BICSI International Standards Program

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BICSI Standards Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Cabling Installation

  • Binding or Securing Cable—Hook and Loop Versus Zip Tie

    Within TIA 568C.0, it states that:

    Cable stress, such as that caused by tension in suspended cable runs and tightly cinched bundles, should be minimized. Cable bindings, if used to tie multiple cables together, should be irregularly spaced and should be loosely fitted (easily moveable).

    Additional guidance can be found in the BICSI Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM), which reads:

    Use hook and loop straps to secure the cables. The hook and loop straps should be evenly spaced throughout the dressed length. Hook and loop straps should be used to prevent a change in the physical geometry of the cable that typically results from use of nylon tie wraps.

    Ultimately, you may wish to specify a preference, or provide one or more references for compliance to a given standard or set of guidelines.

  • Standard for Running Category 6 Along Electrical Conduit and Sprinkler Pipe

    In a case where a contractor is doing work using J hooks in the hallways and sprinkler pipe and electrical conduit in the individual rooms, one recommendation is to add a statement to your bid documents stating, "...contractors are prohibited from attaching telecommunications cables directly to conduit systems and conduit system hardware..." or something similar. Another recommendation is to discuss your concerns with the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). In many such cases, the AHJs typically do not permit such installation methods; however, the decision is actually based on the AHJs interpretation of the codes. The NFPA 70, NEC® 2008 edition states, in part:

    800.24 Mechanical Execution of Work
    Communications circuits and equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner. Cables installed exposed on the surface of ceilings and sidewalls shall be supported by the building structure in such a manner that the cable will not be damaged by normal building use. Such cables shall be secured by hardware, including straps, staples, cable ties, hangers, or similar fittings designed and installed so as not to damage the cable. The installation shall also conform to 300.4(D) and 300.11. 

    Although article 800.24 does not explicitly state that attaching telecommunications cables to electrical conduit is prohibited, the interpretation of 800.24 typically results in such rulings.

    FPN: Accepted industry practices are described in ANSI/NECA/BICSI 568-2006, Standard for Installing Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling; ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.1-2004—Part 1, General Requirements Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard; ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces; ANSI/TIA-570-B, Residential Telecommunications Infrastructure, and other ANSI-approved installation standards.

  • Working with Undercarpet Cabling

    As a work area best practice, undercarpet cabling is generally not recommended. The Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM), 11th edition, states in the work area chapter:

    Undercarpet cabling is rarely used but may be appropriate when other pathway systems are either not available or not applicable."  Additional text in this chapter states: "A transition point is described as a location in the horizontal cabling where flat undercarpet cable connects to round cable. Although undercarpet cabling may be available in category 3 (class C) and higher performance, this cabling distribution method is not considered to be a best practice.

    Within the Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM), it states, in part:

    Another form of balanced twisted-pair cable is undercarpet cable (see Figure 5.3).  Undercarpet cable should not be the ITS installer’s first choice. It is not recommended due to its:

    • Susceptibility to damage.
    • Limited flexibility for moves, adds, or changes (MACs).
    • When using undercarpet cable, an ITS installer should avoid:
      • High traffic areas.
      • Heavy office furniture locations.
      • Undercarpet power cable.
  • Are we responsible for removal and discarding old cabling that we discover from previous installation(s)?

    Telecommunications cabling that is no longer in use in a customer premise is addressed in the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70. Article 800.2 "Definitions" provides the following definition of an abandoned cable; See Article 100.

    For the purposes of this article, the following additional definitions apply:

    • "Abandoned Communications Cable. Installed communications cable that is not terminated at both ends at a connector or other equipment and not identified for future use with a tag."
    • "800.25 Abandoned Cables.
      The accessible portion of abandoned communications cables shall be removed. Where cables are identified for future use with a tag, the tag shall be of sufficient durability to withstand the environment involved."
  • What is the requirement for a single cable to be tied to an existing ceiling stringer at the cable drop location?

    The standard known as ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, "Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces" provides guidelines for the use of non-continuous supports for installed cabling. This standard uses the term "non-continuous support" as a broad reference to include many products including those products marketed as "J" hooks, distribution rings, distribution spools and other devices.  This standard offers the following guidance:

    "8.7 Non-continuous support
    Non-continuous supports shall be located at intervals not to exceed 1.5 m (5 ft). Non-continuous supports shall be selected to accommodate the immediate and anticipated quantity, weight, and performance requirements of cables. Steel, masonry, independent rods, independent support wires or other structural parts of the building shall be used for cable support attachment points up to the total weight for which the fastener is approved. Rods or wires that are currently employed for other functions (e.g. suspended ceiling grid support) shall not be utilized as attachment points for non-continuous supports. NOTE – A weight of 1 kg (2.2 lb) (or 0.7 kg/m with spacing of support wire/rod at 1.5 m [5 ft]) is equivalent to a bundle of sixteen 4-pair 24 AWG UTP cables, including fasteners."

    As written above, the standard prohibits the suspended ceiling grid supports as attachment points for installed telecommunications cabling.

Cable Properties and Values

  • Signal Loss of a Category 5 Cable Next to a Power Cable

    Low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems (e.g., category 5e through category 7a) in close proximity to power circuits (e.g., 110V, 220V) are not typically adversely effected in terms of the signal loss (i.e., attenuation) characteristics of the low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems. Rather, the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of various low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems may potentially be adversely effected in terms of coupled noise with resulting increased bit error rate (BER) of the network applications equipment using the low-voltage telecommunications cabling system. Properly installed shielded telecommunications cabling may perform better than unshielded telecommunications cabling in close proximity to power cabling.

