Voice, data and even power cabling systems in today's call centres are rapidly converging onto Category 5 and 6 modular structured cabling systems, as digital voice services become available over pack...
September 1, 2001
Voice, data and even power cabling systems in today’s call centres are rapidly converging onto Category 5 and 6 modular structured cabling systems, as digital voice services become available over packet networks and low-voltage systems greatly reduce power requirements.
Ian Angus, President of Angus TeleManagement Group, an Ajax, Ontario-based telecommunications consulting and research firm, points out that while call centres do normally require extensive cabling, it is the flexibility of the cabling systems that is key. “Typically, every agent position in a call centre has a digital telephone and a computer console, sometimes more,” Angus says, “so a lot of cabling is required. But reorganizations are common, and this needs to be carried out without interrupting operations,” he points out. Hence the popularity of structured cabling systems in today’s advanced call centres.
Bob Kostash is Connectivity Solutions Sales Director at Avaya Canada: “A call centre is not, on the surface, any different than any other commercial building installation for structured cabling. The only real design consideration is that typically you have a much higher density of cabling in the ceiling of the call centre than you would in a standard office situation. This need to handle this higher density of cabling requires more forethought in terms of cable tray design and cabling support as it goes out into the call centre floor,” he says.
“Call centre cabling is typically Category 5e or Category 6 cabling together with cabling to power the computers and task lighting at each desk. Fifteen years ago you would have had at least a telephone on each desktop, but the computers were often connected with a single coaxial cable snaking its way through the ceiling, dropping down every once in a while to connect to a computer or a terminal.
“In a typical call centre today,” says Kostash, “you’ll have at least two, and often three or four (non-power) cables to the desktop — in fact, the structured cabling standards that are in place in both North America (TIA/EIA 568B) and Europe requires at least two cables to every desktop but recommends more than that for future applications.
“Coaxial cable,” he adds, “is now much less prevalent in call centre situations. Category 6, on the other hand, is now becoming much more common.
“When I started using e-mail, I would not have dreamed of attaching a video clip, yet that’s being done fairly routinely today, so in a few years you’ll see a much greater installation base of Category 6 cable, as the need for bandwidth increases and the applications used in today’s multimedia call centres become more demanding,” he says.
Category 5 and 6 cables look pretty much the same, Kostash says, but Category 6 provides a higher twist rate to the four individual pairs and is manufactured to much higher tolerances, so it carries much higher frequencies and thus greater bandwidth.