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Standard Importance; Simply put, QoS is negatively impacted when network cabling is not manufactured AND installed properly.


March 1, 2009  


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A standard is defined in BICSI’s Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual as “a guideline documentation that reflects agreements on products, practices or operations by nationally or internationally recognized industrial, professional, trade associations, or governmental bodies.”

Standards are often generalized as ‘performance-focused’ documents concerning how well something works as opposed to its electrical safety, which is defined in codes and enforced by law.

Standards-based installations fall into the realm of ‘buyer beware’ because only the buyer can demand that the infrastructure meets their expectations. This is usually confirmed by test results. Everyone involved in information transport systems (ITS) projects should be knowledgeable about standards that impact the infrastructure for which they have responsibility.

In the ITS industry, there are numerous sources of copyrighted standards documents available that focus on physical in-building infrastructure. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is one of the more commonly referenced entities producing ITS infrastructure standards. BICSI is an ANSI-accredited standards-making body and is producing standards in association with ANSI, some of which will be released during 2009, such as:

ANSI/BICSI-001 K-12: Information Transport Systems Design for K-12 Educational Institutions

ANSI/BICSI-002: Data Centre Design Standard and Recommended Practices

ANSI/NECA/BICSI-607: Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding Planning and Installation Methods for Commercial Buildings

Performance is often quantified in terms of Quality of Service (QoS), numerically expressed in percentage, i. e., it will work 99.9% of the time (usually based over a year).

A recent Bell Labs study reported that 87% of downtime is due to power issues lasting no more than a second. Digital controls are everywhere today and so is the ITS infrastructure that supports them.

Power quality or lack thereof can shut down critical digital components, which is usually easy to identify because of the immediate or sudden reaction of ITS equipment.

Consider also that transmission of properly working power creates magnetic force fields around the electrical wires that carry electricity to powered equipment.

Many people do not realize that, by nature, AC and DC currents on electrical conductors and within powered equipment such as transformers, dimmer switches and motors of all types create magnetic fields. AC and DC also have distinctly different magnetic field and strength characteristics with the potential to disturb data transmissions.

What is important is to understand that data carried through magnetic fields are subject to transmission errors. IP services and IT data devices of all types, even when carried on high quality balanced twisted pair cables within buildings, are prone to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). Simply put, bits (of data)/ second being carried on copper cables can be negatively impacted by magnetic fields. The type and quality of the low voltage IT conductor, the spacing between conductors and even the types of insulation and the air gap between insulation of individual conductors impacts transmission quality. Simply put: QoS is negatively impacted when network cabling is not manufactured AND installed properly.

Standards are the sources of information for everyone in elements of manufacturing, designing, installing and maintaining quality IT networks so that they meet the expectations of the end user.

Does the company working on your IT services or IP networks have and understand today’s ITS standards?

One standard that focuses on power-related issues is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) ANSI-recognized IEEE 1100-2005: IEEE Recommended Practice for Powering and Grounding Electronic Equipment.

The ANSI/IEEE 1100-2005 speaks to electrical issues of all types, but there is a section on telecommunications that covers “powering and grounding telecommunications, information technology and distributed computing systems.”

Topics contained are outside plant exposure, ground potential rise and other traditional powering subjects. However, it also contains sections of finer detail such as Electromagnetic Influences (EMI) onto data lines, which corrupt data packets.

Specifically noted is: corruption of an address bit, or part of a computer command can cause “hanging” with in a computer system or storage array. Have you ever had your computer simply not respond to a command? EMI field strengths are a very important factor in today’s world of IT and IP. AC magnetic fields as low as five milligauss can cause distortion on video display terminals. Guidance to the type of meters needed to identify and isolate sources of EMI, which negatively impact data transmission, are also referenced by IEEE.

Standards are an integral element of quality training for those in the IT industry today. BICSI’s focus on ITS education includes training and testing students on many important topics, including standards. For further information go to www.bicsi.org.