    The standard known as ANSI/TIA-569-B, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces offers the following text regarding separation of power cabling from telecommunications cabling:

    8.3.1 Separation Between Telecommunications and Power Cables
    Co-installation of telecommunications cable and power cable is governed by applicable electrical code for safety. For minimum separation requirements of electrically conductive telecommunications cable from typical branch circuits (120/240 V, 20 A), Article 800.52 (of the 2002 edition of the) ANSI/NFPA 70 shall be applied, for example:

    • separation from power conductors;
    • separation and barriers within raceways; and
    • separation within outlet boxes or compartments.

    ANSI/TIA-569-B also offers an informative annex to address harsh EMC environments. This is known as Annex C (informative) Noise reduction guidelines. This annex is intended to be used as a reference in those exceptional cases where electrical noise is present on the telecommunications infrastructure. In summary, the findings published in Annex C indicate that there are one or more techniques that can be effective to mitigate the noise coupling from power line transients. Some techniques that can be considered for noise mitigation include:

    • Qualification of the network interface card (NIC) for noise immunity.
    • Compliance of cable and connecting hardware to LCL/TCL recommendations in TIA/EIA 568-B.2-1.
    • Using category 6 cabling.
    • Use of bundled or jacketed power conductors.
    • Reduce coupled lengths near the equipment.
    • Reduce link lengths.
    • Increase separation distance.
  • Can Category 6 Run 10G in Distances Less than 30 Meters?

    This question continues to come up. It is believed these misunderstandings relate to several reasons: 

    • Publication of an ISO/IEC technical report that addresses cabling mitigation techniques and cabling distance limitations for installed class E/category 6 cabling.
    • Publication of a TIA technical systems bulletin that addresses cabling mitigation techniques and cabling distance limitations for installed category 6 cabling.
    • Publication of an ISO/IEC standard that addresses augmented class e/category 6 (class Ea / category 6a) cabling requirements without cabling distance limitations below 100 m.
    • Publication of a TIA standard that addresses augmented Category 6 (Category 6A) cabling requirements without cabling distance limitations below 100 m.
    • Table 55-12 located in the IEEE 802.3an-2006 standard.
    • Manufacturer marketing claims of distance-limited applications support of 10GBASE-T.

    In this reply, we cannot address individual cabling system manufacturers claims of "short-reach" support for 10GBASE-T however we can offer standards-based guidance as it relates to the 10 Gigabit Ethernet application. The bottom line is, if you desire to achieve 10GBASE-T support up to 100 m without the need for potentially costly mitigation techniques, you must specify and install class Ea/category 6a or higher cabling system products that fully comply with ISO/IEC 11801-2002 Ed.2.0 Amendment 1, "Information technology - Generic cabling for customer premises - Amendment 1" and ANSI/TIA-568-B.2-10, "Transmission Performance Specifications for 4-pair 100 ohm Augmented Category 6 Cabling."

    Additional Details


    10GBASE-T Background 

    In 2006, the IEEE published the IEEE 802.3an-2006 standard known as "IEEE Standard for Information technology—Telecommunications and information exchange between systems—Local and metropolitan area networks—Specific requirements  Part 3: Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications  Amendment 1: Physical Layer and Management Parameters for 10 Gb/s Operation, Type 10GBASE-T."  This standard has defined several classifications/categories of cabling with associated length limitations.  In 2006, class E/category 6 (screened and unscreened) and class F/category 7 (screened) cabling standards existed as referenced in Table 55-12 (below). When IEEE 802.3an-2006 published, the class Ea/category 6a and class Fa/category 7a cabling standards had not yet published. Both have since published.

    IEEE 802.3an-2006, Table 55-12, Cabling Types and Distances

    Cabling Supported link segment distances Cabling references
    Class E / Category 6 55 m to 100 m* ISO/IEC TR-24750 / TIA/EIA TSB-155
    Class E / Category 6: unscreened 55 m 0 / TIAISO/IEC TR-24750/EIA TSB-155
    Class E / Category 6: screened 100 m ISO/IEC TR-24750 / TIA/EIA TSB-155
    Class F / (Category 7) 100 m ISO/IEC TR-2475
    Class EA / Category 6A 100 m ISO/IEC 11801 Ed 2.1 / TIA/EIA-568-B.2-10

    *Supported link segments up to 100 m shall meet the alien crosstalk to insertion loss requirements specified in 55.7.3.1.2 (PSANEXT) and 55.7.3.2.2 (PSANEXT loss to insertion loss ratio requirements).

    Interpretation of IEEE 802.3an-2006, Table 55-12 
    The first reference to class E/category 6 cabling offers a supported link segment distance of 55 m to 100 m. The reason this wide range is offered is to accommodate two types of class E/category 6 cabling; screened and unscreened. As you look further down the table, note that unscreened class E/category 6 cabling is distance limited up to only 55 m while screened class E/category 6 cabling appears to support the 10GBASE-T application out to 100 m. The key to understanding these length limitations is to understanding the implications of the cabling references which are also listed in the table.

    Understanding the purpose of ISO/IEC TR-24750 
    ISO/IEC TR-24750 is a technical report known as "Information Technology - Assessment and mitigation of installed balanced cabling channels in order to support 10GBASE-T." As the title implies, this report was written because, at the time, the subject of 10GBASE-T compliant cabling was still under technical development and there was no immediate possibility of an agreement on an International Standard. This report provides guidance regarding installed class E channels and whether they will support 10GBASE-T. This report also provides mitigation procedures to improve the performance of class E channels to the point where the application is supported. class F and class Fa cabling, according to ISO/IEC 11801:2002, will support 10GBASE-T without mitigation up to 100 m. The support of 10GBASE-T includes additional parameters and an extended frequency range (1-500 MHz) beyond class E (1-250 MHz). Conformance of installed cabling beyond the original cabling specifications must be determined on a case by case basis, and is primarily needed due to new external noise requirements. Whether these requirements are met by a specific channel is influenced by the components and installation practices used. As 10GBASE-T uses frequencies above those specified for class E of ISO/IEC 11801, input from supplier and installer may be helpful to evaluate the performance of installed class E channels.

