of industrial-grade, UV, delrin strapping systems for aerial construction, commonly known as the Deltec™ system. We also carry color-coded tie wraps to help maintain TIA-598 fiber color identification for expressed buffer tubes in splice closures and termination panels. In addition to cable tie wraps, we offer a wealth of fiber-specific cable clips to assist with mounting drop cables to structures.

Inevitably, we all overlook the items we need everyday. I hope this blog brings new light to writing your next bill of material. Can you think of anything we forgot to add to this list that might round out a top ten?

Deltec is a trademark of Thomas & Betts Corporation.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fiber Optic Cable Remains Number 1 Resource in Telecom for 2017

Pressure is increasing on both cable content and service providers, as consumers are now more willing to cut the cord on traditional television providers. Telecom carriers are experiencing subscription declines as mobile phones become more ubiquitous. And even consumer electronics companies are feeling pressure as more users choose to bypass ownership of desktop computers, utilizing their phones like portable computers.

In fact, a recent special report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, titled Telecoms in 2017, summarizes that “telecom companies will seek new sources of revenue as traditional streams dwindle and pressure from growing mobile broadband usage mounts in 2017.”

With each of these trends, the one constant is that broadband uptake is on the rise. To keep up with both consumer and business sector demands, network infrastructure investment continues to rise—and the delivery mechanism continues to be fiber optic cable.

The market drivers increasing demand are also putting pressure on cable and glass manufacturers, which is leading to long lead times for fiber. To ensure a carrier has the materials and cable needed for these network investments, proper planning is necessary to maximize time and revenue. The key to combat any mitigating factors for carriers and contractors is to plan for your fiber needs 12-18 months in advance. Allocating fiber with a well-positioned distributor should be your number one priority. This will eliminate price volatility, lead time fluctuations and supplier uncertainty.

Comstar Supply is well positioned with fiber and all of the major product lines that accompany installation. We have created a customized solution that takes the guesswork out of your outside plant needs and allows for a smooth transition from planning to construction. We work with our customers to tailor a system that allows us to distribute fiber facilities monthly based on your needs, while allowing for additions or subtractions on your orders. This arrangement not only provides the availability of your most critical resource (fiber), but also allows flexibility regardless of market conditions.

To learn more about putting Comstar Supply’s fiber allocation to work for you, please contact us today.