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TR 42.1 Update

The push is on to establish standards in two diverse areas -- health care cabling and wireless access.


October 1, 2003  


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I was asked to write this month’s column because the subject matter dovetails with my involvement in TIA. Being the TR 42.1 vice-chair, I would like to share with you new developments under the TIA TR 42.1 subcommittee on commercial building telecommunications cabling.

There were two interesting projects presented at the recent TR 42.1 meeting — a request to study the need for a health care cabling standard and the creation of a study group for the development of a standard on telecommunications cabling infrastructure for wireless access points.

Health care challenge

There have been many studies published in recent months regarding health care facilities. All of them specify an increased demand in the health care environment for high-technology systems, the convergence of applications and efficiency at all times.

The need for high-performance systems will lead to the need for a robust cabling infrastructure to accommodate the applications that go beyond the traditional voice and data encountered in today’s health care environment.

Health care buildings range from historical buildings to modern structures. Their environment brings a lot of challenges such as cleanliness, temperature, special equipment, electromagnetic concerns as well as providing services to patient rooms for the benefit of the caregiver or the patient itself.

The structured cabling will have to support multiple applications such as voice, data and video, security systems, mobile systems, patient monitoring, nurse calls, the tracking of professionals, diagnostic imaging, pharmaceutical applications, telemedicine, life safety, building automation control systems, and more. It’s quite a challenge.

If the call for interest shows that there is a high level of interest in health care telecommunications infrastructure cabling, the TR 42.1 subcommittee will create a group to study the need for a new standard to validate which existing information can be used and define exactly what work will need to be done. For more information, please visit the TIA Web site at www.tiaonline.org.

What about Wireless?

Several times I have been asked whether, as a cabling manufacturer, I am concerned about the impact of the increasing demand for wireless. Of course I am concerned, but not about the cabling infrastructure.

One must remember that all wireless systems are connected using wire. My concerns have to do with security of information transfer and the proper design of the system, rather than about cabling itself.

A proposal on cabling infrastructure for wireless access points standard was presented to the TR 42.1 subcommittee at the June meeting. Presently, ISO/IEC, the international standards body, is also in the process of studying the same need, which would allow both TIA and ISO/IEC to have a harmonized document. You might say the timing is perfect.

At the meeting, the TR 42.1 subcommittee approved the creation of a study group, which will study the feasibility of the creation of a standard on telecommunications cabling infrastructure for wireless access points to provide wireless coverage within a commercial environment.

Knowing that constant growth of wireless is based on technology advancement and on the level of customer implementations, TIA cannot overlook the need to provide a generic telecommunications cabling system infrastructure to support a multi-product, multi-vendor environment.

As mentioned earlier, all wireless systems need wire. Proper guidelines are needed for the cabling industry regarding, for example, cabling configurations, topologies, performance requirements, location of access points and power delivery over UTP.

Wireless is also implemented as a complement to building network infrastructure. Today, you will most likely see installations that offers traditional cabling infrastructure with a zone that will offer wireless service to specific users.

The convergence between cabling infrastructure and wireless is a must if one wants to provide the best services to its users. Having a document that will specify guidelines for the implementation of a cabling infrastructure to support wireless as well as taking into consideration the existing or traditional cabling infrastructure will contribute to a cost-effective solutions for the years to come.

Since wireless is gaining in popularity, we need to make sure that the cabling infrastructure is up to the challenge.

Julie Roy, RCDD/LAN specialist, is the IBDN Systems, Applications & Standards Manager at NORDX/CDT. She is also vice-chair of the TR-42.1 engineering subcommittee on commercial building telecommunications cabling.

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