    ISO/IEC TR-24750 Mitigation Techniques 
    Depending on the components used and the layout of the cable and connecting hardware, some transmission parameters may not be met. A critical transmission parameter is power sum alien crosstalk. For channels which are to be requalified in the field to troubleshoot problems, the manufacturer should be consulted regarding mitigation techniques or the following actions should be taken:

    1. Replace patch cords with higher categorized patch cords.
    2. Remove cable bundle ties, and to the extent possible, randomize the cables at the near end.
    3. Replace the patch panel with a higher category patch panel.
    4. Reduce the number of cabling components.
    5. Replace the cabling.

    The mitigation techniques described above can significantly impact the cost of an installation and it's important to note that any movement of or changes to the installed cabling system components may result in another round of mitigation techniques for further troubleshooting.

    Understanding the purpose of TIA/EIA TSB-155 
    TIA/EIA TSB-155 is a technical bulletin known as "Guidelines for the Assessment and Mitigation of Installed Category 6 Cabling to Support 10GBASE-T." The guidelines of this Telecommunications Systems Bulletin (TSB) contain additional recommendations to further characterize existing category 6 cabling plant as specified in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568B.2-1 for supporting 10GBASE-T applications. This TSB includes field test procedures and field tester guidelines that can be used for this assessment. This TSB describes additional guidelines to support the IEEE 802.3an 10GBASE-T standard for using installed 100 ohm, 4-pair category 6 cabling meeting the requirements of ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1. This TSB characterizes the crosstalk coupling between 4-pair category 6 cabling in close proximity referred to as alien crosstalk and provides additional guidelines for field test equipment and field test methods and alien crosstalk mitigation. These guidelines provide additional information on the extended frequency transmission performance expected of category 6 cabling from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. The transmission parameter recommendations included in TSB-155 provide a means to assess installations of installed category 6 cabling, as specified in ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 and corresponding addenda, up to and including 500 MHz and for the additional parameters necessary to support 10GBASE-T.

    TIA/EIA TSB-155 Mitigation Techniques 
    The following procedures may be applied to channels with insufficient alien crosstalk margin. Select the option(s) that is most appropriate for your situation.

    1. When selective deployments of 10GBASE-T applications are possible, utilize nonadjacent patch panel positions (patch panel adjacency should also be checked at the rear of the patch panel), separate the equipment cords and unbundle the horizontal cables.
    2. When deploying 10GBASE-T applications in adjacent patch panel positions, in the telecommunications room, testing is recommended. The number of disturbed channels to be tested should be determined using statistical sampling techniques based upon the intended confidence level.
      1. Identify measured patch panel positions to be included in the power sum.
      2. Select and test those channels with connectors adjacent to, or cable segments in the same bundle as, the disturbed channel. For these channels, test the alien crosstalk to be included in the power sum calculation following the procedures in clause A.8.
    3. In the event that the alien crosstalk transmission parameters given in either 6.1 or 6.2 are not met in step 2 the alien crosstalk may be mitigated by the following procedure.
      1. Reduce the alien crosstalk coupling by separating the equipment cords, the patch cords and un-bundling the horizontal cable.
      2. An alternative to separating equipment cords is to utilize equipment cords sufficiently specified to mitigate the alien crosstalk coupling such as category 6 ScTP cords or category 6a cords.
      3. Reconfigure the cross-connect as an interconnect
      4. Replace connectors with category 6a connectors
      5. Replace the horizontal cable with category 6a horizontal cable

    The channel performance after mitigation should be verified, in fact, the channel performance should be verified after any movement of or changes to the installed system because changes in the physical geometry of the installed class E/category 6 cabling may alter the previously reported transmission performance characteristics. Once again, the mitigation techniques described above can significantly impact the cost of an installation and it's important to note that any movement of or changes to the installed cabling system components may result in another round of mitigation techniques for further troubleshooting. As previously suggested, the bottomline is if you desire to achieve 10GBASE-T support up to 100 m without the need for potentially costly mitigation techniques, you must specify and install class Ea/category 6a or higher cabling system products that fully comply with ISO/IEC 11801-2002 Ed.2.0 Amendment 1 known as "Information technology - Generic cabling for customer premises - Amendment 1" and ANSI/TIA-568-B.2-10, "Transmission Performance Specifications for 4-pair 100 ohm Augmented Category 6 Cabling."

  • What is the formula for loss on a fiber run?

    The link attenuation allowance is calculated as:

    Link Attenuation Allowance (dB) = Cable Attenuation Allowance (dB) + Connector Insertion Loss Allowance (dB) + Splice Insertion Loss Allowance (dB)
    where:

    • Cable Attenuation Allowance (dB) = Maximum Cable Attenuation Coefficient (dB/km) × Length (km)
    • Connector Insertion Loss Allowance (dB) = Number of Connector Pairs × Connector Loss Allowance (dB)
    • Splice Insertion Loss Allowance (dB) = Number of Splices × Splice Loss Allowance (dB)

    NOTE – Component loss allowances are provided in ANSI/TIA-568-C.3-2008.  For example, maximum mated fiber pair connector loss is defined as 0.75 dB per mated pair while maximum splice loss is defined as 0.3 dB per splice, whether mechanical splice or fusion splice.  For optical fiber cable maximum attenuation (dB/km), please see Table 1 of ANSI/TIA-568-C.3-2008.

