Note: As part
of its 40thanniversary observance, the CommScope team
set out to identify the top 40 innovations that have come from CommScope (or
one of its acquired companies) over the past 40 years. We are unveiling the
innovations chosen for the Top 40 on CommScope Blogs through early January.
Read more about the overall program and selection process in this November 4 post.
continue today with our unveiling of innovations—in alphabetical order—that are
ranked 11-20. You can see a list of the Top 40 innovations already revealed on our 40thanniversary
page. As our 40th anniversary year draws to a close, we hope you
enjoy looking back at what we think are our top innovations—ones that have
helped build the world’s infrastructure of today and tomorrow.
opinion about or connection to any of the innovations? Leave a comment below.
CommScope’s Top 40 Innovations—Grouping 11-20
Transform Analysis of High Speed Manufacturing Processes
patented and widely held secret for many years, this technology—which was
developed largely over a 10-year period—permitted the real time detection of
process machine components which were contributing to the reduction of
transmission Structural Return Loss (SRL) properties. It permitted the establishment of higher industry standards which were all but impossible to economically produce by existing producers and potential start-ups.
Year of the
What is the
innovation that CommScope or one of its acquired companies was first in
In the early 1970s, CommScope was one of the first companies
to use Fourier Transform Analysis of High Speed Manufacturing Processes (a.k.a. Fast Fourier Transform [FFT] analysis). FFT
analysis of its coaxial cable manufacturing process enabled CommScope to
produce higher-quality coax cable more cost-effectively for the budding cable
TV industry, and to become the dominant coax cable market leader within a few
SRL is a frequency specific signal
loss in coaxial cable, and it is the result of periodically occurring variables
in coax cable manufacturing. FFT analysis enables CommScope to monitor various
parameters during the manufacturing process (diameter, pressure, speed, etc.)
eliminating the expense of completely manufacturing cable only to find out it
has defects. During a 15-year period, CommScope developed the FFT analysis
technique so that early in its manufacturing process (when only 25 percent of
the total cost had been invested) the company could determine whether there
were any SRL problems.
CommScope began using FFT analysis as a single channel
instrument that could monitor one parameter on one production line. By 1985, CommScope
had built its own, proprietary analysis hardware that could perform
factory-wide FFT analysis, with hundreds of production parameters being
monitored across more than a dozen production lines in real time.
What was happening in
the market that this innovation was needed?
When cable television systems first emerged in the early
1960s, CATV (Community Antenna TV) was used in towns that didn’t have
over-the-air TV reception. Small entrepreneurs would install an antenna and
pick up signals from the air, run a cable down into the town and distribute it
to subscriber homes. In these early days, the coax cable used had only 20-30 MHz
of bandwidth, but that was enough because only a handful of channels were being
In the mid-1970s, providers began launching satellites for
video broadcasting, and they began broadcasting far more channels, including
premium channels. Instead of needing 30 MHz of bandwidth, this now required 250
MHz, so the electrical performance of the coax cable had to be better.
Manufacturers struggled to make higher-throughput cable
because SRL would unpredictably cause electrical performance to drop off at
various frequencies in the transmission spectrum. Most manufacturers completed
cable and then tested it, only to find that SRL was too high in some product
for it to be broadly useful, and this product had to be scrapped or sold at a
How did this
innovation benefit customers and the industry?
CommScope’s use of FFT analysis to manufacture
higher-bandwidth cable meant that customers could finally get cable with higher
consistency and electrical performance, and thus expand their networks. By the
mid-1970s, CommScope was offering 250 MHz cable to support transmission of
enlarged channel lineups by cable operators. By 1983, CommScope offered 550 MHz
cable, and by 1990 it offered cable that supported 1 GHz of bandwidth. With its
manufacturing prowess and high cable quality, CommScope has supported a massive
expansion of CATV networks throughout the world.
What is the
significance of the innovation for CommScope?
This innovation was used at CommScope’s Catawba, NC cable manufacturing
facility, the facility where CommScope began operations. Production and sales
of coax cable for the CATV industry is the business that funded all of
CommScope’s early growth. FFT analysis enabled CommScope
to manufacture coax cable with much higher yields, and it increased CommScope’s
overall manufacturing capacity because there was less scrap.
CommScope was one of approximately 10 coax manufacturers in the United States
alone in the mid-1970s. By solving the SRL problem, CommScope became the
largest coax manufacturer in the world by 1980. By becoming a leading supplier
of coaxial cable, CommScope has been able to grow through acquisitions and to establish
a leadership position in other areas of the networking business.