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Sun 26 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Ensuring value in cabling

Steven Brewster, RCDD, is an extra low voltage (ELV) consultant with PMK International in Dubai and gave a presentation on key design elements in information transport systems (ITS) at the BICSI conference. He also took time out to chat to Network Middle East about the importance of standards in cabling implementations.

|~|brewster_m.jpg|~||~|Network Middle East: Is cabling installation a respected part
of building construction in the region?

Steven Brewster: Historically, the information transport systems (ITS) infrastructure has not been a high priority when constructing a building. It has been executed by separate entities, and in many instances left to either contractors or service providers to design and install close to the completion of the building.

NME: Is the situation changing?

SB: Internet protocol (IP) is becoming the de facto protocol for systems across the extra low voltage (ELV) spectrum, including access control, CCTV and building management. Building owners, especially in this region, are keenly aware that if they want all the systems to work harmoniously, there needs to be one consultant to turn to who can provide a common infrastructure to address all of these systems.
All of our current projects are designed for converged network services with voice, data, video, BMS, access control, CCTV and audio-visual systems on the structured cabling system. This change in the paradigm reflects that building owners and developers are embracing the idea that they can no longer afford to provide the infrastructure as an afterthought.

NME: Do you think cabling standards in the region are up to scratch?

SB: ITS infrastructure is not always recognised as important in the region. The Middle East also hasn’t implemented a competitive telecommunications market yet. These are major driving forces in the widespread deployment of ANSI, TIA, EIA and ISO standards. As the developers’ requirements for robust, flexible and carrier-independent infrastructure becomes more widespread, and should the telecommunications market become competitive, the need for standardisation will become keener. While industry standards are mature enough, in my opinion, the area that requires constant vigilance and fostering, is training the people responsible for the design, specification and installation of the systems. This is not something that can occur overnight, it is an on-going process. It requires the participation of manufacturers, contractors, suppliers and organisations such as BICSI.

NME: How much value does having registered communications distribution designer (RCDD) qualified engineers add to a project?

SB: Having an RCDD on the design team helps to ensure that the system will meet or exceed the requirements of the developer. The installation will be compliant with applicable codes, regulations, and performance standards.

NME: How important is BICSI to the ITS business in the region?

SB: BICSI is fundamentally an education driven organisation. The standards are there, the challenge is to get the right information to the right people. BICSI members represent the entire spectrum of the ITS industry. There is no better single source for the exchange of information and ideas. Members interact continually through e-mail, formal and informal training, and face-to-face meetings at events such as the regional conferences. BICSI plays a pivotal role in the dissemination of vendor-neutral, standards based information.

> Brewster’s Tips


• Do become a member of BICSI, it has a wealth of information available and is dedicated to education and sharing of knowledge. Most, if not all, of the driving forces in the information transport systems (ITS) industry are members and attending conferences and regional meetings is a great way to keep up with a rapidly changing industry.

• Do keep unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling away from sources of electro-magnetic interference (EMI) such as lighting ballasts, motors and RF cabling.

• Do keep in mind the bend radius limitations of cabling types, especially with respect to telecommunications outlets. This is a big challenge when balancing with the requirement for 300mm of working length within the device box. My recommendation is that all device boxes in telecommunications outlets should be at least 45mm deep, rather than the standard 25mm.

• Do become competent in earthing and bonding for telecommunications systems. This is an often-overlooked area but can wreak havoc with the performance of the system. If you are an owner, require it; if you’re a contractor, and don’t see it in a tender, ask about it; if you’re a consultant, specify it.

• Do provide spare capacity in the backbone and all containment. You should design for the future and assume the infrastructure will be there for at least ten to fifteen years. It’s always better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

• Do read and understand the specifications and drawings clearly. This saves everyone in the long run. If assumptions are made, they should
be documented.

• Do allocate sufficient, dedicated space for ITS infrastructure and equipment. Mounting a couple of patch panels with a switch in a broom closet, or next to a utility sink is asking for trouble.

• Do coordinate with the other design professionals on the team. This is critical to ensuring the system will operate as designed.

• Do require or provide labeling and administration for the ITS, as required in ANSI, TIA, EIA-606. This will make future changes and maintenance easier, faster, and more efficient for everyone.


• Don’t use shielded cabling unless there is a well-defined earthing and bonding system and the contractor is comfortable and competent in this area.

• Don’t use in-floor trunking unless it is specifically designed to accommodate high-performance cabling. In many instances, bend-limiting accessories are overlooked and earthing and bonding isn’t taken into consideration. In other cases, the floor-box locations will end up being wrong at some point, and either the infrastructure isn’t used, or cables are run openly across a floor, both of which don’t represent good value to the user.

• Don’t use a common chase for ITS and electrical service cables. Separate them based on signal type and strength, either by distance, or bonded barriers to prevent unwanted EMI.

• Don’t support ITS cables from other building systems, such as water lines, suspended ceiling support wires, sprinkler pipes and electrical conduit. Provide a complete and separate system throughout the building, both vertically and horizontally.

• Don’t specify the latest and greatest equipment simply because it is. Look at ITS as an investment, based on known and projected needs.||**||

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