Conduits, Pathways and Spaces

  • Conduit Bend Radius for Fiber Optic Cable

    The most complete standards-based reference to optical fiber cabling bend radius is ANSI/TIA-568-C.0.  This standard is known as "Generic Telecommunications Cabling for Customer Premises."  It was published in February 2009 and applies to optical fiber cable bend radius, regardless of the pathways in which they are installed (e.g., conduit, cable tray, etc).
  • The Use of Bushings on Conduit Pathways

    The NFPA 70, National Electrical Code provides numerous references to bushings, especially Chapter 3: Wiring Methods and Materials. In many such cases, these references are defined as requirements and some of these references are defined as recommendations. In either event, the use of bushings is generally prescribed as a best practice that should always be considered. The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may require such practices. Of note, none of these Chapter 3 references to the use of bushings are exclusive to bushings. The general intent is that cabling is protected from damage by any means.  

    Additionally, the ANSI/TIA-569-B standard known as Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces offers numerous references to the required use of bushings or grommets in pathways such as zone boxes, telecommunications enclosures, conduits and in-wall cabling (through metal studs).
  • Fill Rates and Number of Cables when Using Conduit with Bends

    The National Electrical Code® (NEC®) offers tables for conduit fill based on the number of cables installed in the conduit.  The NEC does not change the fill percentage based on the number of 90 degree bends; however, some cabling system manufacturer calculators factor in a 15 percent derating factor based on the number of 90 degree bends or equivalent degrees of bend.  The NEC limits the number of 90 degree bends in a conduit run. Installing a pull box after the second 90 degree bend or equivalent amount of degrees of bend in a conduit run is recommended.

    ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces, Section 8.8.2.3 offers some guidance regarding cable fill in conduit.

    In any conduit design, there are always a number of variables. Variables may include: the size of conduit, number of cables, length of the conduit runs and whether flexible conduit is involved before it enters the pull box. Generally speaking, if the conduit is a 25 mm (1 in) with four (4) cables, then the conduit runs do not meet the standard, but the cable will probably not be damaged if care is taken when pulling.

    If excessive tension is a concern, is it possible to add a box or conduit body in the conduit runs. Cable pulling tension is going to be the limiting factor.  
  • Mixing Coaxial, UTP and Power Cables in One Conduit

    There are a number of codes and standards that provide power separation guidelines within conduit with numerous clauses in these codes and standards to this effect. Additionally, numerous BICSI reference manuals offer power separation guidelines, some within conduit and some outside of conduit use. Unfortunately, many of these clauses defined in these codes, standards and reference manuals conflict with one another so it is imperative that you review several clauses from various codes, standards and reference manuals, then make your own determination about which guidance to follow. Please refer to the list below for some of the more prominent codes and standards that define such guidance:

    Codes 

    • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), 2008 edition
    • National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC®) Handbook, approved publication of IEEE, August 1, 2001 edition 

    Standards 

  • The Number of Cables that Can be Placed Inside a Conduit

    In the BICSI Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM), 12th edition, a formula is used to determine conduit fill, found here, using metric or imperial expressions:

    Conduit fill in millimeters or inches = Aconduit × (1 - 1 × 0.4) / Acable

    A = pi * d2 / 4,
    where
    A – resulting cross-sectional area of conduit or cable;
    pi = 3.14;
    d2 – cable outside diameter or conduit internal diameter;

    Table 5.2 Examples of conduit fill based on sample sizing of cables

    Sample Cable Outside Diameters mm (in)
    Conduit Inside Diameter mm (in) Trade Size 4 (0.15) 5 (0.19) 6 (0.23) 7 (0.27) 8 (0.31) 9 (0.35)
    21 (0.82) ¾ 11 7
    5 3 3 2
    27 (1.04) 1 18 11 8 6 4 3
    35 (1.38) 1 - 1/4 30 19 13 10 8 6
    41 (1.61) 1 – ½ 41 26 18 13 10 8
    50 (2.06) 2 68 43 30 22 17 13
    63 (2.46) 2-½ 96 62 43 31 24 19
    75 (3.06) 3 149 95 66 49 37 29
    91 (3.54) 3-½ 199 127 88 65 50 39
    100 (4.02) 4 255 163 113 83 64 50

    NOTE: The calculations used in Table 5.2 to determine cable fill are based on a 40 percent initial fill factor assuming straight runs with no degrees of bend. The metric trade designators and imperial trade sizes are not literal conversions of metric to imperial sizes. Fire and smoke stop assemblies may require different fill ratios.

  • Mounting Height of Wall Phone Telephone Outlets

    Within TIA 569B-2004, Section 8.8.2.8, it reads:

    In discussion with the telephone provider, and where it is desirable to conceal the outlet box directly behind the surface-mounted telephone, the center of the outlet box shall be placed 1,220 mm (48 in) above the floor.
  • What is the standard for an equipment room when it comes to minimum size?

    The standard that offers minimum size requirements and recommendations for Equipment Rooms (ERs) is known as ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces. This standard offers requirements and recommendations for Multi-Tenant Building Common Equipment Rooms (CERs) and Single-Tenant premises Equipment Rooms (ERs).
  • What are the standards for designing a TC and an MDF?

