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Administration Matters

Cabling administration has been generally misunderstood to date. A new TIA standard should change all of that.


July 1, 2002  


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If I were to ask the readers of this magazine what cabling administration is, the majority (including myself) would probably say that it is a system for keeping track of what cable is connected to what device. Yet most people would not have a great deal of knowledge on how this is actually accomplished.

Well, the TIA has just published a new and improved Administration Standard (ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A-2002) for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure. It is a remarkable document loaded with information and practical examples on how to administer a cabling system from the simplest systems served by a single equipment room (Class 1 or 2) to complex systems encompassing many buildings and thousands of users (Class 3 or 4).

After studying this document I can now better appreciate the importance of providing a uniform and well thought-out approach to cabling administration.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

The following are the key building blocks that define a cabling administration system:

a) A unique identifier that is associated with each element of a telecommunications infrastructure to be administered

b) A label that is to be affixed to each administered element at designated locations

c) A record that is associated with each infrastructure identifier containing required and optional information

d) A linkage between infrastructure identifiers and records to facilitate information retrieval

e) A report that lists all, or a subset, of records containing a selected identifier and any desired information in those records

I will illustrate the application of these building blocks by giving some specific examples. For the horizontal subsystem, the administration standard specifies the format for each identifier as follows:

the telecommunications space (TS) identifier has a simple format of [fs], where:

f = numeric character(s) identifying the floor of the building occupied by the TS and

s = alpha character(s) uniquely identifying the building area in which the space is located

the horizontal link identifier shall have a format of [fs-an], where:

fs = the TS identifier

a = one or two alpha characters uniquely identifying a single patch panel, a group of patch panels with sequentially numbered ports, an IDC connector (punch-down block), or a group of IDC connectors, serving as part of the horizontal cross-connect

n = two to four numeric characters designating the port on a patch panel, or the section of an DC connector on which a four-pair horizontal cable is terminated in the TS

HORIZONTAL LINK ELEMENTS

The elements for a copper horizontal link include the connecting hardware in the telecommunications space, a four-pair horizontal cable and a telecommunications outlet/connector in the work area. They may also include a consolidation point (CP) or a MUTOA.

A label must be affixed to each of the elements associated with the horizontal link identifier. This includes each end of a horizontal cable in the TS, at the work area, and at a CP, if present. Additionally, each individual telecommunications outlet/connector in the work area is labelled on the connector, the faceplate, or MUTOA, in a way that clearly identifies the particular horizontal link identifier.

Horizontal link records contain the following information as a minimum:

a) horizontal link identifier (e.g., 1A-A47)

b) cable type (e.g., 4-pair, UTP, Category 5e, plenum)

c) location of telecommunications outlet/connector (room, office, or grid location)

d) outlet connector type (e.g., 8-position modular, T568A, Category 5e)

e) cable length (e.g., 51m/166ft)

f) cross-connect hardware type (e.g., 48-port modular patch panel, T568A, Category 5e)

g) service record of link (e.g., passed Category 5e at installation 1/12/01)

The above examples are just part of the structure of an administration system. In addition to the basic building blocks, the standard provides essential information on such areas as colour coding requirements of specific termination fields, visibility, durability and legibility requirements for labelling.

THE BIG QUESTIONS

You may be wondering just why you need a cabling administration system? Cabling administration is required to facilitate and keep track of moves, adds and changes (MACs) throughout the life of the telecommunications infrastructure. Good cabling administration increases the value of the system owner’s investment in the infrastructure by reducing the labour expense of maintaining the system, by extending the useful economic life of the system, and by providing effective service to users.

Paul Kish is Director of IBDN Systems & Standards at NORDX/CDT in Pointe Claire, PQ. He is also Vice-Chair of the TR-42 engineering committee.

Disclaimer: The information presented is the author’s view and is not official TIA correspondence.