    There are essentially three parts. First, there are a number of cabling standards (e.g., TIA-569-B-2004) and codes (NFPA 70-2008) that define minimum requirements for products used in the installation of low-voltage, telecommunications cabling. While these standards and codes generally describe mechanical and electrical performance criteria, they tend to fall short of providing design methodology's for the design and implementation of telecommunications spaces such as equipment rooms, telecommunications rooms, equipment facilities and other telecommunications spaces and their contents, the telecommunications cabling, cross-connections and equipment interconnections. The second set of source documents includes the BICSI Reference Manuals. These design methodology's reference manuals generally describe the how-to, with-what details that go well beyond the requirements and recommendations described in the standards and codes. BICSI offers a wide variety of reference manuals that are used for premises distribution design, outside plant design, wireless design, network design, audio visual design, and electronic safety and security. The third set of source documents includes training curriculum and additional technical resources that are offered by cabling products manufacturers. Many end user organizations use a combination of these three sets of technical resources to acquire the most comprehensive insight into global best practices.

Color, Labeling and Documentation

  • Symbols for Voice, Data, and Other Data Devices Construction Drawings

    There are multiple sources of telecommunications symbols. The following is a short list of telecommunications standards, BICSI reference manuals and other material that feature telecommunications symbols.

    Fortunately, you do not need to reference one or more sources of symbols; in fact, you may even create your own symbol set. The important item to note is that you include your symbols in a symbol key on any record drawings. As long as the symbol key represents the symbols used in the record drawings, the symbols applied to those drawings will be easily understood.

  • Labeling OSP Components

    The ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A-2002 standard known as "Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure" offers optional labeling guidelines for OSP components and defines the following:

    • Establishes four (4) classes of administration, to address the different needs of small, medium, large, and very large telecommunications infrastructure systems. Class 3 and Class 4 administration include OSP components such as maintenance holes, OSP cables, splice cases and other OSP components.
    • Accommodates the scalable needs of telecommunications infrastructure systems.
    • Allows modular implementation of different parts of this Standard.
    • Specifies identifier formats to accommodate the exchange of information between design drawings, test instruments, administration software and other documents or tools which may be used throughout the lifecycle of the cabling infrastructure.
    • Specifies labeling formats.
    • Definition of terms are harmonized across all premises telecommunications infrastructure standards.

    This standard offers Informative Annex B titled, "RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF OPTIONAL IDENTIFIERS." This annex includes suggested formats of optional identifiers for copper, fiber, coaxial, wireless and device elements as well as for areas, spaces, pathways and locations. Many of the elements listed in this annex are found in larger installation environments and often require labels and identifiers to allow the elements to be effectively managed. Objects such as cables or conduits, which span multiple telecommunications spaces, should be labeled with the same identifier in each space where they are accessible.

  • Jacket Color of Network Cables

    There are no standards that presently address the recommended colors of balanced twisted-pair cables either based on the cables category of performance or the cables intended use (e.g., network, AV, voice). There are no known plans that to define such colors for this type of cabling at this time (July 2009).
  • Color-Coding Designations for Telecommunications Cross-Connect Fields

    The standard known as ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A-2002, "Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure," offers a table in Section 9.2.2 that defines the color-coding of termination fields installed in equipment rooms and telecommunications rooms.
  • What are the documents and standards governing cable administration?

    There are several sources of information for the proper administration, including drawings, of network cabling.  In North America, the three most commonly referenced documents are the:

    • Reference manual, BICSI TDMM, 12th edition, Chapter 11, Administration
    • Standard, ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A-2002, Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure
    • Standard, ANSI/TIA-606-A-1-2008, Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure Addendum 1- Administration of Equipment Rooms and Data Center Computer Rooms

    Internationally, there is a new work in progress named “NWIP 14763-2-1, Generic cabling – Implementation and operation of customer premises cabling – Identifiers within administration systems”. This emerging standard is fully supported by the United States Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) and supports a published international standard ISO/IEC 14763-1 Information technology – Implementation and operation of customer premises cabling – Part 1: Administration.

Mixing of Telecommunication and Power Cabling

  • Separating High Voltage and Telecommunication When Entering Buildings

    The 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) offers separation guidelines between high voltage and telecommunications cabling where they enter the building. The two NEC articles to consider are Article 800 (telephony) and article 725 (data communications). The local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) ultimately determines interpretation of the code and our recommendation is that you consult with the local AHJ regarding interpretation of these separation guidelines.

    The National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC®) also offers clearances and separations from other utilities where they enter the building. The NESC, published by IEEE, sets the ground rules for practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and telecommunication lines and associated equipment.
  • Mixing Coaxial, UTP and Power Cables in One Conduit

    There are a number of codes and standards that provide power separation guidelines within conduit with numerous clauses in these codes and standards to this effect. Additionally, numerous BICSI reference manuals offer power separation guidelines, some within conduit and some outside of conduit use. Unfortunately, many of these clauses defined in these codes, standards and reference manuals conflict with one another so it is imperative that you review several clauses from various codes, standards and reference manuals, then make your own determination about which guidance to follow. Please refer to the list below for some of the more prominent codes and standards that define such guidance:

    Codes 

    • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), 2008 edition
    • National Electrical Safety Code®(NESC®) Handbook, approved publication of IEEE, August 1, 2001 edition

    Standards 

    • ANSI/NECA/BICSI-568-2006, Standard for Installing Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling
    • ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces
    • British Standard (BS) 6701:2004 Telecommunications equipment and telecommunications cabling. Specification for installation, operation and maintenance
  • Should bonded metallic conduit be used when running cat5e/cat6 inside a building power substation room?

    We believe that the conduit should be bonded when run in a substation. This should limit the voltage on a telecommunications conduit from accidental contact with a higher voltage system, lightning, or other induced voltages. Bonding the telecommunications conduit should improve safety for personnel by reducing touch potential differences in a substation. 

    For code references, we suggest that you research the following NFPA 70, NEC references:

    • Section 250.112 Connected by Permanent Wiring Methods, Look at Section 250.112(I) Power Limited Remote Control, Signaling, and Fire Alarm circuits.
    • Part II, Section 250.21(A)(1) Alternating Current Systems of Less That 50 volts would not require this conduit to be bonded.
    • Part VIII applies to Direct Current Systems.
    • Section 250.132 Short Section of Raceway, there is no reference to how long a short section is.
    • Section 250.4(B).
  • Do I follow the same rules as ac power for providing 48V dc power running parallel with data cables supporting Ethernet within a cable tray?

    DC power supplying systems are less harmful to telecommunications cabling in terms of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) than AC systems. But, considering that we have no further information to support different rules at this time, we would recommend that you follow the separation guidelines typically followed when installing AC systems and telecommunications cabling in commercial buildings. The guidelines for power separation are contained in chapter 2 of the 12th edition of the BICSI Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM). 

Other Cable Questions

  • Factors of Preterminated Versus Custom Terminated Network Cables

    Cabling standards do not necessarily provide pros and cons of installation methodologies such as the use of trunking assemblies or field termination of cabling components. While not necessarily a complete list, please consider the following;

    Trunking Cons

    Cost — The installed cost of trunking assemblies may be higher than the installed cost of field terminated cabling. This potentially applies to both optical fiber and balanced twisted-pair cabling.
    Lead time — The factory lead time of trunking assemblies may be longer than the lead time associated with the purchase of cabling components required to field terminate the same cabling. This applies to both optical fiber and balanced twisted-pair cabling.

    Trunking Pros

    Rapid Deployment — Installations may be quicker once trunking assemblies are on-site, potentially reducing on-site installation time by up to 75 percent, some manufacturers claims. The rapid deployment is potentially achieved by reducing the labor associated with pulling and placing cabling as well as cable dressing time. Trunking assemblies may be an ideal solution for installations that are time critical.
    Risk Abatement  — By eliminating field terminations, there is potentially less risk of improperly terminated connections on-site when compared to field terminations. Trunking assemblies may improve the quality of the installation by removing installer variability.
    Assuring High Performance — Factory termination and factory testing of trunking assemblies may minimize delays associated with on-site troubleshooting and cabling rework challenges.
    Greater Predictability — Installation schedules may be completed with greater predictability when using trunking assemblies. Trunking assemblies may be an ideal solution for installations where standardization is valued. Trunking assemblies are assembled in a controlled factory environment with consistent processes potentially reducing variability which may affect transmission performance, particularly 10 Gigabit Ethernet and beyond.
    Comprehensive Solution — Trunking assemblies may be purchased with a complete set of components including cable, connectors, jumpers, enclosures and racks. This potentially applies to both optical fiber and balanced twisted-pair cabling. For optical fiber trunking assemblies, a complete suite of cabling products are potentially available for use including OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, OS1 or OS2 optical fiber cabling. For balanced twisted-pair cabling, a complete suite of cabling products are potentially available for use including categories 3, 5e, 6, 6a, 7 and 7a constructed with UTP, F/UTP (category 3 through category 6Aa) or S/FTP (category 7 and 7a) cabling components.
    Aesthetically Appealing — Trunking assemblies provide a consistent, clean appearance that may improve manageability as the trunks are pulled or placed in cabling pathways.

  • Salvaging Cable Exposed to Various Liquids

    In situations where optical fiber or balanced twisted-pair telecommunications cabling (cable or connecting hardware) has been exposed to liquids or otherwise coated with or exposed to direct contact with solvents, paints, adhesives, sealants or other third party materials, it may not be possible to guarantee that physical or electrical degradation either has occurred or may occur over the life of the telecommunications cabling products. As a result, the telecommunications cabling products manufacturers warranties and/or telecommunications cabling systems manufacturers warranties may become void. Any attempts to restore the exposed cabling cannot guarantee that such exposure or subsequent residual contaminants would not remain, potentially having unforeseen detrimental effects in the future. If the customer does not elect to replace the exposed cabling, the cabling system manufacturers may allow cabling that has been exposed to continue under the cabling system manufacturers warranty given the following conditions:

    • All cables that have been subject to exposure are re-tested and exhibit a PASS result for all electrical parameters specified by the original cabling system manufacturers requirements for that category/system of cabling.
    • In the event of performance deficiencies or applications issues that have been identified as being attributed to the exposure, the cabling system manufacturers warranty may not provide coverage.
    • In the event that any issues or claims occur due to the effects of the exposure altering the safety rating of the cable, the cabling system manufacturers warranty may not provide coverage.

    Cabling system manufacturers warranties typically provide warranty coverage for installed telecommunications cabling should there be a nonperforming component in the link or channel that does not provide the guaranteed level of component performance, link performance or channel performance as identified in warranty documents for that system. Should there be an event which is outside the control of the cabling system manufacturers, such as the exposure (as noted above) to the telecommunications cabling products, the manufacturer’s warranty may not provide coverage for such situations.

  • Number of Category 5e Cables Installed in a Workstation or Rack

    There is not a maximum number of cables defined by standards.

    For workstations/work areas, cabling standards define a minimum of two recognized types of cabling for use in a work area in a commercial building environment. One of these types of cabling must be recognized balanced twisted-pair cabling (category 5e or higher) and the second may be another recognized balanced twisted-pair cabling choice (same or different category) or the second type of cabling may be a recognized multimode optical fiber cabling choice (e.g., 62.5 or 50 micron).

    For standard equipment racks or cabinets, manufacturers of equipment racks and cabinets often provide guidance regarding the cabling capacity of the racks, cabinets, vertical management and horizontal management devices that they manufacture.
  • Signal Loss of a Category 5 Cable Next to a Power Cable

    Low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems (e.g., category 5e through category 7a) in close proximity to power circuits (e.g., 110V, 220V) are not typically adversely effected in terms of the signal loss (i.e., attenuation) characteristics of the low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems. Rather, the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of various low-voltage telecommunications cabling systems may potentially be adversely effected in terms of coupled noise with resulting increased bit error rate (BER) of the network applications equipment using the low-voltage telecommunications cabling system. Properly installed shielded telecommunications cabling may perform better than unshielded telecommunications cabling in close proximity to power cabling.

    The standard known as ANSI/TIA-569-B, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces offers the following text regarding separation of power cabling from telecommunications cabling:

    8.3.1 Separation Between Telecommunications and Power Cables
    Co-installation of telecommunications cable and power cable is governed by applicable electrical code for safety. For minimum separation requirements of electrically conductive telecommunications cable from typical branch circuits (120/240 V, 20 A), Article 800.52 (of the 2002 edition of the) ANSI/NFPA 70 shall be applied, for example:

    • separation from power conductors;
    • separation and barriers within raceways; and
    • separation within outlet boxes or compartments.

    ANSI/TIA-569-B also offers an informative annex to address harsh EMC environments. This is known as Annex C (informative) Noise reduction guidelines. This annex is intended to be used as a reference in those exceptional cases where electrical noise is present on the telecommunications infrastructure. In summary, the findings published in Annex C indicate that there are one or more techniques that can be effective to mitigate the noise coupling from power line transients. Some techniques that can be considered for noise mitigation include:

    • Qualification of the network interface card (NIC) for noise immunity.
    • Compliance of cable and connecting hardware to LCL/TCL recommendations in TIA/EIA 568-B.2-1.
    • Using category 6 cabling.
    • Use of bundled or jacketed power conductors.
    • Reduce coupled lengths near the equipment.
    • Reduce link lengths.
    • Increase separation distance.
  • Factors in Category 6 Uniform Balanced System from a Single Vendor Versus a Mixed Manufacturer System

    Cabling standards provide us with two important transmission performance criteria as it relates to mixing and matching or matched telecommunications cabling components and cabling systems. Cabling standards assure both backwards compatibility and interoperability. The backwards compatibility assurance provides some degree of confidence when a higher category or type of connectivity (e.g., patch panel connectivity) is placed onto a lower category or type of cable (e.g., category 6 with category 5e or OM2 with OM3), the combination of the two different levels of transmission performance will operate to the lesser of the two levels. The important point is that they will operate. The interoperability assurance provides some degree of confidence that when you attach the connectivity (e.g., patch panel) of one manufacturer onto cable of another manufacturer, the combination of the two different manufacturers products will operate to at least the minimum transmission performance requirements of the cabling standards. Once again, the important point is that they will operate.

    Cabling standards transmission requirements (e.g., connecting hardware, cable, links and channels) establish minimum performance expectations that are independent of product branding. Cabling systems manufacturers on the other hand may use these benchmark transmission performance requirements in order to establish higher transmission performance guarantees that exceed industry standards. Transmission performance that exceeds the industry standards benchmarks are generally described as performance margin. In some cases, cabling systems manufacturers will offer a mix and match system approach to marketing their cabling systems. In other cases, cabling systems manufacturers will offer a matched system approach to marketing their cabling system. Either way, as a specifier or decision maker of cabling systems, you are entitled to compare the mixed or matched systems and to do so on a level playing field using transmission performance margins versus the minimum requirements of the standards as your benchmark.

    In optical fiber cabling systems and balanced twisted-pair cabling systems, there are many factors that contribute to optimized transmission performance. These factors include:

    • Individual component performance and margin to standards.
    • Optical or electrical cabling connector interface characteristics.
    • Methods that manufacturers use to achieve optimum performance.
    • Frequency range or bandwidth within which individual components are optimized to perform.

    Perhaps the single most critical of these factors towards achieving optimal transmission performance has to do with the optical or electrical cabling connector interface characteristics. In the case of optical fiber cabling, the interface in question involves the end face geometry of the optical fiber ferrules, the cleanliness and polish of the end face and the optical fiber adapter sleeves that align the two optical fiber connectors. In balanced twisted-pair cabling systems, the interface in question involves the plug socket interface. In optical fiber cabling and balanced twisted-pair cabling, it is possible to design and manufacture connecting hardware in such a way as to tune the components in order to optimize their transmission performance characteristics. When these cabling connector interfaces are optimized, they generally yield higher transmission performance characteristics than similar components that are not specifically optimized to work together. Ultimately, as previously suggested, as a specifier or decision maker of cabling systems, you are entitled to compare the mixed or matched systems and to do so on a level playing field using transmission performance margins versus the minimum requirements of the standards as your benchmark.

  • Factors in evaluating companies within the ITS industry

    Note: The following is not to be considered an authoritative list, rather it is supplied as information for developing an evaluation process.

    To evaluate copper and optical fiber cabling installation companies, consider the following:

    • Do they have BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designers (RCDDs) on staff
    • Do they have BICSI Installers and/or Technicians on staff?
    • Do they have certifications in one or more cabling systems manufacturers programs?
    • Reference customers of a similar type of business as your own.
    • Reference projects similar to your own.

    To evaluate copper and fiber cabling system manufacturing companies, consider asking if they have:

    • ISO 9001:2000 or 9001:2008 copper and fiber manufacturing facilities.
    • ISO 14001 copper and fiber manufacturing facilities.
    • Copper and fiber manufacturing or logistics services in the region.
    • Copper and fiber stocking wholesale distributors in the region.
    • Copper and fiber Certified Installer Companies in the region.
  • Are there any Standards or Codes requiring (1-hr) fire-rated walls for TRs?

    The information transport systems (ITS) standard that addresses the use of fire-rated (fire retardant) plywood in telecommunications spaces such as Telecommunications Rooms (TRs), Equipment Rooms (ERs), Entrance Facilities (EFs), Multi-Tenant building spaces, Access Provider (AP) spaces and Service Provider (SP) spaces is known as ANSI/TIA-569-B-2004, Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces. This standard describes the use of surface mounted fire-rated (fire retardant) plywood in telecommunications spaces.  

    Note: This standard does not describe the use of or construction of architectural fire-rated (fire retardant) wood frame walls and floor/ceiling assemblies. Refer to the proper local, regional, and/or applicable building and fire codes for guidance on construction and architectural requirements.
  • How many mated connectors are allowed in an OM3 optical fiber backbone?

    The maximum number of mated optical fiber connector pairs is certainly part of the total optical fiber loss budget equation.  Additional and equally important criteria include;

    • The length of optical fiber cable
    • Number and quality of optical fiber splices in the optical fiber channel
    • Number and quality of optical fiber jumpers (e.g., patch cord assemblies)

    Each set of IEEE optical fiber network applications equipment feature a standards-based loss budget for normal operation.  Individual manufacturers specifications may exceed these standards-based requirements.  The table below provides a few examples of how the optical fiber loss budget is reduced as the transmission rates increase.

    IEEE Application OM3 channel loss maximum
    802.3ba 40GBASE–SR4 or 100GBASE–SR10 1.9 dB maximum @ 850 nm
    802.3ae 10GBASE-S 2.6 dB maximum @ 850 nm
    802.3z 1000BASE-SX 7 dB maximum @ 850 nm

    As a result of the changes in the loss budgets from one generation of network equipment to another, care should be taken in the design and installation of the optical fiber cabling in order to support the desired applications equipment.

  • What is the difference between a standards document versus a specification document written for a bid set that includes the drawings?

    To many, there is no discernible difference in the content.  However, a standards document and a specification document are two different entities.

    A standard is typically developed according to a specified set of rules and procedures providing consensus among many parties and is published by a neutral party.  While standards have different purposes, for telecommunications, they are mostly used as a reference for design or product criteria.

    A specification document is generally considered a working or business document, developed by one entity which may use content from one or more standards and may alter said content to meet whatever needs.  Specification documents are usually specific to one job or instance and can cover multiple areas and topics, whereas a standard is typically more general and usually narrow in focus.  Specification documents also can include non-standard materials and can be revised easily due to the singularity of author.

    Ideally, all specification documents would reference the applicable standard(s), so that any requirement is not taken out of context.  However, as this would require everyone involved with a specification document to have a rather large standards library, this is not practical.  In practice, many copy out the relevant items of a standard and include them in a specification document, placing citation, comment and/or clarification where needed.  Unfortunately, there are some out there who also alter the standards content for less than honorable reasons.

    In most cases, there is no difference between the content of a standard and specification document, but due to local, regional and other AHJs, the specification document is often where any tweaks, changes or amendments to the standards material is made, as standards rarely cover all known exceptions for all jurisdictions.

Outside Plant (OSP)

  • In OSP applications, what is the recommended distance between handholes or pullboxes?

    The ANSI/TIA-758-A-2004 standard known as Customer-Owned Outside Plant Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard offers the following guidance for the distance between handholes or pull boxes:

    "4.1.1.2.3 Lengths between pulling points
    The section length of conduit shall not exceed 183 m (600 ft) between pulling points."

    If you are only planning to pull optical fiber cables, a common industry practice is to place the handholes or pull boxes up to 450 m (1500 ft) apart.  Regarding the pathway choices, the use of galvanized steel conduit is not a common practice in such installations.  Many underground installations of this type, with the exception of under road or under rail, typically use schedule 40 PVC or EB 35 concrete incased pathways.  The choice of pathway is of course based on many factors and you may have already determined the best choice based on your options.

  • Can we splice the OSP cable to a plenum cable before we terminate on protectors?

    Yes. You can, in fact, splice outside plant (OSP) cable to a plenum rated (CMP) or riser rated (CMR) cable before terminating on over-voltage, over-current protectors. You should try to reach the over-voltage, over-current protector field within a relatively short distance of the point of penetration within the building. Ultimately, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may dictate the installation requirements of such a practice. 
  • What is the standard pulling distance of plenum rated cable in an underground conduit?

    Plenum cable, abbreviated as CMP, should not be installed in an outside plant environment such as underground conduit. As you know, such outside plant environments are subject to temperature extremes and the potential for exposure to moisture. Only cables that are suitable for an outside plant environment should be installed in underground conduit.  The 12th edition BICSI Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) offers the following information regarding the installation of cabling in areas where it potentially may be exposed to moisture. Chapter 5, Horizontal Distribution states in part;

    "Wet Locations

    A building's horizontal pathways must be installed in locations that protect cabling from the moisture levels beyond the intended operating range of interior premises cabling. For example, slab-on-grade construction where pathways are installed underground or in concrete slabs in direct contact with soil (e.g., sand and gravel) is considered a wet location. When faced with such design environments, ITS designers should design pathway or cabling systems that are suitable for use in wet locations (e.g., cabling products are often described as industrial cabling products). NOTES: See Appendix D: Mechanical, Ingress, Climatic/Chemical, Electromagnetic (MICE) Considerations. The ITS designer should consult applicable codes, standards, regulations, and AHJ rulings for local definitions of damp location, dry location, and wet location."

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